Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Aeon Flux" (2005)

If people like Quentin Tarantino are right in any aspect of their argument against streaming/on demand film libraries like Netflix, it is in the way those services remove any excuse to not watch the dreck of horrible movies. For instance, I have always wondered what went so wrong in the transition of “Aeon Flux” from experimental animation to live-action film, but avoided finding out because I didn’t want to spend the cash. Since I am paying Netflix anyway, I got around to wasting those two hours of my life.

Aeon Flux was not great as an MTV animation series. It was only interesting because it was utterly creative and unlike anything that had been done before. However, when it was announced that Hollywood was going to force the concept into a mainstream, blockbuster project, it was exciting to think how that translation would work. For one thing, the original project was very high concept. It was chocked full of stuff like Gnosticism, non-linear storytelling, and didn’t really make sense most of the time. And then there was the challenge of making it without receiving an X rating, what with all the bondage imagery and violence.

The result really was terrible. It was too much to ask a mainstream movie to take as many risks as the show did. Things simply had to try to make sense. But even there they failed. The reimagined the concept as some muddled story about a post-apocalyptic society that had achieved immortality through cloning.

But the worst part had to be the “message” that this film had decided to preach. Aeon’s big mission in the end was to bring death back to this future world. It seems the scariest thing for these filmmakers would be a world without death where people have the chance to improve things constantly live better lives.

In the words of our heroine:

“We're meant to die - that's what makes anything about us matter.”

Admittedly, eternity is terrifying for people who can’t see past the sinful side of human nature. This current reality is nowhere near hell, but it is hell for those without hope.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Doctor Who: 9.2 "The Witch's Familiar"

The conclusion of the first two-parter this season is a mixed effort. The story is a mixture of various elements. Many of the moments and concepts think they are cleverer than they end up being. The Master using a pointy stick to take on the Daleks, the whole sewer/cemetery idea; even the Daleks themselves have long been reduced to a cardboard threat.

However, this quite talky episode has some brilliant thought. In a continuation of the main message from the previous episode, the Doctor is presented with the means to wipe out the evil of the Daleks once and for all. The conversation goes as follows:

“Imagine, to hold in your hand the heartbeat of every Dalek on Skaro. They send me life. Is it beyond the wit of a Time Lord to send them death? A little work and it could be done.”

“Now, why would you be telling me this?”

“Genocide in a moment. Such slaughter, not in self-defense, not as a simple act of war, as a choice. Are you ready Doctor? So many backs with a single knife. Are you ready to be a god?” Davros moves the Doctor’s hands towards the cables. The Doctor considers and steps away. “Why do you hesitate? No one would know. Clara Oswald is dead. Is this the conscience of the Doctor or his shame? The shame that brought you here.”

“There’s no such thing as the Doctor! I’m just a bloke in a box, telling stories. And I didn’t come here because I’m ashamed. A bit of shame never hurt anyone. I came because you’re sick and you asked. And because sometimes, on a good day, if I try very hard, I’m not some old Time Lord who ran away. I’m the Doctor.”

“Compassion, then.”


“It grows strong and fierce in you, like a cancer.”

“I hope so.”

“It will kill you in the end.”

“I wouldn’t die of anything else.”

What follows is a typical case of Davros tricking and betraying our hero, only for our hero to reveal that he was himself, playing the player and had his own trick up the sleeve. As if we ever worried things would go south.

Then, the episode ends with the answer to the question left over from last time. How did Davros survive the Doctor abandoning him to death? Obviously, it was the Doctor who went back and saved him.

Because the answer to the Hitler-Time-Travel-Hypothetical is obvious. If you could travel back in time to kill Hitler as a child, you should go back and befriend him. You might not avoid the holocaust that way, but you could try to influence Hitler away from hate.

And, that is the real-world application to this idea. We need to use our power to influence those around us for Good. We share our story. We push people towards love and compassion and doing good rather than hate, despair and fear.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The World, Belief, and Rebirth (John 1:9-13)

John uses another key term here: world. This is not merely the same concept as in verse three, “all things.” For John, the term world is a specific term. It is not creation or the universe. It is specifically the realm of rebellious humanity. It is the world after sin became a part of the mix.

Here we see the Word—the true Light of revelation about God, God Himself—enter fallen creation. God has broken into this world and all truth available to us comes from Him. However, fallen creation did not recognize Him. Even his people—those to whom He spoke through special revelation of prophets, those He freed from slavery and whom He ruled as his special people—rejected Him.

However, there are those who do receive Him. They are called out of the world. They are not a part of the world due to their special relationship with God. They are characterized by two things: faith and spiritual birth.

Faith means receiving the Word; believing in his name, his character, his person. Belief is not mere intellectual acceptance of a concept, but rather trust. We trust God, his claims about himself, and we follow his leadership—his lordship—in obedience.

Spiritual birth is independent of a human characteristic or condition. Race nor family matter. It is not something some people are more qualified for, through personality, will or predisposition. It is completely a result of God’s will.

One might ask, does faith lead to spiritual birth, or does spiritual birth lead to faith? What John here writes renders that distinction impossible to make.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Top Fifth Doctor Stories

Peter Davidson was not a bad Doctor, but for some reason the stories he was given are never amongst my favorites. He had a total of 20, and here are the five I like the best:

5. The Five Doctors 

The first of what are now pretty common, the special episode. Filmed for the anniversary of the show, they really only managed to have four incarnations appear. (And only three were played by the original actors.)

4. The Visitation

A fun medieval story involving better than average monster designs.

3. Black Orchid

A two-parter, so not at all padded out as so many four or six-parters often were. A classic, cozy mystery, with intrigue, murder, and fancy dress.

2. Earthshock 

A surprise return of a classic monster and very high stakes for a companion.

1. The Caves of Adrozani 

One of the best stories of the whole show, and one of the more meaningful regeneration stories of the classic run.

Friday, September 25, 2015

"Sicario" (2015)

This film is a bit hard to pigeon-hole. Is it an action? IS it a drama? A political thriller? You would probably have to land on, action only slow and artistically delivered, so not very active. That said, it does have a couple things going for it: great cinematography and Benicio Del Toro in a role that reminds you he really can be a star. His character is the one feeding rumors of a sequel.

However, you need to know going in that this is not your typical, heroic action story. It does not have heroes. The closest we come to that is Emily Blunt’s character, Kate, but she is really more of a troubled, impotent observer. What this story is really about is the dark underbelly of law enforcement and the dangers and the attractive nature of power.

In an opening scene, Kate is recruited for a special taskforce aiming to stop the drug cartels and their reign of terror. It is the typical enticement one sees in these scenes. Powerful and somewhat secretive men with a casualness that can only come with those who know exactly what is going on and what they need to do to make things better. In a typical action film our hero would join this group and become another one of their self-assured and effective number. Here, Kate simply goes deeper and deeper into chaos and horror.

The final statement this movie wants to deliver is not that our government is there to make things better. They want to make them worse, because things are easier to control when the bad guys are known and consolidated. And the tool we are using is a man so bent on revenge that he is actually as bad or worse than the worst of the bad guys.

Uplifting stuff.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Star Trek Voyager (Season 5b)

Season 5a—Season 6a

Episode 14 “Bliss” 

Seven and Paris return from an away mission to find that the ship has discovered a worm hole leading home. Things are exciting, and almost too good to be true. Well, actually they ARE too good to be true. Seven finds evidence that the good news is all a ruse to draw the ship into a trap. The crew even knew that at some point, but they are too blinded by their excitement and all the good news to see the truth. This is a good story about the dangers of desire and the way we can be blind to truth when we are given the things we want… or a close approximation.

Episodes 15, 16 “Dark Frontier” 

Janeway plans to aid their journey home by raiding a damaged Borg ship for technology. Their heist is doomed from the start as a Borg queen has her own plans to recover Seven, whom she hopes will aid the Borg’s assimilation of humanity. There is some discussion of loyalty and humanity, but this is an action romp.

Episode 17 “The Disease” 

Harry Kim falls in love with an alien from a xenophobic race, which violates their culture and his orders. In a conversation with Seven he learns that the Borg see love—or more precisely physical attraction leading to biological reproduction—as some sort of disease. Harry gives into this purely physical-chemical understanding of love and defies orders. Some other stuff happens, but this episode is all about the fact that love is nothing more than a mechanical aspect of life. And it seems that that is all it is in most of modern Trek.

Episode 18 “Course: Oblivion” 

Hold that last thought. We are treated to some high sentiment as Paris and Torres are married. But things begin to go wrong with the ship and then the crew. In a nice call-back to an earlier adventure, we learn that we are not witnessing our crew, but the duplicate formed on the inhospitable planet from the episode “Demon.” They have not just enjoyed the conscious life they obtained from copying Voyager, but have begun to think they are that ship and crew. In the end it doesn’t matter though.

Episode 19 “The Fight” 

Chakotay has to communicate with an alien race in another dimension when Voyager is trapped there. The aliens use his genetic propensity for mental illness to speak to him. It is a confusing, but ultimately dry episode. And it doesn’t really explore mental illness in an enlightening or uplifting way.

Episode 20 “Think Tank” 

The crew is placed in a quandary by a group of geniuses and offered a way out by the same group who want Seven to join them as payment for their efforts. And, even though this elite group is supposed to a collection of the greatest minds in the galaxy, they aren’t. Janeway and company outsmart them quite easily. Perhaps this episode is really about how people who think they are mentally superior usually end up being fairly incompetent.

Episode 21 “Juggernaut” 

This is the environmental message episode one occasionally gets in Trek. For a “preachy” episode, it is quite good, but doesn’t require much thought to understand.

Episode 22 “Someone to Watch Over Me” 

The Doctor tries to help Seven learn how to date. And, since this is a retelling of Pygmalion, we aren’t surprised when he falls in love with her. That is, unless we stop to think that he is supposed to be a computer program. There is an amusing side story involving an interaction with a hyper-legalistic culture where their ambassador wants to experience every form of temptation he can.

Episode 23 “11:59” 

Janeway is so proud of her famous ancestor. Only, when she bothers to check into the history of this famous person, she learns that family lore and reality are two different things. All the while we get glimpses of that real history. (But we aren’t that interested.)

Episode 24 “Relativity” 

That future ship tasked with fixing time travel screw-ups is back, trying to stop Voyager from being attacked by a time traveler. This is a time travel story with all its many frustrations and paradoxes, but it is self-aware so it is more entertaining than most.

Episode 25 “Warhead” 

In one of the more preachy stories in Trek, the crew come into contact with an intelligent weapon of mass destruction. Then they have to teach it to embrace peace. Good message, obvious exercise in no subtlety or nuance. I thought it was the war-mongers that see everything in black and white?

Episode 26 “Equinox (Part 1)” 

The cliff-hanger finale sets up a great antagonist consisting of a Star Fleet crew that has lost their moral compass when subjected to the same hardships that Voyager has been through. The alien beings are not just forehead make-up, but do fell a bit “Disney.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"The Gospel of John" (2014)

This movie snuck up on me. Only available on Netflix, I thought it was the 2003 film based on “The Living Bible” translation. (One I have yet to see as well.) Watching it I quickly realized that this is a new experiment.

Past “Visual Bible” films have attempted to stick precisely to the Biblical texts through voice-over narration and using the dialogue exactly as it appears in whatever translation they are following.

This movie uses a documentary technique where scenes are acted out (in Aramaic, Greek or Hebrew where appropriate) and the entire text of the NIV is read in voic over. In that sense it is more like the “Bible on Tape,” but with visuals. There is still interpretation going on, but perhaps less that versions that more directly dramatize the action.

Ultimately, this movie fails as a film. It is not really that same art-form. As a resource, something to supplement Scripture or introduce people to the Biblical texts it is great. Especially taken in small segments. But audiences will probably have a hard time sitting through the two and a half hour running time.

While we are at it, this is a problem for all cinematic retellings of Scripture, isn’t it? The better realized dramatic efforts distort the text, or run the risk of interpreting a lot of things that are not spelled out. And efforts like this one fail to be an engaging, visual story. There is something special about the written word. I think special revelation is ultimately only communicated through the text, written or read. At least this project has that, just clouded with visuals.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Doctor Who: 9.1 "The Magician's Apprentice"

With the stories in this year’s season/series of Who being all two-parters, it is hard to evaluate the stories on a week by week basis. However, the latest episode had a hypothetical that was so intriguing, it merits discussion on its own.

(Haven’t most of the episodes of Doctor Who of late been just that though? More a series of hypotheticals and set-pieces and moments, more than complete stories?)

The obvious hypothetical for a time traveling character is: “If you could travel back in time and kill or prevent Hitler from being born, would you? Is that one murder justified by all the lives saved?” Doctor Who has referenced this idea multiple times, and once it even tackled it head-on, in “Genesis of the Daleks.” However, in that episode the Doctor was offered the chance to not just take out a mass-murderer, but a whole race of murderers. He had the chance to destroy his arch-enemies—the Nazi stand-ins of Doctor Who, the Daleks—before they were ever created. More than murder, he had to weigh genocide. Go watch that great story to see how he decided.

In “The Magician’s Apprentice” we open on scenery and action very reminiscent of “Genesis.” As it turns out that is right where we are, on the planet and in the war of that story. This time the Doctor shows up just in passing at the right time to save a boy from certain death. Only, when he hears the boy’s name: Davros, the creator of the Daleks, he walks away. He doesn’t kill Hitler, he just decides not to rescue him.

We don’t yet know how, but Davros escaped anyway and it looks like the Doctor may be a part of the events that led to the creation of the evil he wanted to destroy. That is an intriguing proposition: evil begets evil. You can’t defeat evil by committing more evil. The ends do not justify the means. If your end is to rid the world of evil, how can you consider evil means of action?

It will be interesting to see where Moffat and company take things next week…

Monday, September 21, 2015

Witness and Belief (John 1:6-8; 15)

In verse 6 the cosmic, abstractly worded presentation of the Gospel is seemingly interrupted. The writer will do this again in verse 15, but it isn’t an interruption nor a disjointed thought. It grounds the truth of the Gospel message in time and space. The Word is not just an idea, it is reality. The Light has come.

It is here that we are introduced to two other key words in John’s Gospel, ones that will continue to appear along with words like “life” and “light.” God sends a “witness” and he wants people to “believe.”

The Gospel isn’t just a story, it is all about the Story. Before we even see that the Word (the Light, God) became flesh (v. 14) we get a man sent to tell the world about the Light. A man sent to call people to belief. Throughout the rest of this account we will see witness after witness, and the primary task Jesus will give His followers will be to be witnesses. The world is invited to believe based on the testimonies given by these witnesses.

The Gospel is the story of how God entered into His creation in order to redeem it, but it is also much more than that. It is the ongoing story of how God saves each life that trusts in Him. Each person that believes and receives Life has their own chapter to share, and those chapters all have the ability to inspire belief in others. Belief and witness are bound together.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Top Seventh and Sixth Doctor Stories

The later 80s were the truly dark days for the show. The production values, which had always been cheap, felt even more so as the quality of television improved. And, the tone was increasingly silly, even as the show tried to tackle themes more complex and serious. However, I have a soft spot for the Sixth and Seventh Doctors. It is a case of art trying to say something important. That, and the 80s were a little cheesy anyway if we are honest.

10. “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” 

Scary clowns is all you had to say to sell me on this story. That they then tried to explain philosophy of religion is even better. Unfortunately, this is one of the stories that most suffers from overreaching in both the message and the visuals.

9. “The Happiness Patrol” 

This story is indicative of its time, both in the syrupy atmosphere and the oppressive government maintaining that feel. It is quite deep if you can get past all the candy.

8. “Revelation of the Daleks” 

This story is morbid, and it doesn’t pull any punches. And, I love it.

7. “Ghost Light” 

This story tries to tackle an idea so complex that it quite honestly fumbles. That said, it gets points from me for even trying.

6. “Terror of the Vervoids”

This Agatha Christie send-up has some of the best creatures ever designed for the show. I wish they would bring the Vervoids back.

5. “Vengeance on Varos” 

I’m a sucker for any story that is critical of its own medium. The entertainment industry and our cultural obsession with it needs to look at itself in the mirror more frequently.

4. “Remembrance of the Daleks” 

Towards the end of the original run, Doctor Who began to play with ideas about the character of the Doctor that were on an epic scale. Unfortunately they didn’t get to fully realize them.

3. “The Two Doctors” 

Another darkly comic story, this one makes a pretty good case for vegetarianism. Not that it stuck, even with the Doctor. Still, meat can be pretty gross if you think about it too much.

2. “Paradise Towers” 

Take a futuristic world, remove all fighting age men, leave only bureaucracy, teenage girl gangs, and cannibalistic old women, and you have a great set-up for a horror story.

1. “The Curse of Fenric” 

The World War II setting and the vampires are what is most remembered about this story, but it is about so much more. This is not just scifi or fantasy, it is philosophy fiction. It also focuses on the nature of faith, but then unfortunately reduces it to a sentiment all over again.

Friday, September 18, 2015

"Trois Couleurs: Rouge" (1994)

In Kieslowski’s “Red” we get the story of a model who befriends a retired judge who spies upon his neighbors. (Story is a loose term here, as the plot is diffuse.) Parallel to that, a neighbor of the model who is a student preparing to be a judge, goes through a relationship trauma that eerily reflects a similar experience the retired judge had in his youth. So much so, one wonders if there is supposed to be some time travel paradox implied.

The theme here is fraternity, and Kieslowski’s aim seems to be to highlight our interconnectedness. Everything we do impacts other people. We are bound to society. We do not exist in a vacuum. And even though the trilogy has been said to treat the three ideals of freedom, equality, and fraternity, all three movies have been more about love. Fraternity, being an aspect of brotherly love, may be the closest and easiest concept to tie into that overarching theme.

We again get the scene of the woman trying to recycle a bottle, and our heroine here finally does what we had hoped all along, she helps her. In the end, characters from all three films are seen in a news report highlighting the survivors of a ferry tragedy. The hope is that they will take this second chance in life and live better after the experiences they have been through in the three films. If nothing else, the viewers will hopefully see through all the ambiguity in the films and latch onto the messages.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Jim Gaffigan Show "The Bible Story"

I have enjoyed Jim Gaffigan ever since someone showed me his bacon bit. I like him because he is genuinely funny, insightful, and clever. The fact that he is usually clean is simply a bonus. And, keep in mind he is just a comic. Some people see his clean-cut act, his cutting analysis of cultural hypocrisy, and his openness about his wife’s faith as a signal that he is something more. A spokesman. Another celebrity Christian we can hold up to society.

Well, he is not. He is just a comic, and he wants it that way.

His new TV show tackles this aspect of his image in the episode “The Bible Story.” In it, Jim contemplates being “outed” and a believer and envisions his life as it would be on the front-lines of the “culture wars.” It is not something he wants to experience. Likely, the episode is inspired by real life experiences. There were several articles written a few years ago about his comedy and his faith, and he likely went through a little bit of what his TV character did in this episode.

And, he has a point. Believers do have a mandate and a task. We ARE supposed to change the world. But it is a private task of sharing our experience with the people we know. Relationships are the conduit for the Kingdom of God, not politics, celebrity, or showmanship. And while God could use people on a great scale (and occasional does) we in the west have abandoned the task in our private relationships in favor of using the institutions of culture to try to spread the word.

We don’t need to rely on politicians, actors, reality TV stars, and athletes to spread Christianity in some “spin machine,” flashy, hype driven way. It is the job of every believer to influence their circle of influence. It is a grass roots movement.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Watch Your Toes, As I Proceed To Do Some Stomping!

Last Sunday I was guest preaching in a little suburb near us, one that has gotten a lot of international press as it was the focal point of some right-wing protests against the influx of refugees this past summer. I shared from Titus how believers are to be zealous for good works, and how we are to make the grace of God known in our world. I didn’t tie it directly into the refugee situation too much—you don’t have to these days.

Afterwards a little old lady felt the need to explain to me why she was against all the refugees coming to her town, and why she was boycotting the city-wide prayer vigils being held to address the situation.

She sees the whole situation as a huge danger for Christians in Germany. There is a good chance the influx is not truly refugees, but an invasion. If they are refugees, why not flee to a country where they already have the same religion?

This is fairly typical of the conversations I have had or heard across Germany, and even what one sees in opinion pieces back in the States. But, there are several problems with this surrender to fear that is happening, beyond the fact that it shows an implicit lack of trust in a sovereign God.

1. Christians have given up their personal responsibilities in the Kingdom of God in favor of overvaluing their role in the “culture wars.” We are tasked with sharing our story with those around us. Instead we shirk that fairly simple task because we are more preoccupied with governing people’s behavior and having a say in what the government does regarding religion and ethics. Those other activities are not bad necessarily, but to think we can effect true cultural change without doing the basic task of sharing and living the Gospel on a personal level is foolish.

2. Christians have ceased to see the Gospel as being a message for everyone, and think it is just a private message for those already in “Christian” cultures. If we are too scared to share with people who don’t believe anything, or perhaps have a similar world view to ours, how do we respond to people who have a different faith from ours? The answer is we tell ourselves it is impossible to change their beliefs, so why even try.

3. Christians are too fearful and preoccupied with their own interests to see the world through God’s eyes and exhibit His love and empathy for others. It may not be shocking at all to realize we do not share our story, when our trust in the Gospel is so small that we feel a need to take care of our daily needs and safety on our own. If God is not big enough to protect His people in the face of perceived persecution, how could He save anyone?

4. If the Church abandons her missional role in the world—preferring volunteer tourism over calling and supporting “sent out ones”—God may just have to bring the nations to the church, into their neighborhoods. The Gospel will spread to all nations, even if we refuse to go.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Happy Birthday, Agatha

For the 125th birthday of one of my favorite “comfort reading” authors, here are my top ten Agatha Christie books:

10. Murder at the Vicarage 

I am not the biggest Marple fan, but her stories are good. This, her first novel-length mystery is a good place to start.

9. Mysterious Mr. Quin

I like Christie’s other sleuths: Race, Battle, Pyne, Oliver, but Quin is especially interesting. These are more than mere puzzles.

8. Poirot Investigates 

Poirot solving mysteries in a series of short stories, ala Sherlock Holmes. Many of these mysteries are greats.

7. Cards on the Table 

A variation on the locked room mystery. A man is killed while multiple detectives are in the room and no one realizes it happens. Christie brings four of her sleuths together into one story.

6. And Then There Were None 

Some people don’t know that Agatha Christie invented the slasher genre.

5. Peril at End House 

For the archetypal English manor mystery some might choose Poirot’s first adventure, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. As I recall this one is a bit more interesting, just.

4. The ABC Murders 

A British Cozy involving a serial killer? Christie invented so many of the genre’s tropes.

3. Murder on the Orient Express 

The twist on this one is likely common knowledge due to the film, but I won’t ruin it here.

2. Death on the Nile 

This is the source of my favorite film adapted from a Christie novel. The plot is intricate and nearly perfectly executed. Only Poirot could thwart this killer.

1. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd 

Another twist ending that shouldn’t be ruined. Go read it if you haven’t.

Honorable Mentions: The Man in the Brown Suit, The Mystery of the Blue Train, Halloween Party, Cat Among Pigeons,  The Body in the Library, After the Funeral, Evil Under the Sun, Curtain...

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Word, God, Life and the Light of Men (John 1:1-5)

The prologue of John is one of the most amazing pieces of literature ever written. Of course, being a part of the Bible it has a distinct advantage over other writings. Still, it is amazing even in the context of written revelation. This prologue is not merely an introduction or a “lead in” to all that is to come in the rest of the Gospel; it presents completed concepts and ideas that will be addressed. We have here a full presentation of the Gospel, albeit in a quite abstract presentation. The rest of the book will flesh out the ideas presented in these first 18 verses.

And in attempting to convey my thoughts on this passage, I am likely making a mess of things. You might just go read them and let them speak for themselves.)

The Gospel begins just as the Old Testament began, “In beginning…” Genesis starts by saying “In beginning, God.” Here John starts with “the Word.” At the start of time and space, the Word already was. God is there too, and the Word is with God. But… the Word is also God.

What? We already have an idea being presented that we are incapable of grasping. The picture of God that the New Testament reveals to us is unique. It is either raving madness or it transcends our reality. (And if your definition of truth only allows for things that a rational, scientific mind can explain, then it could be both.) John tells us that this personality, “The Word” is both God and is in relationship with another personality that is God. This is Trinitarian, and you can’t explain it. You either accept it or you don’t.

However, beyond the Trinitarian teaching, there are a few more things we learn in these first five verses. This personality who is God is also the Word, the creator, the source of life and the source of light.

“Word” is a poor word to translate the Greek being used here. Logos itself is lacking as well, though, but this is a case of human language trying to convey divine truth that transcends reality, so we have to deal with it. Logos is word in action. It is the will of God active in His creation. (But remember, this active will is eternal outside of creation.) The way John writes here harkens the reader back to Old Testament passages that speak of God’s Word as a personality, and others that personify Wisdom.

John tells us that this Word was the creator of all that is. Here John says “all things,” where Genesis says “the heavens and the earth.” Same concept.

The Word is also Life. The text reads “in Him was life,” but that does not simply mean He was alive. He is Life itself. He is the source of life, without Him there would be none. Think about it, can anyone reverse-engineer living matter? It eludes us and always will. The archetypal Frankenstein story is all about this out-of-reach concept. Life is God’s realm. Only the Word can quicken.

And, the Word is not only our Life, He is the Light that illuminates creation. This again takes us back to Genesis. In beginning, God created light. It broke through the darkness—that non-thing that was there before God made light. Here we see that the Word is Light, not in an energy-photon sense in the Universe, (although He too is the creator of that) but He is truth that overcomes the darkness of sin. The Word illuminated us with the realities that we cannot see. He is the source of revelation concerning God, truth about the sin in the world, and the overcoming power of salvation against death.

This Word is the star of the Gospel.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Ninth Doctor Top Stories

The return of the show was a wonderful development, and the creators of the show did a good job of securing its new staying power. That said, I don’t count a lot of these ten stories amongst my all-time favorites. Since there are only ten, here are my preferred five:

5. “Rose”

The rebirth of the show was a crowd pleaser simply in the fact that it aired.

4. “The End of the World”

A fun look at the new effects, and the new potential futures and aliens. Unfortunately, the new series would not have a lot of that imagination for the first few years as it remained tied to Earth and several recurring characters and settings. Perhaps that helped it last, though.

3. “Bad Wolf” and “The Parting of the Ways”

The culmination of the first season tied the whole run together in a way that the original show seldom did. (See the “Key to Time” run of the Fourth Doctor.)

2. “The Unquiet Dead”

A nice creepy story for the first “historical” journey. It was good to see Doctor Who was going to keep the scares around.

1. “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances”

The unquestioned highlight of the Ninth Doctor. We got a taste of where things would go with Steven Moffat.
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