Book Review – The City on the Edge of Forever

City on the Edge of Forever represents outstanding writing and some of the most magnificent art, far exceeding the expectations of a graphic novel.  Originally this was reported to have been heavily edited for the original TV series by Gene Roddenberry.  Now IDW Publishing has taken the original script and reworked it into a graphic novel with an effort to retain the Harlan Ellison’s initial vision.  Illustrator JK Woodward sets the tone perfectly, its warm when it needs to be, and cold and unforgiving at other parts, while representing the characters in lifelike illustrations.  I’m not sure if he didn’t reference select film cells in the process.  In any case it was masterfully done.  And even if you’re not into Star Trek this is still a beautiful masterpiece of art

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Although I’d have to re-watch the original episode to note the differences, I can pick out a few things that Roddenberry would have wanted to take out or edit for the sake of what was acceptable back then, and for sake of his overall vision of the show (for better or worse… you be the judge).

In this version there seems to be more room for depth of character and interaction between Kirk and Spock.  Its difficult to compare the graphic novel to the TV show because the mediums themselves evoke a different set of emotions.  You can read more into a single frame painted on a piece of paper than can be shown  in a TV scene.  The more closely entertainment mimics real life the less believable it becomes.  Perhaps our brains need to work to bring things to life, and in this working it develops the imagination.  And it seems that our imaginations make a huge difference in perceived depth and emotion of a story.

In this story James Kirk is faced with the dilemma of saving the woman he loves at the expense of the Nazi winning WW2.  If he chooses to save Edith Keeler he would be directly responsible for destroying the world, via the sin of omission.  Should the one die for the sake of the many?  If you could go back to the past and interrupt the natural flow of events to save the one you love, knowing that the future of the world you know would be in jeopardy, millions would die. Or do you sacrifice the one to save the many?  Isn’t that what Spock would one day say in Star Trek 2, the Wrath of Khan?  “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”, as he sacrificed himself for his friends and ship.

Its fine and dandy to sacrifice yourself, but how about when you sacrifice someone else?  When you boil it down this question is as old as civilization itself.  Whether it was a ritual sacrifice to appease some god, or sending the men out to war, it was all done with the intent, however misguided, of the overall good of society… that the one would die for the many.

Although I’m somewhat sure this was not Ellison’s intent, he echoes the statement by the high priest of Israel in the New Testament in John 11:50, when he said, Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”

So theres a bit of a Christological element here,reflecting Yahweh allowing the son, Jesus, to die for us (ref. Isaiah Chapter 53).  That a good and holy God would make a sacrifice in himself to make salvation available for all would be the ultimate sacrifice.  Although that was probably not where Ellison wanted to go with this he paints a very good picture for philosophical and theological discussion, that is both relevant and exciting to think about on so many levels.

Book Review, The Lost World of Genesis One by John H Walton

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It was 7th grade when Mrs Mayo, my public school science teacher, taught evolution.  She prefaced that day stating evolution does not disprove creation but merely explains it (this was in southwest Louisiana, 1982). As I read the bible throughout the years I never really considered that the 6 day account in Genesis was contradictory to an old earth because of the way everything is worded… until I watched a series of videos by a 6 Day Creationist sometime around 1998 who was supremely adamant that evolution was the most formidable weapon of deceit and doubt facing Christians today.  And until exposed to many of the complexities around the issue I considered it for approximately 2 years before dismissing it.  I’m no scientist, but I eventually settled back on the old earth model, thats just what makes the most sense to me.  And like science I remain open to change my views upon further knowledge.

I was faced with the dilemma that I wasn’t comfortable with the 6 Day = 6 Eons theory either, it just didn’t pan out in light of the sequence of days in Genesis 1. For instance Day one begins with the Earth already created, and the stars aren’t there until day 4. So that didn’t add up, how could I be faithful to scripture and not ignore science.

     Walton provides a satisfactory explanation along with a deeper appreciation for Genesis 1, as much more than just an account of creation. He refutes the Concordist model which states Genesis 1 was written to scientifically explain the material creation of life, the universe, and everything.  He shows that this view was beyond the ancient’s worldview and that their main concern was explaining functional origins, i.e. the Cosmic Temple Inauguration model.  And the preeminent thrust of was mainly a teleological account, the explanation of purpose and function.
     The teleological evidence of Genesis 1 is needed today as much if not more than ever. The modern world is so confused when it comes to purpose, we assume that God created us merely to be happy, whether his happiness our ours.  But the authors intention in Genesis is much more profound. The ideas expressed in Genesis 1 as interpreted here are implicitly related to environment, sexuality, family, and every other  aspect of human activity of life and civilization.
     The beauty is that his premise is compatible with both a literal 6 Day Creation model and Old Earth via evolution and/or big bang theory, as well as any other model. The central idea being that Genesis 1 is detailing a functional inauguration, and that since scripture gives no scientific model of the material creation of the universe but states emphatically that God is highly involved in the process no matter the method.
     Science provides no mechanism for the metaphysical question of purpose in regard to the origins of life, it cannot explore the “why” questions only the “how” questions. Science cannot and will not tell us the goal of the universe, why we are here, or even if we have a purpose or not… and it should not… It would not be empirical science if it did.   That is the aim of teleology and metaphysics, which should be taught in conjunction to science, but as a separate entity.
     Any model of the origin of the cosmos and life should be taught along with all its complexities and problems.  And philosophical ideas such as teleology and metaphysics should be taught as objective non-religious ideas, with the aim of teaching students ‘how to think’, not ‘what to think’.  Its is a shame and a waste that there is a conflict that is inherently politicized that prevents textbook publishers and educators to owning up to the problems deep-rooted in the evolution model.  But that is normal science, owning up to and discussing these things is part of the scientific process.
     Science is a great tool for exploring the universe, but it is not the end all of knowledge, nor does it claim to be.  History has taught us that as our knowledge increases the truths of science change.  Whats true and beyond doubt in one generation is not necessarily true in the next.  The process of doing science itself changes over time.  Quantum physics is a huge wrench in the contemporary process.  Again, I’m no scientist, but I’m not ignorant of some of the problems and ideas.
     Lastly, Walton does an outstanding job relating academic ideas in a down-to-earth style. He presents his propositions in a clear and logical manner that is easy to follow. He follows each chapter with a summary, summarizes everything at the halfway point of the book and again at the end so there is not much room for misunderstanding and plenty room for grasping the whole picture. He then answers a few common questions at the very end in a Q & A style. Its pretty concise and logical laid out. Which makes for a great and quick read for such a heavy topic.
 

Proverbs 12 – Words Matter

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
~ Proverbs 12:18

I have often been this guy.  I’m not sure if I’ve actually hurt other people with my words, but many times I know that I could have said things in a better way to “bring healing” instead of causing strife.

And of course it’s always those closest to me, like my wife, who catch the brunt of it.  And its’ something that I need to be constantly reminded of.

Words matter, they carry emotion, they carry what we believe about the world, they carry what we believe about God.  When we take stabs at people we betray the anger and hurt that is in our own heart.

What anger and hurt do I have in my heart?  I need to examine it until I am aware of what it causing it so that I can become whole and bring healing to others instead of more pain

Proverbs 11 –

A false balance is an abomination to the LORD,
but a just weight is his delight.
~Proverbs 11:1

A while back my dad was buying shrimp from some shrimpers who were selling their catch roadside.  As they began to weigh his purchase he noticed that they poured an awful lot of  ice on the scales with it, thus weighing more and giving my dad less shrimp.  My dad commented on it so the guy took the ice off, and my dad happened to look down and the guy had his hand pushing down on the scale to make it weigh more.  Of course my dad got it all straight before he left, but it was a pretty crazy experience.

I have to remember this when I price jobs, I’m a contractor, because I want to give people a fair price no matter what.  When I am honest, especially when times are financially tough, I show that my faith and security is not solely in my own ability.  But I have a higher and stronger place to lean and rely on.

It seems that scripture is more concerned with how we live our lives, than with how well we live.  How well we live is relative and lends itself to comparing ourselves with others and competition.

When you treat people right and have honest dealings, you may not get rich financially, but you will have everything you need and you will have wealth in many other ways.

Proverbs 10 – Money as god

Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit,
but righteousness delivers from death.
The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry,
but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.
A slack hand causes poverty,
but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
He who gathers in summer is a prudent son,
but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.
~Proverbs 10:2-5

This is a section of Proverbs meant to encourage a righteous work ethic.  It is important to remember that the Proverbs are not promises, but are everyday axioms, general truths to live by.  For the most part if you follow Proverbs you’ll live a long happy prosperous life, and if you don’t then you’ll have strife and poverty.

Of course we all know people, and see people on tv or read about them, that are crooked or immoral and seem to be prospering.  And the Bible answers this elsewhere, which I don’t feel inclined to get into here now, but suffice to say that prosperity and peace are not their final end

Although Proverbs are true for all people, regardless of their faith or non-faith, they are especially true for believers in the God of the Bible, and as believers we are called to do business in a way that reflects our faith in God.

What I mean is that once we realize that everything we have ultimately comes from God then we are free to make decisions more on a moral level, and not so much on a financial level.

When you sacrifice your beliefs for money, you are serving money as god of your life, and you are laying down your good deeds at its altar.  How can you serve two gods?  You can’t.

Make the right decision and trust in God that everything will still work out ok, even if things don’t work out the way you want or financially in your favor, you will still be blessed

Proverbs 9 – The Scoffer

Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

~Proverbs 9:7-9

I remember quite vividly several times when my parents told me things about myself I did not want to hear.  And I remember reacting immaturely to say the least.   A few days later (or in some cases… a few years) I would come around and realize what they said was true, and I would have to humble myself.

I noticed this pattern after a while; and slowly over time I began to accept reproof more quickly and easily.  I know I still have a long way to go, but at least my eyes are open to it and I suppose that is a way forward.

It seems that a wise man knows how to judge if a person is able to take feedback or criticism.  Some people seem to have an innate ability for discernment.  Still for those like me it has taken time; and trial and error to develop it.

Like any good gift discernment will grow with its use.  I may get it wrong, and when I do I hope to be wise enough to be honest with myself and learn from it.  And I’ll judge rightly as well, and over time I hope to be doing it more and more, as I grow in wisdom and discernment.

Proverbs 8 – The Greatest Sport

Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud: “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense.

~Proverbs 8:1-5

Wisdom is not something that will just come to you own its own.  It is something that comes only if you desire it enough to go find it.  And it is there to find.  All who look for it can find it.

It is an ongoing process, not a one time event, but more of a way of life.

If most of my days consist of work, coming home, getting on Facebook, watching TV, and minimal family involvement; and if my only excitement is an upcoming sporting event or concert; then I would question if I were earnestly desiring wisdom.

Each week I see people excited about LSU or the Saints playing, and I cant help but wonder if those guys were half as much into scripture or seeking wisdom then we would have theologians galore.

When I pursue wisdom, I find something better than money and wealth.  If I hunt for wisdom I obtain something more valuable than entertainment or sports.  When I am desperate for wisdom I possess life.