Star Trek : Miri

“Bonk Bonk! On the head! Bonk! Bonk!”

Kirk and Co. discover a world very much like earth, but missing one key feature: adults. The planet is devoid of adults. World of the Flies. There are plenty of old people though. They just all look like kids. Some kind of arrested development has stunted their physical, emotional, and mental growth. Though over a hundred years old, these people are really children, inside and out.

Being children, the Onlies don’t believe Kirk is there to help. A real child might believe an adult. But imagine the kind of minds the Onlies have. They’re not simply children. They are hundreds of years old. But they are trapped in their child-like bodies…It’s a strange premise. The tension between being young and old is one that grips every one of us. We tend to long for aspects of youth like being adventurous and energetic. But most of us value certain aspects of adulthood, considering the trade off to be fair. (And impossible to reverse, even if we don’t think it’s fair.) But the poor old Onlies do not retain their youthful vigor for adventure, while maturing intellectually. The Onlies are like kids in the worst ways: helpless, bigoted, and dangerous if given power. And they’re like adults in the worst ways: smart enough to bring their half-formed philosophies to fruition.

The bizarre, but likely, culture of the Onlies leads them to greet Kirk with suspicion. The potential cure from McCoy does not inspire them either. The Onlies are like those half-formed adults of the real world who have mental or intellectual problems, or haven’t been raised quite right, but aren’t needy enough to qualify for some governmental or charitable assistance. These people have the legal rights, given their age, and the financial, physical, and intellectual capabilities of living a life. Many times though, these people don’t have any kind of philosophical foundation for what kind of life they want to, or should, lead. All the power, none of the direction.

The Onlies, and their real-world counterparts, will dash furiously toward nothing in particular. Content (maybe) to live pleasure-to-pleasure, constantly threatening to sue anyone who has slightly offended them, or using violent talk (bonk! bonk!) to raise the stakes of any given argument because it will distract from actually reaching a conclusion.

Sometimes I’m a real-world Only.

But I thank God that I have His leadership and Word to guide me in the right direction. Thanks to God for the pastors, mentors, and friends He’s put in my way whenever I resort to the animalistic grunting of the Onlies.

That’s the point of being a Christian, I think. Being shown that you’re an Only, being given a new life, and then diving back into the pit of Onlies, trying to show others that there is a cure.

Of course, it’s not usually that easy.

Have you ever tried to help someone who didn’t want to be helped? Or who was just content to live with their horrible, yet fixable problem? Jahn was leading his people to their doom, for the sake of power and jealousy. But Kirk…oh man, Kirk is such a Jesus figure in this story! Captain Kirk goes in among them. He becomes infected with their disease. And he endures the mocking, backstabbing, and finally the beating at the hands of the Onlies. The very people he beamed down to save reject him, fear him, and try to kill him.

Kirk is not only a picture of Jesus and His mission. The captain also serves as an example for us! Getting involved with the real-world Onlies is a messy business. They can be annoying, dirty, dangerous, ungrateful, and are often a combination of all four. But by living among them, inviting them into our lives, we can love them. And loving unlovable people is a command from Christ.

Father Damien, the missionary to the lepers of Hawaii who eventually died from contact with them, wrote to his brother:

“I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ.”

Captain Kirk truly made himself an Only to gain life for them. What a picture! Imagine Christ with those ugly purple sores all over, getting punched and kicked by over-old children. Christ didn’t come to cure our physical illnesses and jet off to His next adventure though. Christ came to cure our spiritual death first. And He did it to live with us forever. He doesn’t say, “Enjoy your health. You can live over there now.” Paul says, “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-54)

Peace is boring. You should become a Sith.

The bad guys are dead. They died in a good way. So what now? What could the story of Episodes 7-9 possibly be?

First, they’ll need a villain, because they all died in the other movies. Who can be the villain?

Either one of the good guys goes bad, a new bad guy shows up, or an old bad guy wasn’t as dead as we thought.

None of these sound interesting to me.

Good guy goes bad – well, this has been covered in the EU. And it’s tired. Leia went Sith in my script for Episode VII. It was stupid.

New bad guy shows up – I did this too. Darth Seethe. At the time, I thought it was stupid to call the Emperor Darth Sidious, because ‘insidious’ is a real word that means … well, phantom menace. So I wanted to write about a Sith who was ticked off all the time, so I named him Seethe. Stupid. But what kind of new bad guy would be interesting enough to justify a new series? Palpatine’s old roommate from space college has shown up.

Resurrected bad guy – Please oh please do not do this. I enjoy some of the EU, but I seriously got bored when Palpatine was cloned and basically resurrected. Nothing kills a story like making one of the characters immortal.

All of these options are troubling to me actually. All of them make the point that evil is never truly destroyed. I’ve always thought of Star Wars as being a pretty clear metaphor for Christ’s work. Like Luke, He came from a humble rural childhood and rose to achieve victory and peace, against all assumptions that could be made about his age and appearance and rank. Like Christ, Luke finally overthrew the villain and won peace for the galaxy.

So to continue the story would seem to dismiss Luke’s ultimate victory as just one in a series of necessary victories. Palpatine’s gone, sure, but now there are new bad guys that need to be dealt with before we can have peace. At what point will peace finally be achieved? If Star Wars will continue toward a new grand finale, the stakes will have to be raised. Will the sequels feature a villain more twisted and evil than Palpatine. And could they possibly culminate in a final battle as meaningful as Luke repairing his father’s broken spirit and the ultimate destruction of the Empire and its evil Emperor?

To just keep the story going suggests a hierarchy of villains would be built. Palpatine will no longer be the big baddie of the Star Wars universe. Episodes 1-3 are devoted to his rise to power. Episodes 4-6 document his downfall. Episodes 7-9 will be about … his stupid clone? His trusty friend that’s been hiding out this whole time? Any way you play it, it minimizes Palpatine as the big baddie and it minimizes Luke as the guy that restored peace and justice to the galaxy. The new villain will have to be stronger, meaner, and uglier to make any impact, and to not detract from the effectiveness of Palpatine. Star Wars will become like Bruce Lee’s Game of Death, rising from one challenger to another, until finally confronting the big boss.

That doesn’t work for me. Star Wars is myth, not a video game.

(Who am I kidding? They already have my ticket!)

 

 

Thinking through JJ’s career and what it reveals about Star Wars 7

Nobody knows what the next Star Wars movie will be about.

Well, a few people know. And one of those few people is JJ Abrams.

Here’s my JJ knowledge, and what each experience has taught me about his work:

A handful of “Alias” episodes. (He loves Hitchcock. The twisting, turning plot is like techie version of North by Nothwest, which is a good thing. Twisty plots in a Star Wars movie sound good to me!)

One or two of “Felicity.” (Well, again, he loves Hitchcock. The Psycho episode was fantastic. The big hope for Star Wars based on this show is that SW would finally have a full female character. Leia is great. But her last movie really damaged her character. And Padme had potential. But, like everything else in those movies, she was wasted. Here’s hoping JJ can give life to the next generation’s female characters.)

The first four seasons of “Fringe.” (Great show. Regarding the latent Star Wars potential. Well, for one thing, this show demonstrates JJ’s team’s masterful casting. The three leads on this show are excellent. And even better together. If JJ wants to put Pacey on the new Jedi Council, I would be totally cool with that.)

Mission Impossible 3 (He likes the gritty, frenetic take on the classics. I do not like this.)

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (It’s hard to know where his influence begins and ends with this one. He neither wrote or directed it. This is tied with the first as best in the series. It’s fun, over the top, and more or less realistic to that universe’s laws.)

Revolution (Again, don’t know how involved he was. Fantastic premise, lame execution.)

What About Brian? (The first ten minutes of this sitcom/drama were wonderful. The lone single guy in a group of friends otherwise populated by couples would have been a good “Thirtysomething” style dramedy. But they abandoned that aspect within the first episode and the rest of the show hobbled along as Brian whined his way from girlfriend to girlfriend.)

Super 8 (The first half is near excellence. He nailed the ET/Poltergeist vibe. Once the aliens showed up, I lost interest. But of all his movies and shows, this is the one that gives me the most hope for his Star Wars movie. He was a boy when Star Wars started, and he is able to relay that feeling of being a little boy that loves Star Wars. Even though they’re mostly crummy, there’s a wildness to Marvel’s Star Wars comics of the time. They were produced between the movies, when the universe was huge and mysterious. The rapacious EU has only expanded the universe by giving fans a longer list of names to learn. Otherwise, it has been destructive to the purity of the original trilogy. Abrams gets how fans have ruined things with their thirst for information. Fake information. And I think he’ll be able to bring Star Wars back to something magical, unexplained, and wild.)

Star Trek (Abrams’ alternate respect/disdain for old franchises is worked to a wonderful frenzy of old, new, legendary, and dangerous in this movie. This is the best movie he has yet made and it’s precisely because of that mixture of respect and disdain he has for Star Trek fans. Being a mild Trek fan himself, he knows the big moments. Being confounded by the explosion of the franchise in the 80s and 90s, he was able to pare down what “wasn’t working,” and focus on what had worked for large audiences in the movie series’ heyday.)

Star Trek Into Darkness (Okay. This one makes me a little scared for what he might do to Star Wars. The first big fear that came to mind was sex. I really don’t want Star Wars to get sexy. Sadly, there is a stupid precedent for it in Leai’s outfit at the beginning of ROTJ. But after that, I do worry about the story. The story in this Trek movie was contrived and derivative. I would hate to see Star Wars continue down that path.)

Star Trek – the new TV show

Here’s a little clip I made, imagining the Star Trek TV show JJ Abrams might have made had he not taken Trek back to the cinema.

Enjoy! And just imagine the Alias-like twists and turns a JJ-produced Trek TV show would have.

If Trek did come back to TV, what would you like to see? Another reboot? A new sequel show set after the TNG era? Something no one else has thought of? (If it’s Star Trek: Intergalactic Espionage, forget it. I already came up with that when I was like, 10.)

Star Trek, my god

It’s been a hell of a weekend.

And when I say ‘hell,’ what I really mean is &*$&!&$%#*.

Geeks of Christ is about to get a little personal.

This summer has been challenging. Mrs GoC and I have been trying to help this person and we’ve been met with rejection, rage, and ungratefulness. It’s a whole thing that I’d rather not spill all over the internet. There was a period of about two months of intense focus. That ended. Then this weekend was intense. And now we’re just waiting for … well, if you’ve ever tried to help someone that didn’t want help, you know what this period is like. It’s nerve-wracking, but it’s also a little peaceful.

In the weeks requiring our more intensive attention, I had no choice but to turn to God with every free breath. I was forging into new and scary territory. There was no time for goofing off, for serving myself, for thinking about anything but this person God put in our path. So I prayed. Constantly.

Things have calmed down on the home front. With this new (and probably temporary) peace at home, my body is telling me just how tired it has become. So I was super-tired last week and ready for an epic crash this weekend. Didn’t get to.

But I have noticed in the past week and this past weekend, my free moments were not spent in prayer or reading the Bible. Once I was a little safe, I reduced my interactions with God.

Instead: Star Trek on TV, Star Trek on lunch breaks, Star Trek comics before bed. As if He gave me great challenges over the summer to make me really appreciative of the great Star Trek.

I mean, maybe He did. But the times of hardship forced me on my knees and the result was having deep and frequent interactions with His son (me). Being relieved of some of those burdens (even if just for the moment), I didn’t stay with Him. My free time was finally mine again.

There’s a place for Star Trek in the life of a Christian. It’s the little triangle with sprinkles and candies on the top of the food pyramid. And even then, watching Star Trek is not meant to be indulgent. Watching Star Trek is not a 45-minute license to disengage with life. It is entertaining. It can be relaxing. And those two purposes are excellent ways of enjoying Sabbath peace. But the most important use of Star Trek, or any show or movie or book, is to ignite our imaginations with the reality of God’s work in our lives and on our world.

One example:

I admit that I have been indulging in Star Trek for the past week and a half. I’ve been allowing myself to get lost in a comfortable, familiar world. (Last night, I picked up my Star Trek comic and said, “Let’s see what Jim’s up to.”)

One constant theme in the conversations my wife and I have been having over the summer is God’s plan. What does He want us to accomplish here? Does He just want her safe? Or does He want her to be saved? Are we prolonging the inevitable?

We never came up with an answer beyond, “Do this thing now and be nice about it.” But we imagined the ways God could use this or that action to send ripples throughout all of history and bring His mysterious plan into reality. Maybe this young woman’s child will do something wonderful for God’s Kingdom. Maybe these challenges really are just to bring my family closer to God. Maybe there won’t be any good results for a thousand years, but by preserving this person’s life for a couple months we’ve ensured the continuance of her line, from which will spring the Martin Luther of the year 3013.

In the midst of the Star Trek indulgence, I convinced my wife to watch one with me. The next one on my queue was “The City on the Edge of Forever.” The mysteries of the universe are confronted head on in this one. There is no simple ‘right thing’ to do. History must progress with the failure of the Nazis. And that cannot happen without the death of a good woman.

It’s a tough pill to swallow. Doing the right thing is always the right thing. That’s why it’s called the right thing. But given a glimpse of how the vast network of temporal events build on each other, Kirk is quickly overwhelmed. With JUST A GLIMPSE, he sees the terrible responsibility of God.

I may have avoided God by indulging in the fantasy world of Star Trek. But there is no place I can hide from Him.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
(If I boldly go where no man has gone before…You are there, waiting to bring me close.)

I chose to use this thing as an idol. God chose to reveal a truth to me through it.