It’s Federation Day!

SOLAR NEWS NETWORK HARD COPY EXTRACT 10.11.2161
IT’S FEDERATION DAY!
5 sign new UFP Constitution
SAN FRANCISCO, Earth (SNN) – Declaring it a landmark day in the history of each of their worlds, five envoys today breathed life into the fledgling United Federation of Planets with the signing of the new organization’s Constitution amid much pomp and circumstance.
“We are truly entering a brave new world of peace, exploration and security with the establishment of this Federation, declared Earth ambassador Thomas Vanderbilt, whose remarks were echoed by representatives from Vulcan, Andor, Tellar, and Alpha Centauri.
“Following the end of your world’s war with the unseen Romulan enemy, such a union as we create here today is the most logical course of action any of our peoples can take,” added Ambassador T’Jan of Vulcan.
UESPA Maj. Gen. Georges E. Picard, an aide to Vanderbilt, noted afterward the irony of the conference – which met in exactly the same fashion as the founders of the Earth’s old United Nations, who came together only 215 years earlier in the same city in the aftermath of the horrors of another costly war.*
“What is occurring here today is one sign that some good can come of such a scourge,” Picard noted.
“We defy anyone, even the Romulans, to test our resolve now for collective security,” declared AmbassadorNatha Kell of Tellar, while Sarahd of Andor spoke of future greatness for the infant union and predicted rapid expansion. Ambassador Titus Oleet signed for the newly independent Centauri system.
Today’s events were but the ceremonial endgame for the often-tumultuous negotiations, which began in earnest after the defeat of hostile forces at Cheron effectively ended the Romulan War only a little more than ayear ago. Even today, some sources reported a later fracas involving the Tellarite Kell and Sarahd.
Although those taking part today waived off revealing many specific details, the five after signing immediately convened the first-ever meeting of the UFP Council long enough to elect Vanderbilt as president, with Sarahd as vice president.
Also, the Council sources unanimously voted to continue meeting in San Francisco, with an all-new building in the design stages near the historic old Presidio fort and Golden Gate Bridge. Council sources predicted at least three months would be needed before the fledgling UFP bureaucracy would be ready for business.
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Geeks of Christ Presents! October 5, 2012 Edition

Here’s a list of what I’ve been reading, listening to, watching, whatever from around the web.

The Last Thing Ray Bradbury Ever Wrote

In which the master of science-fiction confirms the identity of his god and asks the questions he, nor his god, could ever answer.

When I was seven years old, I started going to the library and I took out ten books a week. The librarian looked at me and asked, ‘What are you doing?’

The Clues of Creation: God Is Not Hiding

by Jared C Wilson

They wake up, go about their routines, and go to bed, only to start the ritual all over again. Sometimes they suspect the world is trying to tell them something about itself and what’s outside of it, but they fail over and over again to put those clues together. They are like a person who finds a watch on the sidewalk and assumes it is the natural result of millions of years of sand, wind, and sun.

The Grimm Reality of Childhood

by Chris Nye

These students have been hidden from the one reality they need to know: life is dangerous.
In the attempt to keep their children “innocent” and “free,” parents tell their children a different type of fairy tale, a modern American story: everyone loves you because you’re special, you are good at everything you try, and if you work hard enough and be a good little boy or girl, you’ll be successful.

The Great TNG@25 Theology Trek: “Where No One Has Gone Before”

by Michael Poteet

“The sickly, shy, bookish, eight-year-old Roddenberry dreamed, he says, ‘of a better world in which people would look past our exteriors and see whatever loveliness we have inside us.’ In response to his parents’ no doubt well-intentioned concern for him, he reflects, ‘Ah, how lovely all our daughters are inside, how fearless all our sons, if only we could see it.’

Star Trek : The Next Generation – The Last Outpost 1.05

Portal 63

The Enterprise and a Ferengi ship orbit a planet, in a tense stalemate. An ancient alien force on the planet below is holding them in a kind of tractor beam. Ignorant of this for most of the episode, the first contact between the Federation and the Ferengi was off to bad start, because each thought the other was being aggressive.

Resolving to free themselves, away teams from both ships beamed down to the planet. They find someone calling himself Portal 63. He’s the guardian of the long dead Tkon Empire. The Ferengi throw Riker and Co. under the bus, shouting that they’re barbaric and hostile. Portal 63 prepares to attack Riker, he doesn’t defend himself. He simply quotes Sun Tzu saying, “Fear is the true enemy. The only enemy.”

Q gets the blame for destroying the Tkon Empire in this book

Portal 63 backs off, accepting this as proof of the Federation’s civility. It generously offers to destroy the deceptive Ferengi. Riker declines, claiming that the Ferengi have much to learn and shouldn’t be denied that only because of their current crudeness.

Portal 63 asked, “What if they never learn, Riker?”

Riker answers that the Ferengi might never learn to be peaceful. In fact, they may develop a way to destroy them. But the values of the Federation demand that the Ferengi be given a chance to grow, and not face abortion at the hands of the more fully-developed Federation.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to shoehorn a discussion of abortion into this one. Not totally anyway.

Riker’s rejection of the Portal’s offer to destroy the annoying and dangerous Ferengi is an illustration of the Federation’s highest, most mature values. Instead of destroying the Ferengi, which would be convenient, they will tolerate them, and eventually form the beginnings of a peaceful  relationship with them (as Nog joins Starfleet Academy in Deep Space Nine).

An easy solution – annihilation – is presented. And Riker refuses, fully admitting the possible difficulties and dangers the Ferengi may pose. Because it’s right, the Federation chooses longsuffering.

Longsuffering, by the way, is the attribute of God that most impresses and confounds me. If God had not decided to withhold punishment, the world and our race would have been cleared from existence the moment after the first sin. Justice would have been served. Peace would have been restored. And God would continue on, being perfect and holy and full of love.

But He relented. He withheld punishment. And He watched as His creation continued to rebel against Him. Instead of punishing, He let us go on with our lives. His longsuffering kept Adam alive long enough to (presumably) teach Seth about the terrible gulf between humans and their Creator. Noah was given a safe place to build his Ark, despite the depravity surrounding him. Abraham made some strange and bad choices, but God’s longsuffering gave Abraham the time to see God’s goodness and His plan for him.

The Federation’s patience with other species, despite their aggression, is similar to God’s patience. But different.

The Federation is patient with the Ferengi because they may grow out of their crappy traits. God is patient with sinners because He decided to fix our crappy traits Himself.

But, the Federation is doing the right thing. Christians should act the way they act! Here’s why: We are not God.

We are supposed to tell people about God. We are supposed to act like God in some ways. But we are not actually God and fixing people is reserved for Him. Praying for restoration, healing, peace, justice, etc is acceptable. But we are never big enough that we can bring any of those about on our own power. We should be like Riker and let people continue to exist because we just don’t know what God might want to do with them.

That means we should be protectors of life. If somebody wants to off themselves, intervening would be good. If there’s a war, it’s probably wise to be working for peace. And yes, if someone is moving towards having an abortion, letting that little person live would be a very nice thing to do. And just like Riker, we should admit that things could get ugly. It’s easier to to just butt out and let people war or kill themselves. It’s less complicated to destroy the baby before it starts changing our lives or costing us money. But ya gotta let the Ferengi live or their wasted potential is on your hands.

Star Trek The Next Generation : Code of Honor 1.04

I know everyone has better things to do than think about this episode, so I’ll try to be brief.

The first nine seconds of this episode are awesome.

The Enterprise is charged with retrieving a medicine from the planet Ligon II, which is entirely populated by extras from old racist Tarzan movies of the 1930s. Lutan, the main guy there, likes Yar because she’s feisty and kidnaps her. When Picard and co. beam down to get Yar back, they have to sit through a tedious meal with the tedious Lutan while he explains his tedious scheme to marry Yar. His other wife gets ticked and she and Yar have to fight each other to earn Lutan’s affection. Yar wins the fight and the first wife is transported to the Enterprise for treatment. Yar lies to Lutan, saying that the first wife died. This breaks the bond between Lutan and his first wife, which allows her to remarry.

“Gimme some skin, Lutan!” Cut to Riker facepalming…

This stinks for poor old Lutan because he was only spending his wife’s money; he didn’t have anything on his own. Smile smile, blah blah, warp the heck outta there and end this episode!Brush away the hokey performances, the stereotypes, and the terrible story and you’re left with a typical Yar story…which is defined by those things plus some shoehorned sex comments, because Yar loves sex, as she so subtly states in every episode she’s in.

Let’s take a peek at my original Star Trek: The Next Generation journal. I wrote brief synopses and reviews of each episode when I was too old to be wasting time on such things. Thank God I grew out of that! I offered my dad the chance to be immortalized in this journal by writing the review for this one. He wrote:

Tashabar Yar had to fight that princess woman with the alien weapons on a alien jungle jim thingy.

He was right. That’s all there is to this episode.

Notice I corrected his intentional misspelling of ‘Tashabar’

Yes. This stinks. But it is a story. And if my assertion that all stories can somehow be a reflection of the story of Jesus Christ. Sometimes it’s intentional (Narnia), sometimes it’s obvious (Superman), and sometimes it’s just really hard to see(poorly told stories).

I’m a sucker for Star Trek matte paintings.

Guess which category this story belongs in.

Let’s see. I think we can imagine Yar in the role of Christ. In this illustration, she is fighting for the right to marry someone. She has to earn the right to enter into this union. But who gets the “prize”? Yar wins, but the other wife gets the reward. Christ does the dirty work of salvation, but we get the reward of it.

Man. I feel really uncertain about this. This is a crummy story and I hate to casually draw my usual comparisons to the story of Christ. But I do believe that stories, even bad ones, reveal our interest in these great themes of the greatest story. Sacrifice, substitution, gods condescending, restoration of broken relationships, joining something bigger than ourselves, etc. These are the great themes of all stories – even crummy ones – and these are the themes at the very center of the Christ story. And we see glimpses of that here. This show reflects the truth like shards of a mirror stuck in your foot might still reflect.

Don’t watch this episode.

***

Star Trek : The Next Generation – Encounter at Farpoint 1.01

Encounter at Farpoint

Picard begins his captaincy of the new Enterprise. First task: solve the mystery of Farpoint Station. The crew is fully assembled for the first time, as Riker, Dr Crusher, and Wesley join the ship. And Q makes his first appearance, holding court against mankind with Picard as its representative.




Q’s First Charge

Simply appearing on the bridge, Q disrupts the Enterprise’s mission and eventually makes his charges against them clear:

Q:But you can’t deny, Captain, that you are still a dangerous, savage child race.
Picard:Most certainly, I deny it. I agree we still were, when Humans wore costumes like that 400 years ago.
Q:At which time you slaughtered millions in silly arguments about how to divide the resources of your little world. And 400 years before that, you were murdering each other in quarrels over tribal god images. Since then, there has been no indication that Humans will ever change.

Picard truly believes humans have evolved past human brokenness. Sin is no longer a problem in his eyes. Not only do I disagree with Picard based on my Christian beliefs, I also would argue that he’s wrong based on the actions of other humans in his own time period. The crew of the Enterprise gets along with each other for the most part, and they pursue knowledge and peace. But what are humans up to outside the Enterprise? And are things always so perfect, even on the Enterprise?

Supporting Q’s First Charge

If you peak at the next episode, ‘The Naked Now,’ you’ll see the basic desires of the new crew exposed. Infected by an inhibition-killing virus, the crew reveals what’s underneath their prim 24th century perfection. Wanton sex, despair, and jealousies are quickly unveiled. None of those may be enough to condemn the crew in their own courts. But in Q’s court, which looks deeper and acknowledges motivations, they would be found guilty on the spot.

Why do people kill other people? Why are wars started? Do wanton sex, despair, and jealousy have anything to do with it? Oh yeah! Find a war – even any of the supposed religiously motivated wars – and look at the source of the conflict. You’ll find someone sleeping with the wrong person or wanting the land that belongs to the other guy or some other jealousy that exploded into full-blown war.

Throughout the series, little jealousies are revealed. Little problems that don’t generally cause major conflicts, but are made of the same stuff that major conflicts are.

Geordi unintentionally mocked the integrity of a woman he’s never even met by basing a holodeck character on her. His inappropriate behavior stirs reasonable anger in the woman.

Barclay is a bundle of nerves, humiliating his coworkers and captain by creating a holodeck simulation in which they all appear fools. He does this because he misinterprets their orders in a work situation as judgments on his person. Does that seem like a reaction from someone within a race that is supposedly perfect? If Barclay is moved to have sexual fantasies of his coworker, and mocks his boss in private, what might the non-Starfleet population of the time be up to? Without the ordered lifestyle, wouldn’t tools like holodecks be used for even more devious puposes?

That's not very nice either. Understandable, just not very nice.

In Deep Space Nine, Commander Sisko harbors resentment for Picard, for the deaths he committed while he was unwittingly working for the Borg. Where does resentment fit in with 24th century evolutionary perfection?

The most glaring example of the failure of Picard’s theory is the classic Voyager episode ‘Equinox.’ It is discovered that another federation starship was carried into the Delta Quadrant by the same alien force that transplanted Voyager. This other ship, filled with Starfleet officers, has been killing aliens to gain speed on their journey home.

Disregarding any violation of God’s law the crew of the Equinox is at least in violation of their own law. According to the Bible, every person will have to answer for their violations against God’s law, even the people who didn’t believe in him. But just imagine every person is subject only to their own standards. Picard and the Equinox and everyone else is guilty in that sense. They can’t even manage to follow their own basic laws, let alone God’s!

Q’s Second Charge

Q’s initial claim that humans are a savage race seems proven. Even if we accept Picard’s defense, that humans have progressed beyond war, Q’s next charge cannot be denied:

Q: “And later, on finally reaching deep space, Humans found enemies to fight out there, too. And to broaden those struggles, you again found allies for still more murdering! The same old story all over again!

Supporting Q’s Second Charge

It’s true isn’t it? Hasn’t the search-and-discover mission of Star Trek usually been sidetracked by the fight-and-destroy aspect? Don’t get me wrong – I love a good Star Trek space battle. But it’s a little sideways isn’t it? Fighting Klingons and Romulans and Ferengi and Andorians until they eventually join the Federation looks a lot more Roman than United Federation of Planets.

I’ve always scratched my head at the philosophy behind Star Trek. It’s the future and everyone gets along. Okay. So what are the stories about? Every episode they encounter some mean alien. So everyone doesn’t get along then?

Just the humans get along with each other, the aliens are the ones that are jerks.

Convenient.

Picard’s Defense

And what is Picard’s answer to the two charges against his race? It’s so backwards, it’s laughable.

Picard: “No, the same old story is the one we’re meeting now. Self-rightous life-forms who are eager, not to learn-but to prosecute to judge anything they don’t understand or can’t tolerate.

When I rewatched this recently, I was actually confused.

I wondered, “Why is Picard condemning himself like this? He’s just emphasizing Q’s charges by admitting that he’s self-righteous, and eager to prosecute.” It took me a second to realize that he was making those claims not against himself, but against Q.

Think about those words applied to Picard though. It fits. It is the same old story. It’s just the next generation of the same old story. Self-righteous humans eager to dominate the galaxy with their version of goodness, their version of respect, their version of honor and dignity and peace.

Picard smugly asserts that his race was barbaric (in those centuries past, including the one in which this story was filmed), but has since reformed.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Picard. He’s one of my favorite ever characters. His attitude in this first episode is intolerable though.

Isn’t avoiding judgment for past wrongs exactly self-righteous? Picard’s species is guilty of committing horrible crimes – and continues to commit more of the same kind of crimes. Instead of accepting judgment, he demands that the judge is out of order.

Judgment

If we’re going to be damned, let’s be damned for what we really are.” – Picard

Couldn’t have said it better, Captain.

We, the human race, are found guilty.

Sentence

It seems unfair perhaps for Picard to take the burden for the sins of his species? If it meant the survival of the human race, I could see him taking the punishment. People are supposed to be good in the 24th century, so I could see Picard dying for good people. Very rarely would one die for a righteous person, but it’s possible.

But if Q is right, and people are bad, then Picard would never die for bad people, would he? His love for the human race seems based on its ability to improve itself. If we didn’t have that ability, Picard might not be interested.

How great would his love be if he did die for the human race when they were still barbarians though? It wouldn’t make sense, but it would demonstrate that Picard really did love humans, not just their accomplishments.

Former Christian-killer Paul wrote to the Romans, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Even though we are unable to improve ourselves in any deep way, God loves us. Even though we can’t change our standing before the, God intervened and removed the punishment for us, by taking it himself.

In this Star Trek we have a picture of a pernicious, bored, and limited judge. He is judging an arrogant representative of a continually failing race. If Picard is found guilty, he probably deserves it. If he’s found innocent, that’s just as well because the judge doesn’t really have authority to judge him anyway.

Compare this show to the real situation, with God the creator as judge. Here is the creator of the universe and everything in it judging the part of creation that he gave the most to. He gave us sentience and wit and his own image. And we willfully ignore and even mock him. Even the people that claim to know him ignore him. Imagine saying to him, “This is the same old story. Self-righteous judges, eager to condemn.”

We have no place to say that. Because, unlike Q, God is righteous. And we are not. And we’re living in his universe.

Just as the judge is about to pass sentence, his very own son jumps in and shouts, “His sentence was already carried out! On the cross! I loved him while he was still trying to start wars and while he was still fantasizing about Deanna Troi, like Lieutenant Barclay did before him.”

Instead of having to prove our goodness by doing good works, like Picard had to relieve the Farpoint alien to impress Q, we have only to acknowledge Jesus to step between us and our deserved judgment.

**********

Next week on

Geeks of Christ

Trek Tuesday

Deep Space Nine : Emissary