Tuesday, September 27, 2016

book review--Asimov's Foundation


In Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, Hari Seldon has seen the future, and it’s ugly. The galaxy-spanning Empire will fall apart in the near future, and what will follow will be a thousand generations of chaos. 

But Hari Seldon also has a plan, one that will keep the chaos to a mere 1,000 years, if it all goes right. He’s gathers a large group of scientists, and has them set up to live on a middle-of-nowhere planet called Terminus, where they will create the most extensive and comprehensive encyclopedia in human history.

But there’s more going on then any of them know, because Hari Seldon has not told them everything.

This book is actually a collection of 5 short stories or novellas, and the events in each of the stories happen many years after the previous story. The first is about Seldon and how the plan for The Foundation gets set in motion. The second and third share a common protagonist, Salvor Hardin, though they take place about 30 years apart. The fourth and fifth are about traders and merchants.

Characters

Maybe the short story aspect of this book explains why the characters come off as very shallow, though I’ve read short stories before that had decent character development in them. Maybe it’s just simply that, when it came right down to it, I did not like any of the characters, especially the good guys.

There are essentially two types of characters in these stories, the hyper-competent good guys and the hyper-incompetent bad guys. The first type is able to find some kind of clever and unusual way out of any problem and crisis. The second type may not necessarily be villainous but they are portrayed as short-sighted, greedy, and violent. Little is made of the normal folk, expect that they are little more then sheeple.

But the thing I mostly noticed was that there was no great difference between the good guys and bad guys. The good guys of The Foundation are just as determined to conquer and control and maintain their own power as the bad guys are. The Foundation may use different methods, but I’m not prepared to say that different methods mean they are any better.

One thing I really noticed in these five stories was that women may as well have been almost non-existent. The only woman that made anything like a serious contribution to the story was in the fifth story, and about all she does is get into a couple of nasty verbal exchanges with her husband, the ruler of a planet called Corell. That may change in Asimov’s later stories.

Religion

I suppose it’s well-known that Asimov was an atheist. There is a place in The Foundation for religion, but it is a very cynical place.

As things fall apart all around Terminus and the neighboring societies degrade, Terminus is the last remaining beacon of nuclear power. They set up a religion around nuclear power, complete with a deity called The Galactic Spirit, a holy land called Terminus, and a priesthood who are trained in taking care of nuclear power plants without really being taught much of anything. Religion becomes simply a means by which The Foundation expands its power and influence, or as some characters put in the later stories, “conquest by missionary.”

And conquest it is. In the third story, when the Kingdom of Anacreon wants to attack Terminus, Hardin uses this priesthood and the beliefs they have instilled in the people as a weapon of his own. Hardin has no belief in a Galactic Spirit and the Foundation leaders of the religion do not believe any of the religious aspects of what they teach. but they are quite happy to make use of it, as well as the gullible nature of the people, for their own ends.

So let’s understand what they are and are not doing. When other planets and kingdoms send people to Terminus to learn about nuclear power, that knowledge is dressed up in the trappings of a fake religion that The Foundation made for it, or as Hardin put it at one point, “I started that way at first because the barbarians looked upon our science as a sort of magical sorcery, and it was easiest to get them to accept it on that basis” (page 92).
He puts a more plainly a few paragraphs later:
“The best men on the planets of the kingdoms are sent here to the Foundation each year and educated into the priesthood. And the best of these remain here as research students. If you think that those who are left, with practically no knowledge of the elements of science, or worse still, with the distorted knowledge the priests receive, can penetrate at a bound to nuclear power, to electronics, to the theory of the hyperwarp— you have a very romantic and very foolish idea of science. It takes lifetimes of training and an excellent brain to get that far.” (page 92)
In fact, in that same story a few chapter’s later, a priest who seems to be a true believer sums up the religious views in this way: “In the name of the Galactic Spirit and of his prophet, Hari Seldon, and of his interpreters, the holy men of the Foundation …” (pages 130-131).

But religion is merely a weapon, and when that weapon ceases to give the desired results, then it is discarded, as it begins to be in the last story, when the Kingdom of Corell wants nothing to do with missionaries and the religion of the Foundation. The protagonist in that story, the trader Hober Mallow, says this the ruler of Korell, “…I’m a Master Trader. Money is my religion. All this mysticism and hocus-pocus of the missionaries annoy me, and I’m glad you refuse to countenance it. It makes you more my type of man” (page 190).

Pithy sayings

A couple of sayings are repeated a few times, which I thought were of more then passing interest. One is “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent” (page 90). My problems with this saying are several, but one of the main would be in how narrowly they treat the idea of “violence.”

To my mind, “conquest by missionary” is as much an act of violence as conquest by invading army. It is much the same thing as saying that being robbed by identity theft is just as much an act of theft as being robbed at gunpoint. Interestingly, someone like Hardin may not want to use violence in the most literal sense, he’s quite happy to make use of the threat of violence in the events that concluded the third story.

The other saying is one attributed to Hardin, “Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right!” (p. 143). That might be the most pithy summation of relativism that I’ve come across. As if one can determine right and wrong without morality, or that what is right might possibly be immoral.

Conclusion

Maybe the Foundation stories get better in later books, but taking simply this first book in the series by itself, I’m rather disappointed. It’s filled with shallow and undeveloped characters and buffoonish bad guys being outsmarted by clever good guys. Over it all is the almost god-like presence of Hari Seldon, the man who seems to have predicted almost everything, and the messianic idea of The Seldon Plan, which has to be kept going no matter what though no one really understands it or how to go about keeping it going. And if lies and manipulations are needed to keep the plan on track, so be it.

If mankind’s only hope is some kind of group of elites leading it to the promised land, then I’d like to get off the train, please, because that version of the promised land will only be another disaster. Asimov may have discarded God, but what he uses to replaces Him is hardly anything I want to be a part of.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Shifters: Manipulations excerpt

This is the first part of the story, though not the entire first chapter. Enjoy.



"I do not like this, princess." Abrex said.

"You never like it, Abrex," the girl walking beside him replied. "And nothing ever happens, and nothing will now."

Abrex grimaced, then said, "You do not know that. Things in the city are restless."

Princess Lirianin smiled up at him. "Nothing will happen, Abrex, and if it does, you'll be there to protect us, won't he, Tivna?"

Tivna said nothing, but Abrex saw that she kept her eyes busy, too, trying to note anything that seemed wrong.

"Oh, I'm so glad you're finally well again and can come with us!" The princess took the other girl's arm. "Don't let Abrex worry you. He has to see imps in every shadow, it's what he does."

Abrex sighed, but he did feel his lips twitch. Sometimes he wished that the Princess Lirianin were like those demure princesses in the stories, but she wasn't, and that was the end of it. And truth to tell, there was some good to be said for having a princess with such spirit. Still, it didn't make his job as her guard easy, especially at times like this.

The sun had descended behind the high walls of the city of Akbarra. Abrex welcomed the cooling of the oppressive heat of the day, though the desert air was still as dry as always. His eyes scanned the narrow street, trying to see if anyone was paying him and his two companions undue attention, trying to see if any threats were hiding in the shadows of doorways or alleyways in this impoverished area of the city.

"Oh, it's already so late. Let's hurry, it's not far to where Olia lives." the princess said as they turned into an alley. "She's been doing better, so I've heard, but it's been weeks since I've been able to visit her."

And this was one reason Abrex felt such fondness for this headstrong, troublesome princess. Olia was an old woman who used to help care for the princess child, but her age was catching up with her, and she had become frail and sickly. Abrex knew of nobles who would completely forget about a servant who was no longer of any use, but the princess insisted on trying to look after her old nurse. Which was the reason she had set aside her royal gowns for a few hours, and she, her personal servant, and her guard were dressed in common robes and walking these poor streets.

They came to a narrow stairway, then walked up it to a doorway, and entered a small room which was barely lit by a small oil lamp. A couple of women sat on either side of a low bed, on which an old woman lay. The one in the bed looked up as they entered, and weakly held up a bony hand to them. The princess went over to her, took her hand, and began talking with her. Tivna quietly spoke with the other women, and worked with them on getting the room cleaned, and some food prepared.

Abrex stood by the door, keeping his eyes and ears open, trying to keep his impatience at bay. As he had said to the princess, things were restless in the city. His position as the princess' guard did not allow him to often leave the palace grounds, but he heard enough talk from others who worked in the palace to know that rebellious talk and even demonstrations were becoming frequent.

The fact that the ruler of Akbarra, The Iron Face, was an absolute tyrant was reason enough for some people to rebel. But stories from outside the city, of villages being wiped out, or caravans not arriving when expected, were enough to cause people to feel even greater fear. That those story seemed tied to The Tainted Land, the blighted region mere days away from the city, caused added panic in those who heard them.

Whatever was happening, something had scared The Iron Face enough for him to seek for help, even from those he counted as enemies. Rumors in the palace said that he planned to send an emissary to The Talla Empire. Since Akbarra was no friend of the empire, and The Iron Face had often expressed his hatred for it, only something very serious would have made him ask them for any help.

The Princess Larianin was good-hearted, but not always the most aware of things around her, like now. She sat talking away with the old woman, oblivious that evening had turned to night. Abrex noticed it, and it made him anxious. If these troublesome factions knew the princess was out and about in the city, what would they do to get their hands on her?

Though if they thought The Iron Face cared for the girl, they might be disillusioned. She was the daughter of his deceased brother, true, but he had no great love for her. At best, she might be useful, if talks with The Talla Empire went well. She was of age, and it would be expected that any alliance with the empire would involve a marriage between the ruling houses, and the princess was the most likely pawn that The Iron Face would use in such an event. That would be the only real reason The Iron Face would respond to any threat against her.

Abrex shook his head, trying to get his thoughts to return to this moment. He looked from one girl to the other. At a glance, they were a fascinating study in contrasts. The princess was the taller of the two, with the sun-browned skin typical of the people of Akbarra and wavy black hair hidden at the moment by her head covering. The servant was smaller and slighter, her hair as black as the princess's but straight, and the folds at her eyes and her lighter skin confirmed that she was not completely Akbarran.

Abrex's position as a guard to a member of the royal family had required his undivided loyalty, which meant that so long as he held the position, marriage and family were denied to him. For eight years, he had served as the princess's guard, and Tivna had been with them for almost all of that time. Though he would never say it, the two had become like daughters to him, and his concern for the safety and well-being of the servant was no less than for that of the princess.

Watching them now, he wondered which of them did Olia the more good. It wasn't something that could be measured, and likely it didn't matter. The princess' bright presence and animated chatter brought life and even laughter to the previously listless woman, and the other girl's quiet labors prepared food for her and kept her rooms clean.

Tivna put away the kitchen tools, then looked over at Abrex and nodded. He grinned wryly. She had noticed that night had come, too. The girl was of about the same age as the princess, but more aware than most other people he knew, even among the guards. She had been ill for several days, and he had to admit that the princess was right, it was good to have her back and well.

"We need to go, princess." Abrex said firmly. "No argument. It is already dark. You can return another day, and hopefully earlier in the day, but now, we must go."

Larianin hesitated a moment, then nodded. She kissed the old woman's cheek, and they said a few quiet things to each other, then she stood and nodded to him. "I'm ready."

They left the room, and descended the steps. Night had fully set in, and Abrex strained to see in the darkness. The uneasiness he had been feeling during the evening became stronger. They walked a few yards, and he looked back to check on the girls. Behind them, he could see the outlines of two people.

Abrex looked the way they were going, and saw two other people approaching. His heart started pounding, and his hand went to the hilt of his sword.

There was movement, then some small explosions at his feet. Thick gas enveloped him. He coughed once, then his mind contorted before he lost consciousness.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Star Wars vs Star Trek humor

I thought this was very funny. Not much can beat Darth Vader and Jean-Luc Picard trying to diss each other.


Friday, September 16, 2016

a bit of music--Huur Huur Tu

I saw this group in concert a few years ago, when they played at a nearby university, and enjoyed it a lot. This isn't that concert, but it's still very much like the one I attended.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

WITITB? Bethel Redding--excerpt



I'm sure most people who call themselves Christians would consider humility to be a virtue, something the Bible commends to us. I'm sure that we can think of ways in which this virtue can be faked, or misconstrued, or done badly. Passivity, for example, is a false form of humility. A soppy, milquetoast attitude would be another. The postmodern attitude of extreme uncertainty is another form of it, and often enough it's a lie, as those who claim we should be uncertain are only trying to sneak in their own certainties. Even pride can disguise itself as humility.

Dignity so often suffers the same fate. Pride is often mistaken for dignity. We can easily imagine the person with a haughty bearing being considered dignified.

But just as humility is not discarded just because there are fake forms of it, so too should dignity not be discarded, thoughtoo often it seems to be discarded, as Bill Johnson discarded it.

Dignity and humility. Even now, those seem like two strange things to combine. But the truth is, the Bible commends both of them to us. We are to be humble, and we are to be dignified, and it may well be said that we cannot be the one without being the other.

If you take a look at the events over the past few decades that have been considered “moves of God” by many people, it seems that dignity and self-control are two virtues that have all too easily been thrown aside by those claiming to be hungry for more of God, wanting to be in on what God is doing, or any such similar thing.

The buffoonery is staggering. You can see a video of a man named John Scotland, apparently a speaker at the Toronto outpouring, acting like he's had a few pints too many, even telling the people that “I've been going through different stages of drunkenness, and the stage I'm at at the moment is slouching. I've gone through the hiccup stage. I've gone through the stage of heckling the preachers” And that's before he starts making trumpet and rooster sounds whenever he's trying to read anything from the Bible.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

a long trailer for A Silent Voice movie

With the movie being released this coming week, though I highly doubt it'll be over here so soon, this will likely be the last trailer for it. It's a long one, two and half minutes, and while I've seen a lot of the footage before, there's still plenty of new stuff, too. I'm still surprised on how much of the story they're going to fit into the movie.

I don't often anticipate something like this so much, but if you've read my review of the series, you can understand a little more why I'm anticipating it so much. Of course, I'll have to be a bit more patient, but that's fine. A bit more patience is usually a good thing.


Friday, September 9, 2016

a bit of music--Amethystium: Nightfall

I started to listen to Amythystium's album "Transcience", and I've been very happy with it. It's a bit different then HUVA Network, the difference I've noted most is that it's more melodic. The whole album is good, with "Nightfall" being one of my favorite tracks.


Monday, September 5, 2016

review--Psycho-Pass, season 1

I want to start with a bit of a caveat. This show does contain some scenes of intense violence and some graphic crime scenes. It definitely shouldn't be considered a kid's show. If I were to draw a line, I'd says that if you are fine with crime scenes and crime depictions in the various CSI series or a show like Bones, you should be ok watching Psycho-Pass. If CSI and Bones aren't things you like, you may be wisest to give this show a pass.

Summary
Japan has created an ideal, well-ordered society through the use of the Sibyl System, an apparently computerized system that uses a multitude of scanning devices to monitor citizens' mental states and determine when a person might be in a state of mind to perform a criminal act. But the Sibyl System does far more then evaluate persons; it also determines what kinds of art and music are acceptable for citizens to perform and listen to, and determines what a person's career path would be best for them. All of this is designed to give each person the best chance for a happy life, and so create a happy society.

There is still a need for law enforcement, for times when the Sybil System determines that a person's mental state has made them a latent criminal. Akane Tsunemori is a rookie detective, and she works along side people called Enforcers, who are latent criminals used by Sybil to hunt down other criminals. From her first night on the job, Akane is pushed into a violent world she had previously been unfamiliar with, and has to deal with horrible crimes and their consequences to others and to herself while not allowing those crimes to affect her so much that Sybil determines that her mental state has crossed over into her becoming a latent criminal.

Shinya Kogami is one of the Enforcers, a former detective whose obsession with a series of murders committed a few years before, and in which an Enforcer then under him had been killed, caused his own mental state to become so bad that Sibyl labeled him a latent criminal. He now works under Akane, but is still determined to solve that old murder mystery, and learn about the man he thinks is actually behind so many of the grotesque crimes that have been occurring in recent years. The existence of this mysterious criminal mastermind is doubted by many of the detectives, but then Akane comes face-to-face with him in a devastating way, after which she joins with Kogami is his hunt for him.

The world depicted in Psycho-Pass is an intriguing blend of reality and illusions. Robotic drones used by law enforcement to secure locations are hidden in cutesy-looking holographic images. Living spaces can use holograms so they can look very different from moment to moment, and even the appearance of a character's clothing can be changed using holographic tools. I suspect these small-scale illusions are meant as microcosms of the larger illusions that cover the society as a whole.

The Perfect Society?
Shogo Makishima is the man who has been supporting and encouraging various forms of criminal activities. His idea is that the Sibyl System has done the people more harm then good. But protecting the people from crime, the system has essentially made the citizens in livestock, they have become sheeple who live dull, programmed lives that do not require them to think, make decisions, or face real conflicts.

And it could be said that he does have a point. When the systems can decide a person's future for them, when it can evaluate for them what kind of work would make them happy, when it can determine what kinds of music and art the people should be exposed to, and when it can determine when a person has become so dangerous that they need to be captured or eliminated even before that person had committed any criminal action, then it could be argued that the system has become something oppressive, even when the oppression wears a mask of benevolence.

But Makishima himself hardly offers a better alternative. How is society-wide chaos suppose to be superior to society-wide control? How is the freedom to commit crimes with impunity better then the oppression of being labeled a latent criminal before one has even committed a crime?

All such attempts at a utopian society fall apart, and they fall apart for the reason that man, the creator of these utopias, is himself fallen

What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’— could set up on their own as if they had created themselves— be their own masters— invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history— money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery— the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

The reason why it can never succeed is this. God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.


That is the key to history. Terrific energy is expended— civilisations are built up— excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and it all slides back into misery and ruin. In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards, and then it breaks down. They are trying to run it on the wrong juice. That is what Satan has done to us humans.”

Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics) (pp. 49-50)

Is This the Church's Job?
One things I've been looking into a good bit has been ideas in the church about societal transformations. While some of these views have appeared loopy, others are sane enough to be taken seriously.

As I visited primarily Christianized nations— Togo, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa— my anguish increased. Missions statistics that I had quoted with joy burned in my mind. “Africa, 80 percent Christian south of the Sahara by the end of the twentieth century.” “Africa, the most evangelized continent in the world.” “Africa, the most churched continent by the end of this century.” In each nation the story was the same. Poverty, disease, violence, corruption, injustice, and chaos met me at every turn. I found myself asking, Is this “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”? Is this what the blessing of the gospel brought into a community looks like? Is this what a nation looks like when it is “reached”? In southern Africa nearly every person has heard the gospel. Churches are planted and full. African evangelists abound and continue the work. Is this what it looks like when our work as Christians is finished in a nation? God forbid! My anguish increased.

Cope, Landa. An Introduction to the Old Testament Template: Rediscovering God's Principles for Discipling Nations (Kindle Locations 215-222)


I can understand this woman's concerns. The fallenness of man has resulted in societies that are filled with the things she mentions--poverty, disease, violence, corruption, injustice, and chaos. Those things can be seen in any nation, even in nations that could be considered highly christianized in places outside of Africa.

But if I can understand her concerns, I also find her solutions troubling.

God’s truth, if applied, can and does transform communities and nations. If God can develop these impoverished Jews into a great nation, he can do it for any existing nation in any age, because not one community or nation in the world today is worse off than the Israelites in that wilderness. God has told us to reach every creature with the message of salvation, and he has taught us how to do that. He left us the models of Jesus and Paul and the New Testament church to guide us into the global vision of reaching every language, every tribe, and every people. But God has also told us to disciple every nation. How do we do that? God has not given us a job and then been silent on how to accomplish it. Just as the keys to evangelism are in the stories of Jesus and Paul, the keys to our job in transforming communities are in the story of Moses. Israel— its journey from slavery to greatness— is our Old Testament template of how to disciple a nation.

Cope, Landa. An Introduction to the Old Testament Template: Rediscovering God's Principles for Discipling Nations (Kindle Locations 494-500)

Is this really what Jesus meant when he told the church to make disciples of all nations? Is the church's job really to somehow put the nations of the world under the law of Moses, or at least impose some principles the church gets from the law of Moses? Where did Jesus or any writer in the New Testament hold up ancient Israel as an example of what they meant by making disciples of all nations?

To put it maybe rather crudely, is it the church's job to become Big Brother, or the Sibyl System, or any kind of societal ruler or overseer, whose job is to conform society and the lives of individuals, even those who do not belief in God or believe in other gods, to biblical standards and biblical principles?

Because how good of an example in ancient Israel do we have of a discipled society? The biblical book of Judges is grim reading indeed, and while one could point out the time of Kings David and Solomon as being high points in that nation's history, they are still hardly perfect times. The Bible is not silent about David's sins and how Solomon fell into idolatry in his later years, and after them the history of Israel is a story of division and bad kings, being conquered and going into exile.

I see this emphasis on transforming societies, on dominionism, as at best a distraction. That doesn't mean Christians are not to care about the lives and well-being of their neighbors, or hope and pray for godly rulers and just laws, but to give the church an assignment that the Bible does not plainly give it is unwise.

Conclusion

I started out comparing Psycho-Pass to some TV shows, and I'll end by comparing it to a movie, The Matrix. Though very different, both look at mankind's problematic relationship with technologies and machines, especially when those machines are set up in ways that control mankind more and more. Both are stories with lots of action, but also well thought out and insightful. If you think you can handle the disturbing elements, I can recommend season 1 of Psycho-Pass pretty highly. There is also a season 2, though I haven't yet seen it.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

movie review--The Black Hole

For about a year, I've been submitting reviews for books and series to Speculative Faith, and I'm grateful that they've posted several of them on their website. This is one for the old Disney move The Black Hole.



Back when I was in grade school, I remember getting the Weekly Reader kid's magazine. I can't say that I remember much about it, except that sometimes they also came with a catalog for books. And at those times, one thing they offered was a comic book version of the movie The Black Hole. One of my fellow students got the comic first, and showed it to some of us, and for a boy who had seen the first Star Wars when it was the only Star Wars, the comic was incredibly engaging. I eventually got my own copy of the comic, and wish I knew what happened to it more then a few years ago.

But while I had seen bits and pieces of the movie over the years, I don't think I'd ever seen the entire thing in one sitting until now.


Summary
The small crew of the exploratory space ship 
Palomino encounters a large black hole, and discover that there is a ship in close proximity to this black hole, which they identify as the Cygnus, an earlier exploratory vessel that had been missing for 20 years. Aboard the Cygnus, the Palomino crew find a ship filled with robots inhabited by only one man, a genius doctor. But things go bad when they discover the robots aren't really robots, and the doctor plans what seems to be a suicide mission into the black hole itself.

If your idea of a live-action speculative Disney film from years ago might be 
The Absent Minded Professor or Freaky Friday, this movie might be a pleasant surprise. Though it has its share of cutesy elements, the movie overall keeps a fairly serious tone, and even gets dark in a few places. One man gets a set of rotating blades jabbed into his chest, though his death is kept bloodless. There's treachery and cowardice, there're robots that are actually something like lobotomized people, and there is a mad man and his pet homicidal robot.

It's a little amusing to see the actor Maximilian Schell addressing a robot with the name Maximilian. I don't know if that was intentional for whatever reason, or just a curious coincidence. But the robot Maximilian is the show-stealer of the movie, a multi-armed red giant with a single sneering red eye, he screams “Evil!!” from the moment he comes floating on-screen.

On the good guy's side, there are the two small floating bots, Vincent and Bob. Vincent is the smart-aleck of the movie, and Bob the old beat up guy, something like 'Mater from the 
Cars movies. To be honest, the robots are pretty much the most interesting characters in the movie. The human acting isn't bad, certainly not B-movie over-acting bad, but nor is it anything special.

Though the movie received Oscar nominations for it's visual effects, watching it now just shows how dated those effects look after all this time. That's not meant to be a slam on the FX people, their work was very good for that time.


The Ending
In the comic, the story ended on a coherent, somewhat positive note. I guess  I hadn't seen the movie's ending before now, which is perhaps for the best, because, honestly, the last five or so minutes of the movie were simply bizarre and incoherent.


Finding God
I really can't think of any physical object that is more overwhelming to my mind then the black hole. My limited knowledge of what such a thing is makes it mysterious, threatening, the ultimate rabbit hole down which there is no coming back. Some of the characters in the movie compare it to Hell. But there were times when the movie's madman views it as a way to God and to eternal life, which is why he wants to journey into and through it.

The idea of journeying into a black hole to try to find God may seem bizarre, and I doubt He can be found there. Very likely, all one would find in a black hole is enough gravity to crush one into a blob of matter too small to see. But it's curious that the desire to find God should play a part in a movie like this. Even more so that it played a part in one of the 
Star Trek movies.

Because that quest is one of the defining things about humanity, even when that quest has been essentially denied as useless by materialists. We've designed many different bridges in our attempts to find our gods, please our gods, placate our gods, and petition our gods. We've designed great edifices to celebrate our gods and our own dedication to our gods, to worship our gods, to make our gods happy.

It is noteworthy, then, that one of the main points of Christianity is the futility of these efforts. Romans 10, “5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

We don't need to shot ourselves into space and jump into black holes to find God, nor do we need to go inwards and jump into black holes inside ourselves. God has come to us, and God's words and thoughts can be understood by what He has told us in His Word.


Conclusion
The Black Hole is a bit of a gem, maybe not a diamond but still a lot better then a lot of sci-fi that has come out over the years. I'd even put it above some recent efforts, like Pandorum or Mission to Mars. It's a good one to watch, if one can keep one's expectations reasonable.

This is one movie that would likely benefit from a quality redo, something the would fix some of the dull elements of the plot and update the effects. Still, even as it is now, I'd give it a recommendation.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

who will keep Johnny Enlow accountable?

I WAS AWAKENED AT 3:43 a.m. in December 2008, and the Lord instructed me to go look at Psalm 34:3: “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.” The Lord began to speak to me: 

My people are magnifying their fears, their doubts, their concerns, their anxieties. I am very large for them at this time, and I need you to tell them to magnify Me so that they will see Me the size that I actually am. For those who get a vision of my true size, I will cause these next seven years to be seven years of plenty. I have one quadrillion dollars of resources that I am making available for my Josephs. A treasure chest has been made available as of Rosh Hashanah 2008 [September 29, the day Wall Street Dow Jones fell a record 777.7 points], and it will be open until Rosh Hashanah 2015. I am longing to show Myself strong and large to My people and to the nations as a God of provision during these seven years. Many of my people have known that there will be an End time transfer of wealth, but they have been fishing in the wrong pond. Wall Street is not the source from which my one quadrillion dollars of resources will come. I have many other ways of providing wealth. My Joseph dreams will be coming to my sons and daughters, and I will have strategies, inventions, and hidden treasures of every kind available to be discovered.

Enlow, Johnny. The Seven Mountain Mantle: Receiving the Joseph Anointing to Reform Nations (p. 65). Charisma House. Kindle Edition. 
 So, Enlow claimed that almost eight years ago God told him that He had one quadrillion dollars He's going to give to "my Josephs". This was suppose to happen in the 7 year period up to whenever Rosh Hashanah was in 2015.

Safe to say, that didn't happen. Not even close.

Now, who is going to hold Enlow accountable for this horrendously wrong prophetic word? Who will hold him accountable for saying God told him something when God clearly hadn't told him a thing?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Brian Simmons disqualifies himself and his version of the Bible

first, HT to spirit of error.

There is completely flakey (Colin Kaepernick), then there is this. And, yes, it is worse then what the NFL QB did.



Brian Simmons is the main person behind The Passion, a new and very questionable remodeling of the Bible. His description of his supposed commissioning to make this mutation of the Bible is bad enough, all the talk about getting downloads so he could do it.

But then he talks about visiting a library in Heaven. No, I'm not making that up, he really is claiming it. He claims that Jesus brought him to this large library, so that he could take any two books that he wanted.

So, he picks his two books, don't know how or why, but then he claims to have seen another, very interesting and, dare I say, telling book. In fact, he makes such a big to-do about this book, about what could happen if he were to somehow bring this book back to earth, that one wonders why he didn't simply ask to exchange one of the clearly less-important books he had with him, or else why didn't Jesus point out this oh-so-important book to him right at the first. But Jesus wouldn't let him take it, he wasn't ready for it for some reason, so all those good things that would supposedly come about if Simmons had been given this book are just gonna have to wait until Simmons is ready.

This oh-so-important books was John 22. Yes, an extra chapter to the Gospel of John.

Yep, if we take Simmons' vision as gospel truth, then the gospel truth is that the Gospel of John wasn't really finished. The canon of scripture is incomplete, God's been holding out on us, and more then that, Jesus even holds this book out as a tease for us.

Of course, though Simmons didn't read this book and has no idea what this nonexistent book says, far be it from him to let non-existence keep him from filling in the non-existent blanks or reading between the non-existent lines. He goes on about a supposed John 22 generation who will do the kinds of greater works that Jesus told his disciples 2000 years ago that they would do, and that they did.

At one point towards the end, he tries to say that Scripture is a "sealed book", even as he is himself clearly saying that there is something missing from the Gospel of John.

I can't even call this lunacy. This is Satanic. Simmons did not visit the library of Heaven, he did not talk to Jesus, and Jesus did not show him a missing chapter from the Bible. That was clearly a Satanic vision.

Brian Simmons has disqualified himself as a minister of God, and has shown that his work at retranslating the Bible was not a work given to him by God, but a Satanic deception he all-too-willingly went along with.