Interstellar – Review

Interstellar_ALT_Artowrk-2Interstellar is the latest film from visionary filmmaker Christopher Nolan. In a movie landscape that is populated by superheroes and remakes, Nolan reminds us of the power and beauty that cinema can have. Experimental and challenging, Interstellar is beyond, light years beyond anything seen in years. Nolan has made a movie for movie lovers. Inventive, beautiful and something that pushes the boundaries in thought and the craft.

The Gospel According to Science or Man

If Interstellar is anything it is a love letter to science and to the indefatigable spirit of humanity. Science is the faith that will save us. When faced with the unknown man must apply the scientific method to deduce the truth. This plays out throughout the entire movie as Cooper is sent off with the crew of the Endurance to find out which of the previously surveyed planets is best suited for human colonization. NASA and the crew talk about the “them” that have placed the wormhole in our solar system which has enabled humanity to travel to another galaxy in search of a new home. It is never discussed if this was a supernatural event, but is assumed to be alien in origin. In the end, it is not aliens but advanced humanity that has learned the secrets of space and time like Time Lords, who have created the wormhole. Humanity needs no outside savior, it is ourselves that will save us through science and the exploration of the universe.

Cooper is the humanistic Jesus, who saves humanity through his “death” and “resurrection” and then finally goes to prepare a place for us in a new Eden with “Eve”. It is the humanistic gospel which just happens to mirror what Scripture tells us. Yet in scripture it is man who is incapable of saving himself, who needs someone to reach into our time and space, show us the way to a “new heaven and a new earth”. Even when trying to tell the ultimate in man’s abilities Nolan cannot find a better structure than the Gospel of Jesus and that is saying something.

Conclusion 

Once in a while, a movie comes along that challenges and changes the way we look at the art of film; Interstellar is doing that. With its inventive use of sound design, music and dialogue as well as the shear magnitude of the visual feast, especially in IMAX, Interstellar will leave it’s mark in the movie industry as well as the viewer. You just may never look up at the stars the same way again.

Interstellar_trailer

The 602 Club 3: Batman Babies

Gotham and The Flash.

DC Comics has taken over the TV landscape. Autumn 2014 has brought us two new series: Gotham on FOX and The Flash on the CW. It seems that the world cannot get enough live-action comics, and the networks and producers are happy to oblige. But now that we’ve turned our screens on, what do we think about the product?

In this episode of The 602 Club, host Matthew Rushing is joined by Norman Lao, Jamie Sanchez, and Daniel Proulx to talk about Gotham and The Flash, the characters, first impressions, criticisms, and delights. Plus, we also delve into the big DC cinematic universe announcement.

The 602 Club 2: Who Knew?

tsc-002-th-squareThe 602 Club 2: Who Knew?

Doctor Who.

On November 23, 1963 the BBC aired the first episode of Doctor Who; a show about a time traveler from the planet Gallifrey who, along with his companions, works to save the galaxy from various foes and right injustice. On Christmas Day, 2013, Peter Capaldi became the 12th Doctor (or the 13th, from a certain point of view) making this the longest running sci-fi show ever.In this episode of The 602 Club, host Matthew Rushing and his guests Andi VanderKolk and Norman Lao discuss this British sci-fi institution, their favorite Doctors and companions, as well as their thoughts about Series Eight and Capaldi.

Owl Post 10-27-14

Owl Post

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Broken: The Power of Conversion in Louie Zamperini’s Life

unbrokenLouie Zamperini’s amazing life is the subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. It has remained on the New York Times bestseller list for almost four years (a remarkable feat!), and on Christmas Day the much-anticipated movie adaptation is slated for release. Although it is one of my favorite books, I have to agree with Collin Hansen: “The title is all wrong.” After the war, Louie returned home a broken man.

Why Kids Sext

stock-footage-girl-using-mobile-phone-smartphoneIt was late on a school night, so Jennifer’s kids were already asleep when she got a phone call from a friend of her 15-year-old daughter, Jasmine. “Jasmine is on a Web page and she’s naked.” Jennifer woke Jasmine, and throughout the night, the two of them kept getting texts from Jasmine’s friends with screenshots of the Instagram account. It looked like a porn site—shot after shot of naked girls—only these were real teens, not grown women in pigtails. Jennifer recognized some of them from Jasmine’s high school. And there, in the first row, was her daughter, “just standing there, with her arms down by her sides,” Jennifer told me. “There were all these girls with their butts cocked, making pouty lips, pushing their boobs up, doing porny shots, and you’re thinking, Where did they pick this up? And then there was Jasmine in a fuzzy picture looking awkward.” (The names of all the kids and parents in this story have been changed to protect their privacy.) You couldn’t easily identify her, because the picture was pretty dark, but the connection had been made anyway. “OMG no f‑ing way that’s Jasmine,” someone had commented under her picture. “Down lo ho,” someone else answered, meaning one who flies under the radar, because Jasmine was a straight‑A student who played sports and worked and volunteered and was generally a “goody-goody two shoes,” her mom said. She had long, silky hair and doe eyes and a sweet face that seemed destined for a Girl Scouts pamphlet, not an Instagram account where girls were called out as hos or thots (thot stands for “that ho over there”).

The Power of Grace

lilaMarilynne Robinson tracks the movements of grace as if it were a wild animal, appearing for fleeting intervals and then disappearing past the range of vision, emerging again where we least expect to find it. Her novels are interested in what makes grace necessary at all—shame and its afterlife, loss and its residue, the limits and betrayals of intimacy.

In Lila, her brilliant and deeply affecting new novel, even her description of sunlight in a St. Louis bordello holds a kind of heartbreak: “When a house is shut up like that in the middle of a summer day the light that comes in through any crack is as sharp as a blade.” The notion that light might hurt—that illumination doesn’t always arrive as salvation, or that salvation might ache before it heals—echoes the novel’s articulation of a more personal kind of pain. “That was loneliness. When you’re scalded, touch hurts, it makes no difference if it’s kindly meant.”

The Flash: A Welcome Anti-Vigilante

_1394660692Selling a live-action superhero for teens is a tough gig these days for DC Comics. Their current offerings include a plethora of heroes, but few role models. Instead of the wholesome Clark Kent of Smallville or Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, DC’s Superman du jour is Zach Snyder’s glum Man of Steel. In place of the tongue-in-cheek George Clooney, DC’s Batman is the morally troubled, forbidding rich-boy type played by Christian Bale. For adolescents who have outgrown Teen Titans, Marvel still dominates the market.

Doctor Who and faith: bigger on the inside

clara-capaldi-danny-series-8-2With series 8 referencing ‘heaven’, Nathan traces Doctor Who’s varied relationships with atheism and faith…

I was a massive Simpsons fan as a child. And when I say massive, I really do mean – huge. It’s still one of the more memorable moments prior to my wedding day: emptying out my childhood bedroom with my (now) wife, only for her to discover notebooks filled with minute observations about the show. Obscure number plates, birthdays of secondary characters, dates of key events and much more besides. Having already paid for the reception venue she couldn’t exactly retract her commitment to marry me, although my mind contemplated that possibility when she hyperventilated laughing at “little Nathan,” circa 1999.

The 602 Club

TSC001 Thumbnail SquareI have a band new podcast that has just dropped on iTunes today. This show is dedicated to all things geeky, yet not Star Trek. I hope you will listen, rate on iTunes and subscribe for great geek conversation every week!

Star Wars Rebels and Episode VII.
Welcome to the premiere episode of Trek.fm’s local geekery speakeasy, The 602 Club. This is where the crew gathers to talk about all of those non-Trek geek topics that Level 3 forcefields can no longer hold at bay. In this episode host Matthew Rushing and his guests John Mills, Mike Schindler, and Jaime Sanchez dive into the new Disney Star Wars Universe. Together they discuss Episode VII, the first time they heard the news about the new trilogy, the rumors, and setting expectations. From there they dive into the new DisneyXD show Star Wars Rebels, talking about first impressions, things that worked and didn’t, along with hopes for the future of the show.

The Children Act – Review

Children-Act-3D

Ian McEwan’s latest book revolves around the world of family law. Fiona is a High Court judge working in the family division. She is constantly ruling on every known issue that could disrupt a family legally. As her marriage crumbles, the life of a Jehovah’s Witness family does as well. This family is fighting for the religious rights of their son who is soon to be 18. The state desires to save his life with a blood transfusion which goes against the teachings of The Watchtower. What follows is a clash of world-views with no clear winner.

Foundations

McEwan’s book presents what appears to be twopposing world-views, yet with closer examination, they differ very little. Fiona clearly believes in law and order. Yet for her, what is right and best is founded on society-imposed ideas that shift as the sands, flowing from one “enlightenment” to the next. She thinks to herself while meeting with Adam, the boy in question,

“As he said this, looking at her directly, with no particular challenge in his voice, she believed him completely; he and his parents, the congregation and the elders knew what was right for them. She felt unpleasantly light-headed, emptied out, all meaning gone. The blasphemous notion came to her that it didn’t much matter either way whether the boy lived or died. Everything would be much the same. Profound sorrow, bitter regret perhaps, fond memories, then life would plunge on and all three would mean less and less as those who loved him aged and died, until they meant nothing at all. Religions, moral systems, her own included, were like peaks in a dense mountain range seen from a far distance, none obviously higher, more important, truer than another. What was to judge?”

Her world-view has started and ended with human thought. And with that as a foundation, the weight of any meaning in life cannot be sustained, all is meaningless.

The most interesting thing that the book does is try to set Fiona’s world-view against a sect of people who claim to know the truth and live by God’s Word. Yet when put to the test, their beliefs are shown to be all about them and the foundation was not God at all. Adam confesses to Fiona later in the book,

“My feelings came out of my religion. I was doing God’s will, and you and all the rest were plain wrong. How could I have got into such a mess without being a Witness…. Oh you know, wanting to suffer, loving the pain and sacrifice, thinking that everyone’s watch and caring and that the whole universe is about you…. That’s when I saw it as an ordinary human thing. Ordinary and good. It wasn’t about God at all. That was just silly. It was like a grown-up had come into a room full of kids who are making each other miserable and said, Come on, stop all the nonsense, it’s teatime!”

When belief is built on anything other than the immutable eternal, it cannot sustain the weight of pain, suffering and glory. Adam’s faith was about him, earning his place and suffering well for the cause as penance for forgiveness and acceptance by others and God. In the end, without a free gift of grace, his faith has no more meaning than Fiona’s.

Meaning

Through their shared experience, Fiona and Adam begin searching for meaning. Fiona asks Adam,

“So you’ve lost your faith”

“…Yes, perhaps. I don’t know. I think I’m frightened of saying it out loud. I don’t know where I am, really. I mean, the thing is, once you take a step back from the Witness, you might as well go all the way. Why replace one tooth fairy with another?”

“Perhaps everyone needs tooth fairies.”

Fiona is on to something. We need meaning in this world. The thought that this is meaningless and oblivion is all that awaits the other side of the pine box leads to nihilistic suicide. Later in the book, Fiona eats a meal with her husband as he pontificates about the bleakness of the human condition and the inconsequential nature of time. As he speaks, she can feel his words weighing on her, causing her to leave the table because of her discomfort. The logical end of her belief system confronts her and sickens her for it’s lack of purpose.

At the end of the book Fiona finds out that Adam’s leukemia has returned and that he refused treatment. She believes strongly that he denied himself treatment as a form of suicide. She thinks,

“Adam came looking for her and she offered nothing in religion’s place, no protection, even though the Act was clear, her paramount consideration was his welfare. How many pages of judgements had she devoted to that term? Welfare, well-being, was social. No child was an island. She though her responsibilities ended at the courtroom walls. But how could they? He came to her, wanting what everyone wanted, and what only free-thinking people, not the supernatural, could give. Meaning.”

The book ends with Fiona lamenting the death of this boy, his loss of hope and her complicitness in his death. The sadness is that the meaning she desires, the meaning that was never truly Adam’s, is the meaning they both need. Meaning can only be given if there is a standard set above us, if there is truth outside us and not dependent on us. Meaning can only come from the eternal perfect, not the temporal fallen. Thank God that there is meaning and hope beyond oblivion.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV)

Conclusion

Adam keeps chasing Fiona for help and “enlightenment,” but she has nothing else to give. It shows how the offer of shared knowledge (books and new ideas), art (music, etc.), and relationships (his wanting to live with her) can’t always go as far as we want them to, even though that’s often the culture’s prescription to problems. The Children Act is well written and McEwan’s prose sparkles as per usual. The though-provoking nature of this book, along with the lack of sufficient answers to it’s timeless questions make it worth the read.