The 602 Club 45: More Than a Feeling

tsc-045-th-square-1440Revenge of the Sith.

As May 19th 2005 approached, Star Wars fans eagerly awaited what was believed to be the last film in the Saga. The end had come and the only question was whether it coould satisfy the imaginations of a generation.

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by Jedi Masters Bruce Gibson and John Mills to talk about Revenge of the Sith. We discuss our Episode III experiences, the end, personal themes, the fall of Anakin and the Republic, speculation about Episode VII, in light of The Clone Wars, Mustafar scene, missing scenes and our ratings.

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The 602 Club 44: West Side Story for Spies

tsc-044-th-square-1440The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The original television show The Man From U.N.C.L.E. ran for four seasons from 1964 to 1968 and was conceived of as James Bond on TV. It found a loyal following of fans and because of this had been in development for a feature film for over 20 years, finally finding it’s way to the silver screen in 2015.

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by super spies Alice Baker of Educating Geeks, John Champion of Mission Log and Norman Lao of Warp 5 to talk about Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. We discuss the history of the show and development of the movie, the spy, period spies today, coming together and give our ratings.

Owl Post 8-11-15

Owl Post: 2-3-2012

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The Coddling of the American Mind:

image6087947xSomething strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Educationdescribing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.

From Gamergate to Cecil the lion: internet mob justice is out of control:

In this animated image created by Matt Groening and released by Twentieth Century Fox, the entire town of Springfield is transformed into an angry mob, in a scene from When an American dentist named Walter Palmer killed a beloved lion named Cecil, the social media platforms that allowed outraged web users to spread the story also enabled them to do more than just fume. It gave them the power to act on their anger, to reach into Palmer’s life and punish him for what he’d done, without having to wait for the wheels of more formal justice to turn. Web users uncovered Palmer’s personal information, including about his family, and published it online. They went after his business, a private dental practice, posting thousands of negative reviews on Yelp and other sites. The practice has since shut down. Users also went after professional websites that host his profile, leading the sites to remove his information. On Twitter and on his practice’s public Facebook page, people made threats of physical violence.

Go Set a Watchman: Why Harper Lee’s new book is so controversial:

20150326140533US_cover_of_Go_Set_a_WatchmanTo Kill a Mockingbird is one of the best-known books in America. It’s an inspiring story about standing up to injustice even if doing so is difficult and unpopular; an accessible coming-of-age tale; and a convenient way to teach high school English students about the Jim Crow South. It’s also the only novel that its author, Harper Lee, had ever published — until a sudden announcement in February 2015 heralded the publication of Go Set a Watchman, a new Lee work featuring the same characters as To Kill a Mockingbird.

A lot of people are suspicious about the discovery of the new manuscript. There are questions about whether Lee actually wanted it to be published, or whether she even wrote it at all — and if so, when. These questions have only become more urgent since the book’s release on July 14, due to its “reveal” that Atticus Finch, the anti-racist hero of To Kill a Mockingbird, is a virulent racist in Watchman.

How Kerry Conran saw Hollywood’s future – then got left behind:

skyangelina-xlargeShortly after completing their first movie, in 2004, Kerry and Kevin Conran received an invitation from George Lucas. The Star Wars mastermind would be hosting a summit at Skywalker Ranch, his production facility-cum-small town in San Francisco, gathering some of the most forward-thinking people in the movie business to discuss the future of film.

James Cameron was there, as were Robert Zemeckis and Brad Bird. The brothers were newcomers, but that day they were treated as peers; each of their fellow directors told the Conrans how impressed they were with what they’d accomplished. Their work, they were told, was way ahead of its time.

Planned Parenthood: 4 Ways to Respond:

PlannedParenthoodsignWe have come to a singularly important moment in the battle against abortion (which is to say, the battle for life). The stunning undercover videos by the Center for Medical Progress have taken us right to the heart of the abortion industry. They have shown that Planned Parenthood is enriching themselves with the bodies of murdered babies. Not only that, but Planned Parenthood is willingly increasing the risk to the women they serve in order to enrich themselves—altering the abortion procedures to deliver intact bodies. Planned Parenthood is a business, a government-supported business, that buys and sells death.

Carly Fiorina at the Reagan Library:

How Culture Disciples Us:

i-mass-media-inducono-alla-violenza-L-kysDzCWe hold a misconception about discipleship: that it’s a merely Christian idea, only taking place at weekend worship services, on weeknights in groups and in the mornings or evenings when we “spend time with the Lord.” On the contrary, discipleship is taking place all around us and in us every day. Whether we realize it or not, we are being shaped and formed by the movies and TV shows we watch, the music, podcasts and radio stations we listen to, the books and magazines that we read, the social media feeds that we skim, and the trips we take to the mall. Our cultural practices and habits are discipling us either for good or for ill.

Ready Player One

ready-player-one-book-coverReady Player One is author Ernest Cline’s love letter to the 80’s in novel form. It’s 2044 and the world has become  an almost unbearable place to live. An energy crisis has let to economic turmoil around the word and the environment has continued to decay. Because of reality’s almost unendurable nature, people spend most of their time in the fully immersive, digital world of OASIS created by James Halliday. Upon his death, Halliday bequeathed his fortune and control of OASIS to the person who can find the hidden egg, somewhere in it’s massive universe of worlds. What follows is a geeks biggest dream, that all that nerd knowledge would actually save the world one day. Ready Player One is a pop-culture infused adventure as Wade Watts tries to uncover the egg before he’s out of lives, figuratively and literally.

Choosing The Matrix

What if reality became so oppressive to deal with that you would willingly choose The Matrix. This is exactly what happens in Ready Player One. People choose to live in the digital world where they can be whoever they want, look however they want and become the idealized version of themselves. It’s not too hard to imagine. We already live in a society that is Instagramed and Facebooked to the point of absurdity. It is not who most of us really are, it’s just our best selves in 1’s and 0’s. We photoshop our lives and present what we want people to see. OASIS takes this to the nth degree. Don’t like being short, male, female or even human, then your avatar can be anything you desire. It’s the ultimate extreme makeover.

On top of this, it’s the perfect place to hide away from everything reality has to offer. Again, there are so many ways this already happens today. Twitter allows us to be anyone we want and the “relationships” there are comfortable since it’s easy to be whatever anyone wants when you’re hidden behind a profile picture and screens. It’s prophetic that Halliday’s avatar says to Wade,

“I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all my life. Right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real. Do you understand?”

There is nothing easy about life and there is nothing wrong with social media. Personally it has lead to some life-changing relationships in the real world with real people. Ready Player One is a fantastic reminder that there is no substitute for reality itself, everything else is just a self-decieving fantasy.

Conclusion 

Ready Player One is an impressive first novel by Cline and honestly a good time. There really is so much to think about as Wade and his friends rush to solve the mystery of Halliday’s ultimate video game quest. If you love good stories and the pop culture of yesteryear this is certainly the book for you.

Lions, Babies and Death; Oh My

Michelangelo-Creation-of-Adam-hand

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:26-31 ESV)

From the beginning of time, we have been charged with caring for the earth, its plants and creatures and filling it with descendants that can carry on that mandate. Our goal is to be God’s representation on earth and govern well the gift we have been given. We are to treat with respect, this planet and it’s inhabitants in our care. To do that we are called to raise families, have children that will take up that mantle and carry forth the mission.

cecil_the_lionMuch has been made in the last few days about a man who hunted a lion in Africa. I have no problems with hunting if the end result is someone is going to eat the meat that animal provided with it’s death, but I would argue that killing for sport goes against our second mandate from God, to have dominion over the earth and care for it as God would. So it is tragic when an animal dies but for no other reason than to prove a man with a firearm can kill a defenseless animal.

One does not have to look hard to see that before the command to take care of the earth and it’s myriad of creatures and plants, there is something else, something paramount to allowing the completion of the second: humans are to be fruitful and multiply (that’s Biblical poetic language for have sex and babies).

plannedparenthood3Longer than the story of the lion, there has been something else lurking in the news shadows, videos of Planned Parenthood doctors discussing the sale of aborted baby parts. The very idea seems like something out of a Nazi-infused nightmare. It should come as no surprise. To make palatable the wholesale murder of innocent human life we have conveniently devalued it by calling it a fetus and “questioning” whether it is really human or proto-human or just some kind of parasite that may become a human. The argument has been leveled that science has not determined when life truly begins, therefore it is acceptable to take the life of a fetus within a certain time frame. But is this how we define life or humanhood?

There is no scientific reason for defining life by existential means such as an organisms ability to survive. Speaking scientifically, biological history is riddled with organisms that weren’t able to survive. It did not define whether they were alive in the first place, only whether they’d continue living. As for a scientific argument we might look at verifiable evidence rather than a philosophical conjecture that is not falsifiable. A fetus contains DNA. A full grown adult also contains DNA. The DNA code that determines exactly what species, deficiencies, or anomalies an organism will be and have never changes. So, speaking scientifically, there is no demonstrable difference between an organism as a fetus and the same organism full grown other than replication of the genetic code stimulating the growth and development of the organism. So I’m afraid your definition of life is not a scientific one, but a philosophical one that rests squarely on existentialism. Neither verifiable nor falsifiable. – Steven Nelms

The road here is full of danger. If the argument of humanity is based on anything other than the DNA of science, it becomes too easy to begin rationalizing, as Peter Singer has, the death of a child up to two years old or euthanasia. The slope here is more that slippery, it is a black hole and moral abyss the likes that have been seen before. It is no different than the treatment of anyone the Nazis found lacking, they changed their name, devalued them and made it acceptable to treat them as nothing more than animals or worse. And let’s be honest here, this same attitude that use to be applied to African-American slaves so as to morally legitimize their treatment as mere cattle or in many cases worse.

Can we not see that our lack of historical understanding has lead us to the greatest crime perpetrated by humanity on itself? How often we become our own worst enemy.

Houston-1Is it not our duty then as human beings then to err on the side of life? If the DNA is the same and science has proved that, does not science cry out that it is always a human, from conception, nothing more, nothing less? On top of that science is medical science that is allowing babies as young as 20 weeks to survive outside the womb and fetal surgeons to repair defects in babies in as young as 18 weeks. The contradiction is astounding, Why would it matter if this is not a human? Science is proving the point for us, from conception it is a human and therefore deserves out respect and care.

We should be outraged when life is lost because of deliberate death, all deliberate death of innocent beings. The lion was as helpless as the baby, each one is at the mercy of someone else to protect it. What is unimaginable is that the violent reaction from the world has not been for the death, dismemberment and sale of human babies, but instead a lion. I mourn the death of one of God’s creatures because of “sport” but my heart bleeds for the 125,000 abortions per day around the world. And unfortunately you will see no pictures on celebrities Instagrams of babies or aborted babies, but you will see a lion. The most helpless among us and we do nothing to protect them, what does that say about us?

Our call, from the very beginning of time has been to have children and raise them up in the way they should go so that when it is their turn they can care for the incredible planet God has given us. We’re failing at both.

adorable-affection-child-cute-lion-Favim.com-121203

Unexpected – Review

large_unexpected_ver2Summertime is usually know for movies that contain multiple explosions per minute but sometimes those small independent films find their way to a theater near you and make your summer. Unexpected is one of these movies and like it’s title it’s an unforeseen treasure. Colbie Smulders stars as Samantha Abbott, a science teacher at a closing Chicago high school who finds out that she’s pregnant, while at the same time her star student Jasmine finds herself pregnant as well. What follows is surprising story of two women, from contrasting backgrounds and the struggles faced trying to bring children into the world.

Expectations

Unexpected does a wonderful  job of showing the unrealistic expectations that are on women these days. They are suppose to go to college, meet someone, have a career and find the perfect time to have a child. Samantha’s mother remarks that her having a child is happening all out of order, that she should have had a wedding first and then gotten pregnant. While at the same time chiding her for even considering being a stay at home mother. Luckily Samantha does have a supporting husband, John, who has the ability to support her if she decideds to stay home. What is heartbreaking is to see the struggle for Samantha to be able to admit that she does want to stay home, that it is ok for her to want to do that while her child is young. Her mother, later in the movie, reminds her of something quite poignant, that whether you work or stay home, either one is a sacrifice, but that being with your child is always rewarding.

The expectations that women face today many times leaves them in their 30’s before the thought of kids even enters the picture. And with the way society has fractured, so that families are smaller, organized religion is no longer providing community, many people find themselves alone when pregnancy hits. They don’t have friends that have children, they may not have grown up with siblings, so women find themselves woefully unprepared with no where to turn for guidance. Society has downplayed the importance of family and children so much that when people find themselves soon-to-be parents they have no experience from growing up or around them to draw upon and that leaves many feeling not joy but fear.

unexpected-movieOne of the most interesting things is the parallel of Jasmine with Samantha. Jasmine, from the outside seems to be behind the eight ball. She is from a poor neighborhood, has been raised by her grandmother after mother abandoned them because of drugs and is soon to be an unwed mother. Yet Jasmine is surrounded by a community to help her and because of that support she’ll be able to attend college in the city and be with her baby. Samantha spends so much of the movie trying to help Jasmine, when it is really Samantha that has no clue what to do. It becomes clear that nothing can replace community.

New Life 

Hollywood is not particularly known for being overly pro-life in it’s films, yet Unexpected is. There’s a beautiful moment when Samantha and John are at the doctor’s office for their first ultrasound and she sees the heartbeat on screen for the first time and it becomes real to her, that there is a life inside her. It can be so easy to forget that since the baby is hidden, but as that window opens, so do her eyes to what’s truly happening; she carrying a human baby. Neither of these women planned for their pregnancy, yet each of them decides to do the best for that new life. John Lennon famously said that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans and that is exactly what happens to the characters in this film. Having a baby is never going to be convenient, but it is always going to be a blessing whether that’s to the biological parents or the adoptive parents.

Conclusion

Unexpected is a true summer gem. Seek it out, you won’t be disappointed. Colbie Smulders is fantastic as Samantha and Gail Bean as Jasmine will melt you heart. This movie, for it’s celebration of life, in all it’s messy glory is worth your support. Unexpected is rated 4 and a half sonogram heartbeats.

Go Set a Watchman – Review

20150326140533US_cover_of_Go_Set_a_Watchman

Go Set a Watchman set the world afire when it was announced. After years of rumors that Harper Lee had written another book and questions about if it would be published, the book’s final discovery continues to be followed by controversy surrounding whether or not Lee had been taken advantage of by her publisher. Regardless, the book is out and with society in upheaval again, it just may be the perfect book at the perfect time. In the story, Jean Louise (Scout) is home visiting from New York and what follows are vignettes on a theme. Each vignette builds to a crescendo as Jean Louise breaks the shackles of childhood to become her own person.

Breaking the Icons

Thomas Wolfe famously wrote that you can’t go home again and for Jean Louise the statement  is true. When she arrives she finds a world in chaos. As the South reels from the recent Supreme Court decision, presumably Brown v. Board of Education,  the battle lines have been drawn and Scout finds that her father and boyfriend might be on the opposite side as she is.

Atticus allows his daughter to tear him down verbally as she works out her own beliefs about the world. He gives her the opportunity to stop using him as a crutch and instead stand firm in what she thinks, moving through the process of metamorphosis from child to adult. Scout is able to crush the idol she has made of her father and see him as simply human. It’s a beautiful picture of fatherly love as Atticus helps his daughter to make her own way.

There is little that is as painful in this world as having a hero in your life suddenly become nothing more than human. Yet it is one of life’s most important lessons, finding that the thing you’ve placed on a pedestal is not worthy of such admiration. What we put our faith and hope in must be able to sustain the weight of such things,and the weight of such glory is heavy indeed. False idols must be brought down if true clarity is ever to be found.

Stranger in a Strange Land 

Scout finds herself irrevocably changed by the end of the story and her question becomes how to live in a place where she does not agree with those around her. The answer her uncle offers is poignant, “…the time your friends need you is when they are wrong, Jean Louise. They don’t need you when they’re right -.”

Standing up for what you believe is the most difficult when the world and worldview of those around you is diametrically opposed to your own. Our response should not be to run and isolate ourselves with likeminded people. It is at those times that we must stand up and lovingly engage. Edmond Burke said, The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Scout’s uncle continues with the good advice about how to engage such a culture when he says,

     “I mean it takes a certain kind of maturity to live in the South these days. You don’t have it yet, but you have a shadow of the beginnings of it. you haven’t the humbleness of mind-”

“I thought the fear of the Lord was the beginning of wisdom.”

“It’s the same thing. Humility”

To influence and impact the people and the world around us any action we take must be done with humility and love. If we want to change the world around us it must be through honest and open interaction. We must stand for something and not be afraid to share those convictions with others. We cannot do nothing. Jesus clearly reminds of us this in Matthew 5,

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Conclusion 

Go Set a Watchman is a visionary book about the past yet it is just as relevant today. It’s an important read and well worth your time. I encourage everyone to wrestle with the themes because you just might find yourself changed in the end.