Back From the Dead–back to blogging, back to geeking

mushulives

Hey, everyone.

There are like 6 people in the world who will notice this blog returning, but I am grateful for those people.  I said I was coming back a while ago and never followed up on that promise.  There are a lot of reasons for that, none of them particularly interesting.

What is interesting (or not, maybe, to you, but to me) is why I’m coming back.

It’s not that I haven’t been blogging at all–I discovered the wonderful world of tumblr a little over a year ago, and I’ve had a great deal of fun getting involved in that community.  That’s not likely to change any time soon.  But today, during some time of reflection with the Lord, I realized that I had lost something that was once very important to me–the joy of writing for Him.

Again, it’s not as though I haven’t been writing.  Since you last heard from me, I actually have become a full-time pastor in a wonderful, sleepy little midwestern town.  So I’m writing sermons weekly.  I’m writing posts on Tumblr. I’m writing papers to finish up my graduate degree.  I’m writing *pauses for dramatic effect* fanfiction.  I’m writing all sorts of things and I love writing and it is my passion, and I hope to continue to write all of those things.

But I can’t write anything if I’m not doing it for Jesus.

At its best, this blog was a place for me to combine two of my great loves–nerdy things and Jesus.  It was a place for me to express in long-winded, picture-ridden fashion the connections I find to my faith in great stories, in fun games, in all of the beautiful and weird and awesome facets of geek culture.  I’d like to get back to that place.  I feel like it’s important for me to get back to that place.  I feel as though it is going to be an important spiritual discipline for me in the days to come.

SO!  Buckle your seatbelts and get ready.  I’m going to be back to at least weekly blogging here.  There will be plenty of Doctor Who and Devotions, which I know are some of my more popular posts from the past.  I’ll also be commenting on things like tumblr culture, reviewing (and getting devotional-y about) my favorite other geeky pursuits, and maybe adding the occasional post about current events or family life (Guys, I’m a mom of two now.  TWO.  One of those reasons I talked about was the arrival of another little geekling in our numbers).

So please, if any of that sounds interesting to you, come along and join me. I’m looking forward to where this new writing journey takes me.

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Why I Can’t Take the Bill Nye Debate Seriously

Just for starters: this has NOTHING to do with faith vs. science.  That’s another topic entirely, for another post.

I felt like I needed a picture here, and this one had a dinosaur on it.

This is about credibility and respect.  This is about how both of these things can be absolutely ruined by even the tiniest of mishaps.

This is the story of Bill Nye talking down to my mom.

I was just a kid.  I never really watched “the science guy” and his many adventures, I preferred the slightly goofier science show “Beakman’s World” because it involved neon green lab coats and a guy dressed as a giant mouse.  I was a simple child, with simple pleasures.

SCIENCE!

My mom used to go to teacher’s conventions with a friend from church every once in a while, to help him sell those giant pencils you see some teachers use as name plates.  It was a pretty neat setup–she got to travel, her friend got an extra pair of hands at his booth, and sometimes mom would bring back toys for me.  Simple child, like I said.  I always loved hearing her stories about the conventions when she came back.  In a way, these experiences might have planted the con bug in me long before I knew what C2E2 or SDCC even were.

Anyway, it was at one of these conventions that my mother encountered the Science Guy himself.  She was on her break, meandering the con floor, and happened to find Bill Nye in a rare free moment.  Because my mom is the coolest mom EVER, her first thought was to get a photo with him for me.  She knew I would be excited–hey, he wasn’t my favorite TV scientist, but I understood enough about what “famous” meant to be pretty thrilled that my mom would bring home a picture with a TV star.  Waiting until his conversation died down, my mom approached Bill Nye and asked for the photo.

His response?  Not quite as gracious as your childhood dreams might have anticipated.

“And today, we’re going to determine the probability of a television star acting like a diva!”

“I don’t do photos,” Nye told my mom, in a tone that apparently was neither gracious nor understanding.  “If you get in line at my stall you can pay for an autograph.”

And that was it.  He walked away.

No “thank you for your interest,” no “sorry to disappoint you,” nothing.  He shut her down and left.

Now, I understand that celebrities at conventions are busy people who don’t necessarily want to be mobbed by admirers.  I understand that there are appropriate boundaries and these people are under no obligation to be nice to you if you violate those boundaries.  But, from all I gathered from my mom’s story and my knowledge of her character, this was not the case.  My mom was being as polite as possible, requesting an autograph for her child.  It would have been very simple for Mr. Nye to say “I’m sorry, but I am not doing photos at this convention.  I am taking autographs at my stall later, though.”  Just phrasing it more politely would have worked wonders.  But no–he felt the need to be brusque and condescending.

I literally do not remember how long ago it was that my mom came home with that story.  It’s been at least fifteen years.  And for at least fifteen years, whenever I see a picture of Bill Nye or hear him discussed in any context, you know what I think?

“Oh hey, that’s the guy who was a jerk to my mom.”

I literally cannot get past that childhood offense.  He could form the most eloquent, convincing argument in the world and it would not matter to me.  He could cure cancer and, while I’d be grateful, I’d still have trouble having any respect for him as a person, because Bill Nye was a jerk to my mom on one day over fifteen years ago.  It doesn’t even matter the context–he could have been having a really bad day.  He might have been sick.  He might have had no sleep the night before.  But it doesn’t matter in my mind, because my mother was my childhood hero and Bill Nye did not treat her with respect.

Why do I bring up this weird, kind of depressing story?

because this is what happens to people of faith who attempt aggressive apologetics in the place of loving service.

JESUS LOVES YOU, YOU IDIOT!!!!

We live in a world that seems to be driven by facts and figures.  Christians are often ridiculed for being anti-intellectual.  And so our first response, far too often, is to go on the offensive.  We fill our arsenal with Scriptural defenses and conservative interpretations of science and history, and we bludgeon our opponents until they will acknowledge that we are just as well-studied and intelligent as everybody else.

That’s not how we’re remembered, though.  When people look back on our “victories,” you know what they tend to think?

“Wow, what a bunch of stubborn jerks.”

And that’s it–we’ve lost.  By shutting somebody out one time, it is likely that you have colored their opinion on the church for days, weeks, maybe even years to come.  I have heard countless stories of people who have been out of the church for years, people who have never been in the church at all, and almost all of them begin with a cold-hearted parishioner or minister acting hatefully towards them or their loved ones.  That’s all it takes for the Christian faith to be written off as antagonistic and close-minded.

Now don’t get me wrong–sometimes healthy debate is important and desirable.  It is certainly important for people of faith to explore all kinds of intellectual endeavors–math and science and literature and art and everything else.  There is nothing wrong with being a learned people.  Quite the contrary–it is essential for us to be a learned people, so that we can demonstrate that a life of faith is not incompatible with a life of understanding.  But it is not enough for us to be intelligent.

A beloved professor of mine recently uttered these words: “We have to out-love them.”  It’s a well-known sentiment but a vital one.  No matter where we are or who we come into contact with, our call is to be people of love–the kind of love that gave up everything for people who didn’t deserve it.  Because the one time we aren’t is the time they’ll remember for years to come.

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Doctor Who and Devotions: Regeneration

and with the removal of one accessory, Matt Smith caused millions of fangirls worldwide to burst into uncontrollable sobbing.

The Doctor: Times change and so must I.  We all change. When you think about it, we’re all different people all through our lives.  And that’s OK. That’s good. Gotta keep it moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.  I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear.  I will always remember when the Doctor was me.

——–

We all knew this was going to kill us.  We’ve known about the farewell for months, we’ve anticipated the arrival of Peter Capaldi, we’ve speculated about how and why and every last detail of what would happen, but this Christmas the heart-rending moment finally came: time to say goodbye to the eleventh Doctor once and for all.

“The Time of the Doctor” was, in my opinion, one of the best episodes in Smith’s run.  It hit all the right notes of suspense, humor, and gut-wrenching emotion that you expect from a farewell episode.  It developed the romantic relationship between the Doctor and Clara (I CALLED IT I CALLED IT LAST SPRING DO YOU ALL REMEMBER WHEN I CALLED IT BECAUSE I TOTALLY DID) in some new and interesting ways.  It finally tied up the loose ends from a number of plot threads that have been up and running since the very beginning of Eleven’s episodes.  Most importantly, though, it culminated in a beautiful farewell monologue by Matt Smith, where the voices of the Doctor and the actor were blurred at times and you really got a sense of closure for Smith’s iteration of the beloved time lord.  I cried.  A lot.  I regret nothing.

pictured: the exact moment when I lost it and began weeping into my cup of tea

I thought that it was an excellent choice to connect the Doctor’s imminent regeneration with the idea of change and transition as normal people grow and develop.  It really brought to the forefront a concept that has always been a part of the Doctor’s regenerations–really, that has been the bedrock of the entire series, from the very beginning.  Life is change.  We truly are constantly becoming different people.  It’s kind of terrifying, really.

It has now been three years since I graduated college.  I’ve become a lot of things in those three years, some of which I’ve liked and some that I haven’t.  I became a mother.  I became a grad student.  I tried and failed and tried again at a number of different ministry scenarios. I’ve battled depression.  I’ve experienced great joy.  In the middle of it all, sometimes it’s hard to remember the kind of person that I used to be, to measure whether I like the me that I am more or less than I liked the me that I was months and years ago.  And sometimes I just think about the person that I’ve become and am just terrified simply because that person is different–I am not the same; how can that be a good thing?

How can it be a good thing when we wake up and find ourselves to be different people than we were before?

It’s in times like that, when I’m reflecting on the changes I’ve undergone, that I think the words of the Doctor are so comforting.  They remind me that my God is a God of New Creation.  He promised that when I decided to follow Him, my life would never be the same.  He continues to shape me, through life experiences and inner transformation, into a new person, each and every day.  And that’s a good thing.  It doesn’t mean, though, that I have to forget the people that I’ve been.

There are a lot of things I can learn from my past “regenerations,” to use a Doctor Who term (yes. I’m being corny. It’s my blog and I have the right to be corny so there :P).  I think about the relationships of my youth and the things I learned about myself and about others.  I think about the wonderful people who have poured into my life and am inspired to pour into others the same way.  I remember the struggles I went through and am strengthened to help others experiencing struggles of their own.  I remember God’s faithfulness to me in the past and am reminded that He will continue to be faithful in the future.  The people that I have been continue to shape me, continue to challenge me in positive and negative ways, helping me fix my eyes on Christ and on the person that He will help me to become tomorrow.

Life in Christ is a journey, and on that journey we remember and appreciate, but we also leave behind.  The people that we once were do not chain us to the patterns and lifestyles of yesterday–they inform us, but we are also made new by the grace of God.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation–the old is gone, the new has come!”  I am freed to become all that God has for me tomorrow–informed by the people I have been, but never confined to them.

Farewell Matt Smith.  I will continue to follow your career with interest, and I will look back on your time as the Doctor fondly.

Welcome Peter Capaldi.  You had me laughing through my tears in those final moments of the Christmas special, and I am so excited about all you will bring to the Doctor’s adventures–even if you don’t like the color of your kidneys 🙂

you may have overcompensated for Matt Smith a bit in the eyebrow department, though

And as for all of my lovely readers, I hope you will not forget one line, one day of who you are right now at this very moment.  One day, you will be somebody else. Remember when the Doctor was you.

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No but I’m ACTUALLY Alive This Time!!!

it has been a ridiculously long time since i’ve updated this blog.  Too long.  really really too long.

There are a lot of reasons that this blog went on unannounced hiatus for several months, but none of them are very interesting.  Let’s just say that I spent many months with my time and creative energies sapped by other projects and needs, and this blog kinda fell by the wayside.

Hopefully, that is at an end now, for several exciting reasons:

  1. I got a new computer, and it is the bomb diggety.  Chromebook all the way, friends.
  2. I am officially done with all of my classes (!!!!) which means that I can blog without that nagging “shouldn’t I really be doing homework instead?” thing hovering over my head.
  3. My son, C, is a bit older and a little more autonomous now, so I can be typing a bit during his playtime and not worry about him setting fire to the entire house.
  4. I have lots of ideas for posts again.

I’m not going to try to blog daily here.  This blog is best when I save it for my longer thinkpieces, like Doctor Who and Devotions (SO MANY OF THOSE TO DO AIEEEEE), and do my more mundane and time-wasty blogging on tumblr (where I spend entirely too much time anymore).

I’ve set a goal for myself this year, to try to write something once a week.  Whether that is a post on this blog, or a small fiction piece, or bits and pieces of other projects I have floating around in my head, something needs to get written. I’ve realized that writing and blogging are a big part of my life and ministry and probably always will be, and the best way to improve my writing is to write.  After all, I believe God gave me both the gifts and the passions for writing for a reason, and so I’d better exercise the living bananas out of those skills and make them truly shine for Him.

Plus, I might as well have some fun along the way.

Thanks for checking in again after so long.  Thanks for sticking with me.  I hope that in the coming weeks, I’m able to string some words together that make it worth your while.

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Doctor Who and Devotions: Changing the Future

Rory: To save you, I could do anything.

Amy: Prove it.

Rory: But I can’t take you too.

Amy: You said we’d come back to life. Money-where-your-mouth-is time.

Rory: Amy, but—

Amy: Shut. Up. Together. Or not at all.

The Doctor: What the hell are you doing?!?!

Amy: Changing the future. It’s called marriage.

 

Because of their unique status as the Doctors companions/in-laws, Amy and Rory’s relationship faced a host of unique and frustrating challenges that, thankfully, most marriages today will never have to face.  There’s the little issue of Rory’s multiple, heartbreaking deaths, which towards the end had become so routine that he literally pokes fun at the concept of death itself.  In one of these incarnations, his body was used to murder his soon-to-be wife against his will.  Amy, of course, got kidnapped and replaced with a synthetic flesh clone so that their baby could be used as a weapon against the Doctor.  In the midst of that ordeal, Amy was rendered unable to have other children–a wound both physical and emotional that penetrated her so deep that it threatened to end their marriage entirely.

And yet, in the midst of all of these difficulties, their love remained strong, their devotion to one another prompted them to perform amazing acts of devotion that defied the very laws of time itself.  Rory, body preserved as living plastic, resolutely guarded the Pandorica within which his fiancee was preserved for 2000 years, to keep her safe until she could be revived.  Aged and embittered by abandonment in a desolate quarantine facility, Amy undid her own personal timeline to save Rory and give her younger self the life that she had missed with him.  And in their very last adventure, their final run with the Doctor, Amy and Rory are at it again, creating another paradox by sacrificing themselves rather than facing an infinite temporal loop of loneliness and separation.

And it works.

Amy and Rory, choosing sacrifice together over any kind of existence alone, destroy the feeding frenzy motel created by the Weeping Angels, wiping out all but one straggling survivor.  They change the future.  And then, in one last moment of decision, they change it yet again by removing themselves from it–Amy chooses to be taken back to New York to be with Rory, to live their lives together in the past.  In doing this, she creates a fixed point in time–something that no companion has done before or since, at least not of their own power (Rose technically made a fixed point in time when she resurrected Jack, but she sort of had the entire power of time and space flowing through her at that moment so I’m not sure it counts).

When God created the institution of marriage, it was not a decision made for convenience or expediency or utility, although many of those things do enter into the marriage relationship at least at some point.  It was to right a fundamental wrong of creation: “It is not good for man to be alone.”  It was to enable those who bear the image of God by design to reflect the image of God in action–in relationship, just as God Himself exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  It was to bring about new generations of humanity, brought up to know the love of God and continue God’s work in the world.  Marriage was created to change the future.  And it has, for good and for ill.

Think about the ways our society understands marriage.  The reputation of marriage is overall weak and unfavorable.  Why is that?  Because people have gotten married and treated the institution of marriage disrespectfully.  Men have harmed their wives.  Women have harmed their husbands.  He walked out, She walked out, They broke it off mutually.  Affair.  Abuse. Apathy. Annoyance.  Big or small, justifiable or not, marriages have ended often.  Too often.  This has colored our understanding not only of marriage, but of the nature of family and relationships in general.  This has left psychological scars on the hearts and souls of countless spouses and children and lovers and friends.  And the future we are living in is the future that we have created with marriage.

And yet we still long for something better.  The overwhelming majority of people, at least in America, still desire to get married and believe it is an important part of life.  Marriage still accompanies most understandings of love and commitment.  I’m reasonably confident in the belief that most people don’t like the fact that divorce is so prevalent in our society, and long for a lifetime commitment in a marriage of their own.  The future we are living in does not have to be the future that always is, but do you know what it will take?

Marriage. Changing the future.

The way I understand it, that will only happen–it CAN only happen–when we allow the Lord to transform our marriages into the kind of devoted, unyielding, time-and-space-defying unions that will stick together and demonstrate radical acts of love no matter what.  In reality, that love only shows up where God shows up.  But it’s available.  And it can change the future.

If you are married, you owe it to yourself, your children, your friends, and the generations that will follow you to make your marriage  amazing.  Make it something worth writing epic science fiction stories about.  Make it beautiful.  Make it funny.  Make it delightful.  Make it the Lord’s.  Make it a marriage that lasts through all the challenges of time and space–because that’s the kind of marriage that changes the future.

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Finales, Fan Service, and the end of Eureka

I know that I am WAY behind the curve talking about this show, but last night my husband and I finally finished Eureka on Netflix.

A show which, while awesome, has terrible title graphics.

It was a wonderful finale to a really fun show–a show that had its share of ups and downs, but was overall interesting and whimsical and had a fantastic cast with wonderful chemistry.  The show brought our heroes’ stories to a satisfying end, making you feel like you had really seen the story of Eureka but at the same time assuring you that the characters lived on, and their stories kept going, even after the cameras switched off and the crew went home.

It’s pretty impressive that they did this, considering the short notice that the production team had in finding out that the show was going to be canceled in the first place.  Sci-Fi (or as it is now known. . . *shudder* SyFy) gave the show another season, and then reneged at the last moment, when there was only about half a season left to shoot, informing them that those episodes would be their last.

Now, many a show put in a similar position would be tempted to use a classic television marketing strategy–end on a cliffhanger.  They would give the show another really exciting story arc, end the episode leaving everything unresolved, and in so doing “force” the network to renew them again.

Eureka didn’t do that.

You know what they did?

Exhibit A: Main couple of the entire series, together happily, with a family, and another baby on the way.

Exhibit B: The most off-again, on-again couple in the entire show, finally getting engaged and being happy.

Exhibit C: The couple with the most actual reasons for being separated, finally together and happy (oh and also the guy who /should/ be in charge of the research facility FINALLY GETS THE JOB)

Exhibit D: The couple who overcame both death and amnesia, finally together and starting a new life.

Exhibit E: Rich founder of town (time travel, people) Buys Eureka from the Department of Defense, freeing it from its government complications and allowing it to be the best place it can possibly be.

These are just the highlights, there is a LOT to love about this episode of Eureka, but my favorite parts center around them actually resolving the storylines they had been developing for five seasons.

It seems that when storylines get resolved in happy/satisfying ways, I hear a lot of people lamenting the “fan service,” to use the most polite term, that the show is engaging in.  Blatantly playing to the desires of the fans.  I assume this complaint is grounded in the belief that such “fan service” hijacks the storyline, replacing good writing with pandering to the crowd.  It always has a bit of a hollow ring to it, though, because in the end, the story is for the fans.  A good story is nothing without people who think it is good.

Now, this isn’t to say that every decision in a story should be made by the fans.  Certainly not–that would be disastrous.  A television show is not a choose-your-own-adventure, and there is a reason that writers are professionals while spectators are just that–spectators.

And yet, I wholeheartedly believe that especially in a case like Eureka’s, where one knows that time is short and faithful fans who have been watching for years are about to be bitterly disappointed by the cancellation of their show, writers ought to reward those who have remained with them for so long by making things happen that the fans would like to see happen.  It’s so obvious that it seems stupid to write.  Those questions that have been asked for months and years?  Answer them.  Those frustrating love triangles?  Resolve them.  People have been watching, at least in part, to see what happens in these many story arcs.  Don’t disappoint them by depriving them of the ending they have desired for so long.

No, happy endings do not work for every genre or every show.  And yet I have to believe that they would work for more shows than there are that use them.  I’ve talked about happy endings before, so I won’t get into the details on this post, but suffice to say that I think a lot of shows should take a good look at how shows like Eureka have provided satisfaction for the fans.

Fan service.  Yup, in the end, it may be a little bit pandering, but it’s also mass entertainment because it’s meant for the masses.

As a wise man once said, “Give the people what they want.”

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I’m aliiiiiiiiive. . . sort of. . .

I’m back everyone.

I had an absolute blast at C2E2.

I am also COMPLETELY beat.  So exhausted.

And trying to catch up on Doctor Who things (CLARA AND ELEVENNNNNN ;_; my feelings)

And trying to make my adorable and idiotic son catch up on the sleep he didn’t get this weekend at grandma’s house.

And oh by the way I have a giant paper due this week?????

So my full writeup will have to wait until I am not dead.

Basically it was amazing and I love you all and I wish I had more time to write something substantial on here.

More later.

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