Thursday, July 22, 2010

Some Qualifications

Hello there, Geek Girl here,

So while I am working on my next blog-which is a several part series comparing and contrasting the Holy Spirit of Christendom to the Force of Star Wars, I have run one delay. You see I plan to work only from primary sources-the movies and the bible but unfortunately when my illustrious Dad transferred Star Wars Episode 4 from Laserdisc to DVD only the first half of the movie made it.

In the meantime I thought I would entertain you with a few qualifications for how I identify myself, as a Geek, Nerd, Dork, and a Christian. I will be prefacing each of these lists with my definition of what these terms are so that you can better understand my qualifications.


Geek (n)

1. a person with specialized (obsessive) knowledge in a specific category that is not necessarily academic. 2. a person with technical knowledge of computers or other electronic devices (I.E. the IT).

1. I own the ring of power, a sword of Rohan, an ironman mask, evil scientist welding goggles, a tri-corder, and a sonic screwdriver complete with physic paper for, you know, varying circumstances.

2. I embroidered an Elvish shirt for the premier of The Two Towers (which initiated a first conversation with a now best friend).

3. I have made Rodney from Stargate Atlantis, a mythical Jackalope, a robot, and the eleventh doctor from Doctor Who out of felt (see pictures).

4. I own 87 Marvel/DC comic books I handpicked from an estate sale (including Stan Lee's unauthorized biography).

5. The first Halloween I could choose what I wanted to be I was SPIDERMAN.

6. In 2005, I dressed up and won "Best Human" at the Vacaville Middle Earth Festival (let me tell you after feeling sub-human all through high school this was quite a validation and honor).

7. My i-pod is named TARDIS and my black laptop is named SKARO.

8. At Comic Con in 2003 I ran up to the stage and slipped Sean Astin a floppy disk (remember those?!) containing ideas for Goonies 2 should it ever be made.

9. I have made a Harold Crick mug from memory and a Stargate plate (see pictures).

10. On Sept 22nd, 2002 I attended a Bilbo Baggins Birthday celebration at a Marin County park near San Francisco.

11. My T-shirts collection consists of: 1 Star Trek Shirt, 1 Ninja Shirt, 1 Ninja Turtles Shirt (Turtley Awesome!), 1 Nintendo Shirt (Classically Trained), 2 Star Wars Shirts, 2 Lord of the Rings Shirts, 3 Zelda Shirts, 4 DC Superheroes shirts, and 4 Marvel Superheroes shirts.

12. One Halloween when I was going to Junior College I dressed up as Lola from the movie Lola Rent, put all my heavy textbooks in a black plastic bag, and sprinted to every class as if my boyfriend's life depended on it.

13. I own atomic socks, Ironman socks, Yoda socks, and hobbit socks (they are like the Tolkien inspired snuggie of the feet-see picture).

14. For a Shakespeare class final I co-wrote, directed, and acted in a student Film that basically was Star Wars meets Shakespeare including such speeches as "Once More to the Trench" "Alas poor Biggs," and the ever-popular Yoda monologue "To Be or Be Not, that is the Question, ehn?"

15. In 2003 I was made an official Goonie by Sean Astin (knighthood for geeks).

16. In 2004 I was handpicked out of the crowd at Comic Con to meet David Wenham and Billy Boyd of The Lord of the Rings movies to ask them a question for a website. My question: "With the books, and what the director wants, and what you want, how do you find your character's center?"

17. My Reboot, Stargate Atlantis, Superhero, Doctor Who, Narnian, Star Trek, and LOTR (including talking Treebeard) action figures all live and play together.

18. My cat is named for a Television character (you'll have to guess which one).

19. The decals on the back of my car are the Tardis, the White Tree of Gondor, and the Tri-Force! (see picture and thanks to Robot1001001).

20. In 2008 my sister and I threw a Sci-Fi Birthday party whose guests included Rose Tyler(myself), Be'llanna Torres, Marty McFly and Doc Brown, A Fan from Galaxy Quest, Tod the Wraith, Dr. Hodge, Sarah Jane Smith, two aliens whose names I can't type in this font, Vala, Col. Carter, Dr. Daniel Jackson, and K-9.

21. I went to see The Fellowship of the Ring seven times. After that there was no stopping me from seeing movies multiple times in the Theatres.

22. I have more flare than you would believe. I am not even going to try to count it (see picture-now imagine 5 times what is shown and 20% is from DAMEcreations).


Nerd (n)

1. a person who is socially removed or isolated from others .

2. a person with academic knowledge in a specific content area: e.g. Literature, Science, Mathematics.

    1. I had trouble making friends with people my own age from kindergarten through high school.

    2. In 5th grade I completely withdrew, stopped talking or socially interacting at all during recess, instead opting to read The Little House on the Prairie series over and     over and over.

    3. I still experience social awkwardness attacks all the time at the age of 28.

    4. In high school I identified myself as "a loner" throughout freshman year and when I finally joined social groups they were the band kids and a circle proudly     known as "the poetry rejects."

    5. I have written short stories and poems since I was five and have been honored at a young author's fair and published four years in a row in my University's literary magazine, three times under my own name, once co-authoring, and once under a pseudonym (to make sure they liked my work and not me).

    6. I have a Bachelors in English with a Associates Degree in Behavioral and Social Sciences.

    7. My senior seminar was Transformation Myth and my "big paper" was on the transformational and complimentary power of masculinity and femininity in George Macdonald's fairy tale The Day Boy and the Night Girl (also published under the title The History of Photogen and Nycteris).

    8. I have read way too much to be listed.

    9. I am a high school English teacher-which means much of the following:

  • I am in love with reading and believe it can show us the world and ourselves and can gradually cure selfishness and stupidity.
  • I am in love with adjectives, verbs, adverbs, nouns, some prepositions, semicolons, assonance, alliteration, and essay structure.
  • I believe that writing can bring self-discipline, clarity, self-realization, and truth into the world.

    10. I have books signed by Gary Soto, Jan Brett, Eric Carle, and Rosemary Wells, as well as 1 first edition Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

    11. I have more books than I should too many to count and too many for my shelves so they are stacked and on my desk, and in my trunk.

    12. I have made and wear T-shirts that read: Wesley Never Dies, The Enemy's Gate is Down, Read Books, and Halflings Rule.

    13. I am a walking talking dictionary of characters, plot lines, literary allusions, and imaginary geography.

    14. I sometimes compose haikus for all my pictures in a photo album on facebook (okay I only did that once, but I'm resolved to do it again!)


Dork (n)

1. a person with few social inhibitions

2. a person who is obviously farcical in their behavior

3. a person who lacks physical coordination

    1. Growing up my most frequent question to my sister was "can I hum it?"

    2. I tell the worst most puny, play-on-word jokes I can.

    3. I grin wildly, chuckle darkly, and compose spontaneous songs about life on a daily basis (ex: We are walking on the beach, but Tatooine's sands are out of reach).

    4. When walking, I frequently run into objects or people that are stationary.

    5. I can't clap on beat unless I really really concentrate.

    6. When I dance one of two things happen:

        A) pre-mature rigamortis sets in

        B) my arms and legs flail indistinctly in varying directions much like a 80's pop star having a seizure with no correlation to the music whatsoever

    7. I have never and never will be good at sports (except for Wii sports and even then really just the hola hoop game).


Christian: (n)

  1. a person who professes a belief in the teachings of Jesus Chirst

    Okay so here's one of the really astoundingly cool things about being a Christian, unlike being a Geek, Nerd, or Dork, none of my actions throughout my lifetime qualify me to be a Christian. I could tell you that I've been baptized, and I go to church, and read the bible, but these things don't make me a Christian anymore than hanging out in a garage makes me a car, or chillin' at used bookstores makes me a librarian ( I wish!). There is only one qualification contributed by me that makes me a Christian, and that is my ongoing belief in Jesus Christ as my savior. That's my qualification.

    Yet I couldn't even have that qualification if Christ had not first qualified me for a relationship with Him by dying for my sins on the cross. Just this last week I was talking to a non-Christian who said very humbly and honestly "I don't think I'm cut out to be a Christian," and my sister wisely and graciously pointed out- "Well, none of us are." We are not qualified to follow God by any of our actions, no matter how good or amazing or blessing to others these actions are, because we are separated from God by our sin. But we are all equally qualified, regardless of our past and current lives, to receive God 's grace. Grace goes beyond mercy because not only are you spared from the punishment or consequences you deserve, but you are also blessed by the one who has every right to judge you for your wrong.

    Here's a more concrete example. Imagine that your friend has a very rare golden-age comic book given to them by their grandfather that they absolutely love. I mean he reads it all the time, it is freaking precious him, he has all these memories of his grandpa associated with it and so on. Now you are frankly jealous of this comic. More than that, you really desire it for your own. Moreover maybe you'd like to see your friend who is very proud of it taken down a few notches; I mean he's just so annoying about it whenever it's mentioned, which is way more than any human being should mention anything.

    So one day you see that comic lying on your friend's dresser and you slip it into your backpack. You are stealing it, but you justify this to yourself by promising to return it once your friend has freaked out a bit, just to make a point. Or maybe you'll keep it just to make a point; I mean you could go either way. When you get home you go to take out the comic and you notice that your water bottle has leaked all over your backpack. Everything is soaked through, including the top half of your friend's comic, because the plastic wrapper was partially open and so water got in. You use a blow dryer, and you meticulously dry each page-but the ink is still completely wasted. You even look for the same comic online in the hopes that maybe you could make a switch, or at least offer this to your friend as a way of taking responsibility for your actions, but this particular golden age comic is so far out of your price range you know you can never afford it. Even if you could you realize it's not going to be the same because this comic, the one you ruined with your theft, was from his beloved and deceased Grandpa.

    So you go to your friend, present the comic, confess everything, offer to try to earn money your entire life to try to afford a replacement comic (which your friend and you both know you can never do) and wait for the axe to fall. The real consequences of your actions are that you deserve to lose your friend-you aren't qualified to remain friends with him after what you have done.

    If your friend forgives you of the destruction of the comic, that would be giving you mercy. But instead your friend not only forgives you, but he goes online and buys the same golden age comic you were looking at as a replacement and gives it to you to show you that he and you are still friends and always will be. Also your friend is not a millionaire either-he's working class like you and will most likely be paying for that comic the rest of his life but he does it anyway because he loves you. In addition to that, your friend says that you should start going to comic books stores together, and you do, and your friend continually buys you comics for no other reason than he loves you and wants you to enjoy them.

    That's what God's grace is-He loves us so much that even though we are sinners which qualified us for death and separation from Him during our time on earth and after death, He died in our place-paying the price for our sins so that we could continue to have a relationship with Him. And because He loves us, He continues to bless us whether we are good or evil (Mathew 5:45) just because His love for us is that encompassing and awesome.

    So what is my qualification for being a Christian- it's His grace and nothing I do.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith,

and that not of yourselves,

it is the gift of God,

not of works lest anyone should boast."

Ephesians 2:8-9

    And that is my favorite qualification of all time.


NEXT TIME: The Spirit vs. The Force or "Yep, we're talkin' midi-clorians people."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Geek Gospel #1: The Beast Below

As this is my first, "Geek Gospel" I will explain its purpose. Basically this is where I take a narrative of some genre that a geek would be familiar with (television, internet sketch, book, short story, comic, etc.) and I use it to illustrate some truth. I am using the second episode from the fifth series/season of DOCTOR WHO as an extended analogy explore how different people respond to God.

So here's my friendly reminder/disclaimer-No analogy is perfect, I am not calling this article or anything in it a literal gospel, and I am not assuming that the episode was written with this analogy in mind.

"The Beast Below," sees the eleventh Doctor taking new companion Amy Pond for her first bout in space. If you haven't seen the episode yet this is your SPOILERS warning (this episode is available on itunes and amazon on demand).


The start of this episode is prefaced with a foreshadowing poem recited in a recording of a child that goes as follows: "A horse and a man, above, below/One has a plan but both must go/Mile after mile, above, beneath/One has a smile and one has teeth/Though the man above might say hello/Expect no love from the Beast below."

    The Doctor and Amy encounter the Starship UK, a spaceship containing the entire nation of Great Britain. Sometime in the future the earth suffers such devastating solar flares that every country on earth is forced to evacuate into space. Built into the ship are some rather menacing monitoring devices called "smilers" that look like fortune telling booths at carnivals, with glossy wooden faces molded into a set expression.

    The smilers are not surprisingly the sadistic enforcers in a nation that the Doctor declares to be clearly "a police-state," and he and Amy split up to discover as it were what is rotten in the state of Britain. Amy is placed in a voting booth and is told by the person on screen that she will be shown the truth about the Starship UK which is her right as a citizen. Before her on the consul are two lit up buttons, one marked "PROTEST" and the other marked "FORGET" and she is given the option to either forget what she sees immediately after she learns the truth or to protest it. She watches, receives the information in sped-up time and finds her hand on the forget button in a matter of seconds (a neural device has already wiped the memory from her mind based on her choice). This matters because the Doctor and Amy learn that with the exception of a few dissenters who get flushed, the entire nation votes every five years to forget the truth that they know rather than live with it.

    Through another series of events the Doctor, Amy, and the Queen of Britain, Elizabeth the tenth, end up in the tower of London where the truth about Starship UK is revealed to all of them. The ship they are in could not possibly travel in space and they were the last nation on the earth beginning to burn from the solar flares. In the midst of crying children and agony, hope appeared to them "like a miracle" in the form of a Starwhale-which is exactly what it sounds like, a whale that can swim through space. It is an ancient creature, and its species was known for guiding first space travelers safely through asteroid belts. It is the last of its kind, and yet desperate to survive the British people captured it, built their ship around it, and now torture it by sending an electric impulse into the pain center of its brain to force it to move forward.

    Now that she knows the truth the Queen is given the option to press two buttons like those in the voting booth-to forget or to abdicate. If she chooses the second option the Starwhale will be released, the ship will break apart and her people will die in space. The Doctor decides to modify the electric pulse to make the Starwhale brain dead so the starship can continue it' voyage but the beast will suffer no more pain; an act he recognizes as murder. He does this because his only other alternatives are to let the Starwhale continue to be tortured, or release the Starwhale and let an entire nation of people die. But before the Doctor can finish his work Amy grabs the Queen's hand and makes her hit the abdicate button. Which results not in the Starwhale leaving but instead in the ship's speed doubling. Amy explains that the Starwhale didn't appear by chance, but rather came purposefully to earth, drawn by the suffering of their children to save them.


Let's start with the Smilers. These monsters, like any that are worth their salt, are only so terrifying to us because they resemble ourselves. They are in fact creations made by the builders of the Starship UK and they represent the duplicity of man-a smiling outward face and an inward capacity for violence that can emerge at any time. They represent the sin nature of man both symbolically and literally since the entire Starship's citizenry puts on a normal public face when, in fact, once they reach adulthood and vote they all have knowledge of the horrible exploitation of the Starwhale and by forgetting are consenting to it.

The voting booth, I would suggest, represents how a person reacts when confronted with their sin. Sin when looked at in honesty is emotionally disturbing because it recognizes the pain we cause others and that we are responsible for that pain. So ultimately what do we do? We can protest and face the consequences of our sin, or we can choose to forget our sin in order to go on with our daily lives.

    When we sin, we can harm others or ourselves, but ultimately we are sinning against God because we are harming His creation that He dearly loves. The Starwhale is a symbol of God in this analogy-ancient, benevolent, and self-sacrificing. Also the Starwhale is a literal salvation for the British people taking them from the eminent destruction of the solar flares and continuing to ensure their survival in space.

    The treatment of the Starwhale is also very telling of our treatment of God. Instead of recognizing the Starwhale's arrival as a response to their suffering and a voluntary savior, the humans see it as a source of power to serve their own ends. They capture it, build around it and manipulate it in order to go where they desire. The poem in the elevator built by the ships builders clearly identifies the man and beast roles they have assigned. The man is the one who smiles (again connection to the smilers) and who has the plan, but the poet warns "expect no love from the beat below" maintaining that the Starwhale has no valid will or capacity for love, it is a dumb beast and a power source and nothing more.

    And we can express the same attitudes towards God as we make Him over in the image we want him to be. God creates us and dies for us on the cross so that we can have salvation, but we don't want to meet God, we just want to utilize Him. All human beings, Christians included, are capable and guilty of this. We see God as the power source and we build our own concepts, our own beliefs and desires around him and pray for what we want to happen. We have already decided for ourselves what the best course of action is and we become angry with God when our lives do not go well under our own direction. But even as we do this, like the citizens of the Starship UK we are haunted by our guilt and the sense that something is terribly wrong with our lives.

    As the Starwhale is being deliberately hurt by the humans who justify their actions in the name of survival, it literally suffers for hundreds of years and continues to love mankind. This is illustrated in the episode by the whale's refusal to eat the children and desire to interact with them (via tentacles). In the same way although we have and continue to hurt God by our refusal of Him and our sin against Him, He continues to love and give to us. Amy Pond marvels that all the years of suffering just made the Starwhale kind, and so we should marvel also at the nature of God, who describes himself in Exodus 34 as merciful, gracious, longsuffering, abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin.


Choice to Forget (Agnostic)

    Those who realize the suffering we are causing God and others by our sin typically chose to forget. The nation of Britain in this episode does exactly that. What is scary is that although they choose as a society, ultimately it is an individual choice. Every citizen is alone in that voting booth, and it is between their conscience and themselves when they choose to forget. Forgetting the issue of God's existence, side-tabling it so that we can continue living our lives as they currently are, is a pretty fair definition of Agnosticism.

    The American Religious Identification Survey given in the U.S. in 2008 found that twelve percent of those surveyed considered themselves either agnostic or atheist. A similar BBC survey conducted in the UK and other nations in 2004 found that twenty-five percent of Britons never prayed, but thirty percent of all atheists surveyed (of all nations) admitted they prayed sometimes. This is the most recent and reliable data I could find that illustrates how many people today choose to be agnostic rather than commit to atheism or God. Going back to the episode, even characters we love and believe to have good hearts, such as Amy and Queen Elizabeth have chosen to be agnostic. But this choice is not without a price, as the entire nation and any who choose to forget go through their lives with subconscious guilt, shame, and a sense that something is not right. The good news is that all it takes is one decision to turn from an agnostic into a true believer (as Amy bravely demonstrates).

Choice to "Kill God" (Atheist)

    The Doctor represents that good party of intellectuals, perhaps educated more than the common citizen, who can't stand seeing the pain they are witnessing, so they choose to kill the idea of God. In the episode, the doctor chooses to "kill" the Starwhale by making it brain dead out of mercy; in contrast, I would submit that atheists "kill" God out of mercy towards themselves. Most professed atheists place the emphasis on the rationality of their beliefs, or how their minds and their thoughts lead them to their conclusions about life. But we can't divorce the emotional component from any belief, no matter how rationally we choose to live our lives because we are still human. Unless you are extremely callous, and here I would submit that atheists are not, it is very emotionally painful to live in a world with so much evil and suffering. And to live with the idea that a sovereign living God allows such suffering because He allows humans to exercise free will and all the consequences said will produces (murder, child-slavery etc) is incredibly difficult and painful.

    To look around us today and believe that God has a greater plan of redemption, and that He does and will champion the oppressed takes real faith in Him and His will. But the Doctor doesn't recognize the Starwhale as capable of goodwill towards men, or even necessarily a will of its own since he concludes if he releases it then it will flee like a dumb beast. So the atheist also refuses to consider how the will of God comes into play, or if they do consider it they judge it as "not good enough" since they would choose better for mankind. And that's what the kind-hearted atheist proceeds to do-enact his or her own will on every given situation as ethically as they possibly can. But as the Doctor's judgment call towards the Starwhale illustrates, our best can still be wrong. Acting as ethically as he can to preserve lives and to stop pain, the doctor is still by his own words, committing murder and losing his own soul/identity, as he declares that after he has finished he will have to "find a new name because I won't be the Doctor anymore."

Choice to Trust (Believer)

    The bible declares that "God has chosen the foolish things of this world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty" in I Corinthians 1:27. This means that salvation is made not for those who society considers strong or wise, but for the humble and powerless. No one is in a weaker position of power than Amy in this episode. The moment she understands what she consented to when she voted to forget (she recognizes her sin) she apologizes and repents. The Doctor then callously implies he shouldn't have expected better of her because she is after all "only human." Although badly delivered, there is truth in his statement, humans can fail, all humans can sin.

    What you don't know if you haven't seen the first episode of the series is that Amy is an "abandoned child." Her parents are gone from her life, she lives with an Aunt who ignores her, and the Doctor shows up when she is a child, promises to be back in 5 minutes and doesn't show for 12 years. Now in the second episode, her trust in the Doctor to accept and forgive her is disappointed again.

Yet it is her continuing childhood pain and her position of weakness that allows Amy to identify with the children present and to recognize the truth-the salvation the Starwhale offered all those years ago when it came to earth and still offers. She thinks of the fact that the Starwhale won't eat the children, and watches it playing with them (tentacles though a hole in the floor) while still in pain, and comes to the conclusion that the Starwhale does have a will and a heart that loves.

    Amy makes the choice that no other human (or timelord) has been able to make-to give up her own will and place herself entirely at the mercy of the Starwhale. And it is a big risk. Her trust has already been placed in others and devastatingly disappointed. But she looks at the nature of the Starwhale and takes the leap of faith. In turn, the Starwhale saves the citizens of the Starship UK, both literally preserving their lives and emotionally freeing them from the guilt of having to continue in their sin. The Doctor is also saved from sin, from having to commit the act of murder that would have taken his identity. Moreover, the speed of the ship doubles as soon as the Starwhale is released, why? Because its will is greater than theirs and it had the best in its heart for these people all along. God's heart towards you and I is the same.


    Dear reader, consider: will you chose to forget the reality of your sin and a God who suffered for you and desires to save you? Will you Kill God by turning Him into a distant idea, or dinky supernatural power source meant to serve your own will and intellect? Or will you chose to abdicate the throne in your heart and give it to Him, trusting that He will save you and take your life in directions greater than you could ever imagine? (I Corinthians 2:9). What will you do with the Beast below? I will end my post with the poem that Amy recites in voice-over at the conclusion of the episode:

"In bed above we're deep asleep,

While greater love lies further deep,

This dream must end, this world must know,

We all depend on the Beast below."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Stargate-Atlantis Shout-Out

Hello There, Geek Girl Here,

So I'm working on a new blog entry-in the meantime, to tide you over, here's a little shout-out to you Stargate Atlantis fans that I made a few years ago.