Friday, June 12, 2009

Even Caped Crusaders Need Rest Too!

Yesterday was my birthday, and first thing in the morning I was greeted with "Happy Birthday" signs and several presents from my dear landlady, Nancy. [She got up in the middle of the night to do that, too!]

Leaving the house at dawn, I met with a group of 10 Christian men who love the Lord. We studied Jesus as our High Priest in Hebrews 4:15-5:10. Once I got back home, a friend who has one of those crazy double-letter superhero secret ID alliterative names called me to go see "Up" - and we both were bawling after the first 15 minutes. [OK, I was the only one - he held it pretty good. Let's just say them Pixar boys know EXACTLY where your heart is.] We hit Wal-mart and after a break, we met again for dinner at Houlihan's. Very cool it all was.

Thanks, Dave!

I also gots lots of well-wishes from e-mail buds and fellow artists at Lively Arts, so I was doing pretty good on a rainy day while fighting a cold.

Tomorrow I leave to see my Dad in Washington State and will hopefully be joining some gaming friends at the end of the month in Seattle.

Its good to take a rest, our High Priest understands this, and even the oh-so-driven Batman, after 70 years - yep, his birthday was just last month - realizes this:

Be sure to thank God for all your blessings and rest in His grace always.


Have a blessed June, heroes!

In His Grace,
Justice Carmon

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How Christian Are Superheroes, Really? (Pt. 2)

After that long post, I thought I had covered almost all the bases on how Christian (or Christ-like) superheroes were and then discovered I hadn't. My poster asked two other great questions, each worthy of a paragraph or two... or three or four...

*sigh* Being mildly A.D.D. and very Irish has its disadvantages, to be sure.

Question 1: Which heroes in comics are the most Christ-like, regardless of their religious beliefs?

Frank Miller, in his heydey of the 80's with The Dark Knight Returns and Daredevil: Born Again, said that Daredevil was the most Christian superhero conceived. He's a defender of the poor as a blind trial lawyer and a fighter of evil as a superhero. I think Miller gave us a beautiful rendition of Matt Murdock, explaining his strong faith (and the very weakness of his flesh - Matt goes through girlfriends like a Southerner goes through paper napkins at a barbeque), explaining that his mother was a nun and his father a prize-fighter who'd rather die than quit.

Stan Lee didn't have all that in mind when he created the character; it was Frank Miller who pulled it all together. Miller also gave some Christ-like qualities to Batman, having him fight all the forces in the world, die and come back to life again. These ideal men and their failures make compelling reading, very adult reading in some cases, and yet they are such Biblical archetypes, I cannot help but recommend them. They are Samsons undone by their Delilahs. Miller LOVES that stuff and it shows. (p.s. Frank Miller - like Anne Rice - will become a Believer I think before he dies. He's in love with all the right stuff.)

But recently I've been looking around and I am surprised to see that we have a few candidates for "Most Christian Superhero with or without Religion", and my top picks are:

1) Spider-Man: his pride killed his uncle. Every day he lives to save lives, fight evil and typically care for the woman he loves. He has no other resources (until recently). He prays honestly and sincerely. We agree with about every moral choice Peter has ever made. (Here he thanks God for Mary Jane - a very touching scene.)

BTW, in fighting the arch-sorcerer Kulan Gath along with the X-men, Spider-man was left physically unchanged after the sorcerer transformed the entire world into the Babylonian Age. This was so the wizard could make an example of him, paying him back for a previous defeat -and he did this by crucifying Spidey on an X-shaped cross in Uncanny X-Men 190-191.

So I am not the only one who has noticed this Christ-likeness in our favorite wall-crawler.

2) Superman: the Moses and Samson and messianic overtones are clear. But what makes Kal-El special - and sadly, everyone wants to take this from him - is his high moral code and desire to help. Folks, keep in mind that an alien with laser beam eyes and supersonic flight, superstrength in the x1000's of tons range, and X-Ray vision had BETTER keep a close watch on his morals and heart. He decides to really take over and 'straighten everything out' and Earth loses in 4.3 seconds.

No, I mean it. In the movies, we see him turn back time. You don't EVER want to make the "god made man" ruthless. I've played in RPGs with such people. Scary doesn't begin to cover it.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Most Christian...

3) Green Lantern: the oath ALONE is worth the price of admission into his mythos. It is the coolest boldest little verse you can ever spout as you tap into power only limited by your will:
In Brightest Day,
In Blackest Night,
No evil shall escape my sight,
Let all who worship evil's might,
Beware my power, GREEN LANTERN'S LIGHT!

We are supposed to be shining lights. I consider the GL Corps an example of the Body of Christ in action: a bunch of weirdos united in one cause. ;)

4) Daredevil: as I said above, but that was then. I think later writers lost some of Miller's beautiful dichotomy and pushed in more darkness than was necessary. Its a fine line to walk, and I have NOT read a lot recently, so I don't know. I liked Daredevil: Born Again and what Miller gave us in Matt's history and faith.

5) Captain America: he really could be much higher on this list, but I want to avoid confusing patriotism, nationalism and Christianity. In World War II, whether you had much faith or not, you went to church on Sunday, and expected everything to be basically shut down. Steve Rogers grew up with American theism and his personal example of doing the right thing against ANY tyrant - at home or abroad - sings with the view that all men must answer to God.

Cap's 'religion' is the Constitution of the United States. His nobility is tied to a view of freedom for men under God.

He doesn't worship America, and has a God-fearing attitude toward truth and his fellow man.

I'm sure there are others I am overlooking. ROM Spaceknight comes to mind, fighting "demons" (i.e. Dire Wraiths) who are disguised as humans. Barry Allen, the Flash, dying to save the universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths, was another.

The test is the motivation behind the character, not just the religious views. Christ has always wanted our hearts, not our heads simply because that's where we go wrong the worst. Our motives - what moves us - pushes us in the direction of truth and light or self and darkness.

Frankly, its a bit easier for me to come up with villains than heroes. "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" The Preacher Does! :D

Question 2: How do you feel about the way the netherworld, magic, or mythological pantheons--have been presented in comics?

Back in 70's, most of it was tame enough. We thrilled to Shakespearian dialogue as Thor met Odin and Sif and Balder the Brave. We knew that if we wanted to read horror-heroes - Ghost Rider, Werewolf by Night, etc. - we would be getting some demonology and occultism. I steered away from them for that reason. I was raised in a conservative but imaginative home (my mother painted and wrote some poetry), and we knew that the Adversary of Mankind was to be avoided and a respectful distance was to be placed around such areas.

The real problem I have these days is what I overheard at a "How to Make Comics" seminar at a public library. It was kindergarten-level info but nicely handled by some real pros in the business. We were having a discussion about Mary Jane being taken from Peter by Mephisto (Marvel's 'Devil') in the "One Day More" storyline and a young guy said "Well he's the Devil! He can do that! He's All-Powerful!"

Now, I looked at this guy and did NOT want to rip his head off with my faith in God and my empowerment by Christ. I did NOT want to preach up the room - which I would have in the jail or in any setting where the invitation to speak on faith was apparent. And this was, after all, Marvel Comic's representation of the Devil, not a recognized faith or religion.

I said "Uh.... no, man. God is all-powerful. The Devil is just a fallen angel. Yeah, he's powerful, but he ain't God. He doesn't create or anything. He just perverts."

Now that is about as low-key as you can handle that subject. What bothered me was not that the kid had no 'religious training', no Biblical knowledge, no understanding of Medieval literature based on the Christian faith - no, what bothered me is that his ONLY view of the metaphysical was being given to him by some artist and writer through Marvel Comics.

You may know that EVERYONE in the comics industry decries Dr. Wertham's book "The Seduction of the Innocent" as anti-comic, anti-freedom of speech propaganda?

Only one problem: I think he had a good point. Children cannot edit or judge what is good or right, what is normative or not, until they are given tools age, experience and wisdom. Those often come from books given to them by their elders.

Kids who grow up in alcoholic families think its normal for dads to slap their wives and destroy the house. Kids who grow up spouting hate-filled epithets at each other think that's just the way the world is.

Kids who grow up with no understanding of the Bible have no idea who Satan is - and it gets introduced to them the first time by guys who are just trying to make a buck with an entertaining story.

These kids are growing up on Ramen noodles and mayo and think they got Pasta Linguini with Alfredo sauce.

I want kids to be well-taught in the basic truths of God's Word before they pick up a mass-marketed story that defines evil beings as 'all-powerful.' The youth's immortal soul and the training of their heart is far more important to me than it is to the editors at Marvel or DC, I would imagine.

Frankly, I am often horrified at what happens when most writers go into that area. Their unbelief and accusations of God reveal their lack of love and respect for Him.

I guess what I would say is this: I have no intention of censoring by force such stories. I vote with my wallet. That works pretty well, in fact, 'cause these guys are out to make money, not tell spiritual truths.

But if I were Editor-in-Chief, I would strive to honor God in what I let be published. I would use my authority to edit and re-direct any metaphysical stories to emphasize the wickedness of the Devil, his murderous and lying aspects, and present the Creator of All as benevolent to His children and dwelling in "unapproachable light."

DC Comics used to do that. I liked it. We can all pretty much agree on that, no matter what faith background we have.

A Final Confession:
Well, that's all I gotta say except I guess I should admit I do like two very un-Christian heroes. I find their style and image compelling, but I just cannot get behind them in origin or mythos:

Ghost Rider and Wonder Woman.

NOTHING is cooler IMNSHO than Ghost Rider riding his flaming motorcycle up a 30-story building with that flaming skull of his, out to bring his vengeance upon the wicked! WOW! But, dear reader, I just cannot get past the fact that the DEVIL has empowered him - to fight evil??? Why wouldn't the Devil take the power back from him? Non-sequiter, you know?

...and as a boy I fell for Lynda Carter's portrayal of Wonder Woman like all the rest of my generation. She was sweet, she was super-strong, she was gracious, she was BEAUTIFUL - wow!

But the origin is always screwed up: she's a statue come to life. By a goddess. Its just TOO Greek mythos for me. And of course men are BAD ["No man may set foot on Paradise Island!"], and women are GOOD. I just cannot get past those two concepts: the life creation by a Greek goddess and that "devout feminism = peace, love and beauty." That double-combo just shuts her out of my imagination as uninvitable.


If I ever can create a Christian version (i.e. Christ-honoring, God as sole Creator and Vengeance taker) of those two characters, I'll let you know.

Until then...

Thanks for the questions. May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you richly today.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

How Christian Are Superheroes, Really?

[From JC: I had to re-edit this. I wrote it far too 'wonky' from lack of sleep. Thanks for your patience.]

A viewer posted a comment and a topic request on this subject so I thought I should tackle it. It doesn't hurt that I just got a brand-new copy of "Comic Book Character" yesterday by InterVarsity Press editor David Zimmerman - we have a mutual acquaintance: Author and Poet Tony Trendl (blog link to right: One Man, One Place, All Said).

Superhero Tropes: Good or Bad?
There is a terrible aspect of superheroes and a beautiful aspect. When treated as a adolescent male power fantasy it devolves into a war of powers with no moral value whatsoever. Captain X beats up Mr. Y today - and next week - and next month - and so on and so forth, ad nauseum. Its a bit like some of the drek we see pumped out of mainstream comics to "boost sales" with unnecessary violence and senseless deaths (the killing of Ralph Dibney's wife Sue for instance).

You rip out the root cause, the basic value of a superhero out of the equation, altruism out of a love for humanity and a righteous indignation at evil and injustice, and you end up with supernerds who think they are 'too sexy for their bod'! :P

You remember Right Said Fred, with their classic "I'm Too Sexy!" don't you? That's what the superhero genre becomes with no moral or empathic motivation. Its narcissism at its height.

"He who wishes to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven must serve - for the son of Man did not come to be SERVED, but to SERVE - and to give his life as a ransom for many."
"Is this not the carpenter, the son of Joseph? Where did he get these miraculous powers?"

Heroic Opera -and Soap Opera
When a hero of fantasy serves others ceaselessly and they devalue him - a classic trope for heroes with secret identities - the genre becomes VERY Christ-like. Clark Kent is a loser. Spider-Man a geek. In Batman, Wayne plays the part of the modern, self-absorbed wealthy fop.

But they are willing to die, to give up their position in life - either socially or physically to save others. That's the big part of their heroism, serving the needs of the people they protect.

We see it in Batman's sacrifice in the end of The Dark Knight, we see it in Spock's death in Star Trek II. [Edit: I think of Star Trek in many of the same terms as the superhero drama: strange powers and villains, teamwork, a moral directive, nearly magic superscience devices.]

We see it in Spider-Man - but with Spidey there is also an adolescent struggle to mature. He has to watch out how power and a little fame goes to his head. [Another good reason for superheroes fighting "incognito" is it protects them from their OWN success.] His smugness caused the death of his uncle and in the movie Spider-Man 3 we see how terrible a little pride can become. His unforgiveness of the man who killed his Uncle Ben turned into hardness of heart and revenge and led to wounding his beloved.

Again, we see the spiritual principles Christ taught and proclaimed as the Son of God who KNEW our hearts and what they needed far better than we realize. "If you do not forgive your brother who sins against you, your heavenly father will not forgive your sins."

I take that to be a very personal command. I have to forgive my Christian brothers the FASTEST even though their behavior may have been the most inexcusable. But it applies broadly, especially when I see how staying a victim after being rescued keeps the person in slavery to their past abuser.

"With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility"
In the Old Testament, Joseph, ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh, kept his humility and fear of God. Once he had great power and authority, second only to Pharaoh, and the ability to do WHATEVER he wanted to his older siblings, he tested them to see where their hearts where. When he found they had changed, he forgave them and blessed them.

They freak out at his revelation and again at his mercy to them. They are dumbfounded. Joseph simply declares, "Guys - chill out. I'm not God. Yeah, you meant to do me bad, but you know what? God used it for good."

That is also superheroic. To know the limits of your power and of judgment.

That's what we like about the superhero: they may be "gods" physically to us, but they refuse to act like they can replace the Almighty.

Joseph did NOT say "There's no God." He said "Oh no. Be cool. I ain't HIM!"

Whence Superman?
I've been wondering about the disparity between physical peace and justice and spiritual peace and justice, and I think we like things to be just, and right and for the powerful to help the weaker. I think that is common.

We want someone to stop physical bullies - whether in school or in the national arena or where ever we feel oppressed.

Superman expresses disdain for an abuse of power - hard!Superman was not created to be a poster boy for good morals. He was created to kick some butt that needed kicking. His earliest adventures have him dealing with wife-beaters and mobsters, not aliens. Soon he, like so many others, led the anti-Nazi propaganda (IMO, 'good' propaganda) BEFORE the US entered the war.

Batman was created as a very dark character, who used guns, ala The Shadow. He soon became a bit lighter and more friendly, but still kept fighting the grim fight in the dark streets of Gotham.

You see, they were fantasies created by adults who saw a lot of injustice in their world and community. They sold incredibly well (Superman sold 500,000 copies a MONTH in 1938) and were both escapist and encouraging. You had people coming out of a Great Depression and watching Europe go right back to a world war. England was being bombed out of existence. France was conquered in weeks.

You needed hope. Something to inspire you. I think this drove the creation of bullet-proof men and women who could fly. The times and the technology - a MAN who could "bend steel in his bare hands"? Who could "leap a tall building in a single bound"? The environment was bigger than ever - so we needed not just heroes, but SUPER heroes.

And the Holocaust? What can you do about it in New York City? Is it any wonder most of our superheroes were created by Jewish creators? (Yes, I am aware at this time we were not fully cognizant of the true horrors, but the rumors were coming out and the anti-Semitism was clear.)

You could pray God would show up - or you could create a god to show up. In either case, the souls listening to the radio nightly in the late 1930's and watching the newsreels thoroughly enjoyed Superman.. A meek guy with great power. An approachable savior who really wanted to be one of us.

I don't know. Maybe those Jewish boys loved Jesus and did not know it. They took the superstrong and abandoned heroes of their Bible and projected through a science fiction lens a glorious messiah, who had a secret identity. Who only did certain deeds to save, but did not take over the task of rulership.

He'd battle evil, but not become evil.

Fighting Evil One Way or Another
Now I've got to deal with a hairy topic here, and its gonna get ugly because if you have had great physical damage ever done to you - especially by a 'religious' abuser - you will not hear what I say next with much charity.

Christianity is not pacifistic. It is not war-like, either - unless you adopt a false doctrine or two (cf. Crusades).

Christ was not and never will be a pacifist (we can see this in His return on a white horse in the Book of Revelations). He did, however, refuse to answer spiritual needs and problems with physical force. In other words, Christ came to save our souls, not our bodily frames. He will give us NEW bodies in fact.

But as any parent knows, there can be great escalation in treatment of a rebellious child; if the child becomes a physically strong adult with abusive behavior, we have to incarcerate them. That is what jails and prisons are for. If they resist at THIS level, it gets ugly. Police officers are to use the MINIMUM force necessary to halt dangerous men and women.

Our society has found such physical peace and prosperity recently, we view ALL violent acts - that are not safely ensconced on film or on a playing field voluntarily entered - as bad, dangerous and evil. If a parent spanks a child's bottom (with fair warnings and informed consequences), you can still hear threats of "ABUSE!" which is, IMNSHO, insane.

Jesus DOES fight and does stop evil with force. Its just that the force Christ used was in the spiritual realm. He cast out demons. He told the winds and waves to shut up. He called the religious professionals of his day snakes and vipers, and even went so far as to chasing every businessman out of the Temple so the God-seekers could have some real worship and prayer and peace. Now THAT, He did with a whip He made of cords of rope. That wasn't gentle, meek or mild, folks.

But here's why:

Jesus doesn't like ANYONE being prevented from knowing God's love or care. He gets downright direct when He saw God mis-characterized as either a lawyer or an anal-retentive micro-manager or worse, a money-grubbing thief.

So is Punching the Bad Guy Un-Christian?
Let's cover how the genre works.

In the superhero genre, we are limited to showing the battle between good and evil with fists and super powers mostly. True, good writers go farther: they show the inner conflict and turmoil of the hero and once in a while, the nobler side of the villain, but frankly, someone sometime is going to get hit or blasted or whatever - because words will NOT suffice.

Not killing the bad guy (another superheroic moral), but punching them out so they can be turned over to the police.

Direct action is the LAST thing a Christian should do, but it is authorized at a certain point. As one t-shirt said "The Last Thing on Earth I Want to Do is Hurt You - But It IS on the List."

This is the pattern we see in the Bible when God speaks to His people: blessings, kindness, commands, promises, warnings, second warning, personal intervention, final judgment.

By the time superheroes appear on the scene, we conclude that all else has generally failed.

Is the Superhero Multiverse Christian?
You mean with Zeus and Odin and all the other mythos and such? Nah. But let's face it, they are not there for religious reasons but simply to be mouthpieces of "ancient and timeless wisdom" - like in a Greek play. When Odin or Zeus shows up, we are not dealing so much with theology as with mythology. If kids in America actually worshiped those personages as TRUE deities, they probably wouldn't be used.

But the stage and setting of the comic book superhero is the ENTIRE universe. The characters are either humans or humane beings with souls and great abilities, sometimes even god-like. They are merely mouthpieces for our hopes dreams and fears.

If you want your hair raised, read how the apostle Paul and Barnabas went from being nearly worshiped as "Zeus" and "Mercury" to almost getting killed! You cannot read the Book of Acts and come away that the purpose of Christ-followers is to 'play nice' and not shake up the world with the Word of God and power bestowed by God.

Why Should Kids Read Comics?
Its a primer for some of us to faith. We struggle to not let the banality of our world kill us.

I live in suburbia, not of my original will or design. It is very anti-Christ in THIS aspect: too much hope is placed in health, employment and a drama-free existence.

Kids who grow up here are itching for something GREATER than "a sale at Penny's!" and "Milk for $1.99!." We want to wage war against evil, not against dandelions in the front yard.

And so we read our Bible and our comics and say "Evil must be stopped, the innocents must be protected, and the world saved - but how?"

In comics we experience a visceral answer.

In Christ we find the spiritual answer.

What I hope to do in my work is to show the compatibility of those desires. We read comics because we know there is something more glorious for our hearts. A striving for goodness and power to fight evil.

I think that's what's missing in our suburban churches: empowerment to change the world in Christ's authority and power and love.

Like Joseph, like Christ, and like that 'strange visitor from another world' when we realize the power we have - and its God-given nature for good and not for evil - we CAN become meek and kind.

Because at a word from our lips, lives are changed forever. Souls can be saved or lost for ETERNITY.

That is the power of the Gospel. I have seen villains repent and fools become wise by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Fists do not have that power, and that is where superheroes fail - and they usually know it under a good writer. Even the Joker says the physical battle is not the real battle in the end of The Dark Knight [watch on YouTube]:

"You didn't think that I would risk losing the battle for Gotham's soul in a fist fight with YOU, did you?"

If your view of Christianity is of nice people who help the poor and never fight back, you have the World's view of God's children.

Not the worst thing, but very incomplete - and really missing what Jesus did.

Jesus the Mild-Mannered Warrior King
Jesus fought the real battles with the right weapons. He spoke truth and blasted the wicked hearts. He was, like the King in Henry V, walking the field in disguise to see how His men were doing, to speak with them.

Jesus often scared His disciples with His power and then spoke kindly to them, reassuring them of His love (see Matthew 17:1-8). He was power incarnate and had to be careful with what He did. Thus, like any unstoppable alien with invulnerability and the power to move mountains, He was mild. Like Black Bolt of the Inhumans whose very whisper could rend stone and send armies to their knees, He was meek.

He HAD to be.

In Mark Waid's excellent re-telling of Superman's origin, Superman: Birthright, we discover WHY the Man of Steel wears no mask but lets Clark Kent do the job: he wants people to trust him and not be afraid. We find out that Clark as a young man did accidentally reveal his power while overseas, and from then on, those who witnessed him avoid him out of fear. So he needs a disguise to STAY close to people.

When you read the Gospels, it is impossible to ignore the power Christ used against demons, death and disease and not wonder why He's treated so shamefully.

He pulls a Clark Kent. Or rather, Clark Kent pulls the same stunt as the Son of Man.

He's meek. He's mild-mannered. He's a good boy.

Until it is time for action. For lives to be saved for eternity.

Then He comes out of the Wilderness in "great power and authority."

If a Christian wants to become like Jesus - and we SAY that is our goal - we are going to have to submit to God, get rid of our self-reliance and accept the power that is from above. The disciples did it and they changed the world. Neither Satan nor death stopped Christ or His ambassadors.

We should let nothing stop us either. From serving, from loving, from enjoying stories of heroes who gave all they can to save others.

And folks, frankly, if Christians believe their Lord was raised from the dead, we really need to be less fearful.

Its not like we aren't going to live forever, you know? ;)


Monday, June 1, 2009

Mary Mother of God, Look at this Falling Damage, Pt. 2

I couldn't resist. I had to do what I do best - add a twist to a classic superhero image - in this case, the front cover of Villains and Vigilantes. (The formula given is not quite accurate - you must take the square root of the Basic Hits, not divide by two, but the result is the same.)

Funny thing about trying to fix this old rule is that you run into some nasty problems. One of which is that the characters in the game have real 'flex time' for their actions. Each Turn of 15 seconds is divided into phases, and though we are told that's "approximately one second" each, that's not dead-on accurate, either.

You see, each Player rolls a ten-sided die and adds it to their Agility to know when they go FIRST. They subtract fifteen from that number to know when they can go AGAIN.

So if you had a 26 Agility and roll a 7, you go on Phase 33, and then again on Phase 18 - and then again on Phase 3.

Other Players get different numbers (usually) and we all merge them together to know who goes WHEN. Its pretty cool because its easy to forget who goes next at a table of 4 people with 3 villains fighting them. :D

But if you DO have more than fifteen phases in a turn - here we had at least 33 - then a phase cannot equal a second, and therefore you cannot calculate the rate of a falling object in time because you have no idea if the phase is a second, half-second, quarter-second, etc. UNTIL Initiative is rolled for everybody.

In other words, the Turn is like a large pie - and depending on how good everyone rolls, it slices up differently. It's like the old joke: "Hey - how big a pizza do we need for everybody?" "We got eight people coming, dude!" "So Medium, Large or Extra-Large?" "Aren't you listening? We need EIGHT slices for EIGHT people. Who cares what size you get?"

With more phases, the length of time to act shortens. And this is bad because falling through space is definitely time-based: 32' per second/per second. You fall +32' each SECOND you fall.

In order to avoid confusion in my own mind, I replaced "32'" with an x to visualize what happens to an objects velocity / acceleration each second.

TIME...DISTANCE ["X" = 32']
5.............XXXXX [Resisting Human Body = about 125 mph]
9.............XXXXXXXXX [Terminal Velocity / "Bullet Dive" = about 200 mph]

So what do we learn from this spiritually, kiddos? Acceleration over time can be very confusing, and its easy to make a massive error, so don't try to guess the time or date when Judgment Day is coming.

You see, events are unfolding, and yes, the signs are there, but EVERYTHING must be completed in the framework of God's Timing.

We have learned in the 20th century that space/time is relative to the Observer. So therefore, we have to have a very broad view of time to look at it like God does. It is a mere ruler, a measuring stick used at our convenience.

So the next time someone says "Christ is coming soon!" because they see all these 'bad things' happening, you can agree with them.

But "soon" to God and "soon" to Man are too vastly different things.

The Creator of the Universe sets the dates and times when all things will occur, and we as mortals will probably see it clearly the very moment it is all over.

Jesus said that we were NOT going to know, so we might as well get busy loving each other in the time we have, instead of worrying when and how the future will get here.

'Cause it IS coming, no doubt. One second at a time, one day at a time.