Friday, December 31, 2010

The Immortal War

As promised, I return to the subject of immortality as a cautionary tale in fiction, and, I believe, will actually occur in real life - within the next hundred years or so.

Very briefly, let me caution the reader that God DOES want to give us eternal life - and that will include real, physical, corporeal bodies that will never grow old or age or die or suffer disease, hardship from environment, etc. According to the Bible we who believe in Christ and have trusted Him with our lives are to be given these bodies in the resurrection.

But that is a resurrection - and it is God chooses who lives and who does not. Not money, nor mind, nor mystic ability - just the Creator.

Well, we humans don't like Him making that decision. We want to. As Victor Frankenstein says in Frankenstein: The True Story, "I'd make a pact with the DEVIL if he would show me how to bring my [loved one] back to life!"

Indeed, as the story pans out, Frankenstein learns the secret and it is devilish. In his Faustian enlightenment, he brings a horrible curse down on himself and his wife and unborn child because of his brilliant mind, broken heart and lack of omniscience.

He destroys every one he loves by creating this 'Adam' who is a conglomeration of mind and spirit of different souls and different body parts. The Creature even quotes the Bible to find a name for himself "My name is LEGION for we are MANY!"

Now the fun thing about movie horror is that it is safely distanced from you. You don't have to deal with it.

But we will, poppets. We will.

From a controversial article by The Guardian, some data stands out:

The aging process is poorly understood, but scientists know it is caused by many factors. Highly reactive particles called free radicals are made naturally in the body and cause damage to cells, while smoking, ultraviolet light and other environmental factors contribute to aging.

The Harvard group focused on a process called telomere shortening. Most cells in the body contain 23 pairs of chromosomes, which carry our DNA. At the ends of each chromosome is a protective cap called a telomere. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres are snipped shorter, until eventually they stop working and the cell dies or goes into a suspended state called "senescence". The process is behind much of the wear and tear associated with aging.

So if you could stop the 'snipping' of the telomeres, we'd keep on going - at least further than we live now.

Many therapies are being hunted down, but the hope is that by extending our death date again and again, a form of immortality may be found to stop the process altogether.

Say we can give you a treatment of certain drug therapies over the course of a year. Then on top of that we replace some of your organs - from ones we have cloned from your own body when it was younger. AS long as we have spare parts and a good hand, you can be rebuilt biologically. Like restoring a '57 Chevy.

I'd be all for this except for that fair warning I read in the Bible about the Beast being literally able to shrug off a fatal wound - and the WHOLE WORLD marveled. soon, he's got them all in his hand. You can't buy or sell without his mark.

Why? Well, folks, if this anti-Christ has the secret to immortality and gives it to you, you belong to him. But that's not all. By REFUSING to have his mark, you are saying you want to live a normal life. That means you will age and die and no longer be productive. So why should you be fed or cared for? You are part of the problem, not the solution.

You would have to be eliminated, you waster of resources you!

Oh -I have to go - it's getting to be be bedtime....


peace
justice

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Frankenstein: The True Story & the War for Immortality

Frankenstein: The True StoryI am fascinated by the concept of immortality in fiction. The idea of a man who can not die, who lives for ages and ages and is, by all human reason, unstoppable, relentless, familiar with many cultures and many great minds and has, by some mysterious power, outlived them all.

Duncan MacLeod, Casca, Ahauseurus or The Wandering Jew, Vandal Savage, and others -they are our attempt to explore what living forever would be like. But in these cases, it is a singular advantage they and they alone possess. They watch all the people they know and love die as age catches up with them.

Have you ever heard the saying "Death is part of life?"

It is not.

Oh, I know the wisdom they are espousing - in this world, you have to accept that what you love will die and go away - and it can even nourish the next life to come.

Sure. Got it. Thanks for the info. But strictly speaking, death is NOT 'part of' life - it is the ENDING of a life. Of a good life or a bad life, it matters not - it is the end. So it is not 'part of' being alive - as a NECESSARY element - it is the cessation of an organism. If it weren't there, I think we would be glad it were gone indeed.

Unless it ALSO meant suffering would never end. OK, I can see that. Who want's to be an immortal crawling on the ground his body wracked with cancer for eternity? Not me! Disfigured, disgustingly diseased and damaged, but unable to die? No. Too awful to think about.

But all of these concepts are wonderfully and horrifyingly played out in an old made-for-TV movie entitled Frankenstein: The True Story. A movie I saw re-played in 1976 or so, but stuck with me for over 30 years - I got to watch the entire 3-hour film on DVD last night. While it is actually a re-imagining of Mary Shelley's masterpiece, it does a great job of bridging several Frankenstein movies into a cohesive story that is a bit richer IMHO that Shelley's original work.

I thought the acting was superb - especially Michael Sarrazin as 'The Creature' - I truly felt the child-like pathos of the monster and could actually 'hear' the different personalities embedded in him [I missed this as a child], saw the anger and blasphemy that brought Dr. Frankenstein and his bride to their doom - IMHO, its a damn fine cautionary tale, well-played and inescapably tragic.

Does anyone know how Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, a 19 year old girl, came up with such a fantastic horrifying tale that outlasted her literary betters in print for so many years? I'm going to go out on a limb, here.

She knew her Bible and the God revealed there, like so many of her age. She had read the account of Adam and Eve and knew that if any man dared to replace God, only evil and death would come of it. I'm NOT saying she was a devout believer, but those who know the origin of evil know that God gave us humans a death sentence as a form of severe mercy to SAVE us. Just imagine if Hitler were immortal, or Stalin, or Jim Jones, or... well, you get the idea.

You see, God made everything Good - and it was GOOD. The Tree we were not supposed to eat of was the Tree of Knowledge of Good AND EVIL.

We got what we wanted. We got the "AND EVIL" part - and shame followed immediately. It has been passed down from generation to generation since. The First Adam failed. So the Last Adam came to bring us back.

Thus Christ was sent to save us - from our sins, from our own willful decisions, from our own greed, pettiness and spite, and yes, from death - but I am afraid what we want is not repentance and a resurrection but more time to HERE to do what WE want.

We want to live forever - without God's approval. We are already working on it in several life-extension programs.

And I think, if we are not careful, Frankenstein WILL become a TRUE STORY.

Because, this morning, I read Revelations 13 about the Beast who was wounded yet lived, and guys, I think that the Anti-Christ will be an unkillable man.

An immortal, if you wish. With the power to emulate life.

And if that is true, we would love him - and be damned by doing so.

[more next post]

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Coyote for Christmas

Norma Joyce McClanahan CarmonI wrote this a few years ago as I was remembering one of the best Christmas gifts I ever gave to my mother before she passed away - and who really deserved the credit for thinking of it.

peace
justice

___________________________________________________

A Coyote for Christmas
When I was 15, I loved in a terrible co-dependent way my hometown of Southaven, Mississippi. To be fair, it was all I knew, and I didn't want to leave. But then my dad was able to use his seniority to land a job in Laredo, Texas and there - years before the rest of the United States would sample this fine cuisine - I was to discover the delectable taste of fajitas. Fajitas that had been marinated for hours and slow-cooked over mesquite wood. Yumm!

So we moved. From the land south of Elvis to the land south of El Paso.

I hated the very idea. I even used the Lord's name in vain. He didn't mind. He moved me anyway.

There my mom, my dad and I had to live in an apartment. I had a swimming pool, no yard to mow and was within walking distance to my school. Also that year: mom and dad had their 25th wedding anniversary, I made about a dozen friends, and I got a tan for the first time in my life. Life was good.

So score another point for Jesus. (I guess now is as good a time as any to say I'm sorry: Sorry, Jesus!)

But still, my mother was unhappy. She was a stranger in a strange place. I saw that. I would listen about her struggle to understand this non-egalitarian culture and how much she missed the green grass of Graceland (nee North Mississippi). The long shrubby grasslands of south Texas were certainly not very comforting to a woman accustomed to verdant scenery.

She was more homesick than either of us. But soon she found someone who lived in the arid climate whom she could relate to: a Mr. Wylie Coyote. Yes. You heard me right. The crafty cartoon canid who managed to screw up every single plan he ever conceived –and usually paid the price for his folly by a long fall ending unceremoniously on the hard desert floor.
[ youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz65AOjabtM ]



It was ridiculous, this teen and his mother religiously watching something so absurd every Saturday morning. Together we howled at his unquenched desire for the Road Runner, his intricate plans going inescapably awry. The sound no faithful follower can ever forget was the slow whistle of Wylie falling from some great height, once again so stupefied by the turn of events he wouldn’t utter a single sound before he hit the ground with a resounding thud. Wheeeeeeewwwww - POW!

You don't see that kind of quality entertainment anymore. Too violent, they say.
We didn't care. We liked the violence. We understood. He'd be all right. We'd see him again next week. So we laughed and laughed until tears came down our faces, week after week. We enjoyed Wylie. He was our friend.

So when it came time to get my mother a Christmas present that year in Texas, I decided to get her something memorable: I bought her a coyote. A stuffed Wylie Coyote. I wrapped it and placed it under the tree nervously, not sure if she would think it was too childish.

Later, I paced my room. I argued with myself about getting such a silly gift. More than once I thought I should've gotten perfume, even cheap perfume.

Morning came. As we stood around in our robes, I gingerly handed my present to her. "Here, uh, mom, I hope you like it." I held my breath. She opened the box curiously, carefully laying aside the wrapping paper.

Then my mother, a former business professional, portrait artist and vocal supporter of the Civil Rights movement squealed out loud. Note that word: squealed. Like a little girl.

"You like it?" I asked, dumbfounded.

"Oh, honey! It's wonderful!" She cuddled the coyote. She kissed me on the cheek. She held him at arm’s length. She laughed. "Look at those eyes! Those crazy ears! Oh, thank you honey!"

I was amazed. I was expecting a tolerant laugh, but this was way above and beyond. If it had been a Tiffany diamond, I could not have gotten a better reaction.

There was some strange magic at work here, and I knew it wasn't just me getting lucky. I'm smarter than that. Something weird was going on. No way a 49 year old woman should be so excited over a stuffed animal. Uh-uh.

But Jesus knew what He was doing.

You see, we didn't know it at the time, but my mother had cancer. In less than three months, mere weeks after her 50th birthday, she would have to have a mastectomy.

That sounds bad, doesn't it? It was.

As we went to visit my mother in the hospital after her surgery, she had one firm request: "Please bring me my Wylie!" We obeyed. There she sat, this wild Irish woman, propped up by her pillows, brushing her coyote's ears and laughing.
I’ve thought about that a lot.

And I believe as she sat there laughing, God was filling her heart so she could run the terrible race before her. The proof of this was in her asking not for a legal will, nor last rites, but simply for the coyote she got for Christmas. From me. From Jesus.

He would sit beside her in that antiseptic hospital room, accepting Norma as she was, not as she wanted to be. With all her flaws and missing parts, loving her with an unspeakable love no man could understand. He would be fuzzy just for her. He would be silly just for her. He would let her hold him as closely as she needed to when she wept alone at night.

I'm not into heresy, but I think a part of Jesus was in that coyote. Maybe a small part, but a part nonetheless.

For it is impossible for a sixteen year old boy to get so perfect a gift in his own wisdom. No. No, it was Jesus I tell you. It was too timely, too perfect. I didn’t know Him, but He knew Norma Joyce. Jesus used me.

And a coyote for Christmas.

_____________________________________________


Amen.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man - on DVD!

Dear children of the 70's, Uncle Justice has some AWESOME news for you - about two weeks late, but you can still get it before Christmas if you hurry.

After years of wrangling, The Six Million Dollar Man is available on DVD from Time-Life - all FIVE seasons, with all three PILOT movies and all THREE Reunion movies PLUS 90 minutes of interviews, commentary and even more coolness.

Ends up being FORTY DVDs of coolness. [insert bionic sound]
[Link for clip below: http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlcuiDUVyVQ&NR=1&feature=fvwp ]



I got to say this story inspired me to make my hero [from the novel I am writing] an astronaut who loses nearly everything yet keeps going.

It was the producer Harve Bennett who pointed out that what makes Steve Austin awesome is that he's got a lot of heart and compassion, even as he does his job. I think he's right - I think that darkness and coldness may have been what killed the reboot of The Bionic Woman. And that applies any movie where the hero lacks compassion: Daredevil, Ghost Rider, etc.

I myself have lost a lot of compassion for certain individuals and its hurting my ability to minister.

But Steve - he who lost most of his limbs, his fiance' and several other friends in the line of duty?

He keeps coming back.

In slow motion. [Link for clip below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJwPL5LkeaA&NR=1&feature=fvwp ]



Not only because it looks cooler, [it most certainly does] but because you and I want to savor every moment of action. Of victory.

If you've lost a lot of yourself this year, don't worry - you can come back. You can win.

A be better, stronger, faster than you were before.

Just don't give up. And trust that God is smarter than Rudy Wells as He re-builds you.

Amen.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Apologies for Two

I have recently been shown that one of my recent super-heroic drawings posted on Facebook was a bit too 'graphic' or sexual for the general pop, especially for those who have struggled with the false expectations of their sex by such exaggerated human anatomy. There are those who are deeply hurt and offended by a Christian man portraying nude figures of imposing proportions, and I hear their pain.

I reply: But these aren't nudes. They are figures in spandex - but that is very close to a nude proper when done in line drawings, so I apologize for my poor visual interpretation.

So to all the MEN out there who were offended by the six-pack abs, amazing lats and triceps of this square-jawed paragon of manhood I DEEPLY APOLOGIZE.

I know that men who see this may find themselves crying themselves to sleep at night, begin binging and purging to somehow get down to the mythical 5% body fat and will spend countless hours in front of a mirror, applying makeup and false padding to increase their slim jaws to manly levels.

To these poor souls I say:

GET A LIFE YOU SCHMUCK!

[*ahem*]

Well, maybe I shouldn't say THAT, but the way to the exit door of self-hatred is usually a gentle slap in the face.

Now on to my second apology...

I have been informed in three different ways by the same individual that a corporation registers the rights to a trademark to protect the creators from outside theft of their identity.

That sounds noble and good.

Only, when those who are so protected want to use the trademark FREELY without that corporation's control, they are informed they cannot use it.

Well, they CAN use it - if they pay a lot of money. Somewhere between $45,000 - $70,000.

Those figures may be wrong. I am going by hearsay from one of the creators:

Jeff Dee writes:
A decade or so ago, when Jack and I were trying to get Scott to pass the V&V license to other, *active* publishers (R. Talsorian and White Wolf both made offers), Scott put a pricetag of $45,000 on the V&V rights. In an email exchange with me a few weeks before Jack and I re-released V&V ourselves, Scott raised that pricetag to "$50,000 to $75,000". Make of that what you will.


But if they are right - or if the offer was made, it sort of destroys the "I just registered it to keep you safe" argument.

In either case, one of two things are happening - false stewardship or owner's rights.

If they are holding the trademark to PROTECT the Creators and the Creators want it back, as in "Thank you for helping keep us safe - we'd like our trademark back now." and the answer is "No. We keep it FOR you. Safe." then we've got a problem. It is not a real stewardship. It's a false one - akin to the Steward of Gondor in LOTR.

If they offered the trademark for SALE, then they are saying "It's ours and you can buy it for $$$$." But then they are not acting FOR the Creators. Nope. The Creators are merely the most interested buyers [among others, theoretically] who's original concept is now being held hostage until a ransom is paid.

Well, I hope I don't offend anymore protective and corrective people who are writing me 1,000+ words to teach me what is right.

You don't need to explain so much. Keep it simple.

"If your right eye offend thee, puck it out!"

So if you do not like my drawing, DELETE it. Keep your heart safe, please.

"Do not steal!"


Hey - whose property is it anyway? Those who create or those who watchdog it? I'd say give it to the creators - and may God bless you for doing so.

That's it.

Have a very Merry Christmas!


peace
justice

Monday, December 6, 2010

Joseph the Righteous and the Pregnant Virgin

You know the Christmas story, don't you? Mary as a young virgin was told she was to give birth to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. As I mentioned last year, this is why we call her the mother of Christ, not the mother of God - the divine part came from God, not Mary. She supplied the human part.

But someone is almost always overlooked in this story or even mocked - in medieval tales they made him out to be the 'cuckolded husband.'

Joseph.

"Joseph [was] a righteous man..." we are told. We are further informed that he had married [by legal document] the young Mary. He was a hard-working man as a carpenter.

A year was the typical between the time of the marriage contract and the actual nuptials. It gave the bridegroom time to prepare their home, finish business, etc.

If he died in this time period, the almost-bride would even be called a 'widowed virgin.' Unusual, but it happened. Thus, when she is found to be pregnant - and Joseph KNOWS it is not his child, he plans to 'divorce her quietly.'

Now you have GOT to feel this, so you don't blow past it: he's found out that his fiance'/bride-to-be is PREGNANT and he was BUILDING their home, all excited about his soon to arrive Lover - yes, fanboys, Joseph was a virgin too - and she's 'got busy' with someone else?!

I know of a case where the bride had sex with the Best Man - SO the next day AFTER the VERY ELABORATE ceremony AT THE $$$$ RECEPTION, the Groom gave to all the guests present photos of the act.

That was cold. Perhaps even vengeful. But, as Chris Rock once gleefully acknowledged, "I understand."

Joseph was not like that. Heartbroken, he was not going to punish Mary. He knew the shame and humiliation she would receive would be enough. And in this small village, who would marry her now?

No - he refused vengeance though heartbroken.

And then God through an angel comforted him...

"Do not be afraid! What is born in her IS of the Holy Spirit!"

Modern translation for the non-religious: "Its OK, Joe. She did NOT cheat on you! God is at work - like He was at Creation!"

Wow.

Now think... can you imagine him going over to her house to reconcile? How so many of the family were glaring at him, SURE that HE did it and wouldn't own up? Or that by not marrying her, they would have to live with the shame? [So their anger is really fear disguised?]

But when he sits privately with her and says "I had a dream... and an Angel told me...", I believe she started crying.

"So, Mary, do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"Yes...*sniff*... Joseph?"
"Is October 22nd still good for you?"
"...YES!....." [smiles through tears] ..it is VERY good!"

And then the families are relieved. They KNOW Joseph is being a GOOD man.

He is taking on his responsibility; OF COURSE IT IS HIS CHILD! Mary had eyes for no other - and he would NOT marry her if it was not HIS child!

That is what must have gone through their minds, for God only spoke to Mary, Joseph and Mary's distant cousins Elizabeth & Zechariah.

They thought they had him pegged. They were glad he was a good man, though.

But they were wrong, kids.

Joseph was not a good man.

Joseph was a RIGHTEOUS man.

And a righteous man surpasses a good man like a supersonic jet surpasses a biplane.

He's a man who did what was right and would sacrifice anything to make something that was wrong into something that was right.

By marrying the pregnant Mary, all her shame was transferred to him.

This is SO like Jesus, I cannot tell you.

That was his secret power and glory. His personal choices against all voices. Against ignorance, against cynical certitude - even his own.

Think about him this season and realize that Joseph was the man God hand-picked to raise His Son Jesus on Earth.

He was something else, indeed.

Amen.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Injustice, Inc.

Sorry its been so long. I have had a hundred things hit me and between a wake to attend, snow to shovel, books to read and a house to clean, I am pretty much out of energy.

Oh I usually have so much I can keep flying but recently my heart was emptied at realizing I have spent 10 years of my life trying to get my favorite RPG, Villains and Vigilantes to come back to life only to find that now that it has happened, a dogpile of deceit has become attached to it.

Let's just put it this way: even though it is PERFECTLY CLEAR that the creators should ethically and legally have back their rights to both the copyright and the trademark, they are going to have to fight to make sure the original publisher - who's corporation disappeared 20 years ago - stops publishing materials that use the trademark they are using.

They own both legally. [Contract is clear and the conditions of their ownership have been met. When the parent corporation went defunct, they got all their rights back.]

They own both copyright and trademark ethically. [They created both. Then they got up and said "This is ours!" and then proceeded to submit the proper documentation. They have claimed both 'children' as their own. They made this public. VERY public.]

They own both morally. [This was not stolen from someone else. It IS their property. For over 20 years they were not aware that they owned it with the parent corporation becoming defunct. They found out at the beginning of this year and FINALLY, exercised their rights - oh, and they had been ASKING to 'buy back' their rights previously. Can you imagine the sheer ANGER they must have felt, discovering they were being asked to pay tens of thousands of dollars for something THAT WAS THEIRS BY LEGAL RIGHT? It boggles the mind.]

Unfortunately, human drama cannot be avoided because we all have an amazing capacity to justify our actions even as we point fingers.

That's injustice for you.


peace
justice