Monday, August 31, 2015

Spock, Messiah: How Leonard Nimoy Saved a Southern Boy

Ears, shmeers - I'm telling you, you're gonna
plotz when you see him.
As a devoted follower of Christ, Bible teacher and jail preacher, I know Who my savior is, and that is Jesus Christ. What makes me laugh and smile is how He, the messiah, used a Jewish actor to save my heart and soul for Him.

I am so grateful for Leonard Nimoy and so saddened by his death this year, it has taken me this long to write what he meant to me as Mr. Spock.

I was 8 or 9 years old when I met Mr. Spock. I remember Ted Simpson, my older brother's 16-year-old friend watching TV with me and saying during the  commercial for the series, "Oh man! Star Trek is coming back on!"

"What's Star Trek?" I asked.

"Oh, it's cool, man. They have a ship and go to different planets. You'd like it. Look, that's Mr. Spock!" On the screen, I saw this fierce-looking man with a cool demeanor, sharp eyebrows and pointed ears wearing a blue shirt with insignia on it.

I was hooked, I think, at that moment.

This was 1975, two years before Star Wars. I was a baby-faced boy with teenagers around me who listened to Led Zeppelin, Three Dog Night and Jimi Hendrix. I was intimidated by them; I was in awe of them.

Ted Simpson said Star Trek was cool; ergo, Mr. Spock was cool.

I watched Star Trek, you betcha.

Back then, we GLUED props together.
In a short time, I was a complete Trekkie. I had Mr. Spock pyjamas, a model of the U.S.S. Enterprise, and the landing party Exploration Kit, which, strangely enough was scaled to fit the hands of a child. Funny that.

I collected all the novels and books, and seriously knew every episode title and number. I loved Star Trek. It was years before I really knew why.

It wasn't the morality tales or the action as much as the interaction between Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

Now, I was a geek. Did not like sports, but loved reading, math and science. I did not have a lot of compassion for my fellow man, being usually mocked or ridiculed by my fellow man at recess, at the bus stop, in classrooms...

Guess, take a wild guess, which of the three characters I admired the most.

The strongest, smartest, most capable, most logical, most self-controlled member of the U.S.S. Enterprise - Mr. Spock.

Leonard Nimoy made Spock happen as a fully realized character. He made choices that showed he had a heart and loved and had all the noble qualities of a noble man. He also was a bit of a mystic scientist who used his mind to the Nth degree. He was not ruled by feelings or emotion, yet it was a lie to say he was cold and heartless. Something he was accused of, constantly by the over-exhuberant Dr. McCoy.




I needed a role-model like that. I needed to know that my feelings should NOT rule me. I needed to see Geek as Cool. I needed to know feeling like and alien and lonely in school or being mistreated was not the end of the world.

Nimoy as Spock showed me that. Unselfish and forthright, he was a truly admirable character. He had flaws and pride, but he was never unjust or petty or willing to sacrifice his character.

Damn, we need more like him, don't we?

Oops.

Well, anyway.

When we see our messiah in scripture, we honestly don't associate logic to Him, do we? We have been too abused by the emo-fascism of the worldlings who refuse to think past their pain and self-pity.

In other words, Dr. McCoy has been doing most of the talking from our pulpits. If you are a pastor, everyone loves to come tell you how scared they are, how worried they are, how they are upset about their children, their health, their finances or radical Muslims.

It is enough to make you scream. It's as if the moment any emotion showed up, they lost any hope or faith that God is in control and will help those who ask.

They are ruled by their emotions, not reason. Not logic.

Mr. Spock taught me that logic wins. Emotions are fleeting - and don't worry, you'll be afraid of something different tomorrow, I assure you - but reason and logic rule inexorably.

I do not want to throw you off: strict naturalism is not logic. In other words, if you pooh-pooh the existence of the supernatural, you are not being logical, you are merely being a strict naturalist.

You are an anti-supernaturalist. That is not the same as being logical.

Your presuppositions that there is NO supernatural realm blind you. Your assumptions limit you.

True logic works from givens - established facts and rules. It extrapolates from there. So when Jesus is dealing with supernatural problems, we ignore His logic because...

...well, we just can't go there.

So listen to what the supernatural man-god said  to his opponents, about how ridiculous their accusations were. They were, in fact, saying he was a demon prince because he was breaking all their human traditions and rules.

Matthew 12:22-29

22 Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?”

24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.

25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, [then] by whom do your sons cast them out?

Therefore they will be your judges. [Sons judging dads?! Outrageous!]

28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.

Do you see the bolded and the underlined words above? Yeah, those are logic operands.

If "X", Then "Y". If Condition of "X", Execute "Y".

Jesus is showing these men who hate Him how ridiculous their false accusations are.

He just blasts them with logic. Yeah, we are talking about doing something weird and supernatural - exorcism - but we are speaking of using our reason in the same breath.

Mr. Spock taught me to use logic while loving, and wisdom when I did not have all the facts. He even taught me a little bit about faith and hope at the same time.

Because, face it folks, a superstrong, half-alien first officer of a starship with a computer-like mind should not be second-in-command - nor tolerate one-twentieth of the jealous diatribes that the chief medical officer threw at him unless he had a good reason.

A very good reason.

He loved them.

It was the logical thing to do.

Amen.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Happy Birthday to the King of Comics!

"'Am I an artist?' Sure, kid. I can draw some.
Got any comics from the 40's, 50's, 60's or 70's?"
Today would have been Jack Kirby's 98th birthday. He left this mortal coil over 20 years ago, but he left behind a legacy of comic book creations that literally kept the industry alive in the 50s and 60s and literally changed the way comics were drawn and viewed by readers.

If Jack Kirby had not been born - and God sent no one to replace him - we would have never had the following:

...uhhh...

*ahem*

We've got a slight technical difficulty.

I was going to post a list of his creations and co-creations but it is FAR too long for this blog. I mean it. There is a two-page Wikipedia listing of his 308 characters:

So much credit has been given to Jack's editor Stan Lee it is become a part of heated contention. While back in the day, Stan Lee got writer's credit, it was because he'd add dialogue balloons over Jack's work, and got credit for the stories that Jack had plotted and designed and laid out. Lee was the icing on the cake. Jack was the cake, obviously.

Proof of this reversal of attribution is found in the fruitful output of Jack's career BEFORE Marvel Comics and AFTER Marvel Comics. Lee has nothing. I mean it. Nothing worth anything. He got put in as the writer, we think we know what that means because of the modern work flow in comics. But in a letters' column in the 60's, Stan Lee himself said the "Marvel Method" was to discuss the idea, let the artist go do it and add dialogue later on, since 1) comics are inherrently a visual medium and 2) there was so much work to be done.

Kirby had been drawing for 20 years and knew how to tell a story. Lee was the nephew of the publisher and adored Jack. So he was proud to be the "writer" of such great titles and loved telling everyone how great they were.

As time went by, the distance between "writing dialogue" to "writing the comic" to being "The Writer" of Spider-man, Fantastic Four, etc. got smaller and smaller.

And when you have a net worth of $50 million, you don't correct folks' assumptions. You just don't.

Thankfully, the Kirby estate is not only getting Jack his due recognition but some payback. Jack would be very happy with that, I think.

Jack Kirby was not only the real King of Comics - creating Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man and so many more characters, but also the pantheons of "New Gods" for DC comics, including their most terrifying space god of annihilation: Darkseid.

Oh Snap! Crackle! Pop!
[Doom over Surfer by Kirby]
His reach extended into every part of comic book storytelling, from how many panels are standard on a page to the famous "Kirby Crackle" of energy we boys all copied with ballpoint pens to show how cool OUR heroes were.

What is stunning to me to this day is that Kirby did so much and helped so many but basically kept his head down and did not try to humiliate or attack Stan Lee. He moved on when promises were not kept, but the weirdest thing is that he had a sense of fairness and honesty, yet was never rancorous or demanding. He had a crazy work ethic that killed all competitors. Kirby could draw five pages a day, and had been known to put out an entire comic book over a weekend.

What? I mean, how could anyone be so dam' talented, so fast, so strong mentally and ethically and let Lee get so much credit? Or let his detailed pencils get "simplified" by a lazy inker [yes, this happened much].

I think I have the answer. He was humble, and Lee was grateful. I have never, ever heard Stan Lee say anything but the kindest, most flattering things about Jack Kirby.

Jack was from poverty and worked hard. He knew his talent and knew who to cut loose. He knew he worked for assinine men. He knew there were battles to fight and battles to walk away from. But he also knew that if he kept moving forward, he'd be a success. No one could out-work him. Yes, someone might draw better here or there, but no one could match his creativity and speed.

He threw out a thousand seeds of creation and we got hundreds of fruit-bearing trees from his wild generosity.

He was generous. He was honest. He was humble.

I want to show you what humility looks like. It is not pooh-poohing your obvious talent or not stretching your wings because you are surrounded by ostriches. It is doing what is in front of you to the Level of Awesome, day in and day out. 

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.

17 
Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?
18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
You don't see it, do you? The humility?

You think it is the one leper who came back, praising God loudly, right?

No, that is gratitude. Jesus notes it. The guy wasn't even a true believer [foreigner at that time implied they were also foreign to the Jewish faith].

No, the humility is that Jesus cleanses ALL ten and even when only ONE comes back, to give gratitude and praise, Jesus simply moves on.

He does not go lecture them on gratitude. He does not hunt down these ungrateful jerks and blast them. He simply says "Wow. Well, this is a shock, isn't it? You are welcome. And you know what, buddy? Your trust in Me has really and honestly made you whole, inside and out."

You see, you can do great work. Others may even benefit at your expense. You may be ignored umpteen times, or passed over. But the ones you help and who are grateful become better people. They are not simply "fixed up" for the moment but made into a better person. That's why Jesus says ten were "cleansed" but one was "made well."

Humility is doing the job before you at awesome level, no matter what.

If you appreciate hard work, and if you are grateful for the touch of a master, say thank you to them. Tell others what they did for you, loudly. Tell God you are grateful, too.

If you do this, you won't just be better.

You will be whole, as in complete. And that might just change your life permanently.

Thanks, Jack. The King of All made you a King of Comics, and we are grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Avengers 160

George Perez, artist and dreammaker
for all 12-year-old geek boys.
I'm going to start a tradition here: Throwback Thursday, where I reach back to films, comics and books that shaped my imagination and fed into my faith, unbeknownest to me, decades past.

Let's start with Avengers 160, written by Jim Shooter, drawn by George Perez and inked - and I mean lovingly inked - by Pablo Marcos. I think this is the first time I saw what inks could do to enhance good pencils. I stopped and learned the name of the inker, I was so impressed.

The short synopsis: the Grim Reaper, one Eric Williams, a second rate villain, the brother of our resurrected hero Wonder Man, shows up and handily beats FIVE Avengers with a surprise attack and some fancy tech. He does all this for one reason and one reason only: he wants to know if Simon Williams, his brother is truly alive - or if the Vision, an android with Simon's brain patterns (collected from Simon's mind after he was stone cold dead) is his real brother.

So he puts both heroes on trial with the Black Panther as their defense counsel. The one who is false must die, for he cannot have two brothers. Oh, and to make sure the Avengers play along, they each have wristbands attuned to their particular molecular structure. They cause any trouble and ZZAAAAPPP, they are knocked out after searing pain. [And you thought a bark collar was cruel.]

Man, this was heady stuff. I got Avengers backstory, legal procedure [sort of] and the question of what makes us human or not. Who's the real brother? The guy who died and got up from the dead or the android who can phase through walls?

And how are they gonna get out of this? I mean, this guy will kill one of them no matter what - 'cause psycho guy only needs ONE brother.

Let me tell you I have re-read this comic probably 20 times easily. The surprises, the pacing, the action and the drama as these men sit in a chair and tell their sordid past. You see, Simon Williams was a traitor to the Avengers - but he died a hero, being killed by Baron Zemo for switching sides. Still, a lot of shame and yes, fear - because he died. It is not an experience Williams ever wants to go through again.

And as for the Vision? He had hoped to be a man. He knows he was a created synthezoid, but he did have Simon Williams brain patterns. He liked so many of the same things. He has even fallen in love. He'd begun to think he was almost human, you know? But in a great set of dramatic face-offs and one huge reveal, we find that the answer is...




...wait for it....



...neither.

T'challa, the awesome Black Panther, makes Simon Williams reveal what his jungle senses already suspected: the man Simon Williams is no more. His eyes, covered all these issues by red lenses, are uncovered, and we see that this "man" is furnace of pure energy!

Then the Vision stands up and tells Erik no, he is not Simon Williams, and so he must die. He had his hopes, but he is not his brother. "I am the Vision, and thus, I am content!"

They are heroes. But they are not human. Not at all.

They are more brothers to each other now than the two boys who grew up together.


Erik, seeing that the moral compass has swung to point out his bigotry, reacts with rage - and blasts everyone into unconsciousness. Then, gathering his dignity, he decides that after killing the Vision he'll get his brother and fix everything...

...except Simon Williams ain't the boy he knew.

Seems he's changed a bit more than Erik thought.

Seems those bands don't work on his NEW molecular structure.

Seems that Erik's own weapon won't even begin to hurt the now invulnerable in every sense of the word Wonder Man.

He K.O.s Erik and wakes everyone up. In the touching denouement, the Beast asks if he can help in any way and Simon says, "Just leave me here alone for awhile, O.K.?"

Simon thus closes a chapter of his life. He has stopped, single-handedly, the villain who came into being because he blamed the Avengers for for Simon's death. He effectively un-justifies all of Erik's evil actions. They were not based in love and justice, but anger, self-loathing and self-justification.

Years ago, this story resonated with me, because I had a terrible relationship with my brother. He was eight years older and between his issues and my immaturity, it was horrible. I was terrified of him.

But I found brothers in close friends and slowly filled in some of the gaps. Later in life, I discovered I was not the man I wanted to be and called on Jesus to save me.

More than that, I wanted Him to be my brother.

To do that, I had to die to self and be given His mind, His heart, His way of thinking. As a gift, not as a philosophical or ethical goal. I mean a supernatural gift that freaked me out.

Like Simon Williams, I had to state who I really was and what I had done wrong.

Like the Vision, I had to admit that I wanted to be someone else, but I was not.

This is what it means to be born again folks. You get a new birth from the Spirit of God.

Jesus pointed it out in John 3:3-8
3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?”
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
 - and also how we become brothers this way:
John 14:15-19
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

It is the supernatural Spirit of God that unites us, with Jesus as our Big Brother. He is the Truth, and you know what? The world don't want it. I mean that sincerely. We just don't. Like the Grim Reaper in the Avengers tale, once we hear it, we start ZZZZAAAPPPing to keep our own P.O.V.

But if we listen to Christ, and do what He says, we love Him and will be brothers on that fact alone. We won't be deceived by outward appearances anymore. We will "know the truth and the truth will set you free."

I loved this comic. I loved the story Jim Shooter told. I loved the pencils and the inks.

Most of all, I loved what it said: we are not bound to be brothers of evil or the misguided by blood. We can be free to be brothers by the spirit - and that transcends all mortal flesh.

Amen.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Inside Out - A Film 12-Year-Old Girls of All Ages Will Enjoy

I was pumped to see Pixar's latest offering, Inside Out last week. I wanted to see how they turned being inside the "Control Room" of a young girl's brain with all her emotions personified into an engaging film.
Girls, you are gonna love this.

They certainly had surprised me with Big Hero 6 and Up and Monsters, Inc., so I settled in to see how they did it once again.

Sadly, I was not impressed. In fact, I began to get irritated of the stereotyping of men as either rude or clueless in this heavily female film [yeah, yeah, all CGI - but 90% female characters.]

Like Brave and Frozen, it is a film designed for girls to watch in large groups with other girls. Boys will be disappointed. There is nothing for them to see except girls causing trouble with other girls.

Yippay. Whoop de doo. Except... well...

There was one redeeming feature, but it had a back-handed slap in it.

There is a figure in the film who sacrifices himself to save the day. He is male - sort of.

He's warm and friendly and sweet. He's loving but he is lonesome, since his girl no longer plays with him.

This one character saves the film from pure disdain in my eyes. He's the girl's old Imaginary Friend, Bing Bong.

He's a ludicrous assortment of all the things she likes that are warm and fuzzy and nice. He's made of cotton candy and even produces candy when he cries. He has the tail of a cat and the snout of an elephant.

But while she's forgotten him., he's not forgotten her, and like Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, he will not stop giving all he has to help her.

That's the spoiler folks, so you can read on if you wish.

You'll see the scene of his giving and you'll see why I cried in the theater, over a girly-girl movie that did very little for me otherwise.

I saw The Gift, given for a child who had let her emotions wreck her memories and her relationships. What emotionalism does to all of us who feel wounded.

I saw Jesus in Bing Bong.

The back-handed slap? Well, he's her Imaginary Friend. He's not real, except in her mind and emotions.

But isn't that the case in real life? How many children had Jesus in their minds and hearts and let Him be destroyed by the world, or their other desires?

Even as I wept, I saw a bit of Biblical warning. You see, the film ends with her emotionally re-connected and even looking forward to building new memories and emotions - based on Boy Bands and Clothes and other Very Important Things to Girls - at the expense of the eradication of Bing Bong.

Her Imaginary Friend had to be destroyed to accomplish this. The one who really loved her self-annihilates to save her and she never knows it.

What she lost and got in return made my blood run cold, even in the theater. While it was supposed to be a happy ending, it glorified cheaper wares over a sweet relationship she'd had.

Am I reading too much into a film for kids? Oh, most certainly. We have to grow up, right?

But when you know Christ - and I do - and when you see Him sacrificed as a funny and tragic figure - and He was - and the resolution is : oh boy, I'll build NEW memories and cast off childhood like a used paper plate, you suspect something about the Happy Meal you just ate.

It had something unsavory in it. It rings true and tragic at the same time.

I wanted to rejoice in her restoration, but I didn't. I wanted to say, "Wow. She made it!"

But she didn't.

In the crisis of her emotional life, she sacrificed the one childhood friend she had who loved her more than his own existence. The one she had utterly forgotten.

Bing bong was no ding dong of silliness.

He was her heart's best friend. He was Jesus. The same loving Jesus in every child's heart, killed by puberty and "growing up" that so many of us profess to have done that removed the "childish fantasy" of faith.

If you believe that, you didn't "grow up" as much as you gave in. To the world. To its values. To its foolishness. Jesus tries to catch us before those loud and insistent voices demand allegiance. He even commands us to get children to Him as soon as possible, I think.

Matthew 19:14 
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Christ loves little children, and they come to Him. But the world comes after them, too.

If we let the world tell us to leave Christ, to not trust Him like little children do, then it is we who will be turned -

- inside out.

And that is a sad ending, not a happy one.

Sorry, Joy.

Amen.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Not-So-Fantastic Four

At Wizard World Comic Con in Chicago last week, a cosplay friend of mine who prefers to remain anonymous got majorly recognized. He said something very direct that all the Marvel Fans Who Despise the Latest Fantastic Four movie agreed with.

His photo hit Twitter and then it got re-tweeted immediately. In two hours he got over 2,000 Likes.

His cosplay? Like some Biblical prophet in the wilderness, he dressed as a member of that gallant classic group of heroes, covering himself head to foot with a shameful paper sack over his head and held up a sign for all the people to see.

"SELL US BACK TO MARVEL"

Note that: not "Give Us Back" - that would never, in a million years happen. These rights are worth millions of dollars. No, wisely he wrote "Sell Us Back to Marvel."

That has a chance. That could happen. Especially since the movie did so badly financially and critically [worst opening ever for any Marvel film, 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes], that it will lose near $60 million.

Marvel decided months ago, as problems in production mounted to stop selling the very comic book and pulled down all the posters of the beloved original family created by Jack Kirby with Stan Lee's kind and generous applause. [That last was a snark, obviously. You're smart enough to figure it out. Let's move on.]

The film is so despised that Marvelites are even watching the poorly-made under-budgeted Roger Corman FF film of 1994 online instead of seeing this modern monstrosity.

The problem with the 1994 film and this one in 2105 is one and the same. They were not made to please the fans or to tell a great story as much as to keep the rights and not let them revert back to Marvel for lack of use. This little tactic annoys me to no end, but I'll refrain. Legally, Marvel could do nothing and the fans could do nothing.

But great has been the outcry, and there is hope there will be redemption.

And folks, this is not the first time a cool super family has been legally screwed over and needing someone to come in to redeem them.

That is precisely what happened in Genesis 3, fanboys.

We screwed up. We were awesome, god-like beings who gave up our rights by listening to a liar. The moment we ingested that fruit of good AND evil, we got growing in evil.

That is why God kicked us out. Not to punish us for disobeying, but to stop the process from getting worse.  
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 

Forever stained. Forever fearful. Forever under the power of evil.
23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the Tree of Life.

[Geek Mind: I imagine "flaming sword" as a red 'saber, btw.]

We read the Bible wrongly, and we mischaracterize God over and over.

God didn't tell us the names of the animals, He "brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name." [Gen 2:19]

We had a huge "garden" wilderness that was more a like a national park than your grandma's backyard [it was bounded by four rivers, guys.] We had it great. We were like gods, with perfect bodies in a perfect environment.

But we lost it. We traded safety, relationship and authority for some knowledge of evil.

So now what do we do? Cry for help.

We need to ask for a redeemer. We need to admit we screwed up, that we gave our rights away, and our story is just getting worse.

You know Who I mean, don't you?

Jesus, boyo. Jesus.

Put a sack on your head and wear a sign if you need to, but ask the redeemer to buy you back.

I shudder to think how your story will end without him.

Amen.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ant-Man: Getting Smaller Ain't So Bad

Yes, they do.
No one gets any smaller, dummies.
I went to the Ogden 6 in Naperville Saturday night to see Ant-Man starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas one more time. I needed a laugh, I had a free pass and I thought the Premiere was funny enough to warrant a second look.

I think I liked it better this time, as I knew the kooky flavor of the film and was prepared to roll with it more, savor it's entertainment versus logic value.

Glad I did. While I was not a fan of some of the over-used tropes - convict who was really a decent guy, a precious girl who WUVS her daddy, and three ethnic stereotypes I won't bother to identify - those tropes were for comedic effect, not to carry the weight of the story. The filmmakers knew how much comedy versus gravitas to put in, so we would enjoy a film about an ex-con who becomes a reluctant superhero - the size of an ant.

In fact, much of the exposition and anxiety of this particular power is this ability. With Dr. Henry Pym's "Pym Particles", any object or person can become small enough to evade nearly all surveillance, all weapons, all defenses. Seriously, what could an army do against a two centimeter high soldier that can hit like a bullet? Or an army of them?

Wow. It would, as Dr. Pym [Michael Douglas] says, "Alter the face of the world as we know it."

You could send atom bombs hidden inside letters to your foes. You could get into any country at any time under a jacket collar. You could kill someone from the inside and make it look like natural causes.

Pym does everything he can to keep his discovery off the market, but his former protege' has become a malicious corporate leader who has re-discovered PYm's greatest achievement and is going to sell it to the highest bidder.

So Pym, in a roundabout way, recruits Scott Lang [Paul Rudd] to don the Ant-Man suit and go steal the project and destroy all records of it. Big task for a small guy.

As Scott examines the suit he comes across a part that seems to slow down the shrinking process. He suggests taking it off to increase the suit's efficiency when Henry tells him in no uncertain terms to NEVER remove it.
Scott: "What is it?"
Henry: "It's a regulator. If you shrink without it, you will keep shrinking forever. Past the subatomic level, where time and space have no meaning and everything you know or care about ceases to exist."
Scott: "Don't touch the regulator. Got it."
Soon we discover this is how Henry Pym's wife was lost: she went subatomic to stop an intercontinental missile aimed at the U.S.

He never saw her again.

Of course at the climax, we see that Scott Lang must do the same thing to save his daughter, Jessie. He goes subatomic - but due either to his foreknowledge or luck or providential hand of fate, he gets one of his expansion disks into his regulator in time to fully reverse the process and come home.

What is so touching and unexpected in this movie is that very concept: becoming smaller gives the hero much more power. It allows them to succeed instead of fail.

I think some One said something about that years ago:

Mark 9:35 [Personal Service]
And he [Jesus] sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Matthew 13:32 [Size of Kingdom of God]
[The mustard seed] is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

John 3:30 [John the Baptist's recognition of Christ's ministry]
"He must increase, but I must decrease.”

In each of these, the reader is given an obverse expectation. The way to successfully serve God is to "get smaller" - in ministry, in service and in personal social position.

In other words, God loves "ant-men." He uses small men and small beginnings to build a fabulous kingdom.

It is that simple. You don't have to be a big shot to win.

You have to be willing to be the little guy.

Amen.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Wizard World Chicago: "I Coulda Been a Contender!"

"Hey, Nicholson! You borrowing
my face, boyo?"
In roaming around at Wizard World Chicago, dressed as Jack Knight, Starman, I got a few compliments and one real fan boy appreciation. I also met inker extraordinaire Joe Rubenstein who did Frank Miller's classic Wolverine mini-series back in the early 80s, shook hands with Neal Adams and Michael Golden, my old art heroes who's work have been adored by millions of fans, and then attended a panel on cosplaying.

BTW, in my chat with Joe Rubenstein, he responded to my vocal admiration of his work by painting the pinky nail on my right hand black with his ink brush. Heh!

We hit it off fabulously. Joe "shot straight" as they say (he's a believer from NYC area) and had the chutzpah to crack wise about me being a pastor, all the while drawing away on a commission.

He had a STACK of inked work for sale with pages from Marvel, DC and Archie Comics he'd done. Just watching him ink with a brush, dipping into an ink bottle taped to a piece of cardboard smacked me for all my years of prissy perfectionism. A perfectionism that kept me from working until everything was "just right."

I began to see that what separated me from these men and women of great talent with "mad skillz" was simply hard work. Dedication just pays the best dividends, you know?

"I coulda been a contender!" says Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront. It is his realization his chance for success was taken from him by his brother's actions. He bemoans the fact he has achieved nearly nothing in his life. "Don'tcha see? I coulda been a somebody instead of a nobody!"

Now to be honest, he does do something noteworthy later but still that scene hit me in the feels, and very recently too. In having a tiny-eensy bit of success with my mini-comic, The Dragonknight, I realized that my ideas could have flown high if I had been in the right circle. I got very close to men who did join the comic book industry, and as arrogant and proud as this may sound, I had some ideas that turned some very important heads. They liked them. They were genuinely interested.

I did nothing with them.

Then, I would watch, time and time again the same ideas come to fruition in other hands. As if God had been broadcasting, and I was receiving, but I was refusing to transmit. Refusing to step out in faith and work on them.

I like to drive my creative car real nice and slow and only on Sundays, if you get my drift.

But like George Bailey in  It's a Wonderful Life, there is a little more to the story than a talented man missing his opportunities. God has a plan greater than his. I also believe God had a plan for my weakness in this area. My lack of pursuit.

For it was my personal failures--in marriage, in life, in my career--that drove me to go back to church. It was there through the interecession of others that I met Jesus as a Living Real Entity. It was in my bedroom screaming one night that I made peace with God and received His love and forgiveness.

Even my friends noticed the change in my attitude, my life outlook. God was in charge. I was not. My job was to take care of people when I could and do what was in front of me.

Twenty years later, I am doing what was unthinkable to that young artist. I am standing in artist's alley talking about God to one pro, discussing the Christian worldview versus other religions with another pro, and recognized as a Believer by a tattooed lady vendor who recognized the handmade bracelet I wore because she too had made them for her kids in her Sunday school class.

After I left, I wondered if I did enough to show Christ to these few.

I mean, am I lazy? Having failed to work as an artist, am I now relegated to failure as a pastor or evangelist?

Well, that depends on how you define failure, and I define failure as not doing what you are given to do by God. In other words, breaking ranks and rebellion.

Then, I wanted only to serve my self, my needs after I had control of everything around me.

Now, I want to serve others. It is easier to do that physically than artistically I have discovered. If I carry your groceries in for you, you immediately say "thank you" and if I wait on your table in a restaurant I get a tip.

But I never considered my art as a form of service to others. Never.

I am so clueless, I forgot how art and comics carried me through hard times of puberty, including my mother's cancer and bullying at school. Art transported my soul until God could talk directly to me. Great artists showed me a larger world. They gave me epic stories.

I wanted to join in those stories by being an artist. It is that simple.

God understood. He also was patient. I wanted a career; He wanted my heart.

Formerly, I grew up reading the Bible and loving comics. Now, I love the Bible and read some comics. My love affairs are reversed, but one aided the other far more than it hindered.

So today I am not a well-known artist or creative. It does disappoint me a little, losing this little dream of mine. But as C. S. Lewis says, "God does not find our desires too strong, but too weak."

God, in the same 20 years, has done something else. He's made me a sort of superhero--fighting the evil in men's hearts. Where The Shadow knows it lurks....

I have been to Russia, Kazakhstan, and India. I have taught for years in two different county jails, preached extemporaneously some 500 times and written over 300 Bible studies. There are many men who surpass men in this area, I know. Still... doesn't sound like a loser in God's sight, does it?

Obviously not. But like all who wish to serve, I realized I was too weak to do it without God. The apostle Paul writes about his own weakness and aks God to fix it. God says something strange [New Living Translation]:
Each time [God] said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
Paul's weakness was his eyesight, I believe wholeheartedly. If I am correct, then he'd have to speak aloud these spiritual letters, dictating them to a younger man and have them read back to him. I mean every letter he wrote to Christian churches.

That meant the Roman guards keeping him had no recourse but to hear the Good News, over and over and over...

Never thought of that, did you?

And I never thought how wretchedly insufferable I would have become if I did become a successful artist years ago. I am not exonerating my lack of effort. I mean I think God made sure I did not get going and evade meeting Him.

When things go our way, we tend to forget God. Like--every time, maybe?

When things are not good, we tend to call on God like our Insurance Agent In Heaven. Loudly, with angry imprecations.

We contend with the invisible God, but not with the visible World. We want success and perks and extra love, but not loving discipline, constrainment or correction.

I could have been a contender, a successful artist? Yes, but no. Not if God was overlooked - and I was doing that, absolutely.

You see, I was a contender. I was fighting God's call on my life. I had my own plan of success, my own goals, my own way to make myself happy.

So did God

Guess who won? Take a wild guess.

We'll wait.

Meanwhile, I'll be admiring my little pinky, blackened by the ink brush one of the greatest inkers of all time, who's inked more artists than anyone, ever. [Wiki article]

And now, by God's providential hand, he's inked me.

Thank you, Jesus.

In our weakness, He is made strong indeed.

Amen.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Man from UNCLE & Brothers from Another Mother

"Did you get him?"
"Of course I did cowboy.
But you need silver bullets
for critics."
So I had to run to see the matinee of The Man from UNCLE. Luckily, there were about 20 minutes of previews and I got seated just in time to see one and then the movie started. Cold War, East Berlin, a daring escape, a crazy pursuer and we are off and running.

I loved the classy and forthright Americanism of Henry Cavill's Napoleon Solo. I loved the raw power and rage of Armie Hammer's Illya Kuryakin. These are re-imaginings no doubt about it. Like Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible franchise, we are not getting the same personas in the characters, but we are getting something cool and sharp and thrilling.

It had great moments of reverse illumination [the viewer sees the real reason for a certain actions a few seconds AFTER the event begins rolling in a different direction] that turned what could have been a paint by numbers action flick into a true work of art. Wisely, we even blow through or seem to ignore entire action set pieces to emphasize the characters and the story.

You know how action films set up, right? A conflict, a fight is about to start, we pan back and then we watch the fight. Well, here that formula, a staple of all such films, is modified. In one case we do not even see the fight [but we easily know who wins], in another, a boat chase with machine guns firing, a sympathetic character decides to not help but rather enjoy an impromptu meal [they help soon after of course].

Finally, in a huge scene of assaulting a compound, we are treated with a moving collage of action, comic book page styled, where we get to see four or five points of view at once, allowing us to know how everything happened, in less than 30 seconds.

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT 

OK, you were warned.

Obviously, being on different sides in the Cold War, with Kennedy vs. Khrushchev in the background, you knew that there would be lethal tension between our heroes, even at the end.

What saves them from having to kill each other is Solo's quick thinking and sacrifice: he not only gives Kuryakin a gift [returning an item previous lost to bad guys], he also destroys the very object [a nuclear secret] they were chasing, removing any later threat to the Soviets from America.

He's a traitor! says my patriotic heart. It was the right thing to do, says my Christian spirit. Beautiful even.

 The spirit is right, of course. And, in this case, no harm done. The stalemate can continue and many lives may be saved simply for that fact.

Have we seen this before? Such brotherly love across political lines, and I mean deadly political lines? Oh yeah. David and Jonathan, man. David and Jonathan.

You see, as I shared yesterday, David is moving by talent up the ranks. He killed Goliath; he killed double his quota of Phillistines; he's married into the royal family, now. But hold on: King Saul already has a son. Jonathan's an excellent warrior, too. I mean, this guy is brave and well-trained, well-groomed and should be the next king.

Jonathan forfeits it. That's right. He forfeits his princedom to David. He has a great faith in the God who annointed David and sees how his father is trying to control everything, so he does something crazy and awesome. I mean, folks, this is like a geek giving all his comics to his best friend. This is like your aunt making you the sole heir to her fortune. This is epic giving:
1 Samuel 18:3,4
And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
Whoa. later on, in 1 Samuel 20:12-16, Jonathan says it frankly:
12 Then Jonathan said to David, “I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? 13 But if my father intends to harm you, may the Lord deal with Jonathan, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away in peace. May the Lord be with you as he has been with my father.

14 But show me unfailing kindness like the Lord’s kindness as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, 15 and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family—not even when the Lord has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.”

16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord call David’s enemies to account.” 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.
You see the problem and the parallel? Jonathan knows his dad is acting weird--and he might try to kill David. Jonathan however fears God more than his dad, so he sides with David. He goes to spy FOR David, and he finds out the ugly truth: he's either going to have to help kill his friend or be killed by his dad, the authority. Like Solo and Kuraykin, the situation is untenable. There is only one right resolution: Jonathan helps David escape. He lies to his superior [his Dad, the King] because his superior is wrong and evil and full of fear and hate.

What is so sad, is that Jonathan has such a noble heart, he still serves his dad, King Saul loyally, otherwise. He even dies fighting at his side, while David is hiding in enemy territory. But he did not die on the inside. He loved the servant of God and gave him all the help he could. He loved him like a brother, even though he should have hated him for his threat to his future.

That is one of the reasons The Man from UNCLE was satisfying with such a light script. While we did see a lot of classy places, beautiful people and cool action with funny lines, we also saw brothers from another mother agree to be good to each other. To help each other. To watch each other's backs. To save each other's lives. Because...

...well because...

 ...you know...

 Otherwise, it would be bad form. Can't have that, you know?

Go see The Man from UNCLE and keep in mind that men at war with each other, may, by God's grace, become brothers in arms.

Amen.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Choosy Kids Choose Batman[s] Like Kids

"Man - did you see that weirdo?!"
"The one next to Batman?" "Yeah."
In 1988, we found out, to our horror, that comedian Michael Keaton was going to play Batman. My Batfan  buddy Pat Miller was outraged. He liked that Jack Nicholson had been cast for the Joker [brilliant!] but MICHAEL KEATON? Mr. Mom? Heresy! [Steven Seagal was who we would have choosen.]

The movie was blockbuster, of course. I credit Anton Furst's design and Danny Elfamn's score for adding so much to the film, but I did notice something else: while Keaton was not the smooth millionaire and brilliant detective of the comic - he was obsessive and very sharp-witted. He did good. He did good. Still, my bud was not satsified. "Did you think he was a good Batman?"

"He was the best Batman Michael Keaton could be," I replied diplomatically.

A pause. "I can accept that," he said. Being wrong takes some time to swallow, I guess.

Well, that was then. Keaton donned the suit once more, then it was Kilmer, then Clooney, then Bale and now it is Affleck.

Ben Affleck, Of Gigli and Chasing Amy, is going to play Batman in Batman v Superman. You knew that, of course. I just wanted to say it out loud as a reality slap. :D

The hate from the fanboys has been burning for months since the news hit. "Batfleck" is the snide term of dismissal. And why not? The fans were disappointed with him on Daredevil and he'd been taking hits in the industry... until the film Argo, that is. Until he did a quiet, stoic, heroic figure that outwits the Iranian government with his team to escape with their lives.

He got an academy award for that. So, as it also did for Keaton this year with Birdman, his star began to ascend in Hollywood, and he was set to be the next Batman.

That's how Hollywood works: you're popular and liked and in seconds it is "Can you play this character? Yes? We're set. Here's $15 million."

That's a gross simplification, but it ain't too far from the truth.

"Guys - do you think this will harm
my career in any way?
Oh, nooooo... well, a little."
Back to the Keaton-hate. Do you know what killed it? I mean overnight back in the 80's?

That pic of him in the new armored Batsuit next to the new Batmobile.

"Oh," we said. "Well, that might be alright."

Do you know what is killing all the Batfleck hatred right now?

Batman. In an armored suit. And since these days we have broadband connections, we all get to see the trailer clip of him speaking. Of BATMAN growling at SUPERMAN: "Do you bleed?"

"Oh," we say now. "Well, that looks good."

So typical, so common...

...so silly.

It is nothing new. It is what we do as humans.

King David was dissed. The apostle Paul was dissed. And Jesus was truly dissed. They were judged by external appearances, first looks, and then, over time, proved their detractors wrong. Dead wrong.

David was overlooked because he was a boy. In fact, his dad did not even call him in at first. Read here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+16

Paul was overlooked because his appearance was not impressive. According to one source he was short, bowlegged, had a long nose, a unibrow, and large eyes.

And Jesus? Too many to list.He finally says in John 7:24: "Do not judge according to appearances, but judge with righteous judgment."

You'd think we'd learn as humans to not judge by external appearances so quickly. You think we'd understand it is lazy and childish to do that. We need to see the work and the effort and all the rest that goes on underneath. The soul and heart of a person. In art, the actual performance in context, not just how they look or what they did years ago.



Even Yoda knew better. [Watch above]

My suggestion to you today is simple: save the critique until after the performance.

You might be surprised.

Because we have all been wrong before. Dead wrong.

Just to show you how badly everyone can be wrong, let me share this link to The 25th Anniversary Celebration of Batman.

It seems that The Producer of All Films Concerning Batman, one Michael Uslan, was a blue collar kid from New Jersey who bought the rights when no one wanted them in the late 70's.

You heard me. No one.

Oh, and as for Keaton? He's THE quintessential Batman for the last 25 years according to the current crop of fanboys.

Watch what you diss, kids.

Watch what you diss.

Amen.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

John Wick & David: The Guys You Send to Kill the Boogeyman

"You guys wouldn't have any
foreskins would you?
Thought not."
I saw John Wick last year in the theater, as a last minute, no preview, no hints, clueless moviegoer. I appreciate a good reason to shoot someone, but you gotta have a good reason. Reason satisfied, I have no problem watching a visceral, stylized action flick.

I loved it. Absolutely loved every minute of it.

John Wick not only delivered a good sharp revenge flick, it did it superbly, in a visually cool way with lots of panache. Each character has a bit of a comic book clarity feel about them and we recognize the mythical storytelling almost at once.

This is 'heightened reality'  - the way any story begins to look once it gets handed down to from generation to generation. It satisfies like a good Chicago hot dog and a cold beer satisfies on a July evening. It rocks like  Kashmir by Zeppelin rocks by being inimitably simple, direct and fearless. No apologies for what it is.. It's your hawt tatooed girlfriend who digs your comic and sitting with you at a con while you are signing autographs-level of cool. It is what we dream of as men when we wish we could kill someone who really, desperately deserves it -- and even God would say, "I crafted you for this purpose--aim well, and get it done."

It is Old Testament-level of justice, when frankly, it HAD to be done by men who feared God and no one else. I mean, no one else.

You see it in King David, before he became king, in fact.

You should already know the way he took on Goliath when he was just a youth [prolly about 15 or so]. One shot, and Goliath went down. Then David took Goliath's own sword and cut his head off.

You usually don't see that in the Sunday school lessons. Suburban families freak out over that stuff. [For fun, try to imagine doing Samson, getting up from sleeping with a prostitute before tearing the city gates off their hinges...]

We tend to gloss over certain parts of the Bible. It is a mistake. God wants to tame us, not emasculate us. And here's where John Wick and David meet: both are men of will and of dedication, and baby, no one anywhere wants to meet them in battle.

There's this line in John Wick where Viggo, the Father and head of the Russian Mob is trying to explain to his son that the boy has made a terrible mistake in beating and robbing John Wick - and [spoiler - won't tell].

Son: What? That f------- nobody?

Father: That f------- nobody is John Wick. He once was an associate of ours. They call him Baba Yaga. [Russian fairy tale witch woman, i.e. "the bogeyman"]

Son: The bogeyman?

Father [patiently, with growing intenisty]: Well, John wasn't exactly the Boogeyman, he was the one you send to kill the f------- Boogeyman.

Son [realizes]: ..oh...

Father [cont]: John is a man of focus, commitment and sheer will. I once saw him kill three men in a bar, with a pencil. With a f------- pencil. [makes stabbing motion in air]

Suddenly, one day, he asked to leave. Over a woman, of course. So I made a deal with him: I gave him an impossible task, a job no one could have pulled off.

The bodies he buried that day lay the foundation of what we are now. And then my son, a few days after his wife died, you steal his car and kill his f------- dog.
Not good, right? Right.

You've heard this type of story before, what I'll call the "Echo of Myth" - and when I say myth I mean sacred stories that become mythical, not just fiction. I mean historical events that kick so much tale that we humans have GOT to repeat it to every generation, even if we lose details.

John Wick is a beautiful echo of a great story. That is why it resonates.

It is an echo of King Saul and David's broken relationship. A powerful man who is delivered from his enemies by the diligent work of a subordinate. A guy so skilled that he outdoes all human expectations. Like Salieri before Mozart, he finds himself in the shadow of a man better than himself but lower than him on the social scale. A student who is, honestly, the better of his teacher.

Viggo runs the Russian mob. You don't get there by being nice. But John terrifies him. He sent him to wipe out his enemies--and John did it [for love, of course]. Now HE is John's enemy. It is bad. It is way, way bad and there is no way out.

Now read the following verses. It's when Saul wanted to keep David from being a threat to him, so he too sets up "an impossible task" i.e. to get the foreskins of 100 Philistines. [Proof they are dead, folks. Stop saying "Ewww."]

1 Samuel 18:20-30
20 Now Saul's daughter Michal loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. 21 Saul thought, “Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time, “You shall now be my son-in-law.” 22 And Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David in private and say, ‘Behold, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you. Now then become the king's son-in-law.’” 23 And Saul's servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king's son-in-law, since I am a poor man and have no reputation?” 24 And the servants of Saul told him, “Thus and so did David speak.”

25 
Then Saul said, “Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no bride-price except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged of the king's enemies.’” Now Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.
26 And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son-in-law.

Before the time had expired,
27 David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king's son-in-law. And Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife. 28 But when Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal, Saul's daughter, loved him, 29 Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David's enemy continually.
30 Then the commanders of the Philistines came out to battle, and as often as they came out David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his name was highly esteemed.

So next time you find yourself getting all excited about some bad-a$$ - keep in mind that 3,000 years ago, it was David--a man after God's own heart--who was one of the first.

Go rent John Wick. You'll not be disappointed, I guarantee it.

Amen.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Man of Steel: Meek Isn't Weak

"You have the right to remain silent, if you
give up that right, anything you say may
be found on the Internet..."
I re-watched Man of Steel last Friday night for want of nothing better to view, and saw something so patently obvious, I am almost ashamed to write about it. However, a poster on the C.S. Lewis and Inklings Facebook Group brought up a fine quote by Lewis and it prompted me to respond and before I knew it, I'd brought Superman in--more accurately, the Man of Steel.

The C. S. Lewis quote is "Humility is not thinking of ourselves less. It is thinking less of ourselves." The poster liked the quote, but saw it had limitations. I think I understand - you can be thinking a lot about others - but not in a good way. Lewis is, however, encouraging self-forgetfulness over self-flagellation, an all-too-common ailment in religion to make us right before God instead of accepting the gift of Christ: utter forgiveness. "You're Paid In Full, bro," Jesus might say. "Now go love the people you meet and tell them I will make everything new." [If you do not know Jesus personally and supernaturally, you need to.]

All that reminded me of something we do: how easily we confuse having strength with being strong and forceful. We confuse feminism and femininity, lust with love and labor with work. It takes a little maturity and experience to understand the differences and the goals.

Hollywood does not help one damn bit. Normally.

But then we get Man of Steel and we are forcibly shown the difference between weakness and meekness.

General Zod shows up in Earth orbit and asks for Kal-El to be delivered to him. To prevent Zod's aggression and protect the people of Earth, Kal-El turns himself in to the U. S. Army.

He is marched down a hallway by soldiers to a holding room, seen in all the trailers. As he comes in, Lois Lane sits with him. "You let them handcuff you?" she asks, incredulously, knowing his raw power.

"Wouldn't be much of a surrender if I didn't," admits Kal-El with a je ne sais quoi of a demi-god walking through mortal paces. [Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7clp3s-15I ]

I love that scene. It is practical, charming, silly, childish, noble and funny all at the same time.

They have tied Silly String(tm) to the ankle of Godzilla and said "STAY!"

What's makes it funny is that Godzilla says "O.K."

If you are a Christian, and a Believer, you just saw the Jesus Style.

Here is the Man-God right after he calmed a storm, and cast out demons so strong they broke every chain to hold them:

Luke 8:22-38
Jesus Calms the Storm 
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man 
26 They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee.27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. 33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.34 When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured.37 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them,because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

Do you see how much raw power Jesus had? He told the storm what to do [Weather Control, you Supers geeks]. He told the demons to depart [Exorcism, you AD&D geeks] and he was fearless in confronting them [Immune to Fear, whatever system you like].

But He saw they were scared of Him. Terrified. They BEGGED him to leave, like the demons BEGGED Him to cast them into the swine instead of Hell.

And Jesus did as they asked.

That is meekness, personified.

That is Jesus, the Lord of Creation. The Real One. The one shown by scripture. My Lord and your Lord, if you ask Him to be so.

Thus endeth the lesson--the difference between meekness and weakness.

Amen.