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What can I say, I'm a geek.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Leer

The Leer is here.
I feel his presence on this dark moor.
The lawns of blue have merged into a sticky black floor.
The moons are low.
His angry eyes outshine their soft glow.
The gnomes he's slain launch cries of pain across the fields to echo.
My harp is sharp.
The strings are tight and power is felt.
The notes of peace I shall release will make his bones melt.
He will return.
The heat from morning suns will soon churn.
And so I wait at his den's gate; my song will make his flesh burn.
The Leer is seared.
He runs for shade inside his rock home.
He meets the noise from music toys and turns into a gray stone.
No more fear!
We're done with troubles from the Leer.
He's molten bone and rock and stone, since life shot into his ear.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Problems With Time Travel

Is time travel possible? My generation knows, that with the flux capacitor, it is. All you need is a shiny DeLorean going 88 miles per hour, and presto! You're off to cause paradoxes, time loops, circular plot structures, and incestuous crushes that could negate your own existence...

But really, if time travel were actually possible, what would happen when you travel into the past and somehow change the events of the future? Well, there are several theories we've seen in popular culture films. The first is in Back to the Future. Marty McFly inadvertently keeps his parents from getting together. As the timeline of events progresses, it becomes clear that Marty and his siblings may not be born. He can tell because he has a photograph of himself and his siblings in his pocket, and one by one, the McFly kids start disappearing from the pic. When things get really hairy, Marty can feel himself starting to disappear. Drenched in a cold sweat, he notices that his hand starts vanishing. But after Marty rights all the historical wrongs with his parents, he and his siblings return to the photo, and all is well...

So, what would happen if you traveled back into the past and killed your father before you were born? (Sorry to be morbid, but this is the best example I can think of to illustrate this point). If your father were truly dead, you wouldn't have any chance to correct the mistake you had made like Marty does in Back to the Future. BUT, here's where time travel gets interesting: logically, if you killed your own father before you were born, you would have never been born in the first place, and you would never wind up getting in a time machine, going back, and killing your father. The results of such an act would make it impossible to ever commit the act itself. Trippy, eh?

**SPOILER ALERT: The following paragraph may contain pseudo-spoilers for Lost season 5.**

Or, another popular time travel storytelling mechanism employed to avoid such paradoxes is the idea that the past simply cannot be changed. In Lost, we learn that "whatever happened, happened." It's the simple idea that you can try, but you will never truly succeed in altering history. God or fate or whatever J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof want to call it, is in charge. Everyone has a destiny that is irrevocable. In the past, the character Sayid shoots a young version of Ben Linus, his future enemy, in the chest, creating a wound that should have been mortal. But since history can't really change, Ben doesn't die. People come to his rescue and nurse him back to health.

My own personal idea about time travel paradoxes is that every time someone time travels, a brand new timeline is created; a brand new reality; a parallel universe. In other words, if you traveled back in time and killed your own father, you would succeed in killing him, and you would not cease to exist. You would create an alternate timeline in which your father is now dead. Back in the original timeline, your father is alive and well, and you were indeed born, thus enabling you to travel back in time to kill your father and create this alternate timeline. Confused yet?

And please don't think I have some weird father issues because of all this talk about killing my father in the past before I was born...I mean really, what other example could I use other than going into the past and killing my mother...? And if you're sitting around at the dinner table discussing this blog and talking about time travel paradoxes, I think your dad would be able to handle the talk of going back in time and killing him better than your mom would.

Anyway, so one intelligent argument I've heard about time travel is this: If time travel ever happens, then we would have had contact from time travelers already. And since we haven't, we know that time travel never becomes a reality. The logic is pretty solid, but I can think of a few loopholes. The first would be if a form of time travel is possible in which travelers are not able to interact with their surroundings at all -- that in fact, the subjects of the past are not even able to see the time travelers among them. Time travelers can simply witness historical events, but are not able to interact with anything they see.

Or, perhaps there are an infinite number of parallel timelines or universes, and in many of those, there are historical records of encounters with time travelers.

Or, maybe, in an effort to minimize the alteration of history, there have been time travelers here, but they've kept an extremely low profile. During WWII, a number of pilots -- we're talking credible, military witnesses here -- saw UFO's hovering above their planes during famous aerial battles. Is it possible that these UFO's were not, in fact, extraterrestrials, but were actually time travelers; historians from the future, returned to witness a legendary battle in the past? They referred to these strange aircraft as "foo fighters."
If you want to check out a time travel flick that will blow your mind, try Donnie Darko. It's a subtle look at time travel, in which a tangent universe is created when a young man cheats death. And, I was blown away by The Time Traveler's Wife. This film is a sci-fi romance that chronicles the life and love of a man who can't live out his days in chronological order. It's a thoroughly confusing movie, but if you can wrap your brain around what's happening, it's well worth the effort. Finally, I really enjoyed the remake of the H. G. Wells classic, The Time Machine, starring Guy Pearce.
Ah, if only I had a time machine...I would totally go back and invest in Apple.

photo courtesy of healingdream / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Sky Is Falling

Through the hours of dreamy sleep,
The Sandman through the night doth creep.
Heav'n forbid our dreams would die
If on our pillow foreigners leap.

Corrupting truth with fearsome lies,
As a ruptured realm frees Lord of Flies.
Intruders from the outer lands
Watch us with malignant eyes.

As oceans steal the grains of sand,
Our dreams are stripped with evil hands.
The private palace in our minds
Cannot protect us from their plans.

The room comes filled with lights that blind,
And in walk men of different kind
With eyes that paralyze my limbs
Which will real life and nightmares bind.

My mem'ries past that point are dim
While we flew high like cherubim
My captor fills my head with pain.
His voice was hoarse, his face was grim.

He strapped me down with table chains,
Injected juice which swelled my brains.
With no defenses for my fear,
I am left to go insane.

When I woke a light was near;
So bright it filled my eyes with tears
That light's been with me through the years,
And in my life, at will, it peers.

No private thoughts are now protected,
My every whim is checked; inspected.
My plans to kill the fear; rejected.
Through the wasted hours neglected.

The golden face, the silver suit
Forever will my mind pollute.
I just lay deaf, blind, and mute,
No cross or banner to salute.

The blackest eyes, like depths of space
Came to all my peace erase.
The specks of light upon his face
Came with terror's cold embrace.

With cold, black steel the rapture comes;
Delivers me from dingy slums.

Fast the city lights now fade,
Along with all that man has made.

A billion points of burning light
Invade the black, eternal night.

As blue and green is swept away,
The last threads of my mind are frayed.

I am pressed to sleep again,
My body quiet, cold, and thin.

Upon return I slowly rise
And open wide my weary eyes.

As often as my story's told,
I cannot reobtain my soul.

I live in impotence and fear,
Knowing they are always near.

Pooch-a Libre

Animals may or may not have souls...

But this pug definitely does have some style...

And out here in Hollywoodland, that's way more important.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Why I Believe In Life On Other Planets

Well, to begin, I'll just ask the question: "Why not believe in life on other planets?"

From Christians, the most common answer you'll get is that the Bible doesn't tell us about the existence of aliens, therefore, there are no aliens.

True, the Bible doesn't explicitly tell us that there is life on other planets. But my rebuttal to this argument would begin by stating the obvious fact that the Bible doesn't explicitly tell us that there is not life on other planets, either. The argument that "The Bible doesn't say it, therefore it isn't true" is like making the argument that "Since the Bible doesn't give us detailed instructions on how to boil pasta in water on a gas stove, it simply cannot be done." Or, "Because the Bible didn't tell us about DNA, it does not exist."

The Bible, as I have learned in church, can give us certain knowledge of God; that is, it can reveal to us many, many truths about God and His will for us and our world that we can be certain of, BUT it does not give us exhaustive knowledge of God; that is to say, it doesn't tell us every single tidbit of knowledge about God. Since God is infinite and omnipresent, if we were to know each and every detail about God, we too, would need to be omnipotent, and the Bible itself would need to be infinitely long.

I would also like to point out that this line of thinking is what led the Catholic church to execute the great astronomer Galileo for insisting that the earth went around the sun, and not the other way around. Church leaders at the time were so convinced that the earth was the center of all creation, that they accused anyone who disagreed with them of heresy. They used the Bible as their grounds for this belief, although the Bible certainly does not make any claim that the earth is the center of the solar system. We now know that the Earth is not the center of the solar system, it is not the center of our galaxy, and it is not the center of the universe. I believe God might be trying to reiterate the fact that "It's NOT about US!" Yes, God loved us so much that He became human and died for us, but it's still not about us. God would get along fine without any of us.

The next major argument against life on other planets that I've heard from fellow Christians is that "Jesus died for our sins on our planet, so how do these extraterrestrials get saved?" My simple answer to this is "I don't know." And then I would add: "But if there is life on other planets, God does know." In other words, if another race of beings needed to be saved from their own sins, God would find a way to do it. Since God is infinitely more creative than I am, I'm sure He has come up with something far more glorious than I could even imagine, but just for fun, here are some of my own hypotheses: 1. Human-being Jesus travels to the aliens' planet and He dies for them there. 2. Human-being Jesus travels to the aliens' planet and tells them that He died for everyone's sins on Earth. 3. God is born as an alien, grows up on their planet, and dies for their sins there. 4. At some point in the future, human beings travel to distant planets as intergalactic missionaries and tell them about Jesus.

I think, however, it is quite likely that many of God's creations might have never chosen to sin in the first place. Imagine that: God creates a planet with sentient beings, and they actually choose to obey Him. The great Christian thinker C.S. Lewis was able to imagine life on other planets, and he wrote a trilogy of space-based adventures describing how extraterrestrials might exist in a Christian universe. In Out of the Silent Planet, Lewis chronicles an adventure to a planet full of innocent creatures; creatures that never fell under the curse of sin. The story makes the point that, even though mankind chose to sin and rebel against God, that God was glorified even more greatly on Earth, since God was afforded the chance to become one of us and to heroically save us from ourselves. His purposes for other races on other planets might be very different from His purpose for us.

The second book in the trilogy, Perelandra, takes place on a world with only two indigenous sentient beings, a male and a female. Satan manages to show up to tempt the female character into disobeying God, but God sends a human to tell her about what happened on Earth, and to encourage her to obey God's commands. Hear that? A space-missionary, yo...and you thought I was a heretic for suggesting such a thing. Is C.S. Lewis a heretic, too? And, Joss Whedon...well, I'm pretty sure he's not even a Christian...but he did the whole intergalactic-missionary thing, as well, in Firefly and Serenity.

Furthermore, the very magnitude of the universe suggests that something else is going on somewhere out there. I mean, yes, if it pleased God to create such a ridiculously gigantic-beyond-all-comprehension, immensely, stupifyingly, stupendously, humongously enormous space just to make us humans gasp at how amazing creation is, then yes, He absolutely succeeded at that, and that would be just fine. But, if He chose to create a multitude of worlds and planets and societies just as great or greater than ours, wouldn't that be just as amazing, and perhaps, even more so?

Of course, I'm not saying you have to believe in life on other planets, I'm just making the point that it's not that ridiculous if you do. I personally doubt that any extraterrestrials have ever visited this planet yet. I think we are being isolated in the universe for a specific time for a specific purpose. But of course, this is all conjecture, and I just encourage you all to keep an open mind. But one thing is for certain: Jesus Christ is alive, and He is my Lord and Savior.