Pokémon Go into All the World

I hadn’t played much Pokémon for years, but like many of my peers I’d never lost my fondness for the entertainment franchise that captivated us in the late 90s and early 2000s. When Pokémon Go first came out, I was intrigued and downloaded the app. Though I have to admit that I still haven’t played it very much, I must say that it’s a brilliant game concept that goes a long way toward actualizing the quest to catch ‘em all that so many of us set out on when we were in grade school. I like the excitement and wonder that it injects into our everyday surroundings, and it’s fun to be a part of a cultural moment that so many other people are sharing. Continue reading Pokémon Go into All the World

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Devout and Expectant Delight: An Advent Reflection

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the next installment in the Star Wars film franchise since I first heard it was going to happen: the day in late 2012 when Disney announced its acquisition of Lucasfilm. I’m by no means the biggest Star Wars fan in the world, or even the biggest fan I know, but as a fantasy and sci-fi geek it would be hard not to get caught up in the hype. I was floored by the announcement because “Star Wars: Episode VII” sounded like the sort of thing that could only happen in my daydreams. Plus, I love me an epic saga, and if it has aliens and mysticism and grumpy old Harrison Ford in it, all the better. For the past three years I’ve tried to keep myself from being too spoiled, but I have kept my ears open so I would hear about casting, what the movie would be called, and other tantalizing tidbits. I went to see Big Hero 6 on Black Friday last year just so I could see the first trailer in the theater (though Big Hero 6 was an enjoyable experience in its own right). I’ve commiserated with friends about fears that it could be as bad as the prequels, I’ve bugged my wife about my theories concerning the plot and characters, and the two of us watched through all six existing films this year in order to prepare ourselves for Episode VII. Continue reading Devout and Expectant Delight: An Advent Reflection

Magic: Science or Sacrament?

SPOILER ALERT: Elantris, the Stormlight Archive series, and the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, and the various works of J.R.R. Tolkien are all discussed in this post.

Several months ago, I had a conversation with a few friends in which they were praising Brandon Sanderson, the contemporary fantasy author, for his complex and interesting magic systems. Each novel or series that Sanderson writes has its own unique magic system, and they are always described in detail and figure prominently in the plot and characterization. He’s quite good at creating magic systems with internal consistency, and I’ve enjoyed the novels of his that I’ve read.

After lauding Sanderson, one of my friends made an offhand comment that unfavorably compared the magic of the Harry Potter series with Sanderson’s magic systems. Something about this struck me as unfair, but I wasn’t able to articulate it immediately. Upon further reflection, I realized that my unease stemmed from this observation: while intricate magic systems are part of the essence of a Brandon Sanderson novel, systemization is emphatically not central to J.K. Rowling’s work. Comparing Sanderson to Rowling is comparing apples to oranges. Continue reading Magic: Science or Sacrament?

Les Miserable and the Never-Ending Road to Calvary

I was recently privileged to see a live performance of the musical Les Miserables put on by my local repertory theater. It was my first real exposure to the story that has captivated the theater geeks in my life. I have never read the novel (to my shame), nor have I seen a film version, but they’re certainly on my list of things to read and watch now. I’d heard it was a pretty great show, but I was not prepared for how magnificent it truly was. I’ve never been so emotionally and spiritually moved by a show as I was by this one.

Before seeing the show, I’d heard about how good the music was and gotten a general impression that people were pretty inspired by the revolutionary characters. I’d even heard a bit about how the show deals with the theme of the tension between Law and Grace, as personified in the characters Javert and Valjean. However, I had not been told how clearly and powerfully the Gospel shines through the plot. Continue reading Les Miserable and the Never-Ending Road to Calvary

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A Legend in Her Own Time: Conclusions from Korra’s Journey

SPOILER ALERT: All four seasons of The Legend of Korra.

It’s taken me quite a while to figure out what I want to write about the series finale of The Legend of Korra.[1] I was extremely satisfied by the way it wrapped up story and character arcs, including the only Avatar-universe ship I’ve ever really cared about that much (Varrick/Zhu Li FTW). However, while there is much that I loved about it, and a few things that I would critique, I don’t really want to write a standard review, per se. A review could never sum up all the thoughts and emotions I have about the show’s ending, and I don’t have the time or space to examine every character, theme, and parallel I find illuminating, as much as I’d love to. Instead, I’ve opted to dwell on Korra’s character arc, the show’s overall themes, how they came to fruition in the finale, and what we as Christians can glean from them. I can only hope that the breadth of my analysis hasn’t resulted in a disorganized mess. Continue reading A Legend in Her Own Time: Conclusions from Korra’s Journey

Doctor Who BBC

Love Is a Promise

SPOILER ALERT: Doctor Who series eight, including the finale, “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven.”

Observation #1: The Doctor as played by Peter Capaldi is crotchety, rude, insensitive, prickly, insulting, patronizing, and generally unhuggable. He can be manipulative, ruthless, and uncaring. Season eight encouraged viewers, supporting characters, and the Doctor himself to ask whether the Time Lord is really a good man at all. Capaldi’s Doctor is not without his heroic, tender, and uplifting side (after all, this is still the Doctor we’re talking about), and I do like him quite a bit. However, he’s certainly not as straightforwardly or lovable or loving as his immediate predecessors, Matt Smith and David Tennant. Continue reading Love Is a Promise

How is the Air Nation like the Church?

Spoiler Alert: All of Avatar: The Last Airbender, including the comics, and The Legend of Korra to date, particularly books three and four.

The Church (with a big “C”) has been on my mind a lot of late, so I can’t help it if I see hints of it in unlikely places. In addition, life is busy, and the turnaround time between books three and four of The Legend of Korra was astonishingly short, so I missed my opportunity to post about book three before book four premiered. However, I will now remedy that and tie in my fixation with the Church by expounding on some thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for months. I intend to outline the similarities between the new Air Nation (as seen in these final two books) and the Church, with the hope that the comparison gets us thinking and helps us see the Body with new eyes. Continue reading How is the Air Nation like the Church?

Next Time BBC

Spoiler Alert: Jesus Wins

A Study of Stories and Suspense

SPOILER ALERT: Nothing, I think…

Several weeks ago I wrote a post about spoilers and how our attitude toward them has spiritual implications. Now I’d like to dip my toes into this murky question: How many spoilers is too many spoilers? By the end, we’ll see that this is also related to faith.

Continue reading Spoiler Alert: Jesus Wins

River Song's Diary - BBC

Spoilers…

This post doesn’t actually contain spoilers for anything.

A lot of fandoms have been looking pretty leaky lately. Doctor Who series eight premiers in a matter of weeks, but a number of scripts and the entire first episode leaked online over the summer. The BBC resorted to pleading with fans not to spread the leaks. Similarly, several episodes of The Legend of Korra leaked not long ago, causing Nickelodeon to rush into airing the third season in a bizarrely erratic manner. And those are only two examples of a growing problem. These days, if you plumb too deeply into the geeky corners of the Intertubes, you’re bound to dredge up spoilers without even trying. Online fandoms being the behemoths they are, this trend only promises to get worse.

Continue reading Spoilers…

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, BBC

Un-Dragoning

I’ve been studying the Book of Romans lately (I highly recommend it), and I’m particularly enthralled by chapters 6-8, which dwell on what it means to have died to sin and the law and to be alive to God in Jesus Christ. I find these facts immensely encouraging: the sinful man in me has been executed and resurrected as a new man, one endowed with God’s righteousness. My flesh is still given to sin, so my experience of my transformation is incomplete. However, it grows as he sanctifies me, and when the resurrection comes my earthly flesh will be replaced with a sinless, deathless body, my heart and mind will be utterly renewed, and my identification with Christ’s resurrection will be finally, totally consummated. I was thinking of using the word “fantastic” to describe this reality, so I looked up Merriam-Webster’s definition: “extremely good; extremely high or great; very strange, unusual, or unlikely.” Yep, all that applies. Continue reading Un-Dragoning