TV

This category contains 37 posts

The Wheel of Time Season 1, Episode 7: “The Dark Along the Ways” A Christian worldview review

The Wheel of Time is one of the biggest fantasy blockbusters of all time, and I have read and loved the fantasy novels for decades. I was beyond thrilled to see that an adaptation was coming to Prime TV, and now that it’s here, I thought it was worth looking at the show from a Christian worldview perspective. I will have reviews of the series on my other site, Eclectic Theist.

The Dark Along the Ways

Fighting for a Child

The beginning of this episode is a literal fight for a child as the mother of the Dragon, an Aiel, fights off many soldiers attacking her. It is easy to see this as a metaphor for powerful motherhood.

There’s also an interesting thread to explore with the mother of the Dragon contrasted and compared with Mary, the mother of Christ. The Aiel mother of the dragon is forged in violence and combat to protect her son; Mary is chosen by God to be most blessed. Tigraine–the Aiel woman–fought with spears to survive, while Mary brought forth the savior who would crush the head of the deceiving serpent. Mary’s song is not the “dance of the spears” (as the Aiel call battle), but rather the powerful call of the Magnificat to throw down the mighty and turn away the wealthy.

Self-Sacrifice

Each of the characters Moiraine has brought to Fal Dara seems willing to take the chance they might be the Dragon or die in order to bring about the possible saving of the world. Another obvious theme here is laying down one’s life for one’s friends, especially as it seems Rand discovers he himself is the Dragon Reborn.

Links

The Wheel of Time– Read all my posts on the series, both the books and the TV show.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

The Wheel of Time Episode 6: “The Flame of Tar Valon” – A Christian worldview review

“The Flame of Tar Valon”

Prophecies Are Clear

Any Christian who’s engaged with any kind of theological debate online will have heard the line “the Bible is clear” or something very similar. Here, we see Siuan and Moiraine discussing the prophecies of the Dragon, and debating over what they can mean. Siuan says “our prophecies are clear,” but Moiraine counters by saying they are three thousand year old prophecies with much that could be lost in translation, interpretation, or even lost to time (implied). While this is reminiscent of arguments against Christianity in some ways (i.e. the infamous attempt to compare the Bible to the telephone game as a way to discount any possibility of it being true on any level), it can also serve as a reminder for intra-faith dialogue. Too often, we like to appeal to the supposed clarity of the Bible on our own position while also looking for complexity in the positions of others with whom we disagree. This little vignette in the episode is a good way to reflect on our own biases in biblical interpretation.

Representation Matters

God’s people come from all nations and peoples. It’s important to realize that representation matters. Age old debates among Christians about how best to present the Gospel can be raised about how far to go when it comes to accepting cultural norms in order to transmit the message of Christ. Regardless, it is undeniable that representation matters. It was great to see Siuan’s father, Berden Sanche, humanized. Too often in pop culture, disabilities are treated as props for the plot, but here Berden is a human with the real struggles and worries of parents. As the children’s song goes, “Every color, shape, and size, they are precious in [God’s] eyes; Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Watching

The theme of watching and waiting is prominent in this episode, whether as a reference to ancient prophecy or Moiraine’s eyes and ears looking out for the Ta’veren. In this season of Advent, Christians celebrate waiting the coming Messiah. Watching and waiting are powerful themes that remind us of the need to slow down, to listen, and to know God.

Links

The Wheel of Time– Read all my posts on the series, both the books and the TV show.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

The Wheel of Time – Episode 5 “Blood Calls Blood” – A Christian Worldview Review

The Wheel of Time is one of the biggest fantasy blockbusters of all time, and I have read and loved the fantasy novels for decades. I was beyond thrilled to see that an adaptation was coming to Prime TV, and now that it’s here, I thought it was worth looking at the show from a Christian worldview perspective. I will have reviews of the series on my other site, Eclectic Theist.

“Blood Calls Blood”

In Pursuit of Righteousness; Evil

One of the most obvious themes so far in the series is how easily the pursuit of righteousness can turn to evil. Child Valda exemplifies this quite clearly, with both his viciously cruel ways of harming women he deems “witches” and, somehow worse, his willingness to torture innocents to death to see if he’s found someone he thinks deserves death. Unfortunately, Christian history has many examples of people doing this type of thing in the name of Christ. When we allow zeal to overcome our obedience to Christ’s commands to love our neighbor, we err. It is easy for Christians to look at egregious evil and point it out, but what of lesser evils, such as rejecting care for others in ways that lead to their suffering and death? It is easy to hide behind a seemingly righteous shield like civic righteousness or forcing others to take responsibility, but to do so is sinful.

A House Divided

The Aes Sedai weave plots within plots, and it is becoming clear that some of these might even work against each other. The Red Ajah operate exclusively to capture, still, or destroy men who can channel. But of course this goes against the prophecies that there must be a Dragon Reborn if (in the world of the TV show) that person ends up being a man. Of course, there’s some confusion over whether the Dragon ought to be resisted or assisted if found, anyway. The Green Ajah are the battle Ajah, but the Blue seem to be devoted to plots, communication, and trying to discover prophecy. All of these add up to the question of how to accomplish the major goals of any one of these groups. Jesus spoke about how a house divided against itself cannot succeed and will fail (see, for example, Mark 3). It will be interesting to see how these divisions among the Aes Sedai play out. Will they unite and persevere or will they fail?

Links

The Wheel of Time– Read all my posts on the series, both the books and the TV show.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

The Wheel of Time – Episode 4 “The Dragon Reborn” – A Christian Worldview Review

The Wheel of Time is one of the biggest fantasy blockbusters of all time, and I have read and loved the fantasy novels for decades. I was beyond thrilled to see that an adaptation was coming to Prime TV, and now that it’s here, I thought it was worth looking at the show from a Christian worldview perspective. I will have reviews of the series on my other site, Eclectic Theist.

“The Dragon Reborn”

The Way of the Leaf

The Tinkers were one of the (many) highlights of this episode, and their worldview of “The Way of the Leaf” challenged Perrin and Egwene at multiple points. The Way of the Leaf was explained by Ila, a leader among the Tinkers, as a worldview. In response to questions about what they do if they are violently attacked, she described the Way of the Leaf–the leaf must fall to the ground, die, and then it gets absorbed again into the soil to grow again. This is another reference to the way the world works in The Wheel of Time, with reincarnation and “another turn of the Wheel” being part of the basic background of the worldbuilding. But it goes beyond that as well; the Way of the Leaf is a kind of fatalism that is both compelling and off-putting by turns.

On the one hand, the Way of the Leaf is compelling because who doesn’t see the appeal of a truly pacifist world? If, as Ila states, we could each convert two people to that Way, and each of them two, and so on, then the whole world would gradually become more and more peaceful as more sought nonviolence. Indeed, one of the strongest lines of the whole show so far is found when Ila asks Perrin whether he’s been happier or not since he picked up an axe–an especially terrible question since we as viewers are the only others who know what happened when he accidentally killed his wife during the Trolloc attack.

The Way is also off-putting in some ways, though. Intuitively, the objections Perrin and Egwene each raise make sense. What do you do if violence comes for you? It’s small comfort to think that falling over and dying as the leaf does might bring a better world when you’re the one dying. One also wonders if a robust view of sin would go against this thinking. For example, if one sees original sin or depravity in the world, a hopeful Way seems less attainable without the ultimate reconciliation from outside: Christ entering the world and bringing peace through Himself. Another aspect that is off-putting is that the Way of the Leaf doesn’t really offer much hope in the here-and-now. It’s a long-term look at the world that is, yes, hopeful, but also frustratingly vague. Perhaps one day more peace will exist than does now. That seems hollow comfort in a world in which Trollocs are stalking the land. In our own world, I think we all ought to hope for peace, and certainly work for it in every possible instance. However, we also must be realistic in the here and now in that some threats must be confronted.

Christians have offered many different ethical stances, including several which are similar to the Way of the Leaf. I believe that Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ethics that acknowledge the reality of both peace and violence is a great way forward (see, for example, my look at a book exploring Bonhoeffer’s ethic).

History and Truth-making

Thom continues to be a hugely entertaining character. He also delivers a fairly wise line here: “Nothing is more dangerous than a man who knows the past.” We live in a time in which people are making war against knowing the past. People are trying to outlaw things like teaching about Civil Rights in schools. The connection of nationalism and Christianity is pernicious, and looking to the past of the United States and other countries helps highlight the dangers we face.

Only by acknowledging the past and confronting it in a realistic way–only then can we truly begin to heal and make rational, good changes for all. If people continue to try to run from the past or even insist that it doesn’t get taught, that is an effort in re-making the past that will only make those who know the past even more dangerous. Christians must stand against these efforts to silence calls for justice and righteous examination of the origins of many societal ills.

False Dragons

The Dragon Reborn is a prophecy from of old, and it is clear that many false Dragons have come before the time of this show. This makes for some interesting reflection, because Logain is so well-spoken and even preaches a message of good news, wanting to bind the world rather than to break it. We also must be wary of false Messiahs and false teachers–and of anything that would turn us away from Christ.

Conclusion

I have hugely been enjoying this adaptation of one of my all-time favorite series of books for television. I hope you are, too! Let me know what you think in the comments.

Links

The Wheel of Time– Read all my posts on the series, both the books and the TV show.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

The Wheel of Time – A Worldview Hub

I’ve written a bunch about the series “The Wheel of Time,” to the point where I realized it was becoming unwieldy trying to inter-link all of them. Here, I present a list of all my links for posts related to The Wheel of Time from a Christian worldview perspective, as well as links to my other site that looks at sci-fi and fantasy books, baseball, TV, and more!

TV Show

“The Wheel of Time” – Episodes 1-3 “Leavetaking,” “Shadow’s Waiting,” and “A Place of Safety” – A Christian review– reincarnation and prophecy highlight the worldview issues in the first three episodes of The Wheel of Time.

Looks at Individual Books

“The Eye of the World” by Robert Jordan– the first book has us asking questions about the cost of evil, men and women, and more as we dive into this fantasy epic.

“The Great Hunt” by Robert Jordan– reincarnation, the destructive attraction of evil, and more questions arise in book 2.

“The Dragon Reborn” by Robert Jordan– we finally get some more background on the Creator, the Dark One, and prophecy in this 3rd book of the Wheel of Time.

“The Shadow Rising” by Robert Jordan– our trust in the security of the state and the allure of evil are found in the 4th book.

“The Fires of Heaven” by Robert Jordan– the notion that power corrupts, questions of sacrifice, and other issues arise in book 5.

“Lord of Chaos” by Robert Jordan– destruction of life, allowing the advance of the shadow, and more are found in this exciting (and massive) 6th book.

“A Crown of Swords” by Robert Jordan– it’s easy to just dismiss evil as easily recognized, but it comes in many forms, as we discover in this 7th book.

“Path of Daggers” by Robert Jordan– systems of power and Ezekiel arise in my look at the 8th book.

“Winter’s Heart” by Robert Jordan– is peace the same as having security? Is security necessary for peace? I highlight Dietrich Bonhoeffer in this look at the 9th book in the series.

“Crossroads of Twilight” by Robert Jordan– some theology of the world, fatalism, and more come up in the 10th book in the series.

“Knife of Dreams” by Robert Jordan– how we act can become our reality, and the question of toxic masculinity arises in this 11th book.

“The Gathering Storm” by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan- A Christian (re)-reads The Wheel of Time– peace, warfare, and action highlight the series as Brandon Sanderson takes over.

Links for First Series

My original series of posts on The Wheel of Time books. I have changed my views from some of these, as can be seen in the more recent posts I linked above.

“The Wheel of Time”: A Christian reflection on Books 1-5 of Robert Jordan’s epic saga

“Lord of Chaos” – Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time,” Book 6 and Christianity

“A Crown of Swords” and “The Path of Daggers”

The Wheel of Time “Winter’s Heart” and “Crossroads of Twilight” – A Christian Reflection

The Wheel of Time: “Knife of Dreams” and “The Gathering Storm” – A Christian Perspective

The Wheel of Time “Towers of Midnight” and “A Memory of Light” – Reflection from a Christian

“The Wheel of Time” – Episodes 1-3 “Leavetaking,” “Shadow’s Waiting,” and “A Place of Safety” – A Christian review

The Wheel of Time is one of the biggest fantasy blockbusters of all time, and I have read and loved the fantasy novels for decades. I was beyond thrilled to see that an adaptation was coming to Prime TV, and now that it’s here, I thought it was worth looking at the show from a Christian worldview perspective. I will have reviews of the series on my other site, Eclectic Theist.

Worldview Perspective Review

First, I want to note what I’m doing in these reviews before diving in. I am not planning on this being a review of the content of the show. There’s violence, at least partial nudity, implied sex (possibly more in later episodes, I write this having seen episodes 1-3), and some language. I am not at all interested in the debate of what people should or should not be watching. I’m not interested in debating whether certain shows can or should be watched, nor will I engage in such. Beyond that, I’ll not comment further on content unless I find it especially bothersome.

Instead, these reviews are intended to be used with the assumption the show is being watched, and engaging it from a worldview perspective. What I mean to do, then, is see where the connections–and disconnections–can be made from that view. I will be posting reviews of the episodes, again, on my other site, Eclectic Theist.

“Leavetaking,” “Shadow’s Waiting,” and, “A Place of Safety”

I’m lumping these episodes together because they released the same day and I just sat and watched them all together so separating them in my mind is going to be too difficult. Besides, I suspect many others did the same! So here goes. Obviously, SPOILERS follow.

Reincarnation

Reincarnation is a theme found in the series of novels, and I remember it being somewhat explicit. In the first episode, “Leavetaking,” Rand al’Thor and his father, Tham, discuss a couple times the notion of reincarnation. It’s clearly seen by Tham as a basis for his ethics, as he says that all people can do with this life we have is the best that we can do. The central driver of the plot of the whole series involves the notion of reincarnation, as the prophecy Moiraine Sedai is seeking is the rebirth of the Dragon, the most powerful magical user in history.

Reincarnation is one of the major ways religions worldwide view life after death. Christian theology does not hold to reincarnation, and teaches a linear view of human embodiment: birth, life, death, judgment, afterlife. Obviously, there’s some debate over each of these stages and what is involved/when it might happen, but there doesn’t seem to be space for a cyclical view of time or things like reincarnation there. Not really surprising.

What makes this discussion interesting from The Wheel of Time, though, is how the show played off the ethics built into the system. Ethics for Tham, for example, are constructed because of reincarnation, not in spite of them. You are to do what you can with what you’re given. It’s a kind of fatalistic view of the world which veers away from some kinds of absolute imperatives. I’m wondering if this will be developed more in the series.

Prophecy

Another central theme of the series and these episodes is that of prophecy. Prophecy in The Wheel of Time is often difficult to discern, and we don’t get a lot of explanation in these episodes. Similarly, prophecies found in the Bible have led to much debate among Christians. Prophecy in the show seems ensured through the cyclical view of time. Someone, writing thousands of years ago in a different cycle, could essentially write about current events, and another person could read that and predict that certain major events would occur again, thus making a kind of prophecy. For a Christian worldview, prophecy is not bound to a specific way time works. Rather, it is inspired by God, a kind of direct revelation through mediation.

The Pattern

The series of books makes much of The Pattern–the way time flows, the way it is woven, etc. There are a few mentions of the Pattern so far, but it’s unclear exactly what they mean or how they come into play so far. I’ll be interested to see if the Pattern acts as a kind of way that some vague deity interacts in the world, as hints are found in the books.

War and Peace

A few comments were made about war throughout these episodes discuss war. The Tinkers show up at the end of the third episode, and they’re well known as pacifists from the books. I wonder if they will be again here. Another several comments about the uselessness of war are found here and there throughout. War and peace are major themes in the books, and I suspect we’ll find some of that here, too. Christians look forward to the day when there will be no more war, and all weapons will be beaten into plowshares, as they are no longer needed.

Conclusion

There is plenty more we could discuss from these episodes, and I look forward to reading your own thoughts in the comments below!

Links

The Wheel of Time– Read all my posts on The Wheel of Time (scroll for more).

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

“Knife of Dreams” by Robert Jordan- a Christian (re)Reads “A Wheel of Time”

The Wheel of Time” is a massive fantasy series by Robert Jordan (and, later, Brandon Sanderson) that is being developed into a television show for Amazon Prime. It’s cultural impact is huge, the series having sold more than 44 million copies. Here, I continue my series exploring the books from a Christian worldview perspective. There will be SPOILERS in this post for the series.

Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan

Action Becomes Reality

In Knife of Dreams, Faile and her companions are being held captive by the Shaido Aiel. In the process, they are forced into servitude and beaten at the whims of their overlords. Faile soon realized the best strategy would be to fain timidity, but also realized the dangers of this:

“[Faile] hoped that Sevanna [one of the Aiel] thought her tamed… She hoped that she was not being tamed. Pretend something too long, and it could become truth… She had to escape before [her husband] got himself killed in the attempt [to rescue her]. Before she stopped pretending.” (167)

Blaise Pascal, after outlining his famous wager (which I defend here), noted that one may align oneself towards belief. That is, when someone begins to act as though one believes a certain way, it can turn into a reality that one believes a certain way. From a worldview perspective, then, we should always be wary of how we live our lives and what we surround ourselves with. However, it is possible to become over-zealous in this regard. After all, Faile herself knew that she wasn’t “tamed” in any way, merely acting the part. In a way, the reluctance or even opposition to role-playing games (eg. Dungeons & Dragons) or other forms of imaginative play in some Christian circles is ignorance of the human capacity for objectivity. We are capable of discerning reality from pretend, and to claim it is inherently dangerous to do the latter is to lose some of what it means to be human–to be image bearers of God by creating anew.

Toxic Masculinity

It finally clicked for me as I was listening to the early parts of this novel that the Children of the Light are, in many ways, an analogue for toxic masculinity. I don’t know if this was intentional on Jordan’s part, so don’t read intent into what I’m saying here. But what is clear is the many parallels. The Children’s extreme dislike of the Aes Sedai bleeds over into distrust of women generally. But more than that, the reasons for their distrust of Aes Sedai ultimately can be peeled away as little more than a thin veneer of misogyny. After all, they have to admit the Aes Sedai will be on the “right side” when it comes to the Last Battle, and even admitting that is nearly impossible. Why? Because it seems as though women are rising above their “place” or the limits of power that the male-dominated Children of the Light seem to think they should have. I’m honestly kind of embarrassed I didn’t notice this thematically before.

The name of the group can easily be read as a not-so-subtle riff on New Testament language referring to followers of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:5). Unfortunately, too many Christians have bought into cultural disdain for women, whether in the earliest days of the church as Gnosticism and Greek philosophy bled into the early church’s writings about women or into today as Christian leaders continue to be at the forefront of saying women ought not to preach, despite the Bible itself saying both sons and daughters will prophesy (Joel 2:28/Acts 2:17). Too often, overzealousness like that of the Children of the Light leads to oppression.

Conclusion

Knife of Dreams is one of my favorite books in the series. In many ways, it is a major turning point not just as the series gets turned over to Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan’s death, but also because the plot is turned at last towards the Last Battle and the events that will bring all of the series into completion.

(All Amazon Links are Amazon Affiliates Links.)

Links

The Wheel of Time– Read all my posts on The Wheel of Time (scroll for more).

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Pacific Rim: The Black – Hope for the hopeless- a Christian perspective

“Pacific Rim” was a delightfully campy, action-packed sci-fi movie that has since spawned a sequel, some comics and novels, and now an anime from Netflix, “Pacific Rim: The Black.” The series has a tone that’s far more bleak than the movies, embracing the human cost of an invasion and long war against kaiju (giant monsters). Its story follows two teenagers, Taylor and Hayley Travis, as they make their way across a largely abandoned Australia. I’ll draw out some of the themes I found in the show from a Christian perspective. There will be some major SPOILERS in this post.

Hope

Taylor and Hayley have little reason to hope. Their parents left to fight the kaiju, leaving the kids behind in a secure, hidden community. They’ve not returned. Kaiju have effectively taken over Australia, the greater world seems to have abandoned Australia for lost, and they’re stuck somewhere in the middle of it with few resources.

Then, Hayley falls through into a jaeger storage facility–the jaegers are the giant mechs humans built to fight the kaiju–and the story starts rolling. The accidental revealing of a jaeger attracts a kaiju, and the monster destroys their home, along with everyone they’ve been living with. It’s a huge loss. They’re forced to move on due to the urgency of the kaiju attack, and continue to find hope in unlikely places… and people.

The siblings ought to be hopeless. They’ve lost everything. They even lose their jaeger. But they cling to each other, hoping for a future in which they escape to fight the kaiju, find their parents, and move on. Their tenuous lives continue in such hope, and it brings a refreshing feel to the show. It could have been all darkness and edginess, but it shows people persisting even in the darkest of circumstances.

Human Sinfulness

People will continue to sin, choosing themselves, their ambition, and power even when apocalyptic monsters roam the very land in which they live. This theme shows up abundantly in Shane, whose broken life leads to him seeking self-interest above all else. He’s a fascinating character. He’s evil, and though we see hints of what drives him, we never get it fully explained. Leaving him behind feels like a major moment in the show, setting up a later, final confrontation that can be anticipated in a later season. His character also shows how sinfulness can permeate whatever it touches, corrupting organizations, bringing others into its snare. It’s a nefarious thing, and at times makes you wonder whether the humans or kaiju are a greater threat to the survival of humanity.

Messiah… or not.

The very end of the series finally gives us a look at the “Sisters” who were barely alluded to earlier in the series. One of them sees the Boy/kaiju and says “The Kaiju Messiah…” It’s a striking plot point, certainly a twist in a final episode that was chock-full of them. Certainly the word “Messiah” is immediately something that gets theological antennae raised. What do they mean by “messiah” and why would that be in any way associated with the kaiju?

I wonder, though, if there may be a somewhat nefarious turn here. Given the implications of the term messiah and the questions of theological propriety of that title here, one can wonder about hope again–hope placed in the wrong things. Are the sisters putting their hope in the kaiju and mistaking muscles and mass for what constitutes true power and glory? Misplaced hope in the power of our world–or that of the world of giant monsters (!!!) is a theme in our history, surely. Perhaps the Sisters are another iteration of this same misplaced hope.

I’m probably going a bit deeper than may be warranted here, but “The Black” invites such speculation in a way I didn’t anticipate.

Links

“Pacific Rim”- A Brief Christian Reflection– I draw out a few themes from the original film, focusing on a Christian perspective.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Also see my other looks into television (scroll down for more).

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

“The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari” Babylon 5 and Repentence

I’ve never watched Babylon 5 before, but I got the whole series on a great sale and have been watching it from the beginning. In this post, please do not SPOIL anything past the episode discussed. There will, of course, be major spoilers for this episode.

Babylon 5 and Repentence: “The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari”

The first, most obvious point to make here is that the episode title is a kind of play on “Dark Night of the Soul,” a mystic work by St. John of the Cross. The work focuses not on general difficulties, which the phrase is sometimes used to denote now. Instead, it focuses on divine union and the purgation, or purification, of the soul. And that is certainly the central theme in “The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari.” 

Mollari appears to be poisoned at the beginning but instead has suffered from a heart attack, and in his dream, he is told that his heart is giving out from the weight of his conscience. From there, we are witness to a number of ghostly visitations somewhat like A Christmas Carol by Dickens. Mollari is visited by many characters whom we’ve grown to know and love, but they’re all seeming to push him through his own purgations of the soul. 

The primary purgation that must happen for Mollari is, quite simply, accepting responsibility. I think of the concept of responsibility in much deeper ways, having reflected on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s specific concept of responsibility as taking on the guilt–even of others–for the good of all. And Mollari is the master of evading responsibility. At this point in the series, he has already committed vast, awful acts of horrific scope. Or, at the very least, he has stood by silently observing those acts which he helped orchestrate. Although he’s tried to atone for them in some ways through his actions, he has continually refused to acknowledge the evil he has committed with anything more than a few facial expressions. In this episode, his reckoning has come.

The most powerful way this plays out is when the dream-G’Kar arrives and absolutely skewers Mollari for his complicity, time and again saying “You said nothing” as Mollari protests that he couldn’t have stopped the events. The refrain–“You said nothing” continues as G’Kar then props Mollari up on a whipping post himself so that he can experience psychologically the pain he visitied upon the Narn people. Ultimately, Mollari realizes that he wants to live, and that to live he must accept his guilt–his responsibility. He cries out “I’m sorry!” and in that moment, his eyes open, and he’s back on the operating table, looking at the real G’Kar. He manages to get out the words “I’m sorry.” G’Kar–now the real one, not the one who’d been torturing him in his dreams–acknowledges the apology with the tilt of his head and a slight smile. It may not seem like much, but for these two–who stood on opposite ends of an attempted genocide–it is a huge moment, and one that shows Mollari has grown and indeed learned quite a bit about his life during his “very long night.” 

There are other, subtle moments of theological and social commentary mixed throughout the episode. For example, Vir, in the dream, tells Mollari that prophecies are just guesses that turn out to be right, while if they turn out wrong, they are called metaphors. I found this less a jab on the concept of prophecy and rather a cautious warning about how to interpret prophecies. It’s easy today, for example, to devolve the reading of Scripture into headlines-reading attempts at prophecy. But to do that to the text of books like Revelation or Isaiah is to do great damage to the actual thrust of those biblical works, which are often much more a call towards justice and reconciliation than they are about whether attack helicopters would exist in two thousand years (or more) from the time they were written. We would do well to make sure we’re not falling into the “metaphor or guesses” camp and instead reading prophecy in context and trying to discover what it would have meant at the time and why. Prophecy is much more often, as I noted, a call for justice and a crying out for God’s help than it is some kind of secret code in which to find the sequence of future events. 

“The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari” is a superb, thoughtful episode of Babylon 5. We, too, need to take responsibility for our actions and do more than say nothing when we see injustice occurring. I hope you’ll join me in discussion of the episode, and make sure to check out my Babylon 5 Hub (on my other website) for more discussion of the series in general. 

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– My “Eclectic Theist” site features a number of posts discussing my first watch-through of Babylon 5. Check them out here!

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Also see my other looks into television (scroll down for more).

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

“The Path of Daggers” by Robert Jordan – A Christian (Re)reads The Wheel of Time

The Wheel of Time” is a massive fantasy series by Robert Jordan (and, later, Brandon Sanderson) that is being developed into a television show for Amazon Prime. It’s cultural impact is huge, the series having sold more than 44 million copies. Here, I continue my series exploring the books from a Christian worldview perspective. There will be SPOILERS in this post for the series.

Systems of Power

At one point in The Path of Daggers, Rand is surveying his arrayed forces and he considers their loyalty (and lack thereof). But in this considering, he notes:

they feared him [Rand] far more than they did the Aiel. Maybe more than they did the Dark One, in whom some did not really believe… (327-328)

The people, it seems, were more concerned with firmly holding their own wealth or gaining positions of authority and power than they were with the true evil which threatened the world. Unconvinced by the coming tribulation, they instead sought favor from the most powerful man in the world. The condition, it seems, is one which mirrors our own at points. Rather than being concerned with evil facing our world, or rather than fighting injustice, people are obsessed with gain that cannot be carried over across death and the grave. The true powers which threaten the world are left to expand and strengthen,while people seek their own gain.

It is a kind of pragmatism which infects us: injustice is “over there” and we are “right here,” so why be concerned with it? The notion that there is a spiritual realm with any sort of power is shrugged off, ignored, or even scorned as ancient superstition, unworthy of concern. Like the people who surround Rand in the book, we convince ourselves that evil has no power in the world and “[the Dark One”] could [not] and would [not] touch the world harder than he had already (328).

Of course, broadening these insights, it is easy to see how this might apply to systems of power more generally. Far too many people are dismissive of how we are capable of setting up systems that continue to exclude or oppress for years and decades to come. Yet the Bible teaches us that we must fight oppression, even in the very systems and powers of the world that are set up.

The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the foreigner, denying them justice.

Ezekiel 22:29

We need to seek out how oppression works, even if it is unintentional, and seek to end it in any form. We need to be less afraid of the powers of the world than we are of doing justice and walking rightly with God.

The people of the Wheel of Time became more afraid of Rand than they did the very real (Satan-like) threat of the Dark One. That was because they feared what might happen to their wealth, their things, and their worldly lives more than they feared eternal consequences. They cared more about themselves than about others. As Christians, we are called to the exact opposite, though too often we also stumble. When calls come to end oppression and seek justice, it is too often Christians who are the first to try to dodge or diminish those calls. We should obey the word of God and fear God rather than humans.

(All Amazon Links are Amazon Affiliates Links.)

Links

The Wheel of Time– Read all my posts on The Wheel of Time (scroll for more).

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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