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Calculating God

Calculating God

As more and more writers, filmmakers, managers, publishers, movie lovers, book lovers, and tv fans join the movement at SON, I have an awesome opportunity to see the common ground on which we stand regardless of religion (or lack thereof). It’s so cool! It also raises questions I haven’t focused on for a while. What makes an atheist choose the moral high ground? What spurs a Jewish woman to work with a roomful of Jesus lovers? How did the God Christians worship today come to the world’s collective awareness in the first place? What motivates all of us to make the world a better place?

When I was 16, my dad took me aside and asked why I subscribed to the Christian faith. I don’t remember my answer, but it was probably the textbook Southern Baptist one as that is the only denomination or way of belief I knew at that point. Daddy and Mom raised all of us kids in Baptist churches. Whatever I said that day, I remember Daddy shaking his head at me. “Your faith isn’t yours if it’s part mine or your mom’s. You need to figure out what you believe and why you believe it.” He set me off on a course of reading about the world’s religions.

The questions I explored then arise again as SON expands. Why am I here? Why do storytellers exist? Why does almost every human respond to a story? Did someone put us here? Is there a higher being in charge? Can I interact with that being? How did that being come into being? How is existence supposed to work? Does it work that way? Can we make it work that way? What is the story behind all that has been, is, and will be? Is there a story?

These kinds of questions and more are masterfully woven into an incredible novel I finished this past weekend: Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer. While there are a few places in which the arguments for answers overtake the storyline, I remained fascinated throughout. The story premise is that an alien (Hollus) comes to Earth with the news that Hollus’s planet, another planet with live beings, and Earth have all experienced five cataclysmic events that altered the evolution of life on that planet. Hollus says this is proof that there is a God and that God is manipulating the formation and evolution of life. The big question is: why? Hollus studies life’s history on this planet while holding provocative conversations with the Canadian paleontologist helping him research.

If that were all this book was, it would be well-worth the read.

But the ending of this story is…well…it’s…astounding.

If you’ve ever wondered how God could have come into being…

If you’ve ever thought that maybe there is a being in charge, but it might not be the God of your knowledge base…

If you’ve ever wondered why horrors like cancer could possibly be allowed to exist…

Heck, if you’re just tired of figuring out the ending of a book when you’re barely halfway through it…

You’ve got to get this novel.

 

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Posted by on September 13, 2016 in Media Reviews, The Misc Bucket

 

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Morning Sex? (warning: graphic image)

This morning, I woke up with both kiddos in bed with me. Their daddy is out of town on business for a few days – giving me ample opportunity to avoid bedtime scheduling madness (guess who’s the disciplinarian here) and revel in those snuffly sighs and giggles that escape just before exhaustion overtakes them and they drift into dreamland.

kiddossleeping8-8-13We slept in.  School starts here in 11 days. Gotta sleep in while we can.

Eventually, Andy and I rolled out of bed and went into the living room to start our day in the customary way. A pastry. Some cereal. Flipping back and forth between Morning Express (hi, Robin Meade!) and Good Morning America (hello, GMA crew!). We love Robin’s laughter and the lighthearted interaction among the GMA team, the care they seem to give each other when topics turn serious.

Ella heard the television and stirred. I watched from the living room as she sat up, wiped the sleepy from her big brown eyes, and yawned. The GMA segment went to commercial.

And then, wham.

Confusion.

Disbelief.

Did that just flash on my TV screen?

In front of 8-year-old Andy?!

No way.

A camera trick. A clever angle.

I told Andy – his blue eyes had gone wide – to get something from the refrigerator (out of sight of the TV).

Snatched up the remote.

Rewound.

There it was.

GMABetrayal

On my TV.

During a major network news program.

At 8am.

What HELL just ascended into my living room and burned itself into my precious boy’s brain?

I hit pause, grabbed my iPhone, snapped a picture, and then got the image off the screen before Andy could see again or Ella could find out why Mommy’s face registered shock. A quick post to Facebook later and many joined in the chorus. Then Facebook notified me my picture had been “reported as inappropriate due to nudity”.

Now Facebook has removed my post.

Thanks for the affirmation, Facebook.

I understand we’ve ceded the idea of morality in primetime. A moronic move, but one we (and by “we” I mean Jesus-following folk) have to own. But this wasn’t primetime. This was a commercial about a primetime show airing while we all enjoy cornflakes and coffee and wish our kiddos a good morning.

My kid saw that. Not because I took him to a movie wholly inappropriate for his age. Not because I quit parenting and just told him to turn on the TV at 10pm and watch whatever. Not because I turned on a show this morning that he had no business watching with me.

He saw that because somewhere, someone made some decisions.

Someone decided the writers of Betrayal weren’t delivering a story that would hold viewers’ interest on its own.

Someone told talented actors that their craft alone – delivering solidly written lines in a believable fashion – wouldn’t cut it.

Someone told a director and set crew that their crafts alone – finding the right angles, setting a mood with lighting – wouldn’t get it done.

Someone decided that what was needed to get people to actually watch Betrayal was taking off the actors’ clothes and having them simulate sex – at least, the Hollywood version of it.

And then someone who does the ad placement at GMA and for the show Betrayal decided what was needed to make this ABC show another “most watched show” for the network was to place that ad smack in the middle of my morning. And yours. And millions of other family members.

Not because the ad says, “Hey – incredible story, right here. Entertaining. Created with excellence. Worthy of your time.” No, the ad says, “Hey, people screwing. Breaking vows. Right here. Take a look. More tonight. Bring your kids and anybody else that’s in the room right now.”

Really? This is what we’ve come to? Show titles like, Deception, Scandal, Pretty Little Liars, Betrayal, and Revenge? Simulated sex scenes at 8am? Glorifying the breaking of wedding vows as high drama and entertainment?

No.

Just no.

I am not going into that darkness without a very loud, very public, foot-stomping, loud-voiced, fist-raising, steely-eyed FIGHT.

I will fight to help create shows and movies and books that are engaging, entertaining, thought-provoking, and society-uplifting. I will choose to believe that the basest among us in this industry are not the standard bearers or setters. I will stay committed to educating myself and others so that the quality of our work enhances the content thereof.

I will not accept that the presence of standards equates to the hatred of anyone and is therefore somehow unacceptable in the public square.

I’m not advocating censorship or a return to Father Knows Best. Sometimes, a sex scene is needed. Read A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty for a good example.

But don’t genuine storytellers and storymakers have a responsibility to the artistic ability with which we’ve been entrusted? We do not take the gift of our readers’ and viewers’ time – their precious, precious time – and debase it. We do not take the exquisite gift of love-making and use it as a cheap trick to raise ratings or sales. And we most definitely do not take highly adult concepts and plop them down in front of children. 

Is this really where we’ve come to…and where we’re content to stay? Is this all we want to do with our art? Our technology?

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2013 in The Misc Bucket

 

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