Sunday, December 25, 2011


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:8-14)

I was flipping through a notebook the other day and came across something I wrote who knows how long ago – I have had the notebook since college, I think. At any rate, I decided it would be an appropriate Christmas thought since this blog does, after all, purport to be science fiction-related…

I wish you all a Blessed and Geeky Christmas.
~The Geeky Squirrel


Lights in the sky. Floating , weaving, hovering. One, then many – UFO's. Little green men, or gray men, or not men, really, but humans cope by likening the unknown to the known.
Hermit in the desert. Dirty, unkempt, unshaven. Alone, outcast, living in his shabby trailer. No contact with others, much, because they shun him, mostly.
Crazy, they say. Sees things – lights in the sky, little green men, UFO's, and all. Living alone in the middle of nowhere does things to your mind. Why should anyone listen to him? Most don't.
But I'm not crazy! he declares. Listen to me, I know what I saw! Come out and see, maybe they'll return. Don't you know that the truth is out there?
Still they shake their heads, still they laugh, still they pity.


Lights in the sky. Floating, weaving, hovering. One, then many – angels. Bright, white, blinding men, men with wings, heavenly beings, not even men, but humans cope by likening the unknown to the known.
Shepherds in the hills. Dirty, unkempt, unshaven. Alone, outcast, living out with the sheep in their care. Not much contact with anyone other than each other and their animals, because they are shunned, mostly.
Crazy, they say. Seeing things – angels and all. Having no one to talk to but sheep gets to you eventually. Why should anyone listen? Many still won't.
But we're not crazy! they shout. Right where they said, down there in the stable. There in Bethlehem, go see for yourself. A baby in a manger, don't you believe?
Still they shake their heads, still they laugh, still they ignore.


Still He opens his arms, still He welcomes, still He waits, still He smiles at those who do believe.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

All That is Gold

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)

In addition to being a great writer and linguist, J.R.R. Tolkien was a master poet as well, and one of my favorite poems in the entire Lord of the Rings saga is the one that tells about the true identity of Strider the Ranger:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken:
The crownless again shall be king.

The point of the poem is that appearances can be deceiving – Strider is really Aragorn, lord of the Dunedain and heir to the throne of Gondor. When he sets out from Rivendell with the Fellowship, he has another mission in addition to that of protecting the ringbearer on the way to Mount Doom: to help Gondor in its time of need as it battles against the forces of Sauron and to reclaim the throne of his ancestors. Despite his actual status, however, he is careful to conceal his true identity until the moment is right.

Christmas is a time when we focus on the deceiving appearance of the Messiah when he came to earth in human form. He was the Son of God, yet his earthly father was just a carpenter. His birth occurred not in a palace, but in a stable, surrounded by animals, and his first crib was their feed trough. He was not the great king and military leader that the Jews looked for to conquer the Romans and restore a kingdom like that over which David ruled, yet he saved all people everywhere from something much worse by sacrificing himself for our sins.

This Christmas season, may we remember that "All that is gold does not glitter" and instead, look for the miraculous in the ordinary. May God surprise us in unlooked for places as we celebrate the coming of the Crownless King.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

The Doctor loves humans. He takes them traveling in the TARDIS. They visit alien worlds and battle fantastic creatures, but he always ends up back on earth, fighting to save earth's people from an alien menace or even from themselves. He laments the fact that they're stupid apes with such narrow worldviews and selfish attitudes, but he always helps them out of whatever predicament they've gotten into. He loves them and would risk his own life to protect them – not just his companions but all of them.

Jesus loves humans. He took human form and lived among them. He took them into his inner circle and traveled with them as he preached his message of love and peace. He laments the fact that sometimes they just don't listen, they just don't get it, but he patiently explains again, using smaller words or a different story. He loves them so much that he sacrificed himself and took the blame for their misdeeds even though he himself was blameless.

Praise the Great Physician, who loved humans so much that he gave up absolutely everything to get them out of the worst scrape imaginable!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dear Santa

Ask, and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

It being that time of year and all, I heard a rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" which reminded me of a scene from the first episode of Doctor Who that featured the Eleventh Doctor. Right after the opening credits, we meet Amelia Pond, the little girl who will grow up to be this Doctor's companion. She is kneeling by her bed, hands pressed together in front of her, eyes closed, saying her prayers. Or is she? "Dear Santa Claus," she starts. She thanks him for some toys, presumably her Christmas presents, and then proceeds to ask him for help with a problem she's having. 

I think I might as well start my prayers with "Dear Santa Claus" sometimes, because it becomes all about me and the wish list of things I want. Don't get me wrong, I think God wants us to ask him for things – that is, after all, what Jesus told everyone in the Sermon on the Mount. That's not the only purpose of prayer, though. It is supposed to be two-way communication, but more often than not I am guilty of making it all about me sitting on God's lap and telling him everything I want for Christmas. 

My wish for this Advent season is that we focus not on our letters to Santa-God but rather on the gift that is more important than anything we'll ever find in our stockings. The hope, peace, joy, and love embodied in the baby in the manger are the best gifts of all.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wait For Iiiiiit…

They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithinia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. (Acts 16:6-8)

I keep coming back to "The God Complex" from the most recent season of Doctor Who – the longer it simmers in my brain, the more I discover within its many layers and complexities. I decided to revisit the awful hotel one more time because of a recent Sunday School lesson where we studied the scripture passage above.

Throughout the episode, various characters find "their" hotel room and use whatever faith they have to overcome the fearful thing or situation contained within. Doing so eventually alerts the creature, who kills them after feeding on their faith. The situation is summed up by Joe the gambler, whose faith in luck has evidently helped him overcome his fear of ventriloquist dummies because he is now surrounded by an army of them. He tells the Doctor, "I've seen the light. I've lived a blasphemous life but he's forgiven my inconstancy and soon he shall feast."

"But you've been here for two days," replies the Doctor. "What is he waiting for?"

"We weren't ready. We were still raw."

"But now you're what…cooked?"

"If you like. Soon you will be, too. Be patient."

The message that we take away from both TV and the Bible is this: faith is important, but so is timing. Paul was eager to spread the gospel to Asia and Mysia and Bithinia, but God said no, not now. Not yet. In Sunday School, we speculated that perhaps God was waiting for the people there to be ready to receive the message before he sent someone to give it to them. Or perhaps the messengers themselves weren't yet ready. At any rate, we're led to believe that if someone had gone just then, the message wouldn't have taken hold and God's will wouldn't have been done.

God's timing is a great mystery, and sometimes waiting on him to give the "go" for something is exceedingly frustrating. Patience is not an easy thing, but it is necessary because rawness in this case is detrimental to the overall mission. Fortunately, though, if we have the patience and faith to wait for the right time, we are the ones who will feast on the abundant blessings God has in store for us.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

NCIS is not a sci fi show, but the last episode has been weighing on my mind so much that I have to write about it. "Engaged, part II" was the conclusion of a two-part story revolving around the search for a missing Marine, Lt. Gabriella Flores, who had been reported killed in an insurgent attack on a school the Marines were helping to build in Afghanistan. Gibbs and his team discover that she had in fact survived the attack, saving the lives of two orphaned girls in the process, but all three were subsequently captured by the insurgents. While they are investigating the incident, they learn that the insurgents' primary aim wasn't even to attack American troops – it was to destroy the school because its purpose was to educate girls. To top it off, not only was the school targeted, but the girls who attended it were attacked as well, just for taking advantage of an opportunity to better themselves. 

This is one situation in the world that I have a very difficult time understanding. I cannot fathom living in a culture where some people have privilege and power while others are denied basic things like an education, based solely on what type of equipment they have between their legs. Are these men so insecure that they feel threatened by some girls just because they can read or write? Wow. I know that this is something that happens – it was not just pulled from some screenwriter's imagination – and it is a very scary thing to know that these monsters exist in the world. I just don't appreciate how blessed I am until I see a story like this. I am so grateful for the accident of birth that placed me here in the United States where I am free to pursue as much education as I want (I have a Masters degree) and accomplish whatever I want to. Yes, some people still tell others that they can't do something because they are girls, but by and large they cannot stop those girls from attempting it anyway. I am also grateful for organizations like Global Women (an organization that I talked about here) that seek to empower women in places where they are otherwise oppressed, and I'm grateful for the men and women who risk their lives in places like Afghanistan so that girls like the ones depicted in NCIS the other night get the chance to make their lives better.

Kudos to the production team of NCIS for bringing us two awesome episodes that not only showcased some of the best acting so far this season, but also brought attention to a despicable situation and made me, for one, really think and feel deeply for the plight of girls who are in that situation for real. And kudos to the writers who gave Lt. Flores such an eloquent response to everything that happened to her, including being kidnapped and tortured by one of the female insurgents that had been a working as a teacher at the school. The episode is concluded perfectly when Gibbs asks Flores what should happen to this teacher. She says, "She should watch those girls change the world in positive ways she never imagined."
"That a punishment?" asks Gibbs.
"That's a gift…. Punishment is knowing she could have done the same."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Unseen

Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?" And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:37-40)

Neil Gaiman first wrote Neverwhere as a screenplay for a BBC television mini-series before turning it into a novel (and I highly recommend it in either form). The story revolves around Richard, a typical English office worker, who is plunged into the strange world of "London Below" when, ignoring his fiancée's protests, he helps a battered and bloody girl who suddenly appears on the sidewalk in front of them. Her name is Door, and by taking her in, Richard becomes like her and the other residents of the city below, literally unseen by the denizens of "London Above."

When the original idea for Neverwhere was presented to Gaiman, the unseen ones were the homeless. Not wanting to romanticize life on the streets, however, he turned it into a fantasy world of earls, friars, swords, and great, fell beasts. Regardless of the characters' plight, though, the upshot of the story remains the same: when you reach out and help someone in need, you life will be changed, completely and irrevocably, and even when you are allowed to return to your safe and comfortable world, things will never be the same.

I have a cyber-friend who has made it her mission to help the otherwise unseen ones on the streets of southern California. She buys packages of socks and puts into each pair a pop-top can of Vienna sausages or something similar. She keeps these care packages in her car, and when she sees a homeless person as she's driving around, she hands food and comfort out of her window. Instead of ignoring them as I tend to do, she chooses to see them and she reports that this has changed her own outlook on life. What a testament to the power of sight – I pray that I may be able to start seeing instead of simply looking, and that I may not be afraid to rock my entire world.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Such a Long Way from Here

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

It is a pivotal scene in Star Wars: Obi Wan Kenobi has rescued Luke from the Sand People and has taken him to his house in the Tatooine desert. While Luke fixes the droids, Obi Wan tells him that his father was a Jedi. He gives Luke his father's lightsaber and then invites Luke to come with him to Alderaan to help Princess Leia. Every time we've seen Luke so far in the movie, he's been whining and complaining about his farm chores and talking about how he wants to leave Tatooine and go to the Academy and become a pilot, but when the invitation is finally issued, he turns it down. Why? Well, he says, "I can't get involved. I've got work to do. It's not that I like the Empire, I hate it, but there's nothing I can do about it right now. It's such a long way from here."

I hate the fact that outside of the "first world" countries, so many women have it so very hard. Some are oppressed and denied rights because of their gender, and many die from pregnancy and childbirth complications simply because they have no access to education and healthcare. I hate it, but there's nothing I can do about it right now. It's an overwhelming problem and I am just one person. I am living my comfortable life in the United States, and it's such a long way from here.

I think it was Helen Keller that said "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something." Better yet, by working together we can do so much more. I am proud to support an organization called Global Women, whose mission is to improve the lives of women all over the globe. It supports people who work with women who have been sold into sex slavery in Eastern Europe, so that they may learn a trade with which to support themselves and come to know God's love and forgiveness. It provides volunteer teachers who travel to places like Burma and Indonesia to help train women to be midwives and medical aides, and its members collect supplies to put together birthing kits for these women to use. It collects scarves and hats for women and children at a battered women's shelter here in the United States. It educates those of us who have about the awful plight of women half a world away and sometimes closer who have not, and it gives us a way to do something about it.

I am only one, but I can do something. I can give money. I can buy supplies for a birthing kit. I can crochet hats and scarves with some of the leftover yarn I have lying around in abundance. Most of all, I can pray: for the women being helped, the suffering women yet to be helped, and those who are called to go and do the helping. And I can pray for myself, that I never forget that there is something I can do, even when it is such a long way from here.

(If this is something that touches your heart as it does mine, I would encourage you to visit the Global Women website to find out more about what they are doing to improve the lives of women throughout the world and how you can get involved in helping them. You don't have to be a woman to support them, either!)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Good Blaster at Your Side

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3)

In the Doctor Who episode "The God Complex" that I wrote about last week, when the Doctor finally figures out that the monster feeds on people's faiths and not their fears, he gives as evidence the fact that Rory never seems to be in danger. The Doctor attributes this to the fact that Rory is not superstitious or religious – he doesn't seem to have any kind of faith. I don't think that's true, though. Everyone has faith in something. Take, for instance, two key conversations from Star Wars. In the first, during a meeting of Imperial leaders aboard the Death Star, Darth Vader and Admiral Motti have differing opinions about the best course of action:

Motti: Any attack made by the rebels against this station would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they've obtained. This station is now the ultimate power in the universe. I suggest we use it.
Vader: Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.
Motti: Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes or given you clairvoyance enough to find the rebels' hidden fortress…
[Admiral Motti chokes as Vader uses the Force to strangle him from across the room]
Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing.

In the second conversation, on board the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo has been watching Obi-Wan teach Luke how to use at lightsaber:

Han: Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.
Luke: You don't believe in the Force, do you?
Han: Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field controls my destiny. It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

Admiral Motti and Han Solo are both set up as non-believers in these two scenes, but in both cases it is clear that they do believe in something – for Motti, it's technology and the power of the Death Star, and for Han it's also technology and weaponry, in addition to his own wits and skills. Both men put their trust in things seen and handled and personally experienced rather than some abstract, nebulous, god-like "force," like Luke and Obi-Wan and Vader do. In Admiral Motti's case particularly, it turns out to be misplaced trust in the end when the Rebel Alliance manages to blow up his "ultimate power in the universe."

I think I am like Han Solo more often than I realize or would wish to admit. I'm not nearly as cool as he is, but I am hard-headed and independent and want to do things myself. I want to take care of myself; I want to make things happen by myself. I don't have a good blaster at my side, but I do have my wits and my smarts. I would do well to remember that my abilities are insignificant next to the power of God, and that he is in control and I don't have to do it all on my own all the time.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Praise Him!

Vindicate me, O Lord,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
test my heart and mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in faithfulness to you.

(Psalm 26:1-3)

In the Doctor Who episode entitled "The God Complex," The Doctor, Amy, and Rory exit the TARDIS to find themselves in a hotel with outdated décor, bad elevator music coming over the speakers, and corridors that shift when you're not looking. When they look inside various rooms, they find strange things, like people in gorilla costumes, sad clowns, popular-looking girls hurling insults, and the scariest of new Who monsters, the Weeping Angels.

Pretty soon they meet up with a group of other people who also appear to be trapped in the hotel with them, and they learn that it seems to be like the Hotel California – you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Also, there is a monster roaming the labyrinthine hallways that eventually finds and kills everyone who ends up there. The strange things in the hotel rooms are someone's greatest fear, and there is a room for everyone. The catch is, once you find your room and face your fear, bad things start to happen and eventually, no matter how long you try to hold out, the monster will come and get you. They assume that the monster feeds on fear, and when you find the thing you fear the most, it will cause the monster to come get you, so it's best if you do not find your room in the hotel.

After three out of the four people there are killed by the monster, though, despite everything the Doctor has done to try to protect them, he finally figures it out: the monster doesn't feed on fear, it feeds on faith. When facing whatever scary thing was in their room, they relied on faith to overcome the fear, and that's what attracts the monster. Everyone who has died had faith in one form or another: Rita was Muslim, Joe the gambler believed in luck, and Howie was always trying to convince everyone who would listen that everything was part of one big conspiracy. Things come to a head when Amy finds her room and begins to show signs that the monster will soon be coming for her. The Doctor realizes that to save her and defeat the monster, he had to make her lose her faith, which was represented in her room by her child-self, little Amelia, sitting on her suitcase waiting for her Raggedy Doctor to come back. Ever since that night when she was eight years old, Amy had faith that the Doctor would return, and when he did, through all their adventures, she always had faith that whatever happened, the Doctor would save her, solve all the problems, and make sure everything turned out ok. She had even said as much throughout the episode to whomever would listen.

What a heart-wrenching scene when the Doctor, so gently and tenderly, explained to Amy that he wasn't the all-powerful alien creature that she put all of her trust in. He didn't always save the day, and he had caused death and destruction more often than not. He really was, as he had been telling her all along, a madman with a box, nothing more.

It has been a month since "The God Complex" aired, and it has taken me this long (and a second viewing) to make sense of what was really happening. At first I was trying to puzzle out what it was saying about having faith (or not) and losing faith. I have finally decided, however, that it is about misplaced trust and having faith in the wrong things. Amy placed her trust in the Doctor, and when the Doctor finally recognized this, it took quite an effort for him to convince her otherwise. It was necessary, however, for her to realize that the Doctor wasn't God, no matter how often his "God complex" (as Rita labeled it earlier in the episode) manifests itself.

Fortunately, faith in God is never misplaced trust. When I looked up "faith" in the concordance of my Bible to find a verse with which to preface this post, I noticed something interesting: all of the verses cited as containing the word "faith" used it in the context of humans having faith in God, but more than half of the verses given in the entries for "faithful" and "faithfulness" use those words to describe God and his attitude toward people, not the other way around. To me, that speaks volumes about what we should have faith in: the One whose faith in us never wavers, even when our faith does.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Believe It

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:19-20)

It’s a well-known scene from The Empire Strikes Back: Luke’s X-Wing fighter is sinking into the Dagobah swamp and Yoda wants him to get it out. Luke closes his eyes, stretches out a hand, and concentrates on the Force, but only manages a bit of a wiggle before it disappears completely under the water. Dejected, Luke watches as Yoda steps up and uses the power of the Force to lift the entire spacecraft out of the water and set it on firmer ground.

“I don’t believe it!” Luke exclaims.

“That is why you fail,” replies the Jedi Master.

This reminds me of the conversation between Jesus and his disciples in Matthew 17. A man brings his son, who suffers from life-threatening seizures, to Jesus for healing because the disciples, whom he had consulted first, had been unable to help. After Jesus gets the job done, the disciples look at him slack-jawed. “How’d you do that?” they ask him later, after everyone else leaves. Like Luke, they want to know, “Why couldn’t we do that?”

Faith is a powerful thing, and it doesn’t take much faith to make a powerful impact, according to Jesus. I think that’s because, like a tiny seed, the slightest bit of faith can grow into something that takes over and pushes out the doubts. But, also like a small seed, it takes nurturing and watering and practice for the little bit of faith to become great faith. So I keep plugging along, believing that one day something great will come about, despite my doubts and fears, and I thank God that it doesn’t take much faith at all to start the process.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Anything for a Friend

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13)

Friendship is a major theme throughout the Star Wars trilogy of films. It influences actions and provides motivation for characters to do things they otherwise wouldn't dream of doing.

It's what made Ben Kenobi engage in a lightsaber duel to the death with Darth Vader so that the Millennium Falcon and its passengers could escape from the Death Star.

It's what made Han Solo turn the Millennium Falcon around and come to Luke's aid during his bombing run on the Death Star, and what made him ride a Tauntaun out into the freezing Hoth night to find Luke when he hadn't returned to base.

It's what made Luke, against the advice of his mentor and teacher Yoda, leave the relative safety of Dagobah and fly straight into a trap on Bespin because he felt through the Force that Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and the droids were in danger.

It's what made Luke, Leia, Chewie, and Lando risk life and limb to break into Jabba the Hutt's fortress and relieve him of his prized wall decoration, the frozen body of Han Solo encased in carbonite.

Friendship is powerful. It is more powerful than the Dark Side of the Force and it's more powerful than any other form of evil. Friendship brings life, sometimes literally, as in many of the examples above. Even if my friends don't ever actually prevent me from being seriously harmed, though, they are still one of God's wonderful gifts that help make my world a brighter, happier, more life-filled place.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

No Excuses

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea - for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. (Mark 1:16-20)

As I noted last week, the Hero’s Quest is a major archetype in stories and mythologies of all types, and writing about it in the context of Hobbits reminded me of another popular modern take on the theme: Luke Skywalker. At the beginning of Star Wars, he is a just another bored kid from the back of beyond dreaming of a more exciting life anywhere but Tatooine. He wants desperately to get off of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s moisture farm and go to the Academy, where he will learn to be a fighter pilot like his friend Biggs. Day after day, nothing changes, until the fateful day that two droids drop from the sky and lead him to an old hermit named Ben Kenobi.

Old Ben listens to R2D2’s message from Princess Leia, and as he prepares to answer her summons, he issues Luke the invitation of a lifetime: come with me to Alderaan, learn to use the Force, become a Jedi like your father. It’s just the ticket Luke has been looking for, the chance to get away from this backwater planet, learn to be a kick-ass warrior, have some cool adventures, and help a good cause, too. So what does he do? He whines about how Uncle Owen needs his help, how he’s busy on the moisture farm, how he’s been neglecting his chores while hanging out with this crazy old fool, how he’ll catch hell when he gets home for all the time-wasting he’s done.  He rejects the opportunity he’s wanted for so long, and he gives no good reasons for it, only excuses.

Of course, Luke does go with Ben in the end, but only after all other options are snatched away from him. He returns home to find it in ruins and his aunt and uncle dead, killed by Imperial Stormtroopers. With nothing left to lose, he finally agrees to go with Ben to Alderaan and to learn to be a Jedi. Why does it take such drastic measures to convince him? When it comes down to it, it seems that Luke suffers from comfort zone-itis, the fear of leaving the familiar to follow a call to something greater.

God wants no excuses when he issues a call, but comfort zone-itis is a widespread disease. Why do we make so many excuses instead of saying yes right away? Why is it that it sometimes takes drastic measures to break us out of our ruts and to get us to accept Christ’s invitation to follow him? I guess it’s just human nature, maybe, but I wonder how much more fun we’d have along the journey if we responded right away and didn’t waste time on excuses?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Everyday Heroes

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I; send me!" (Isaiah 6:8)

One of the great themes of science fiction and fantasy (and indeed, literature in general) is the hero's quest. Usually, the main character is an ordinary person who finds himself or herself called to complete a seemingly impossible task, but thanks to the help of many friends along the way and previously hidden reserves of inner strength, the task is accomplished and the proverbial day is saved.

Two of my favorite examples of questing heroes come from the pen of J.R.R. Tolkien: the hobbit Bilbo Baggins and his nephew Frodo. In The Hobbit, Bilbo is mistaken for a burglar and hired by a band of dwarves to help them steal back their treasure from Smaug the dragon. Frodo, whose story we read in the Lord of the Rings books, must carry the One Ring of power into the heart of it's evil creator's domain in order to destroy it and prevent Sauron's further domination. Although their neighbors might think both of them a little strange and remark upon their "Tookish" tendencies towards travel and adventures, each hobbit considers himself quite ordinary and quite unsuited for the important task placed upon his shoulders. However, each hobbit also agrees to go and attempt the quest despite much self-doubt and many misgivings.

Tolkien didn't come up with anything new here. In fact, the same theme occurs numerous times throughout the Bible. Moses makes excuse after excuse as to why he's not the right one to lead the enslaved Hebrew people out of Egypt. Isaiah declares himself to be "a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips" (Isaiah 6:5) when God asks him to deliver His messages - both of judgement and of hope - to the people of Judah. Jonah went so far as to run clear in the other direction when God asked him to take a warning message to the people of Ninevah. Ordinary people, with utterly human weaknesses, flaws, and failings, yet that's never the end of the story!

Bilbo, despite his bumbling, becomes the burglar that Gandalf knew he could be from the moment the "Burglar Lives Here" mark was made on the hobbit hole door. He helps the dwarves out of a number of scrapes and is instrumental in vanquishing the dragon and reclaiming the treasure. Assisted by both his friends and his enemies, Frodo manages to keep plodding along despite great weariness and danger until the One Ring is destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, thus saving all of Middle Earth from certain destruction. God counters every one of Moses's arguments, appoints his brother Aaron to speak for him, and through him releases the Israelites from bondage. With a burning coal from the altar in the hands of a Seraph, Isaiah's unclean lips are purified and he steps forward to take God's message to His people. After enduring much trouble brought on by his own stubbornness, including 3 days in not-so-deluxe sub-marine accommodations, Jonah finally arrives in Ninevah and finds the people there receptive to God's message and willing to repent.

It doesn't stop there, either! Simon Peter, the bumbling fisherman whose ego writes checks that the rest of him can't cash, becomes one of the great leaders of the early Christian church. Saul, proud persecutor of Christians, does an about-face on the Damascus road and becomes the first great missionary in church history. I could go on and on....

All of these heroes have two things in common: they were all ordinary, imperfect people, and they all said "yes" to the call (however reluctantly). In addition, although they could have made excuses and refused the mission, they all trusted the call-er to know what he was doing and to have faith in their ability to do the job.

I am an ordinary person, but I too can do great things. All I have to do is say "yes" and trust the One who Calls to take care of the rest.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Eye of Orion ... or Somewhere Else?

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

"You didn't always take me where I wanted to go," said the Doctor to the TARDIS-in-human-form. "No, but I always took you where you needed to go," she replied. This pivotal conversation in "The Doctor's Wife" made a big impression on me, as you already know if you read my previous post. Just recently, however, I saw another scene from that episode that made me think some more.

After the adventure is over, Amy and Rory have been saved, and the soul of the TARDIS has returned to her mute home in the pan-dimensional blue box, the Doctor prepares to depart. He races haphazardly around the console, turning dials and flipping switches while keeping up a running dialogue with himself. He turns one last dial and announces his destination: "Ok. The Eye of Orion, or wherever we need to go." Before he has a chance to pull the last lever, it moves all by itself, the machine's acknowledgement of the Doctor's willingness to give up any illusions of control he might have had, because he now realizes that he was never in control to begin with.

How much less stressful would my life be if I stopped trying to be in control of everything, if I stopped getting angry at finding myself in a difficult situation or not being where I wanted to be? What if I faced each situation with a different attitude, that of seeking to discover what purpose I am to serve in my present circumstances, however negative or unwanted I think they are? As much as I'd like to think it or make it so, I'm not really in control, and even though I really want to go to the Eye of Orion, that doesn't appear to be in the cards right now. To have the Doctor's attitude about the whole thing - to stop fighting the inevitable and to make the best of what comes - is my goal right now.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Where Are We Going?

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
My current favorite episode ever of Doctor Who (so far) is Neil Gaiman's masterpiece from series 6, "The Doctor's Wife." In it, the Doctor and his companions land on a sentient asteroid that steals the TARDIS after transferring the machine's consciousness into a human body. As a result, for the first time in their centuries of traveling together, the Doctor is able to have conversations with the one object that has been with him almost constantly.

Frequent viewers of the show know that many episodes are set up by the fact that the TARDIS fails to land at the time and place the Doctor had directed it to go - sometimes they end up in the wrong place and sometimes it's the right place but the wrong time, but at any rate, they find themselves in the middle of a crisis, followed by lots of running around and day-saving. Now that he has the TARDIS in a form that can answer him, the Doctor confronts her with the fact that she doesn't always take him where he wants to go.

"No," she replies, "but I always took you where you needed to go."

It was not until I was thinking about the episode later that I realized how profound that statement is, especially in regard to my life at the moment. "Why, God?" I ask. "Why are things going this way for me? Why aren't you answering my prayers? Why can't things go right for a change?" I wonder - if I stopped to listen to the still, small voice, would I hear the same answer that the Doctor heard? I suspect so, even though that's not always exactly what I want to hear....


Welcome to the Geeky Squirrel's home on the web! I have been kicking around the idea of starting a blog for a while now, but until recently I hadn't come up with a good angle. I know too many other fantastic music teachers with music ed blogs who share much better ideas than I could come up with, so that was out. I already write for the awesome blog doing a lot soundtrack reviews, geeky music posts, and various other assorted sci fi and fantasy topics, so there's no need to duplicate that. I am not so egotistical to think that anyone really cares to read about random events in my life, either, so for a while that was that. Until...I had an awesome idea as I was driving down the road one day - a song I was listening to reminded me of something and then something else and then, hey! I can write about that, it would be a short devotional thought-type thing, and - that's it! That would make an interesting blog! So that was about a month or so ago, and now here we are. (There's actually a little more to the story than that, which you can read about on the About page)

Now, I am not the biggest geek in the world, but I'm still pretty geeky and I plan to write about geeky science fictiony and fantasy kinds of things, including but not limited to Doctor Who, Star Wars, J.R.R. Tolkien, and whatever else I happen to be reading or watching at the moment. I'll try to set things up, but I'm not going to go out of my way to explain things that the average watcher/listener/reader of a particular thing would already know. If there is interest/demand for it, however, I am willing to start a glossary or explanation page for terms that fans of a particular thing would know but non-fans wouldn't. Feel free to comment on a post if there's something you don't get, and if it happens often enough I will make another page - the two tabs I've got are looking pretty lonely up there anyway! As I write more, I will probably be adding a page of links to references and things as well, so look for that.

Thank you for visiting, and I look forward to geeking out with you.
~Ann, AKA The Geeky Squirrel