Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Welcome.

(note:  This is the welcome and info article and it does not change.  Scroll on down for the most recent article addition.)

I believe in the power of truth.  I also believe in the power of freedom.  I am neverendingly impressed at how truth sets us free, and how freedom opens us up to the truth.  Though I have some posts that are personal to me, this is my ministry site.  I post articles about all kinds of things that are of interest to me… and I also find great joy in answering, or at trying to answer, or at least discussing, questions.  Feel free to ask them here.

I am still working on these sites, but the best way to navigate this material is either the tabs at the top of the page – these take you to totally different pages with targeted information.  If you are researching me as a personal therapist, click the Counseling/Therapy tab… if you are a man looking for encouragement, ideas and support in life, click on Phalanx… if you are considering me as a speaker, teacher, pastor, or consultant, that information should be available there.

Most of my work hours are spent serving at South Spring Baptist Church. Check out the amazing ministry there.

I am also the lead therapist at the Alethia Counseling Center in Tyler, Texas… and I love the team of Counselors we have here, so…

I want to introduce you to our team of counselors at the offices:

 

You can meet them HERE.at Alethia’s website.

If you are interested in scheduling with any of us, call us at 903 561 8955 today!

…If you are more interested in browsing my articles, then your best bet might be the catagories list to the right.  If you are interested in me writing an article on a given topic, you can request it in any comments section… I will try to get to it as soon as I can!

I will continue to post all new articles here as well as on the targeted site, so either option should still give you the chance to find what you are looking for.

Typically, my series, sermons and seminars will be found at:  Talks

Thanks for stopping in… God Bless you and Keep you.

Chris

More Information on my specific Counseling

My style of therapy is generally called “eclectic” which really just means I make use of many different styles and techniques of counseling.  I believe that every human life has intrinsic value, including yours.  No amount of pain, guilt, shame, regret, resentment, anger, depression, depravity, or brokenness can change that.  Every person has a story that is worth hearing, no matter how much hurt, love, purpose, abandonment or normality that life includes or lacks.

A big part of why I believe what I just said is that I am a proclaimed follower of Jesus, The Christ, into Life, death, and Life again.  I think life can often feel a lot like a series of life and death patterns.  I believe it is hopeful to know that those are a parable of the larger Epic story.  I believe in a Creator, and I therefore rationally think the most foundational thing in life is to have a right relationship with our Creator.

It seems reasonable to me that it would be impossible to over-estimate philosophically how important it would be for a created thing to know its creator.  After doing decades of research, of the major views on this problem, only Christianity has been able to offer what I consider the most reasonable answers. So, with that understanding, I am a Christian therapist.

However, as a “style” I am not exclusively what is called a “biblical counselor” nor do I offer counseling only for other Christians. Far from it. I agree with the way I was taught: I expose my faith, but am careful not to impose my faith on my clients. It isn’t always an easy integration, but that is my goal. The main way that my faith and philosophy impact my counseling is in regards to truth. I believe in the power of truth to set us free (John 8:31). I think it is vitally important for everyone to be able to acknowledge the truth about their lives – this point is also made in Orwell’s “1984” when it is noted that true freedom begins with the freedom to speak the truth.

Until we can say what we know is true, we are still bound. I make use of reality therapy techniques, Gestalt work, psychotherapy, Jungian archetypes, personality theory, paradoxical work, REBT, transactional analysis, and virtually anything else I come across that works and fits within what I believe is true.

I believe that each human being is so complex and unique that no one therapeutic theory covers everyone. Generally, I talk to people for about 50 minutes in the session, but the real work comes in the hours of integration in-between sessions. I encourage people to deal with the past and not ignore it – to speak the truth about their past. This is not about living in the past. Understanding, speaking and accepting the truth about our past is a work of the present.

I also encourage people to face the present and future honestly. Reality therapy becomes vital when dealing with the present. I think that many more people could really benefit from counseling than get it. It takes a certain level of emotional health to be able to risk coming in. Coming to counseling the first time can be pretty tough, so I applaud anyone strong enough to do it, especially those who are able to come in before they are in stage 4 sickness… Counseling isn’t meant to last forever, so come in with some specific goals and you and I will work together to identify and deal with those and any others that arise.

Final words for this section: beware of coming in for counseling when it is storming and the roof is leaking, and then quitting when the rain quits rather than when the roof is repaired.

any questions?

Advertisements

Maternal Traits of God

Sometimes when someone reads that God I referenced as “He” in the Bible, they think that implies a sex prioritization or and sex hierarchy in the mind of God.

Somehow God being “He” also makes Him more like a male human than like a female human (or a male human more like Him than a female human)…

But I think that is a misunderstanding, mistake or in some cases, abuse.

What does it mean that I am male? It means that I have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome. It also probably means that I have certain sex organs and plumbing. It probably means that I choose, as a preference or daily, between boxers and briefs.

So, obviously (I pray it is obvious) God being a “He” doesn’t mean the same things as those. Either there is something about His essence that links to something that all males (not just humans?)

That seems to be the case, but that is also quite a mystery, as revealed in Gen 1:27

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Something about being created in God’s own image is linked to us being create male and female, but what exactly is open to great speculation… but a clear implication is that man and woman are BOTH created in God’s image.

Woman are not a lesser version of God’s image, so God being a “He” must not be meant to imply that men are somehow closer to God’s image.

In fact, the main focus for this little article is to draw attention to the maternal traits of God.

I do not think that masculinity or femininity are biblically founded concepts. Male and female clearly are, but gender traits are entirely culturally based. (not man or woman – that is genetic, but “manly” or “lady-like” for example.) More on that in another article.

I have long said that though there are many biblical roles that can only be held by men (father, son, brother, husband, for example) and there are roles that can only be held by women (wife, mother, sister, daughter, etc.), but with very few directions for men or women outside of roles like this.

There are clearly passages that indicate paternal traits of God – and being referred to as “Father” and “He” are certainly examples that we are used to – but what about God’s maternal traits?

We are called to the roles in people’s lives as parents… for our children and other people’s children.

How would that be possible for women if God’s traits were only masculine?  Next we look at God’s maternal traits.

Boring Marriages


imagesCA6E2P0ZSometimes you hear people say that they are in a boring marriage.

They aren’t stimulated intellectually like they once were.

They aren’t as excited about spending time with their spouse anymore.

They just feel like they are both going through the motions, stuck in a rut, and just
fulfilling obligations.

Their heart just isn’t in it anymore…

It didnt start that way… how did it get that way now?

I used to wonder how things got that way for them.
Now I think I know.

First, my answers to this aren’t going to include all of the regular aspects of everyday
life that rise up and choke out a vibrant marriage.   I mention some of those in the article about
loving with limited resources that there are many things (http://phalanxmen.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/loving-with-limited-resources/ ).. things that consume our emotional energy  – kids, jobs, money stresses, sickness, burn-out, failure to exercise and much more.

However, I don’t think these alone fill in the puzzle of boring marriages.

But I have to tell you this before I can explain it:

t1larg.bored1One of the reasons that I am a follower of Jesus is that He doesn’t B.S. (can I say that?)  He tells it like it is.  For this reason, I get to listen to His words without having to constantly filter out the Political Correctness (even of His  day) and I don’t have to filter out some kind of incredulous, utopian-istic, humanistic gobblety gook.  Reading Jesus  isn’t at all like listening to Oprah’s guest of the day, or almost anyone in the field of psychology.

Jesus, when explaining how things are, actually explains how things are; when He is  saying how things should be, He explains how they should be.  How refreshing that He doesn’t mix those two things up.

When explaining how things are, too many people tell us how they think things should be.

Not Jesus.

Here is one of my favorite examples, and I think the solution is hidden here:

“ …for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:21)

Catch that?

In most of our touchy-feely feel good self help junk it would be cuter and more prosaic.  It would read:  “Wherever you heart is, there shall you put your treasure…”

See the subtle difference?  The non-Jesus way  makes it sounds like our treasure follows our hearts.

Today, the only measure of sincerity our culture accepts is emotions – the heart.  I shouldn’t do anything unless my “heart is in it” right? That wouldn’t be sincere, or authentic, or some other such absurdity.

Imagine that we have now made sincerity and authenticity (two static and stable things) dependent on emotions (mercurial, dynamic, and constantly changing things)!  Screwtape was right in thinking that the “horror of the same old thing” has taken hold.

Sincerity is about being what you seem and claim to be… and so is authenticity.  These are raw choice.  I cannot fully choose what I feel (I am, of course, responsible for what I do in response to what I feel and even responsible to create the right environment for feeling what I want or ought.)  Emotions are largely our biochemical and  soul-level reaction to our situation.

I cannot choose to feel desire – I can only choose to create the conditions to encourage  it or avoid it.

My choices have the power to lead my emotions.

The truth is that my heart follows my treasure… as Jesus said.

Now, Jesus was talking about investing treasures in eternal things – in His Kingdom.  However, I think He is also revealing a general truth that can be applied here as well.

If your heart is not in your marriage, then, I assume that it must be because you have  stopped putting your treasure there.  Your heart has no treasure to follow.

Remember when you were dating and you would spend hours thinking about your girlfriend,  and hundreds or thousands of dollars pursuing her, and dozens of hours doing sweet things for her?  Remember how hard it was for something to divert your attention from her?  Remember the poems, the letters, the love-notes, the creativity, or even just the dates?

These are treasures…

Time

Money

Attention

Creativity

Thought

Strategizing

Sacrifice

Pursuit

Listening

yawningSo, if you are in a boring marriage, recognize that it is because you are a boring husband who is investing so little treasure in your woman that your own heart isn’t even inspired toward her.

Solution?  Plan a weekend away.  Plan it for at least a month from now, but don’t tell her until you have to.  Make it all about her getting what she loves the most.  Remember her favorite places to go, things to do, etc.  Stare into her eyes as you plan it and try to remember what she loves the best.  (this idea works for wives too)

Do it right, spare as little expense as you can, in time, strategy, and money.  Start writing a card and write one thing you are thankful about each day in preparation for your trip.

Enjoy the experience of your heart chasing your treasure, even though she doesn’t even know about all the planning.    If your treasure is in it, your heart will follow.

If you need some thoughts on planning, look over at some of the other articles for ideas.

And hey!…
after you plan it, post here and let us know where you went and rate it for us…
remember, We are all in this together.

momentConclusions

Many people have argued that this is only a movie. The director can make changes to whatever he wants and it shouldn’t matter… after all, it’s just a movie.

I once had a seminary professor who said that if a preacher is going to take over a new church and then change everything, he should be man enough to start his own church.

To me, I have one real response to that which I will end with in a moment.

For the fans or not?

Here is what I am not sure of – did the director intend to offend the fans or not? With all due respect to all of the other critics who have noted this already… The evidence is that he warned us that “this is not going to go the way you think.”

We are going to burn the sacred texts, which weren’t exactly page-turners anyway, right?

However, could it be that he thought we would like it? There are a bunch of things that were thrown in that felt to me like they were for the fans –

Green milk – blue milk

Yoda as a puppet not just CGI

The waterlogged X-wing

Barely referencing plot about a “labor dispute” (an attack on Ep 1-3)

No Gungans

R2 scene

Han’s dice

Weren’t these for fans? There are many more, but this seems like enough to make me think that he was trying… but just failed.

And here is the final complaint:

Artistic Value

I have heard all of the mocking voices about looking for artistic value in a sci-fi movie. It’s just entertainment, right? Two and a half hours of cheap fun. Eye-candy, right?

Apparently so.

I should end the article there, but I want to make this point.

However, that is exactly a part of the issue. I am not sure if this issue or the deconstruction of Star Wars heroes is the worse aspect of this movie, but both are likely to be painful to the serious long-term fan.

I just recently watched “The Greatest Showman”. It wasn’t the kind of movie I usually like. I am not a huge fan of musicals. I want historical movies to be complex reality – not just a one-dimensional one. However, I loved how I felt when I left the movie. Why?

Because the makers of the movie know the power of movies and embraced the power and art of their movie. They humbly expressed appreciation for those in attendance! The defense remarked by so many “it’s just a movie” expresses exactly the base problem with The Last Jedi.

I will comment quickly on the difference, quickly, between enjoying a movie’s cheap entertainment value (of which The Last Jedi is pretty high) and the appreciation of a movie – its power, legacy, impact, etc.

I am thinking of any number of thousands of great movies that are really meant to be appreciated as eye-candy… there is no history of anything more, or even there is a clear history of pretty much nothing more (think James Bond, Pirates or Fast and Furious franchises – they are exactly what they are intended to be – just a movie… cheap entertainment… just fun).

However, however it was intended, Star Wars became much more.   It really defined a generation. Though not as political or intentionally cultural as Star Trek, it attempted to create a universe in which despite the time and distance, the heroes (who felt like real people) faced the challenges of good and evil and friendship and redemption (in ways that felt real) with the materials at hand (which were believable). This isn’t about being a child at the introduction of it either… it was every bit as amazing to our parents as to us!

Years later, when I took my father to see “Jurassic Park” (one of the few times that effects made something feel as real as they did in Ep 4-6 (Independence Day, The Abyss, Gladiator, Terminator 2, The Matrix and Interstellar were others)), when we walked out, all he said was “well, it wasn’t Star Wars”.

He was 30 when Star Wars came out, so don’t tell me it was for kids only or that people today are hoping to recapture something impossible to recapture.

In fact, read this response by one fan to the statement that what we like about the movie as kids was that it was for kids and what we don’t like about these is that they, too, are made for kids:

“Star Wars is just a kid’s movie” is the tiredest of all the dismissive catch-phrases. Empire was the first “adult” movie my folks ever took me to. I was 7 years old and my mom wondered for months if maybe it had been too soon. From the wompa cave scene for a solid 20 minutes I wouldnt watch the screen but instead watched the movie by looking at the reflection in the glass of the projection room – scared I wouldn’t turn around. And after the movie, Empire was all I would talk about for years until RotJ came out. Kids love(d) Star Wars because it wasn’t made for kids… They loved it because it was Star Wars, expansive, majestic, gritty, heroic, epic. None of which TLJ is.

Ditto.  One of the things we loved about Star Wars as kids was that it WASN’T just for kids, but we got to see it anyway.

I felt some level of it at each of the movies above. Wonder, greatness… art.

Ep 4 & 5, at least, considered themselves works of art, I believe. Some movies do, and fail, of course… but very few recent movies seem to make the effort. Most just think of themselves as “cheap (not to mean inexpensive) entertainment” or “just a movie” or probably “an easy way to make a few million dollars.”

I would blame this on Disney (and do) but I think that Lucas fell into that somehow during Ep 1-3. I legitimately think in Ep 1, he was making the movie he always wanted to make.

If you don’t believe me, go back and read the original script about trade federations and blockades. However, after the fans backlashed against it, I think 2 & 3 were more of him just creating cheap entertainment and determined to think of SW as something that was “just a movie”.

I will tell you, my only hope for Ep 9 is that Abrams is taking back over. 7 was no masterpiece, but it certainly intended to honor the originals. Abrams showed his genius as being able to honor fans and an original concept when he engaged in creating a new Star Trek with the original characters.

With reference to a great character dismissed. That was a trap.

But he pulled it off – twice.

Will he be able to bring the wonder, or art, or even heroes back to Ep 9? I cannot see how. In the year of “Solo”, (talk about a trap! One of the most loved characters from the original series) I think we may start seeing SW movies not be automatic #1 movies. Unfortunate.

I think this director didn’t start something new… but instead decided to take on something that wasn’t his and change it into something else with little or no respect for any of the previous story, impact, directors or fans.  To him, this was just a movie that he wanted to leave his fingerprints on.  It seems like his fingerprints were the most important part of that equation for him.

Help us Abrams, you really may be Star Wars’ only hope for this generation now.

Comedy

Here is a trend I wish Hollywood would reverse: if something is funny one time, then 2 or 3 or 4 or 7 times is that much more funny. It isn’t.

This is not just a Star Wars thing. Pretty much all action movies have now adopted this from situation, slapstick and awkward comedies.   A new Spider man bumping his head or falling on his face once or twice can communicate his inexperience in a funny way.   A dozen times is exhausting.

An Asgardian god speaking with some modern English colloquialism might make me chuckle, but when he speaks 100% of the time, even with other gods… and when his sister, who has been locked away for centuries does it… it isn’t funny. It is distracting.

The idea of a fast-infesting little bird/rodent creature on a star ship can be funny (remember, it was funny with Tribbles), and one of those creatures roaring with Chewbacca might be cute. Once. Twice? Three times? Then flying and pressing into a window like a cross between Garfield and Space Balls. It only manages to remind you that this is a movie – cheap entertainment seeking cheap laughs.

There were a lot of cheap laughs in TLJ. There were just a few in Ep 4-6, but most of the humor there was created by relationships, not awkward gags (green milk in the beard?)

The humor was the first thing while I watched it that annoyed me… but now, after thinking about it, it is a lesser evil.

Characters

I will say that unlike some fans, I am not irritated much by new characters with new characteristics.

I think Poe – irritating, prideful, with poorly thought out efforts at humor – is fine. I think Hux – rash, insecure, arrogant, with the tendencies of a “cur” – is fine as well. They are somewhat developed and their exchange at the beginning of the movie feels somewhat realistic to me given their eccentricities.   Would either side have given these two men so much decision making power? No way. However, if I am willing to accept that they did, their stuff doesn’t bug me.

No, it is the introduction of new characters at the expense of established ones that bugs me, and it is the reduction and disintegration of well loved and established ones that exasperates me.

This applies even to characters from Ep 7. Finn was totally wasted in this movie. I wasn’t sure he would amount to much after 7, but 8 finished him as a viable character. Phasma was a complete fail in 7 and 8 did nothing to give her character any relevance.

New characters, like Rose, (I think the actress did fine, though others didn’t; The actress was not the problem) and the purple haired admiral are ridiculous additions. Even if their roles in the movie had carried any value (they did not), they could have been played by established characters.

Examples: The new Admiral sacrifices herself by flying the Calamarian Cruiser into the FO fleet; while Admiral Ackbar dies with a nothing more than a footnote reference. Why not just have Ackbar do it? He is an old fan favorite. Is it because he is male that he cannot save the day?   Maybe there weren’t enough female character heroes in this movie so far. In that case, why not Leia? More on that.

Let me try to exhibit the root problem that I think has been the greatest pain for the fans. It isn’t about somehow trying to recapture a feeling from childhood. Adults loved the originals, too. I have felt it in other movies as an adult. That is cheap. However, I have spent since 1977 seeing certain characteristics of certain characters grow and develop. They have developed defining traits that make them who they are. They are heroes – and complex ones, mostly. We have watched them struggle through great traumas and come out having grown in their character.

So here is the problem. If you are going to change someone’s character, you need to offer a profound reason for it changing. We all know this.

R2

The only character who, in the few seconds that he is on screen, is R2D2… the one scene with Luke was one of two scenes of great relationship that indicated that the director had some connection to the original universe.  Beyond this scene, though, R2 had no real role in this movie.  I know we now have BB8 to play the role of R2 (as seen in Ep 1-3), but this one scene showed how well R2 could have been used.  Speaking of not used well…

Chewbacca

So, what makes Chewbacca, Chewbacca?

Devotion to Han, short tempered, barely more than an animal, powerful, scary to enemies but fierce against enemies.

Nope. He is a purely comic relief character and has no other role. He doesn’t eat animals alive or at least raw, he plucks, prepares and cooks them carefully but also feels bad about it.  He regrets his decision not to go vegan.

Leia

What makes Leia, Leia?

Utter devotion to her cause and her people; a killer instinct and a sharp tongue. Her strength comes not from the power of being a Jedi, but from her leadership and heart.

Nope. She lets others die for her. She celebrates casually after the death of nearly her entire movement. She has some kind of incredible, never before seen Jedi power that saves her – but she only saves herself and not the rest of her officers.   No clever words, so grieving of Han. Very little of the Leia we know.

Yoda is closer than in Ep 1-3, but still too flippant for my tastes. Not enough to complain about by itself. But the real problem is how he interacts with Luke.

Luke

By far, Luke is the biggest problem of this kind.

What makes Luke, Luke?

Now first, I don’t mind at all these characters changing over time and with proper life experiences.   In fact, I liked a few of the changes to Luke when I was able to interpret them as the effects of being friends with Han Solo for 3 decades (the shoulder brush was the best example of this)…

The throwing of his father’s lightsaber over his shoulder was actually my first warning moment in the movie. The treatment of Luke on the island – drinking the green milk, fishing with a hundred foot spear – the whole simpering silly grumpiness just doesn’t work. A little of it might have felt like the introduction of Yoda… but just a little.

But this wasn’t the actual problem.

Luke is an even more simple character than the others since we saw his strongest traits grow only stronger in the years we knew him from Ep 4-6.

Steadfast faith.

He believes in people.

He believed in Obi Wan though he barely knew him.

He kept believing in Han longer than anyone else.

He listened to Obi Wan in the cockpit of the X-Wing.

He believed in his friends enough to risk everything to save them.

And most importantly of all, even though Yoda didn’t believe in any potential for Vader – he seemed to believe that Luke failing to defeat Vader would doom everyone. Obi Wan was very clear about believing that Vader was irredeemable (“more machine now than man”). None of that mattered to Luke. He believed. IN FACT, it seems apparent that ceasing to believe that Vader could be redeemed would have meant a fall to the Dark Side for Luke!

Nope. Now, he begins to suspect that a student – his own nephew – has some Dark Side in him – more than he had thought… and his first thought isn’t “I can help him.” “I can sense the conflict” or anything based on having been a part of the redemption of Darth Vader… nope. First thought? “Light my saber and murder him.”

To say nothing of the idea that he abandons his friends when they need him – which leads to the death of Han Solo (I guess he owes Han 3 now?).

It is no wonder that Mark Hamill referred to this Luke with “He’s not my Luke Skywalker” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fWELFcwpNs

What he is, is not the Luke Skywalker of Star Wars history.

Next, conclusions…

If you are looking for the good things I have to say about TLJ, you can start at:

https://chrismlegg.com/2018/01/16/star-wars-the-last-jedi-review/

But now the problems – these are going to come fast and furious and will feel like they are being machine gunned.  I apologize for the cheap writing here – I might should have done it all in bullet form, but I want to get to the deeper stuff:

“Mulling over” power

One sign of a great movie, in my opinion, is its “mull over” strength. As I sit and ponder a movie, it should get better in my mind. I should start putting pieces together and having new revelations, etc.

This movie has been the opposite. For someone who likes to consider and talk about movies, this is an important feature for me.

SWTLJ scores dismally on this category. From little things:

Bombs “dropping” in space?

Ships “falling” backwards when they run out of fuel in space (I know SW has never taken space physics seriously, but this was laughable).

A giant fishing spear

Tracking through hyper space

Magic missiles that ignore shields

Jedi nuns

Newly created jedi powers (more on that later)

Light speed as a weapon, new “bombers”,

We have to get to the planet to send out a signal, except that of course, we can somehow communicate with Maz in the middle of a gunfight.

Wrecking your salt-speeder is sometimes pretty deadly – but sometimes it saves your life when someone smashes into you.

Tracking through hyper space?

Projection Luke carries dice that somehow wait to vanish later.

Did I mention, tracking through hyper space?

And dozens of much worse examples that, as I sit and think about it, I go “wait… but what about…” and conversations with others just becomes a snowball of all kinds of problems.

If you want a play-by-play of the dozens of gaps and holes and things we have to ignore to stay in the movie, check out this review series.

This, as much as anything else, reminds me of Ep1-3.  The more I mull it over, the worse it gets.  I cannot tell you how much I hate this in a movie.

Consider Rogue One as an opposite example of this. I was not really blown away the first times I saw it (though I enjoyed it), but the more I think about it, the more I like it.  Ep 5 is certainly that way!  As a kid, the first time I saw it, I was horrified, but as I have analyzed it, it grows in excellence.  The more I talk about it, the better it gets.

Great movies have this.  Check out “Searching for Bobby Fisher” as one of the greatest examples of this of all time.

Plot issues

Circular, meaningless (and in some cases, boring) subplots – This is combined with circular, (and so far as I can tell) meaningless characters (which will come up next on this list). For example, if Finn and Rose had just tried to sneak straight into the FO armada and been captured, the plot result would have been identical to what happened.

Granted, we wouldn’t have gotten to see how bad rich people are, but I guess I could have survived without that message, too. Think it was about teaching Poe, yet again, a lesson about his pride? Then have it be his idea and founded in his certainty that he could make it so they could get in.

Another circular plot?  The Dark side of the island. We spend a lot of time learning and gaining nothing. Was that the point? What kind of point is that, if so?

In Ep 5, Luke sees himself in the Vader mask – giving him possible insight into Vader’s connection to him and his potential to join the DS. Rey sees mirrored of mirrored images of herself – indicating what? That there is nothing more to her than what she sees?

Running to a planet to call for help to have none come is not much of a plot device. Luke’s whole stalling of the FO just so they can escape out of a back door (“back door, good idea.”) changed nothing. Getting to the planet was a circular plot regardless. Now they are back in a ship going into hyperspace where the FO can track them and did they get more fuel? Does that matter?

And then there are the unfinished plot issues – Snoke ends up having no role in the plot (unless Abrams gives him one in Ep 9). Where did Luke’s light saber come from? Is that the truth about Rey’s parents?  Was this movie more offensive to the plots, characters and universe of 4-6 or of 7?

And, of course, the fact the Ep 8 essentially makes 4-6 a meaningless plot line and even makes ep 7 a meaningless plot.

New Plot Devices

New devices in an existing universe is a really bad idea. It creates all kinds of reverse re-interpretation of that universe.   It begs all kinds of questions:

Listen, only a few people have the genius to create a universe with rules and then stick to them. Tolkien did. Sanderson is the master. With all of her genius, Rowling struggled greatly. Lucas lacks that genius.

I know that the abilities of Jedi have always been based on the plot and the more input Lucas has had, the worse this has gotten. (Higher ground? Really?… “I sense a plot to destroy the Jedi” – the cringe factor makes it hard to even type that stuff.) Even in the originals – Luke can choke Gamorrean Guards, but not the Rancor… or Jabba? Jedi Mind control is completely plot dependent…   but Ep 8 takes us to whole new levels of new plot devices.

This movie should be used in training classes for many years as one of the worst examples of this ever.

Jedi can force project themselves over light years?

Jedi can kill themselves by overusing the force?

Jedi can fly in space without a ship?

There is stormtrooper armor that reflects blasters?

The force works when you are unconscious?

Force users can see each other from light years away and talk?

Light speed can be used as a weapon of enough power to destroy an armada?

The force automatically raises up LS force users to match DS force users and vice

versa – and one of them training increases the other one’s power?

Well, then…

Why did Jedi use comlinks?

Why isn’t all stormtrooper armor like that (don’t say cost – these people have the $$ to convert planets into guns).

Why didn’t Yoda project himself to cloud city to warn Han?

Why wasn’t Yoda training Luke the whole time from Dagobah?

Who was Vader’s LS yin/yang? Who was Luke’s? Obi Wan’s? Are they like Harry Potter and Voldemort – what happens if one dies but the other doesn’t?

Why didn’t we launch “light speed” weapons at the death star, or at the Imperial Armada? Why didn’t the FO do that to finish off the resistance?

And on and on… don’t worry, there is plenty more…

Star Wars Last Jedi Critique

I had wanted to wait until I had seen it twice until I wrote this, but though I hope to at some point, I have realized that most of my complaints are likely to get worse rather than better, so I can hope, but I do not predict a positive change.

First, the good news.

So, here we go:

I have been more conflicted (feel the conflict?) about this Star Wars movie than any since the first 24 hours after Ep. 1 when I assumed there must be something wrong with me for not liking anything about it but some music, some sound effects and Darth Maul. After that first 24 hours when all of my other SW fan friends felt the same way and we realized it was ok to hate it and after another 2 viewing, there was no conflict. I have not let go of my hate.

So why am I conflicted now?

A couple of my favorite scenes in Star Wars history is in The Last Jedi. For the first time EVER in Star Wars, I have understood the actual temptation of the Dark Side (as it is presented in these movies – not theologically in real life, but as it is presented in the Star Wars Universe).

The abject failure of anyone to make the fall of Anakin seem in any way plausible didn’t help. The “fall” of Anakin is one of the most forehead slapping scenes in all of the SW universe (if you count 1-3 as part of that universe).

The best thing about TLJ was the final fall of Kylo and the temptation of Rey after the death of Snoke. For the first time ever, I could feel the draw to the dark side. Never before in the SW universe has the dark side ever seemed even vaguely realistic conceptually – why would anyone actually ever choose it? I know it is allegedly quicker and easier, but more seductive in the long term? Quicker and easier is tempting in a moment, but not as a lifestyle choice unless it carries some significant payoff.

However, Ren’s desperate loneliness, pain, and fear… his desire for Rey to join him is palpable! I found myself wishing for her to not leave him in his misery alone. I was almost rooting for her to join him and could imagine his motivation and her justification, if she had joined him.   I can imagine him continuing to choose it across time, rather than converting from it.

For someone to have finally truly captured the lure of the dark side is no small feat, especially after Lucas so disastrously failed to do so in Ep 3 with the “fall” of Anakin. Man, Ep 1-3 were so terrible. As much as there is that I despise about 8, I am not among those that hate it as much or more than the prequels.

The fight scene that preceded that scene was pretty good, too, with the teamwork of Rey and Kylo.

Also, the scenery was beautiful. Many scenes were intentionally developed to present color or bleakness and reminded me of some of the colors and scenes of Ep 5. That was all that reminded me of 5, but there was that. I appreciated the cinematography of the scenery on planets and space. The visual of the FO armada being wiped out with no sound was another example of that – the visual, but not the fact of it happening.

Aaaand that is about it for the good news.

Next week, we start the adventure into the problems

The First Life

The First Life.

Often, theistic views (design, creation, fine-tuning) are disrespected as somehow based in something irrational.

I wonder.

Let’s look at one small consequence of the alternative.

Imagine the first life.

The first life from lifelessness: Somehow a non-living thing came into the spark of life. Not sure how. So far under the most precise and controlled conditions with the energy and resources and intellect of the world’s best scientific community, we have not managed to accomplish this once.

Not just failed in a boiling cauldron of mud, not in the salt water off the coast of a volcanic island, not in a dark cave… in the climate controlled, chlorinated, clinical environment of the lab.

However, the theory is that somehow, in some kind natural environment, life came from something lifeless.  The evidence is that this happened more than 3.45 billion years ago.  (fossils have been found to be dated around that time) So, whatever happened, it happened the first time within the first billion years or so.

That life didn’t die instantly, as one might expect. It didn’t wink out just as quickly as it winked in. We know now how fragile life is, especially at the microscopic level… but this first hardy soul survived.

It seems more likely that this life winking into existence would have needed to have happened a few billion times before one survived past the next micro-second.   But, apparently, one of these little lives survived. And not just survive, but thrive!

Somehow that first life had to find nutrition. There were no predators – that must have been a relief, but still there was no system on Earth to reward or encourage life either… but now it had to find nutrition somehow. Photosynthesis is a crazily complex system of organs and chemical reactions, so it must have taken a long time with a boatload of positive mutations to come into existence… no way this first life had something like that. However, somehow, it found a way to sustain its existence.

And then, perhaps most impressively, it didn’t die alone! Somehow that first life had to figure out how to reproduce… all in one life span. It had to survive long enough to reproduce itself – all in one generation, since obviously no evolution could have taken place yet.

It had to not die instantaneously.

It had to sustain and grow.

It had to reproduce.

All alone, without help or protection… in a hostile world where no life had ever existed before… and no reason to exist beyond chance.

And we have never seen it happen again since; we have never been able to cause it to happen intentionally ever again. Perhaps we will someday. Perhaps one day we will bring life from lifelessness in a lab.

And then we will have shown how, with enough energy, intelligence, resources and intentionality, life can come into existence.

So, am I ok to believe that it is rational to believe that this first life was not all alone?

Can we respect the belief that it was Shepherded intentionally into existence (teleology) and sustained intentionally (providence) and crafted (design) to accomplish what it has accomplished?