Saturday, February 21, 2009

Trying my hand at a review: the BBC series Doctor Who

Trying my hand at a review: the BBC series Doctor Who

“…So I’m going to go upstairs and blow it up…and I might well die in the process. But don’t worry about me, no. You go on…go on! Go have your lovely beans on toast. Don’t tell anyone about this because if you do you’ll get them killed. I’m the Doctor by the way. What’s your name?”


“Nice to meet you, Rose. Run for your life!”

So it goes with the Doctor, an alien by that simple name who travels the galaxies and universes in the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), his time machine disguised as a ‘50s police box that is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. The last of his race, the Time Lords, the Doctor finds human friends to carry
on his world and universe saving escapades but always seems to end up alone.

Doctor Who is bigger in the UK than Lost ever has been in the United States—and for much longer too. The Doctor and some of his nemeses such as the Daleks, pepper shaker shaped ruthless creatures with their
signature “Exterminate!” battle cry, are household names, engrained in the UK’s pop culture.

The sci-fi show started in the early 1960s in black and white and quickly caught on, lasting almost 30 years (the Doctor can regenerate when he is mortally wounded, allowing for new Doctors) before being canceled. While the saga continued in merchandise and other such memorabilia, the region eagerly awaited the day when Doctor Who would come back to its Saturday nights. The show was taken up again in 2005 with the 9th Doctor (now number 10) to the glee of Who fans.

The lonely Doctor and his human friends in the TARDIS encounter various crises with the likes of Shakespeare,
Charles Dickens, and other future figures we have yet to meet. The show has an entertaining blend of comedy, suspense, and tragedy—with great special effects.

However, being so much a part of pop culture has a reverse effect—the culture is also part of you. The godless culture of the UK most definitely shows through in the show. Random homosexual characters are not uncommon while religion and Christianity are often treated satirically.

In addition, a show about time travel in a culture dominated by minds such as Richard Dawkins inevitably leads to some interesting episodes. The script writer gets to imagine the beginning of the universe and its end—gets to dream about the potential of the human race and everything that it could become. All of this is obviously not from a Biblical standpoint.

However, apart from these flaws, the show gives plenty of food for thought for critical thinkers out there. The writers weave many interesting story lines and moral decisions into the script. In one disturbing episode, the Doctor meets the Satan and the Beast (imprisoned at the core of a planet that is anchored at the mouth of a black hole…), challenging everything that he has ever believed. A popular nemesis, the robot Cybermen, believe themselves perfected (they’ve eliminated emotions) and attempt to force “conversion” on humanity, “deleting” those who do not comply. In addition, the Doctor often has to make risky decisions that can affect the future or make decisions between one life and another.

As the viewer gets pulled by the decision along with the Doctor, the Christian can give an added dimension. He can look at the decision from our Great “Doctor” (i.e. Physician), Jesus Christ, through a Biblical lens (to a point since the destruction of alien races and parallel universes doesn’t come up often in the Bible). He can also raise the old question of whether there can be right and wrong in a naturalistic universe.

Despite obvious flaws, traveling with the Doctor is always an interesting experience filled with laughter and often sadness. The Doctor, his partners, and his enemies will very likely find fans among sci-fi fanatics and even casual viewers. In addition, those critical thinkers who enjoy analyzing what they watch will also be gratified as they encounter morality, the meaning and purpose of life, and other such questions from a naturalistic viewpoint.

A Lesson from George Street for Wall Street and Main Street

I wrote this a couple of months ago. I think I got a bit wordy, but I hope you like it.

A Lesson from George Street for Wall Street and Main Street

In October, I got the enormous privilege of going out to the North Carolina State Fair and sharing the Gospel. I got to use the wordless book and share my faith with more people than I ever had in my life combined. Through this and a variety of other factors, I have been given a major burden for the lost in America. Our country needs Jesus and the souls of Americans have never been more important to me. I would like to provide some exhortation and encouragement about evangelism from “the man from George Street.”

Some years ago in London, England, at a Baptist church, a service was ending. As the pastor finished his sermon, a man raised his hand in the back and asked if he could tell his testimony. He said that he used to live in Sydney, Australia, and was visiting some relatives there just a few months before this time. He was walking down George Street (apparently main gathering place of the city) when “a strange little white haired man stepped out from a shop doorway, put a pamphlet in my hand and said: ‘Excuse me sir, are you saved? If you die tonight are you going to heaven?’” He was bothered by this question all the way home from Sydney to London and was led to Christ by a pastor there. Everyone in the church applauded this great story.

A couple of weeks later, the pastor of that church was in Australia to do some meetings there. A woman came up to him after one of the meetings and asked for counseling. Wanting to establish her spiritual standing, he asked if she was saved. It turns out, she had a very similar testimony: meeting a little white haired man on George Street in Sydney and being greatly affected by the simple question, “If you die tonight are you going to heaven?”

Over the next three years of the pastor’s worldwide travels, the pastor heard several other stories of this little man. In England, at one event he found four pastors who had met the man around 30 years before on George Street and been saved. In the Caribbean, the pastor met three more who had come to Christ because of the same man and the same question. In Atlanta, he met a military chaplain who had been in the navy, stopped in Sydney, gotten drunk, gotten on the wrong bus, landed on George Street, came to Christ, and was now in charge of 1000 chaplains who were actively leading people to Christ. In India, he met a former Hindu who had been in Sydney and met the man and was now part of an organization that was seeing hundreds of thousands of people coming to Christ in India.

The pastor then went to Sydney himself and inquired of a little white haired man who used to hand out pamphlets on George Street and a pastor there gave him the man’s address. Mr. Jenner, the little white haired man, was now very frail. Mr. Jenner cried as he heard the stories of those who had come to know Christ through his ministry and were now being used of God (as later calculated, it was suspected that Mr. Jenner had directly or indirectly affected over 145,000 people for Christ).

Before Christ, our pastor was told, Mr. Jenner had led a horrible life. He was led to Christ by a superior while on an Australian warship and had purposed to God to tell 10 people every day of the good news of Christ. For 40 years, Mr. Jenner did this. He had never heard of one person coming to Christ before this day. Mr. Jenner died two weeks later (Smethurst).

As I have grown older and become more informed, I have taken notice of the moral state of America. The recent election even more has shown me the enormous severity of this state. America is a sinking ship morally. Christians are asleep and sinking with the ship. We are in a battle of ideas. Apologist Josh McDowell noted a study that said that “In 2002, 91 percent of our born again church kids said there is no absolute truth” (qtd en. Pounds). If we don’t wake up, we and the rest of the country will go down with the ship.

As the election was going on, I found myself convicted that I was caring more about how a person voted than what their eternal destiny was. Only Jesus can change America. Only Jesus can change people’s hearts and bring the country back to God.

What can we learn from the man on George Street? God used Mr. Jenner in a mighty way. All he did was go out on a street and ask 10 people a simple question every day. We are commanded to preach the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. It is a commandment to spread the good news and it is our reasonable service. The point here is that we must do something, especially in this day and age.

Yes, it is nerve wracking. It must also be taken note of that many of us aren’t ready in season and out of season to give an answer for the hope within. However, we can and must start somewhere. It starts with prayer. Pray for the country. Pray for your city. Pray for your family and friends—and name them by name. We read that “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

As evangelistic babies, while learning to talk (pray), we can begin to crawl, then walk, then run. Continuing in prayer, we can start by telling our friends—or strangers if you are more comfortable. Mr. Jenner’s message wasn’t anything special, but it was used by God. If we don’t push our limits, we can’t grow. Going back to the baby analogy, if a baby doesn’t begin to do those things, something is wrong. It is the same with us.

Take heart, laborers. We can also be encouraged by Mr. Jenner. Isaiah 55:11 says that the word of God will not return void. Mr. Jenner told the Gospel for 40 years and never heard of any fruit from his labor until two weeks before his death. The rest of that verse says, “But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

If you are reading this, chances are that you are in America. Perhaps this is the generation that was placed here “for such a time as this.” The laborers are indeed few. The one thing we all can do is pray. Where has God placed you in your city or town? What could be your area of influence? God help us all to be as dedicated as the man from George Street. America needs Jesus now more than ever. If we simply obey Him, you never know what He will do.

Works Cited

Pounds, Wil. “Absolute Truth.” 2006. Abide in Christ. 10 November 2008 .

Smethurst, Dave. “The Man from George Street.” 10 November 2008 .

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Importance of the Gospel: a Preview

Take a few minutes to listen to this:

Was that not awesome?! It moved me to tears. Be thinking about this as you await my next post. The Gospel was just as important before the election, but the election has definitely opened my eyes to the need for real "change." I hope you learn as much from it as me.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Pilgrim at Peace

Long time not see! It's been a couple of months since my last post! I haven't had much time. Well, the election has been weighing on my mind. This post is based on an article I wrote for Regenerated Magazine (link to side) that will be posted on November 10. Enjoy and I hope you are challenged as much as I have been.

A Pilgrim at Peace

Ok. I confess. I’m an addict. I am addicted to politics. Every day, I often do school until noon and then take my lunch break listening to Rush Limbaugh. After lunch, I finish my school in time to listen to Shawn Hannity and Mark Levin. My mind is dominated by politics—and the constant immersion in the mud pit that is Election 2008 has left me drowning.

I am constantly daydreaming about what I would say to that House Speaker, that presidential candidate, that party, or that Congress if I ever had the chance to give them a piece of my mind. The state of the union has not just been dominating my mind, however. It’s been weighing it down.

As a Christian, I fear the direction that the country is going—and not just in the paranoid, doomsday socialism/loss of freedom light. America is rapidly turning into a modern day manifestation of the Pilgrim’s Progress city Vanity Fair. No one need look farther than the political scene to see this. However, on the possibly more alarming ideological note, Christianity is rapidly losing favor in the eyes of the populous, some radicals in academia terming it “intellectual terrorism” (courtesy of a scientist interviewed in Ben Stein’s Expelled, in reference to teaching Christianity to children).

I am addicted—and there needs to be an intervention. I need—perhaps we all need—a change in perspective.

In the tribute to faith section of the epistle to the Hebrews, we read, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). How can we do that when so much in America is looking bad for the Christian? Two chapters before, we read that “the just shall live by faith” ( Hebrews 10:38).

By faith, Abraham left the great and prosperous America of his day and set out on a journey, not knowing where he was going, but trusting God (Hebrews 11:8). He confessed that he was but a stranger and pilgrim on the earth (11:13). Can we learn from his example? Certainly.

The times are truly dark. To me, the American dream hangs by a thread. All the freedoms that our Founding Fathers fought for—and we take for granted—are on a shifting and unsound foundation. I worry for my grandchildren. However, Abraham teaches us this: this world was not his home. Neither is it ours. Here are some things that we too often forget.

Firstly, as just said, this world is not our home. Abraham looked “for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). So should we. Abraham, as Paul in Philippians 3, recognized this and gave up all for God and Christ. Abraham even more, did not receive the promise in his lifetime.

Secondly, although I love this country and hate to see its downturn, we are commanded, “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (I John 2:15). Abraham did not esteem his country over God’s and trusted God to fulfill his promise. America is temporary, not eternal. “The world is passing away” (I John 2:17).

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly: God is in control. We often forget that we are still blessed more than anyone ever has been in history—and everything we do have is a gift from God in the first place. No matter where we fear things are going, however, we read that God raises up leaders and brings them down (various passages). We read that all things work together for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28). We read that God will supply all of our needs (Philippians 4:19). Abraham, Paul, and all our “great cloud of witnesses” recognized this. So should we.

Don’t misunderstand. This by no means authorizes us to be Corinthian Christians: to quit our jobs and do nothing but wait for Jesus. We can love our country and care about it. We can stand up for what is right, as our responsibility is in being salt and light—aided greatly by the voice we have in a free country. We are also instructed to be preaching the Gospel and living and serving—not sitting or, in my case, sulking—for the glory of God.

Let none of us forget, however, that God is sovereign and everything is in His hands. Let none of us forget that America won’t last forever and that what happens to America has no bearing on eternity. Let us also not forget that we are looking forward to something much better.

This world is not our home. We are “just passing through.” Let it be said of us as it was said of Abraham and his family: “But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16).