Category Archives: Christian

Fallout 4. Sometimes Bigger Isn’t Better (Overview)

Fallout 4 Older Model Synth
An old model synth found in an abandoned part of The Institute (with a “posterize” filter).

Fallout 4.  What can one say?  After years of anticipation, the 2015 sequel to Fallout 3 (2008) and Fallout New Vegas (2010) is found to be bigger and . . . different.  It should be different, at least in some ways, of course.  Fallout 4 (Bethesda Softworks, Rated M) is a BIG game, as so many new ones are today, but it tries to be too much in this reviewer’s view. How can a video game have too much?  Well, Fallout 4 isn’t just any video game. It is one in a series, one in a franchise (Fallout New Vegas technically isn’t part of the franchise, but that makes no difference to player perception or lore) with a certain style and lore.

While there is a lot to be happy about with Fallout 4, the new gargantuan level of building and crafting (together with the related radiant quests) is not integrated well with the actual story of the game. It’s almost as if they’re two different things, two different games held together by thin threads. The story comes off as being really minimal compared to both the other in-game activities and the last two Fallout game stories. The ultra-tragic story sets the mood of the game, and when that mood is betrayed (finds no outlet), the resulting annoyance (anger and dismay, more like) spoils the game. But more on that later.  Since this Fallout review would be really (really) long for one blog post, it was divided into two. This first part goes over things that are the same and things that are different in this newest Fallout (the lists here are not exhaustive), with the second part presenting the story, with commentary, and giving a final overall analysis and rating.

Continue reading Fallout 4. Sometimes Bigger Isn’t Better (Overview)

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 41,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 15 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4 (Part 2 of 2)

Person of Interest, Ep 21, a demand
The Machine gives in to a demand made by its proxy. Similarly, God cares for each one of us and hears our fervent prayers. “Samaritan” only values its agents for what they can do for it and is only concerned with unquestioning humans (others are killed, not saved).

Part 1 of “Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4” covers some show background, a description of the series, and an overview of the God and Anti-God allegory found in this latest season (and developed in season 3).  Please see that part for those topics.  This part includes an answer to the questionable name given to the antagonist, “Samaritan.”  It also includes a section on the biblical verses related to the show’s allegory.

Why “Samaritan”?

It seems really odd that the metaphor for God is “The Machine” and the anti-God is “Samaritan.”  We normally think of “the machine,” when the expression is used, as something cold, mechanical, and all that is opposite of human concern and empathy; as such, the result of its machinations tend to be against our best interests.  I don’t fully know why the creator of this series chose name The Machine for this role, but there are two considerations I can immediately think of.  One, the AI’s creator, Finch, has doubts about his creation and chooses not to give it any other name.  Two, since the metaphor grows to allegory in seasons 3 and 4, perhaps the show’s creator and writers didn’t have the it all fully conceived earlier on.  The first two seasons were much more about solving crimes before they happened, and corruption in law enforcement and government, than about massive dueling AIs.

Continue reading Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4 (Part 2 of 2)

Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4 (Part 1 of 2)

Person of Interest, from opening

As usual–for anyone that reads my media reviews, that is–I’m writing about something that is not new.  We don’t have cable or satellite, but in the case of the show Person of Interest, we couldn’t even get the channel in on our TV that ran it (CBS).  So, I finally was able to watch the latest season, the 4th, on DVD (it’s now available on Netflix, too), and will share my “God is working in the world” observations with you.

After not expecting much, really, from a show in its 4th season (the writing tends to go south in aging shows), I was pleasantly surprised by this season’s quality and freshness.  That basic laud can be considered a recommendation, if you will, but I’m not here to write a review.[1]   I’m here to discuss the show’s underlying God/Anti-God story, which seems more obvious than ever this 4th season.  I’m just happy to see that there are still stories being presented in the US that don’t altogether ignore the Judeo-Christian God.  Of course, the concepts brought up in Person of Interest (PoL)may be too subtle or esoteric for most of the population to understand in any other sense than a generalized “good vs evil.”

Continue reading Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4 (Part 1 of 2)

Michigan: God’s Beautiful Creation & Fallen Man

S Lake Huron shore
At south Lake Huron shore.

I was born and raised in Michigan, left as a young adult, and recently returned as an older adult.  While I am relieved to be back again, to walk and live among all that is nature once more, I am dismayed at the fall of the culture here.  Or, in more Christian terms, the fall of Michigan man into baseness, selfishness, and corruption.  When I was young, Michigan was considered “progressive,” and it relished its own high-mindedness.  Not that this progressive attitude was necessarily one with Christianity, but it was something; it was better than shrugging ones shoulders and letting greed and selfishness simply take over.

Continue reading Michigan: God’s Beautiful Creation & Fallen Man

We Made It! Cross-Country Trip (Post 3): Through Colorado

Thanks again to all of you who liked my first cross-country road trip posts!  This one has taken me tooo long to get out because–and if you read my blog you won’t be surprised–Fallout 4 came out and I’ve been pretty absorbed in it.  In any case, for those who didn’t see my first cross-country trip post, here’s the series intro:

Hello from A MUCH BETTER PLACE than where I, and my family, had lived!  I wrote earlier about our experience in trying to buy a home from thousands of miles away, but now we’ve arrived (in Michigan from Southern California, if you must know)!  I’m not here today to discuss our property or the process in obtaining it, but to relay some photos and comments about our trip as well as a bit about the area we now live in.  This is the first post in a series, and I promise, I’ll try not to be long-winded.  I simply hope you enjoy the photos and any funny or interesting things that I can share.

Continue reading We Made It! Cross-Country Trip (Post 3): Through Colorado

We Made It! Cross-Country Trip, Richfield Cemetery, . . . (Post 2)

Richfield City Cemetery, Utah (c) Vicki Priest
A modded view of Richfield City Cemetery, Utah, October 2015 (c) Vicki Priest

First,  a big Thank You to those bloggers who liked my first cross-country road trip post!  Second, for those who don’t know, I’ll repeat the series intro here:

Hello from A MUCH BETTER PLACE than where I, and my family, had lived!  I wrote earlier about our experience in trying to buy a home from thousands of miles away, but now we’ve arrived (in Michigan from Southern California, if you must know)!  I’m not here today to discuss our property or the process in obtaining it, but to relay some photos and comments about our trip as well as a bit about the area we now live in.  This is the first post in a series, and I promise, I’ll try not to be long-winded.  I simply hope you enjoy the photos and any funny or interesting things that I can share.

Continue reading We Made It! Cross-Country Trip, Richfield Cemetery, . . . (Post 2)

Rent or Own? Some Considerations from Experience

Hello Everyone.  I have been quite absent from my blog of late.  Well, not absent, since I’ve moderated comments and made comments, but I’ve been too entwined with our cross-country move preparations to write anything.

Some people may have the good fortune to be energetic toward organization (have OCD), or the income to hire maids and other help, or live in a house with room to move, store, and . . . be organized.  But us, no.  We live in a small apartment (although I used to live in a bigger house).  I would like to sincerely and vehemently correct anyone who says that living in an apartment can be better than living in a house (a house that you own).  Some reasons as to why we have known for some time, but other reasons we have just learned because of the major move we’re making.  Let me list them, but first let me say that I hope this helps some people out there.  Even at my age, some costly things regarding living in an apartment have taken me by surprise.  I wish I had known about them earlier, before we rented this particular apartment.

Continue reading Rent or Own? Some Considerations from Experience

Christian Poems XIV: Kenyon, Spires, and Donne

Sunset with road.
Sunset, toward west, but road may traveled east or west. Which way to go? Source: http://newartcolorz.com/images/2014/3/country-sunset-wallpaper-5351-5667-hd-wallpapers.jpg

Let Evening Come

by Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn.  Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass.  Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sand den.
Let the wind die down.  Let the shed
go black inside.  Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come as it will, and don’t
be afraid.  God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

In The Best American Poetry 1991.  Mark Strand, editor; David Lehman, series editor (Collier Books 1991, p 119).  From Kenyon’s 1990 book of the same title (Graywolf Press 1990).

_________________

Continue reading Christian Poems XIV: Kenyon, Spires, and Donne

Jesus’ Harsh Sayings: Dogs of Israel?! (Matthew 15:21-27)

atheist-group-undo-jesus-says-kill-him-againI don’t know about you, but I’m tired of Jesus’ harsh sayings being explained away, especially in light of the Christian church falling into disrepute.  We should not be trying to placate everyone, and this is obvious by Jesus’ (and Paul’s) own words (verses are from the New International Version [NIV] unless otherwise stated):

  • Jesus was hated, so His true followers will be hated.  “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. . .  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. . . “ (John 15:18-20).
  • People will be offended by him, and therefore us.  And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me (Matthew 11:6, New King James Version; Luke 7:23).
  • What Paul said about our smell. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.  And who is equal to such a task? (2 Corinthians 2:16).

Christians are not to attack back when we’re personally offended, but we are to convey God’s word and will.  This is simply going to be offensive to some and we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty over it.   Many “Christians” just seem to roll with the cultural flow, but Jesus’ example was . . . what?  He ended up dying on the cross for the truth.

One example of Jesus’ harsh words that I’ve always found difficult is from Matthew 15:21-27 (see also Mark 7:24-30).  Can you imagine Jesus ignoring you, then calling you a dog and making you feel like you have to beg like a dog?  Here is the passage:

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!  My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”  

Jesus did not answer a word.  So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.”  And her daughter was healed at that moment.

I’ve heard sermons admonishing us to think of the “dogs” here as “puppies,”  and in Mark’s version of the conversation the woman indeed uses the term “little dogs.”  But, if we wanted to think of the word as “puppy,” there’s the issue of what puppies grow up into: dogs.  Whether a puppy or a dog, the creature is something less than its owner.  In the passage, Jesus is saying that the gentile is asking something of God that only the privileged should have, the implication being that not all humans are equal in God’s eyes.

Matthew 15:21-27
From st-takla.org.

But brushing aside the offense, the desperate mother cleverly and humbly responds.  We don’t know if Jesus’ expression and inflection betrayed a different intent than His literal words, which were said in the presence of Israelites.  In any case, I think the passage’s primary meaning can be understood in the light of Jesus’ other examples of people other than the house of Israel having true faith (and large doses of humility).  Many in Israel thought that, in God’s eyes, outsiders were less than they were, and here Jesus seems to be confirming that belief.  In another harsh passage, Jesus says not to throw your pearls to swine (Matthew 7:6).  Ouch. These passages seem to fly in the face of God’s love and concern for everyone, that Christ died for all, and that all are equal in His sight.

But there are common misconceptions based on these ideas which indeed are found in scripture.  Misunderstandings seem to come from thinking that certain verses refer to universal salvation.  God’s saving grace may be universal, but it requires individual acceptance (it’s a gift that one accepts, or leaves unopened), and God knows that not everyone is going to accept it.  He also knows (and has passed this knowledge on to us) that He has active enemies, not just people who don’t really want to accept Him.  We don’t know who all these enemies are, but God does.

Therefore, neither “human” or “person” are synonyms for “child of God.”  People can become children of God through faith, and individual Israelites were not necessarily God’s children.  Once Israel rejected Jesus as Christ, all who did (and do) accept Him as such were (and are) adopted into God’s family.  The Canaanite mother seems to be an example of this forthcoming church age.

While many Israelites did take Jesus’ messages to heart and come to faith, the nation as a whole did not.  What were the problems?  Following man-made traditions like many in Israel were doing was actually leading people away from God, and as alluded to above, many also had the attitude that being born an Israelite (a child of Abraham) automatically saved you (see John chapter 8, for example).

Again and again, Jesus dispelled these notions.  In Matthew 15 here,  a gentile Canaanite woman has saving faith.  She believed that what Jesus was doing was real (of God) and sought Him out, while the religious leaders amongst God’s “own people” did not.  Other examples are the centurion who knew that Jesus could heal even from a distance (Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10); the (parable of the) good Samaritan who helped a man left to die when Israelite holy men would not (Luke 10:30-37); the Samaritan woman who became His witness to other Samaritans (John 4:1-30); and, the thankful Samaritan leper who was healed along with nine other Israelite lepers, who did not glorify God like the Samaritan did (Luke 17:11-19).

Jesus also brought up other related examples from the past, like Jonah the Israelite not wanting to give God’s warning to the Ninevites, God having the prophet Elijah stay with a non-Israelite lady during a severe, long term drought, and God healing a Syrian–but not any Israelites–of leprosy during Elisha’s time (Luke 4:24-27).  Of course, He also reminded the Israelites here and there about God’s prophets they had killed in times past. These examples, of course, angered many.  Those unwilling to accept His messages sought His life, just as they sought the past prophets’ lives he reminded them of.

We can see, perhaps shockingly, that the Canaanite woman was not really offended; apparently, she understood something that was more important than the apparent offense.  Her faith led to the healing of her daughter and a compliment from the Son of God.   In another example that many of His own disciples found offensive, Jesus taught that He was the bread of life, and that His blood was for salvation.  He said that a person needed to eat his flesh and blood.  Of course, he was speaking in spiritual terms of the coming Last Supper and future sacrament of communion.  He wasn’t all-of-a-sudden advocating cannibalism.   But many disciples failed to trust His words, were offended, and left Him (John 6:47- 71).  But those who believed in Him stayed even though they didn’t fully understand His words at the time.  Faith is trust, and blessed are those not offended by Christ.