Month: July 2015

I caught the finale of the Fox Miniseries “Wayward Pines”, another entry in the interesting genre of the dystopian future.  The series began with solid characters and an air of mystery–FBI agent Ethan Burke wakes up after a car accident, to find himself in the hospital of a small Idaho town.  He wanders around this sleepy locale which has the veneer of a lovely community, but something sinister lurks just beneath the surface.  He quickly finds that he can’t seem to leave–all roads circle back toward town.  A heavily fortified fence surrounds the valley, beyond which are heard unearthly howls, and we see glimpses of menacing creatures.  What is going on with this creepy town and its fearful residents?

Spoilers here: Stop reading now if you plan to watch the series!

Flash forward 10 episodes, and we have our answers.  We have learned that the town is really the brain child of a visionary scientist, who foresaw the end of humanity and created the town as a fortress and humanity’s last refuge.  The town’s residents were all cryo-frozen in 2015 and then reawakened 2000 years into the future.  The rest of humanity has meanwhile evolved into cannibalistic monsters (referred to as “aberrants” or “abbies”) that hunt and kill anything on feet.

In the final episode, the scientist, David Pilcher, reveals that he isn’t done playing God.  He doesn’t like it that Ethan Burke has “outed” him and his operation to the rest of the townspeople.  He has decided that it is time to pull the plug on this “batch” of humans by turning off the power to the protective fence.  Like many a screen villain before him, he listens to opera music in his opulent mountain lair and watches the progress of the cleansings.  His own henchmen turn on him and he is killed, but not soon enough to end the destruction he has unleashed. The mutants swarm in and kill most of the town fairly quickly in a set of fast paced scenes that seem reminiscent of zombie apocalypse movies like “World War Z”.  Ethan Burke rescues some of the townspeople, who make it into the fortified complex that overlooks the city.  Ethan blows himself up in an elevator shaft to kill many of the “Abbies” and saves the others.  His son is conked on the head by debris, and awakens from a coma three years later.

Ethan’s son finds that things have come full circle to where they were at the beginning of the series.  The town seems to be back to normal, but this is illusory. In fact, a cadre of cold-blooded fanatical youth have also survived, and managed to overpower the adults.  Everyone who survived the mutant apocalypse has been put back into cryo-freeze and a new batch of humans is living in terror under the malignant reign of these fanatical youth.  A statue to David Pilcher stands in a park where the bodies of three people dangle, hanged for trying to leave Wayward Pines.

I have to admit that I was left a bit crestfallen by the final twist at the end.  Did Ethan really sacrifice himself only to have the “Hitler Youth” take over?  If this is the fate of humanity, is it worth saving?  These are the interesting questions that have theological implications as well.  Even as we humans show brilliance in the face of hostile natural forces, using all of our cleverness and ingenuity to survive and thrive, we nonetheless remain our own worst enemies.  Despite the spark of divinity–that “image of God”–that is imprinted upon us, we are fallen creatures.  “Wayward Pines”, like Holy Scripture, doesn’t give an optimistic appraisal of our fortunes, when we are left to our own devices.   The final questions for humanity remain open: Will we destroy ourselves? Will we play God, or rather seek the real one?

A burned scroll so fragile that it could not be unrolled has finally yielded up its secrets, thanks to medical technology and the ingenuity of a computer programmer.

This week a computer scientist announced that his team found a way to unroll the scroll virtually. Working off x-ray scans of the artifact, specialized software detected the layers of parchment and digitally unwound them, revealing for the first time Hebrew characters written on the scroll about 1,500 years ago.

“I’ve actually never seen the actual scroll,” says Brent Seales, a professor at the University of Kentucky. “For me, that’s a testament to the power of the digital age.”

You may read more here:

The recent Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, has for now closed (perhaps we should say foreclosed now) the debate on marriage that has been raging in the secular world, and has legally redefined marriage to include relationships other than heterosexual couples.  In light of this landmark ruling, some are jubilant, others dismayed.  The temptation for us is to say nothing, let our progressive friends have their day of rejoicing, and remain focused on our core ideals.  However, we would be remiss to refrain from commenting on so important a moment.

Unfortunately, the media’s full court press on this issue has left Christians being pilloried as being “against” something that is now seen as wonderful.  I will sidestep the temptation to speak of what we at this site may or may not be against, in order to affirm instead what we are for.

1. We are for love.  Love between people is a reflection of God’s love for us.  “God is Love” declared St. John the disciple. Love is a gift, and a very great one.  Love is about something deeper than romance and genitals, as I have written elsewhere.  Love at its best is “other elevating” rather than “self gratifying”.  It sacrifices all for its beloved.

2. We are for gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgendered persons, as well as those who have other kinds of sexual appetites.  We love you as we would any other brother or sister.  Love means, however, that we cannot offer you a poisoned gospel.  Blessing and absolving anything that God has not condoned is an act not of true love, but of love’s opposite, and it does you no favors in eternity.

3. We are for sexuality, which is a gift from God.  It is a garden of delights.  However it is clear from sacred scripture, which we recognize as God’s revelation, that for our own good, and for that of our children who need stable families, God has put a wall around that garden. We recognize that we are not above our Creator, and therefore we respect that wall. We respect it even to our personal detriment. We respect it even in the face of a potential loss of fellowship with those who now find such a stance to be outrageous. Obeying God has never been without cost. We have always been asked to “surrender all” for the cause of Christ.  Again, that is the result of our love for God–we honor our Beloved.

4. We are for marriage.  We believe, with scripture, that marriage is sacred and holy, instituted by God.  We believe that it is a pillar of civilization.  We mess with it at our own peril. Marriage has been understood for millennia as the union of man and woman. Let me be clear on one point–it is heterosexuals, and not homosexuals, who have done the most damage to marriage.  And the church, the institutionalized body of Christ, has also let the world down on this one.  We have contributed to the confusion about the definition of marriage. We should repent of the bigger sins that we have allowed to slip by us in the 20th century, and put the “holy” back into “holy matrimony.”

  • We have not created stable and loving marriages.
  • We have been complicit as the culture cheapened and redefined “love” itself as something other than the sacrificial love that is advocated in the Bible.
  • We should have refrained from blessing terrible relationships between abusive heterosexual couples when we were aware of them.
  • We (mainly Protestants in this case) should not have caved on the issue of mixed faith marriages if we knew full well that means a loss of children to a foreign god.
  • Better premarital counseling and guidance might have helped some couples avoid making mistakes, or else given them tools to improve communication, reduce stress, and remain committed during the rocky times in a marriage.
  • We must be honest and admit that no-fault divorce and easy remarrying has done more to shred the institution of marriage than anything gay marriage could do.

We already have allowed society to redefine this institution from a lifelong stable union into an intellectual fig leaf for transient sexual gratification between consenting adults. It is a short step to either lose the fig leaf and just fornicate, or to extend it to other kinds of relationships. Both of these have happened, and often the church has been complicit.

5. We are for children.  We believe, as is also demonstrated in numerous studies, that they thrive best and prosper most when raised in a stable two parent family with a mother and father who love them.  I would go further and say that they should be in a loving Christian family.

6. We are for the U.S. government.  As people who love God, we would hope that our nation would seek after Divine blessing rather than curse.  Still, we know that we enjoy the fruits of liberty and have lived under a more benign government than most in history have known.  Christians in Ancient Rome were under a hostile regime, yet sought to be best citizens they could be, except where conscience forbade it (such as in the worship of Caesar as a god).  We also aim to be our nation’s best citizens.  We will continue to pray for the U.S and its leaders.  We can and should pray for revival. We should always ask that the holy Spirit of God would blow through our land, to refresh the churches and to bend the hearts of the people back toward their God.

7. We are for truth.  We must not give up on speaking the truth for the sake of popularity or other personal gain. The civil definition of “marriage” has changed, but God’s definition of “holy matrimony” has not. The corollary of “what God has joined together let no man tear asunder” is “what God has not joined together, let no man try to do so.”

8. Most of all we are for God, the maker of all things, to whom we owe our very existence.  God didn’t merely flick us into existence and go away, but has loved us and offered us a relationship.  We have been invited to enter the divine dance.  We are still to be witnesses to God’s love in a hostile world. We must “walk in love as Christ loved us”.  We must stand fast to our calling to share the good news. That hasn’t changed.

“The more excellent any thing is, the more will be the counterfeits of it.”  Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1753)


Nicholas Winton, a Briton who said nothing for a half-century about his role in organizing the escape of 669 mostly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II, a righteous deed like those of Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg, died on Wednesday in Maidenhead, England. He was 106.

Read more on this Patheos blog.

Also, I was struck by this quote from Time magazine:
We often ask why, during times of war, did people not intervene? The truth is most of us do not stir ourselves to act. We know of suffering in the world and yet continue to live our lives, go to work, take care of our families, and sleep in peace. Some precious souls are moved to a goodness that transcends explanation.