Saturday, June 12, 2010

Welcome to the 2010 FIFA World Cup (TM) and the only match that matters right now: England vs. USA. Obviously, I'm liveblogging this:

Anthems: I love the English national anthem because it's the same melody as "My Country, 'Tis Of Thee." I wonder if they played our anthem too fast on purpose, so our fans couldn't sing along (very well).

4th Minute: Goal, England. Gerrard. Are you serious?

35th Minute: The US looks pretty good, considering. However, England looks like they can score from anywhere.

40th Minute: GOAL! Clint Dempsey! Weak goal, soft shot. 1-1.

Half-Time: 1-1. Advantage: USA.

49th Minute: Wayne Rooney barely misses a pass for a goal, still 1-1.

52nd Minute: Heskey ROBBED by USA goalkeeper Tim Howard, still 1-1.

65th Minute: Jozy Altidore hits the post! Still 1-1.

88th Minute: Still tied, US barely surviving. England can really score.

94th Minute: After 4 minutes of stoppage time, the game finishes 1-1.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I spent the evening "baptizing" my friend Daniel into the original six "Star Trek" films, starting with 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture. [Thanks a bunch, J.J. Abrams, for rendering this whole story moot for the sake of the plot of your admittedly awesome reboot.--ed.] The musical score is just glorious, and I'd say the story has underrated metaphysical, philosophical, or otherwise theological depth. A brief synopsis is in order:

An enormous energy cloud of great power destroys three Klingon vessels. The Federation determines that the cloud is on a direct course for Earth. The USS Enterprise, currently under the command of Capt. Willard Decker, is docked near Earth after 18 months of refitting. (Captain Decker has been in command two and a half years, at the recommendation of now-Admiral James T. Kirk, who currently serves as Chief of Starfleet Operations.) The ship and crew are ordered to intercept and investigate. Admiral Kirk, who had given up command out of a mistaken sense of duty, convinces Starfleet that the crisis requires a more seasoned officer. As such, they give the Enterprise back to Kirk. Decker (Stephen Collins, perhaps better-known as the Rev. Eric Camden on "7th Heaven") remains on board as executive officer. The Enterprise is not in optimal condition owing to the incomplete preparation; however, the timely arrival of Commander Spock--who has been in unexpected telepathic contact with the intelligence at the heart of the cloud--assists the ship in its interception. After contact is made, the navigator, Lt. Ilia, goes missing, taken by a probe from the alien vessel. Though she had taken a vow of celibacy, she had apparently engaged in a romantic relationship with Decker at some previous time. The already fractious nature of the relationship between captain and first officer is worsened. The Enterprise is then visited by an android probe that takes the form of the departed Lt. Ilia. Owing to their previous relationship and to the fact that Ilia's memory patterns are doubtless within the probe, Decker is assigned to interact with it. Meanwhile, Spock--perhaps prompted by the intelligence--leaves the ship in a thruster suit in an attempt to see the innermost chamber of the alien vessel. Learning much, Spock finds that the intelligence, who calls itself "V'Ger," was likely commissioned by a race of living machines. Finding a large representation of Lt. Ilia (along with a representation of the recording sensor on the android probe) Spock reasons it to be significant and attempts to "mind-meld" with it. Naturally, there is a large amount of electricity flowing through it, and Spock is incapacitated. However, he is successful, and is subsequently revived. Asked about the nature of V'Ger, Spock states, "V'Ger has knowledge that spans this's asking questions." Prompted, he adds, "Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?" In its quest for knowledge, V'Ger had become sentient and self-aware, and thus, painfully aware of the existential limitations of reason and logic alone. Spock, for his part, had been devoting himself to the Vulcan "Kohlinar" discipline, a purging of all remaining emotion, prior to the mission. Face to face with the cold rationality of the V'Ger intelligence, Spock realizes his error, reaffirming his love for his friends. Meanwhile, the crew learns that V'Ger is going to Earth to find its Creator. When it attempts contact and gets no answer, V'Ger decides to destroy Earth, believing that "carbon-based life forms" are obstructing the Creator. (Because V'Ger is a machine, it reasons the Creator must be also.) Without knowing exactly the nature of V'Ger or what it seeks, Kirk promises to reveal why the Creator has not responded, if V'Ger will disable the destructive devices taking orbit around the Earth and meet them in person. This is agreed, and the whole party goes to meet V'Ger. Having previously discovered that V'Ger was sending out a simple radio signal, Kirk and the others discover that V'Ger is an old NASA probe, Voyager 6, launched sometime near the end of the 20th Century, lost until now, in 2271. Kirk thus realizes that V'Ger's Creator is man, and finds the NASA transmission codes in the Enterprise computer. The probe had been launched with the mission to "learn all that is learnable...and return that information to its Creator." However, V'Ger believes that it will not attain its goal without a human element, so it prevents the reception of the final code sequence. The group realizes that V'Ger wants a human to input the code in person, and to physically join with V'Ger. Decker, having lost Ilia and the Enterprise, elects to be the one to join with V'Ger. It appears that he is somehow reunited with Ilia, and the crew realize they have witnessed a birth. The Earth is safe, and the Enterprise resumes its mission(s) under the command of Capt./Adm. Kirk. Spock remains aboard, having found the peace he had long sought.

Concluding Thoughts: There certainly is a great deal of God-talk and talk of purpose from the supposed rationalists and atheists who created Star Trek. [Yeah, it's not obnoxiously patronizing until the Next Generation TV series.--ed.] Spock and other Vulcans at their best learn to temper their devotion to reason and logic with love. They previously were ruled by passions. [Sounds Catholic to me.--ed.] Indeed. I suppose we could say that Christians continually wrestle with a faith that is either guided by a cold rationalism or reckless passion, should they unmoor themselves from the wisdom of our forefathers. [Dear me, is that incense I smell?--ed.] Calm yourself. My Protestant Christianity may be hopelessly ad hoc, and not terribly Protestant in the end, but I do not consider myself unmoored, nor is Daddy ready to sell the farm, as it were. [Content to punch the brick wall a little longer, eh?--ed.] Perhaps that is so. But if Christ's true Church is across the Tiber, and the very gates of hell will not prevail, then she will survive some more honest inquisition from the likes of me. Pun intended.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Happy Birthday Mike. I think it's been 11 years we've known each other. No offense, it's also one of my least favorite days of the year. [It's someone else's birthday, isn't it?--ed.] Yes. And she's the big gaping hole in me right now. For no good reason. [What is it with you and professor's daughters, anyway?--ed.] I have no idea. I can't even say I know her that well. We seem to run into each other every few years. She's still single, for no good reason. [Besides the Lord's will, you pagan.--ed.] Yeah, that. [Why don't you call her, and wish her a happy birthday?--ed.] Because it would seem really weird and stalkerish, like all the other things I've done. Because I'm a bum who's about to torpedo his only viable career path in what may be a fruitless search for Truth. Because I'm not good enough for her. Because I'm not the kind of man who can credibly pretend it just a "friendly birthday call." Because I'm in love with a ghost, probably, not her. Because I'm scared. Someone punch me in the face. Ah, I have a solution.