H+: The Digital Series

If you haven’t checked out H+: The Digital Series yet, I strongly recommend that you give it a try.

A groundbreaking new series by acclaimed producer Bryan Singer, H+: The Digital Series takes viewers on a journey into an apocalyptic future where technology has begun to spiral out of control… a future where the world’s population has retired its cell phones and laptops in favor of a stunning new device by Hplus Nano Teoranta, an innovative technology company that has found a way to connect the Internet to the human mind 24 hours a day.

New episodes are released on Wednesday at 12pm PST.

You can watch the series on YouTube and check out the interactive website.

Check out the trailer for the series:

I like what I’ve seen so far!

Creation and Fall in the Blackest Night

As I read the Blackest Night story arc, I notice several themes that play an importnat part in both the Blackest Night story and in Christianity. One of the first pair of themes to jump out to me is that of Creation and Fall.

We pick up with a creation story after the Indigo Tribe makes its presence known to Hal Jordan:

Indigo-1: In the beginning? In the beginning the universe belonged to darkness–and then there was light. For seven hundred years, the universe was nothing but blinding white light. Then the darkness fought back and the white light was splintered. Every sentient being born from the light now contributes to its emotional spectrum. [1]

Now compare that with the creation story in Genesis 1:

When God began to create the heavens and the earth—the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters—God said, “Let there be light.” And so light appeared. God saw how good the light was. God separated the light from the darkness. God named the light Day and the darkness Night. There was evening and there was morning: the first day. [2]

The obviously similarities are there. In the beginning is darkness and then there is light. But that is where the similarities end. In the story told by Indigo-1, the white light splinters and from that splintering comes creation: sentient beings and the emotional spectrum from which the different Lantern Corps draw their power. In the Genesis story, the light is not the creator, but part of creation and God, the Creator, is there from the beginning, unlike the white light from Indigo-1’s story.

Another difference is that in the creation story from Blackest Night the creation is brought about by the darkness fighting against the white light, causing the white light to splinter. Whereas, the dark in the Genesis creation story exists alongside of the Creator, but the dark is still subject to the Creator.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes regarding this:

The dark deep—that is the first sound of the power of darkness, of the passon of Jesus Christ. The darkness, the tehōm, the tihāmat, the Babylonian “primeval sea [Urmeer],” contains within itself—power and depth. This power and force still serve to honor the Creator now, but once torn away from the origin, from the beginning, they become tumult and rebellion…

It is a moment [Augenblick] in God in which the unformed mass and its Creator exist over against each other. It is a moment of which it is said that the spirt of God hovered over the waters; it is a moment in which God is thinking, planning, and bringing forth form…God remains utterly Creator over the deep, above the waters. [3]

In Indigo-1’s story, catch a glimpse of the Fall, the blackness fighting against the white light and giving birth to the emotional spectrum. Contrast this with what Bonhoeffer said; originally the dark, power and force, serve to honor God, but in the Fall, they become something different and twisted.

Feel free to share your thoughts!

[1] Indigo-1, Blackest Night #3 (2009)

[2] Genesis 1:1-5

[3] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Vol 3: Creation and Fall, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press), 37-38.

#BSG and #Religion: Flesh and Bone

‘Flesh and Bone’
The episode opens with President Roslin having a chamalla induced dream in which a copy of Leoben (Number Two) appears. Roslin wakes up and is informed by Billy that a Cylon agent has been captured onboard one of the ships in the fleet. This Cylon agent turns out to be none other than a Leoben copy. At the end of the dream, Leoben is pulled away, as if grabbed by some unknown force. Starbuck is sent over to interrogate the Cylon.

According to Adama, Leonben is a “very cunning maching. Manipulative, cunning. The only problem with Leoben isn’t that he lies. That would be too easy. It’s that he mixes lies with truth.” Sounds familiar. In some ways, Adama is painting Leoben as the Devil himself.

After a brief remark about the gods not answering the prayers of toasters, Starbuck gets down to business interrogating Leoben. It’s not until Leoben guesses who Starbuck is that he opens up a little more about Leoben’s mission in the fleet. According to Leoben, there’s a nuclear warhead somewhere in the fleet.

In a conversation that follows, Leoben and Starbuck have this exchange:

Leoben: You believe in the gods, don’t you? Lords of Kobol, and all that?

Starbuck: Why should I tell you?

Leoben: It’s not a trick question. I just what to see how much I got right. So you pray to Artemis and Aphrodite?

Starbuck: Where is the warhead?

Leoben: I was right. See, our faiths are similar, but I look to one god, not to many.

Starbuck: I don’t geie a damn what you believe.

Leoben: To know the ace of God is to know madness. I see the universe. I see the patterns. I see the foreshadowing that precedes every moment of every day. It’s all there. I see it. And you don’t. And I have a surprise for you. I have something to tell you about the future.

Starbuck: Is that so?

Leoben: It is. But we have to see this through to the end.

[There’s a brief pause in the conversation while some food is brought in to Starbuck]

Leoben: What is the most basic article of faith? This is not all that we are. The difference between you and me is, I know what that means and you don’t. I know that I’m more than this body, more than this consciousness. A part of me swims in the stream. But in truth, I’m standing on the shore. The current never takes me downstream.

Right about here, Starbuck shows that she’s not falling for Leoben’s philosophical and theological double talk. After pushing the food aside because it’s worse than the Galactica’s, Leoben is given the opportunity to eat. But, we also get a glimpse of Starbuck’s darker side.

Leoben: Starving. Haven’t eaten in days.

Starbuck: Kind of bad programming, isn’t it? I mean why bother with hunger?

Leoben: Part of being human.

Starbuck: You’re not human. [Pause] How’s your lunch?

Leoben: You know how it is. When you’re starving, anything tastes good.

[Starbuck give a nod and the guard punches Leoben in the head, drawing blood.]

Starbuck: Did that hurt?

Leoben: Yeah, that hurt.

Starbuck: Machines shouldn’t feel pain…shouldn’t bleed…shouldn’t sweat.

Leoben: Sweat. That’s funny. That’s good.

Starbuck: See, a smart Cylon would turn off the old pain software right about now. But I don’t think you’re so smart.

Leoben: Maybe I’ll turn it off and you won’t even know.

[Leoben get’s punched by the guard again]

Starbuck: Here’s your dilemma. Turn off the pain, you feel better, but that makes you a machine, not a person. You see, human beings can’t turn off their pain. Human beings have to suffer, and cry, and scream, and endure because they have no choice. So the only way you can avoid the pain you’re about to receive is by telling me exactly what I wanna know. Just like a human would.

Leoben: I knew this about you. You’re everything I thought you would be. But it won’t work. I won’t tell you anything.

Starbuck: Maybe not. But then, you’ll know deep down that I beat you…that a human being beat you…and that you are truly no greater than we are. You’re just a bunch of machines after all.

Leoben: Let the games begin.

[Leoben is punched again by the guard.]

Starbuck’s interrogation continues, only Starbuck ramps up the interrogation method, dunking Leoben’s head into a container of water. Leoben talks about destiny and fate, even eluding to the eventual discovery of Kobol, before Roslin shows up. There’s a brief exchange between Roslin and Leoben in which Leoben tells Roslin that Adama is a Cylon. After this, Roslin has Leoben executed by being vented out of an airlock.

Back on the Galactica, Starbuck pulls out figures of Artemis and Aphroditie and prays to them.

This episode highlights the role of prophecy. Leoben quotes the scripture, “All this has happened before and all this will happen again.” He even points out that Starbuck has a role to play, although, at this point, her role is still ambiguous. Prophecy is theme that plays an important part in the series and this is the first episode to highlight that theme.

This episode also serves as social commentary regarding the use of torture. Starbuck goes to great lengths to torture Leoben, but gets nowhere. There’s so much more that can be said about this topic alone…but I’ll save that for another time.

This episode goes down as another one of my all time favorites of the series.

#BSG and #Religion: Six Degrees of Separation


‘Six Degrees of Separation’
This episode open with an interesting dialogue between Gaius Baltar and Six. Baltar is looking through a microscope at some cells.

Baltar: I don’t see the hand of God here. Could I be looking in the wrong place? Let me see. Proteins? Yes. Hemoglobin? Yes. Divine digits? No. Sorry. I’m sure I can find evidence of his divine hand in some of these delightful little samples.  After all, there are so fracking many I’m sure even I can be relied upon to find God in one of them.

Six: What is it that drives to to blasphemy, Gaius? A need to tempt fate?

Baltar: Boredom, actually. Indeed, every waking hour is spent in what some might say, has become my own personal religion. The Church of the Mystic Cylon Detector.

Six: Well…are you finished? (The scene shifts from Baltar’s lab to the bedroom inside of his head.) If you would give yourself over to God’s will you’d find peace in his love like I have.

Baltar: Could you help me with this zipper. I’m having a bit of trouble.

Six: He has a plan for us.

Baltar: How do you know it’s a he?

Six: There is only one true God.

Baltar: Really? You running a glitch in the program or something? ‘Cause you say the same thing over and over again. Now, I’ve accepted your God and all that. Can’t we reboot the hard drive?

Six: He’s not my God. He is God.

Baltar: Yeah, your God, my God, everyone’s God. He’s big enough for all of us, isn’t he. Now please. Please, honey. Can’t we do something a little more elevating?

Six: It’s important you form a personal relationship with God. Only you can give yourself over to his eternal love.

Baltar: For God’s sake! I can’t take this anymore.

Six: I’m trying to save your immortal soul.

Baltar: What you are doing, darling, is boring me to death with your superstitious drivel. Your metaphysical nonsense which, to be fair, actually appeals to the half-educated dullards that make up most of human society, but which, I hasten to add, no rational, intelligent, free-thinking human being truly believes. (Six leaves while Baltar’s back is too her.) Which leads me to the inescapable conclusion that Cylons, are, in the final…. That Cylons are, in the final analysis, little more than toasters…with great-looking legs.

This conversation comes on the heels of Baltar being threatened by Six to not make her mad. Of course, Baltar didn’t pay this any heed, and so begins his problems in this episode. After being summoned to the CIC, Baltar runs into a Six model who goes by the name Shelly Godfrey. At first Baltar assumes that only he can see her, and is shocked, at best, when he realizes that everyone can see the Six standing in the CIC. It is at this point that Godfrey accuses Baltar of being the traitor. Godfrey claims to be a assistant to Dr. Amarak, the doctor onboard the Olympic Carrier that was destroyed in the episode “33“.

The “evidence” that Godfrey brings forward, does implicate Baltar as the traitor and he’s thrown in the brig. After a visit from Pres. Roslin in the brig, Baltar has this monologue:

I know that we haven’t spoken before. And I don’t wish to offend. Please. Dear God, and I now acknowledge that you are the one true God. Deliver me from this evil and I will devote the rest of what is left of my wretched life to doing good. I don’t know what to… To carry out your divine will, is what I want to do. To carry out your divine will. Grant me grace and forgiveness.

And then, of course, the Six inside of Baltar’s head come back. She informs Baltar that, “All will be well. It will be as God wants it to be.”

Lt. Gaeta comes in and announces that the evidence is fake and Baltar is free and Godfrey is nowhere to be seen.

The more I think about it, the more the Cylon God sounds like the Evangelical God. We hear the catch words: personal relationship, God’s will, etc. But, there are some diferences as well. The Cylon God comes off a being petty and manipulative. Baltar questions the Cylon God and his problems begin. He acknowledges the Cylon God and everything goes away. Sound familiar? This was the God that I believed in for a long time…a God of punishment and wrath. One false step meant eternal damnation. Of course, I no longer buy into that belief. I see a God of love and peace. Don’t get me wrong, things aren’t always better on the other side. Bad things still happen. However I don’t blame those on God’s will.

#BSG and #Religion: Litmus

‘Litmus’
A Doral Model (Number Five) Cylon shows up on the Galactica on a suicide mission. After being spotted by Tigh and Adama, he blows himself up with a bomb that is strapped to his chest. The resulting blast kills three and injures thirteen. Commander Adama charges Sergeant Hadrian, the master-at-arms, to open an investigation into how anyone could get back Galactica security. During the conversation, she asks for an independent tribunal, free of command influence. That request is approved by Adama.

While Pres. Roslin does not want a witch hunt on her hands, we all know where this is heading. Things aren’t helped much when Roslin announces to the fleet that Cylons have a human form.

Sergeant Hadrian’s investigation startes with some general questions to some of the deck crew, mainly about the whereabouts of Chief Tyrol. Hadrian gets different answers regarding the Chief’s whereabouts during the bombing and the investigation is ramped up. Both Boomer and Tyrol are pulled in for questioning.

Questioning in the tribunal is tense to say the least. What is interesting is when Tyrol is being questioned, Hadrian asks the following: “Do you consent to give your testimony freely without invoking your right to remain silent as provided for under the 23rd Article of Colonization?” The Chief responds in the affirmative. But when Hadrian hits too close to home, the Chief invokes his rights.

Next up is Socinus, and here we have a shocking revelation; he abandoned his post and left the hatch combing open that allowed the Cylon agent easy access to the small weapons locker.

Things get real interesting when Commander Adama is called before the tribunal. It is here that Hadrian let’s the power of the independent tribunal go to her head. The tribunal turned into what it wasn’t supposed to be, a witch hunt.

To me, there are many theological layers to this episode.

The first theological layer revolves around our sinful nature.  Hadrian and the tribunal are a perfect example of this. There’s no doubt that Sergeant Hadrian’s intentions were good in the beginning, but something happened along the way in the quest for “truth”. Hadrian lost sight of the purpose of the tribunal and let the power get to her. In essence, she was corrupted by the quest for truth. Taking that one step further, we get a glimpse of what living in sin is like. Sometimes it is pretty difficult to know when we have strayed from the truth and when we are living in sin.

I think this episode also touches on the theme of security. For Christians, we look at questions of security a little differently. Security for Christians should rest in fact that death is not the final answer, that the final enemy has already been defeated. That doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen…they still will.

#BSG and #Religion: Act of Contrition and You Can’t Go Home Again

‘Act of Contrition’
The episode moves between several points in time: Starbuck’s past surrounding Zak Adama, Starbuck’s Viper crashing on a planet, and the events leading up to Starbuck’s crash.

Dwight “Flat Top” Saunders landing his Raptor, making this his 1000th landing. Celebration turns to grief and loss when a communication drone falls to the deck, and launches towards the group of celebrating pilots. The resulting explosion kills thirteen pilots and puts seven more in sickbay.

After the funeral for the pilots killed in the accident, Adama gets Starbuck to teach the combat flight class for a new group of Viper pilots. At first, Starbuck resists. Adama states that if it has something to do with the death of Zak, Starbuck ins’t at fault for his death. This, we know, is untrue…something Starbuck had already confessed to Lee. Starbuck passed Zak, even through he failed basic flight. This was due in large part to the relationship going on between Starbuck and Zak.

Starbuck washes out the pilot trainees, or Nuggets, on their first day, saying in would be, “criminal to let them near a Viper again.” Lee confronts Starbuck and orders her to reinstate the trainees because they need the pilots. Starbuck stated that she “will not pass another student who isn’t ready.”

Lee takes his case before Adama, who at this point thinks Starbuck is right.  During the conversation that follows, Lee get confused as to what Starbuck and Adama actually talked about regarding Zak, and let’s too much slip by saying that Starbuck is working through some guilt about what she did to Zak.

In the confrontation that follows between Starbuck and Adama, Starbuck comes clean and confesses that she passed Zak through basic flight, even though he should have failed. Adama orders Starbuck to do her job and reinstates the Nuggets to flight status.

While out in Vipers with Hot Dog, Kat, and Chuckles, eight Cylon raiders show up out of no where. Starbuck takes on all eight, with the help of Hot Dog. During the course of the firefight, Starbuck’s Viper is damaged and she is pulled into a planet’s atmosphere, forcing her to eject.
You Can’t Go Home Again’
This episode picks up immediately after the events in “Act of Contrition”. The search for Starbuck begins after the rescue of Hotdog.

On the planet, a banged up Starbuck fights for survival as her oxygen tank is running low and the planet’s atmosphere is not breathable.

Starbuck finds the Raider that she shot down and sets about the task of fixing it up so she can fly it off the planet.

In a confrontation with Adama, Roslin all but orders the Commander to terminate the search.  Meanwhile, Starbuck has figured out how to fly the Raider and heads back towards the fleet.  The appearance of Starbuck’s Raider sends the Galactica into full alert. Apollo launches his Viper and engages the Raider. During the dogfight, Apollo sees some markings that Starbuck left on the Raider.

I posted these episodes together because of the similar themes that run through these two episodes: repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, and penance. Starbuck was taking her guilt over the death of Zak on the rookie pilots. We see after Starbuck confesses to Adama that things get tense between them, but when she goes down, things change and they move on.

These two episodes are among my favorite from season 1.