Tag Archives: Theology

App Review: Babel Rising

Yesterday, Rod posted about Babel Rising, an Android App that let’s you play God. So, I had to give it a try.

Play God Almighty in Babel Rising 3D to prevent the Babylonians from building the famous Babel tower. Unleash your wrath and mortify these arrogant humans with your divine powers. Summon bolts of lightning, massive earthquakes, meteor showers or vengeful floods upon the Babylonians: The perfect apocalyptic arsenal.

Your divine intervention will be crucial to resist to the numerous waves of miscreant builders, blasphemer priests or damned urn carriers! Rely on tactics and strategy to achieve the solo campaign and endure an epic survival mode.
There will be no mercy!

The premise of the game is fairly simple, kill the workers and priests as they try to build the tower.

Here’s some video of the app in action.

There are two game modes: Survival and Campaign. After each level, you are awarded coins to buy more levels or upgrade powers. Coins are based off of a number of variables. In survival mode, time and kills seem to be the largest factors. Campaign mode gives a bonus for the first time you successfully complete the level.

The game is fairly repetitive, even in campaign mode. It might hold my attention for 10-15 minutes at a time, but then I get bored playing. There’s very little replay value…other than to level up your powers.

And then there’s the bad theology. Lets take a look at the Babel story from Genesis 11:1-9.

All people on the earth had one language and the same words. When they traveled east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them hard.” They used bricks for stones and asphalt for mortar. They said, “Come, let’s build for ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and let’s make a name for ourselves so that we won’t be dispersed over all the earth.”

Then the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the humans built. And the Lord said, “There is now one people and they all have one language. This is what they have begun to do, and now all that they plan to do will be possible for them. Come, let’s go down and mix up their language there so they won’t understand each other’s language.” Then the Lorddispersed them from there over all of the earth, and they stopped building the city. Therefore, it is named Babel, because there the Lord mixed up the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord dispersed them over all the earth. (CEB)

Notice what is present in the game that is missing from the story? That’s right, God killing the Babylonians for attempting to build the tower. In fact, this story of the Tower of Babel is more an ANE explanation as to the reason for different languages than a story about God’s wrath.

This is just the latest of games based off of bad theology.  Guess good theology doesn’t make for good games.


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: 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.


#BSG and #Religion: Bastille Day

‘Bastille Day’
Bastille Day picks up shortly after the events in “Water“. The collection of the planet water has not yet begun and Commander Adama and President Roslin discuss the option of using the prisoners on the Astral Queen as labor. We find out that there are 1500 prisoners onboard the prison transport ship. “Apollo” heads over to the Astral Queen to enlist prisoners as laborers and presents them the chance to earn their freedom. When given the opportunity to help, only one prisoner comes forward, Tom Zarek, and that is to inform Apollo that prisoners decline the offer.

Zarek is a political activist who was imprisoned for terrorist activities, including blowing up a government building on the colony of Sagittaron. Sagittaron is one of the poorer colonies, due to centuries of exploitation by the other eleven colonies. This makes Zarek a freedom fighter to some. The decision is made by Apollo to go through Zarek to get to the other prisoners.

Meanwhile, on Caprica, Karl “Helo” Agathon and another copy of the Sharon model (Number Eight) are in search of an unknown radio transmission that they picked up. (Note: The Caprica version of Sharon and the Galactica version take on totally different personalities as the series progresses.)  A Number Five (Doral) and a Number Six monitor their progress from a distance.

Back on the Astral Queen, all hell breaks loose as the prisoners orchestrate a jail break while Apollo and Zarek are talking. Dee, Billy, Callie, and Apollo, along with the crew of the Astral Queen are taken prisoner. Zarek’s conditions for the release of the hostages are 1) the resignation of Laura Roslin and 2) free and open elections.

Zarek: The crew are my prisoners. They will not be harmed. But I have two conditions before I release my captives. First, the government which controls our fate…is illegal and illegitimate…and it must submit to the will of the people. I demand the immediate resignation…of Laura Roslin and her ministers. Second, I demand free and open elections to chose a new leadership. And a new government that represents all of the people. These demands are made not for me…or the former slaves held on this ship…but for you, the people, the survivors of the holocaust…and the children of humanity’s future.

A little later, there is an exchange between Zarek and Apollo.

Zarek: Who voted for Laura Roslin? You? Did you vote for her?

Lee: She was sworn in under the law.

Zarek: The answer is, no one voted for her. And yet she’s making decisions for all of who, deciding who lives…and who dies. Is that democracy? Is that a free society?

Lee: What is it you want from me? You want me to say she shouldn’t be president? We need a government. We need rules, we need a leader.

Zarek: We need to be free men and women. If we’re not free, then we’re no different than Cylons.

Zarek’s message resounds with a lot of people today, especially in American politics. However, what they fail to acknowledge is all authority, even the authority to rule comes from God alone.

Every person should place themselves under the authority of the government. There isn’t any authority unless it comes from God, and the authorities that are there have been put in place by God. So anyone who opposes the authority is standing against what God has established. People who take this kind of stand will get punished. The authorities don’t frighten people who are doing the right thing. Rather, they frighten people who are doing wrong. Would you rather not be afraid of authority? Do what’s right, and you will receive its approval. It is God’s servant given for your benefit. But if you do what’s wrong, be afraid because it doesn’t have weapons to enforce the law for nothing. It is God’s servant put in place to carry out his punishment on those who do what is wrong. That is why it is necessary to place yourself under the government’s authority, not only to avoid God’s punishment but also for the sake of your conscience. You should also pay taxes for the same reason, because the authorities are God’s assistants, concerned with this very thing.

So pay everyone what you owe them. Pay the taxes you owe, pay the duties you are charged, give respect to those you should respect, and honor those you should honor. Don’t be in debt to anyone, except for the obligation to love each other. Whoever loves another person has fulfilled the Law. The commandments, Don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t desire what others have, t and any other commandments, are all summed up in one word: You must love your neighbor as yourself. 

Love doesn’t do anything wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is what fulfills the Law. (Romans 13:1-10)

It’s like this was ripped from today’s headlines and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Zarek is the Tea Party. Yeah, I went there!

But as we see, freedom is not Zarek’s true intention. He wants the military to storm the Astral Queen on Roslin’s orders which would, in Zarek’s mind, cause the government to collapse. In the end, Apollo convinces Zarek to free the hostages in exchange for turning control of the Astral Queen over to the prisoners and elections.

Zarek talks a lot about freedom, but what is true freedom? We tend to associate freedom with being able to do whatever we want whenever we want. But true freedom isn’t being able to do whatever we want.  That leads to anarchy. And as Christians, we recognize that true freedom comes from God, not from the government!

Of course, Roslin and Commander Adama don’t like this.

Roslin: I don’t believe this.

Adama: It’s unacceptable.

Lee: It’s done. Prisoners have full control of the Astral Queen. We evac’ed all the guards and support personnel. It’s their ship.

Adama: They’re a threat to the entire fleet.

Lee: They’ve been disarmed. The ship itself has no weapons.

Adama: The ship itself is a weapon.

Lee: They’re totally dependent on us for food, fuel…and they’ve agreed to organize the workforce for the water detail on the moon.

Roslin: You’ve committed me to holding elections within a year.

Lee: Madam President, with respect…you’re serving out the remainder of President Adar’s term. When that term is up in seven months, the law says there’s an election. I’ve only committed you to obeying the law.

Roslin: You were not authorized–

Adama: You sound like a lawyer.

Lee: I swore an oath to defend the articles. The articles say there’s an election in seven months. If you’re telling me, we’re throwing out the law…then I’m not a captain, you’re not a commander…and you’re not the president. And I don’t owe either of you a damned explanation for anything.


#BSG and #Religion: Water

‘Water’
This episode opens with Sharon “Boomer” Valerii dripping wet in an equipment room on the flight deck of the Galactica. As she starts to take off her flight suit and empty the contents of a duffel bag, she comes across a shocking discovery, an explosive device is also tucked away in the duffel bag. After changing into her duty uniform, she takes the detonator to a weapons locker, where she makes another shocking discover, 6 other detonators are missing. Now, we all know that Sharon is a Cylon (Number 8), but, at this point, she does not know. This split personality in Sharon, at least early on in the first season, illustrates an important theme in Protestant Christianity, more specifically in Lutheranism: simul iustus et peccator. That is we are at the same time saint and sinner. We too have a kind of split personality and there are time that we aren’t conscious to the fact that we are living in our sinful nature.

Elsewhere, other Galactica officers are getting ready for a visit from President Laura Roslin. In the process of getting ready, Lee “Apollo” Adama has a flashback to the incident involving the Olympic Carrier, a civilian ship that he and Starbuck destroyed in the episode ’33’.  Lee is having a hard time living with the fact that he, while acting on orders, fired on a civilian ship. Commander William Adama, in an effort to console his son, says,

A man takes responsibility for his actions, right or wrong, He accepts the consequences and lives with them…every day.

Commander Adama is correct in this respect, we do have to live with the consequences of or actions every day. That is, we have to live with the consequences of our sin. But, we are confident in the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

While the Galactica is supplying a ship with water, the other explosives planted by Sharon explode and vent most of the Galactica’s water supply into space. The rest of the episode focuses on the search for water. And of course, Boomer finds the water that the fleet desperately needs, but not without some internal conflict with her Cylon programming. It’s the same with our sinful nature. Sometimes, we know the correct thing, but chose to do anything but the right thing. Sometimes, we struggle with our sinful nature, and, by the grace of God, are able to overcome it and do the right thing.


#BSG and #Religion: 33

’33’

The episode ’33’ picks up the story shortly after the end of the mini-series.  The human fleet has been performing faster than light jumps every 33 minutes for 236 jumps.  The episode begins one minute before the 237th jump.

One thing that jumps out right away happens after the end of the Viper pilot briefing between the 237th and 238th jump.  As the pilots emerge from the ready room, they touch a picture and you can hear some say, “Never forget.”  Also, there is the scene with Anastasia Dualla as she visits the team of officers that are cataloging survivors.  As she leaves, the walls of the corridor are covered with pictures and shrines have been erected in various spots.  This, of course, brings back memories of post 9-11.

We also find out that the number of humans in the fleet is 49,998.

The interactions between Gaius Baltar and Six turn towards God’s plan.  The Cylons are monotheistic, believing in the “One True God“, while the Colonials are polytheistic, worshipping the Lords of Kobol.  We find out that a Dr. Amarak used to work with Dr. Baltar at the Ministry of Defense and that Dr. Amarak has discovered how the Cylons were able to disable Colonial defenses, which, would expose Dr. Baltar as the traitor.  Since there was no time before the jump for President Roslin to see Dr. Amarak, it was decided she would meet with him after.  After jump 238, the Olympic Carrier, the ship Dr. Amarak was on, was left behind during the previous jump.  This prompts an interesting discussion between Baltar and Six.

Six: God is Watching out for you, Gaius.

Baltar: The universe is a vast and complex system.  Coincidental, serendipitous events…are bound to occur.  Indeed they are to be expected.  It’s part of the pattern, part of the plan.

Six: Dr. Amarak posed a threat to you.  Now he’s gone.  Logic says there’s a connection.

Baltar: A connection, maybe.  But not God.  There is no God or gods, singular or plural.  There are no large invisible men, or women for that matter…in the sky taking a personal interest in the fortunes of Gaius Baltar.

Six: Be careful.  That which God give, he can also take away.

The loss of the Olympic Carrier brings the fleet’s head count down to 47,972. This time, 33 minutes come and go, with no sign of the Cylons.  After more than 45 minutes without a Cylon attack, the Olympic Carrier “miraculously” to the fleet’s current position.  Commander Adama puts the fleet back onto alert. The conversation between Baltar and Six continues.

Baltar: No.  It’s all wrong.  If they were left behind, why didn’t the Cylons destroy them?  And why are they showing up now?

Six: It’s God’s punishment for your lack of faith.

Baltar: That’s just great, that is.  A more logical and useful explanation, please.

Six: All right.  The Olympic Carrier has been infiltrated by Cylon agents.  They’ve been tracking the ship all along.

Baltar: No.  Then that means… Six: Logically, in order for you to survive…the Olympic Carrier should be destroyed.

In a tense exchange that follows, Baltar admits that he doesn’t think Roslin will destroy the Olympic Carrier.  Six implores Baltar to repent and he will be saved.  Baltar, of course, repents and Roslin authorizes the destruction of the Olympic Carrier.

At the close of the episode, we are given an updated head count of the survivors: 47,973.

As Christians, we do talk a lot about God’s plan or God’s will.  However, there is much debate about what that means.  For me, God’s will means that God does in fact have a plan for me.  But God does allow free will.  Repenting, as Six puts it, does not always lead to salvation as one might think of it.  Ultimate, God is in control, but God doesn’t dictate our actions because God gave us free will.  God is not a puppeteer.  God might will something, but because of free will, we are allowed to act contrary to God’s will.


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