Category Archives: Blog

Losing a Life

News came this morning about author, television star and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’s suicide while in France filming his award winning CNN series “Parts Unknown.” As a Bourdain fan for many years, I was taken aback by this news. It’s hard when someone who seemingly has it all together and is living their passion is overcome by whatever emptiness, darkness or hurt they have hidden inside.

In this culture where the value of life is diminished on multiple fronts, it is little wonder that those hurting (and please understand that I am not minimizing the reality of those hurts) seek relief by escaping from the apparent source of their pain, namely life itself.  I do, however, want to challenge you today, especially if you’ve found yourself alone, hurting, overwhelmed and hopeless, to remember one thing. Life is precious. All life. It has the potential to be wonderful. Life isn’t perfect, to be sure, but so much of its beauty lies therein. Even when it isn’t going the way you want, even when it seems like hurt is all there is, there is hope. Most importantly, life is a gift from God, the first gift He ever gave us, and it can only ever reach its potential in form and function when it is placed in His loving hands. Christ gives hope, so hope in Him.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

I just want to encourage you today. You are not alone. You can get through this. Everybody hurts sometimes, but it you do not give up you’ll find that you are stronger and you’ll last longer than anything this world can throw at you (or take from you.)

 

If you are hurting, please find help. You really do matter, and there really is hope.
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

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All for (Earth) One

Barry Allen has an exceptional amount of responsibility working with the Central City Police as their forensic scientist. Although he’s not a detective, his ability to use evidence from a crime scene to assist others is both very specific and incredibly necessary. It’s certainly not the most glamorous, but his expertise serves a purpose beyond just testing samples and viewing results. Without his explicit help, crimes in Central City would certainly take much longer to solve, if they’d be solved at all. Beyond that, Barry Allen serves the CCPD as The Flash, making criminal activity seem non-existent. Crimes committed by Meta Humans, on the other hand… now, that’s a different story altogether. He works as quickly as he can to contain those with powers who typically are beyond CCPD’s capacity and reach.

If you know The Flash, then you know he doesn’t act alone. While Barry was in a coma, Caitlin Snow, Cisco Ramon, and Harrison Wells worked tirelessly to strengthen him. Upon his waking up, this small yet knowledgeable team of scientists continue to aid Barry, cultivating his newly developed skills as The Flash. Cisco has an abundance of insight on tech. Caitlin maintains Barry’s health, keeping him in check. And Wells… well, he oversees it, but he generally is the sounding board. These three also encourage Barry to gain speed with every experience. Each member of the team is very specific and undoubtedly necessary for the success of The Flash as a whole. Their willingness to help Barry succeed as The Flash allows him to better aid the CCPD, moving their demonstration of support beyond assistance into the realm of the greater good: the safety of an entire city.

Each role is vastly unique, and no person can fulfill the role in case of an absence. Similarly, we each have been given a very unique role in the Body of Christ, and all roles are for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). If the gift given to one is prophecy, and the gift given to another is wisdom, neither can replace the other, but they must work together for the common good. In the same way, no gift given is less important than another. Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians “…the head cannot say to the feet ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts that are weaker are indispensable.” (1 Corinthians 12:21-22) Though we may not see it as such, each role is just as necessary! In fact, we are told to encourage and build one another up in love, and in doing so, we may live together in Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:11). No role is too small or insignificant that has not been considered by the Lord for His Kingdom’s glory, and that includes your role! Whatever that may be, be sure to surround yourself with others who encourage the cultivation of that skill and gift given to you by God. In doing that, you allow yourself to grow into the person God desires you to be, and you’re able best serve the Kingdom.

alexsimonAlexandria is a worship coordinator for Driven Youth Ministries, and small group leader for Shift Preteens and The One Young Adults. She has a passion for Marvel Movies and graphic novels, as well as Lord of the Rings or anything fantasy. Find her on Twitter at @faitdetoiles

*Exclusions Not Applicable

There is something wildly fascinating to me about comic conventions. But here’s the catch… I have never, ever been to single comic convention (side note: this is why I’m so excited to be going to MegaCon Orlando in May).

Fans leave the convention center on day one of Comic-Con International held at the San Diego Convention Center. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Invision/AP)

That said, this is going to be based on a lot of speculation, but hear me out: there is such a sense of camaraderie among those who share similar interests. I jump at the opportunity to experience new events, and I love learning about comic artists, upcoming movies, and video games. For those who have grown up appreciating nerd-culture, there’s an investment in attending a comic convention because they have grown alongside their favorite characters and universes. This community is cultivated on a kind of give-and-take of knowledge and passion for geek things.

There’s also this really incredibly inclusive aspect to nerdiness that you don’t have to meet requirements of a certain kind of “personhood” to actually be a nerd. There are people from all walks of life who find themselves fascinated by all things geeky. I have a friend from Lille who introduced me to my first graphic novels, a friend from the Bronx who sent me a documentary on comic artists, and a friend from Encarnación who convinced me to read sci-fi novels. The point is this: there is no guideline on who can or cannot be a nerd, and there is certainly no “*Exclusions apply, see back for details” on any comic, book, movie, video game, or convention. This is a community of people who, even for just a day, lay aside their differences to come together based on a common-thread appreciation of an art form.

If it is true that there is no *Exclusions apply, see back for details on anything nerdy, then it is even more true for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He came not to condemn the world, but to save the world… the ENTIRE world (John 3:16-17). The Gospel is for men, women, all sinners, and all those sinned against. Christians come from a multitude of circumstances, experiences, cultures, and heritages. Based on that alone, it is evident that you don’t have to be a certain kind of person before becoming a Christian. Jesus has extended adoption to us through His death and resurrection, to call Christians children of God (John 1:12-13, Galatians 3:26-29). We are known as God’s children by the love we have for one another, despite our circumstances, experiences, cultures and heritages. Jesus is the common foundation on which we build our lives, and that alone unites us in a unique and profound way.

alexsimonAlexandria is a worship coordinator for Driven Youth Ministries, and small group leader for Shift Preteens and The One Young Adults. She has a passion for Marvel Movies and graphic novels, as well as Lord of the Rings or anything fantasy. Find her on Twitter at @faitdetoiles


The Language Gap

Spoilers for “Arrival” (2016)

“Artists use lies to tell the truth.” .

I remember hearing that in my first of many viewings of V for Vendetta and being intrigued by it. As a good Christian boy, and now minister, I was taught that lying was a sin and something to be avoided but could lies really tell the truth? As time has gone by I have connected this line with my love of fiction. I have come to love stories that are simple on the surface but have a bigger meaning for those who have ears to listen.

A recent story that stood out to me was when I watched “Arrival” (2016) starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner for 1 Geek 4:11’s “Must See” Movie of the Week. Part way through the movie, we get to a scene where Adams and Renner’s characters introduce the audience to something called the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis which is basically that the way that someone understands language, especially the language they speak, influences how they perceive the world. While there is some scientific stretching going on in the movie there is some great truth to the sentiment.

As a Christian geek I have often feel that there was a “language gap” when it comes to interacting with other Christians; the stories that pointed me to a deeper understanding of Christ and life were all… well geeky. It takes a certain type of person to learn something about Jesus’ parables through a story of a crazy guy trying to blow up Parliament, or about how our worldview as Christians is influenced by our language as geeks. Whenever I look back I Jesus in the Bible at Jesus’ ministry I see an artist, one who would speak directly but who would also use fiction, to connect His listeners to the Kingdom of God and to me there is so much beauty in that truth.

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Cameron is a youth minister and co-founder of 1 Geek 4:11 Podcast. He enjoys PS4, board games, Magic the Gathering, and his hobbies include pretty much anything geeky he can get his hands on (and Frisbee). You can find him on Twitter: @humarwhitill

 

Dear, TV; How Far is Too Far?

Full disclosure. We LOVE the Marvel cinematic universe. Over the course of a decade, almost pretty much every movie has been a critical and box office hit… it almost seems they can do no wrong. We are even pleased with the Agents of SHIELD spin-off which promised to operate on the outskirts of the MCU with big tie-ins to the film universe and has actually delivered on that.

Then came the Netflix shows. As a universe-within-a-universe, these street-level heroes came in to their own with a gritty, noir feel focusing on the human elements of their characters (and to some degree villains) and with roughly 13 hours per season, they had enough time to actually pull it off. And after 5 seasons of individual story lines, we were rewarded with Defenders, an everyman’s Avengers so to speak.

As the days went on however, more networks and outlets began to hunger for a piece of the super hero pie. Other networks and streaming services saw huge potential in having a hero of their own. This is on top of an already overloaded Comic Book inspired TV line-up, including several based in the X-Men universe and the hugely popular DC Comics roster such as Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, as well as Constantine, Gotham and the upcoming Black Lightning and Teen Titans. Oh, and The Tick.

The first question is this: What other Marvel properties have a shadow of name recognition that could be exploited? It had to be someone that the movie makers weren’t going to get around to making. The answer, thus far, has been Inhumans. Aired with no small amout of fanfare and ambition, the story of the super powered royal family of Attilan promised to be the MCU’s answer to Game of Thrones and ended up more like a fan-film on Youtube (and not even one of the better ones.) With Hulu’s upcoming Runaways, Cloak and Dagger on Freeform, and more rumors of other 3rd tier heroes on the way (speculation- Moon Knight? Sleepwalker? Hercules?)

My second question is how long until the world shrugs its collective shoulders and greets these new series with a resounding ‘meh.”? Can the TV/Streaming market absorb much more superhero saturation. Or worse will the studios who pay for all these shows stop seeing comic book inspired stories as worthy of top talent in writing, directing and acting and move on to the next genre?

My third question is to you- Do you think they are spreading the medium too far with every new small screen superhero? Is it hard for you to get caught up on one before, like the villainous hydra, two more pop up in its place?  Of do you thing there is a super hero that probably won’t get his or her own movie that you think should get a TV series? Let us know in the comments below!

BTW… I’m going to admit. I don’t really know what Freeform is.

Pre-Pubescent Peter Parker Present in Previous Paramount Picture?

Just a week before the release of his new film, Spider-Man: Homecoming, titular star Tom Holland revealed a crazy development in the MCU.

In the 2010 film Iron Man 2, during the attack at the Stark Expo in Queens, NY (Peter Parker’s home town) Tony Stark saves a young boy who is wearing an Iron Man mask.

Well Holland revealed today that that little boy was none other than a young Peter Parker. That’s right, a full 6 years before Marvel Studios made the deal with Sony to add Spidey to the MCU, he was already in one of the films. Holland said in an interview,  “I can confirm that as of today. I literally had a conversation with Kevin Feige only 20 minutes ago. Maybe I’ve just done a big old spoiler, but it’s out there now. It’s cool. I like the idea that Peter Parker has been in the universe since the beginning.” This settles a long running fan theory that means that the heroes in this image:

are the same as the ones in this:

iron-man-2
What do you think about this new development? Are there more theories you hope become canon? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.

Happy Big, Green, Angry Anniversary 

‪On this day in 1962 Marvel Comics first exposed scientist Bruce Banner to Gamma radiation as he rescued a young man from an experimental bomb blast. This exposure would famously transform him into the Hulk, a raging creature of incredible strength, feared and misunderstood by the world around him. 

The Grey Goliath (later changed to his now familiar green due to difficulties in the coloring and printing process) has been featured in comic books and magazines, cartoons, and his own live action TV series (which spawned 3 made-for-TV movies.) In 2003 Eric Bana’s big screen Hulk adaptation was largely panned by audiences and critics, ultimately being re-booted and rolled in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008’s The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton (reprised by Mark Ruffalo in the Avengers films and the upcoming Thor Ragnarok)


While it’s fun to watch Dr Banner transform and for Hulk to.. well… smash, anger is something believers in Christ are told we must keep well under control. 

Ecclesiastes 7:9 Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.

Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

James 1:20 For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

When you find yourself feeling anger’s burn, whether someone has done you wrong, circumstances aren’t to your liking or just because you’re having a bad day, take a moment to pray. That’s ALWAYS the first move. Then stop to think of how your anger might negatively affect the situation, and consider how patience, kindness and grace would be far better friends, then put that answer away. The Bible tell us in Ephesians not to sin in our anger or let the sun go down on our anger, because anger does more damage the longer it camps. That’s not easy to do because anger robs us of our clarity, so it is wise to get ahead of the problem and make an everyday habit of living in kindness and grace. Lastly, when you’re fired up, refocus… remember the truest thing and give God praise. Our anxiety, embarrassment and anger usually come when we get our eyes off of Him and onto us anyway.  

Philippians 4:4-6 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

So be sure to wish a happy birthday to the Hulk today! You wouldn’t want to make him angry…