Watch “Rebellion Week on The Spiders Lair: This or That: The American Revolution versus the U.S. Civil War?” on YouTube
With GameStop looking at troubles I consider my best and worst GameStop memory. On the same line of thinking I reflect on Hastings, RadioShack, K-Mart and Sears.
I talked about the new Kirby game coming to Nintendo Switch.
I talked about other stuff, you’ll have to listen to get all the goodness. Stay Cool.
This time, it’s personal. A oft uttered phrase in trailers selling a movie sequel. I can’t remember how many 80’s movies used that tagline somewhere in their sequel marketing. The words ring in your ear when the deep voiced announcer utters it, usually imposed over the top of a frame of the film signalling the anger and frustration the protagonist is going to experience in the film.
The Gremlins franchise is one of those are iconic 80’s movies that almost became a full on franchise, yet somehow stopped after just two films. All the ingredients were there. They had video games, toys, the premise was perfect it could have easily spawned a Saturday morning cartoon and comic book. Instead we got more Killer Tomatoes the world could ever need and were left with just two entries in the Gremlins saga. Even Ghostbusters managed to get two Saturday morning cartoons in the form of The Real Ghostbusters and later Extreme Ghostbusters. Then, why were the Gremlins unable to follow suit? Much like Ghostbusters the movies blended horror and comedy perfectly in such a way they appealed to horror fans but were accessible to children and general audiences. It worked well enough but never took off. Then you have hard R rated gore fests like Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street or even Hellraiser continue on for decades after.
I contend the downfall of the Gremlins was two fold. The first attack on the franchise came in the aforementioned R rated horror genres. Critters satisfied the needs of sci-fi and horror fans looking to get their fix of cute monsters running amok. This didn’t leave much room in the hearts of cinema goers as the countless knock offs abounded, most did take the premise to deep into the R rated territory Gremlins was careful to avoid.
A darker, scarier Gremlins might have had a chance of sticking around in the world as Horror fans are notoriously more loyal than the fickle minded children who’s attention spans drag them unwittingly into the very next fad. This takes me to the second reason Gremlins failed to catch on as a long term franchise. It wasn’t that it was too much of a kids movie, it just wasn’t kid-friendly enough to keep the interests of the young fans. Unlike horror films, whose audience is built in as teenagers don’t have care when a movie was made they go out of their way to consume all the media their watchful guardians protest, or better still, forbid. Gremlins never had that taboo of being forbidden, so teenagers didn’t see it as nearly ideal as Friday the 13th or Child’s Play.
The other issue is once it was on the scene you had Goonies, Monster Squad and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids filling the niche Gremlins would have. It wasn’t entirely the same as an ensemble cast of misfit kids, which is part of the problem. By the time Gremlins his the scene the misfit class was ruling the world and kids identified with it. We wanted to see more freaks like us, less boring old traditionalists like the ultra-conservative characters portrayed in the Gremlins films. Not conservative in the political sense mind you just, you know old fashioned and boring.
Monster Squad and Goonies had kids swearing. The hinted at, but shied away from, teenage sexuality. The Gremlins were too adult for kids and too kiddie for adults. As such teenagers had no use for the safe horror movie their parents watched with them at Christmas time and thus it was relegated to a holiday themed oddity more than elevated into the status of cultural icon it deserved.
It was a shame because a harder, grittier and even gory Gremlins franchise would have been enjoyable in the long run to horror fans, but a more kid friendly franchise would have fizzled out probably quicker than what we ended up with anyways.
The problem was, the horror market was overly saturated. Could it have sustained another long running gore centered franchise? If you look at the Child’s Play series you get a sense of the type of movie fans would have accepted in a gory Gremlins. Especially once you get to The Bride of Chucky, you see vestiges of the template a R rated horror Gremlins franchise would have sustained. The problem is the filmmakers took it to the wrong extreme at the wrong time. By watering the sequel down you had a more kid friendly movie parents could safely use to babysit their kids. But this watering down killed off the franchises hope for longevity. Sure, they could have bolstered it with a goofy Saturday morning cartoon, hell even Teen Wolf got this treatment, but it would have died in the 80’s like so many of those other one off cartoons based on adult movies targeted towards children.
The movie I picture is divorced from the Christmas setting. It has the same premise, a boy gets a cute, exotic pet for a birthday present or some other such occasion. Then it slowly begins to devolve into the mischief we see in the film, before the green monsters take it to the horror extreme. Death. Mayhem, decapitations and gore ensure. The movie has a similar tone and iconic imagery but it’s gorier, it’s scarier and there is a sense of immediacy, the Gremlins will go into hiding during, probably into the sewers, during the day to fester and wait for their opportunity to rise up and begin the killing spree again.
I picture a movie rebooting the franchise with a Hard R, plenty of gore and a character who doesn’t have a safe, boring job as a bank teller but is a comic artist who is struggling to pay bills working at some nothing job like the real people in that situation would have been, making him more relatable.
Here is the problem. It’s too late to reboot it as a gory, R rated franchise as too much time has passed. Nostalgia will dictate a movie that goes out of it’s way to recapture the magic of the 80’s while trying to appeal to a wider audience. In a world filled with super hero movies and special effects outings the stakes are much higher and this presents the problem of how to you make the Gremlins scary in today’s world? We have even more opportunities to shine bright light on the little creatures. Nevermind the fact the Critters franchise is, yet again, getting a new entry long after the vastly superior and far more entertaining Gremlins franchise has been put to rest.
Everyone is familiar with the phrase the cola wars. It referred to the increased competition between Pepsi Co. and Coca-Cola Inc. in their pursuit to utilize the media to win over the largest loyal customer base to their respective drinks. But what about the Root Beer Wars? I guess it doesn’t sound as cool as Cola Wars for some reason.
Let me indulge in a trip down memory lane. The year was sometime in the very late 1980’s. Society was well dominated by the new video game culture. At the time home video games were starting to come into their own while the video arcade remained the dominant place a young gamer would go to experience the wonders of the new technology.
I was one such gamer. My dad took me into a bar he frequented to get a snack. It was a plate of curly fries and a cheeseburger. He ordered me a glass of root beer and I sat at the table, which was a cocktail table playing Ms. Pac-Man. My earliest memory of video games was born, married to the memory of drinking a root beer soda and eating junk food. As I grew up the three activities remained intertwined in a surely unhealthy habit I should probably reconsider. Nonetheless it stirred something up. You see at the time, and even to this day, I remained indifferent to the taste of root beer. As a classic, or even iconic American drink I savor the soda in all it’s splendor, true. But there is a part of me which prefers the tangier twinge of the citrus flavored sodas. In fact I distinctly remember asking my dad at the bar for my favored drink, at the time, a Squirt. It was to my dismay the bartender told us he didn’t offer the drink leaving me with the root beer to sip on.
Over the years I have explored the three primary flavors of root beer. This is not to say anything of the creme soda or even more rare birch beer, but let’s focus entirely on the three big ones. In our house hold it became almost a cultural divide, a rallying cry. My sister one preferred Barqs and it’s alleged “bite.” Yet another sister enjoyed the bubbles of the Mug root beer. I myself came to prefer the smooth, rich taste of the only true root beer that matters, the classic A&W. Yet this war raged on.
My parents were also indifferent. In the cola wars they took a firm side. Dad it was Diet Pepsi, mom it was Dr. Pepper. My preferred soda of course was Squirt until it became harder to find and I switched to the more common alternative, Mountain Dew. Still we each had our own preference. The problem was my parents weren’t about to buy 6 different containers of soda, for that was the number of individuals living in our childhood household. I had to share in the soda drinking with my three sisters. Often they would get 2 12 packs at a time. It was whatever my dad liked and the kids had to agree on one. Since we couldn’t all agree, I preferred citrus drinks, one sister Colas and another Dr. Pepper, they some how forced us to drink root beer instead. It was the way of many parents. Often times we got stuck with the generic, usually Shasta sometimes the store brand. But one occasion they would let us pick the name brand, usually birthday parties or other celebrations.
Thus we were forced with another conundrum. We couldn’t get the soda flavor of our choice so it was a root beer, the issue came down again to which one. I championed for A&W on the grounds that if we were forced to drink a root beer it might as well be a good tasting one. My sisters disagreed. The one who liked Barqs made the case the commercials said it had bite and it was therefore better. The baby sister, who let me assure you did in fact always get her way, liked Mug, so guess which soda we drank. Oh if you had to guess anything other than Mug you would be as wrong as you could be.
It was always a similar show at the restaurant. The glorious family outing was a rare sight. Usually it was once every two weeks and always on our way to the bi-monthly shopping. It never mattered which restaurant we went, each kid had to harass the waitress for the entire list of soda choices every single time. First was my older sister. She usually settled on a cola or a tea. My mom Dr. Pepper or whichever alternative they offered that was closest. My younger sister picked Pepsi if available but would go down her list of what was acceptable should Pepsi not be offered. She refused to drink Coca-Cola unless it was offered in a Cherry Coke. My baby sister it was root beer, she mysteriously wasn’t as picky when it came to restaurants as she was at home. I always pointed out she drank A&W at the restaurant why force us to drink the nasty Mug at home. Oh it was surely to spite me there is no doubt there.
I was the worse. I was completely indecisive. First up, do you have Mountain Dew. If yes, do you have the cherry mix you can add to it? If no bring me a Mountain Dew. If the answer to the first was no, we entered a Sheldon Cooper style process of elimination.
Waitress would respond, no but we have Sprite. I would scoff at her it’s not the same. What else do you have. If they had root beer I asked is it A&W, if the answer was no I skipped. I had to go down to the cola. If they were offering Coke and there was nothing else acceptable I’d get a coke. Acceptable was Squirt, Fresca or Surge. If none of those were available I asked if they had an orange soda. If that was no available and it came down to coke or root beer I asked A&W. If it was a no, I would then settle for coke. My parents always snapped just get a coke you always get a coke. I responded but I hate coke. I would like to hear the options in case they did offer something I would prefer over coke. Some places did just that which forced me to reconsider the options. Cherry soda, but not cherry Mountain Dew was out. But if they offered cherry flavor I could settle for a cherry mix added to Sprite, or in rare cases 7up.
I have strayed too far from the topic at hand. The root beer issue became easier when we went to a gas station and were allowed the opportunity to purchase our own individual bottle of soda. Aw yes those were the best of times indeed. Sadly for my parents the restaurant issue played out again. I had my favorite drink. If it was available great grabbed it I did and we were on our merry way. If not I went through each and every single row until I found the closest to what my taste buds were craving. Sometimes I would get an urge for a drink I hadn’t had in a while. Maybe it was an Hawaiian Punch, or a Orange Crush. Sometimes it would be something off the wall like a Yoo-hoo! or even those rare times I found a Squirt. I wish I could say I have grown up and now I grab what is there, but to this day the cycle continues. Just this very morning I found myself at a station sold out of the drinks, in order, until I had to settle for one I have come to terms with but still isn’t my preferred.
Now when I do get a craving for a root beer I insist on buying an A&W in whichever form it is sold. Often it’s the 2 liter bottle. Sometimes it is the 12 pack. Very rare instances I will grab it in the 20 oz. Somethings never change. For me, the more flavors of soda they offer the harder it becomes for me to find one. Before it was easy, they didn’t have Code Red they had regular Mountain Dew, if not I settled for a root beer or the closet thing I could find to a Mountain Dew. Today, they might be out of Code Red and have 60 bottles of regular Mountain Dew but it would take me eliminating countless others before I settle for the soda that was once my go-to option.
I have other root beer memories, there were times, especially at the lake, we were stuck with Baqs because that was what the gas station close by sold. In order of preference, for me, it will be A&W, then if nothing is available Dr. Pepper. I will have to go down the list quite a ways before I settle for a Mug or *shudder* a Barqs root beer.
Was Bumblebee really the Transformers movie Generation 1 fans have been waiting for this whole time?
Ah movie reviews. Not my cup of tea. Hell, I don’t even drink tea. Why should I let that nullify the expression? I guess not.
There has been a war raging among the internet faithful. The TransFans, as they were once called, have been bickering over the status of the Transformers franchise ever since the internet began to transmit data into our homes over phone lines. In previous years the fight was between the die hard G1 faithful and the mouth-breathing Beast Wars fanatics. The rift ran deep into the Transformers fandom splitting them into two camps, not unlike the infamous Star Wars Special Editions. Yet at the core we all agreed on a few key points, mostly the war between living robots from the planet Cybertron and how it was depicted on the small and big screen must continue to bring us entertainment.
The factions aside the live action movies have been received with mixed reactions. There seems to be a large enough audience to keep them in production, yet there continues to be a pull in both directions to satisfy both camps, the Beast Fans and the Beast Haters. There is no middle ground really. Not for someone who soundly rejects the Beast era and all of the ways it contaminated the pure Transformers brand. Even today the argument continues to go in the favor of the G1 fans despite the movies making a mockery of the G1 canon while adhering to a tight walk between the two. This is the long way of saying the Beast fans keep pushing their monkey into our pure metallic world.
Each movie continued to push the organic look of the robots, with mannerisms modeled after an organic, beast era style of body movements. This contamination was intentional. The filmmakers wanted the robots to be based on the cars and planes we grew up with, while keeping the organic element pervasive enough to satisfy the Beast fans too. That is why despite turning into a truck in the 2007 film, Optimus Prime looks and behaves more like Optimus Primal than the G1 hero we all grew up idolizing.
You cannot go into Bumblebee without bearing in mind the struggle we have had to fight just to see a purely G1 canonized portrayal of OUR beloved Transformers, the ORIGINAL transformers displayed correctly and properly with no ties to the Beast ere. I am not anti Beast, make a Beast Wars movie I’d ACTUALLY love to see that. Introduce the Predacons I’d be all for that. but adhere to the tropes of the established continuity rather than straddling a middle ground. The cartoons did this best, simply put they gave the world PURE beast cartoons and PURE metal cartoons, why then should the films mix the two?
Bumblebee starts off on Cybertron. Not the Michael Bay bastardization of Cybertron we see depicted in the previous films, we see *the* Cybertron we grew up with in the original G1 cartoon. The film shows us brightly colored, metallic robot beings with robotic movements and mannerisms and robotic faces. Not a living organism with metal skin, not a robot wearing fur to protect it from the energon, no we see the very Cybertronian war we have been damn well asking for since the original film was first revealed.
The movie immediately shifts to Earth. From there it does a good job firmly planting us back in 1987, the middle of the G1 cartoon universe. It doesn’t take place in Tacoma, Washington, but at least it’s set on the West Coast so they get that right. Also, Sector 7 is mentioned but there hasn’t yet been a full on merging of the mythos. This is clearly a Generation One live action film with just barely enough allusions to tie it into what comes later. This is acceptable because the G1 cartoons did exist BEFORE the Beast Wars so it makes sense to finally separate the two. You can have a blend later because that is what the comics and toys have done since, but we still needed to see a live action film set almost entirely in the original G1 cartoon universe. This movie could be redone in the animation style of the classic cartoon and edited into the canon and hardly anyone would notice. It was the film a die hard G1 loyalist such as myself had been waiting to see. I don’t mind occasional hints of what comes later, the first two films were pretty good movies.
The human character is very important. Unlike a whiny, spoiled post-millennial teenager who demands the world be handed to him on a silver platter and yells on the top of his lungs constantly to get his way, this human has real heart, emotions, human traits. Sam was a caricature. He was there to move the plot forward nothing more. The human in this film, which I have already forgotten her name but she was important nonetheless. She was a real person to me. I could see myself rooting for her life outside of the movie. I can see her past, her childhood forming. I felt for her. I was sad for her when it was appropriate and glad for her when it was acceptable. She was a real character even more than Spike from the old cartoons.
Bumblebee himself was the best. Not just how he turned into the Nazi war symbol we all loved him as when we were kids, but also his child-like innocence. In the original cartoons Bumblebee was often bewildered by human behavior yet he was always seen doing everything he could to fit into human society. He was truly Spike’s best friend. That relationship was carried over into this film. There was a mutual respect they were friends. In the 2007 and subsequent film Revenge of the Fallen, Spike and Bumblebee’s relationship were more like protector and pet, only the film never established firmly which one was the pet. I never cared for that. Bumblebee was mischievous for no logical reason. In the context of the retconning this movie does, it’s a little more palatable but I still need to revisit the film to decide for myself once and for all.
There is a scene in the G1 first season where Spike is hanging around a video arcade with Bumblebee walking around. That scene depicts the very nature of the character I wanted to see in this film. They have a few moments that made me recall that picture. It was a nice nod to the original cartoon that ALL of the stuff that followed owes a debt of gratitude. As I have always said, the Beast stuff can exist and is fine, but they need to acknowledge without the G1 stuff there wouldn’t have been a Beast Wars to begin with.
The action in this movie is also not going to satisfy the fans of the series. It’s far from head the dizzying explosions and shaky cam stuff the latter films are known for. In fact the movie is very much more reminiscent of Short Circuit than a Transformers film.
The characters are real, the story is believable and the action is fitting. By the end of the movie my heart had warmed and I felt a twinge of gratitude towards the filmmakers from sitting down and saying, here you go Merry Christmas TransFans, we’re sorry for Dark of the Moon here is the film you were picturing in your head when we announced a live action Transformers movie.
It has minor flaws, as all movies do. But nothing stood out to me as glaringly obvious. The first film was riddle with cringe worthy moments I edited out myself in the first ever Fan Edit I made in an attempt to salvage what was there. I see no need to ever have to do that with this. I only wish there was a way to transpose the character models from this movie over the top of the other films to at least salvage what is there. Oh well, nothing is perfect, but the Bumblebee movie gets about as close as a movie about alien robots ever could. I give it a perfect score, five our of five. I saw no need to defend this or that, it felt entirely fresh and familiar at the same time. It was a blast to watch and a joy to experience.
The first thing I noticed when I was being raised in my Evangelical upbringing was how Hollywood always portrayed Christians as superstitious Catholics. This was used by some in my circle to prove the error of Catholicism by pointing out the “World” represented by Hollywood, only viewed Catholics as Christian thus proving Catholicism was born of the world, so to speak.
Recently I began watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. As a faithful Christian I have always struggled with TV shows and movies that glorify the occult. I have a strong ability to separate those things that are entertainment and those that are offensive with the intent to offend. I don’t enjoy politically biased documentaries for this reason. I prefer politically neutral documentaries that present the facts and allow the viewer to make up their own mind. For this reason when I see something like Sabrina I am torn. I enjoyed the original show tremendously and watched it regularly despite warnings from my ecclesiastically focused friends it was allegedly satanic. I dismissed many of their claims and went about watching the show.
This presents a problem for me. The new show is a whole lot more obvious in their devotion to “The Dark Lord” and makes claims that the Christian God is the “False God.” Even though it is a TV show, this does not sit well with me. Yet, I find myself going back and watching the show. Why?
This is where it gets complicated. I am not going to present this from a doctrinal or theological perspective, I will reserve that for the individual to make up their mind. Rather I am going to present what my view is on the role of religion within movies. I have come to accept the Hollywood portrayal of Catholics is as far from reality as their portrayal of Evangelicals. Thus I can conclude there is probably some similar exaggerations taking place in a show which features a clearly pagan religious perspective. For example, there are Wizards in Lord of the Rings. They are not pagan in the classical sense, meaning they don’t believe their power is sourced by the pantheon of the gods. Rather, they believe their power comes directly from the energies of the universe. From the perspective of entertainment, that is the precepts contained in something like D&D or even Final Fantasy, there are distinctions between science, arcane magic and religious magic. There is tremendous overlap but from the context of the fantasy game set they are clearly distinct from one another.
This is where I stand on movies. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe I accept that the Asgardians are mortal beings in the material plane with access to and knowledge of manipulating the powers of the universe using what humans on Earth refer to as magic and thus they are worshiped as gods. They, the gods of Asgard, do not forbid or forsake the worship as gods they in fact welcome it despite knowing full well the reality is to the contrary. Still, I accept that within the context of the MCU the Asgardians are not gods, merely super heroes no different than the X-Men or Spider-Man. This is easy to accept.
From certain eschatological perspectives this is going to become a problem. I am not going to discuss those at this time. Rather I am going to preface this by saying I can accept that in the context of the MCU Thor is NOT a god, while in real-world Christianity he is akin to a false god, or even a demon depending on the Christian perspective.
This anything that is not Christian is pagan and anything that is pagan is satanic is often used to condemn basically anything a person could choose to do so.
Then why do I not give the same benefit of the doubt to Sabrina? For starters within the context of the show the Christian God is the villain. He is represented as a monster, a liar, and a false prophet. The Dark Lord, as they refer to him mostly, is glorified and in the context of the show, is the true god. This doesn’t sit well with me. But I can dig further.
In the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise the Christian mythology is evoked equally with heathen religion. There are multiple instances of the Christian God being supreme while the heathen gods having power, an example would be the cursed gold from the first film. The movies remain ambiguous on which power is at play. There is a balance but since the films are set in a parallel film universe based on but not set in our physical universe I can accept that. Basically it comes down to reverence for the Christian God.
There are scores of horror movies that have evil represented by the devil, or some spiritual force that could be a stand in for the Devil. This is acceptable to me because we, as Christians, accept the Devil as evil. The forces of Good are combating the forces of evil thus any allegory to that structure is permissible. I liken it to referencing the Slasher films as morality tales. I don’t have an issue with that.
Why, then, do I draw the line with Sabrina? Or rather, should I?
It comes down to personal preference alone. I use this example. I can enjoy the Omen, the Exorcist and even The Shining as works of literature. No problem. I go a step further and often proclaim my favorite film of all time as the horror movie A Nightmare on Elm Street. This is clearly something I cannot shy away from. But even in those instances there is no reference to the origin or source of the powers, be them evil or good. This ambiguity allows me to place the art or literature into it’s own category, in my view a movie universe parallel to our own with similar, but slightly modified laws of physics. This is how I can accept a film with an extra-terrestrial Superman flying around powered by the solar rays that give cancer to ordinary inhabitants of our planet.
At first I was able to compartmentalize Sabrina and place it in the same box. In this universe thus is so. However something didn’t sit well with me. In this universe MY God was not being given the respect and devotion he deserves but rather being proclaimed a false god. I have seen horror movies that take this same approach but they present it as such, the divide between Protestantism and Catholicism, in other words they usually have a form of religion, a symbol of a church, but because it is the “false church” their proponents don’t have the power of God thus they are often portrayed as false. For example Dracula and other Vampire movies. They borrow heavily from European myths mingled with superstition and Christianity. There are often Christian symbols, holy water and the Cross or crucifix depending on the portrayal, being used to defeat the vampires, or forces of evil.
As I examine this I pull it back and let this be the deciding factor for me, not based on an intellectual argument or even a theological argument. I base it on what I am comfortable with personally.
As I watch Sabrina I hear them exhaling Satan and demonizing My Lord, I feel a twinge of disgust. It doesn’t sit well with me. I am not going to make the claim it *IS* Satanic and thus forbid or implore anyone to not watch it. Rather I am going to state why *I* have decided it is too much for me and invite others to either defend it, with in reason and not using personal attacks or logical fallacy, or I would ask that in this case my views be respected and I not be expected to defend my point other than it makes me uncomfortable to watch so I am recusing myself from it, for the time being.
This is not to say I will apply this analysis to other works of literature or artistic expression. After all, you have to draw the line somewhere of what is acceptable and what is not. For me, I can accept a movie about a pedophile being condemned to hell and sentenced to invade the dreams of the relatives of those who judged him using illegitimate means. The basis is on the fact that neither Mans law (Justice) nor God (Church law) judged him accordingly, thus despite him being evil in life, his death was unjust opening the door for the spiritual forces in the context of that franchise to provide a middle ground. He remains in hell tormented for all eternity, but he is permitted to get revenge upon those who were also unjust in slaying him. It’s acceptable to my perspective because it fits the real of what is to be expected. God demands, in the real of Christianity, to adhere to mans laws as placed in jurisdiction over us. The exception is when those laws prevent a person from expressing their obedience to God’s commands. Thus, it is my perspective, based on purely my own understanding, that disobeying God’s law does not justify disobeying mans law. In other words, the parents who murder Fred Krueger are as guilty of the sin of murder as the man they killed. Rather, if the courts, appointed by man respected by God, permitted him to trial and he was sentenced to death, he would not be justified in returning to this world, either in physical or metaphysical form, he would be firmly condemned to Hell.
This is how I can accept A Nightmare on Elm Street without a twinge of strong guilt but, currently, cannot do the same for The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Maybe upon further examination I will change my mind. At this point, and in the future, I will not ever condemn another for their choices. Watch the show if you find it acceptable, while I am going to currently refrain from such until further notice.
I didn’t want this to be entirely focused exclusively on Sabrina. After all there was a certain amount of nostalgia at play tugging me into the desire to see it. I also rather enjoyed the few episodes I did watch of it.
Sometimes finding the right church family takes a leap of faith. I recently began working towards the goal of getting closer to God. My intent is to strengthen my faith and become a better person. I am largely motivated by shedding my old self and starting anew. Part of it stems from the new year, as it is often the case. For me, however, this year it runs deeper.
I have begun facing a cataclysmic shift in my fundamental views on Christianity. I am beginning to ask questions I previously took for granted.
There has always been one underlying rift in all of Christianity, the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and those churches that exist outside of Roman Catholicism.
At the core of this rift is the authority of the church. The question is where does Church authority lie, in the laymen, the piety or the hierarchy? Depending on how one answers that question is the core of whether or not that person can even begin to consider the process of entering the Catholic faith, if they started their journey outside it’s doors.
Beginning in the 1500’s there was a Protestant Reformation. Originally the intent of the priest who began the reformation was to address issues that was perceived as errors within the church. Specifically Martin Luther had concerns he wished to resolve. Originally his intention, as I understand it, was not to leave the church but to reform it, or cleanse it from the errors he perceived. At the crux of his argument lied within the central authority of Rome. The papacy, or the Supremacy of the Bishop of Rome was called into question. Those who rejected the Papacy split into their own denominations. The common narrative is there had been one, central Christian church united world wide before the Reformation. Except this is also not entirely accurate.
Five hundred years before the Reformation was another Schism, this one known as the Great Schism by those who study church history. The rift then was also over Papal authority. The Catholics claim papal authority is traced back to Saint Peter, an Apostle the Church claims was given profound powers directly by Jesus himself, the Son of God according to Christian beliefs.
This was further complicated as there is a 400 year period between the life of the apostles and the official canonization of the Holy Scriptures collected into the modern interpretation of what Christians of many faiths refer to simply as The Bible. As such there is a question of authority all churches today do have to wrestle with. The catholic claim of apostolic succession is well documented but it has some areas that is often used against the church. The early Church Fathers did believe in Apostolic Succession, this is the laying on of hands and ordination. Churches today express ordaining of ministers in different ways but the concept of passing the faith on from the Apostles to their followers is not in dispute. The dispute comes from the extent of the authority of the Church that was established in Rome and the central figure who sits as the Bishop of Rome.
At the heart of it the split comes over does a believer accept the Church on earth as established by Jesus as the central authority whose role is to keep the Word preserved and to protect the flock, or is the Bible alone the sole authority one must live by and church authority is merely relegated to communal worship matters?
This question has beleaguered the Christian faithful since the last Apostle passed on to the next world.
All other matters of Doctrine, be it Predestination, Calvinism, Dispensationalism, Pre-Tribulational Rapturism, Fundamentalism, Catholicism, Marianism, Iconography, and the list goes on and on, they can be debated until the Second Coming of Christ.
What all churches within the Christian faith do have in common is a few key points. They are mostly contained in what the Church historians call the Nicene Creed. This creed is an explanation of the faith. It lists the key points all the churches that existed at the time agreed upon and is the doctrinal basis for the faith. It is not the source of the faith as some might try to say, it is merely a confirmation of what Christians ought to agree as universally true.
There are no single points in the Nicene Creed I, raised a Baptist and Baptized as such, disagree with. There are matters of worldly doctrine, things that in my view have no bearing on ones salvation, that are contested by the thousands of denominations.
While the Catholic Church can claim their roots to in fact go all the way back to the Apostles as Paul frequently visited the Church in Rome, they are not the only Christian denomination which can claim apostolic succession. While I have come to accept that as essential to the faith, the apostles did anoint their successors, I do not yet feel convinced there is sufficient evidence to claim only those anointed by the and into the Roman Catholic Church can make that claim.
This is not a treatise on anti-Catholicism nor is it a declaration of intent to convert, rather what I am wrestling with is discovering the truth. Can a Christian come to salvation without the aid of the Roman church, and likewise can a Christian lose their salvation by participating in the practices of said church?
At the end of the day my calling to the Catholic Church remains overwhelming, I have always been plagued by the schism and the Reformation as signs of disunity in the Church, I am merely an individual person who doesn’t have the authority to speak definitively on such matters. Yet I am hesitant as there are a number of issues I have to reconcile. Either I accept the churches authority and let them settle the matters or I let that be a sticking point keeping me from entering the Catholic Church.
What I can say is, I have attended a Catholic service and it wasn’t what I expected. Being raised Baptist I was expecting to walk into a pagan ritual that looked nothing like Christianity. Instead I saw something entirely different.
I have since read books on the history. I have researched the topic from the perspective of the Catholic church, those outside it and from a purely neutral humanist or educational perspective, meaning I have explored it from all three possible angles.
I have come to the following conclusion.
1, if the church is not necessary for salvation and 2, if it cannot hinder one’s salvation then 3, there must be no objection to the services of the church other than orthodoxy and doctrinal issues. Doctrine and Orthodoxy are not issues that would, or should, keep any Christian from fellowship with any body of believers. I in fact now believe we shouldn’t lump together with only like-minded individuals but rather should congregate with others with different views so we can all share ideas. Personally, my intention has been to explore a separate entity entirely, namely the branch of the Anglican church in the United States known as the Episcopal Church. My reason for the struggle has been settling the issue of the liturgy and the doctrine. Once I came to the conclusion that man’s salvation is based solely on their faith and intent alone, I removed my doubts about attending a church I felt comfortable in.
At this moment in time I am leaving the door open to Catholicism. I have reached out to the local church to welcome me in. They have yet to respond to my request. I have since met with a pastor of the Episcopal Church and have, at the time being, found a peace knowing I am comfortable leaving behind the Baptist tradition as I seek something new. I am not denouncing my faith, I never identified as Baptist I merely attended their churches, almost exclusively for one reason or another.
I am at a point where I do wish to be in one of the three branches closer in nature to the original church, as I understand it to be. Since the Apostles were all Jews it stands to reason the churches that express their faiths similar to the Jewish faith, modified as it were to show the fullness of the Christ, it means to me reasonable to consider those, at least on matters of liturgy and Orthodoxy, closer to the original church.
Thus my new study is to reconcile my questions regarding the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church or the Anglican (Episcopal) church. If at such a time as I can settle this issue maybe I will find the peace I sat out to find. I was initially turned off by the liturgy as quite different to the church services I was used to. Recently I have found myself not attending any church at all and that is a lonely place for any Christian to be.
My entire life has been spent worshiping the Lord in one of the mostly uniquely American denominations there is. As I have realized much of my objection to the “un-American” churches stems from that core belief in American Exceptionalism, American Freedom and American Values, I have to set that aside and declare I am a Christian first, an American second. That is a point of view contrary to some “Patriots” who conflate patriotism with unquestionable devotion. I do not. I believe one can love their country and question it’s actions at the same time. Likewise I believe the Church, the Universal Church of Believers that makes up the Body of Christ on this Earth, is made up of imperfect beings in a world tainted with Sins of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve.
That being the case my current view is I have to accept the good with the bad. There are points of contention with any church. I have found none, including the Baptist and even the Catholics, are not perfect. Yet if you really pay attention, none of them claim to be. Neither do I.
This is it, the end of 2018.
Some people are going to say it was a good year for them. Others will argue it wasn’t. It was certainly a roller coaster for me.
I am still planning on recording a proper, New Year’s Special Anniversary episode of The Dark Web Podcast. Think of this as my not preview of that but the stuff that isn’t likely to get deep discussion on the podcast.
I can’t confirm this because I haven’t dug deep yet but this could be the first year in video game history a new console or platform hasn’t launched. I did a closer look a year ago and I discovered, even if you restrict yourself to the United States, there was a new video game product or platform (new machine or way to play games) every single year since the first game consoles launched, those being the Pong and Odyssey system’s respectively.
I didn’t find any information on anything significant launching this year. Granted, in my previous analysis I did not count retro consoles that played only old games, so the Playstation Classic or other Plug and Play systems were not on my list. Surprisingly enough I still discovered a new, even often failed, console launched in some form every single year.
Even still, for me, the year was more about reconnecting with my retro roots than it was about discovering new games. Most of the year was spent trying to get back on my feet after a shake up in my personal life left me unemployed for nearly three months of the year.
I purchased a Sega Genesis earlier in the year and then by the end of the year I picked up a Nintendo Entertainment System. The best part of those two consoles was they were the two systems I owned as a kid. Technically we had a machine that played Atari 2600 games but since it wasn’t officially mine and it wasn’t an actual Atari branded product, I don’t count it as something I wish to explore. Maybe someday, as I expand my collecting but for now I want to focus on the systems I have an emotional connection with.
I started with the Sega Genesis because it had a profound impact on my upbringing. It was the first system my parents gave to me that was mine alone. I didn’t have to share it with my sisters at all. They were relegated to the NES. This didn’t stop me from inviting them to enjoy it nor did it stop me from going backwards to the Nintendo, it just meant this was a starting point for me. I can also say the Genesis, along with Sonic 2, played a role in my first exploratory encounter of a female partner. I won’t dig into the details but I will say it helped introduce me to new experiences in that regard.
Then there is Mortal Kombat. I talk a lot about the impact this game had on me as a teenager. Specifically as an angry teenager who was tired of being picked on at school I finally had an outlet for my aggression that wasn’t going to land me in detention, or worse. This game became my therapy for a good many years. I was fortunate my parents purchased me Mortal Kombat 1 and Mortal Kombat 2 on the same Christmas morning. Oh it was a great day for me.
Over the years my love for the Sega Genesis continued to grow. Unlike, say a Turbo Grafix 16 where a person would have to defend it entirely on the basis of nostalgia, the Genesis was a true contender to the crown. It didn’t have every exact game it’s competition did, but more often than not it had a comparable counterpart, and in many cases a superior alternative to boot. The system is quite easily a true equal to the Nintendo machine it fought against.
I went through the middle part of the year in a slump, so to speak. I left my job to pursue a new career. I migrated from Texas to California in the hopes of getting back into Television. I studied Broadcasting in college and got my start in the media business working for a TV station.
I ended up taking a detour to hell, known by locals as Jackpot, Nevada. I can’t quite wrap my head around how exactly it happened but in the end it was the motivation I needed to get my life back. I turned right around back to Texas and landed a better job than I left to pursue. It worked out in the end but it was a rough couple of months in the middle.
Once I got financially back on my feet I made a conscious decision to begin collecting NES games again. I made a payment plan with a local used video game store to get an NES and I picked it up the week of Christmas. It was perfect timing too. I got my first NES for Christmas in 1988. This was exactly 30 years later and it was such a sigh of relief being able to wash my depressing year away with a fondly remembered item from my childhood.
I didn’t get all the games I wanted but I got only good games with a meaningful attachment for me. Look for a separate YouTube video soon on the pickups and then an in depth article closely behind on what each game means to me.
The year was also a time for trying new ideas. I stated the year strong with a brand new podcast and a YouTube video series to go along with it. I started The Dark Web Podcast as a replacement for The Spiders Lair Podcast I killed only months prior. I also began doing a broadcast TV style news show called The Dark Web TV. It proved to be too cumbersome to produce a 30 minute broadcast and a 2 hour podcast each week so I had to kill the videos to keep the podcast alive.
Facing burn out I stopped doing YouTube videos entirely outside of a couple vlog’s here and there. I did a few pick ups throughout the year but nothing meaningful.
Things improved when I got motivated to start The Dark Web Daily Show, a daily radio style news broadcast once a day to supplement the weekly podcast and replace the lacking web videos. I finally killed that off once I went back to work full time at a daily newspaper. By late October I found a new format for videos to breath new life into the channel.
I am now doing those consistently with a format I can manage. I took a little break to spend some time with family over the holidays. I am now going into the new year refreshed and revived.
In a personal development I dated a girl for a couple of weeks before realizing it wasn’t working out for me. I had to restructure my church life too. As a result I began exploring denominations I had previously considered off limits. I won’t get into the details here but I had a calling awaken me to a new spiritual light. I am trying to go into 2019 with a renewed focus on my faith. That shouldn’t have any impact, negatively I hope, on the work I am doing here, on the podcast or over at the YouTube channel.
Subscribe to the channel for more Christmas and New Year’s videos coming soon!