Paddington 2

dancing bears


This movie is an excellent example of advances in modern technology: its screenplay could have easily been written by an artificial intelligence. Don’t accept a mediocre film just because it’s ‘for kids’ and is less toxic than the various other kinds of imaginative runoff we channel towards our children. (With each year the channels grow deeper and wider, and the brains of the next generation grow more and more encrusted with the barnacles of a dull imagination, caked with the resin of visual passivity.)

Hugh Grant being funny on occasion does not make a good film. A fuzzy protagonist does not make a good film either. Although on that note, the computer generated characters of the past two decades are without exception slimy looking eyesores and I refuse to accept any of them. I don’t care how good you think the technology has gotten: the fur looks SLIMY. This is especially a shame because of how nice Paddington’s original design of red hat and duffle coat is.

Exposing your children repeatedly to ugly things in colorful disguise will dull their awareness of the beautiful. I could believe that an orphan wandering a brutal concrete communist hellscape can be awed by the sudden revelation of beauty in a resiliently sprouting flower, or can dearly love a book that is kept hidden in the walls. But when you take your hypnotized child out to see the natural wonders of creation, or try to teach them the great paintings of history, and you see in their eyes blank incomprehension-you should know this movie and others like it are the reason why.

These Bodies High On A Stage


O blessed Letters, that combine in one,
All Ages past, and make one live with all:
By you, we do confer with who are gone,
And the dead-living unto Counsel call:
By you, th’unborn shall have communion
Of what we feele, and what doth us befall.
-Musophilus, Samuel Daniel

Let us haste to hear it
And call the noblest to the audience.
-Fortinbras, Hamlet, William Shakespeare

Critics love Hamlet not just because it is a masterpiece, but because it is also a play which reveals the purpose of stagecraft and the power of all literature. Critics find so much satisfaction in it because, besides its many other virtues, it reminds them that their job is meaningful. Hamlet impresses upon us the fact that the stories we tell, the letters we write, and the plays we stage are actually important. Books and plays are the ghosts and voices of our fathers: they are the dead teaching the living. To know the truth and to be virtuous, even the king must listen. The plot of Hamlet revolves around literature and play-acting as a means of power, of revealing truth, and of instilling virtue in royalty. The play reminds us why we must treasure the tragedies of the past.
In the beginning of the play, Hamlet is almost entirely powerless—or so he thinks. His feigned madness—a sort of one-man play, if you will—is the beginning of his break from the accepted order of the court, which is in many ways the most deceptive theatre in the whole story. It is, however, his growing power as an actor and writer that allows him to fulfill his destiny as a prince. The major turning points in Hamlet’s personal journey are marked by writing and talk of literature. When Hamlet first meets with the ghost of his father, he comes to the conclusion: ‘Ay, thou poor ghost, whiles memory holds a seat in this distracted globe. Remember thee? Yea, from the table of my memory I’ll wipe away all trivial, fond records, all saws of books, all forms, all pressures past, that youth and observation copied there, and thy commandment all alone shall live within the book and volume of my brain, unmixed with baser matter.’ (1.5.103-111) He then writes down his determination to execute his duty as a prince listening to his father’s instruction.

Everything in the court is fake, and so the only way to reveal the truth is to write a play. Hamlet tells us: ‘The purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.’ (3.2.21-26) Thus, through Hamlet’s writing, the king’s guilt is unmasked.

But Hamlet does not go on to execute justice as he should, because of his self-absorption and fear. Hamlet should be trusting in God, obeying his father, and acting righteously on behalf of the state, but instead he waffles about between hatred and fear. He is afraid that his calling to act like a king will lead to his death—and he is right. But this indecision is what draws him closer to the audience, because we too pass our lives wrestling with indecision over the smallest matters. We feel pity at his struggles, but also relief, knowing that we will likely never have to put our life on the line for the sake of the kingdom. Contemplating his own death fills Hamlet with indecision, most evidently in the play’s most famous soliloquy. But the contemplation of others who are dead fills him with the determination to fulfill his duty: the ghost of his father, the body of Polonius, the skull of Yorick, the legacy of Alexander, and finally the sight of Ophelia’s body all move him towards his end. This brings to mind the medieval practice of memento mori, that is, contemplating death in order to die well. Hamlet’s personal journey is very much an arc where he slowly learns to accept that, as the prince, his noble death is required to remove a murderous king and heal Denmark’s rot.

The final scene of the play begins with talk of one play and ends with talk of another. For the first, Hamlet is explaining to Horatio how he escaped Rosencrantz and Guildernstern: ‘They had begun the play. I sat me down, devised a new commission, wrote it fair—I once did hold it, as our statists do, a baseness to write fair, and labored much how to forget that learning; but, sir, now it did me yeoman’s service.’ (5.2.35-40) The ability to write, though he once abhorred it, is what allowed him to rewrite the message to the English and turn the tables on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. In other words, Hamlet is rewriting the very course of the play so that he can return to Denmark and fulfill his duty.

The final metaphorical play lies in the very conclusion of the story. After Hamlet’s death, Horatio says, ‘Give order that these bodies high on a stage be placed to the view, and let me speak to th’ yet unknowing world how these things came about.’ (5.2.419-422) Fortinbras, soon to be king, replies: ‘Let us haste to hear it and call the noblest to the audience.’ (429-430) Horatio continues: ‘But let this same be presently performed even while men’s minds are wild, lest more mischance on plots and errors happen.’ (437-440) And in the final word of the play, Fortinbras declares: ‘Let four captains bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage, for he was likely, had he been put on, to have proved most royal.’ (441-444) Thus Hamlet’s life and death is turned into an example story for the nobility.

Why is the tragic hero always a noble? In tragedy, there is always something wrong with the royal family, whether incest or murder or a bit of both. The only solution is that most people will end up dead or banished. Tragedies show how any evil within the royalty will be rooted out; otherwise, it would trickle down and poison the whole body politic. Often that scouring requires great sacrifice. Plays, then, within the real world, as well as the fictional world of Hamlet, hold a mirror to nature. They convict the conscience of evil, they remind the ruler of their calling towards virtuous action, and they tell the story of horrible things that happen to royalty when a ruler goes awry.

In the ancient world all the way up to Shakespeare’s day, wisdom literature was often gathered in books called mirrors for princes. These treatises and textbooks were designed to instruct and train the prince in virtuous action and the requirements of leadership, although the range of content can be demonstrated in the gulf between the Book of Proverbs and Machiavelli’s Il Principe. Throughout Hamlet, the audience of each play (literal and figurative) is the nobility. The audience of Hamlet’s literal play is Claudius and Gertrude. Hamlet rewrites Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s metaphorical play to save himself, and his audience then is the English king. Finally, the language of theatre at the conclusion is so strong that one is tempted to think that Horatio will be staging a play to reenact what just took place. His audience is the new king, Fortinbras, and other nobles: ‘Call the noblest to the audience.’ (5.2.430) This retelling of the story will reveal the truth, first to the prince but in the end to all, ‘lest more mischance on plots and errors happen.’ (440) Thus the kingdom is unified.

Tragedy becomes a way in which even the common people can participate with the nobility in a shared spectacle, with commoners acting as nobles on stage and likewise receiving as the audience an example of virtuous action. For the common audience, tragedy evokes relief because it depicts wicked or inappropriate rulers chastised at the cost of noble sacrifice. The royal family is that which dies on behalf of the people, on behalf of preserving the social order—this is true for the ancient Greek tragedy as well as Shakespeare’s plays. There is something rotten in Denmark or incestuous in Thebes, and the only way for the balance to be restored is for a lot of the important people to die. And if it weren’t for the stubbornness of some, or the indecision of others, or the sheer malice of yet others, the cost would not be as great to purify the royal family. It comforts the commoners to see a depiction of justice and deadly fate reaching even the most powerful of the ruling class, who in the real world always seem so cruelly insulated from the struggles that the lower folk face.

There is in tragedy a comfort given: that wickedness will not entrench itself, that the good princes will suffer on our behalf because of the evil, and that though many will die, the system as a whole will survive and the unnamed of society will carry on unharmed. We never see much of those who Oedipus or Macbeth or Hamlet rule over because they are in the audience with us. The players on the stage are the rulers, and we are the subjects. They are the teachers out of the past, the voices from the dead, and we the humble hearers. But there is a further power of the stage which the written word lacks: theatre allows us to contemplate the thoughts and deeds of the dead in living words and moving bodies. Tragedy is wisdom given flesh, and the ghosts of our fathers given voice.

Trending Now: Be1ng LAME

My Unprolactated Response

King’s COlelge’s school newspaper wrote this thing recently on my almond mater and here’s what i have to say about it!

you accuse us of an almost monastic social-model but you’d be surprised that we actually work on a hareem model, recently moved form courtship model to just go for it model which is why so many alums are married and now married and married now to produce later big bunch of teachers both male and female, main motivation and self-sustaining!

On NSA Alums 

also our alums go on to be used extensively in the wool industry[4] from Classical antiquity, during the Middle Ages, and well into 19th century as a mordant or dye fixative in the process of turning wool into dyed bolts of cloth.[citation needed]

Some alums occur as minerals. The most important members – potassium, sodium, and ammonium – are produced industrially. Typical recipes involve combining alumina, sulfuric acid, and the sulfate second cation, potassium, sodium, or ammonium.

Our alums are used as the acidic component of some commercial baking powders and are used to clarify water by neutralizing the electrical double layer surrounding very fine suspended particles, allowing them to flocculate (stick together). you can see this in the interlrelations of faculty, we have a flocculating faculty which is your point After flocculation, the alums will be large enough to settle and can be removed BUT MOST OF THEM STAY.

NSA: where LARPing is done best

We might not have a knighthood class, but we do LARPing of middle-aged bankers best (sorry 4 libel), as seen by dear leader, DG WLSN (whose name must not be writ with vowels) we follow how he wears because he is so good at clothing choices and fashionista extroganiary and strive 2 floppy, shiny ties and have eelective even called Normhood how 2 dress best.

New Lectureship Series PROVes ur wrong

Guess this author didn’t KNOW about NEW SAINT ANDREW’S COLLEGE’s lectureship series for nExT yEaR: Dr. Eggs Benedict, Professor of Crunch at Breakfast College of Christ, speaking on the importance of local communities eating from the same bowl of cold cereal as a means by which to overcome insularity and isolation felt by lonely individuals while partaking in breakfast.
That dude is SOLID protestant: overcoming boundaries of wine and bread by making it something everyone eats: cold cereal, esp. forested flakes. Take THAT Anglicans (too fancy-pants) & NEW monastics (recently defended fig newtons as use of in lord’s supper TL;DR: Michael Horton DESTROYs Shane Claiborne on this perticlar point!)
Both sides shot down, take middle appoach. speaking of poaching, his thots on poached eggs and degenaracy of complex breakfasts is 2 true.

He really engages with culture outside of church too! that dude has spoken on the importance of brunch at Harvard! COme on! He co-authored a book with Capn’ Crunch on crunchatized Christians and the place for them in the church
(celibate sterilization; crunchatization is hereditary)

The Breakfast Crisis in this country has only gotten worse in the past few decades, what with packaged cold cereals since fifties. the state of breakfast. He points almost sixty years ago that commercials continue influencing tempting our children.
Consider grapefruit market if you look at stocks in grapefruit, how they’ve declined. Old women aren’t eating grapefruits with sugar on them anymore for breakfast. they’ve moved now 2 drink only meal replacement drinks like Ensure (which is soooper tasty by the way especially strawberry).
Statistics show small minority in church of eople eat graepfruits with salt on them say it’s umami.

What is umami?


Fix a lot of problems in country if took eucharist and made it breucharist so it happens every day because we need that and to do it together. But by doing it to be made breakfast and every day, won’t be confused with catholics which are wurst and SO MANY catholics at king’s college sumting fudgeamentally wrong with way they encourage breakfast there–

like hillsdale–

O! speaking of wurst, liver is eaten during tea time here because to engage with liberal vegetarians we make sue to get that tasty sustenance from fresh organs so yum

we engage by stay cage stage which TBH so does king’s college do they are like in a cage in middle of new york so people can point and say, ‘what’s there?’ and no one really knows because there is no sign and hard to find and many business in empire state building where is bathroom but we have soccer team and school newspaper called empire state tribune which so cool but TBH rent is expensive and honeslty we just want to be the RITE kind of small conservative chsitian college, h-h-HELP!!

A Thoroughly Modern Novel

That Hideous Strength is not without its virtues. There are good ideas: power hungry modernism is bad. Men and women are different. Places are important. Surrealism is dangerous. There are also good elements: a boss who practices astral projection. Lunar sex bots. Merlin in the modern day. A bloody banquet overrun by beasts.

However, I shouldn’t have had to read 400 pages of people talking about these things in order to experience them. It’s really that simple. For all he rails about the danger of grand ideas eclipsing nature, the nature of the book conveys the story dead on arrival and pickled in Lewis’s own conceptual juices. He himself fails to fully convey the rich abundance of the nature that he praises. There are shadows of brilliant moments, such as the banquet. But that should have been when all the characters and movements converged, though they don’t. There was not much movement to begin with, just talking. There wasn’t much character to begin with, either, just talk-pieces. The enemies are dealt with anti-climatically and impersonally, although that one scene with all the naked men covered in blood was surprising.

I think that people who enjoy That Hideous Strength are understandable but misguided. They are the sort of people who agree with C.S. Lewis and are dazzled by his ideas. I, too, appreciate his ideas. But Lewis in so many ways fails his own standard. He spouts so many good, thoughtful ideas about life and nature, but never makes those ideas come to life. He never tells a story.

It’s hard to appreciate some of the ideas because I am seventy years downstream of them, and have either indirectly gotten them from people influenced by Lewis or just stumbled upon them myself. However, there were some personally challenging insights. For example, at one point a main character is placed in a room full of alienating, surreal, and quite funny pictures. They depict such vagaries as a woman with a mouth full of hair, a mantis eating another mantis playing the fiddle, beetles crawling under the table at the Lord’s Supper, fun stuff like that.

These are normally things that I would be greatly amused by, things that I would be pleased to create or propagate. But in context, the paintings are being used by the evil scientists to brainwash the character, to alienate him from the idea that art can be meaningful. This was contrasted with the growing conviction that the main character had of a reality which was Normal and Good and Straight. Without analyzing 20th century art movements, which I still think are valuable to contemplate and simply don’t know enough about to judge, this moment in the book struck a chord with me. I find in myself a growing distaste for the bizarre, one that runs contrary with the custom of my teenage years. Am I slowly becoming normcore? Hm. Maybe I’m just realizing how boring I really am, after all.

Or, maybe I’m bored by the perverse and how long I’ve been occupied by it. By pursuing the interesting (that which delights the eyes) for so long, I’ve become a very boring, slippery person. Hard to talk to. I think there’s something unpleasant about the nonsensical in the way that it can be so easily manufactured and presented delightfully in a given story, and then put on t-shirts at Hot Topic. What does the quirky have to do with pursuing The Ultimate Good? I don’t want to spend my whole life collecting interesting tidbits and images to adorn my head. I’ve already spent my whole life doing that, and I’m tired.

And yet, I am still delighted by a film like a Mood Indigo. Absurdity is not bad. The deep silliness of something like Mood Indigo, though, is still meaningful. Though often nonsensical in the particulars, it is always very relatable to the very straightforward romance taking place, unhindered by the fantastical amusements taking place around it. Though perhaps that is a problem in of itself: if all these odd elements are being depicted onscreen, why do they have zero effect on the characters? Hm.

In the past I wrote a theological defense of the weird. Reading it over, I see that I anticipated a lot of what I’m feeling now and responded to it. But I don’t know if I responded to it well enough. Quirkiness is (much of the time) very shallow, and it’s a way for clever guys to get away with being lazy or effeminate. But, when it goes beyond just signals, it can be the means for something new and healthy and creative coming about. I don’t want to be just a quirky, effeminate man. But I do want to offer something new, healthy, and creative. I refuse to go down the aesthetic road of middle-aged, midwestern bankers that so many say is Normal and Good and Straight.

I suppose I don’t see any way for me NOT to be quirky and effeminate in my day to day life. Where are the trees for me to chop down? Where are the seas for me to sail? Where are the women for me to court? Ah, anyway, if I saw a real tree, sea, or woman, I’d run and hide. I have, and I did.

One thing that immediately rises to the mind is a defense of the mysterious and the arcane, something that is naturally disliked by the mainstream world, secular and evangelical. This would also be opposed to the shallowly surreal or absurd; the mysterious is deeply meaningful and personal and intimate, just not fully understood. The absurd (or attempted absurdity, let’s say), I find to my great disappointment, can often be understood quite well, and divvied up and sold too easily. What can’t be sold? That would be a rare and precious thing, and far from here, and if I did see such a thing I’d run and hide.

To be true to your sex, that is, to be a manly man or womanly woman, you really just have to be faithful in any given garden you’ve been placed in. You have to know your body and what ought to be done with it–to it! Faithfulness and open eyes, I think, will lead one past the quirky and past the boring and quite suddenly into the mysterious, arcane, and beautiful.

With That Hideous Strength, Lewis may not have been faithful to the nature of storytelling. But I think he was faithful to his calling as a man of letters. He thought great thoughts and shared them, and I am grateful to have read them.

Playthings are good. Weird conceptual chimeras can be very fun. I don’t think I need to force myself to stop enjoying the bizarre; it’s worth playing with and contemplating! It can lead to beautiful visions and new insights about natures. But I have played and played and played for so long. I want something Real. I want something Good. Do I need to work for that? I don’t need to work for my salvation, after all. Maybe I am being offered a work that I am unwilling to receive.

Perelandra Imperiled

Or not, because nothing much happens.

There are a few wonderful images in this book. First, the main character spends the entirety of the story naked, which is great. I wish more books went like that. Secondly, the ever-shifting floating islands of Perelandra have to be one of the most interesting world mechanics I’ve encountered in a long time. I love the planet itself, its islands and golden dome of a sky. The third image that sticks out is the moment when Ransom is forced to mercy kill an alien crab. Not only is that a disturbing moment, but it is effective foreshadowing for an even more disturbing and powerful scene. To what ends would you go to protect Eve from being tempted and plunging the entire world into sin?

However, with that paragraph, I’ve just about summed up everything worthwhile about the story. The rest is either a lot of needless bloviating or a lot of cosmic/spiritual speculation that would be interesting if it was anything more than speculation. The book could have easily been a hundred pages shorter, and I could have saved an hour or more. I’d love to make an abridged version some time.

Apparently an opera was written based off this book. I would love to see it. You can listen to some audio clips here:

One thing that’s worth noting is the high density of double entendre. I’d love to see a Freudian analysis of the work. I won’t name any specific lines, but I’m sure you could find a few suggestive moments yourself if you just flip through a few chapters. I know that some of the innuendo had to be intentional, it being the planet Venus and all, but with a lot of it I’m just not sure…

(pillars of burning blood)
As funny as I find all of it, there’s a sort of perversity that I don’t want to be encouraging, that sort of salacious pleasure that some people get out of obsessive homoerotic readings of such texts. So I’m sorry if I’ve crossed a line by suggesting anything close to that and offended anyone’s conscience.

All in all, the book gives me hope. For one, it shows that someone can start off as a highly conceptual and pompous writer but then end up writing works as well plotted and exciting as the Chronicles of Narnia. Secondly, it shows that with just a few cool images and a lot of philosophy, you can convince someone to write an opera for you. I don’t claim to be as smart as C.S. Lewis, but being in my own writing similarly conceptual, pompous, and bad at having story elements actually interact with each other, I come away from his work with hope.

Greetings From Thulcandra

After I came to Moscow, Idaho, it quickly became apparent that I would have to spend some more time with C.S. Lewis. I have managed to push it off until now due to having read through the Chronicles half a dozen times, as well as the Screwtape Letters once. But over the past two years I’ve gotten so tired of references to the Space Trilogy and Til We Have Faces piling up all around without me being able to appreciate them. And so this May, all will change!

The Space Trilogy has sat on my father’s shelf for longer than I have been alive, and I remember many times as a child picking the books off the shelf and examining the covers. While interested, for some reason I never felt compelled to actually turn to the front page and start reading. As of this morning, though, I have completed the first installment for the first time.

It was pretty good. The criticism of modernity, while needful, got heavy-handed at the very end. It started out very funny, with the arch-physicist Weston being forced to speak like in pidgin while insisting he was the superior being. From my privileged position I can say that Lewis is beating a dead horse, but the horse was very much alive in his day, so I shouldn’t judge.  What I wasn’t expecting was a recurring and piercing critique of English imperialism, and I feel like that only sharpened the criticism of modernity.

The criticism of modernity is at its best when it is manifest, and it is best manifest in the book as the idea that the heavens are not just empty space. This is presented in t wonderful mythology of ancient cosmic warfare, specifically, the spectacular idea that our world’s guardian angel, Satan (the prince of the power of the air), has demonically enshrouded us from other worlds. But I felt Oyarsa was given too much dialogue and that took some of the angelic mystery away. Who would have thought that a world-guiding spirit would have the diction of C.S. Lewis?

This is a book of ideas, and the ideas are good. But, I do want the world building to go deeper. The fictional names are excellent, and this is a very noteworthy accomplishment for science fiction at that time. I love the word ‘Thulcandra.’ The prose is okay. I wish the descriptions of the landscape were clearer and more detailed. I feel like Lewis could have done a better job on the prose throughout, as is shown in the book itself with the occasional hilarious line or revelatory gems such as: ‘the pale earthlight behind him.’ I wish there was more of that, and I think Lewis was capable of such.

What is evidently absent from the book is vigorous plotting and conflict. By the end, while it is a book about many things, the only thing that actually happens is that a man walks around. This is sad, because it begins with a delightful premise: the main character, a philologist, is kidnapped and launched to another planet against his will. That’s great! But he then proceeds to spend most of the book away from the antagonists or really any danger at all. When the antagonists reappear at the end, they are feeble and impotent. This lack of conflict perhaps could be excusable if Lewis went even deeper into the world-building, but the three species on Malacandra remain for the most part caricatures. They are interesting beings and you do feel an emotional connection with Hyoi and Augray, but we just don’t see them do very much at all.

Worth the read.

The Fossil Record of Creation, Etched in Light: A Summary of “Starlight, Time and the New Physics” by John Hartnett

Some (few) researchers have worked on making a new model to rival the contemporary cosmology and while their work is far from complete, they do offer a glimpse at a potential model that could be just as multifaceted as its rival and has far more explanatory power. These people are Russel D. Humphreys, Moshe Carmeli, John Hartnett, and they are the keepers of the new physics. Before going there, we need to lay some groundwork about how problems in contemporary cosmology present themselves.

If you want to find out about anything, you must first begin with what is known and then reason a way towards what is unknown. This involves equations. Let’s say, for example, that you have the equation M = v(^2)R/G, where M is the mass of the sun and any other given object (a particle), v is the speed of the particle, G is Newton’s gravitational constant, and R is the distance between the centre of the sun and the particle. If you don’t know any one of these terms, let’s say v, then you can determine what v is by solving the equation. This is a form of comparison, because you began by comparing what is on the left and right of the =.

Comparison might not be as formal as that. Perhaps you are merely comparing the known luminosity of a Ia supernova to another distant galaxy whose distance is unknown. By comparing the two, you can learn which one is closer according to the known brightness of the supernova by the inverse square law of illumination. This kind of supernova is what we would call a ‘standard candle’, simply because it is used as a standard.

One of the biggest problems that the contemporary model fails to address is actually the result of a comparison. The comparison is between two things that should be equal, but are not. These two things are the 1) mass of any galaxy or galaxy group determined by its dynamics (calculated through an equation like the one seen above) and 2) the amount of mass required by that same galaxy or galaxy group to produce the amount of luminosity observed. Put more simply, comparing the visible material to the material calculated by the rules of modern physics reveals that these two masses which ought to be the same are not in fact the same. The comparison between these two masses is put as a ratio, M/L, where M is the mass calculated through dynamics observed and L is the luminous material. And according to modern physics (this is an important qualification), these two things do not equal unity.

This is a massive problem and most physicists are now under the belief that there simply must be some unaccounted for, unseen, invisible dark matter. There is no evidence for this dark matter, except for the discrepancy shown above—and the discrepancy is so large, that the theoretical dark matter would have to account for 85% of the matter in the universe! Let us call the observed mass density Ω. If Ω=1, there would be no discrepancy between the two masses. If Ω>1, then we get a problem that can only be accounted for by inventing something like dark matter or a cosmological constant. If Ω<1, we get a low mass density universe that is expanding.

Keep in mind that anything equalling one is unity. Unity means that the amount is balanced, equalized. This is an algebraic term—another term for algebra is ‘analytic geometry’, which basically just means that it is math that has geometric equivalents. The perfect example of analytic geometry is an XY graph: there are both numbers and shapes associated with any given set. This is fundamentally important when trying to conceptualize how mathematical equations are ways of geometrically describing the universe. Unity, for example (anything equalling one) would mean a flat, open Euclidean space. Anything more than one is elliptical and closed (although that is hard to picture). Anything less than one would be hyperbolic and open.

The Contemporary Cosmology

In the 1920s, Hubble observed what is called a redshift in observations of space. Not only was he able to calculate the approximate distance of astral bodies through this redshift, he also reasoned by this redshift that the universe was expanding. The equation relating redshift to distances is called the Hubble Law. This expansion has been confirmed by many experiments over the decades, even though it has never been directly observed. Expansion was reasoned towards, not observed, and the Hubble Law does not apply locally. One of the reasons for this is that the constant used in the equation is highly variable and is calculated according to different redshifts. Redshifts, however, are only observed from very far distances. Therefore, the Hubble Law cannot be applied locally. What this means is that the expansion in the fabric of the universe deduced from the Hubble Law does not appear to be happening locally. This will be relevant later.

The contemporary cosmology was formed on this foundation of expansion and also on Einstein’s general relativity—solid ground. Here is what it looks like. Picture the surface of a balloon. Imagine that the surface of the balloon is space itself and there are dots marked all over the surface, representing galaxies or galaxy groups. Now picture the balloon being slowly blown up—this is the expansion. As the balloon is blown up, the surface of the balloon itself expands and the dots on the surface radiate out from one another. This balloon represents what is called the hypersphere and it is a model of the universe that assumes space is curved, without a centre, and is homogenous all throughout. This means that there should be no large-scale heterogeneous structures observed in the universe and no preference given to any one particular observer. It should seem like all space is radiating outwards. Is this what we observe?

The Carmelian Cosmology

Moshe Carmeli, an Israeli physicist working especially in the 1990s, proposed a new theory for the cosmos. It was called cosmological general relativity (CGR) and it supposed a fifth dimension to the universe as a solution to dark matter and as a better description of the known universe. Some have argued that a fifth dimension is just as unobservable as dark matter. Yet, this fifth dimension is based on the idea that the universe is expanding. The fifth dimension proposed is that of spacevelocity and, although it might be hard to picture, has the Hubble Law as a fundamental principle. The Hubble Law is a fundamental principle to this CGR, because it is the Hubble Law that establishes the redshifts related to distance. Redshifts and distance are important, because the expansion deduced from them can be quantified as velocity. Carmeli is essentially just better describing that velocity of expansion as a fifth dimension, something that no one before him had done.

Without getting too much into the math, because I can’t, Carmeli adapted the Hubble Law to fit this new model by having his constant (unlike Hubble’s) be unvariable. The Carmeli constant is a true constant, which means that velocity can be described at any point in the universe regardless of location. This means that velocity is a fundamental property of the universe and could be referred to as a dimension of the universe. By describing all of the universe equally in his velocity measurements, Carmeli also excluded the need for dark matter. Again, without getting into the math, he described the vacuum of space not as vacuum, but as full of velocity. Dark matter was a failed attempt at describing space necessitated by equations that did not take into account the velocity of space. By better describing space, Carmeli revealed that space was not filled with unseen matter but rather unseen velocity. This velocity makes sense in light of the expansion of the universe.

These equations predict the low matter density universe that we observe. This is shown as Ω<1, which means that space has a low matter density. If Ω<1, then the universe is accelerating. The universe is accelerating, because velocity is related to redshift and redshift gets higher the farther the observation is made. Since redshifts are lower nearby, it implies a change in velocity. Carmeli did in fact predict this in 1996 and was shown to be right based on observations done in 1998. The theory also implies a universe that is spherically symmetrical and isotropic. It is spherically symmetrical, because Ω<1 produces an open and hyperbolic situation. The isotropic prediction seems to fit quite well with known maps of the universe which reveal galaxy distributions that form concentric rings in an orderly fashion radiating away from where we are currently observing the universe. These maps only show a small portion of the known universe, but they strongly suggest that we are at the center of the universe. This would mean that the universe is not homogenous as contemporary cosmology tells us, but that it is perhaps flat and open.

Cosmological General Relativity Applied to Creationist Cosmology

The mathematics is essential to proving these claims, but the mathematics can be overwhelming and difficult to conceptualize. Furthermore, it leads to some conclusions that produce a lot of questions. For example, what does it mean for space to be flat as opposed to curved, yet be based upon a general relativity that works on certain scales? Additionally, why does the addition of velocity into the equations get rid of the need for dark matter? This question can only really be answered by looking at the mathematics. And maybe I am the only one left asking it, because I’m dumb. What can be explained without the mathematics, however, is why CGR is so significant and such a drastic change from contemporary cosmology. Hopefully I can make it quite clear why CGR is so significant for a creationist cosmology by staying in the big picture. So, here is the big picture of CGR and why it matters for a Creationist Cosmology:

Contemporary cosmology depends on a physics that fails to accurately describe the vacuum of space. This can clearly be seen with the invention of dark matter. Dark matter has to be invented, because something has been left unaccounted for in the description of space. They have failed to account for the velocity of space. The velocity of space is a fundamental quality of space, because space itself is expanding. The velocity of space is a fundamental quality of space; therefore, it is a dimension of space—a fifth dimension. The failure to account for velocity leads to the failure in accounting for how the redshift is really an acceleration of space. The redshift and its relation to acceleration can be explained with an analogy. Imagine you are looking at a seashell that has growth rings. Assume that the growth rings are annual. The first growth ring, let’s say, is one inch long, the second is two, the third is four, and the fourth ring is eight inches. This information would demonstrate to you that the speed at which the creature grew its shell accelerated annually. Even though this is not what is really happening with the redshift, we do observe a shift of red light that looks like this and it is up to us in figuring out what that shift is telling us. We know from the Hubble Law that it can be related to distance. What Carmeli did is relate the redshift with a velocity as well as a distance. The Hubble Law relates the observed shift in red light with distance—Carmeli related it also with velocity. Why? Because velocity is a fundamental quality of the thing shifting! If velocity is related to distance, then it must also be related to the redshift. If the velocity is related to the redshift, then the redshift must be revealing an acceleration of that spacevelocity. If space (velocity) is accelerating, then time must also have accelerated along with it. Why? Because that is what Einstein’s relativity tells us—and CGR and all cosmologies depend upon this relativity to make accurate predictions. If time accelerated along with space, that means that both space and time were stretched together. God stretched out the heavens—and as he did it, time stretched, too. If time dilated with the acceleration of space, then more time passed in some parts of the universe than others.

This relativity is difficult to imagine and goes against any kind of common sense, but God did not construct the universe to fall in line with our common sense. He constructed the universe to fall in line with our curiosity. God wants us to understand his creation and he made it user-friendly, but he did not make it easily release its surprises. And we are quite surprised to discover that while ~13.5 billion light-years might have passed at the horizon of the observable universe, only 6,000 thousand years passed on Earth. This does not require the speed of light to ever change: the speed of light is constant and there is no reason to think otherwise. What is not constant is time. Time is not absolute: general relativity has taught us that. This is relative to Earth time, which is the whole reason why it is a theory of general relativity: it is relative to the observer. This means that Earth is at a special place in the cosmos (which it is) to observe all the expansion. The fifth dimension that Carmeli proposes is a description of what happened when God stretched out the heavens.

There is one final note. If Carmeli is right about the acceleration of the universe, then his theory requires some sort of particle production. The reason for why is beyond the reach of this paper. Let it be known, however, that there needs to be a production of matter not ex nihilo, but produced from preexisting energy sources. From a certain perspective, this is less a requirement and more a prediction of the theory. There is strong evidence to support that there is the kind of particle production needed for the theory to work. Many active galaxies (like 0313-192, M82, and M87) have very bright spots in them called quasars. Quasars were previously thought to be behind galaxies, but an observation proved that some are within galaxies and even ejected from them within these enormous jet emissions of gas coming from the center of the galaxies. Astronomers like Halton Arp have written books on how this must be a kind of galaxy production. Galaxies begetting galaxies. If we are indeed observing this particle production as predicted by Carmeli, what are we really seeing?

When we look out, we are looking back in time. If God stretched out the heavens, he is stretching them out no more—otherwise, time would still be dilating. Space is no longer expanding. The expansion we observe is really just the 6,000 year old remnants of when God stretched out the heavens. The ejections from galaxies we are observing happened at the same time. Maybe the evidence from quasars is evidence for what it looked like for God to make the stars and the heavenly bodies. The universe we see beyond our local region is the fossil record of Creation, Day Four etched in light, buried underneath vast expanses of space that accelerated away from us—standing at the center, marveling at the way of a God with the stars.


Jartnett, John, P.h.d. Starlight, Time, and the New Physics. Australia: Creation Ministries

International, 2007.

Instruments of Flesh in a Revolving Wooden World: Thoughts on The Phantom of the Opera

As an early birthday present my parents took me downtown today to see Phantom of the Opera. I was not expecting to have some theological questions resolved or, at the very least, brought deeper into contemplation.

The Ascension puzzles me greatly. I don’t know why Jesus had to leave us. He rises from the dead, meets with the disciples, and then vanishes into the clouds after making us promise to be good. Why didn’t he begin his reign on earth right then and there? Why didn’t he crush Caesar right then and there? But I suppose the same question could be asked for his behavior before the Resurrection. He had to suffer and he had to ascend. And so he is enthroned in heaven now, but why can’t he be enthroned here now? The work of the world is not yet complete, but why? Some mysteries are too glorious for us to fully understand; still, it is our privilege to ponder the ways of God, and we have faith that Christ now reigns from heaven.

But in the mean time, musicals.

I think it’s easy to criticize Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, on an aesthetic level, as sort of feeding into that horrible pop neogothic nonsense that teen girls who like Tim Burton too much thrive on. That criticism looms in the shadows whenever I think about the work. But I’m glad to say that it didn’t stop me from enjoying the spectacle tonight one bit. And I discovered a depth of narrative that I hadn’t fully appreciated before, having seen the film and… well, yeah.

First and foremost, before the music and the acting and the choreography, as delightful as that all is, the most stunning thing about the musical is the set design. The stage is constantly rotating and unfurling before you as it revolves into the fake theater within the theater, now the graveyard, now the Phantom’s dungeon. The chandelier drops and dances like one of the performers. Fire jets up from the stage. Stairs emerge out of the walls and then vanish. It gives you the sense of being drawn further and further into the Phantom’s kingdom, where he monkeys about in the shadows and plays his organ in borderline Satanic furor; control freak, tortured genius, ghost master of the arts. I was surprised to feel a compelling tension drawn out between him and, of all people, the two bumbling theater owners. You get the impression that they’re not so much interested in making art as making cash. But deep within the theater lies the Phantom, all terribilita, who basically forces them to adopt his artistic visions under threat of death.

The story makes you yearn for a master artist who, unswayed by greed or the need to please people, could nevertheless offer up a perfect work with complete humility–in contrast to the Phantom, who is utterly selfish. (Or the two theater owners, who are just as selfish but in a less romantic way.) We need beauty and perfect composition and genius; we just need it without sin.

And this shows us a part of why Jesus ascended. As a young man, he learned the craft of carpentry. And so he has ascended into heaven so that he can build the stage for us. The tree from which he once hung has provided the paneling for the new cosmos. In the revolving wooden world he is building for us, we will dance and sing in a perfect choreography for the whole human race, our bodies as living instruments of his joy, forever.

Home Alone and American Virtues

Why does Home Alone make a good Christmas movie? At first glance, it’s a comedic fable about a boy who outwits two burglars in order to defend his home. At the end of it all, he learns to appreciate his family. Under this impression one could argue that the movie could be set during the summer. However, buried underneath the hijinks (which could take place in either summer or winter) is a contemplative heart to the film that I think makes it more than suitable for the Christmas season. Home Alone holds more than a cheesy ‘appreciate your family’ morality tale: it offers a nuanced meditation on the virtues of individualism and inter-generational community, under the spiritual auspices of the holiday season.

Let’s look at Kevin’s character arc: he begins the story as a rude and ungrateful child who wishes that his whole family would disappear; in a sense, they do. After a brief phase of Dionysian frenzy (eating junk and watching rubbish), he pulls himself together. He cleans himself and, by plundering his missing brother’s life savings, shops and provides for himself. He quickly civilizes himself independent of any outside impetus. When the bandits arrive and threaten his home, he stays to defend it. He uses his extreme intelligence, self-sufficiency, and ingenuity to transform his suburban house into a fortress. When the two bandits come to coerce him outside of the house, he shoots them through the dog door.

This, of course, is the most American virtue of all.

But what’s interesting is that this doesn’t work out for Kevin. In the end, despite his greater intelligence, he simply isn’t able to overcome the sheer strength and determination of two vindictive adults. How are the forces of evil kept at bay? Not through the return home of his parents, but through the intervention of an elderly neighbor.

Name another movie that centers itself emotionally on the relationship between a boy and an unrelated elderly man in his community. It’s really quite peculiar to the film. It’s part of what allows Home Alone to transcend out of the double bind of bland sentimentalism on the one hand and generic slapstick comedy on the other.

It is also telling that Kevin and the old man meet in a church. There, both of their mutual fears begin to be transformed: Kevin’s fear of the old man, and the old man’s fear of speaking to his own son. One could read Home Alone as suggesting that one of the most pressing problems in our society is the broken relationships between generations.

Kevin’s family returning home is almost superfluous in terms of the plot. Of course, it’s very important that he gets to see them and mend his relationship with them. But in terms of his survival, he was continuing to exist safely without them: not just because of his intelligence, but the community he formed with others not bound to him by blood.

Merry Christmas.

Why is Star Wars set in space?

Earlier today, I was thinking that Star Wars could just as easily be set in a medieval fantasy world. You have the peasant boy who gets caught up in the quest to become a magical knight, save the princess, overcome the evil emperor, etc. Basically everything in Star Wars is just fantasy.

So why set it in space?

Are all the spaceships and lasers and planets just a shallow aesthetic topping to give the ol’ Hero’s Journey some added flair? I combed over the story again in my mind, and something stood out to me. There was, in fact, one particular thing that couldn’t be translated to medieval times: the Death Star.

Star Destroyers can just be galleons, jedi can just be paladins, droids can just be dwarves, but the Death Star… what would the Death Star be?

The Death Star is just the Death Star. It is this transcendent, floating orb of utter destruction. The Death Star can’t exist in any other universe than in Star Wars. It can’t be in a medieval fantasy. The closest thing that would come to that would maybe some sort of floating or flying siege engine…? which would be cool. But it just wouldn’t the Death Star. But, it wouldn’t work in a generic science fiction world either. (I’m tempted to say Star Trek, but Star Trek has its own complicated things going on that I don’t have time to get into.) In that generic world, we are bound to what is sorta speculatively feasible. But the Death Star is proudly, righteously, planet-explodingly unfeasible. Why on earth would anyone ever want to build a Death Star? A weapon the size of a moon? It can only exist in a space fantasy, because it’s so strikingly impossible.

See, the Death Star’s purpose as an artificial moon is not just a technological one; it’s a mythological one. The Emperor wants to strike terror into the hearts of his subjects. He doesn’t want to just blow them up; he wants to blow them up from a kickass robo-planet he flies around the galaxy with. Likewise, Lucas’ purpose is not to make a story that is technologically feasible, but mythologically resonant.

But I feel that because of this, some people think Star Wars is just about mythology. But Star Wars is about technology.

It’s also about how technology isn’t good enough. In its day, the movie was revolutionary for portraying a technologically advanced intergalactic civilization that still suffered from severe decay and poverty–as opposed to some generic, shiny science fiction world where enlightened man has conquered all obstacles. Star Wars is about rust, sleaze, and space stations.

There’s this super important scene in the movie where Darth Vader chokes Admiral Motti for having a disturbing lack of faith. Admiral Motti sees the Death Star as purely mechanical, but Vader–and the Emperor–aren’t fools. They recognize the spiritual–the Force–but only as a means to more power. Technology and imperial conquest are merely the consequence of their spiritual position.

But what is the result? A failing society only held together by fear.

Our heroes have to learn the truth. When Luke is in the Death Star trench, he has to put aside the targeting computer which has been shown to be ineffective. The only thing left he can trust in is the Force. And this is the message of Star Wars: technology isn’t good enough. Technology is always failing us. You need the spiritual.

Darth Vader, then, can’t just be a cursed knight in a medieval suit of armor. His armor itself has to be his life support, the technology that has allowed him to carry on doing evil. And, at the end, when he has renounced power and the Emperor and the dark side for the sake of his son, he forsakes his armor, as well. He takes off the mask that kept him alive–and trapped–for so long, so that he can see his son face to face. That is the real, that is the spiritual. And more than that: it’s love. The Emperor is quite comfortable using his supernatural powers, but he doesn’t love a single thing.

Death Star –> Technology is corrupt / used by power hungry people / generally failing –> We as individuals / society need to be awakened to the spiritual –> Luke’s Heroic Journey  –> Anakin’s Heroic Journey –> Love

We see in Star Wars this wonderful harmonic chain of artifact to theme to aesthetic to story to character. All of its parts fit together so preciously well. From this conceptual pattern, all the rest descends naturally: of course it has to be lightsabers instead of just blasters or just swords, because a lightsaber is connected to both the future and the past, symbolic power and technological power. Of course it has to be droids, and space ships, and different planets, and so on and so forth. It’s not just fantasy, it’s not just science fiction. It is just the way it has to be. It’s Star Wars. And it’s great.

We are still left with some interesting questions:

I. How well do the sequels and prequels integrate the idea of ‘technology is not good enough’? Do they echo it at all?

II. I think there’s a possible lesson about post-commercial art here in the way that Star Wars (internally) fully disconnects itself from our pop culture while at the same time (externally) becoming one of the most powerful forces of it. This lends it a sort of internal purity while also being crazy profitable. Then again, you have Ewoks…

III. Star Wars falls just short of Christianity by leaving the supernatural as a mostly impersonal, mysterious power. How can we continue the narrative of the spiritual triumphant over technological while also representing the spiritual in the specific incarnation of Christ? What does Christian science fantasy look like? I’m predicting something akin to Mormonism. Mormons also happen to be super interested in science fiction… there’s something happening here.