Archive for January, 2010

I just finished watching the re-envisioned Battlestar Galactica TV series (on DVD).  It was an exciting series, lots of action, special effects, and probably the longest chase scene in TV history.  Nevertheless, I really never liked the characters, and found the show to be troubling.  Halfway through the series – after the colonists escaped from New Caprica — I found myself rooting for the Cylons.

It’s hard to like characters who are mutinous, jihadist, immoral, genocidal, abortionist, and cowardly.  Consider the following:

  1. Commander Adama mutinied against the President of the colonies, and was never court-martialed for it, nor punished in any way.  Yet Adama had no hesitation in executing mutineers against his command later on in the series.
  2. While the colonists were on New Caprica, they engaged in terrorism, including suicide-bombing.
  3. The service men and women regularly engaged in inappropriate sexual liaisons, contrary to military codes of conduct.  For contrast, compare this with the Stargate series.
  4. The colonists had no hesitation in practicing genocide against the Cylons, even though the colonists regarded genocide as evil when practiced by the Cylons against humans.
  5. The President made abortion illegal, not because a child has a God-given natural right to life, but for pragmatic reasons – to increase the colonial population in order to avoid extinction.
  6. Near the beginning of the series, the Cylons discovered the location of Galactica and the surviving peoples of the colonies.  Some of these colonists were on faster than light ships, and others were on sub-light ships.  The new President, in an act of cowardice, abandoned the sub-light ships without even putting up a fight to defend them.  The same thing happened when the Cylons discovered the colonists on New Caprica.  Adama and Captain Apollo simply take their battleships out of danger without even trying to put up a fight.

In addition to these, on New Caprica, executive officer Saul Tigh took it upon himself to murder his wife Ellen because she had betrayed some of the other colonists (to save him).  This vigilantism was further seen after the colonists left New Caprica.  Some of the main characters, with the approval of the President, engaged in the murder of those who had “collaborated” with the Cylons.

Interestingly, neither Richard Hatch (original Apollo) nor Dirk Benedict (original Starbuck) liked the new series, though Hatch later reconciled himself to it and even played a recurring character on the show.  Dirk Benedict, however, never liked the show.  According to the Wikipedia entry for Benedict:

“Benedict was sharply critical of the revived series, and the changes to the story and characters.  A May 2004 article in Dreamwatch magazine, entitled ‘Starbuck: Lost in Castration’ revealed his disdain for the re-imagined series, its dark tone and its moral relativism.  Benedict said, ‘”Re-imagining”, they call it. “Un-imagining” is more accurate.  To take what once was and twist it into what never was intended.  So that a television show based on hope, spiritual faith, and family is unimagined and regurgitated as a show of despair, sexual violence and family dysfunction.’”

To me one of the biggest problems with the series is that during the final seasons, some of the main characters were turned into Cylons.  (Spoiler alert, if you haven’t seen it yet.)  I thought it was pretty stupid to turn Colonel Tigh and the Chief into Cylons.  It was bad enough that the writers had done it to Boomer earlier on, or changed Starbuck from a man into a woman.  But they really “fracked up” the story line when they turned main characters into Cylons.  They had a lot of explaining to do, as the switch created a lot of anachronisms in the narrative.

For instance, the Chief and his wife Cally had a child.  Since it later turned out that the Chief is a Cylon, the baby would have been half-human, half-Cylon.   At a certain point Cally is killed by one of the other Cylons, then the Doctor later tells the Chief  his son is not really his own child but was the product of an earlier liaison between Cally and someone else (a non-Cylon).  The Chief seems to take it in stride, as if it were nothing at all to give up one’s son to another man.

The writers came up with this silly resolution for the simple reason that they already had a half-human, half-Cylon child, Hera.  Having another half-human, half-Cylon child would detract from Hera.  Of course, if the writers had selected more plausible characters as the final five Cylons – and the Chief was certainly not a plausible selection for the part — there would have been no reason to get rid of the boy, or have the Chief react so non-chalantly to losing custody.

I wonder whether a gay agenda was at work in selecting the final five Cylons.  The obvious moral of the arc was that humans had to learn to live with Cylons, to get over their prejudices and intolerance toward Cylons.  One of the major goals of the gay rights agenda is to convince people that the gay lifestyle is the same as skin color or gender.  In this way, perversion can be turned into a civil right.  Maybe I’m just imagining it but whenever the TV or movie industry begins to talk about tolerance, it makes me wonder whether the sheep should get nervous.

Another bit of silliness is that the writers turned the 13th tribe into Cylons!  Thus, when the colonists found the planet called “Earth” they discovered it had been populated by Cylons.  In the original show, the members of the 13th tribe were considered “brothers of man.”  Why the new show chose to make them all Cylons is inexplicable.  It was just another meaningless attack on the canon.

I was also greatly annoyed at the decision to scrap all the ships and technology of the colonial fleet, flying them into the sun.  This deliberate rejection of progress and turn to the “simpler life” or to primitivism represents the romantic, agrarian view that technology and civilization are threats to human enlightenment and survival.

For me, such simpler life thinking would mark the beginning of a new Dark Age – and that’s apparently what ensued on New Earth.

As I said, this is a fast-paced and exciting series to watch, but you might want to watch the old series, too, to get a better appreciation for, and perspective on, the legend of Battlestar Galactica.

Vern

Libertarian Lunacy

Posted: January 12, 2010 in Libertarianism

You can find it here, moral equivalence and all, in which VP Cheney is compared to a science fiction villain:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/grigg/grigg-w125.html

I’m beginning to accept the idea that libertarianism is a demonic philosophy, if this writer represents what libertarianism is all about.

Vern

Lincoln Haters

Posted: January 7, 2010 in Constitution, Lincoln, Politics

Harry Jaffa provides a rebuke to all the Lincoln haters out there:

http://www.claremont.org/publications/crb/id.1649/article_detail.asp

Vern

Reading List

Posted: January 2, 2010 in History, Politics, Theology

Among all the other things I need to do, here are some books I’m going to try to read in 2010:

1.  The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology, Michael Sudduth, 2010

http://www.amazon.com/Reformed-Objection-Theology-Philosophy-Religion/dp/075466175X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262469657&sr=8-1

From the publisher’s blurb: “Michael Sudduth examines three prominent objections to natural theology that have emerged in the Reformed streams of the Protestant theological tradition: objections from the immediacy of our knowledge of God, the noetic effects of sin, and the logic of theistic arguments. Distinguishing between the project of natural theology and particular models of natural theology, Sudduth argues that none of the main Reformed objections is successful as an objection to the project of natural theology itself. One particular model of natural theology – the dogmatic model – is best suited to handle Reformed concerns over natural theology. According to this model, rational theistic arguments represent the reflective reconstruction of the natural knowledge of God by the Christian in the context of dogmatic theology. Informed by both contemporary religious epistemology and the history of Protestant philosophical theology, Sudduth’s examination illuminates the complex nature of the project of natural theology and its place in the Reformed tradition.”

2.  Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought, David M. VanDrunen, 2010.

http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Law-Two-Kingdoms-Development/dp/0802864430/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262469785&sr=8-2

Publisher’s blurb: “Conventional wisdom holds that the theology and social ethics of the Reformed tradition stand at odds with concepts of natural law and the two kingdoms. This volume challenges that conventional wisdom through a study of Reformed social thought from the Reformation to the present. / ‘The strength of this book is the overwhelming amount of historical evidence, judiciously analyzed and assessed, that positions the Reformed tradition clearly in the natural law, two kingdoms camp. This valuable contribution to our understanding of the Christian life cannot and should not be ignored or overlooked. The growing acceptance of the social gospel among evangelicals puts us in jeopardy of losing the gospel itself; the hostility to natural law and concomitant love affair with messianic ethics opens us up to tyranny. This is a much needed and indispensable ally in the battle for the life of the Christian community in North America.’ — John Bolt / Calvin Theological Seminary

3.  The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy, Thomas E Woods, Jr., 2005.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0739110365/ref=pd_luc_mri?_encoding=UTF8&m=A3O4CH0YMWQOHK&v=glance

While I don’t agree with Woods’ Catholicism, or his ideas on foreign policy, he has a keen grasp of economics.  You can get a flavor of it by reading his essay on Catholicism and the market economy, which by the way, is indirectly tangential to the secular-sacred distinction we discussed in our last post:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/woods/woods127.html

Vern

Recently, we’ve seen the outbreak of a new theological disturbance (to use Mark Twain’s term).  It appears to be a debate between two-kingdom theologians and one-kingdom theologians.  See:

http://ironink.org/index.php?blog=1&title=kerux_aamp_its_five_alarm_fire_why_stopp&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1#comments

http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/sometimes-one-has-to-consider-the-source/

The two-kingdom view (usually abbreviated 2k) holds that there is a sacred and a secular kingdom, Christ’s church being the sacred, and the natural realm the secular kingdom.  Because the secular kingdom is governed by natural law, the church shouldn’t interfere with it.   By the same token, the secular realm should not interfere with the church.

The one-kingdom (1k) view holds that Christ’s kingdom encompasses both the sacred and secular realms, and believes that a theocracy of some sort should govern both the church and the state.

Ironically, both views hold to some version of covenant theology.  In my essays on Gary North and the Constitution, I’ve warned about the political dangers of covenant theology (at least in some of its more extreme manifestations).  The basic error I pointed to was the idea that the Mosaic covenant was a covenant of grace.  In fact, the Mosaic covenant was a conditional covenant, not a covenant of grace (which is unconditional).

To the extent that one’s covenant theology infuses grace into the Mosaic covenant, to that extent it will lead to theocratic politics.  By the same token, the less one infuses grace into the Mosaic covenant, the less theocratic one’s politics will be.

Here’s how it works.  By infusing grace into the Mosaic covenant one can bring all its laws down to apply to modern states – hence the familiar conception of politics known as “theonomy.” This was a popular view of politics among some Christians during the 1970s through the 1990s.  It too held that the Mosaic covenant was an administration of the covenant of grace, and therefore all of Israel’s laws, including its penal sanctions, were valid in the New Testament era, and could be applied to modern states.

Another type of covenant theology – known as the Federal Vision — managed to infuse grace into the Mosaic covenant by making grace a part of all covenants, including the Adamic covenant.  In effect, all covenants became conditional, including the Abrahamic covenant, which according to the New Testament, is the true covenant of grace.

The basic error this led to was a failure to distinguish law and gospel, which led to the denaturing of the Protestant doctrine of justification.  The practical effect was the refurbishing of ecclesiastical authoritarianism and a church first movement that has led some of its followers to abandon Protestantism for Roman Catholicism.

While the dangers of theocratic conceptions are fairly obvious, many do not see the dangers on the other side.  Some 2k advocates argue that Christians should not be involved with the political process, or speak out against moral evil, but should stay within the confines of the church.  There are enough problems in the church, they say, and Christians should clean up their own house first rather than sweep out the Augean stables of modern culture.

Thus, some views of 2k lead to an introverted Christianity.  I think the solution is simply to keep a balanced perspective.  The secular realm is governed by natural law, but since this law is the same as biblical morality, I see no reason why Christians have to sit on the sidelines and play second string in culture and politics.  Everyone has his or her own gift or calling, and should apply themselves accordingly, whether in the realm of politics, culture, science, or theology.  It is God’s world after all, isn’t it?

Vern