A “Live” Doctor Who Review

I forgot to watch Doctor Who until tonight (Monday), so I’m changing things up. Rather than spending time in reflection, I’m writing this “live” while I watch the episode. So here are my disjointed but spoiler-free thoughts on “The Eaters of Light.”

I’ve said it before: this season is really good at episode openers.
Bill has graduated to “thinking she knows more than the Doctor about something.” This is significant but appropriate progress for her character.
Random druid-barbarian princess. Talking crows. Last week’s episode seemed very British; this one’s very Scottish. I like it.
Bill is such a nerd; she’s a fangirl, I just realized. Love of learning new things. Clever as a whip. Gay. All she needs is a Tumblr.
Another parallel to last week: deserters from the Roman legion. The difference is these so-called cowards turn back into noble heroes when there’s a girl to protect.
Bill finally got her big “separated from the Doctor” plot. The Doctor went MIA a couple episodes ago, but at least Bill was at home on Earth. This is an important step for her.
2nd-century Romans are just as quick to accept LGBTQWXYZ+’s as 21st-century guys. Good from a secular perspective; not-so-good from a Christian perspective. I’ve said that before too.
Believing in the Doctor wholeheartedly means Bill can give a heck of a speech based on him and his philosophies, kind of like Martha Jones at the end of Season 3.
Also, Bill is more accepting of the fact that where the Doctor goes, there is trouble, and where there is trouble, people die. That’s more character development.
The Doctor slowly getting better at interacting with humans has meant less applying his own inner darkness to the fights around him, either as a weapon or a tool. The 12th Doctor is especially good at that; remember That Speech in the Zygon episode? This episode gives him another chance to be inspiring yet terrifying as only the Doctor can.
I still love Missy’s therapy. The Doctor says her problem is, despite her understanding of the universe, she can’t hear the music. That was the fault of the Drums, until recently. Now I really believe there’s hope for her. Of course, the thing with feathers was never guaranteed a long life.
9 out of 10 exploding bags of popcorn.

Didn’t have time to reflect on a Christian moral this time. Anyone else notice one? Let’s Connect!
Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog

First Person Shooters and the Bible

“What are your thoughts on whether first person shooter games are good or bad biblically, in regards to shooting people and seeing blood (this happened over CSGO)?” – elliot5445
Thank you for your question! I think my co-blogger is better qualified to discuss video games (and you’re welcome to weigh in, Isaac), but I’ll give it a…shot.

As I’ve mentioned once before, video games – especially first-person shooters – aren’t really my thing, not because I have problem with them as a Christian, just because I’m bad at them. As a result, this post required research, both into what CSGO is (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive), and what conclusions we can draw from the Bible about seeing blood and shooting people.
Guns are, of course, not mentioned in the Bible, but killing is. God told people to kill people quite a lot, especially when His people were trying to get into the land God had promised them. He actually said “Don’t leave anyone alive, or else they’ll lead you astray with their pagan ways.”
Many first-person shooters are about war. War is the sort of killing that God is usually okay with; senseless murder is the problem. The key is context. In the fictional universe inside your video game cartridge, God doesn’t exist and therefore doesn’t have an opinion on whether a line of code should go to fake war and kill fake people. It’s up to you to determine if the killing is senseless.
The next issue is blood, gore, and the realism of the violence. Even from a non-Christian standpoint, the worry is that real people will act out the realistic violence they are making fake but realistic people do to fake but realistic people.
We’re not supposed to set vile things before our eyes (Psalm 101:3). Do you define a fake soldier shooting a fake enemy soldier as “vile”? If you or the people you trust say yes, then sure, stay away. But do you consider a woman putting a tent spike through an enemy’s head as “vile?” How about a guy’s long hair becoming a makeshift gallows? How about someone being whipped repeatedly, wearing a crown made of thorns, and getting nails through his hands and ankles? The Bible includes realistic and vivid imagery of death. Something to think about.
Those are my thoughts, disjointed though they may be. Again, Isaac, feel free to comment if you like.

Ask us more questions and they will be answered. Let’s Connect!

Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog

Tomb of the Cybermen with Ice Warriors

Spoiler-Free Synopsis of Doctor Who, Season 10, Episode 9, “Empress of Mars”:
It’s 1881. British soldiers have hitched a ride to Mars with an Ice Warrior to mine the riches of the Martian Empire. But the empire is long dead, and all that’s left is a tomb full of sleeping Ice Warriors and their Ice Queen. And she’s not happy about Redcoats running around like they own the place.
Ever seen “Tomb of the Cybermen”? It’s like that with Martians.

I don’t have much to say about this episode. It wasn’t particularly good or particularly bad. It was “Who-by-numbers.” It was pretty forgettable, especially coming right after a three-part story that was so epic in scale. I found it very British, in my naïve American understanding of what British is. Maybe if I was also British I would have found it more appealing.
There were only three notable parts: one good, one bad, and one middling.
Good Thing: Pearl Mackie continues to be a wonderful actress. She was probably the best thing about this episode simply because she made Bill not-boring.
Bad Thing: The TARDIS malfunctioned because the plot demanded it. No other reason. It’s happened before and it’s been frustrating, but this one was really bad.
Middling Thing: That malfunction led to a brief but wonderful scene with…well, that’s a spoiler. This is why I don’t have much to say; I don’t want to spoil anything, and the non-spoiler parts are too boring to talk about. Okay, *Spoiler Warning*; this is it, the big plot arc of Season 10. If you haven’t seen it and don’t want it spoiled, now’s your time to leave. Are they gone? Good. Here goes.

It’s Missy! Michelle Rodriguez’ female Master is in the Mystery Vault, supposedly in therapy to become a good person. I love that idea so much. I’ve been on board for it ever since Missy showed up in Season 8, because without the Sound of Drums in her head, she should be considerably less bonkers.
And yet, I know it can’t last. I know the actress is leaving the show, and I know they’d never let the Master change to a good person long-term. The season finale will probably involve the whole thing blowing up in the Doctor’s face.
Moral of the week: cowardice and the Martian (not Christian) version of redemption.
6/10 crumpled balls of soldier.

The Other Other Comic Book God Among Men

(Part 3 of the mini-series on gods and their myths)
Superman is infamous for being too powerful to be relatable. But there’s a comic book character who is actually worse, and not even one of those obscure, comedic parodies. It’s Dr. Manhattan, the atomic powerhouse of “Watchmen.”

In an alternate universe where masked vigilantes are an integral part of American history, Dr. Manhattan is the only superhero with actual superpowers. The Manhattan project accidentally turned a human into a quasi-deity with total control of matter. He teleports and incinerates things and people, sees the future, and creates things out of almost nothing. I’d say he’s even more powerful than Superman.
The graphic novel and movie don’t even try to make Dr. Manhattan relatable in a human way. They focus on his nigh-godhood and how hard it is for him to protect humanity when he feels so separate from them. In that respect, he’s a better character. The thing that messes him up is everyone else’s reactions to his existence.
The actual line is “There is a god. And he is American.” The entire country loves Dr. Manhattan simply because he was an American citizen before his nuclear ascension. Many experts believe that the Cold War is a non-issue because Dr. Manhattan can stop a nuclear war before it starts. No one seems to realize that he could also be a one-man nuclear war, end the entire world in a few seconds, and probably restart the human race with his power. He nearly does that at one point.
In DC, some people, evil and otherwise, don’t trust Superman. In Watchmen, only one person in the entire world figures out that Dr. Manhattan might be a threat, and he’s *Incoming Spoiler* literally “the smartest man in the world” and the villain. His master plan is to make everyone afraid of the atomic god, not even to hurt him.
Then again, “Watchmen” is described as “post-modern.” Maybe the point was exaggerating hero worship to the point of widespread stupidity to suggest people shouldn’t put so much trust in heroes like Superman either. “Watchmen” was trying to warn us about stories like “Injustice” before they happen.
I’ve said it before: altruism isn’t all that realistic, and superpowers are more likely to super-corrupt. God-like superheroes don’t have the love and benevolence of the real God. So be extra careful who you admire as a super role model.
Do you know of any other gods among men we could talk about? Let’s Connect!
Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog

The Regeneration was Fake News

Spoiler-Free Synopsis of Doctor Who, Season 10, Episode 8, “The Lie of the Land”:
The monks have gone all 1984 on planet Earth, and the Doctor is helping them. It’s up to Bill to save the world, with help from Nardole and, possibly, the mysterious vault’s occupant.

This episode was fun. It seemed like the sort of thing Moffat would end a season with, but there are a few more to go. Makes you wonder how big his real finale is going to be. The performances were excellent, too. Peter Capaldi is probably the best lead the show has ever had, and it’ll be sad to see him go. His Doctor continues to be brilliant; he had a great speech about the flaws of humanity.
On the other hand, parts of the plot didn’t make a ton of sense. The biggest thing is the monks themselves. They use Fake News to keep people from complaining, but the only thing they have to complain about is Fake News. We’re told the monks have removed free will, but we don’t see any examples of that. We don’t see the monks using the resources of this planet they went to so much trouble to conquer or doing anything “evil” except spreading propaganda.
The big solution in the end didn’t really make sense, either. Bill was capable of producing a memory strong enough to block out all of the monks’ false history, something the Doctor couldn’t even do. And the transmitter didn’t burn out her brain, even though it knocked the Doctor unconscious. Earlier she was willing to shoot the Doctor, proving she wasn’t in blind awe of him anymore, and now she was willing to sacrifice herself out of platonic love for him. That would have been a fitting end to her arc, but instead she survives without a scratch or any explanation.
The Doctor doesn’t seem concerned that Bill keeps doing such extreme things out of well-intentioned loyalty to him. Despite all the logical problems, I’m excited to see where this dynamic goes. I’m also excited to learn more about the vault’s occupant being in therapy to become a better person. I love that concept so much.
If there’s a moral here, it’s something about lies coming wrapped in pretty packages. A bit on the nose considering recent events in America, but oh well.
6/10 radio headphone thingies of Truth.

Let’s Connect!
Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog

What Kind of Gods are They? Part 2

In Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods,” the new gods – brought into existence by people’s worship of things like the Internet and TV – want to eliminate or absorb the old gods – the ones that followed the immigrants to this country, like Anansi, Wednesday, and Mad Sweeney, the world’s only unlucky leprechaun. Shadow Moon, an aimless agnostic, is stuck in the middle of it all. The book and the show are adult up the wazoo, but the assertions about faith and metaphysics are good food for thought if you keep the names they’re using in the context of the fiction.

In Pantheon University (one of the literary web series I mentioned last week), the Olympians and some other characters from Greek mythology are mortal college kids. Panth U is a party school dominated by Zeus and Poseidon’s fraternity, Aphrodite’s sex business, and Apollo’s gossip on YouTube. Athena gives wise advice. Hephaestus is a nerd building an artificial intelligence called Pandora. Dionysus is trying to write a musical while drunk. It’s a lot of fun.
I’ve already talked about The Wicked + the Divine, Ragnarok, Percy Jackson, Lucifer, and Supernatural. Isaac’s talked about mythos in general. These are fandoms revolving around concepts that we in the real world know to be fiction, whether we believe the Really Big Truths or not. So why do we like these stories so much?
I have one explanation. They create the idea that gods are people, too. No mortal can resist if they fall in love, but they also have nasty breakups. They rule a domain, but that inevitably comes with quirks and habits and guilty pleasures. They throw tantrums, but they also get punched, and they even bleed. And they have the most profound perspectives on humanity and the world. Making a deity a character rather than an abstract entity is an opportunity for some incredible writing.
Here in the real world, the real God isn’t an abstract entity either. He’s a person. He’s a character in every person’s story. His only “character development” is us getting to know him, and he definitely wants us to do that. Using fictional examples that we know to be fictional isn’t a horrible way to practice getting to know the non-fictional version.
(I had this post written a few days ago, and then Isaac wrote about comic book mythology. So this just became a series. Stay tuned.)

Someone Should Open a Restaurant

Spoiler-Free Synopsis of Doctor Who, Season 10, Episode 7, “The Pyramid at the End of the World”:
The mysterious monks from the previous episode have reached Earth, but they’re in no rush to conquer it. They think the world is about to end – the Doomsday Clock is three minutes to midnight – and the human race is going to hand over their planet in exchange for keeping it safe. The Doctor needs to save it himself before some well-meaning humans give in. But he’s still blind.

Yeah, I’ve decided it’s not much of a spoiler anymore. The Doctor’s been blind for 2½ episodes, but they continue to find new and interesting ways to show how it’s problematic for him. Nardole is his seeing-eye cyborg, so he continues to be useful. And Bill continues to be impressed as she learns new things about the Doctor.
This is only part two of a three-part story, but the plot is going pretty well so far. I’ll admit, I was a little disenchanted with the Matrix last week. That big reveal probably could have come part of the way into this episode, except simulations are an integral part of the mysterious monk plot. They don’t just simulate the Earth’s past to figure out how to conquer it; they also know the future.
Also: no references to the mystery vault! That’s refreshing.
For the monks’ plan to work, “power must consent. Consent must be pure. Fear is not consent. Strategy is not consent. Love is consent.” This seems familiar.
God gave people free will because loving him without any other option wouldn’t be real love. He doesn’t want us to choose him out of fear of what he might do to us or because we think he’ll give us what we want. He wants us to obey his commands out of love. Love is consent. And unlike the monks, he is open about what our life will be like if we love him. He offers us salvation, but not at the expense of the will to choose. He wants to take dominion of our lives, but not in a direct, tyrannical way. He will love us back. The monks see us as corpses, but God sees us as his wayward children.
It’s unfortunate that UNIT didn’t show up, but then again, all the important soldiers died.

8.5/10 world-ending broken reading glasses/hangovers.

What do you think of this story so far? Let’s Connect!
@noahspud
@CorrelationBlog