The One About Magic


Picture this: a man wrings his hands together, raises a palm, says some words, and expects something to happen as a result. What’s going on here? Depending on the context, it’s either magic or prayer.

How do you define magic? I Googled specifically how fandoms would define magic, since we’re talking about the magic we find in fandoms and whether or not it’s “good.” The Superpowers Wiki defines magic as the ability to use paranormal methods (rituals, symbols, actions, gestures, language, etc.) to exploit or manipulate supernatural forces.
How do you define prayer? Consider how a non-Christian might define it. John Q. Public might not see us drawing symbols or ritualistically sacrificing small animals, but he sees us making actions and gestures and saying certain combinations of words, sometimes not even in English. Then a supernatural force called God is supposed to do something, right?
There are only two or three real differences between these two concepts. One is the specific supernatural force in question. If it’s known as Dormammu, a wellspring found in a country only accessible through magic, or simply “the Force,” we’re clearly talking about fiction. Since we here in the real world have no way to access that supernatural force, there is no inherent danger in watching or reading stories about people manipulating that force or even pretending to be a make-believe character manipulating that force (see Christianity and RPG’s.)
HOWEVER, here in the real world there are multiple supernatural forces, and the countable majority of them are not to be tampered with. The Devil and his demonic forces offer power to people who do the right rituals and say the right words. This “magic” comes with the agenda of the Devil and his demonic forces, and opening yourself up to it will only lead to destruction. It’s important to note that if we absorb magical fandoms without discernment, we make it easier for real-world supernatural evil to trick us.
The one and only real-world supernatural force that brings good things is God. When we access this power, it’s called prayer.

The other key difference between magic and prayer is “exploit or manipulate.” When we make the gestures and say the words we associate with prayer, do we expect God to do stuff because we’re asking him to do it? Or are we demonstrating that our desires align with what we believe His desires to be, and we’re willing to put aside our own agenda so He can carry out His own?
That’s the other thing: magic is a labor-saving device. Prayer definitely isn’t. Properly executed, prayer tends to make our lives a little bit harder before they get easier. God often gives us more to be responsible for as He takes care of whatever request we’re bringing to him. It’s not the nice, easy package Dr. Strange or Harry Potter use to make their problems disappear.
If, after considering these facts, you still see a conundrum, the answer is, funnily enough, prayer. When we ask God for the wisdom to know when to avoid a fictional story about magic or to help us pray the right way, not the way that could be mistaken for magic, He sends his Spirit to convict us when we’re stumbling and inspire us when we need the words to say. It’s like magic.

For more, read the article that inspired this post:
https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/magical-confusion.html

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Are R-Rated Superhero Movies Good?

Deadpool 2 comes out in theaters soon, and I think it may be the last R-Rated superhero movie we’ll get for a while. At least from Marvel. DC hasn’t tried anything yet.

I wanted to do a review on the last two mature Marvel movies–Deadpool and Logan–in anticipation for the next raunchy, rowdy, R-Rated romp. But I have only seen each of them once, and that was almost a year ago.

That said, I’m going to answer a more ethics based question: are R-rated superhero movies good?

Naturally, the answer to such a question varies from person to person. I know some people avoid R-rated movies in general, and I know some people who see the MPAA ratings as a vague suggestion than anything else.

To me, I think they have some merit. Even though they are clearly not made for kids, the one’s I’ve seen still try to have some kind of moral. Especially Logan, which is effectively a story about a man trying to protect those he loves. Deadpool also had a moral about trusting and communicating with your loved ones rather than shutting them out, but it’s buried under a revenge quest.

What I’m getting at is that even though they are made for adults, they can still share stories that adults may need to hear. And from what I’ve seen, R-rated superhero movies are trying to do that more in recent years, which is a far cry better than the mindless antihero killfests of older decades. Looking at you, Blade.

That said, I’ll probably do something about Deadpool 2 next week, if I get the chance to see it over the weekend. Wish me luck!

 

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

A Man Called Starkiller

Someone called EmskitheNerd commented on this thing I wrote (which you should read). He told me about the video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and hinted at the moral implications of the main character’s arc. In the process, he spoiled the game’s plot twist for me. I don’t mind, but if you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading now.
Also spoiler warning for The Last Jedi.
If you’re still here, hang tight. EmskitheNerd gave me a lot to think about.

So here’s the plot twist: the main character, Starkiller, was basically destined to be a Jedi Knight, but Darth Vader kidnapped him and raised him as a Sith Apprentice. Midway through the game, Vader turns on Starkiller. Then, if the player wants to become a hero, Starkiller turns to the Light side.
At first, I thought this was bad writing. Vader betrayed Starkiller because there was a chance he might become a hero. Starkiller became a hero because Vader betrayed him. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But then I thought about it a little more. Yoda didn’t want Anakin to be a Jedi because there was a very real danger that Anakin could turn evil (see my earlier post on the subject). Luke considered, however briefly, attacking Ben Solo because Luke sensed the possibility of evil in his nephew.
This means the Light Side is willing to do drastic things to avoid the temptation of the Dark Side. Something along the lines of, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29 NIV). The Dark Side would obviously do even more drastic things to keep its apprentices on the “straight and narrow.”
As far as I can tell, the Light Side can tempt bad people just as much as the Dark Side can tempt good people, but neither side can force anyone to join. That’s the way it is in the real world, too.
Food for thought: if you feel like giving up on goodness, God, or something else because your life is screwed up, maybe it’s because the Enemy knows you have potential to do great things for the side of good.

So leave a comment and you could be responsible for the next blog post. Let’s Connect!
Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog

Netflix’s “Lost in Space” Review

A little over two-hundred years ago, a book came out called Swiss Family Robinson. It was about a family that got stranded on an island and learned to live there. Fast-forward to the 50’s—the era when space was being explored, new technology was being discovered, and the sci-fi was cheesier than the refrigerator at a pizza shop—and a TV series came out called Lost in Space. It was about a family that got stranded on the edge of the galaxy and learned to live there. And there was a robot.

Fast forward about forty more years, and we came to the 90’s—the era when the cartoons were great, the CGI was terrible, and I was…what, three? Four? I don’t remember. A movie came out called Lost in Space. It was about a family that got stranded on the edge of the galaxy and tried to get home…with time travel…I think…

So, what is my point in bringing this up? Well, these last two paragraphs were everything I knew about the story’s history when I went into Netflix’s Lost in Space.

It’s about ten episodes long and I’m only on episode four. So far, I’ve been mildly impressed with it. I mean, it hasn’t been great, but it has been a good show so far. There isn’t anything bad I can say about it so far, but there isn’t a lot of good I can say.

This should be a short review then.

The series, probably because of its roots, takes great strides to be a “family” series—both in the sense that it’s about family and family dynamics and that it’s something the grown-ups can watch with the kids—and I gotta give it credit for doing that.

I should also give it credit for showing the characters not getting along well with each other. The siblings squabble, the parents argue, but they find ways to overcome their differences. However, I’m too early into the show to see if it develops into something. It is a Netflix Original series, so anything goes. I wouldn’t be surprised if the dad cheats on the mom with Dr. Smith (who is a woman in this version; don’t panic).

I give this show….

 

4 – 6/10: the show hasn’t disappointed me yet. The robot is cool, but it could use more space.

 

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

Fun Facts About Sirens

Kind of like my nerdy knowledge of Ragnarok, I happen to know a few things about sirens.

  1. Sirens are water nymphs. This makes them cousins to mermaids, although sirens and mermaids are different things.
  2. Sirens are bird-human hybrids. They have no fish parts, because sirens and mermaids are different things.
  3. A siren’s singing voice is so beautiful it can hypnotize people, especially men.
  4. The most famous sirens are the ones who sit on beaches and use their voices to make sailors crash their boats into rocks. The worst thing a mermaid has ever done is try to drown Wendy in Neverland (unless you count Ursula as a mermaid, I suppose).
  5. The original sirens were created by Demeter; the goddess gave them wings so they could help her search for her missing daughter, Persephone.
  6. The original sirens lost their wings when they got into a singing competition with the Muses. The Muses won, and as their prize they plucked the sirens’ feathers.
  7. Sirens eat people. Mermaids don’t.
  8. The most accurate representation of a siren I’ve ever seen was in Disney Channel’s American Dragon Jake Long, in the episode “Siren Says.” (Yeah, I know, random, but this is how my brain works.) That show also has mermaids, and mermaids are clearly different from sirens.
  9. The recent show on Freeform called Siren is about mermaids, except they are depicted as hypnotic and deadly man-eating predators. Although the show is good, it clearly suffers from the common misconception that sirens and mermaids are the same thing.

Look, I’m not saying every story has to get every detail of its chosen mythos accurate to the original subject matter. But this is a pretty basic concept, and so many stories get it wrong. Mermaids are the nice water-related mythical creatures. Sirens are the not-nice ones. There’s no reason to be afraid of Ariel.
We discuss mythos frequently on the Correlation. We’ve pointed out many fandoms that get the facts of Judeo-Christian “mythology” wrong, misrepresenting angels, demons, God, and Jesus. We have high standards for these things because we believe that Judeo-Christian mythology is actually the metaphysical reality of our world. But we should probably hold stories using other mythologies to the same standards; otherwise we’d be hypocritical.
This does not bode well for Marvel. Or other things. That’s an entire sub-section of the blog waiting to happen.

Isaac’s Infinity War Review [SPOILER-FREE]

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

How could they do that?! They…they…WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

…and…and the WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

[Regains composure.]

So, as you may have guessed, I can’t really say a lot without spoiling this movie. Thanos demands silence, after all.

Even though he’s the big purple monster who…who…WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

[Regains composure.]

I do recommend going to see it, though. It brings a lot of new stuff to the MCU–and superhero movies in general–that I like. I haven’t found much bad to say about it so far. But I haven’t found much I can say about it at all. At least not here. I wanted to do a spoiler-free review, but I can spoil the movie by talking about the first five minutes.

So, here’s my Spoiler review.

 

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

 

Isaac’s Infinity War Review [WITH THE SPOILERS]

[Cries and babbles incoherently for about twenty minutes.]

…and that’s about all I can say without spoiling anything. If you haven’t seen Avengers: Infinity War and want to, skip this post and go read my spoiler-free review, linked here. In the meantime, here’s a picture of LEGO Doctor Strange riding a dinosaur:

 

DSCN0070
Why? Because Miniature Master of the Mystic Arts meets the Menace of the Mesozoic. Also, we need happy thoughts.

If you have seen the movie (or just don’t care—I have met people) and are still reading, [inhales] WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA—

Just kidding. I got that all out in the spoiler-free review.

 

What I Liked:

Where do I begin? This is probably my favorite MCU movie so far, behind Avengers 1 and Guardians of the Galaxy.

I liked how all of the villains besides Thanos posed a threat. I mentioned this after seeing the movie: even Thanos’s grunt-level Outrider minions felt like they could pack a serious punch. His Elite Four—whatever their names were—also had that vibe, but didn’t seem as threatening.

I also liked how they did each hero justice in this movie. Nobody feels like they’re acting out of character, and when they are, it’s justified. I also like how the characters seem to have changed a bit off-screen. Iron Man is using nanotechnology, Doctor Strange has gotten stronger with his magic, and Spider-Man figured out his suit. I also gotta give some props to Black Widow for (technically) being the first to deal a casualty to Thanos’s army.

The writers made a really good call with the Hulk, in my opinion. Some of my friends expected him to die, but I liked how they scared him off instead. Hulk being scared of the villain adds a lot of weight weight.

I did like Thanos too, a little bit. He isn’t my favorite MCU bad guy (for me, that’s a tossup between Hela from Thor: Ragnarok and Vulture from Spider-Man: Homecoming, with Black Panther’s Killmonger behind them), though he is up there.

Believe it or not, I was fine with the ending, but I’ll touch on that in the next section.

 

What I Didn’t Like:

It definitely is a strong escalation of the series. But that seems to be the trend for Marvel Phase 3. Phase 1 was introducing people, Phase 2 had characters overcoming personal and relational problems, and Phase 3 had characters with an absurd amount of power straight up killing characters with less power.

I’ve had a couple people (who don’t care about spoilers) ask who died, which I believe to be the wrong question to ask. A lot of characters died, and I feel like I captured my emotions about that in the spoiler-free review.

I feel like the better question to ask is “Who survived?” I guess I’m far enough into the review to discuss this, so: everyone you expect to die survives, and everyone who you expect to survive (or at least get another movie) dies. I felt like this was a very bold choice, but a bit too telling. Anyone who died in this movie is probably going to get resurrected in Avenge Us. (Or, Infinity War, Part II. I like the speculated title too much.)

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

 

Also, not something I liked or didn’t like, just a note: I was wrong about my X-Men prediction. But I’m not mad. Pleasantly surprised.