John Milton, Titus, and Dionysius Alexandrinus

This may be the straight-up-nerdiest post I’ve ever written.
In 1644, John Milton wrote a speech called Areopagitica to give in Parliament about freedom of the press. Parliament wanted to censor big sections of literature, some for being rebellious and politically charged and some for being “unclean.” Kind of like the way that many people try to discourage fandoms.
After summarizing the history of censorship vs free press, Milton talks about a guy named Dionysius Alexandrinus. He was basically a pastor in the early church, and someone asked him, “You read the books of heretics so you can talk to them, but isn’t that just as bad as being a heretic?”
Dionysius didn’t know how to answer that, so he prayed about it. And God responded, “Read any book, whatever comes into your hands, because you are sufficient to judge right and to examine each matter.”
Dionysius was pretty sure this message came from God because it seemed to line up with Titus 1:15: “To the pure, all things are pure…” Obviously, no person is completely pure. But the idea is a Christian can have “sufficient” purity to read potentially risky things, judge the risks for themselves, and learn from the experience without becoming less pure.
This is what we’ve been saying on the Correlation since the beginning (mostly me). If you have wisdom and discernment, you should be able to enjoy a variety of fandoms and take Christian compatible morals from them without poisoning your mind or your heart. If anything, the reviewers and critics and bloggers like me, Isaac, and that guy from Plugged-In can judge and examine each matter and pass along the message to all of you.
For more, I highly recommend Areopagitica if you can find it. I’ve barely read a third of it because it’s so dense and old-fashioned, but so far it’s strikingly similar to what we talk about here on the blog.

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


Is Harry Potter the Antichrist?

Remember when I listed Harry Potter as a character who typifies Jesus? Well, I just found out that there’s another version of him out there who is pretty much the opposite.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a comic book series about the classics of literature teaming up a la Avengers/Justice League/Watchmen. In the movie, Dr. Jekyll is the Hulk, Captain Nemo is Iron Man, Mina Murray-Harker is Awesome Vampire Lady, and Tom Sawyer shot Professor Moriarty from like 300 feet away. It’s a lot of fun.
I don’t know how Alan Moore and company got a hold of Harry Potter legally, but they did. And then they made him the Antichrist. Supposedly, that lightning bolt on his forehead is the Mark of the Beast, and all his magical adventures were preparing him to be a harbinger of the Apocalypse. Somehow.
When Harry finds out the truth, he goes on a murder rampage and then locks himself in his bedroom under the stairs, developing an addiction to antipsychotic drugs. Then he turns into a giant covered in eyeballs and he’s killed by Mary Poppins. I am not making this up.
It all makes a strange sort of sense, in context. We know the actual Antichrist will bear some resemblance to Jesus, enough that he’ll convince a lot of people to follow him and even worship him. Harry Potter has a lot in common with Jesus, and there are a lot of people who think his magical powers are “of the Devil.”
But that’s where the comparison falls apart. I haven’t seen those horror movies about kids growing up with demons in their brains, supposedly destined to be the Antichrist. But I’m pretty sure they all miss the point: we will never see him coming, and when he shows up he’ll take over without much resistance at all.
The actual Antichrist would be the last person to be worried about the Apocalypse. He certainly wouldn’t be afraid of himself. He would probably deny the existence of the Antichrist while also denying Jesus and God. Then, while the world freaks out over the end of the world, he’ll try to steal God’s job. And then Jesus will show up like the superhero he is. It will be awesome.
That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week. What do you want to see me and Isaac tackle next? Let’s Connect!
Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog

Please Stand By: Did It Live Up to (My) Hype?

Ever notice how the more hype there is for something, the more disappointing it’s likely to be? It doesn’t happen every time, of course. Some things do live up to the hype. But I’ve been disappointed quite a few times as well.
Readers of the blog may have seen me geeking out a couple months ago about Please Stand By. I was also hyping about it on social media (follow us on Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog). I finally got around to actually seeing it last week. In this case the hype came mostly from myself. How did the final product compare?
Let me try to break it down piece by piece.
Maybe I watched the trailers too many times, but most of the events of the movie are pretty much there in the trailers. The other 90 minutes didn’t really add much to the plot, except for the ending – and I did really like the ending.
Dakota Fanning was just as good as I thought she would be, and her character, Wendy, was just as relatable as I expected. I loved her sense of humor – never let it be said that autistic people don’t have a sense of humor or sarcasm. Ours might just be a little cleverer.
Alice Eve plays Wendy’s big sister, Audrey. Like so many relatives of people on the spectrum, she struggles to understand and connect with Wendy. By the end of the movie, she’s…better at it, I guess? If there was more depth to her character, her development would matter more. But there isn’t, so it doesn’t.
It’s definitely about autism. Wendy’s particular areas of interest are Star Trek and writing. Scottie, her psychiatrist, also struggles to understand and connect with Wendy until she starts to understand what Star Trek and writing really mean to her. Patton Oswalt plays a policeman who connects with her the same way – by speaking Klingon.
So the moral is about connecting with neuro-diverse people and trying to see the world through their eyes. But again, you could get that moral by watching the trailers.

This was a fun movie. It’s not bad. But the only things it really has going for it are Dakota Fanning and the ending.
If that has piqued your interest, you might want to go to New York to see the movie with Dakota Fanning herself. Check this out.

Five Nerd Songs for Single Awareness Season

I know I’m late for Valentine’s Day, but if you celebrated Single Awareness Day this year, you might still be celebrating it now. Today I’m going to recommend some love songs to pick you up and some single awareness songs (sometimes called breakup songs) that might fit your mood.
These are nerd songs. No, I’m not assuming that nerds are more likely to celebrate Single Awareness Day instead of Valentine’s Day. I’m a nerd, so this is my favorite genre.
Unlike, say, Taylor Swift’s relationship and breakup songs, it’s pretty easy to understand what nerd songs are about, and all it takes to relate to them is knowledge of the context. You can usually enjoy them without knowing their “meaning,” but when you do know what they’re about, you can nerd out about the subject just as much as the nerd who wrote it.
It’s a little hard to explain, so let’s stop philosophizing and just listen to some music.

“Don’t Unplug Me” by All Caps.
If Wall-E is one of your favorite romance movies, this song should make you feel all the feels. Here’s the ever-fantastic Tessa “Meekakitty” Violet covering it. 
I hope you don’t fear losing a relationship on account of being an emotionless logic machine, but if you do, you’re in the company of nerds and robots.

“Navi’s Song (Hey Listen)” by Tessa Violet.
While I’m talking about Meekakitty, here’s her interpretation of the Legend of Zelda story from the perspective of a certain ball of light. Think about this next time you find that little voice annoying. 

“I’m Not Edward Cullen” by Hank Green.
The more musical vlogbrother has written a couple songs that could be described as nerd love songs (the Anglerfish song, for example). But this one a) features Katherine Green and b) explores the relationship struggles caused by unrealistic standards set by Stephanie Meyer novels. How relatable is that?

“I’m Your Moon” by Jonathan Coulton.
Fun fact: Pluto and its moon, Charon, actually orbit around each other, unlike most satellites. When some scientists declared Pluto a dwarf planet (a classification they made up right before demoting Pluto), Charon wrote a love song for Pluto. This a capella cover of it is one of my favorite things ever.
Whenever you feel like an outcast, find your moon and remember who you are.

Aaaaaaaaand take us home, Sam Hart!

Any other recommendations? Let’s Connect!
Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog

Doctor Who “Tag” Self-Interview

I missed our anniversary (what’s it been, two years now?). I’ve conquered my technical difficulties hiatus (for the time being). And it’s my birthday. Let’s talk about Doctor Who.

Who’s your favorite Doctor?
Nine. I recognize that Twelve is the best Doctor because of Peter Capaldi’s acting and Moffat’s writing. But Nine is still my favorite.

Who’s your least favorite Doctor?
Ten. (Cue the hate mail.)
David Tennant’s acting was great, but he has no character development, barely any character at all. He’s a pile of meme-worthy quirks with great hair and a nice suit.

Favorite story or episode?
Some time I’ll have to post my Top Ten Must-Watch Doctor Who stories. Every now and then, after an episode is over, I sit back and think, “Wow. That was the best episode I’ve ever seen.” But then the next time that happens, I can’t really decide which of these “Wow” episodes is the best.
All that being said, I’d say my favorite story is “Remembrance of the Daleks.” But I’ve never seen it. I read the novelization. It’s definitely the best Doctor Who novel I’ve ever read – and I’ve read some really good ones. So it’s certainly one of my all-time favorite stories.

Least favorite story or episode?
“Love and Monsters” genuinely left a bad taste in my mouth, which makes it even worse than “Oxygen.”

Favorite companion?
Probably Leela. If you don’t know her, the Fourth Doctor picked her up from this savage jungle warrior tribe in the distant future (I say “picked her up,” but she kind of forced her way onto the TARDIS, if I remember right.) Leela is an Amazon-esque warrior who attacks anything she doesn’t trust. And since she was raised in a jungle, she’ll believe anything the Doctor tells her, no matter how goofy or pseudo-scientific. It’s adorable, and unlike anything else I’ve seen on the show.

Least favorite companion?
Rose. Yeah, Season Two wasn’t much fun for me.
Rose’s character was full of good ideas, but they were executed poorly. She had good days and bad days (so did River Song, of course, but River had more good days than Rose).

Anyone else want to answer these questions? Let’s Connect!
Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog

Why Did Anakin Turn Evil?

I just saw a YouTube video called “The Case Against the Jedi,” which ranted that emotional detachment – apparently the core tenet of the Jedi Order – is the path to the Dark Side. Anakin is denied emotional support, so he is unprepared for one tragedy (his mom’s death) and goes down a very dark path in an attempt to prevent the emotional trauma of a second tragedy (his wife’s death).

I guess I agree that the Star Wars movies needlessly preach macho emotional detachment. But I can’t accept that burying emotions is the reason Anakin becomes Darth Vader. For one thing, Yoda’s teachings about emotions leading to bad things aren’t entirely wrong.
Yoda says, “Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.” That first step is specifically fear of loss, which suggests you have emotional attachments to people that you’re afraid to lose. To avoid that, the Jedi preach celibacy and detachment from family members. Yes, that part isn’t great here in the real world. But everything else in that “emotional domino effect” is kind of accurate. Fear, anger, and hatred are selfish. Evil is selfish. The connections aren’t hard to make.
Anakin tries to suppress his fear of losing his wife, as the Jedi teach. Then what happens? Does bottling up his emotions lead directly to murdering children and becoming a Sith Lord? No. The video is forgetting one important piece of Anakin’s story: the Evil Emperor’s temptation.
Darth Sidious represents the Dark Side. He goes to Anakin and tells him that the Jedi are wrong, and that there is a way to save the people he’s afraid to lose. All he has to do is murder some children and serve a new tyrannical government. Does this sound familiar to anyone? It should. The original Dark Side has been using pretty much the same temptation tactics since Genesis Chapter 3.
Consider how Christians would suggest dealing with fear of loss. We wouldn’t say “stop caring so much.” But we wouldn’t suggest looking to the Dark Side for power, either. We would say, “Have faith that God will take care of your loved ones, and don’t be afraid anymore. Fear and anger are signs of pride, thinking we know better than God, thinking we can protect our loved ones better than He can.”

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

Thoughts from My Bathroom Floor

So here’s how my holiday week went:
I got Turtles All the Way Down by John Green for Christmas. It’s just as good as I expected it to be.

This week I also finished the rough draft of a novelette I’ve been working on, and I announced that to my family at a Christmas party on Saturday.
At that Christmas party, I must have eaten something that didn’t agree with me, because I spent Saturday night depositing everything I’d eaten in the toilet. The uncomfortable way.
Just when I thought I had gotten the whatever-it-was out of my system, I went to bed and promptly had a nightmare about the book I just finished writing. Then I was back in the bathroom.
While I was lying on the bathroom floor, I thought of Turtles All the Way Down. Aza, Green’s protagonist, contemplates the book Ulysses by James Joyce. There’s a scene in that book where someone says “Jamesy let me up out of this,” as if the character realizes they’re fictional and doesn’t like this plot. At a couple points, Aza begs with the unknown entity she’s convinced is running her life (she has some kind of OCD-anxiety mental illness) to stop putting her through this plot. That night, I was having similar thoughts related to the ever-tightening nightmare-toilet-unpleasant sleep-toilet spiral.
That made me think of a book called Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers. The book is inspired by John Green’s work; the main difference is Sommers’ characters look to Christianity for answers to the tough questions in their lives. At one point, a character in Truest who’s also struggling with the ultimate question of “what’s real” says, “What if we’re all characters in a book? That would make the author God.”
It makes me wonder why John Green, who reportedly believes in God, hardly ever writes his characters turning to God for answers. Aza repeatedly refers to her grandmother’s Christian beliefs. But even at her lowest point when she says “let me up out of this,” she apparently doesn’t even consider putting that question to God.
Anyway, on the bathroom floor, I asked God to calm my stomach and my nerves, and then a voice in my head said “in through the nose, out through the mouth, nice and slow.” I did that, and I got better.
Happy 2018, folks. Your now is not your forever.

Did any of you have deep thoughts over the holidays?
Let’s Connect!
Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog