OKAY – spoilers ahead, and the use of the F-bomb. It’s only once, and it’s not gratuitous, but it’s there because I believe it aptly describes its contextual object to the degree it needs to. Just want to let you know ahead of time.
Now, the spoilers are kind of old spoilers, but I know there are folks out there who have yet to watch the excellent TV series Fringe. However, they’re not major spoilers…like, when I encountered the plot and subplots I’m about to get into the first time, I kind of knew what was going to happen – or rather what wasn’t going to happen.
However, what I do aim to discuss gets a little deeper into the stories…so if you want to draw your own conclusions or if you simply want to experience it all for yourself, by all means, turn away. However, if you wish to continue, I welcome you with open virtual arms.
SCROLL DOWN TO AVOID SPOILERS
Okay – this should be good enough.
The story I’m specifically referencing deals with the season three finale and most of the overarching plot of season four.
In the two part season three finale Peter activates THE MACHINE, believing it’s meant to destroy one of the two universes; he chooses the blue universe because it’s the one he grew up in.
Flash-forward however many years it was and we go through that whole thing about how the universes are inextricable, how one can’t live without the other, and how now the blue universe is dying because of the annihilation of the red one. Loved ones die and Walter and Peter figure out a way to save everyone with some clever use of time travel.
Peter returns to the moment of destiny and instead of destroying one universe and saving the other, he bridges the universes, melding them together in a new way; since they had already been thrown out of kilter and the natural bonding was eroding, it took Peter’s unnatural process, his outside intervention to fix it.
And then, after the universes are bridged, ZAP! Where’d Peter go? It’s as if he never existed! But then, after a time, he comes back. No one knows him, but after awhile, they come to know and love him again.
So how is Peter Bishop’s character a messianic figure in Fringe? And why does it matter? I’m so glad you asked!
Well, I was just reading from Ephesians this evening and in chapter 2, verses 14-18 the language kind of jumped out at me. It also helps that I just recently finished rewatching season four, so I kind of have Fringe on the brain (love that show!).
Talking about Jesus, Paul says:
He Himself is our peace, Who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Now, it’s not a perfect illustration – there never really is, but it’s darn close!
Peter makes the two disparate, warring universes one and destroys the barrier between the two. Instead of ripping crippling holes in the universes when people cross over, all they have to do is “cross the bridge”. And though it’s not an instantaneous peace between both worlds, they begin to work toward healing – not only the structural integrity of the universes, but personally, between the people. Olivia and Fauxlivia come to like and respect one another. Broyles and his counterpart admire and respect one another; and even Walter and Walternate come to be friends by the end of it.
See?? Jesus destroyed the barrier between the two worlds – between the world of the physical world and the spiritual – between the domain of men and the domain of the Divine. And when we first cross that bridge, we’re not instantly chummy with God – it takes time to build that relationship, it takes time to learn that we can trust Him and even love Him.
No one’s a “professional” Christian right out of the gate; we’re all still stumbling along, trying always to make sense of this thing called grace, struggling between the life we used to live and the life promised to us. Old habits die hard and none harder than the ones of self-reliance ingrained into our souls since birth. At times we can easily run headlong into Jesus’ arms; mostly though, we’re timid, nervous…
And then Peter’s disappearance…Jesus was gone for a time, and when He came back He wasn’t instantly recognized by everyone. It took time for even His own disciples to accept the reality that, “Hey! Our best friend and leader is back! And…He’s weirdly awesome in a new way….”
Now, it’s not easy to say, necessarily, that one universe is the Divine and one the Damned, however, after some thought I’ll posit that in this case perhaps the red universe represents God’s world and here’s why: it was pride on behalf of the blue universe that made the first hole between worlds which started the whole mess. The folks in the red universe had no clue about the blue. Is the red universe perfect? Heck, no! But just as God did nothing to provoke us, the blue universe couldn’t leave well enough alone and messed with the laws of nature as Adam and Eve did when tempted by pride, and thus the need for a savior.
In Fringe’s case, Peter; in reality’s case, Jesus.
Again, it’s not a perfect translation or metaphor, but it’s there and I think it’s awesome whether the writers intended it or not.
So onto the second question: why does it even matter?
Well, the Greatest Story Ever Told is that humanity basically fucked itself but God said, “That’s not going to ruin My plan” and He sent Jesus to die in our place so that the relationship between humanity and Jehovah could be restored. All, yes, I put forth that all stories to some degree echo from that story – some more than others, some more clearly than others, hence my qualifier of “to some degree.” Stories of redemption? How about Christ’s redemption of humanity? Stories of sacrifice? How about Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice? Love stories? How about a love that crosses all boundaries of reality to be with the beloved? Stories of betrayal? Humanity’s stabbing God in the back, spurning His love. Happy ending stories? How about living in heaven as a happy ending? Stories of tragedy? What greater tragedy than that of sin and its debilitating effects on the human spirit?
So, there it is. That’s how I see it, I hope you can at least consider it. You don’t have to follow my line of thinking, but it is another way of looking at things.
In the beginning God spoke, and we’re all echoing back to Him until history catches up and He returns…
On November 1, 2011, I woke up at about 4AM in order to get down to the hotel restaurant in time for breakfast. Everyone else around me was at some degree of nervous, many trying to mask it, but we were all about to have our worlds rocked by the end of what would be a long day.
After eating we all piled onto a chartered bus and were taken to the Ohio Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS.
…it’s kind of weird, but even now, I find my heart racing as I recount the events of that day…
Looking back, it really wasn’t so bad, but I’d still rather not go through it again.
We spent up until about lunchtime going through final reviews and paperwork and then divided up between the different branches of the military we were enlisting with. We took the oath, signed the contract, were put back on the bus and driven to the airport. Some folks departed immediately; others of us had a while to wait.
The girl I was dating at the time waited with me. Then we shared a tearful good-bye, each reminding each other it’d only be a couple of months. I boarded the plane, took my seat with my only possessions being the clothes on my back and my Navy START Guide.
The flight arrived in Chicago some time late afternoon. The group I flew in with stuck together and we all got something to eat before heading to the USO. As we waited there we experienced the last few hours of kindness that would be bestowed on us for weeks. And some of us would never be the same; others of us would become better versions of ourselves, some have become worse; but who knows how we’ll all ultimately end up?
That was two years ago today – well, today; this evening of Nov. 1, 2013 as I type this up.
The Navy took a considerable bit away from me, but over the last two years it’s given me back so much more….
A lot of my fear was violently ripped away from me through challenges I would have previously psyched myself out for and I accomplished the tasks set before me, all to varying degrees of success (but always success, mind you).
Some of the softer parts of my personality were absconded with and harder edges remain.
I was honestly afraid that I would enter into the Navy and be consumed; that I would lose myself and become something I’m not. Instead, all in all, I’ve become a better version of me.
Well…perhaps “better” isn’t necessarily the right term. Perhaps “more real” is more appropriate if nonsensical in verbiage. A good deal of my filters have been eroded or reconfigured.
When I regress to pre-Navy Cliff there’s less doubt about what’s happening. The same is true of when I feed and nurture the post-Navy Cliff.
I was pushed, I was shoved, I was aggressively challenged at boot camp. A lot of folks had a somewhat more jaded view, and I do tend to take things a bit too seriously. It kind of plays into the naivete I still possess, I suppose (though a shrinking bit of my persona). I just tend to take people at face value.
Boot camp stripped me to my core; after that was A-school for six months and there I was rebuilt and actually affirmed in some of my previous life choices. Little did I know how much of the rest of my life would have its course set from my time at Fort Meade.
I feel more confident than ever in my skills and abilities as a visual artist – in photography, video, and writing. It’s also where I met the woman who would be my wife.
So two years deep; three years left in this initial enlistment. Still currently unsure about whether or not to re-enlist when the time comes. However, another big life change may be looming…a chance to get into the “real” Navy as I’ve been at a joint command for the last year and change (as you know if you’ve been following this blog).
Because of the Navy I was able to possess the ability to love my life without the need of a woman; and then I was given one. I was given the confidence to pursue my life’s dream as an artist and I’m currently working on a couple of book projects; most earnestly a novel for NaNoWriMo as well as a more journalistic type project regarding some of my experiences thus far.
And in all this I don’t see just the Navy as this grand thing – it is a great organization, don’t get me wrong. But it was God Who got me into it and God Who has blessed me through it.
So, as far as I’m concerned, thank God for the Navy.
Here’s to two years down with at least three good ones ahead!
The following is a short story I wrote a few years ago. It’s not my best work, but I think it fits the holiday…HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!
Meeting Mr. Jenkins
Paul Marcus was ready to go home. Tuesday, January 15th was the longest day he had ever spent at work. Come Tuesday evening, Paul wished he could have forgotten everything about it and never worry about it again. As he went to catch his bus, he tried to remember something but had a hard time doing so.
At 8:15 he arrived at the bus stop. At 8:22 he wondered why there wasn’t anyone else waiting there; at 8:23 he remembered this particular bus line stopped running at 7:30. Had he more energy Paul would have cursed the fates but instead he let out an ironic laugh and slouched so far on the bench that he nearly fell off. Chuckling to himself, Paul sat back up and just decided to remain there, watching the cars go by, not even really thinking about anything let alone a way to get home; by this point he wasn’t in any hurry.
Paul’s watch alarm went off at nine. He was supposed to be meeting his girlfriend at the museum but after today he knew that he would never be meeting her again. A sigh evaporated into the night air as he cancelled the alarm. Staring off into nothing, Paul didn’t notice the elderly gentleman sit down on the other end of the bench.
“Good evening, young man.” Paul nearly jumped out of his skin. His sudden movement startled the greeter. “Jumpy fellow, aren’t you?”
At the other end of the bench sat a man of no less than 75 years, yet who exuded a youthful spirit. He had a kind face and a bald head. He wore wire-rimmed glasses, like a grandpa would wear, and was dressed in an ash-gray suit with a red bowtie. The older man had an old-fashioned briefcase set upright in his lap with his arms resting on it.
“Sorry,” apologized Paul. “I didn’t see you there.”
“Quite alright,” the man warmly replied. “You look as though you’ve had a long day.” Paul nodded. “Well, you’re going to have a longer night if you stay here; this bus stops running everyday at 7:30.”
Paul smirked, “Yeah, I suddenly remembered that at eight thirty.”
The older man chuckled, “That sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen until you get to be about my age!” Paul smiled; he noticed that in spite of the weight of the day’s events, his mood seemed to lift while talking to this guy.
“So why are you here?” asked Paul. The older man told him he had arranged for his ride to pick him up from that stop. Paul acknowledged with a nod and then just sat in silence, not sure what to say next.
“You could ask me what I do,” the man suggested.
Paul felt a little foolish and said, “Right, sorry – what do you do?”
“You go around asking strangers what they do? What are you, some kind of nutcase?” The older man let out a hiss of a laugh that turned into an old man’s guffaw. Paul wasn’t sure what to think. The older man thrust out his left hand and said, “The name’s Jenkins, Thomas G. Jenkins.”
“I’m Paul Marcus,” Paul replied, taking Jenkins’s hand and shaking it. “Good grip,” he remarked.
“I may be older, but that doesn’t mean I’m old!” Jenkins shot back followed with another hiss-guffaw.
“Right,” Paul said, still not sure what to think. “So now that I know you, what do you do?”
Jenkins replied, “You know, you can talk to a man for days on end, learn his name, his habits, his history and know volumes about him, but never really know him.” Paul processed this and nodded slowly. “But I’ll tell you what I do: I start conversations.” He smiled and winked at Paul who was even more puzzled at this point.
“Are you some kind of salesman?” Jenkins considered that for a moment, looking up and around with his eyes and slowly bobbing his head back and forth.
“You could say that.” Paul felt as though he was being baited, but aside from the verbal exchange he had with his former boss, this was the only conversation all day that didn’t start off with yelling.
“Door-to-door?” Paul continued.
“Heavens no; man on the street,” Jenkins replied proudly.
“What do you mean?”
Jenkins opened his mouth to answer, but then closed it as he reconsidered his response. He then narrowed his eyes and looked straight into Paul’s. “You’re what, 23, 24?” Paul laughed quietly.
“Just turned 28.” Jenkins narrowed his eyes even more, almost to the point of shutting them entirely.
“I’d say closer to 23,” he whispered. Paul was almost certain this man was a loony. He continued in his normal voice, “But you’re still pretty sharp; I think you can handle it.”
“Um, thanks?” Paul replied. “And I can handle what?”
Jenkins’s smile went from kind to crafty and his eyes widened ever-so-slightly. When he spoke, his voice took on a bit of a gravelly harshness, “What I do; who I am.”
Paul started to feel a little nervous but his curiosity got the best of him.
“Okay, who are you? What do you do?”
The two sat silently, eyeing each other. Finally, Jenkins answered.
“I’m a demon.” Paul blinked.
“You sell life insurance? Used cars?” Jenkins laughed straight from the gut this time. “Or do you sell stuff for the Deacons?” The laughter died down and Jenkins asked what he was talking about. “The basketball team; you know, the Demon Deacons, Wake Forest.” Jenkins was genuinely puzzled for a moment and then realized what Paul was talking about and let fly another hearty laugh.
“No, no,” Jenkins said as he calmed his guffaws. “I’m a demon. I’m what some consider to be a ‘fallen’ angel.”
Another moment of silence passed between the two men. Natural skepticism was brewing in Paul’s spirit.
“A demon from hell?”
“Goodness no, not as you understand the term, anyway; technically speaking, hell hasn’t even been constructed, yet.” Paul felt as though his train of thought had derailed.
“So…where do you…hang out?” Jenkins was bemused with the question.
“I and my kind ‘hang out’ wherever we want.” Paul nodded and wasn’t sure where to go next so he asked about his wings. “Wings?”
“Yeah, aren’t demons supposed to have scaly wings?”
“Who says I don’t?” the old man countered mischievously.
“Well, I figured maybe you hadn’t earned yours, yet.” The old man chuckled and slapped Paul’s shoulder; he thought he caught a whiff of sulfur.
“It’s your imagination,” Jenkins said offhand.
Paul had to think for a moment then asked, “What is?”
“The smell of sulfur; I don’t have any on me and I know my aftershave smells better than that.” Paul did a double-take.
“Wait, I didn’t say anything about…”
“You didn’t have to; I heard your thought.” A chill ran down Paul’s spine.
“You mean you can…?”
Jenkins had a faint smirk on his face. “I can hear your thoughts.” Paul felt his eyes swell with fear and disbelief. “Don’t worry; it’s not something I do often.”
“I thought…I heard,” Paul stuttered. “I heard once that demons can’t do that, only God can.” The old man winced a little.
“So you’re not entirely ignorant of my world, eh? Well, the old man is a bit more practiced at it than I, but no, he’s not the only one who can.”
“When do I do it?” Jenkins asked. “Whenever it’s useful (I didn’t do it just now, in case you were wondering; I merely guessed what you were asking).”
“I’m going to need a little more convincing than that.” Jenkins arched his eyebrow again.
“Would you like me to tell you of the time your uncle took you up to the mountain cabin when you were 12?” Paul became as a statue. “How about the time you caught Regina with your best friend?”
“What the-?” Paul whispered.
“Under construction,” Jenkins replied with a wink.
Paul turned his gaze forward and just stared into traffic. After a couple of minutes the traffic petered out and all was quiet on the street. “Hmm, now this is odd, isn’t it?” Jenkins observed. Paul could feel cold beads of sweat forming on his brow.
“Are you doing this?” he asked.
Jenkins chuckled, “No.” He looked at Paul for a moment. “You know, for a man of faith you sure seem uncomfortable.”
“Well, it’s not everyday you meet a demon.”
“You’d be surprised.”
Paul had no response. He asked, “Why are you doing this?”
“Talking to you? I told you, it’s what I do; start conversations.”
“Yeah, but…why me? Why tell me all this stuff? Are you…going…to…possess me?” The night seemed to grow darker around Jenkins and the stars disappeared from the sky. He leaned toward Paul and when he spoke his voice was low and deep and seemed to come from all around.
“Would you like me to?” The question hung in the air like a corpse from a noose.
Paul’s face turned pale and he managed to squeak his answer: “No, thank you.”
Jenkins’s expression melted into a warm smile and the stars reappeared in the sky. He sat back on the bench and said, “Very well. I wouldn’t have been able to if either of us wanted to anyway. You see, and don’t tell anyone I told you this, but I neglected to renew my license last May. Besides, I’m getting too old for that kind of foolishness.” Just then a car pulled up to the bus stop. “Ah! This would be my ride. Can I give you a lift?” Paul shook his head. “Alrighty. Have a good evening, Paul Marcus! I doubt we’ll meet again.” He stood up, got into the car, and rode away.
Paul didn’t move from his spot until the paramedics found him the next morning.
Regular posts will resume, er, begin soon enough, but in the meantime, I’d like to plug for my good friend Chris from Tennessee.
He works for Lucky Gunner Ammo as a media specialist type guy and we’ve known each other for about 10 years now. We met in college and he was going for an art degree and wound up hating it and I convinced him to go for a degree in broadcasting, which was my major. Now he has far surpassed me in the field in that he’s actually DOING it for a living and that’s awesome.
So now he’s entered this contest, designing a rifle, and if he wins he’ll be auctioning part of his prize from which the proceeds will be donated to assist a friend who’s adopting a child.
So here’s the link: http://ruger.com/micros/1022_50/index.html
Click on “VOTE NOW” and vote for Chris from TN.
Comment below on whether you did or didn’t vote and why – gun rights? Adopting rights? Left rights? I’d like to hear from you!
“Beautiful” does not mean the same thing as “pretty.”
“Pretty” means without fault, no blemishes.
Pretty focuses on external qualities; how one looks in a dress or all dolled up.
The concept of beauty is all-encompassing.
Beauty may contain some pretty elements, but it somehow also wraps up the ugly characteristics of an individual along with the pretty ones and is made all the more appealing and attractive for it.
Beauty comes from within; how one handles his or her warts, how one deals with them and doesn’t live life as a wart, but as one who has one or few.
Pretty fades with time.
Beauty gains strength and takes work.
Beauty will last.
Pretty’s gone in a flash.
It’s one of those things…I don’t know how to explain it…
It all started this afternoon…
Well, I must confess that over the past few weeks (at least) I’ve felt rather overwhelmed and as though I’ve been floundering. Married now three months, it not being the fairytale I sort of hoped for, work being work, just life happening.
Me’n’fear…we’ve been pals a right long time. Not getting too much into it, I was kind of raised to be afraid. “Don’t do that, you’ll hurt yourself!” “Don’t jump from there, you’ll die!” “Don’t run, you’ll trip and fall!” “Don’t breathe too much, you’ll pass out!”
Kinda silly stuff, but it came from a well-intentioned mother. When I was a kid I was a scaredy-cat, by and large. Afraid of the dark, afraid of getting dirty, afraid of the rough’n’tumble, afraid of listening to rock’n’roll (until that one fateful day when the teen across the street jammed with his axe on his front porch).
A lot of that has followed me well into adulthood. I’ve staved quite a bit of it off – I finally went on my first rollercoaster when I was 14 and haven’t looked back – I’ve swung from a rope out over and into a lake – I’ve done the bungee swing at Carowinds and…I kissed a girl.
Shoot – I married a girl!! I’ve already mentioned that, though, and I’ll probably mention it a lot because though it’s been rather challenging I’m really stoked by it because she’s a pretty rad woman.
…fear still follows…
It’s always there – always gonna be there. “…fear has to do with punishment” John tells us in 1 John 4:18. And, y’know…yeah! Fear is assuming negative consequences are quick or at least inevitable to follow – “DANGER! DANGER!” our hearts tell us. So we stop doing whatever it is that elicits that reaction and go back to something safe.
And I see it as it all coming down to the guilty heart – we’re all born with it – some are a little more (as in “overly”) developed with it than others, but we’re all born in sin, we’re all born with that inner, natural enmity toward God. At first we express hatred, resentment, indifference toward Him, but at some point it gets real and we start feeling that guilt…
Sometimes we’re successful in abating it, hiding it, ignoring it, replacing it – but it never fully goes away. We KNOW we’re in the cosmic wrong on a fundamental, perhaps even cellular level.
So there’s fear.
But God doesn’t want us to live in fear. He wants us to live in love. More of 1 John 4:
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
That’s 1 John 4:7-10. The rest is pretty awesome, too, and I recommend you read it.
And the rest of that fear stuff:
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (italics added) – 1 John 4:18
And ain’t no one made perfect in love yet, but we’re getting there; just hold on – you’ll make it.
So…where was I? Ah, yes – floundering.
I wasn’t FEELING it – I wasn’t feeling the above verses and I know life ain’t about just feelings, but they can be nice. Thing about faith is, is accepting certain things as true though you may never SEE or FEEL right about them at any given moment. Obviously there’s some point where you do otherwise why would you go for it to begin with?
But then, the storm of life comes…it shakes you to the core – voices of doubt, of “reason” – practicality comes into play and makes you feel like a complete moron, an utter buffoon for ever thinking whatever it is you have faith in could be true. What are you going to do?
Hold on to what you KNOW to be true?
Or accept what FEELS to be true?
I’ve acted on feeling enough in my life, and in recent weeks, to really say I ought to know better – but it’s so easy, babe, it’s so easy to go with feelings because they, well, FEEL so real!
But, after working through those repercussions, after learning the old lesson AGAIN, (and thank God love is patient – 1Cor 13:4) I’ve started acting on what I KNOW to be true even though many (practically every) parts of my being say otherwise.
And…today…today, this happened. After a couple weeks of strenuous, emotional work – because that’s what this stuff really is, stuff of the spirit is emotional and willful – things unseen – - I came across this article on my Facebook feed: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/08/26/michael-lewis-on-writing/
It – I can’t explain it. It’s a God thing. It was a moment where after surrendering, after stepping and maintaining in faith, though I feel as though my thoughts have berated and beaten me down, God stepped out in love, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Hey, it’s Me!” Kinda like Han Solo in Return of the Jedi when they’re invading the Imperial garrison on Endor.
And I’m not one for warm fuzzies or the like though I’ve experienced my fair share.
Well…I reckon every now and then – though they’re rare delights and should be kept that way – a warm fuzzy is warranted because I’ve been so freakin’ warm and fuzzy for the last hour. It was that article, it was Beethoven’s 7th Symphony coming up on “shuffle”, it was restating my dream to my mother-in-law – it all just clicked and was one of those rare moments where everything made sense. I didn’t see down the road, so to speak; I didn’t get a sense that everything’s going to be rosy; but it was just one of those moments where God stops everything to say, “It’s alright – you’re exactly where you need to be; with Me.”
I likened it to the eye of a hurricane to one of my “sisters” as I chatted with her on FB. It’s the moment in the storm where the wind and rains die down, the moon comes out, the stars shine brightly, and there’s clear serenity to everything in that moment, and then you hear the approaching roar of the other side of the storm…
So now you hunker down, re-energized, determined, and ready because you know truth is true and that no matter the circumstance, He who holds your heart holds it in love and there is no fear in love because He’s already punished Someone Else for you.
And that’s all I’ve got to say about that for now.