Links I liked, August 2-8 (I Am N, Star Trek fan films, Krugman and Trump)

1. I reviewed “I Am N”

A good book to read for any American Christians tempted to think the goal of life is to be comfortable… which is probably just about all of us. This is not a very complicated book, the chapters tend to be 3-5 pages each, and even the names are often changed in these short stories of the lives of persecuted Christians in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. And for the most part these are not the stories that make the news, the threats and violence and legal punishments, however terrible, are too personal and too much “just the daily risk you take being a public Christian in these parts of the world” – all the more reason to read them. These are the stories of people who share the good news they know no matter the risk, because they’re longing for a better country.

2. ReasonTV talks about Star Trek fan films

Prelude to Axanar might be the best fan-produced short film I’ve ever seen… which is probably why CBS got all concerned.

3. Tim Keller Releases New ‘Sweatin’ To the Hymnal’ Line of Workout Videos

Babylon Bee is a treasure.

4. Self-driving Cars Will Kill Transit-Oriented Development

Will this happen?  Are transit agencies thinking about this happening?

5. How Paul Krugman Made Donald Trump Possible

Dishonesty always comes back to bite you in the end.

His convention was called “one of the worst ever.” Chris Matthews deemed him “dangerous” and “scary,” Ellen DeGeneres said “If you’re a woman, you should be very, very scared.” His opponent ran an ad against him portraying him as uniquely dangerous for women. “I’ve never felt this way before, but it’s a scary time to be a woman,” said a woman in the ad.

He was frequently called a “bully,” “anti-immigrant,” “racist,” “stupid,” and “unfit” to be president.

I’m referring, obviously, to the terrifying Mitt Romney.

6. No, Eric Metaxas is not a Proto-Nazi

Just sharing to say, the world could probably use more “my friend is wrong about this but don’t you dare slander him” pieces.

7. Key Figure in Fight for Religious Freedom in Egypt Freed, Declares Return to Islam

Hegazy apologized to family members, who had threatened to kill him after he became a Christian.

8. Aquatic Mushrooms Timelapse

From our aquarium, photos taken every five minutes from around noon until around 8 PM.  Huh.

9. I had no idea Kevin DeYoung’s new children’s book was being made into a short film

Look at dat.  (He is the senior pastor of our church.)

This week brought to you by a rainbowfish in our freshwater aquarium.

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Religious subjectivism and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

A little while back there was a post here about how religion in America is “personalized, psychologized, and pragmatized.” As long as your personal religious beliefs seems to help you they’re fine for you, and if I want to hold some different religious beliefs, that’s fine for me. The actual truth or validity of the belief seems to be a secondary concern.

The Ferengi bartender Quark praying.

I’ve been slowly rewatching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine while I’m grading or whatnot, and this sci-fi television show seems to take that kind of subjectivism to the nth degree. This show is filled with all kinds of aliens with all kinds of religious beliefs – the beliefs of the money-obsessed Ferengi are especially amusing. (They hope to enter the “Divine Treasury” when they die, and deposit little slips of gold-pressed latinum into their idols when they pray.) But the television show is centered around a space station (Deep Space Nine) near the planet Bajor, and the religion of the Bajoran people plays a significant role. The Bajorans worship gods they call the “Prophets” who live in the “Celestial Temple”, watching over Bajor, and send Bajor prophets (with a little “p”) and will one day send them a sort of super-prophet called the Emissary.

OK so far, but here’s the thing – beginning with the very first episode of the show, we learn that the Prophets are actually real. Commander Sisko, the main character, discovers a wormhole in space that the Bajorans quickly identify as the Celestial Temple. The wormhole is inhabited by a species of aliens (the Prophets) who live outside of time, seeing past, present, and future, and really do care for Bajor – and Commander Sisko is to be their promised Emissary. Over time, we also learn that the Prophets are quite powerful – they make an entire enemy fleet simply vanish, communicate with Sisko when he’s far away and apparently played a role in arranging his birth on Earth, etc. In other words, so far as I can tell, the Bajoran religion is empirically verified.

Yet somehow, despite this, many of the characters continue talking about the Bajoran religion just like they would talk about any other religion. Characters get asked questions like “do you really believe in the Prophets” – um, shouldn’t everyone believe in the Prophets? An Admiral gets annoyed by Commander Sisko’s inclination to “follow the will of the Prophets” – Sisko’s main job is to protect Bajor, and if you’ve got a group of aliens living outside of time who also want the best for Bajor, wouldn’t it just be good sense to listen to what those aliens have to tell you? One Bajoran character is asked if she would mind if her significant other believed in a different religion – personally, I would say “have you looked at the window at the wormhole, bub? My religion is actually true!”

Anyway! Kind of a nerdy post, and draw what conclusions you’d like. But it’s surprising to me, at least in this fictional environment, just how far the subjective treatment of religion extends.