Posts Tagged ‘Enterprise’

I’ve been thinking some about action figures lately.  When you’re young you don’t think past tearing the miniature plastic superhero or villain off the card and using the figures to re-enact your favorite scenes from a show or movie.  I did this a lot with Batman figures such as the Caped Crusader, Robin, The Joker, Riddler, Mr. Freeze, and even the Joker’s henchman Bob – alongside the Joker Van, all the Bat-vehicles, and the Batcave playset.  Might as well add to that a collection of Playmate’s Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures too; along with the Enterprise D bridge and Transporter.  When you’re older, all you can think about is how much those plastic toys would be worth if you hadn’t opened them; they’d be collectibles then, not just toys.

The best collectibles are “Mint in Box”; never opened, never played with. Much like my Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire Dash Rendar, or Chewbacca in Bounty Hunter Disguise from 1997.  Or Sheldon Cooper’s Mint in Box 1975 Star Trek Transporter toy with “real transporter action” on Big Bang Theory a few weeks ago (Leonard Nimoy voiced Mr. Spock action figure not included, sadly). Open the box, and the object loses it’s value.

But then there’s the philosophy from Toy Story that “toys are meant to be played with” and that toys have value because of who they belong to (be the owner’s name Andy or otherwise).  But in the process of being used they often can become worn out and even sometimes, broken. Fortunately, toys can be replaced, but people cannot; and I think much the same scenario applies.

People want to do something spectacular with their lives, to use them to great ends (partially because of what society bombards us with and because we’re wired to worship something and sometimes twist that into wanting to be worshipped); some are motivated by a love for God, others by a love of Self.  Although not everyone has a destiny before them that is “loud and spectacular”, there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to do something with your life – as long as it remains untwisted.  The difficulty often comes with the realization that to achieve those ends, you have to go from “Mint in Box” to “played with”, used, often well worn, and sometimes broken.  A.W. Tozer once said that “for God to use a man, he must first wound him deeply”. We desire to be used for great ends but often also desire to remain unchanged by that process. We want to tell the great stories associated with the scars, but not receive what is a prerequisite for those tales; we want The FENX without the Tricycle accident.  We want a grand story to tell without having to live through it.  Jesus said that if you want to be great, you must first be a servant, and service can bring weariness.  Therefore Paul admonishes “lets us not grow weary in doing good, for we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” – that’s perseverance; steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success or existing in a state of grace until a state of glory is reached.  As warn out as life can make us, we have to keep waking up in the morning, in hopes of reaching that state of glory.

Will you step out of the box and into a state of grace?

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Author’s note: I’m spoiling the plot for a few of the original Star Trek films here, so if you have never seen them and plan to, stop. reading. now.

The genesis of a blog post will often come in like The Flash, swift and mind jarring, and at the most random times.  Recently I was thinking back to a few summers ago when a local cinema in Washington, DC was showing some of the original Star Trek films at midnight in preparation for the imminent release of the reboot directed by J.J. Abrams.  As such, when some friends of mine asked if I wanted to go see Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Kahn with them at midnight I couldn’t turn down the offer to see the finest film in the series on the silver screen, as it was released shortly before I was born.  Over the years I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the film (and it’s sequel) because of how it handles issue of life, death, loss, love, and responsibility (or lack thereof) and the reality that “no one is ever safe” in the midst of characters that for many are synonymous with popular culture.

The tale begins with Admiral James Kirk overseeing a batch of cadets at Starfleet Academy undergoing the Kobyashi Maru scenario, a test of command ability that everyone fails.  It’s Kirk’s birthday and he struggles with aging and riding a desk job instead of exploring the galaxy from the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise.  Soon enough, they are asked to take the Enterprise on a mission with the training crew of cadets to investigate an incident at a Federation starbase, Regula I.  Meanwhile, another Starfleet vessel, the U.S.S. Reliant, has been hijacked by an old enemy of Kirk’s, an enemy bent on revenge for actions from 15 years prior.  This enemy comes across knowledge of the Genesis Device – technology that can create life from lifelessness (as well as the reverse), which happens to have been created and stewarded by an old flame of  Admiral Kirk’s and the son Kirk never knew.  After a brutal battle fueled by the rage of his old enemy, Kirk’s best friend makes a great sacrifice to keep the  “ship…out of danger…” telling James that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one” and the film concludes with the hope of new life from lifelessness.

Star Trek III begins with little time having passed.  The father of Kirk’s best friend visits him, begging him to find his son and return him to his home planet so he can be restored.  To do this, entails great risk and possible loss, because he must return to the planet that the Genesis Device was unleashed upon, something the United Federation of Planets has forbidden, as wonderfully expounded upon by a minor character in the film with “Genesis?!  Genesis allowed is NOT, Genesis forbidden…”  Gathering his willing crew members, Kirk steals the Enterprise from Starfleet and returns to Genesis to find his friend, only to find his son (and his friend) planet side and in danger from the   mortal enemy of the Federation, the Klingon Empire.  Rescuing the friend entails great personal  loss to James Kirk and when the the friend is restored he asks Kirk “why?  Why did you come back for me?”  The unspoken secondary questions being why did you sacrifice your ship and the chance to save your son to save me?  Why did you allow yourself to risk and ultimately lose the things that have defined you for as long as we have been friends?”  Kirk simply responds, “because sometimes the needs of the one, outweigh the needs of the few or the many”.

I ruminate on this idea every so often because we live in a culture that loves to talk about “the greater good” or the “greatest good for the greatest number” and yet in our actions it is more about “I want what I want and I wanted it two days ago so why isn’t it here yet?”  Two conflicting ideas that very rarely work together and always live contentiously within one another’s orbits.  Neither of them are always right and sometimes neither of them are the proper choice in a given situation.  I think about Christ’s parable of the Lost Sheep in Matthew 18:12-14, wherein he asks if the Shepherd won’t go in search of the one who is lost and leave the ninety-nine to do it.  The answer is of course “yes, he would” as the question is a rhetorical one.  It flows into the same sort of question that the Apostle Paul asks in Romans 8:31 “If God is FOR Us, then who can be against us?”  Answering the question is GOD for you?” is much easier than answering the question”Is God for YOU?” or to put it at eye level “Is God for ME?”  The answer is yes, but coming to terms with that answer in our finite confines is a challenge that can take a lifetime to overcome, because we often do not see ourselves as God sees us:  worth the risk and the potential for loss.  Spock didn’t see himself as Kirk saw him.

Sometimes when I meet others as a result of the FENX, occasionally I will be asked the question of “why did your dad do this?” after I tell them the tale of it taking three years to build.  Some don’t ask the question because the answer is an obvious one, but to those that ask it I simply say that he built it because he loves me, he built it because he sees me in a better light than I see me, he built it because I had a need, and sometimes the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the few or the many.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is one of my favorite Star Trek movies. But anyone who knows me knows I’m more of a Star Wars fan (kinda like J.J. Abrams; didn’t he direct a Star Trek film?). At this point I can hear the “snap/hiss” of lightsabers and phasers being set for kill all over the world-wide-web. How in the word can a Star Wars fan love a Star Trek movie? Well, the sci-fi genre has always been one to take issues of the time away from Earth and tackle them in a safer environment; Star Trek VI does this. At the time Star Trek VI released (12.13.91) the Chernobyl incident had occurred, the Berlin Wall had come down, and the Iron Curtain had recently fallen. The story in Star Trek VI mirrors this with a energy disaster on a Klingon moon and the need for peace between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets. Add to this plot great performances by the Trek cast and additions like Christopher Plummer as General Chang and David Warner as Chancellor Gorkon and things get better. Throw William Shakespeare quotes into the dialogue and make it relevant to the plot and it’s amazing. Now, how does this relate to the FENX? Well, one of the themes to Star Trek VI is fear of the unknown. Peace between the Klingon Empire and the Federation was a scary thing for some because it would change the galaxy.; it was something folks just couldn’t understand.

A few weeks ago I was driving the FENX home from the movie theater in Chinatown when some hooligans decided that it would be a lot of fun to cause me grief by messing with me and the FENX while I was trying to drive. Both incidents happened so fast I didn’t have time to do anything about it, but I was upset. I was very thankful that I wasn’t alone and my friends who were with me made sure the law enforcement officers knew what happened. I was angry, that’s an understatement. It’s tough being defenseless. It’s hard accepting weakness and being forced to trust my circumstances to One greater than I am. The FENX sticks out, it attracts attention from droves of people who don’t understand it. Just like in Star Trek, and life in general, folks fear what they don’t understand – attracting the attention of the K9 unit of the Capitol Police because they think the FENX is a weapon is certainly an example of this. Trying to do something new, trying to change the way people think about handicapped folks and transportation is difficult, some people aren’t going to get it, others give you grief; but like Spock said to Kirk when Kirk and the Enterprise were volunteered to escort Chronos One to the signing of the peace accords – “Only Nixon could go to China”