Posts Tagged ‘Comic’

Though I’ve been working hard on writing the sequel to Johnny Came Home and on making a few revisions to the first novel [which will include an excerpt from John Lazarus: Mann from Midwich], I managed to carve out some time last night to work on the book cover for the newest John Lazarus Adventure. We’re still beta testing the cover titles, but the artwork is pretty much identical to what the final cover will look like.

And just for kicks, here’s the teaser from the back cover:

“One year after John Lazarus returns to Midwich, questions still linger. Is he human? Something more? The events of last year taught him that someone is trying to start a war between super-powered humans and the rest of humanity, but he has no idea how vast the conspiracy stretches. Or who he can trust.

As the world discovers the presence of super-powered humans, battle lines are drawn and sides are chosen. Johnny will need the help of a team of heroes to avert the coming world war. But will it be enough?

Find out more in John Lazarus: Mann from Midwich, the thrilling sequel to Johnny Came Home.

Legends arise. Dark forces gather. Heroes unite.”

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In Johnny Came Home, I explore the concept of super heroes [and villains] from a Biblical Creationist point of view.  In that soon-to-be-published novel, John Lazarus must fight for the future of Midwich and possibly the world as we know it. The premise of the book is that the generally unrealized pre-Flood potential of humanity has occasionally surfaced in people we read about in myths and stories who could perform super human feats. These men and women have gone down in man’s writings as demi-gods, heroes, witches and mentalists.

I naturally wondered whether the ability to predict the future could be a potential power.

Of course, Johnny can’t really predict the future, which is why he often makes mistakes. And unlike Superman, he can’t just make the Earth spin backwards on its axis to reverse his mistakes [please, no comments on what a sci-fi blunder that was; it was just a movie, guys].

Lots of  sci-fi television programs explored the possibility of predicting and averting the future, but I want to look at two in particular.  

The first is NBC’s Heroes, which is a bit like the X-Men without the idiot spandex costumes. Pretty cool show, if a bit on the gory side. The basis of the first season was that the Heroes had to thwart a nuclear disaster predicted by the paintings of Isaac Mendez. Over the course of the season, they saved a cheerleader [Claire] to save the world and “stopped” an exploding man, though it wasn’t revealed how until Season Two. By the end of season One, the murderous villain Sylar had killed Isaac to steal his powers, but Isaac had the prophetic foresight to make other paintings, comic books, et cetera to guide the Heroes. With Isaac dead, only two people are known who can paint the future: Sylar and Peter Petrelli, the latter of which collects the powers of those he comes into contact with without having to kill them. [Unfortunately, as when he absorbed the powers of the Radioactive Man and became the Exploding Man, the very nuclear disaster the Heroes were trying to thwart, he initially has less control over his powers than Sylar.] Of course, there are those like HRG, Bob and others who know of Issac’s works and study them to try to understand and attempt to avert the future.

Except they can’t. Everything Isaac reveals is written in stone. It happens.  Sylar kills a cheerleader. New York explodes. The world is infected with a virus that kills off most of the planet. Sylar fakes being Nathan Petrelli in order to finally kill Claire and take her power of invulnerability. A man explodes. HRG is shot in the head and killed. Only sometimes these things are in alternate futures, which can be averted so that the Heroes do not have to live in those awful futures. And sometimes the future occurs as painted but it does not end up as everyone supposes it must. The cheerleader who dies wasn’t Claire. Peter Petrelli explodes, but the healing factor he absorbed from Claire when he saved her resurrects him. HRG dies but a transfusion of Claire’s blood revives him. But in each case, they actually happen.

Then there’s ABC’s Lost. After the Hatch explodes and the sky turns purple, Desmond wakes up buck-naked in the middle of the jungle. He then starts having flashes about Charlie Pace dying. He cleverly averts the first few fates, but finally admits to Charlie that he can’t keep saving him forever. Eventually he will die. While Desmond’s flashes begin like Isaac’s visions, as things to be averted, they do not remain so. Dezz sees a vision of someone coming to the Island, possibly to rescue them. He suspects it’s his sweetheart Penny Widmore. Hurley, Jinn and Charlie are also in the flash. In the flash, Charlie is killed by one of Rousseau’s jungle traps. Knowing Charlie will die, Dezz convinces him to join their camping expedition, but doesn’t tell him he will die as a result! And Desmond used to be a priest! Ouch! At the last second, Dezz comes to his moral senses and warns Charlie, saving him. The future is averted again, though Desmond wonders if he’s made a mistake this time. Especially when Desmond continues to have visions of Charlie dying in various ways, and continues to keep saving him each day…

Yet in the grand scheme of things Desmond hasn’t really made a mistake by saving Charlie. You see, later Desmond has a vision where he sees Charlie push a button and then drown, after which a rescue helicopter comes to get his girlfriend Claire and her son Aaron. This time, Desmond tells him, he has to die. And Charlie goes to his fate willingly for a grander purpose than mere accidental death. That’s where the future vision as a warning becomes instead the future vision as direction or guide for redemption or salvation.

Heroes taps this positive potential for prophecy when it has Peter going to Claire’s high school to save her based on Issac’s paintings. Saving the cheerleader doesn’t really keep New York from suffering a nuclear explosion. The irony is that Peter is actually the cause of the explosion because he absorbed the powers of the Radioactive Man and was unable to control those powers. Before he goes nuclear, his brother Nathan flies him high above New York where Peter explodes harmlessly. The irony for Peter is that by saving the cheerleader so long ago, he absorbed her healing powers which allowed him to survive and heal after he exploded. Save the cheerleader, save yourself… Of course, Peter doesn’t know that by trying to save Claire he’s actually saving himself.

That’s the real rub here. We never know what the future holds, whether good or evil. Even if we had flashes or snapshots of the future, would it be enough to determine whether we should seek to avoid them or fulfill them? That’s what makes shows like these so much fun. They keep you guessing because the future is certain to God alone. In fact, God speaks through the prophet Isaiah: 

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is  none else; I am God, and there is none like me; declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done.” Isaiah 46:9-10

So again, God alone can predict the future years in advance of its fulfillment.  Aside from divine revelation, we can’t know the future at all, much less whether to fight it or fulfill it.

In a real world example, let’s say we go back in time and kill Hitler thereby eliminating the Holocaust and WWII. Would that create a better future? Or was Hitler the lesser of another evil we were mercifully spared from? Or let’s say we go back and save JFK from assassination. Does that create a better future or does it lead us down a darker path? We’ll never know, because alternate futures are only accessible to prophets, time travellers and God Himself. In fact, in the Bible God proclaims that He alone knows the future and uses this as evidence that He is superior to the false gods man has has imagined.

In Johnny Came Home, I realized that if I’m writing from a Biblical worldview, there’s no such thing as an alternate universe, so either a prophecy will come to pass or it won’t. Furthermore, only a true prophet of God would be able to unfailingly predict the future. Of course, there are always some who can fool others into thinking they can really predict the future apart from God: palm readers and carnival fortune tellers, for example. Of course, that’s simply a contrast between a prophet and a false prophet. [For more on false prophets, see my comments on Benny Hinn & the Archko Volume: One Fraud Promoting Another] A true prophet of God really didn’t fit into my storyline [sigh] because true prophecy is the result of special revelation, so it could never be a natural ability.

A third possibility presented itself when I was contemplating statistical probabilities. Supercomputers can calculate what is statistically probable [or improbable] based on the factors they are aware of. Of course, the limitation is that neither humans nor computers are omniscient. We can’t know everything. Only God can know everything which is why God alone can predict the future with unfailing accuracy. So our predictions of the future can only be probabilities not certainties. More to the point, they can be dead wrong if we have not taken into account some critical factor. This is why brilliant military strategists and meteorologists inevitably fail at some point, even if they have an otherwise impeccable track record.

While anyone with this super power would simply be making nothing more than an educated guess, their predictions would seem superhuman when compared to the average guy’s guesses. Especially if they were able to process most of their calculations on a subconscious level.

Thus was born Destiny Pascale’, one of the villains of my book, a mathlete [if you will] who can predict probabilities in the manner I’ve described. Like false prophets of old, the self-proclaimed Oracle takes full credit for her predictions (and makes excuses whenever her prophecies fail).

Sci-fi ruminations aside, you should be aware of the fact that about 27% of the Bible consists of prophecy, both fulfilled and yet-to-be fulfilled. This is a powerful evidence that the Bible is the revealed Word of a God who knows everything: past, present and future.Through fulfilled prophecy, we can see that it is in fact the Word of God, not just a book of stories and moral lessons. For example, King Cyrus of Persia was prophesied 150 years before he was born, as was the fact that he would release the Jews from their first exile and pay for the rebuilding of the Temple out of Persia’s coffers in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy [Isaiah 44:28; Ezra 1:2]. We could also mention Messianic prophecy fulfilled in Christ Jesus, the birth of the nation of Israel in 1967 [Isaiah 11:11] and the fall of Tyre fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great [ref. Ezekiel 26:3-14]. God uses fulfilled prophecy to show that there is no other God besides Him and to demonstrate that we should trust His Word is true in all that it says.

The concept cover for the book I’m writing, Johnny Came Home, has a silver screen flying saucer on it. The saucer has just crash landed and skidded to a stop at the front steps of the local church, Soul’s Harbor. That’ll preach, I guarantee you.

It got me thinking about extraterrestrials. Aliens. Little green [or grey] men. Are we really alone? Or might there be intelligent life somewhere across the universe?

I should mention right up front that I’m a Biblical Creationist. I believe God’s revealed Word when it says God took 6 days to created everything from nothing, that He created the flying creatures and sea creatures on Day 5 and told them to be fruitful and multiply after the kind, that he created land animals on Day 6 and likewise told them to be fruitful and multiply after their kind and that He made man [and woman] by special acts of creation in His own image. Furthermore, I believe the Bible’s sure record when it relates that death, suffering and thorns entered the world by Adam’s sin at the Fall and that the entire world was covered in a great Flood in the days of Noah. 

I’m also a science fiction author. 

This being the case, it would be pure cowardice not to address the question and explore the implications of little green men on traditional Christian doctrine.

Did you realize that the Star Wars universe, the Strar Trek universe and similar fictional worlds where the ether simply teems with alien civilations is based on an evolutionary worldview? There’s the feeling that life is somehow inevitable and that chemicals simply and magically [dare I say spontaneously?] produce life which then evolves into more and more complex forms until it achieves sufficient mental complexity to be called intelligent. This is based on two things: an unBiblical misconception as to how long the universe has been around and the vastness of the universe. Put simply, evolutionists feel that there’s been ample time for alien abiogenesis and evolution to occur a ridiculous number of times and given the vastness of space, we’re probably just tripping over one another on a relative scale.

I find it interesting that they DON’T base their views on the inevitability and alleged scale of extraterrestrial life on actual probability studies. You see, abiogeneis [life springing from chemicals by natural processes] and molecules-to-man evolution are so statistically improbable as to rate impossibility. Multiplying zero by infinity doesn’t really add up to better odds. No, evolutionists are simply arguing from incredulity and from ignorance. “Now, doesn’t all that space seem wasteful?” and “If it happened here it must’ve happened by undirected processes because we won’t consider God at all – against the rules, you see. And if it happened here and it was completely impossible then maybe it’s not so impossible after all. Maybe it’s only apparently impossible, not actually impossible – after all, evolutionists would have us also believe that we may observe apparent design in nature, but not actual design! Now I tend to think that if they had the most improbable of chances for undirected processes to lead to complex intelligent life and they multiplied it by the alleged deep time and scale of the universe that they’d would’ve used up all of their odds on Earth alone. To put it a different way, even if it was extremely improbable and it happened anyway, the chances of it happening again become less likely not as likely or more likely.

Yet what if we did find life on other planets? Would the Bible then be invalid?

We have to ask ourselves, What kind of life?

We should have to first note that non-sapient life would constitute no Biblical challenge. At all. But let’s take this one step at a time.

What about specks of life on some Mars meteor or bacterial life within our own solar system? What explanation could the Creationist offer? The simplest explanation is that such is that said life hails originally from Earth and that it survived aboard ejecta launched out of our orbit from supervolcanoes or meteorite impacts, such as those we associate with the Noachian Flood. A meteorite hits the Earth. It divets out a chunk of Earth rock and flings it out of orbit and the amazingly resilient organisms survive the rigors of space and eventually land on other planets or moons in our very own solar system.

Yet what if it weren’t from Earth? What if it were methane-based instead of carbon-based? Would that discount the Biblical revelation of special Creation? Not really. Creationists could always point out that the Bible is God’s revealed Word, but that it focuses primarily on God’s relationship with this planet and the creature He created in His own image. Its silence regarding extraterrestrial lifeforms would not invalidate its inerrancy. We might simply note that extraterrestrial life was not really germaine to the discussion as it were.

It is unlikely that man will discover life from beyond our solar system, given the prohibitive nature of space travel. All science fiction writers employ black boxes to overcome this obstacle [warp engines, inertial dampeners, wormholes, hyperspace], but the physics and distance make the whole venture wholly impractical. Impossible really. If we discovered extraterrestrial life at all, it would likely be because said life came calling. I can’t imagine that being a good thing.

Yet what if we found extraterrestrials? It could happen, I suppoose. There were good preachers who warned that man would never reach the moon, basing their predictions on the fact that God prevented completion of the Tower of Babel. Yet we made it to the moon. God did not see fit to limit our horizons to keep our theology as simple as some would’ve prefered.  If it pleased God, He could populate the ether and its heavenly bodies with all sorts of life. So long as it was non-sapient, it would pose no historical or doctrinal challenges to Biblical revelation.

Non-sapient life could be as intellectually and socially complex as ants, bees, locusts, dolphins or even apes and still pose no challenge to doctrine. Despite their social complexity, bees are still animals. They do not require salvation. They are fallen with this world, but they have no souls to save! So the extraterrestrials could even be quite socially or intellectually complex, but still not be truly sapient.

Sapient aliens pose the only true doctrinal challenge to Christendom. Someone once pointed out that Superman is a bigger problem, doctrinally speaking, than Harry Potter! Where does his soul go when Kal-El dies? Superman seems to possess a defined sense of morality and also a flawed nature we theologically ascribe to original sin amongst the sons of Adam; does he require salvation? How would he get saved? Did a Christ figure die for Kryptonians on their planet? Did they have a system of law, a schoolteacher like Mosaic Law, until he should receive the fullness of the Gospel here on Earth? Would God be obligated to offer salvation at all [after all, do not angels long to look into these things?]?

See the sorts of questions sapient extraterrestrials engender! A science fiction writer answers the what-if questions. As Biblical Creationists we have an opportunity to use sci-fi as an exploratory apologetic to see how we might answer these scenarios based on the true revelation of God’s Word.

I’m sure much has already been said on this matter somewhere on the blogosphere, but I got to thinking about it today:

My characters are generally bad people. The whole stinkin’ lot of them simply reek of original sin. They’re perfectly awful which is only perfectly natural given the general state of humanity. Even us Christians are only sinners saved by grace.

But how do we write it?

Take swearing. [Those with gentler constitutions probably should stop reading and go do something else now.]

My characters never really swear. Oh, they use the words “friggin,” “sodding” and “crap.” I suppose some would consider that cussing of a sort. As someone who wasn’t always a Christian, someone who sang in a horrid little metal garage band and spouted and sang the F-word at every available opportunity, I can honestly say that my pastor found these tamer substitutions immensely preferable! Did you know that if you sing something, it becomes second nature? That’s why congregational singing is so important and should not be neglected for the sake of current musical trends in worship; congregational singing helps to form our shared liurgy! In any case, I swore in song and was in such a habit of swearing that I did it as unconsciously as breathing. I’d raised it to an art form. Of course, my favorite profanity was the F-bomb. The F-word in particular has always been versatile for the more brazen soul: a noun, adjective, verb.. you could even add new syllables to common words for added effect: for example, out-friggin-rageous! I digress.

Yes, this is me before I became a Christian

 

So if you were to ask me if those words were cussing, I’d laugh. I do laugh! I laughed when people used them back when I peeled the wallpaper off the walls with every profane utterance! It wasn’t really swearing at all. It was hinting at it.

When someone who grew up in church all their life or has become now so acclimated to Christian social norms that they’ve forgotten what they were like hears those words, some of them are convinced that I may as well be cussing.

Thus, we have a great divide in Christian fiction, an is/ought contradiction that must somehow be dealt with. As I understand it, there are two camps on the subject [I’m oversimplifying, I’m sure]: the Honesty camp and the Holiness camp. The Honesty party thinks we ought not sugar-coat sin. We ought to paint it as it is so real people can then see themselves reflected in the pages of our books and then be pointed to a real Savior. Something to that effect anyway. The Holiness camp thinks we ought not do anything of the sort. We ought to write our characters as role models. A sort of what would Jesus write crowd.

Which is an excellent question all it’s own, btw! What would Jesus, the Master Storyteller write? His parables reflected the lives of real people. The Prodigal Son’s protagonist is a disrespectful hedonist who finds grace. It would be intersting to study His parables anew with that question in mind.

Anyway, two camps overgeneralized. And I don’t really fit into either. I think the Holiness camp authors write saccharine pieces that are a little too gilt-edged. They don’t show people as they are, but how they prefer them to be. Are we really to suppose these fictional worlds contain no cigarettes, alcohol or dice. The characters seem too plastic. If any of them have flaws or sins they are either destined for conversion or they’re the villains. No one struggles with a thorn in the side. Yet I know Christians who struggle with addictions. I know Christians who don’t always do the right and proper Christian thing. I know Christians who often act self-righteously instead of graciously. One of them looks me in the mirror every day!

On the other hand, the Honesty guys are equally unappealing. Take gore and violence. I’m writing a sci-fi adventure piece. There are super-powered fist fights, guns, rockets, alien death rays and all of the high-flying action you’d expect out of a classic good versus evil brawl through downtown. Now, I could write a scene with lots of graphic gore and blood with people spitting out teeth and what-have-you [I don’t] and that would be honest, but it would also be unnecessary. To be honest [and brutally so, as is my custom], I do have a scene where I note that someone’s shin bone is jutting out of their leg. That’s my goriest scene and it’s simply necessary so that you know the extent of the character’s injuries at that point and that, well, its a serious leg injury, not a sprain or a mere fracture. That sort of medical gore is necessary in a case like that, but I think that there’s a line that can be crossed where it becomes gratuitous. Where we might as well follow that act with lions and Christians…

There’s also the issue of the protagonist’s faith. In almost every Christian novel I read, the protagonist is either a Christian at the start or he is by the end of the book. In my current book, only two Christians are evident. One’s a preacher [supporting cast] and the other is the protagonist’s dead father. The protagonist’s Christian upbringing is evident, but it’s also evident that he’s not actually converted himself. As a preacher, I’m not a fan of forced conversions, in real life or in fiction. In my novel, which takes place over the course of one action-packed day, there simply wasn’t time for reflection much less the sort of mini-sermon some Christian authors force into their novels. I’m not disrespecting those guys, if it’s forced, it’s superfluous – and it would never, ever happen that way in real life! So write something else.

But this raises a question: Should the protagonist be a role model? Or are we free to write our characters in different stages of their lives? What I mean by this is are we justified as Christian authors in writing a novel with a protagonist who isn’t saved and doesn’t get saved in the book and might not even get saved if I write a sequel? Or to give a more personal example, can we write about a protagonist from my foul-mouthed band days, influenced somewhat [or even greatly] by his Christian upbringing, but nowhere near the point of conversion in this segment of the plot of my life?

In exploring this [and I apologize for the length of this rambling discourse!] subject, I find it interesting to note that Christian authors can freely write murders and lies – it’s the matters of Christian conduct [swearing, drinking, smoking, dancing, listening to metal, wearing Goth clothing, reading Harry Potter] that seem to set us off.

Any thoughts?

Rev Tony Breeden

*re-posted from http://www.creationconversations.com/group/christianauthors/forum/topics/dirty-deeds-the-christian

This blog will mostly deal with my up-coming sci-fi novel, Johnny Came Home.

Johnny is an action-packed superhero science fiction tale, complete with conspiracies, mad scientists, awesome powers and even flying saucers. It’s the kind of book I’d pick up at the local bookstore, which is essentially why I wrote it. Unlike most other novels of this genre, I’m writing from a Biblical Creationist point-of-view. Survey the local sci-fi rack, especially superhero books and comics, and you’ll quickly recognize that evolution is the standard assumption. Marvel comics in particular has abandoned the standard Golden and Silver Age comic book explanations of superpowers, namely mad scientists, radioactivity and space aliens, in favor of mutants as the next stage in human evolution.

The question I explored as a Christian author was whether a superhero novel could be done from the Biblical Creationist POV instead of the evolutionary assumption. In a blog article called Faith-based Sci-fi as Exploratory Apologetic, I suggested

Of course, some will shrug and ask, why should we write about such things at all? Isn’t it a waste of time to write amusements and diversionary fictions. Don’t we have more important things to be on about? Like spreading the Gospel. And what does it really matter anyway?

I think Hank Hanegraaff’s reply to the question, “What made you write [The Last Disciple]?” is compelling:

“Fiction is a great truth-conveying medium. As Left Behind has become the vehicle for indoctrinating millions of believers into an end-time theology invented in the nineteenth century,” [aka Darbyism, or the Rapturist view]

Fiction, in general, is the perfect medium to make an argument. The more popular the novel, the more folks are exposed to the ideas and,as Hanegraaff put it, “indoctrinated.” They are at least more predisposed to accept the idea’s validity.

Science fiction has specific power to change the future. Many science fiction writers are considered futurists. Their imaginative exploration of possible futures has resulted in present-day technological inspiration. It has also coloured the wordlviews of those who read science fiction, which is predominantly written with Darwinist, humanist and even atheist assumptions.

But we can write faith-based sci-fi not only as anticipatory apologetic, but to provide the world with an intelligent alternative to humanist imagineering.