Monthly Archives: December 2011

How You, Too, Can Become Judgmental and Legalistic

The writer in yesterday’s post said to me, “using profanity is not a sin but being judgmental is.” She says this like a doctrinal statement, like she knows it to be a fact. But I don’t find a statement like that anywhere in the Scriptures. It sounds to me like a personal opinion. The Apostle Paul starts 2 Corinthians Chapter 11 with these words: “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly.” Like Paul, it might sound as if I’m joking in the title of this post, or perhaps as if I’ve gone crazy, but pay attention anyway.

Take a look at Romans Chapter 12. Take a good, hard look. The message of how to be legalistic and judgmental is very subtle there. You might not see it from this passage alone. In fact, root through the whole Bible. That’s what that scary title of Fundamentalism really means. It’s basing your belief on the “fundamentals,” thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, rather than men’s added-on thoughts and opinions. Fundamentalists are often accused of being narrow-minded haters. So try this Bible study thing out for yourself. See if intense, open-hearted, disciplined examination of the Scriptures doesn’t make you narrow-minded and hate-filled. (Hint: No, it won’t.)

Verse one: Purify and practice self-denial upon your living body through God’s mercy, thereby becoming holy and fit for service. It’s the least you can do.

Verse two: Be changed completely, take your mind out of the world, so that you will be able to understand God’s perfect will.

Verse three: God gives grace to everybody freely, the Apostle Paul and you and me included. Because of that, there can be no justification for pride. Be serious about using the faith you’ve been given, whether it seems to be a teaspoonful or a bushel basketful.

Verses four and five: The body has lots of parts with lots of different jobs. This analogy applies to us as people who are part of the Church. Still, numerous as we are, we are one body in Christ as well as part of each other.

Verses six, seven and eight: Gifts come by grace. We don’t deserve them. We have different ones. We should use them. Proclaim the Word, minister, teach, encourage, give, be in charge, and/or show mercy, with your teaspoonful or your bushel basketful of faith.

Verses nine and ten: Love honestly and wholehertedly. Hate, hate, hate evil. Hang on to what’s good. Operate with kindness, affection and family love and respect, and say, “after you,” or “no, after you,” a lot.

Verses eleven and twelve: You have work to do for God? Get busy, get excited to be serving the Lord! This is no dead-end job! You have eternal prospects. Yes, maybe it’s really, really hard, but hang in there, and pray, pray, pray.

Verses thirteen through sixteen: People who serve God have needs. Give missionaries a meal or a place to sleep, or both. God knows about the people who attack you. It’s not up to you to attack back. When someone has good news, shout hooray! When it’s bad news, cry with them. In other words, be able to pay attention to and understand somebody besides yourself. Don’t pay attention to riches and power and influence. Be kind to those who are ordinary, or below ordinary. Don’t think you have all the answers, or any of the answers, in yourself.

Verses seventeen through nineteen: Okay, so he did you wrong. No, you don’t get to do him wrong back. And your obligations to truth go far beyond “honesty is the best policy.” It’s the only policy. Try to be at peace with all men, but it may not always be possible. Even Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, said in Matthew 10:34, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” But don’t take revenge, don’t lose your temper, and remember that judgment belongs to God. He’ll settle accounts.

Verses twenty and twenty-one: Hungry or thirsty enemy? Feed him. Give him a drink. To “heap coals of fire on his head” could possibly mean that you make him miserable by feeding him and giving him drink, by being nice to him. He could be made miserable with guilt or he could just be made angry. You have a choice of about letting evil overcome you. If you make the right choices, you overcome evil with good.

What I just wrote isn’t a translation or a commentary or an official statement. It’s just one person’s (mine) understanding of one chapter out of the whole Bible. On the other hand, it isn’t just something out of my head. As you noticed, I added Scriptures from other parts of the Bible. Studying the Bible as a whole over, in my case, a period of forty years, can result in a better understanding of it parts. 1 Corinthians 2:13 says, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” You have the Scriptures, the spiritual writings God gave us, compared with the teaching of the Holy Ghost within you, and you can compare them. I don’t say I’ve studied the Bible forty years to be proud, just to make a point. That’s a lot of water running through my sieve. That’s a lot of washing my dish, a lot of soap and water. It’s bound to have an effect.

But if you keep on looking at Christianity as a matter of opinion and rarely open up that Book to see what it says about what you think or feel or want, well, what does that say about your sieve, your dirty dish? Still dirty, huh? Start working on getting it clean, right now!

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Judgmental Sinner … Yep, I Guess That’s Me

Recently I offered to review a book for another author. She warned me that it contained some sex and language. I said I could objectively review a book that wasn’t intended for Christians. But then she told me it was intended for Christians, so I wondered what I was getting myself into.

I read the book, and the author pointedly asked me what I thought about the sex and language. It’s a story about a woman struggling with a combination of past abuse, bad choices, and addiction. Her husband became a minister after their marriage. She felt trapped in a life she didn’t choose. The author uses graphic language and sex descriptions in the first part of the book, but it is the story of her trying to submit to God’s will and change, so the explicit references fade as the book goes on.

I answered the author’s direct question by saying I was uncomfortable with the degree of explicitness and I did not believe it was necessary or appropriate to go into that much detail. She countered by saying she had been turned off about church by very conservative people who judged her for her standards. She considered those people to be sinning.

“Actually you responded exactly like I thought you would,” she said. “Some people are very conservative and judgmental and they don’t realize that’s a sin. The ironic part is using profanity is not a sin but being judgmental is.” We went back and forth about this but she was not looking for my advice or even my honest opinion. She had already made up her mind.

So I guess I am a judgmental sinner. That attack has been leveled against me more than once. Another example comes from a relative who tried to give me advice on an ongoing rift we have with our atheist son. This advice has been ongoing for many years, and comes from a mature Christian. Family troubles about churchgoing led these relatives to join a “less legalistic” church so that their children would not cease to attend. “The legalisms in my family by the three minister relatives,” she told me, “drove their kids away.” At the time she seemed to think all she was giving up was a requirement for females to wear dresses as opposed to pants. She still repeats that rationale as if she has sacrificed nothing else in the 30+ years I have known her. Her family’s problems over church have not only not lessened, they have grown, exponentially, into indifference, departure from the family faith, and apparent lack of any faith at all.

When I point out the dangers of giving in, and giving in, and giving in, in the hopes of nurturing faith and Christian growth by not being legalistic and judgmental I come under attack. Love is the answer, I am told, in essence. Love them, don’t judge them, and they will come around to right thinking, right belief, right behavior. I see, as a result of this philosophy, generations (it’s been going on longer than I’ve been alive) of irradiated Christians. I don’t mean healthy and germ-free like the vegetables. I mean mutated and unrecognizable like the 50s Sci-Fi movies.

So here I go with my judgmental, legalistic standards for what I think comprise the bare minimum in standards I need to see to recognize someone as a Christian. I really, really, really want to see a whole lot more.

1. I need to hear that you read the Bible faithfully. That doesn’t mean you read my preferred version, or read it at an exact time of day, or an exact amount every day, or even read it every day. Faithful means it’s important to you, a priority to you, and you do it a LOT. Don’t just tell me you do it. Make it show in your conversation, in your attitude, in the changes it makes in you over time. You might just be a sieve, letting it pour through you, thinking at first it’s all running out and none staying in your head or heart.

Some of those genealogies and long repetitive lists of offerings might tire you out. You might feel like you don’t understand a lot of it. It might seem impractical to your daily experience. But treat it as if you are a dish and it’s soap and water. It might run off you, but you’ll get cleaner every time you use it. Don’t tell me you don’t get dirty. All us dishes do. “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:26, 27)

2. I need to hear that you go to church faithfully. There’s an old saying to the effect that if you find the perfect church, don’t join it, because you’ll ruin it. But you need to go to church faithfully. Your “right” church might not be my “right” church, but I’ve got legalistic standards for that, too. It should preach the Word of God. It should support foreign missions. It should expect more of members than it does of visitors. It should not necessarily make you feel good or comfortable, but should challenge you and make you grow. It should not emphasize social activities and outreaches that are no different from what the world has to offer. Each activity must emphasize respect for, study of and growth in the principles taught in the Word of God. Feed the poor, clothe the naked, love the sinner, hate the sin. Those are just a few. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)

3. Like the church you attend, I need to hear that you hate sin. You can say it makes you uncomfortable if you’re trying to be nice, but you have to take a stand somewhere along the line. For example, I’m sick and tired of being called a homophobe. I am not afraid of homosexuality or the people who practice it. I hate calling sin an alternative, a liberty, a choice. Yes, some of us are born into a behavior. It’s called original sin. It just takes different forms in different people. But you must understand that Christianity is not a cafeteria. We don’t get to pick what we want. Don’t demand that I accept opinions, thoughts and feelings as standards for belief. And if you think my standards consist entirely of “to don’ts” Here’s a “to do” list for you. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

4. I do have one don’t. Don’t be a ham-fisted, insulting jerk when presenting your belief. We participate in a group focused on “loving discussions” between people of different Christian beliefs — Roman Catholics, Syriac Orthodox, Anglican, and others. We are a decided minority in representing our church background of Baptists and Fundamentalists. But we have been complimented for being unlike many Baptist Fundamentalists. Someone brought up an example of church members who literally tried to stuff pages of an “unapproved” Bible translation into the mouths of those who dared read from it to make them “choke on the words.”

This doesn’t mean we compromise, promote ecumenicalism, or agree with heresies. People bring up topics and we discuss them, ask questions about them, and present what we each believe. We have been labeled as “Sola Scriptura,” meaning someone who only recognizes the authority of the Scriptures and no other. But we all have physical and spiritual authorities in our lives outside of the Scriptures. The key is that only the Scriptures are without error. The others are authoritative, but not without error.

We have also had people try to lump all Protestants (they included Baptists in that group) into one set of beliefs. We don’t go neatly into a box like that. We generally follow Baptist beliefs. We agree with Martin Luther’s basics (Absolute authority of the Scriptures, Priesthood of every believer, Justification by faith alone). We don’t fit into a denominational compartment because we follow our convictions based on our understanding of the Scriptures. This sometimes causes us to differ even with others in churches we have been members of. But these have rarely been serious disagreements. They have been minor matters of interpretation.

Coming next: How You, Too, Can Become Judgmental and Legalistic

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3D Animation Work

When a person begins work as a 3D animator, he has to keep in mind that he will be expected to work as part of a team and be productive. There are different methods of determining productivity, but usually he will be expected to come “up to speed” quickly. A military background, for example, should give a person an edge in understanding the need for being disciplined and prepared to contribute to the team from day one.

Two basic aspects come into play. One is that an employer will expect certain skills with a fair degree of mastery. The other is that additional skills which are not necessarily a spelled-out requirement will be a big help in increasing productivity.

Suppose you were hired by Pixar to work on the movie Monsters, Inc. While it would be nice to choose the storyline, the types of monsters, etc., in reality those decisions are made by people far above you. Since you are a new hire you will be on a team of 2-4 people doing something tedious, difficult, mundane but absolutely essential. When I make 3D animations and movies, they sometimes do not turn out as expected. But as a “solo act” I can say, “That’s still cool. I will change the story to fit it.” As part of a team you will not have that luxury. You must perform your assigned task and make it fit in with the team’s and with the project as presented.

Suppose your assignment is to make hair for Sully. In the real world this might not have been a separate assignment but this is an illustration. This will require a fairly thorough understanding of Pixar’s Renderman Software. Is the hair a plug-in module? How thick do they want it? How long should it be? How should it move in relation to the overall model? Stiff like a bristle brush? Like a horse’s mane? Will a special program be needed for collision prevention? Co-operation with other teams might be required if your project integrates with theirs. Some decisions must be made very quickly. Other things such as color might not even have been decided yet, but will need to be acted upon as soon as they are made.

Is it fur or hair? A 3D animator is expected to be able to distinguish certain things as soon as he starts a job, to bring certain specific abilities with him and understand certain things the first day.

1. Really boring stuff you have to know

High end 3D animation software operates on multiple computers at the same time. UNIX is a system designed to operate on multiple computers. Linux is a free (open source) version with many similarities. You must learn UNIX to be productive in this field. The book UNIX in a Nutshell is a good beginning for learning the commands. You will need a computer with UNIX or Linux installed in order to get familiar with the systems. There are differences between the two, especially the fact that Linux works with smaller systems and UNIX works with much larger, sometimes worldwide ones.

Most 3D animation programs are written in a high-end language called C++. While understanding C++ is not essential, since there will be others on the team who specialize in that, you need a basic understanding. Take at least a semester of a programming language, such as Pascal, and avoid programs such as Basic which rely on Spaghetti Logic.

While you don’t need to know Calculus all of this is based on higher math and you need a solid background in non-linear Algebra. All the talk about model placements in a scene are done through Cartesian co-ordinates and is the basic language you will use every day. While you don’t usually talk about vectors per se, every model, every light ray, every scene or set, and every motion is using vectors. You need a very thorough understanding of what they are and how they work. If you have no concept of vectors or Cartesian coordinates a good introduction is Albert Einstein’s Evolution of Physics.

Stephen Hawking’s book a Brief History of Time deal with vectors and similar subjects in chapters 2 and 3. The illustrated version has lots of cool pictures.

2. Really boring stuff that is helpful but may or may not be necessary

The instruction manual of whatever 3D program you are working with could be thousands of pages. At first you will be concentrating on one small section because you must begin producing before you achieve complete mastery of the program.

How the hardware works is another area where you will be unable to achieve complete mastery before becoming productive. Has the program hung up simply because it is ray-tracing? Does it need to be reset to free up the computer? Will you wipe out the work of several other teams if you hit reset at the wrong time?

Do you know how to compile the program? Usually someone on the team, or on another team altogether, specializes in that. But if you have a basic understanding you will be more productive.

Probably no one will ask how well you type or at what speed, but you will be more productive with fast and accurate typing skills than someone who lacks them.

Personal discipline means you can’t spend time on Facebook, chat or emails but take your assignment seriously. Pieces of hardware that you might be more comfortable with or familiar with will increase productivity. Trackball versus mouse, something as simple as desk height, easy ability to stand up and stretch or get some exercise. Interpersonal skills, the ability to communicate, will make everyone’s job easier, or perhaps possible in the first place.

How well do you get information out of other people? No torture techniques, but the ability to obtain needed information rapidly by asking the right questions, making only a minor interruption in the other person’s productivity.

Do you understand the goals and objectives of the company you work for? Do you enjoy your work? It’s possible to be productive and good at what you do without enjoying it, but enjoyment helps you and the people around you create a better work environment.

3. How 3D software operates or works

All 3-D Software programs have certain ways of operating, certain divisions of labor. Different programs use different names for the same thing. The first thing that needs to be done is to build a model. It could be something as simple as a ball, as complex as a person, or a spaceship. Most programs use a system of connecting polygons where the program will render the polygons. Hash Animation Master uses splines and patches. Others use nurbs and metanurbs.

If you are making a chocolate donut with sprinkles on top, you will begin with a primitive called a torus, deform it and add to it. You can add each individual sprinkle, made of polygons or patches. You could also apply a decal of sprinkles to it if it need not be as detailed.

Once the model is made, it is placed in some type of scene. Hash calls this scene a choreography. Bryce makes the scene separate from the model. Setting up a scene can be simple or difficult. Scenes are often a flat panel with a video background. Shadows of objects that cast on the scene give a realistic cue to the eye to make people see the object as part of the scene.

Determining motion is the next consideration. The donut might only move if someone picks it up and throws it. The camera might move around it. In the example of hair for Sully in Monsters Inc., it must be attached and move when he moves, when the wind blows, when others brush up against it, all in realistic, believable fashion. A particular patch of skin might need 10 hairs. Or would four be enough? Will you need 100? All of this must take place with the least amount of rendering time and computer processing power.

After putting the models in the scene, figuring out the motions, completing it as a scene, the computer must be told how the light should fall and what it will look like to the camera. Usually the largest team working on a 3D animated movie will be the team responsible for lighting.

Once all this is done, rendering of each individual frame takes place.  Many quick renders will be done along the way to make sure all the parts work together properly and the details are correct. The final render should be a large scale version of the quick renders.

4. Putting It All Together

A movie director will have many things going on at the same time which must be coordinated. 3D rendering is the same way. The leader of the team or teams has to put them all together. The scenes with the simplest sets and the fewest number of actors or models will be finished and set to render first, since rendering takes the longest time. Meanwhile more intensive projects taking more “people power” will be allocated and coordinated after those are set up and running.

Staying with the Monsters, Inc. example, Mike has no hair, only one eye, and he is sometimes seen talking in a relatively bare scene with no one else present. Such simple scenes can be set up and rendering while more difficult characters like Sully are being worked on. This also applies to more difficult scenes like many doors running on tracks in all directions.

Many skills operating all at once must come into play with 3D animation. The desire for this career might begin with learning to play video games. But loving video games, even being good at them, will not make you a 3D game designer.

Some people want to be automotive engineers when they don’t yet even know how to drive a car. There are drivers, there are mechanics, and there are engineers. It’s a process, an acquisition of various levels of skills. These skills have to be learned and used together or nothing is accomplished. To progress to a higher level in a career, you must take the first step to acquire the first skill. But you may not be able to do anything with it until you master the second skill. If you can get these skills down and make them work together, 3D animation can be very rewarding.


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By the Numbers

The popular vote in 2008 was [Barack Obama] 69,456,897 to [John McCain] 59,934,814, respectively, according to Wikipedia. As we travel back and forth, up and down, we have talked to thousands who testify that they voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but will not vote for him again. This time around they just will not vote for anyone. Some of them will change their minds and vote for him in 2012. The issue is how many is “some.” The 2008 election saw a record turnout, which will not happen in 2012 unless something drastic happens. Since the out of power party usually makes a small gain, slightly over 60 million Republican votes are likely. It is very doubtful that Barack Obama will have even 55 million legitimate votes. Ron Paul is very likely correct that whoever wins the Republican nomination will win the general election.

The 2012 Republican Convention requires 1143 delegates to win the nomination. The state of Virginia has 49 delegates for this convention and only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are on the VA primary ballot. These 49 delegates are almost 5% of the total needed. With so many candidates and no candidate having even 30% this gives Mitt Romney and Ron Paul a tremendous advantage over the other candidates.

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Christmas 2011

 South Tulsa Baptist Church

We spent Christmas in Tulsa, Ok. We spent a lot of time with our daughter, and went to Chili’s for lunch yesterday with her and my Aunt and Uncle. We went to my Aunt and Uncle’s church, South Tulsa Baptist Church for communion last night. There were well over a thousand people there. They had a brass choir for a prelude which ended about 10 minutes before the service started. That was followed by a brief video of why we need Christmas, beginning with creation and including a lot of Hubble space shots. The music was great and the Pastor announced that they had raised $10,000 for food for the local rescue mission. He publicly thanked all who volunteered so that all the money went to buy food instead of to pay overhead. We then went over to my Aunt and Uncle’s house and saw my cousin, her husband and their children. On our way back to our motel room, we looked at Christmas lights. One house with 40,000+ lights had them blink in sync with Christmas music played over a local radio station.

Tulsa Bible Church

This morning we went with our daughter to “her” church, Tulsa Bible Church. It is a smaller church, around one thousand, and the service was also very good. We actually sang the Nicene Creed to the tune of a Christmas Carol. We’ve never done that before. We are always somewhat concerned when we visit a new church, but we were greatly blessed and thankful for the preaching of the Word of God. We then ate, changed clothes, went over to my cousin’s house to say good bye and left as she was attempting to feed the mob at her house.

We are now at a Christmas buffet at a Petro. Pie!

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After Christmas Sale!

All of our e-books are now marked down for our After Christmas sale. Unillustrated books are now $2.99 and illustrated books are $6.99. (The Teachers Edition of Biblical Studies remains at 99 cents, however.) If you got an e-book reader for Christmas and haven’t filled it up yet, follow the links on the right side of the page to Smashwords or Amazon! Merry Christmas to all!

And a shout-out for some bluegrass performer friends of ours. Check out their YouTube Channel!

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Writing and Reading Science Fiction and Fantasy

Science Fiction can glorify God if the writer can keep his facts straight. It’s a haven for uniformitarianism, the perfectibility of man, in short, secularism of all kinds. But since true Science is based in the Scriptures, true Science Fiction must be based in factual information and reasonable speculation based on what may happen.

Man is still compelled to work hard, suffer failures, setbacks and fears because of sin, and will not be able to become a god and fix everything. He will not evolve beyond the need for morality, self-control, personal sacrifice, or buying and selling what he needs to make a living and to live.

Science Fiction frequently gives man extraordinary power to do without money, having unlimited materials, knowledge and resources. Who pays the bills for all these Starship Enterprises, anyway? One time someone actually mentions “buying” someone a cup of coffee, and is quickly told that one cannot buy anything on the Enterprise. A visit to the past results in the query, “What does it mean, ‘exact change?'” Economics aren’t going to evolve away.

Neither is belief in and reliance upon the True God, because He is real and the Scriptures are true. The universe is not eternal. The world is not billions of years old. Those “vastly superior aliens” out there are angels and demons. They are real, but they are not from other planets. They live in obedience or disobedience to their Creator, God, just as men do, only they are powerful and capable of influencing man for good or evil.

Man cannot solve the problem of sin. Therefore he cannot cure all diseases, end all wars, or preserve primitive cultures in pristine “innocence” according to a “prime directive.” Technology can be used to advance culture but if it goes bad or evil and attacks us it is because sinful men created it, not because we live in a universe of random chance. Plan, purpose, order, and the Designer of all things must be foremost in the mind of the Science Fiction writer.

Many people lump fantasy and Science Fiction together. Sometimes we speak of Speculative Fiction, which can include both genres. C.S. Lewis, particularly in his adult Science Fiction books Out of the Silent Planet, That Hideous Strength, and Perilandra, talked about possibilities with planets untouched by the curse of man’s fall. He speculated on the mythologies of our ancient cultures even in the Chronicles of Narnia for younger readers. J.R.R. Tolkien did the same thing in his Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit.

Fantasy fiction in modern times usually glorifies magic and human strength and cunning. It often gives man a means to control his world. Though he may still struggle, stories like the Harry Potter series show a progression not unlike the mythology of evolution. Harry’s “ancestors,” his dead parents and the elderly wizards who instruct him, are not as evolved as he is. Fantasy borrows freely from the biblical concepts of a chosen one, a messiah, but gives no credit to the God who met the need of lost man by providing Jesus Christ as atonement for His sins. Rebirth is a common theme in fantasy, the warrior going through a deathlike experience and thereby growing in power and even fighting some form of ultimate evil. All of these things are stolen from the Scriptures without mentioning the true source of power, of rebirth, of the ability to defeat the enemy.

Man is the source of the power, says modern fantasy, or the earth or its personified elemental forces. Other movies have even gone back to the concept that the Greek and Roman gods are real and still give birth to demigod children with great powers to help the world. Mutants such as the X-Men skip the necessity to make or remake gods. They are just the next step in evolution, spewing pseudoscientific gibberish about how such nonsensical powers might be possible in a materialistic context. Many video games are based on this concept, that man can and will evolve into an all-powerful being who can right wrongs and save worlds without any spiritual force behind him.

Worlds peopled with elves, centaurs, dragons and dwarfs promise adventure along with the triumph of the human spirit without the true and living God. The message is the same. Man can overcome. He doesn’t need God.

But fantasy, not so long ago, centered on allegory, the adopting of a veil of mythical settings and creatures to teach Scriptural truth and explore man’s proper relationship with God. Tolkien did not claim to write a true allegory in The Lord of the Rings but hinted at elves who stood for angels, trying to help man but disgusted with his corruption, yet sometimes intermarrying with men. Wizards, goblins and orcs are spiritual beings trying to destroy man or in some cases cooperating with him, or pretending to do so. Magical powers frequently lead to an evil corruption. This is echoed in Star Wars. The temptation to the dark side is presented to Gandalf and to Luke Skywalker. Gandalf resists, and is even reborn in a sense to become a powerful spiritual helper. The person behind the “ultimate” power of good is vague in Tolkien, especially in the movies.

Tolkien was inspired by an earlier work, as was John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress. That work was the Faerie Queene, an epic poem by Edmund Spenser, contemporary to Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Walter Raleigh. Few people even know of it today. It centers on the English hero Saint George and his quest to slay the dragon. Spencer envisioned both a patriotic and spiritual meaning in his work, but especially he meant to glorify God. The fairy queen Gloriana represents God’s glory, the young man chosen for the quest wears the armor of Ephesians 6, magic is condemned as corrupting and wicked, and life is a series of victories and setbacks in the process of Christian growth. Spenser rose to a height few other fantasy writers have even attempted, but he is the standard to reach for in Christian fantasy.

Watch the YouTube (Channel ffvp5657) videos of the Faerie Queene commentary to better understand this timeless epic.

The Space Empire Saga is a collection of stories around a common theme. Here is the future of persecution. Here is the tale, beginning in “City on a Hill,” of ordinary family man John Winthrop and a group of believers literally driven out of this world by government persecution. Their only hope for freedom is to restore and make prosperous a sabotaged Lunar Mining Colony.

In “Sojourner,” the Space Empire expands throughout the Solar System, but its godly foundations have eroded into government corruption. Michelle and Mark, pioneers to the outer planets, fear their leaders will steal the possible fruits of their giant, gas-collecting “balloon ship.”

In “Humiliation,” internal rebellion and forbidden romance complicate the godly but hamstrung King of the Space Empire’s plans to control his son Michael. “Repentance” sees Michael conflicted over his duty to his father and to his empire in an encounter with a mysterious “fourth Empire” on Earth. His adopted brother and best friend Randoph struggles with understanding how to have godly character while planning, against everyone’s advice, marriage to Aidan, an Earth woman. The King still sees hope for peace but the old specter of persecution rises again in “Sanctification.”

“Bonus features” for this book include YouTube videos of the complete 3D novella Sojourner. Check out the ten-minute segments on YouTube Channel ffvp5657. We also have a gallery called “Stills from Sojourner and the Space Empire Saga” linked at the top of the blog.

Here is a link to a video with background on Findley Family Video and the Science Fiction books.

The Sojourner 3D video links, in five 10-minute segments, are as follows:–rey8_RkBsX

Here is a teaser for the Faerie Queene Teaching materials:

You may also wish to watch the Faerie Queene summary and teaching video by following the links below.

This is a link to our website, Findley Family Video Publications, with the Faerie Queene summary materials, more pictures like the one above, and even a game you can play if you wish. Let us know if you can put the pictures in the correct order!

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