Saturday, February 19, 2011


A “bargain price” is a highly esteemed reason to spend a small amount of money. At least in my world. In The Knight’s world, however, being able to say, “Money is no object!” is even more highly to be esteemed.
An example of this dichotomy played out yesterday. The Knight announced that he wanted to go see a certain newly released movie, “I Am Number Four,” which he’d read a newspaper movie review on just that morning. It’s understandable, of course, that he’d want to see that particular movie because of his being a science fiction fan.
The first thing that popped into my mind, however, was: Newly Released Movie at Matinee Prices [paying full price is totally unacceptable and out of the question], Means Spending $10 to $12 Dollars! … That’s half  the cost of a DVD these days! But then, I don’t approve of buying DVDs either because they are so expensive, especially considering that after I’ve seen a movie once or twice, in most cases I never care to watch it again. On top of that, if I really want to see a certain movie, I can [eventually] get it at the public library for $1.  (Of course, I do prefer the theatre’s huge screen to the TV’s more modest-sized screen.) Naturally, the perfect compromise is to go to the “Dollar Theater” and spend only $3!!
Wisely, I avoided saying any of my thoughts because I knew that The Knight would just say, “I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE MONEY!!!!!”
So, my next task was to see if there was a movie at the Dollar Theater that would be an acceptable substitute for the desired science fiction one at the more expensive theater. But first, I needed some persuasive reasons for rejecting “Number Four” and then some other persuasive reasons for preferring some other movie.

It was too easy. Easier than taking candy from a baby. I read the “Plugged-In” movie review on line of “I Am Number Four” which politely described it as a movie whose target audience was young teens, and how the young male star spent considerable time in the film without his shirt on, and how it was a cross between Twilight and Harry Potter. Enough said (even though much more negative stuff could be said).
As luck would have it, the Dollar Theater was showing “The Chronicles of Narnia, The Dawn Treader.” The Knight has long been a fan of “The Chronicles of Narnia.” I didn’t even have to worry about compiling a list of good reasons for choosing Dawn Treader over Number Four.

Now here is the rest of the inside story: I have NOT been a fan of The Chronicles. Many years ago I read book one of the series, and I didn’t care to read more (even though The Knight thought the series was terrific). I watched some of the BBC serialized versions when they came out because The Knight expected them to be wonderful. I hated them. I watched the previous two movies in the series (because of The Knight), and did not like them enough to watch them again. The first one was too cloying. The second one was completely unappealing to me. I had no desire to see any others in the series. Ever.
So, here I was between a rock and a hard place: choose to go see a second-rate teen movie which I knew I would hate and also spend too much money to do so (which I would hate even more), or choose to go to see a movie I would probably find tedious at best, but spend only a pittance to do so. You can guess which one I chose.
The Knight (bless his acquiescent little heart) accepted my evaluation of Number Four and also accepted the substitute of Dawn Treader. He may have been a little disappointed, but he did not express such. He really loves action films, and “Number Four” would probably have fit that bill. A few times during “Dawn Treader,” I actually feared that he might be falling asleep or was bored.
As for me, this was a case of ‘having-low-expectations-may-occasionally-result-in-being-pleasantly-surprised’! Dawn Treader seemed to me to be a vast improvement over the previous two movies in the series. It was less cloying and more edifying. Edifying with a delicate touch and not a heavy hand. The theme of overcoming evil and temptation, and conquering the darkness within one’s own heart was excellently portrayed. The theme of being forgiven and healed by a Savior also worked. Tears sprang to my eyes as I recognized the truths being portrayed.
So, in the end, I was quite pleased with the bargain. The Knight, in days to come, will undoubtedly pay eight times as much as we paid for the Dollar Theater tickets, to own the DVD.
I can live with that.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I turned to speak to God
About the world’s despair;
But to make bad matters worse
I found God wasn’t there.
God turned to speak to me
(Don’t anybody laugh);
God found I wasn’t there—
At least not over half.

The poet, in the first four lines above, expresses the overwhelming despair of the Ultimate Despair: What if God isn’t there?
Then, in a perfect 180-degree change of perspective and feeling in the last four lines he expresses his feeling of foolishness for doubting, as well as immense relief that God IS there!
I thought of this Robert Frost poem last Saturday as I read a newspaper article about British physicist Stephen Hawking and a Wall Street Journal article he co-wrote titled, “Why God Did Not Create the Universe.”

This article (based on his new book, The Grand Design) is a symbol of Hawking proudly, perhaps defiantly, turning his back on God, and bowing down to the god of science.

There was a time when Hawking gave God at least a respectful nod, such as when he said that if a complete theory of physics were discovered, then “we would know the mind of God.”
It is not uncommon for individuals with severe physical afflictions, such as Hawking has, to “charge God foolishly” (unlike Job in the Old Testament).  Or in other words to ask, “If there is a God, why would He do this to me or let this happen to me?”

Such individuals may emotionally reject God because they feel forgotten or rejected by God. Of course, living a lifetime feeling rejected by God Himself is untenable. It is easier to pretend God isn’t there; to mentally and emotionally erase Him from existence.

Atheists claim that they feel free and powerful once they embrace atheism. Indeed, psychologically they feel that they are even more powerful than God and smarter than God, because they have “killed” God.

This phenomenon can be seen in the story of Korihor who taught “There is no God” because it was “pleasing to the carnal mind.” (Alma 30:53). Hawking is, I believe, an example of this psychological coping mechanism.
With this insight, I felt tender compassion for Stephen Hawking.
I also felt humbly grateful that I regularly experience the “peace that passeth understanding” simply knowing God IS there.  
Not all scientists are atheists. My physics professor, Kent Harrison, is an example of a man with a brilliant mind that can grasp the intricacies of unproven “string theory” and “M-theory” (ideas that Hawking finds attractive), yet he does not reject God. Indeed, he is a humble, gentle man full of faith. Harrison, in a letter to the editor about the Hawking article, said:
“Claims that science explains everything are simply incorrect. Many scientists believe in God. Many observations about the universe they see support that belief. We are not in a position to claim final knowledge. Thus, ultimately, it is a matter of faith.”
The poet was accurate on another level. When we go about our lives neglecting or ignoring the spiritual aspect, we ARE only “half there.” We see only half of what is really going on. And we are only half as successful as we might be. …If that.