Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Asking Questions and Speculations About Heaven

I know some people aren't comfortable with speculating concerning religion, heaven, God, etc. (I'm thinking about some particular people at my church:), but I read C.S. Lewis as I grew up and probably 70% of his theological works are speculations based on logic and ponderings, struggles and faith. I grew up loving the Psalms, where questions abound and Psalmists aren't even opposed to yelling at God and they yell some pretty strong things, but you know what? God preserved those questions for us.

In things relating to salvation, yeah, it's dangerous territory to start speculating but in terms of relating to God, I honestly think, more than anything, he is amused by our speculations of him as a Father or Mother would be assumed at the speculations of their young children. I think if he didn't want us to ponder him and who he is, he would have only given us the Word and not also revealed so much of himself in the world around us and through our interactions with other human beings.

In terms of what heaven will be like, in the end I don't think it really matters, we will all be wrong, because what awaits us is beyond imagining, is beyond our comprehension. I take the Bible's physical descriptions of heaven "with a grain of salt" because, personally, I don't think jewels are very pretty and I am not impressed by gold. I think what was trying to be conveyed is that it is a place of beauty beyond compare, where there is no want or squalor...and so much more.

With that preface, on to more speculating.

I have often heard people say, "When I get to heaven I'm going to ask...," but it seems like the persons intent is to ask it right then, right when they get through the gate or even when they're standing in line at the door. If you read the Psalms, you God is comfortable with questions, he doesn't always answer them, but David asked a lot and he was called a man after God's own heart.

We are going to be an eternity in heaven, a "time" so long that it ceases to be measured. I think there will be time enough for every question and that we will hear every other persons questions and that we will be encouraged to ask more questions and have innumerable questions answered without even asking. Why? Because through our questions we will understand God more fully, through others questions we will understand him even more fully, and to understand God more fully is to better be able to praise him, because we will better understand why he is to be praised. I think heaven is partly going to be a show and tell of how God worked in your life (what you understand of his work before your questions and even more after your questions have been answered).

I think one of the experiences of heaven is going to be looking back at our life through the eyes, maybe not of God (because even our "indestructible" souls would probably explode or something), but through the eyes of heaven. I think we will see how everything effected everything and everyone else, how everything was connected together. I think at first we will be consumed with an almost overwhelming sadness, for we will see all the opportunities lost, all the good deeds prepared for us that were left undone. Now, before you tell me, "There's no tears in heaven," let me finish. I think we will then be be shown the picture more fully, that things will be pointed out that we didn't notice at first glace. I think we will be shown how God "has caused all things to work for the good of those who love him," how God managed to take our feeble attempts when we tried our best and caused everything to work out beautifully, to realize he made our individual imperfections into a whole that is perfection.

So keep on saving up your questions and, when we get there, don't be scared to ask...but maybe wait awhile, merely gazing at the face of God will probably answer thousands of questions we never knew to ask.

Also, try to look at your life and the lives of those around you through the eyes of heaven. Try to think, "How is God going to use that in the picture?" "How is God going to use that aspect of that persons life for the ultimate good?"

Maybe sometime soon I'll make everyone nervous by devoting a post to trying to describe God, but I think this is enough speculating for now. :)

P.S. I think if I do have a "crown" it's going to be made of something living with leaves and flowers incorporated in...and maybe have a hummingbird nest on it as well. Whatever it is, it will match me better than I could ever match it myself and yours will match you.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Loss of Unstructured Play and the Fading Shared Human Experience

As I have said of other of my blog posts, I didn't do research about this, it is merely my opinion which formed while I was tying my shoes, or taking a shower, or, in this case, as I was getting dressed on Sunday.

My thoughts started out thinking about writing a post concerning how "children are children the world over, no matter where you go"...but then I realized this will soon not be the case. At the last church I went to, every week at my church small group the toddler age daughter of our hosts would play with people's phones, my nieces (one of whom is 4 and a half) play with my sister's phone, and many people are starting to buy phones or tablets for children who are that age or younger.

I've heard kids have computer classes in preschool and, if not then, then very soon after. Recess, free time, etc. seem to be in ever shorter supply in our country (and perhaps other developed countries). Not only is kindergarten actually highly structured but so are many preschools. Not only is school time structured, but "play time" now largely consists of myriads of structured activities.

Kids thrive on a sense of structure, of knowing what to expect but spontaneity has to be a part of life, you have to experience spontaneity and learn how to respond to it at an early age or life is going to be really tough.
So very increasing structure and becoming deeply involved with technology at ever younger ages, what does this have to do with the "shared human experience?" When telling others why I like working with kids in different cultures (and I have experienced quite a few) one of the things I say is, "Kids are kids, wherever you go." You may have no clue about the language, you may know nothing pertaining to the proper customs when interacting with adults, but you can play tag, hide-and-seek, climb a tree, kick a ball around, play hopscotch (or something like it), and relate to the kids in a thousand other ways, if you're willing to. Why is this possible? Because their unstructured play using only their environment and very limited resources took on a structure of its own that echoes your own childhood experiences. During this largely unsupervised play they formed their own rules of interaction and they remind us of lessons we learned on the playground or in our backyard. These children, those as a people they look and act so different from us, remind us a little of ourselves.
In short, through the children of another culture, we realize "they" are not so different from ourselves. The picture flashed in my head of the old and not so old pictures of soldiers smiling at children and children smiling back, because they are relating to each other, even if the parents seem alien, there's a spark of familiarity between the soldier and the child.

In this age of globalization we might just be increasing the differences between developing countries and developed ones; instead of closing gaps, we might be widening them. Imagine a child from today or one born ten years from now, with their hands always on technology, with their organized sports, organized dance, organized life, and now imagine them going to a developing country for the first time when they are a teenager or an adult. Their phone may not get reception and slightly organized chaos is the schedule for the day.

Will there still be as much of a spark of recognition as they look at these alien children, will they still be able to see themselves in them and their play? It may be interesting to watch, it may be heartbreaking...I guess we'll have to wait and see.

P.S. Maybe I'm totally wrong, maybe because of often exposure to world news, to cultural events from around the world, the children of tomorrow will be able to relate to cultures other than their own better we ever could. Again, I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Movie Review for 42: The Jackie Robinson Story and An Apology to Men With Color Other Than My Own

As I was writing the book review for To Kill a Mockingbird a particular instance which occurred when I was a busser in a restaurant kept cropping up in my mind. I went back and scanned through that book review and didn't deal with that instance there. Watching this movie made me remember it again.

There was a man I worked with who was good looking, well put together and, as I was around him more, I began to think of as sort of a “Renaissance Man” of the restaurant business. If someone was sick or didn't show up, he seemed to be able to take anyone's place. He was hired as the dishwasher but he also filled in for the prep cooks, the cooks, and helped me as a busser a few times.

The first time he helped me with bussing he said something like, “I don't want to work this position, anything dealing with money. If something goes missing, they'll look at me.” He was nervous about the tips being left on the table, he felt that because he was black he would be suspect.

A couple weeks later one of my fellow bussers was fired for stealing tips...and he was black. Supposedly one of the waitresses saw him do it, but I still felt it was unfair that I didn't even seem to be a suspect, they didn't question me or anything.

Anyway, that situation gave me a personal experience into the fact that the work Atticus started on in To Kill a Mockingbird hasn't been finished yet, justice is still not blind and people are not blind in ways they should be. And I am sorry for that. I am sorry you are still more likely to be suspected because of the color of your skin. I am sorry we still see colors in ways we shouldn't, that we still attach certain attributes to people because of how they look. In other words, I am sorry prejudice is still a problem, even after all this time, even after all that has happened and all the supposed growth.

Onto the movie. I am not good at history, especially history regarding sports, but from the brief reading I did, it seems the movie stayed true to the story, even if all the particular instances in it were not exactly correct. Whether you like baseball or not, it's a movie worth watching because it was a wonderful story of courage, not just of Jackie, but of so many around him.

I don't know how accurate Branch Rickey's character was or the reasons behind what he did, if they were noble and for the love of the game or about eventually making more money. Whether they were noble or not, it took guts to do what he did and it took smarts to choose the right player for that historic role.

I admire Jackie's wife, admire her for loving him and supporting him, even though she probably worried every time he walked out the door, every time he stepped up to bat, every time he went on the road.

I admire the players on Jackie's team who, over the course of time, were united. Who started respecting Jackie as they got to know him and his abilities.

And, of course, I admire Jackie Robinson, who held true to his word and didn't fight back, and in so doing showed that he was more of a gentleman than those white men who hurled abuse at him.

The acting in the movie was superb. Chadwick Boseman did a wonderful job of playing strong and independent Jackie (which sounds true to the real man), Nicole Beharie was beautiful, fun, strong, and charming in her role as Jackie's wife, Harrison Ford perfectly mixed the gruff old man and someone who deeply cared about baseball and people, and the cast in general just did a splendid job.

It's a movie about baseball, yes, but it is also about so much more. It's about breaking down barriers, overcoming prejudices, having the courage to not fight back (when fighting back would only make things worse), changing mindsets and changing the world. Even if you're not particularly a baseball fan, I still highly recommend it.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mankind’s Relentless War on the Sea or Why the Mermaids are Silent

In the same vein as Zombies AttackAmerica and Lights, Camera, Cue the Alien Invasion I bring you, Why the Mermaids Are Silent.

You have been an unwitting participate in Humanity's longest war, you and, most likely, all of your ancestors. In the dawn of time, once humanity began to come into its own, to develop trade, travel further, and finally started to use the seas for trade, we were approached by emissaries from under the sea. At first they were welcome allies, beings who were civil in the world of nature that is not.

The merpeople escorted our ships, guarding them from pirates using their awful spears. After a time, the sailors began to notice that when they were accompanied, the weather was more likely to be fair and there was often a favorable wind. Sailors grow lonely in the watches of the night and so grew used to the merpeople's presence and developed friendships of a sort (at least as close to a friendship as you can come with having very little in common in terms of means of communications). Because the merpeople revealed their powers gradually and in subtle ways, they were merely incorporated into sailors superstitious ways, instead of being feared.

As you can imagine, the merpeople's technology is very different than our own. Though they developed means to go about on land, it was cumbersome and uncomfortable, besides, most of the world is made up of water, so they left the dry dirt to us. As well as developing ways they could go ashore, they made ways in which man could visit underwater. Over time the story of Atlantis has gotten twisted, it wasn't that the city was buried in water, it had always been underwater. And it wasn't the city that was destroyed but rather our means to get there and the ties which allowed us to go.

Merchants have always dealt in stories, as well as goods, and they began to tell of the powers sailors spoke of their guardians having. Also, those few merchants who had visited the underwater cities boasted of the wonders and power they saw there. These stories filtered up to kings and queens and those kingdoms which had coastlands began look from their tallest towers at just how much water there was, some dwelt in lands with water that went on forever and spread news of this neverending water to those who had never seen such a thing. From everywhere there was water came also tales of merpeople, with their weather controlling power, their spears which could go further than any weapon of our own, and their otherness. As often happens when we are confronted by things we do not understand, the rulers became suspicious and fearful of the merpeople.

Sailors had quickly learned, when they were accompanied, they could not throw their waste overboard. Their companions conveyed they could grow sick from this refuse. Well, some merchants had learned of these things and had also heard their rulers fears, so they sold this information along with an idea to weaken the ones their rulers feared.

So mankind began the most continuous onslaught of any war, and began using biological and chemical warfare before they learned of germs or really knew what chemicals were. Mankind became the merpeople's enemy. Mankind was encouraged to throw their filth into their freshwater sources, because all streams lead to the sea and, thus, would weaken our enemies. Sailors were told to throw their waste overboard to chase away their guardians.

Merpeople began hiding their dead so we could learn no more weaknesses, developed means to keep areas of water pure enough for them to live in, and, mostly, withdrew into themselves. Though occasionally a particularly hardy young one rose to the surface to seduce and drown lonely sailors. Also, the legends of Selkies or Seal Wives make me wonder if they continued to develop less cumbersome means of venturing on land.

Merpeople are a farseeing people, so as well as immediate attacks using storms, drought, and other means, they use acid rain which strip our monuments and weaken our buildings.

From the side of the merpeople, it has never been an all-out war, just an occasional extra storm or discouraged raincloud on a parched land. But then things changed. The US launched a sustained nuclear attack starting in 1946 which lasted over the course of 15 years guised under the claim of “nuclear tests” at the Pacific Proving Grounds until the Partial Test Ban Treaty finally put a stop to it in 1963. Starting at the same time Russia decided on a more passive attack of dropping their waste from their nuclear power plants into the sea and, because it was passive and used less resources, was maintained for an even longer time than our attacks.

Since then the merpeople have become more invested, causing tsunami, earthquakes, tornadoes where they have never been before and increasing the frequency of “natural disasters” in general.

Also, they are in the process of melting the icebergs and glaciers in order to devastate our coastlands. Because of this, many governments have reevaluated in the last few years, instigating clean water acts, striving to “go green;” in other words, trying to appease a species we cannot seem to destroy that is capable of destroying us.

Now the question is, is it too little too late? Have the merpeople's hate built up for us to such a degree that they are willing commit mass suicide in their attempt to enact their revenge by shutting down the global conveyor belt, canceling out Thermohaline Circulation by raising the temperatures at the poles. This would basically kill the wind, dramatically change the weather (or make the weather stop), and stagnate the other words, change the world as we know it and turn it into a far less friendly place.

So push for peace with the merpeople, take care of your planet, or you may have a lot of help bringing about its end. Also, push for relationships with them, we all know the best way to overcome old hates and prejudices is to get to know entities from the group you hate. Maybe if they get to know a few of us who are decent, who care about them and our planet, we can all work together in preserving our planet instead of destroying it in our attempts to destroy each other.

Oh, and if you doubt that merpeople are real, how you account for the fact that mankind has so thoroughly dirtied our waterways for so long? Whether humans knew of germs or not, they had herders and merchants who told tales of how refreshing and wonderful unpolluted springs and mountain streams were. Even if you knew nothing of the benefits of clean water, you could see and taste how much better water was that did not have animal feces and all of mans waste in it. There had to be a reason to account for this madness.

P.S. I recently told my brother I don't need pre-established conspiracies...I can make up my own. :)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Downfall of Face-to-Face Interactions or Why The Younger Generation Doesn't Want to Talk to You

I'll say up front, I didn't do any research concerning this, it is simply my opinion based on snipetts of conversations I remember and pieces of things I've read.

I've shared on this or another blog that there was a period of years when I didn't really miss anyone, whether it be friends or family. Throughout my life I've always been leaving places and when you leave places, you leave people and, if you allow yourself to, you miss them...and missing hurts, missing makes you long for someone who isn't there, missing sucks. Because I was always leaving places, I decided I wouldn't miss people but in deciding this, I was unknowingly also deciding to not really connect to people, to tie our hearts together, to have our lives bonded. So one day I decided to allow myself to miss people again and, through a process, I did. I have to admit, though, I often I still leave places before I can get too attached to anyone.

I say all that because for years I have heard that our society is becoming a “mobile society,” people don't stay in one place as long as they used to, they're waiting for longer to settle down (in terms of starting a family), but even when they do “settle down” they still may not stay in one place.

I know I am an extreme case, over 13 houses in 3 countries before going to college and never staying in one place longer than 11 months (most of the time shorter) since I graduated in 2007; but I think, in general, people are moving more.

There's two types of relationships you can choose between, one that is based largely on physical interactions or one that is based largely on texts and social media. Do you see where I'm going with this?

You move when your kids are young, after they've played “hands-on” with kids and been physically involved in each others lives, and it hurts to leave those friends behind. Even if you don't move, as the kids get a little older, a lot of them leave school to go home to empty houses and it hurts to be alone, away from people. But in both those situations, you know what type of relationships come through for them? What allows them to take their friends with them across the country and into empty homes? Texting (which you can more easily do with multiple people than trying to have a conference call) and social media (which easily allows you to share your life with those who are not physically around).

They are connecting the best that they know how, the least painful way they know how, and in the process, the internet becomes more real, the intangible becomes more solid to them than you can understand.

They are interacting, they are connecting. In some ways they are more intimately involved in each others lives than an older generation could ever be; because they have a camera, video camera, and means of communication with them at all times, they can share what they see and hear (in a limited fashion), the moment they see or hear it.

But I am old-fashioned and getting older. Compared to side-by-side interaction, I don't even like phone calls. Though I enjoy being alone, if I am going to interact with people, I want them to be beside me. I want to hear their footsteps beside me as we walk together in the night, I want them to smell the campfire with me, I want to see them laugh or cry, to be able to walk with them arm in arm, or pat them on the back.

In all the younger generations connection with others who are far away, they begin to value less the possibility of connections immediately around them, after all, that was the type that caused them pain.

Despite all of their connection, I think there is a deep-seated need for physical connection as well. It is through those types of connections, the type that puts you face-to-face, that you learn respect (because you see them cry and hurt because of what you did), patience (because it's harder to ignore someone in the room with you whom you are tired of or frustrated with than to simply ignore texts), conflict resolution (because it's harder to dismiss a problem if someone is looking you in the face), and so many other things that apply to all aspects of our lives.

It seems to me and I seem to remember reading some research about that fact that it is in unstructured play that we learn many of the lessons I hinted at. Since there are less set rules, we have to work out our own and learn them, in short, we learn to have more successful personal physical interactions because we learn all the nuances which underlie them.

Unstructured play is something that children/young adults have been sorely without for many years. First we forsook our front porches and took away our watchful eyes and our neighbors watchful eyes and, partly because of this, many of us grew fearful of letting kids outside to play, to explore. I wonder if the world has really grown more dangerous for our children or are we just more fearful because we know of every awful thing that happens from coast to coast and around the world because of our global media?

I guess my advice is to put down roots, form deep physical connections with some families around you (and of course with your own family). Find a camp or some place where you feel safe enough to let your kids run around together being kids, without too much supervision. Even if it's just for a couple weeks each year, I'm sure they will learn a lot and have fun as well.

Oh yeah, and a part of unstructured play may be a skint knee or even a broken arm or being around another kid when something bad happens. But you know what? This teaches your kids that actions have consequences, that things they do can get them hurt or someone else.

One of my goals in life is to make some of these safe learning places, whether this be a library I am someday involved with, a camp I make, or a neighborhood I create. Also, I will push for others to make such places as well.

Someday the internet will be even more tangible than it is today but maybe, just maybe, the value of the immediate, of the here, will grow more tangible as well.

Now stop listening to the child-rearing advice of a single guy and go hug someone or give them a pat or the full sensory pleasure of watching you dance across the living room (if you do it for long enough, they'll probably film you, make fun of you, and share the video with their friends).

P.S. I have heard stories of parents and grandparents who had largely lost touch with their growing children/grandchildren but then they started texting them. Before they hardly ever talked but now they text quite often. Be careful not to get your hopes up too much, though, because they may just think you're weird or intrusive because that's in some kids job description (it's a bummer they take off the tag off at the hospital before the parents can read it).

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Word That Never Came

I wrote this a few years ago for another blog. As I was re-reading it before I used it for a Lord Supper talk this past Sunday, I realized the ideas for it were strongly inspired by a skit I was a part of at Bible camp years ago. I don't know the name of the skit or who wrote that's the best I can do in giving credit.

The Angel Michael stands in readiness with legions of angels flanking him and standing at his back. At any moment they expect the word, they are constantly on edge, leaning forward in their strain to hear, in case it is said in a whisper. They heard their Master crying, in so much pain he seemed to be sweating drops of blood. They do not understand his words to the Father, do not know what horrid thing Christ will face which causes him to say, “Not my will be done, but yours.” Michael cannot stand to see his Lord in such pain by himself, the Lord’s silly disciples are asleep instead of attending to the task Christ set them, so Michael comes to his side and reminds him he is not alone. “Whatever needs done, we can help you, you know what strength each of us has.” Christ looks to Michael with pain in his eyes, knowing he must face this task alone, but thankful for the comfort Michael has tried to offer.

Christ returns to his disciples, they are asleep, again. He rouses them and points to the torches coming up the road, to the mob coming through the shadows. Christ asks whom the mob seeks, they answer and Christ says, “I am he.” They fall to the ground from the power of his words, but foolishly still want to take him. Michael smiles and readies himself when he sees Peter draw his sword, now Christ will give the word. Instead all Peter’s clumsy attempt produces is a loss of an ear and, to Michael and all others amazement, Christ heals the injured man and allows himself to be taken.

All the humans who are with Jesus do not understand and flee; where is the warrior king they were expecting? Why is the Messiah going quietly? Even the angels do not know the plan, but instead of fleeing they surround their Lord more closely until he silently tells them to retreat a little and stand their ground, for his captors are losing their nerve. The captors do not see the angels but can feel their suffocating power.

A man, a mere puny man dares to call his Lord a blasphemer so Michael raises his sword to deal a killing blow, thinking, “Surely he will now give us the word.” Instead, Christ simply stands there as the supposed priests strike the King and spit in his face. One of the angels meekly asks, “Do you think he somehow lost his ability to speak?” not believing his Lord would allow this to happen to himself.

The nightmare of a night continues, the angels, of course, not growing weary but some of these ancient, almost timeless beings begin for the first time in their existence to feel impatient, as their Lord undergoes more accusations. Some begin to doubt the wisdom of God, why did he decide to become a being limited in power anyway, a creature who can be broken, hurt, and killed?

An angel yells to Christ as Christ is being beaten, “We are still here, can you not talk? Why Lord, why are you allowing them to do this? Just give us a sign.” Ending with a desperate, almost helpless voice, “We are still here…we are ready to stop all this.” But the Master of all still does not stop the blows and torture. And still the nightmare continues, more mocking, more accusations, more misunderstanding on mans part and the angels and finally, heresy of heresies, a sentence of death on the most innocent man who has ever walked the earth.

The Lord is forced to carry his own cross and falls beneath its weight. A tear slides down Michael’s face, the angels are crying at seeing their Lord so weak, knowing full well how strong he could be if he would only summon the power into himself. They are crying because he seems so alone, yes, they are standing all around, but the humans, the foolish humans whom Christ came to save are treating their Messiah as a thing of utmost contempt.

The nail is posed above Christ’s hand and Michael yells to his legions in a voice which shakes the sun, “All ready now, the word must come, has to come.” The hammer strikes, again and again, on to the other hand and a nail through the feet…still no word comes. The universe looks dark to the angels eyes, everything seems wrong, as if wrong has finally won, as if the Traitor has somehow cheated God and has finally gotten his way.

Michael and his legions surround the hill, keeping the sniveling, snickering demons away from the angels Lord. Michael looks into the the face of the devil and sees the smile on his face, his sneer thinking he has finally won. The sky seems to match the devil’s mood, for it seems the very sun has forsaken the sky and darkness appears to reign over the light. Michael’s face is grim but he says, “It isn’t over yet, we are only waiting for the word and all this will stop, then you will not be smiling anymore.”

Twice now the Lord has spoken and were it not for the lightening reflexes of the angels the universe would be no more, for when they saw his mouth begin to open the angels began to make their move, only to stop themselves and hear with disbelief the words which came from their Lord, words of forgiveness instead of a command.

Final words come from the Lord’s mouth, “It is finished.” The angels see that life has left the Savior’s body. “What is finished?!,” all their throats yell with a voice so filled with grief, confusion and power that it rips the world in half.

Michael hangs his head and says to his army in tones of sadness and shame which makes creation tremble, “Somehow we have failed.”

If only our Savior would have yelled or whispered to the waiting angels, “Now!,” the world would have stopped, the skies would have melted and the ones who were crucifying our Lord would have turned to dust before the angels fury…but that word did not come, Christ did not stop it all and God did not destroy the world because of the monstrosities committed against his Son that day. Instead, Christ died, taking our sins, our guilt for every sin we have ever committed upon his shoulders in hopes that we would look at that act of love and be won by it to an everlasting life spent with the Father and the Son.

Of course I do not really know what Michael or the other angels were really feeling, but even if they did know the plan (which God seems to like to have some mystery about him, so maybe they did not know), they must have felt helpless. Even with all their power, they could not take away the pain Christ was experiencing, they were not allowed to strike down the ones who were mocking the One they loved. The gift of Christ’s life which he gave, the gift which allows us to be born clean and pure into eternity, did not only cost Christ and God. It also cost the angels the pain they felt, and the women's pain who loved Christ with their all, and the men's pain who had put all their hope in Him. Happily, the seeds of their pain lead to more joy than the universe can contain, to a realized dream of God’s that will one day unite angels and man before His throne, to live forever sharing with each other the portion of God which they understand better than any other being because of the experiences they have had. And what an amazing dream that is.

Monday, January 6, 2014

About the Movie Elysium and Some Observations Concerning Our Society

So, I watched the movie Elysium and it wasn't very good, it was one of those movies where you want to yell at the screen because the actions taken by the characters don't make sense and some things about the world which was created just didn't really make sense either.

Spoiler Alert! but since it's a Hollywood movie, you could probably guess everything I'm going to tell you...

Elysium is about our world in the future. We, predictably, screwed up our world through wars and it's a rough place to live; so the rich people of the world got together and built a beautiful habitat which orbits earth. This place, Elysium, is a place of beauty and wealth, of manicured lawns and parks, where citizens have access to machines that can cure any disease or injury. But the majority of humanity still lives on earth, in dirt and filth, in overcrowded neighborhoods, a place where unemployment soars, poverty is commonplace, where healthcare is primitive (even though they know the city in the sky has machines which can cure all). Everything is controlled by their masters in the sky, and, if they can find work, much of it is done for the benefit of those who live in Elysium. Whether on earth or in the habitat above, many service jobs and law enforcement jobs are done by androids. Androids are also in charge of taking care of the general well-being of Elysium's citizens.

Elysium is the place in the sky that everyone stuck on earth wants to go to. It is the place where your child can be made well. It is the place where your family won't starve. It is the place where there is room to breathe clean air.

The story is about a group, mostly a man, who is trying to make the city so everyone can be a citizen of Elysium and have access to the machines which can cure all ills. The environment in the sky is perfect but it requires a tremendous amount of resources to maintain its perfection, it's perfect but fragile.

In the movie, the group succeeds in making everyone a citizen. Because everyone is declared a citizen, the androids are made aware of millions of people on earth who are in need of medical attention, so ships disembark and humanity is made well. I know I've shared I have an advanced sense of empathy and I care a lot, but there is also a part of me that is coldly logical. At this point in the movie, instead of feeling warm and fuzzy, I thought “and so the society was overburdened and everything collapsed.”

At various times in the past, this same part of me has vaguely wondered if one of the reasons governments of developed countries are slow to dispense healthcare and resources to developing countries is that they view diseases and letting nature run its course as a sort of population control. A sort of, “Until those nations learn to better control their birthrates, we'll let nature take care of it so we don't have to” sort of attitude. Viruses, disease, and such help control deer and other animals which no longer have many natural predators, why not just let them control the human population as well?

This train of thought caused me to think a little more about the movie. My initial thought about Elysium was that it was stupid, but then I realized that, in a sense, America is Elysium. I don't know if this is the statement the writer and director were trying to make, but it is what I gleaned from it.

I know America is far from a perfect Utopia, that we have sick and starving here, but just stick with me. America (and other developed countries) are where those stuck in poverty in other countries look for hope. It is the place where, as they see their loved one dying from a common sickness, they look toward in desperation and think, “If only I could get them there, they could heal them.” Those starving hear about all of our food, our epidemic of obesity, and think, “If only I could make it there, my family wouldn't starve.” They may look at their overcrowded spot in the world and think of the rumors concerning all of our space.

Saying all that, can we really blame all those who want to come here, who try to come here?

Some people want to stop immigration because they're scared we'll lose our heritage, but immigration is our heritage. One day someone I worked with in a past job was talking about how he was angry about how people who come to the US don't learn English, how they hold onto the cultures they left behind and how that's that's not how it used to be...I don't think this person has ever been to New York, doesn't realize that all over the country in large cities there are neighborhoods that have held on to their “old cultures” for a hundred years or more.

There have always been those first generation emigrants who fiercely hold on to “the old country” and there have always been those first generation who, though they have not lived here long, have become our fiercest patriots.

Whether they be children of the former or the later, unless they are secluded in one of those neighborhoods I was speaking of, second generation emigrants almost always learn English, in many cases better than a lot of “Americans” speak it.

I'm not good at taking sides, I know it's a weakness, but I don't like “taking a stand,” because I hate confrontation...but I will state my opinion on this issue. I say, until Americans are ready to contribute more to our country than those who are illegally among us, let them keep coming, let them keep working.

I believe and know there are still many hardworking Americans out there, who have lived here for a long time, but there are also those who could work but chose not to, who pose at getting a job but don't really want one. Maybe we should spend more energy addressing that problem than in dealing with those who are making contributions to our society.

I know there are many people who actually need disability and food stamps and other services, but there are also many who do not. While I was in AmeriCorps I was the thankful recipient of EBT (a type of food stamps) but, while I was thankful, I thought it was ridiculous that I could buy candy bars, chips, soda, and almost every other type of junk food with that card.

I also know that many illegal emigrates do not pay taxes, and I'm not saying that's okay, but whether they pay taxes or not, some of them are still contributing more to our society than some of our citizens are.

I stop rambling. Elysium showed me how some of the world may view our country, so despite it being frustrating and the characters sometimes acting in stupid ways, it was worth watching.

P.S. One of the most frustrating and yet funny things is that one of the main villains had an unidentifiable accent that was pretty hilarious. If that accent is actually real to somewhere, I apologize for thinking it's awful.