Monday, August 29, 2016

The Love of God

I wish to speak of the mercy of God.

God has loved each one of us with a love that is greater than what we are, greater than what we will be, greater than hell, greater even than creation itself. For his love is himself.

God does not love us inasmuch as we are powerful, or good, or in control, or able to repay his love. God loves us precisely as nothing. For we are nothing.

Hence, there is no shame, no futility, no sin, no darkness, no confusion, no lack, that the love of God has not already embraced and enfolded.

God loved us in creating us—that is, in causing us to be precisely as beloved, as the nothingness that is beloved. By loving us, he has created us, and caused us to be. We are in his love, and only in his love.

Hence, there is no more stable foundation for life and action and thought and indeed existence than the love of God. It is this, and not any necessity or chance, that is the cause of all things.

Yet this is simply the order of creation. It does not exhaust the order of grace, which is greater.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Next Generation of Television; or, It's Tough Being the Bastard Child of a Legend; or, How Gene Roddenberry Destroyed Star Trek; or, How Michael Piller Saved Star Trek; or, One Big, Happy Family; or, Meat Loaf and Mashed Potatoes


When last we encountered the intrepid hero of our articles--the mythic property "Star Trek"--he found himself at last in a truly enviable position.  Having braved the dangerous world of big-screen cinema, he had carved out a place for himself as a fun, character-driven franchise for the 1980s.  Star Trek IV, to no one's real surprise, was an absolute mega-hit, reaching an unprecedented audience of ordinary, movie-going Americans and thoroughly delighting them with its clever character comedy about a crew of misfits and their adventures in the contemporary world.  This was a film that anyone--emphasis anyone--could understand and enjoy, from the most fervent Trekkie to the most hardened Queen fan.  Star Trek was now an indelible part of the cultural mainstream--and it was also on a roll.

Faced with such unprecedented success, the studio rubbed its metaphorical hands together, and contemplated what to do next.  That there would be yet another big-screen Star Trek adventure was all but a given--and in a future post, we will consider that film and its sequel in turn--but Star Trek now was so popular that executives began to wonder if its audiences could not, perhaps, handle even more Star Trek than this.  Perhaps it was time to diversify the franchise, and take it back to its roots.

Star Trek was going to return to television.

There was, however, one big problem with this: or rather, a whole set of cascading problems, all leading to one extremely unpleasant conclusion.  First and foremost, the cast and crew of Star Trek, now much older and much richer, were not at all willing to return to the back-breaking 14-hour days of television, nor did the studio have any intentions of not making more films in order to let them do so.  If Star Trek was going to return to television, then, it would have to be on the basis of an entirely new cast, and thus probably an entirely new crew and setting.  This, however, presented its own set of problems; for Star Trek the film series had, over time, come to rely almost entirely on the strength of these original characters and their associated actors.  Star Trek IV had been a character comedy; and what it showed was that Kirk, Spock, and company were now so iconic and so beloved that they could be plunked down in 1980s San Francisco and still hold audiences riveted.  Casting a new crew, with new characters and new actors, would be a massively difficult undertaking, and would face significant opposition, not only from the hardcore fans for whom the original cast were gods of a sort, but also from the public at large, for whom Star Trek had become indelibly linked with these particular names and faces.  Even if this problem were overcome, any revival of Star Trek would also face an extraordinary, uphill battle in establishing itself as a television show; for by the 1980s, science fiction was, once again, basically extinct on television--meaning that any new Star Trek show would have to rely largely on the large and growing Star Trek fanbase, and not the general television-watching public, for its success.  This, though, presented its own problems; for the original show's fervent fanbase had watched and rewatched and scrutinized the original 79 hours of TOS so many times, and with such devotion, that virtually every deviance from the original would be noticed and criticized.

Hence, the studio quickly concluded, any new Star Trek show would have to possess some utterly undeniable imprimatur of true Star Trekness--something that would ensure that both the general public and the most hardcore fan alike would accept it, not just as a random sci-fi or drama show, to be judged on its own terms, but as Star Trek.

Faced with this dilemma, the studio, finally, was brought to take a very difficult and very dangerous, step; they went to Gene Roddenberry, and asked him to make the show for them.