Archive for May, 2012

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Review of “Firebird” by Kathy Tyers

May 30, 2012

Lady Firebird Angelo departs her home world expecting death in space combat. Captured instead, she finds a startling destiny among an ancient telepathic family—and a new kind of battle against implacable enemies.

Note: this review is for only the first book of the “Firebird” series.  The cover photo is linked to a Kindle trilogy which includes the first three books.

How I Discovered Firebird

Believe it or not, aside from Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, this is my first real foray into the world of Christian speculative fiction! I’m excited!  I’ve always been suspicious of fiction that is labeled “Christian”, because I had read some as a child and found it moralistic, poorly written, and more concerned with the preaching of a message than the unfolding of a story.  I wanted to write good fiction from a Christian worldview, but I wanted to distance myself from “Christian fiction” as a whole.

However, when I discovered the Speculative Faith blog, I realized that there are other Christian writers out there, and even published Christian authors, who truly care about telling a story and telling it well, not just concealing a preachy message in a shallow narrative.  I started looking around for some Christian speculative fiction to read, and after the first book I bought turned out to lose my interest, Firebird caught my eye.  It sucked me right in.

My Take

There were times when I could not put this book down!  The night I finished it, I was literally up until 3 a.m., gobbling up the final chapters.  Lady Firebird’s universe is fascinating, we are immediately pulled into her situation and concerned for her, and there is a great deal of history that gives the story depth.  My only complaint about the writing itself is that Tyers occasionally uses the “info dump” – breaking the narrative with large chunks of backstory told through the characters’ thoughts, which I find distracting and sometimes tedious.  Other than that, the writing was excellent!

The protagonists were realistic and flawed, yet always likeable, and I had no trouble rooting for them.  The antagonists – while sometimes bordering on too odious – are solidly detestable.  I know the key to realistic characters is having both good and bad qualities in some amount, no matter what side they’re on, but I like my villains to have a satisfactory amount of villainy.  Enough of these wishy-washy gray-area villains that are so common in stories nowadays!

I did not find this book “preachy”.  Yes, it had a heavy amount of religious content.  It even has a conversion story.  But it felt natural, not contrived – the religious elements were an integral part of the characters and their world, rather than a message the author formed a story around to preach.  Neither is Tyers setting out to convert her readers or educate them about Christianity; I find it annoying when a Christian author assumes their reader is ignorant of Christ and feels the need to “teach” them, so I can’t imagine how annoying unbelievers find that approach!  In many ways, Tyer’s handling of the Christian themes reminded me of the way I incorporate my own faith into my books.  Probably, a non-believer would find the religious aspect of Firebird irritating, but I thought it was a refreshing example of science-fiction rooted in God’s truth, not Eastern mysticism or agnosticism, or other worldviews common to the genre.  This book gives me hope that the way I handle faith in my stories is not completely unacceptable in the publishing world!

The Romance

It may not be obvious from the pitch, but one of the biggest plotlines in the story – if not the biggest plotline – is a romance.  This took me by surprise, and at first I was annoyed, as I am not much of a romantic and romance novels are not my thing.  In order to keep my approval, a romance has to be good, and Firebird’s romance passed the test.  The love story is sweet, and compelling.

That said, here comes my only misgiving about the book.  Firebird has very little sexual content (there are a few chaste kisses, but that’s about it).  However, the romance manages to be very sensual even with minimal physical interaction between the couple.  The man in the relationship has psychic/telepathic abilities, so there is a lot of mind-to-mind interaction, which is naturally very intimate.  Imagine being able to share thoughts, emotions, and even feelings directly with your spouse!  The idea is a powerful one, especially to those of us in relationships in the real world.  Perhaps reading this book would not affect single readers in the same way…but as a married woman I found this aspect of their relationship very sensual, and at times I was uncomfortable reading it.  I also felt like it set unrealistic expectations for romance, which in the real world is not the powerful, mind-melding experience this fictional one can be.

However, because the romance is not focused on their physical interactions, it centers instead on how important it is for spouses to be united in all ways.  The “marriage union” doesn’t refer merely to sex, after all, but also to the union of a husband and wife’s minds, hearts, intentions, wills, and desires (or, that is how it ought to be)!  Firebird makes that clear, and I appreciated that science-fiction-infused picture of a strong relationship.

In Short

I would definitely recommend Firebird!  It is not incredibly deep or insightful, as it is a space opera and not meant to be so, but it is an enjoyable tale, portrays truth, and it is well worth the read.  Those prone to romantic fantasies might want to tread lightly, especially during the latter half of the book, but it is an incredibly clean story and there is no objectionable content that I can recall.  It was so wonderful to read a science-fiction novel grounded in the Christian worldview.

I am now embarking on Book 2 of the series, Fusion Fire.  So far, it is just as good!

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Some Other Perspectives on “The Hunger Games”

May 18, 2012

I’m always surprised to see that one of the top posts on this blog is my review of The Hunger Games.  There are a lot of reviews of this book (or the movie) out there right now, and I am continually seeing new ones that bring out other points I didn’t see or didn’t expound on.  Here are some good ones I’ve seen.

I should note that I am neither for nor against The Hunger Games.  As a Christian, I don’t find them objectionable as reading material; however, I don’t think they’re worthy of praising to the skies, either.  So I read both negative and positive reviews, and usually find something to agree with in both kinds.

Why Hunger Games is Flawed to its CoreAuthor N.D. Wilson, while not saying we shouldn’t read The Hunger Games, makes some very sharp observations about the book and how it misunderstands human nature.  I don’t agree with everything he says here (I usually LOVE his writings, so I was surprised!) but the review has some good points and well worth the read.  “Many people point to Peeta as the truly noble and sacrificial character. I don’t mind him as a character, but a picture of heroic sacrifice he ain’t. In Hunger Games, he’s fundamentally passive and submissive. He’s that guy who is happy to ‘just be friends’ with the cute girl. Or a lot more than friends (but only if she initiates). He’s just the puppy at her heels. “Sure, kill me Katniss. Oh, you’d rather we both killed ourselves? Yes, Katniss. Whatever you say, Katniss.” Really? There are plenty of guys in the world just like Peeta, and kudos to Collins for using the type, especially since nice second-fiddle fellas like that confuse and conflict girls tremendously. But worldview readers are gaming themselves into seeing something that just isn’t there.”  More interesting observations at the link!

Amusing Ourselves At Their DeathsThis two-part review by Mark Meynell is long but worth the read, focusing on the dystopian and political aspects of Panem.  “Orwell’s great anxiety was that the world would be controlled by fear and the suppression of truth, whereas Huxley suggested it would be manipulated through hedonism and distraction from truth. Big Brother inflicts pain, whereas the World State inflicts pleasure.   Suzanne Collins’s remarkable dystopia … combines both poles of Orwell and Huxley. In her futuristic world of Panem, twelve districts … are exploited by the Capitol, whose citizens live a Versailles-like life of luxury and ease. In reality, both are controlled under the watchful eye of President Snow’s regime: one through Orwellian terror, with the 12 districts policed by so-called Peacekeepers, and their food supply ruthlessly rationed to ensure dependence; the other by Huxleyan pleasure.”

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Further Thoughts on Heaven: The Limits of Imagination

May 16, 2012

Our church sends out a monthly newsletter, which usually includes articles from other pastors and theologians which our pastor has read recently and wants to share with the congregation.  This month’s issue came today, and included a review of Randy Alcorn’s Heaven, which I have been wanting to read for awhile.  As I scanned the review, I found that most of it was disapproving.

Some of Migotsky’s points I agreed with (as much as I could, having not read the book yet), but I felt a few of his arguments were harsh or jumped to conclusions about what Randy Alcorn actually believes versus things he is merely speculating about.  Naturally, I will have to read Heaven for myself before I can decide whether I agree with Migotsky on some of his critiques, but one of his main beefs with the book is that Alcorn speculated too much about heaven, applying his imagination liberally on matters where the Bible did not have anything to say.

“Extreme speculations”

Apparently, Alcorn remarks at one point that he could “easily envision us living on other planets” (page 263) in the New Heavens and New Earth.  Pastor Migotsky refers to this as an “extreme speculation”, a phrase which is followed up with another example quote from the book (page 264): “God has built into us the longing to see the wonders of his far-flung creation.  The popularity of science-fiction reflects that longing.”

I then wondered why on earth this little aside about planets and science-fiction was in a section entitled “Dangers of the Book”, sandwiched between two paragraphs about sinful desires!  Is it supposed to be an example of sinful wishful thinking?

Perhaps Pastor Migotsky has reservations about imagination and science-fiction/fantasy in general.  I don’t know.  But my point here is, I don’t believe this is dangerous.  Alcorn didn’t say, “I believe we will live on other planets in the New Heavens and New Earth” – he simply said he could “easily envision” it.  Honestly, I can’t “easily” envision this, and personally I find the idea slightly unnecessary (although I admit its coolness).  The thought might be a little silly, especially to the non-geeky among us, but in what way is it “dangerous”?  In the worst-case scenario, a Christian sincerely believes this to be true…and then gets to heaven and finds out, oops, it’s not!  And then they’ll go on to be blissfully happy with their Lord and fellow Christians for all eternity.  The end.

The one case where I can see this being dangerous is if Alcorn is (unintentionally) encouraging Christians to focus on what they want in heaven, what they think would be cool in the afterlife, etc., instead of looking forward to heaven as first and foremost a glorious eternity with God our Savior, focused primarily on Him.  Based on other quotes the review brought up regarding the book’s strengths, I don’t believe Alcorn intends this attitude in his readers.  But I can see where someone might be led astray that way by reading this book.  I suppose that is the “danger” the reviewer is talking about, although it was vaguely stated.

Now that I’ve been defensive about imagination…

Migotsky brought up some questions at the end of his article which I think are good for us speculatively-minded Christians to think about.  One of them was this:

What limits should there be on the use of the imagination in thinking about heaven and the eternal life in heaven?

We lovers of science-fiction and fantasy tend to be defensive about the gift of imagination and what we can do with it.  This may lead us to speculate too far, too fast, too hard, and let our imaginations run away with us.  We need to remember that there are times when imagination is uncalled for, and could be unwise.  Speculation about heaven and eternity does have its limits!

Here are a few I’ve thought of, off the top of my head.  When we speculate about heaven, we need to be mindful that…

  1. “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).  It’s all very well to wonder if there will be dinosaurs in heaven, or if you will see your beloved dog again, or whether we will travel to other planets.  But we don’t know anything.  We can’t even imagine!  When we get to heaven, most likely all our wildest dreams will crumble around our ears – and we’ll be perfectly happy about it, because what God has planned will be infinitely more amazing than anything our mortal human minds can think.  We can have fun speculating about what life will be like in paradise, but it is unwise and even silly to put too much stock in our own imaginings when it comes to what we believe about heaven.
  2. “To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever” (Jude 1:25).  And, “The world is passing away along with its desires…” (1 John 2:17).  In the Christian-speculative-fiction world, most of us soundly reject the idea of paradise as a purely spiritual, ethereal place, but we also tend to do a lot of speculating about the *things* that might be there.  Will there be pets?  Will there be space travel?  Will I still write stories?  Will there be books, movies, plays?  Will we have personal possessions?  These things might or might not be the case (and some are more likely than others…), but rather than be overly concentrated on the stuff and experiences that might be in in heaven, our expectations ought to be dominated first and foremost by the joyful anticipation of spending eternity with our Redeemer King.  Heaven is not about us, our hopes, our dreams, our desires, or our hopes for adventures we can never have in this world.  It’s about Jesus Christ!
  3. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).  The only things we can be sure about heaven are things the Bible tells us.  I don’t believe this precludes speculation about stuff the Bible doesn’t mention (such as whether there’ll be books, writing, etc.), but it does caution us to search the Scriptures diligently.  I have heard Christians declare that they don’t know how, but our sexual desires will be satisfied in heaven, because God gave us those desires, they are not bad in and of themselves, and of course He’s not going to leave our needs unsatisfied!  Well…certainly, we will be perfectly satisfied in heaven, with no needs left unfilled.  But surely He can remove a need from us entirely?  Scripture is clear that sex outside of marriage is sinful, and it is also clear (Luke 20:35) that there will not be marriage after the resurrection.  To claim there will be some kind of sexual fulfillment in heaven is to blatantly ignore what the Bible teaches.  Just because we may desire something while living on this earth does not mean that God will fill that desire in paradise.  Our greatest desire is (or should be) God Himself, and He has given us eternity with Him.  Won’t He alone be enough to fill our deepest needs and longings?  God’s Word always trumps speculation.  Always.

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and marvelous for me.  But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.  O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. – Psalm 131

In my mind’s eye…

Personally, I don’t speculate about heaven in much detail, mainly because I know it’s a fruitless endeavor.  I will see it when God takes me there, and until then it is a delightful, tantalizing mystery (and I’m glad, because I like surprises!).  But I think all of us have some kind of picture in our mind’s eye when we imagine entering paradise.  I’ll admit what I see…

I picture a pearly palace inspired by Roman architecture, with stately pillars surrounding an open courtyard within.  Anything around it is obscured by golden mist – and yes, I am pretty sure heaven won’t be floating in clouds, but I think most of us see something like that because it’s a deep-running cultural presumption.  Christ meets me at the entrance, but I really can’t imagine what that will be like because I don’t know what He looks like yet.  I heard someone say once that they were going to race into His arms like a small child into the arms of a father, but seriously, I think I’m more likely to collapse at His holy piercéd feet and choke on my own awe…  Anyways…  After He’s scraped me off the golden steps lifted me to my feet and greeted me, Jesus ushers me into the room beyond, where throngs of joyful believers are dining at long, wooden tables.  There is rich food, glittering light, beautiful white clothing, and the room rings with happy laughter.  My gaze catches on the closest table.  There, I see one of my dearest loved ones; I think I imagine her specifically because when I first pictured the scene, she was going through a very long rough time of her life.  A wreath of flowers is perched on her head, and she is laughing and shining with joy – gloriously happy, all traces of earthly sorrows washed away.  I then realize that there are other beloved friends and family members there, too, and they call for me to join them at the table…

That’s all.  It’s simple, but it sort of expresses the joy of my hopes and expectations.  It is more inspired by the phrase “wedding feast of the Lamb” than what I think all eternity will be like – because, again, I don’t think it’s possible to imagine that, fun as it might be to try.  (Random aside: I once had a dream where a bunch of friends and I had died and were waiting for heaven at a bus stop, where there were water slides and coloring books.  Hahaha.  And believe it or not, I wasn’t six years old.  This was relatively recent.  😀  I’m pretty sure the afterlife won’t be like that, either!)

Can you think of other limitations on imagination, either in regards to heaven/eternity or other things?  And how about you? – when you hear the word “heaven” or imagine the New Heavens and New Earth, what do you see in your mind’s eye?

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Five Favorite Science-Fiction TV Shows

May 3, 2012

Growing up, I was always more a lover of fantasy than science-fiction.  Although I liked science-fiction in theory, and wrote it, I never watched or read science-fiction movies or books (with the exception of a long Star Wars phase in my childhood).  However, since Christopher and I have been married – almost two years now! – I’ve found my taste for the genre has grown.  In fact, it’s probably my favorite genre these days!

Christopher doesn’t like most fantasy, so his taste for science-fiction TV shows and movies nudged me in that direction, and now one of our favorite things to do is watch a good science-fiction series together.  We don’t have cable, so we’re limited to what we can get online via Hulu, Syfy.com, or Netflix (which starts at $7.99 a month for instant streaming only – this is a great resource to see lots of movies and shows on the cheap).  Our lack of cable hasn’t yet stopped us from finding plenty of great shows to follow!

Here are some of our favorite science-fiction series.  If you like the genre, you might enjoy these…

I should note briefly that these series are mainly targeted at adult viewers, not children, and any of them sometimes show content that is sexual or otherwise inappropriate in nature.  Most also include science-fiction violence and some bad language.  So please watch with wisdom and discernment!

5.  Warehouse 13

Artie: “And that is exactly what we do here. We take the unexplained…and we just safely tuck it away in this super-sized Pandora’s Box.”
Pete: “Metaphorically speaking.”
Artie: “Well, actually, Pandora’s box is over in Aisle 989-B. Empty, of course.”

After encountering something they were not supposed to see, secret service agents Myka Bering and Pete Latimer are transferred to work at a giant warehouse in the middle of nowhere – a warehouse that houses a mammoth collection of mysterious and dangerous artifacts with special powers.  This show has more of a magical feel than scientific, but the idea is that “magic is science we don’t understand yet”.  Myka and Pete spend their days keeping tabs on the artifacts already in the Warehouse, and tracking down others all over the world that are causing trouble.

So far we have watched the first two seasons of Warehouse 13, and are waiting for the next one to come on Netflix with the others so we can continue following the show.  It’s a good one to watch when you want something light and entertaining, not too serious, and if you enjoy the fantasy or paranormal genres as well as science-fiction.

4.  Eureka

“I hate to interrupt, but we have bigger issues at hand. Time is unraveling. The laws of physics are breaking down. Correct me if I’m wrong but that’s the kind of thing that’s not gonna stop at the city limits, is it?” – Henry Deacon

This show follows the adventures (and misadventures) of a U.S. Marshall, Jack Carter, who becomes the sheriff of an unusual small town – Eureka, where all the citizens are geniuses developing new technology for the government.  Every scientific achievement of the past 30 years originated there, he finds, and every day of work he must fix hilarious problems and prevent new catastrophes.  Most of the science is “Hollywood science”, as they say, but it makes for a rollicking good time, especially with the quirky cast of characters.  This is another “light” show, but a bit more addicting than Warehouse 13, and some of the episodes are considerably more serious than others.

We’re completely up to date on this show because the older seasons are on Netflix and Syfy.com generously posts their new episodes online every week – hurray!  (Older episodes are available from Netflix, the first three on instant streaming and Season 4 by mail.)

From here on it gets much harder to number my favorites in order!  These final three are probably tied for my affections…

3.  Doctor Who

“He’s like fire and ice and rage. He’s like the night, and the storm in the heart of the sun. He’s ancient and forever. He burns at the center of time and he can see the turn of the universe. And…he’s wonderful.” – Tim Latimer

“Doctor Who has never pretended to be hard science fiction … At best Doctor Who is a fairytale, with fairytale logic about this wonderful man in this big blue box who at the beginning of every story lands somewhere where there is a problem.” – Neil Gaiman

As the image and quotes might suggest, this show has a bit less science – and a lot more EPIC! – than the previous two in my list.  Doctor Who is the longest-running science-fiction TV series in history.  (The Doctor is capable of regenerating into a new man instead of dying, so the story can continue almost indefinitely.)  This is an unusual show, and it’s fairly safe to say that you will either adore it or hate it with a passion.  I thought I hated it – Christopher used to watch it while I was making dinner, and I’d stand there chopping vegetables and listening to all the cheesy special effects, and the tinny robot voices, and the electronic main theme, and think to myself, “Ugh.”  Then…along came the 11th incarnation of the Doctor (along with the better sound and special effects of the newer seasons).  I started hovering by the television.  Soon, I was sitting down to watch some of it.  It only took a few episodes, and I was hooked.

The Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, spends his time traveling through all of time and space in a time machine disguised as a British police box.  In almost every episode, he saves the world (or the universe!), usually with the help of a human companion or two he’s picked up on the way.  If that sounds boring, IT’S NOT.  It’s amazing.  But you really have to watch it to understand what makes it so awesome!  Even people who don’t normally like science-fiction might find Doctor Who appealing, as it’s almost more fantasy than anything else.

I must offer a disclaimer – I’ve only seen the newer series that have aired since the show was resurrected in 2005.  If you are completely unfamiliar with the Doctor (and especially if you are like me and hate cheesy special effects!) I’d personally recommend doing a little background research and then starting with the Eleventh Doctor, beginning at Series 5.  (Alternately, you can start at Series 1 of the newer shows; many would recommend this instead.)  Chances are, you’ll love what you see, and then you can go back and watch any older series you wish.  All of the recent seasons are currently available on Netflix’s instant streaming, although I don’t know how long that will last.

 2.  Firefly (and Serenity)

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don’t care – I’m still free
You can’t take the sky from me
— the opening theme

How do I describe this show?  Sort of like Robin Hood meets the Old West meets space travel?  Something like that.  Firefly is a true Space Western, and it takes awhile to get used to the eclectic blend of bluegrass-style music and deep space escapades.  The show’s title comes from the name of a space vessel, and the story follows her crew as they evade the totalitarian government, help the helpless, and make money any way they can – often by smuggling or other petty crime.  In the beginning of the season they pick up a pair of passengers, who turn out to be fugitives on the run, and it makes their lives a lot more interesting and dangerous.

The best thing about this show?  The characters.  The wonderful characters and their wonderful, hilarious banter.  It has plenty of dark and gruesome moments, but it’s also laugh-out-loud funny!  Tragically, the show was abruptly cancelled after just one season, but there is a follow-up movie, Serenity, which sort of ties together the story’s end, although the feel is a bit different than that of the show because it was targeted to movie audiences who hadn’t watched Firefly.  Note: if you don’t want to deal with avoiding the sexual content in the show (as there is quite a bit, unfortunately) watching Serenity is a good way to encounter the story and characters without any scene-skipping.  You can watch the full show and the movie on Netflix streaming.

1.  Battlestar Galactica (2003)

“We decided to play God, create life. When that life turned against us, we comforted ourselves in the knowledge that it really wasn’t our fault, not really. You cannot play God then wash your hands of the things that you’ve created. Sooner or later, the day comes when you can’t hide from the things that you’ve done anymore.” – Admiral William Adama

Of all the shows I am listing, this is probably the most “classic” science-fiction represented.  Most descriptions of this show will say, simply, that it’s about a fleet of humans looking for a new world after cybernetic Cylons wipe out their home planet.  Booooring!  Fortunately, that’s not an entire description of the show.  It’s also an amazing saga of courage, determination, hope, leadership, love, justice and mercy, obedience and disobedience, betrayal and loyalty, and real people making real, tough, life-or-death decisions every day, all across a background of distant space and barren planets.  What I love most about this show is that the characters are all so human.  They all have their good qualities and bad.  Sometimes you root for them; sometimes you gape in astonishment at their actions.  The story is fast-paced as well, especially the earlier seasons, and the makers are constantly throwing in new mysteries to keep the viewers hooked.  As soon as one story starts to close up, another interesting one opens!  I’d like to review this show in full someday, but it seems like a mammoth task, as there is so much to analyze: the characters, the religious aspect, the plot…it’d be a big task to take on!

With this show, perhaps more than all the others, I have to warn that it is definitely an adult program, and there is a lot of brief sexual content (sometimes as often as every episode).  As Christopher and I often mourn, this is the only big downside to an otherwise amazing story.  We highly recommend it, but with a remote handy!

This is a long-running but completed series, all of which is available on Netflix Instant.  We have only 3 episodes left – the 3-part finale – and we are waiting very impatiently until Friday evening, when we can have a finale marathon.  Eeek!  We can’t wait!

Have you watched any of these shows?  Did you love them, hate them?  Do you have any other favorite science-fiction TV series to recommend?

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A Whole New World

May 2, 2012

A thought occurred to me the other day, during the middle of listening to a sermon (as thoughts often do).  Our pastor was preaching on Easter evening, concentrating on the presence of angels at Christ’s empty tomb, and he took some time to discuss what angels actually are, what they do, and what we know about them from the Bible.

He mentioned the story of Jacob’s ladder (Genesis 28:10-22), and how – contrary to how we might have worded it – the angels were “ascending and descending” to and from Heaven.  If you were describing that scene, you would probably say they were “descending” first, right?  But God chose to emphasis their ascension.  Our pastor explained that this was to show us that angels are often on Earth.  It’s not just a place they visit from time to time for special events or mission; there are angels here all the time.

The thought of angels being all around us, invisible, made me hearken back to C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy.  He is much bolder than I, and dares to actually portray angels (called eldila in the story), speculating on what they might physically be like.

“The swiftest thing that that touches our senses is light, we only see slower things by it, so that for us light is on the edge—the last thing we know before things become to swift for us. But the body of an eldil is a movement swift as light; you may say its body is made of light, but not of that which is light for the eldil. His “light” is a swifter movement which for us is nothing at all: and what we call light is for him a thing like water, a visible thing, a thing he can touch and bathe in—even a dark thing when not illumined by the swifter. And what we call firm things—flesh and earth—seem to him thinner, and harder to see, than our light, and more like clouds and nearly nothing. To us the eldil is a thin half-real body that can go through walls and rocks: to himself he goes through them because he is solid and firm and they are like a cloud.” – C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet

Thinking of that put me in a speculative frame of mind, of course…other worlds and all that…  And then our pastor moved on to talk about how angels are thought to minister to believers during death.

I had the sudden, vivid visual of what I imagined that must be like – the world fading from a dying Christian’s eyes, stripping away to reveal a whole other world beyond, and lightning-bright angels bending down to raise them up to heaven.

And I exclaimed to myself, “That’s right!  Heaven is ‘another world’, after all.  So, at the end of my life I will get to go to another world!  Whaaaaaaat!  I can’t wait to die now!!!”

Okay, so that’s not exactly how my thought process played out, but it’s pretty darn close.

For all my firm belief in Heaven, and all my delighted imaginings of, “What if God created another world, and it was like this…” I had somehow failed to make the connection that, in fact, God has created at least one other world that we know of, and not only that, but – holy cow! – I get to go there someday!

I know there are far more wonderful things about going to heaven than the simple novelty of going to a new world – falling at the feet of my resurrected Lord and Savior, for starters.  But as someone who has spent many years dealing with “other” (imaginary) worlds, it was still an incredible thought.

“If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis