Grand Con

See Nerd Chapel at Grand Con 2015! Go to http://grand-con.com/

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Summer/Fall 2018

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Here is my schedule the next few months:

July 20-21: KoganCon in Grand Haven, MI
  • Hosting the Boardgames area, 
  • Nerd Chapel Panel
July 28-29: Get Geek'd Entertainment Expo in Lansing, MI
  • Table
August 2-5: GenCon in Indianapolis, IN
  • Christian Gamer's Guild events: Christianity and Gaming Panel on Friday afternoon and a Christian Worship Service on Sunday morning. I will be attending both of these.
  • I will spend some time at Nathan Marchand's book table (hours yet to be determined).
August 11: True Believer's Fest in Kentwood, MI
  • Table
  • Nathan Marchand will also be there so come see his other books and get your copy of 42:Discovering Faith Through Fandom signed by him if you have not already done so.
August 30-Sept. 3: DragonCon in Atlanta, GA
  • The Bridge will have a table and a worship service as well as a gaming time and a group in the Cosplay parade. If you will be there see if we can connect.
Sept. 14-16: GrandCon in Grand Rapids, MI
  • Table
  • Chapel Service on Sunday Morning
Sept. 22-23: Fantasticon in Fort Wayne, IN
  • Table
October 20: Newago County Comic Con in Fremont, MI
  • Table

Synths and Meekness

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Found on IMDB.com
Have you been watching "Humans" on AMC this season? This show is about androids gaining free will and emotions of their own in our present world. I am 4 episodes in to season 3 and it is getting interesting. Spoilers ahead. If you remember from the season 2 finale, the code allowing Synths to gain their own feelings and will was released into the open. Now, hundreds or even thousands of Synths are trying to make it through life, of some sort, with distrust and anger around them from others. Some have turned violent while others are seeking peaceful initiatives to handle the situation.

At one point Max, played by Ivanno Jeremiah is talking with a small camp of Synths that he is leading. He tells them:
"To human eyes we are all guilty. We are all killers. That is how they will see us now so we must be beyond reproach. We must stay open. Show them mercy when they extend none. Forgiveness when they deserve none. And when they strike us down, we must reach out to them. Some will reach back, not many. But those that take our hand will not let go. Believe me."
"You mean to surrender."
 "No, to appeal to what is best in them."
Have you heard similar discussion before? Martin Luthor King said similar things when he was leading the peaceful protests of the civil rights movement. Gandhi had similar views for his movement to gain freedom for India.  Jesus also taught such ideals.
You have heard that it was said 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth,' but I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.                        Matthew 5:38-42
 Jesus goes on in the next few verses about loving our enemies. Not he does not say that we do not have enemies, but that we should treat them as anyone else. At one point he says. "If you only love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?" (Matt. 5:46).

Keep in mind that meekness is not weakness. It is controlling your power and trusting God to handle it. Essentially, it means allowing God to decide when and how you use your power.

There is no scripture that says that vengeance is never earned, In fact Romans 3:23 tells us that "...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." But we are also told in Romans 12:19 to "...leave room for God's wrath..." It is not our job to dish out punishment. That job belongs to God alone. Instead, we are encouraged to offer friendship and peace. This is not always easy and is not always "cuddly" either. There will be disagreements and we must work together in spite of them rather than try to push on each other. You don't have to be a Carebear or a Pony, but you do need to treat others with respect. Sometimes the most powerful thing a warrior can do is to take a hit and not hit back.

In our social and political climate right now we need these skills more than ever. I am not perfect at all of this myself but fortunately for all of us there is grace and help from Jesus if we accept it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Violent Ken and Help Sought

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Did you go out for free comic book day? I did! I went to my local shop, grabbed my 3, ran into some friends, and we went to a few hobby and gaming stores. Of my 3 comics, one of my choices was the Street Fighter Ultra issue. This story is a Ken-centric story written by Ken Sui-Chong, artwork by Hanson Steinbach, and lettering by Marshall Dillon. He has just gotten back from a battle in another realm against Lord Raptor, but is now faced with his own darkness. He often becomes Violent Ken with an insatiable appetite for maiming and killing others.

In Street fighter lore, the Satsui No Hado is essentially the Dark Side. It is the worst of the person given full energy and comes out with complete inhibition. This is discussed by my co-author, Nathan Marchand, in entry 17 of our book, 42:Discovering Faith through Fandom.

What I found interesting in this comic was Ken's interactions with 2 students at a Gouken's Dojo in Japan. Sakura and Dan both share what helped them come out if it.

For Sakura, it was friendship. Apparently that story can be found in the Super Street Fighter series. You have heard the phrase: "No man is an island," right? Exactly. We are communal creatures. Proverbs 27:17 tells us "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Do you have anyone who will speak honestly to you about your issues, be it sin or difficult life times?

Dan has another story, found in Street Fighter Unlimited. He shares that foregivenss is what changed him. When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, something we call "The Lord's Prayer" or the "Our Father," there is one statement in there that He expounded on. "Forgive us, as we forgive each other." He goes on to tell us if we do not give foregiveness, God won't give it to us.

Ultimately, Jesus exemplified both of these qualities. He forgave the man who could not walk for his sin as well as the thief on the cross next to Him and Peter for betraying Him. He challenged our perceptions of how we should treat each other and protected the woman at the well from being stoned by men who had their own sin issues to deal with.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Heroes/Villains Chicago

Greetings Scholars and Warriors!



I apologize for not posting for a while. My computer frizzed out on me and I've been dealing with some personal issues.

This weekend I went to Heroes and Villains Fanfest in Chicago. I had a table there and met a lot of people. This con focuses on comic book TV adaptations and guests included stars from Arrow, Gotham, Black Lightning and more. This was also combined with Walker Stalker so you had about 10 guests from the Walking Dead as well.

I met many people, sold some books, and had a great time. Many people were surprised to find this and a few thought it was a joke. But many were excited and supportive. I think the most meaningful conversations happened in travel, though. Saturday night I was just off the train and looking for food when a guy was needing help. At first I thought he was just begging for money, but then I realized he was blind and just needed help finding his cane, which was easy for me to find for him. Sunday, on Amtrak coming home, the guy next to me noticed I was studying "Experiencing God" and asked me if I think God understands if we want to die. We discussed his situation and I tried to encourage him.

Here are some pics from the con. You can find more on the at www.facebook.com/nerdchapel.













Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Nobody to Jedi

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Spoilers!

found on IMDB.com
Last month I and many around the world went to see Star Wars Episode 8:The Last Jedi. So much goodness in this movie! They took a look at the heroes journey from a different perspective and deconstructed it to show the dangers of seeing yourself as the hero. They showed us how Leia uses her Force powers. The take on Luke is not what we expected, but the Jedi before him did both run away when the Sith took power so that is example he had to look at.

One thing we questioned was the family and lineage of Rey.  Some wanted her to be Kylo's sister or cousin. Some wanted her to be a Kenobi. I wanted a weird mix of both. I wanted Luke to have met a girl, perhaps before meeting Mara Jade, who was from his home planet of Tatooine. I could imagine her eventually telling Luke that she didn't know her father. He had been a hermit or a "wizard" that people thought was really weird. You catch my drift? I had wanted her to be the daughter of Luke and the granddaughter of Ben Kenobi. 

Now, if Kylo Ren's story he told her checks out, she had been from a much more normal lineage. Her parents were drunkards. They sold her into slavery for booze money. Talk about rejection. This would be painful if true. For us as fans it means all our wonder about her being from a big lineage is gone.

However, there is a new, exciting thought here. If her lineage is of drunkards, then that means anyone can be an amazing, Force wielding power for good. You don't need to come from a family that has a history with the Force. You just need to be willing.

Jesus lineage was filled with both promise and obscurity. King David certainly makes for a great lineage. So do Boaz and Ruth. But what about some of the others? There is a prostitute in there. Some people we really don't know much about. We only know Mary and Joseph because they raised Jesus. Even His birth itself was in an obscure place rather than a palace.

Rejection and the Gospel are highly connected. Jesus experienced rejection from the religious leaders and on the Cross he shouted "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34). But in this rejection came the opportunity of salvation and healing. Isaiah 53:5 tells us as a prophecy about Jesus that "by his wounds we are healed." 

You might have come from a family that is dysfunctional. Maybe you feel abandoned by your family because you are in the foster system or adopted. Your life still can have amazing impact on the people around you. Rey saved the rebellion when they were trapped at the end of the film. That is fictional; imagine what you can do in real life. You can donate blood, serve in the armed forces, become a nurse or doctor. You can volunteer at your church or with a food bank. Make your life matter. Don't sit at home waiting for someone else to make your life matter. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Where is my Lothwolf Tunnel?

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Have you been watching the new season of Star Wars Rebels? I have and it has not disappointed me at all. I enjoyed seeing some Mandalorians take back their place as fighters and specifically against the Empire. In fact, I would love to see the Mandalorians take on the First Order in the movies. I have also enjoyed the addition of the Lothwolf. Spoilers ahead.

https://nerdist.com/star-wars-rebels-princess-mononoke-loth-wolf/
Apparently, this wolf, which is a huge animal, had not been seen for 100 years, if you believe the comment by Ezra. They inhabit Lothal and are noble and fast, capable of great speed and I am sure they have great power as well. Interestingly, they have a strong connection with the Force. In the recent episode, Kindred (Season 4, Episode 7), the rebels are trying to hide and escape from an Imperial assault which includes bombing. There is no way out. They have a large maze of rocks behind them and imperials in front of them. Ezra convinces the team to follow the wolves. As they follow the wolves, which is hard, they eventually come to a cave. The wolves seem to wait for a moment and then the bombing starts. The wolves head deeper into the cave and a tunnel that is similar to a hyperspace tunnel opens up. The wolves actually take the team through this tunnel from the northern Hemisphere of the planet all the way down to the southern hemisphere. It is unsure how much time it took, but it is a massive distance.

Life is full of crazy situations where it feels like there is no way out. Maybe you hate your job. Perhaps you are sick of the way someone treats you but you are committed to making it work. Maybe you are dealing with loneliness.

In scripture we have many stories of God making amazing escape routes for people. Remember the Israelites and the Red Sea? How God opened a path for them to cross on? Think about when Peter was in jail and an angel came and escorted him past the guard. If you are wanting escape, then hold on. God does see and He does provide. I have been struggling with romantic loneliness for years and this is one place where I am still holding on and just talking to God about it.

One thing to note: not all situations we want to escape from are situations we should escape from. The Rebels did escape from the situation, but they did not leave the planet when Captain Syndulla took the recorded info on the new Tie fighters back to rebel command. They stayed because there was more to be done. Paul and Silas were in jail for their faith once and when an earthquake ripped the cell doors open, they stayed. Because of this the jailer and his family came to Christ. Nehemiah was facing a lot of threats for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, but when urged to leave and hide away he stayed to complete the project. Maybe you don't like your school because of the way kids treat you or the work is hard for you. This might be a situation where you just have to hold on and wait to see what God does through the situation. He might influence others through you simply being there.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Faith not Strength

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

Last week we finally got our eagerly awaited beginning of a new season for the Arrowverse. Wednesday I did not have to work, so I pulled out my laptop and hooked it up to a TV to watch The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow and later watched the new Supergirl episode with my Mom and Arrow by myself on another day.

Spoilers my friends.



This episode of the Flash, titled "The Flash Reborn," found Barrie's friends grieving his loss and all handling it in different ways. Remember, Barry was taken into the Speed Force at the end of last season. Iris was just running forward convinced, or at least acting convinced, that he was gone and would never get back. Wally, Joe and Cisco were just trying to keep up with the meta-human issues around the city. They were catching some of them, but not at all keeping it under full control. They come across a flying Samurai with katanas that had crazy power in them. Of course, he threatened to destroy the city if Barry did not come back.

As they tried to figure out what to do we find out that Cisco, along with a few other scientists from around the Arrowverse, has been working on a way to get Barry out of the Speed Force. He just needed Caitlin Snow so, without the agreement or approval of Iris, he found her and they got to work. They did get him out, though it didn't work as they thought it would. However, Barry was not the same. He was writing with symbols on the walls and speaking gibberish about physics and saying some things seemingly from past conversations. He was not Barry.

During this time Iris sits down with her dad for a talk. She doesn't understand how he has done well. How he is so calm. He explains that he has been going back to church. She is surprised and mentions that he hasn't done that since she was a child. But he went back and one of the sermons from the priest stood out to him because it felt like it was just for him. The message was about strength and faith; the reality that strength is not good without faith.

First off, I am really excited that they showed us a story where someone was willing to give church a try...and they were impacted by it. It meant something to the character that could impact others.

Next, I am glad they recognized that strength is not enough without faith. In the New Testament we are given many traits to chase after. Traits to build into our lives for our benefit and for us to be able to bless and help other people. But strength is not one of those.

Try reading Galatians 5. In this passage Paul is sharing with us what a Godly life should look like. What we should be espousing to, as well as the traits we should not seek out. In verses 22 and 23 he gives us a list we call the fruit of the Spirit. You will not find the word "strength" on this list. Now, you could argue that self-control takes strength. You could say forbearance/patience take strength, but strength is not the focus of either of these traits.

Faith is mentioned many times. Jesus comments on "you of little faith" before calming down a storm. He also says "anything is possible for one who believes" (Mark 9:23). Paul includes faith with hope and love in 1 Corinthians 13 as the "remaining" abilities. Essentially, where law and our gifts fail, these survive.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus himself encouraged us toward meekness. Now, this is not what some people think it is. Some see it as a complete lack of strength. Meekness is more about controlling your strength and trusting God to be the victor. Meekness is about putting your faith in God when you want to fix everything yourself.

Now we get back to the show. After this conversation, after considering that faith is what will change things, Iris literally gives herself over to the Samurai. She knows that if she were kidnapped, Barry would break every wall to save her which is essentially what happened. Learning of her need for him, was enough to shock him out of his altered state and bring him back to them.

We saw strength without faith in the new episode of Supergirl, "Girl of Steel". She was trying to get rid of Kara Danvers, who has faith in those around her and in her work in media. In her grief, she thought she could work as Supergirl and muscle things to a better place instead of grieving her loss of Mon-El. This self sufficiency lifestyle was hurting those around her.

Iris and the team could not fix everything. They could not get Barry back to himself with medicine or prodding, but with faith he did come back. Often we find ourselves in situations we can not fix or should not try to fix. In these times do you try to flex your strength or do you trust in God to step in with hope and healing?