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Five Questions–The Last Jedi

 

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This isn’t a review of The Last Jedi. However, I’ll take two lines right here–I really loved the movie and thought it was the best since Empire Strikes Back. I love jaded, cynical, 2017 Luke Skywalker as much as I loved whiney, entitled 1979-83 Luke Skywalker. He has always been hyper-emotional and in this film we see the other pole.

But enough with the review. What I write here are five questions the movie leaves me with. This is not intended in a negative way, because good books and films always stoke the imagination and bring the consumer in so he or she can ponder the story. But here are my questions.

  1. Is Snoke a MacGuffin? It’s actually okay with me if he is–if the makers of the film just did an “insert mysterious bad guy here” and he is only useful in this moment. But is there more? Are we being set up to think of him as only a plot foil and then we get the sucker punch later? I want there to be more, but I suspect Snoke was never intended to be a major plot point. This story is all about Kylo and Rey. So for now I’m going with Snoke as MacGuffin.
  2. Is The Resistance really this small? I can’t tell after a first viewing. Are we supposed to believe this is all there is to it or is it a fragment that has been cornered?  This matters to me, because if this is all there is, then my feelings somewhat change. Perhaps the galaxy wants an authoritative government that suppresses liberty. It is something to consider.
  3. What is it with Luke Skywalker and milk? Is that the key to midichlorians?
  4. Is that the last word on Rey’s parents? I am still enamored with Rey’s true identity. I know many people think the issue is settled. That might be so. It is a major moment in the movie when it seems like she and Kylo come to the agreement that her parents were nobodies. Part of me likes this, because I never really jammed on the elitist/birth blessing of Jedi skills. That always seemed just a little too much like nobility and royalty; and those are two things I despise. The flip though is what if this is a deception. Work with me–The Last Jedi parallels ESB in so many ways. In ESB Darth Vader tells a truth to Luke about his parentage, which Obi-Wan later talks about as looking at it from a, “certain point of view.” What if a different point of view paints the picture of Rey’s parents differently. The reason I say this is because I still believe Rey is Obi-Wan’s granddaughter or niece or somehow related.
  5. Is Rey a Jedi? This question, put a little differently, could read, “Does training matter at all for Jedi?” Because if she is a Jedi, she has zero training. Luke got more training from Obi-Wan in the lounge of the Millennium Falcon in the original Star Wars film than Rey has received. So is she a Jedi?

 

Predictions for the next one: Rey goes back to that island and steals Luke Skywalker’s green lightsaber. Obi-Wan Kenobi will force ghost visit Rey. If there is any justice in the galaxy, Chewbacca will be the one to kill Kylo–choking the life right out of him with his furry dexterous hands. There is another Solo kid–the one we all loved from the EU–and he will join with Rey to rebuild the order (note–Rey is playing the role of Jaina in this tale, so we need the third one to show up somehow for the story to make sense: IMHO).

A Prayer For My Youngest Daughter On Her Eighteenth Birthday

I have two children–daughters. Today is my youngest’s 18th birthday. This thought is more than I can completely comprehend. She was born in the shadow of a new millennium in a place far-away from the land of my fathers. Where has the time gone? It seems like only yesterday I teased about naming her “Y2K”, but instead I chose to name her after a deacon in the Bible. This is my prayer for Phoebe. 

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Phoebe Greening, My Baby Girl

Dear Lord, first I want to give you thanks for Phoebe’s presence in the world and in our lives. To say she is unique would be an understatement–and I thank you for that. Her physical beauty is only eclipsed by her wit, charm, maturity, and intelligence. I thank you that she is bright, conversational, and likable. These are characteristics that make sharing life with her so enjoyable. I thank you for the confidence she feels in her bones–and I likewise thank you for the humility easily visible in her heart.

One of her attributes, Lord, is that she is a hard worker. She throws herself into tasks, sometimes to the point of obsession. I pray two specific things about this. First, use this for good by giving her the wisdom and discernment to choose wisely what to throw her effort into. Guard her from the mistake of giving her heart and efforts to people and projects unworthy of her devotion. The second thing I pray is that she learn to temper this passion for work with a healthy balance of rest, enjoyment, and pleasure. She has it in her to over-focus on the task and neglect what really matters. Keep her from that temptation.

I pray she achieves her many goals. She has a preferred college and I ask that you show her favor with the admissions process. She has dreams of being a diplomat. Let her, let her do that work and use her to bring peace in at least some parts of the world. She wants to get married someday, and I ask that you begin to prepare that young man for her. I ask that he be a kind, generous, nurturing man who loves you and who will love her, support her, and give her the space to be the woman she yearns to be. She wants to have at least one child–I pray that you let her. Let her have a boy or girl, and more if that is your plan. I further pray her children be as big a blessing to her as my daughters have been to their parents.

As she transitions from childhood to adulthood, I ask four things:

  1. Give her a heart for purity.
  2. Lead her in an unwavering commitment to truth.
  3. Surround her with good friends who will love her.
  4. Put good leaders–teachers, supervisors, mentors–around her that will challenge and instruct her with wisdom.

The world she lives in is so very different than the one I became an adult in. Lord, I ask that you protect her from the evil hand of terrorism and the hatred of war. Give her understanding to not become entrenched in the ugly pettiness of divisiveness inherent in today’s public discourse. May she never know  poverty. I ask that her health be good. Protect her from temptations of drugs, addictions, and easy solutions to complicated problems. May her wine vats always be filled with the best vintage. May her cattle multiply on every hillside. May the oil of peace and blessing flow freely upon her head. When hard times do come, as they always do, show her how to let integrity be her guide, faith be her comfort, and your presence be her bedrock.

Teach her when she should stay and fight for what she believes in.

Teach her when she should run as fast as she can from a toxic situation.

Teach her when to ask for help or counsel from others.

Teach her when to stand alone or reject the folly of others.

Almighty God, the four of us have always been tight-knit and close. I am so grateful that there are no barriers among any of us, and that my children love each other and like each other. I can see in their eyes and the way they interact, that even though they are both so different from one another, they are the best of friends. I pray that remain, but in a grown-up way as we all transition. It is hard for me and my wife to let them go into the big world. My desire is to always protect, always provide, always be present. But that is not the way you made us. You made us to grow up and leave home and make our own way in the world, yet having the reliable connections to family as a safe and nurturing support. Help me to make that leap–the leap of walking beside her as an ally and not in front of her or over her as if I were a ruler. She doesn’t need me to carry her any longer. She needs me to watch as she walks on her own. She doesn’t need me to drag her down the right path, she needs me to be ready to explain to her where the different paths lead and how she will have to live with her choices. Help me do that, Lord. I’m not very good at it.

You know the good I want in her life because I love her, and I have loved her long before she was ever in the womb. Yet you have loved her from before the foundations of the world. Therefore, in all I ask, I submit to your divine will and plan–and I make it my ultimate prayer for her–that she will commit herself to you throughout life, follow your will and ways, and be used by you for you purposes.

I ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and in the knowledge the Father loves all of his children. Amen.

 

My Thoughts On A Theoretical Presidential Knife Fight

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Some ideas are good.

Some ideas are bad.

And some ideas are completely genius.

I found one of those tonight thanks to my friend Joe Shaw. He posted a blog post link on his Facebook page. The blog was written by Geoff Micks who I think calls his blog faceintheblue. The link to the blog post is RIGHT HERE CLICK ON THIS NOW and you all should go read the blog, in its entirety, from start to finish and then share it. Don’t want to read the blog–check out this video below, but I warn you, the blog post is gold. Pure. Gold.

Apparently this has been around for a while. There is even a card game. How is it I am just now discovering this over the Christmas holiday?

Here is the premise: All forty five U.S. Presidents are locked in a Thunderdome or Roman Coliseum type arena and must fight with a knife to the death. Who walks out? In the end, there can be only one.

I want to see this made into a movie. Of course we’d have to enlarge it to a Hunger Games type competition, or maybe it is the theme for a one-off Fantasy Island feature film.

Who do you got? Here is some of my thoughts.


The Favorites

The first reaction is to start picking up military folks for favorites. The problem is, before Barack Obama and Donald J. Trump, all presidents had military experience of some sort. That being said, some stand out, and that makes this a bit easier.

  1. George Washington–He was a ruthless warrior who executed a plan for survival with brutal efficiency and without mercy.
  2. Andrew Jackson–the writer of the article rightly said he’d have the highest kill count. He loved killing people, and his first victim would be Barack Obama, because Jackson was as big a racist white supremacist as you could imagine.
  3. Teddy Roosevelt–he would use his cousin in an alliance, and then shove FDR’s cigarette holder down his throat with one hand while sticking his knife into Polk’s kidneys.
  4. Abraham Lincoln–Lincoln would last a while, but his great weakness is that at some point he’d stand up and ask if people couldn’t put down their knives and appeal to their better angels. That is the moment LBJ would stab him in he back.
  5. George W. Bush (43)–I know you might not think this likely, but 43 has Jedi reflexes when it comes to dodging things, like a shoe thrown at him by an Iraqi reporter. He also runs, so, like the movie Zombieland, cardio is gonna be big in this.

 

The First Outs

Most of the presidents from the 19th and early 20th century were overweight and slothful. All of those, most of this people whose names you don’t know, would be gone quickly, like Grover Cleveland, William Howard Taft, Chester A. Arthur. Aside from this group en masse, there are some notable names who will fall quickly.

  1. Barack Obama would be gone before the first minute. Whatever else you might think of him, and this is not a political statement, but he wasn’t rugged by any means. And I think it would be Andrew Jackson who kills him.
  2. Richard Nixon, and it would be Gerald Ford who did it because he’d be looking for the slimy fellow.
  3. Woodrow Wilson, like Obama, was far too academic to survive this environment.
  4. Trump would be gone very quickly.
  5. Thomas Jefferson’s brilliance and poetics would not be much use here, plus John Adams would be looking for him.
  6. U.S. Grant would go quickly because one must be sober to fight. Usually.

 

Alliances

There would be alliances, of course, that form to get through the initial melee.

  1. The Bush boys would ally, and they might drag Reagan in too. It is not hard to imagine George Washington finding a natural affinity here, as well.
  2. The two Roosevelts would do well together. They would probably have LBJ on their team.
  3. The two Adam’s boys would team up. I think they might draft Eisenhower into their lot.

 

Underdogs

I don’t figure these people to do particularly great, but they might have a fighting chance.

  1. Franklin Pearce–He was very tough man.
  2. Jimmy Carter–Read the original blog post on this. Just read it and tell me you don’t think he’d be capable of hanging in there. Plus, Carter was a Southern Baptist, which means he is filled with Klingon guile.
  3. John Kennedy–his health was famously awful, and his moral character was almost non-existent, but there was a gritty toughness to him. The man who didn’t blink at the thought of WWIII over Cuba and Berlin probably has a good chance of walking over the dead bodies of Bill Clinton, Millard Fillmore, and Calvin Coolidge.
  4. Andrew Johnson–not Jackson and not Lyndon, but Andrew Johnson. This child of the South who could never fill Lincoln’s shoes might have enough pent up frustration to go a while.

 

And the Winner Is?

I think it comes down to George W. Bush (43) and Andrew Jackson. In the end, Jackson will be wild-eyed and crazed, but spent. Bush’s extended cardio regiment and zen-like connection to paint brushes, not to mention that Dick Cheney’s voice is in his head, will be the difference.

Predictions for 2018

I am no prophet. I have a hard time predicting what Mrs. Greenbean will want for dinner, much less long term trends. This deficiency doesn’t keep me from trying, though. I just went and looked at 2017’s predictions, and I was almost 50% accurate–and I completely nailed the entertainment predictions, particularly the decline in football ratings. Sadly, 2016 saw me only get 20%, and 30% in 2015, and even more dismal in 2014 with only one prediction really happening. However, in that year, I predicted a Facebook scandal–which actually happened in 2017. Maybe I was just early?

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I try to mix up the predictions in various areas of life–entertainment, politics, business, science, religion, and faith so I’m all over the place. Anyway, here goes my predictions for 2018.

10. The Houston Astros will repeat as World Series Champions.

9. A White-Supremacist will do something so horrible it will make Charlottesville look pale and insignificant.

8. Some big secret will be revealed at NASA—not like aliens or anything, but it will be something like we’ve already been to Mars in a covert plan, or the Columbia space shuttle explosion wasn’t an accident. Something scandalous or controversial.

7. The implementation of new internet regulations (net neutrality) will be a shot in the arm to traditional cable and television corporations, temporarily stabilizing a dying industry.

6.  The Republicans will lose heavily to Democrats in the 2018 elections, losing at least one chamber of congress.

5. Subscriptions to self-driving car services will be big Christmas presents.

4. Theresa May will be booted out as British leader in the midst of an ugly undoing of the Brexit vote.

3. The economy will continue to cook under conservative policies.

2. Two or three major mega-churches will close their doors, beginning the coming wave of emphasis upon small, neighborhood, community churches.

1. Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election will not produce any incriminating evidence against President Trump, and then POTUS will pardon everyone who received indictments, particularly Michael Flynn.

 

BONUS PREDICTIONS–This year will be an unseasonably cold winter and spring, POTUS will drop an F-Bomb in major speech (State of the Union?), Eli Manning will be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears, and Wal-Mart will be bought by Amazon.