Friday, March 16, 2007

Billie Rae Walker Weighs In...

Those of you who have read the exemplary and extensive interview with me at STARTREK.COM already know something of Billie Rae Walker. She was my interviewer and she is solely responsible for making the interview exemplary. (I had answers but until Billie posed the questions that dredged them from their hiding places, they were stuck. Her insightful queries liberated them.) Yet another interview between her and me will appear in the April or June issue of STAR TREK MAGAZINE. These are totally new questions and totally new responses, so don't worry about redundancy.

When we met (via phone and Internet) to have the first interview ....( ...
we also connected on a faith level and found out that we also share many other interests as well, so we have continued a penpal relationship (although we hope to meet at the Vegas convention in August).

You already know she's a phenomenal interviewer -- now you will have a chance to learn a little about her faith walk in the following paragraphs. With her permission, I am publishing the email she sent to me this morning:

Hi Kris...... What a GREAT Blog !!! I've tried to respond a couple of times, but my new computer is not interfacing I'll join the discussion this way [hope that's ok].

THE GOD THING: I was a "good" agnostic [or I tried to be, not always successfully] throughout high school and college.....It was "in" during the sixties, of course. I never considered being an atheist tho'....this beautiful world SHOUTS the existence of God! And as an Anthropology major I saw that all cultures have some means of worshiping God, whatever name they use for Him.

C.S. Lewis' "Surprised By Joy" first caught my attention in college'; his "Mere Christianity"showed me -- 1] the Bible is true, and 2] Jesus is who He said He was....... so the only remaining question was what was I going to do about it?

It was also my good fortune to meet a Pastor who didn't take offense at my many, many questions. My return to the fold was a quiet one, as reflects my disposition....

As you said, God meets each of us where we are. The Pastor said it was unusual, as I was just trying to find out what was True, not searching for any answer to a life problem......which he likened to St. Augustine's search for the truth. That was a nice compliment, but when I tried reading St. Augustine's writings they were over my head.

C.S. Lewis, however, I Oxford scholar who could speak so clearly that his country asked him to speak to the people of England on the radio while they stood alone against a very great Evil [the result: "Mere Christianity"].

Much later on I discovered Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost For His Highest". Culturally, and theologically, I love small country churches that teach the Bible......God [our Creator, Higher Power, whatever] meant that book for my culture......and I decided it was time to go back to the "faith of my fathers".

I remember hearing a Native American asking why Americans [the rest of us] kept trying to practice his spiritual heritage when they had their own. That question stayed with me, as I'd done a lot of reading about different religions......and I know that, however hard we try to immerse ourselves in a different cultural tradition, there will always be subtle things that we either miss or get wrong.

My "Indian"American brother had a valid point. So I grew up loving Christ and the Bible, and I'll leave this world the same way. The rest of my questions can wait until I meet the Author.

THE PRESIDENT: As you said, the President is our Christian brother also. Thus, I'll continue to pray for him and for the Lord to guide him. As for any opinions I have about the war, I tell my friends that I haven't yet received my classified briefing papers [they must be lost in the mail between here and the White House] so I don't have enough information to have a definite opinion. As ours is a representative democracy [unlike the "pure" democracy of the New England Town Meetings] I will have to trust such things to the President and Congress [most of whom voted for the war originally, based on the information available at the time]. And I pray that they also pray for guidance, according to their own religious beliefs.

My GED students [finishing their high school degrees] and I just continue to support and send things to the troops, most of whom are the same age as my students. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard are standing between us and a cultural heritage that believes the USA and western culture to be totally Evil [which doesn't leave a lot of room for negotiation].

I hope that you're right in that mass communication will help eliminate cultural barriers and misunderstandings, but I do not expect to live to see it [there will always be "wars and rumors of wars"-- the Bible]. So I'll let the troops know that we all, no matter what our opinions, support them and pray for their safe return........and I serve as a Red Cross Disaster Volunteer.

STAR TREK XI: What great news...... I thought that no one could ever play Dr. McCoy [or your friend De] but the gentleman from "CSI New York" would be great. And they can't have STAR TREK without our favorite "old country doctor". He needs to keep reminding Kirk & Spock what really matters at the heart of human evolution. And he's necessary to provide the balance: Action, Reason; Emotion..........the Enterprise would have warped into history long ago without him. The three books about Academy Days have all three, Kirk, Spock, McCoy--- each featured in his own book in the trilogy. McCoy is a decade older than the other two, but he still meets up with them when they are in Starfleet Academy [in these books]. And the 40th Anniversary trilogy:"Crucible" -by David R. George III--has one volume for each of them: "McCoy: Provenance of Shadows"; "Spock: The Fire and the Rose"; and "Kirk: The Star to Every Wandering". Thus, it stands to reason that the three of them must be together in "STAR TREK XI", right?

I've enjoyed your daily comments....... and it's so GREAT you love your work. It really is a blessing to love what you do. I've had the good fortune to have loved my job most of the time......which made the other times tolerable. Take good care...... Talk to you soon.....God Bless..... Luv, Billie

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And now... the adventure continues.... between the agnostic and me... Incidentally, the agnostic is considering "coming out of the closet" and letting everyone know who he is, but until he does, I will just leave his emails as they are and keep his name as a secret. However, today's email certainly gives a lot of hints as to who he is in the Trek world... but my lips are sealed until he spills the beans. So, without further ado.... Here is his take on what I said to him in my last email:

I wrote: All your questions below were answered by Meenan. No kidding!And you can take a listen to my present Pastor (Wolfson) if you like as well at<> . I have a feeling he may be more up your alley. His past three sermons have all been, "Church is less a place we go than who we are. Therefore, let's be the church." I think you have been saying that to me and other Christians all along --certainly with your very first email explanation to me (which I published in the blog) about where you are coming from -- in one way or another...

His response: One of my first lessons in religion was that there is an answer for everything. Logically, this made no sense to me as a child, because whenever there wasn't an answer, "faith" would be trotted out. As part of my job over the years working on various Star Trek publications, including the Fact Files in the UK, we often ran up against great leaps of logic or inconsistencies. Being Star Trek, a fantasy, we were able to scramble and find reasonably sound ways of fitting the action onscreen to the obvious gap in the continuity. Again,this reminded me of religion, where you can explain virtually everything by using biblical accounts, metaphor, or, lastly, the trump card: faith.

I wrote: And here's a thought to ponder -- if ALL religions believe essentially the same thing, does that not mean that there is a Truth(Intelligent Design) behind them (since all were developed independently of each others while the world was still separated by geography and without mass communications) and that we humans have been playing"telephone" with the Truth for all these years? And does that not explain why Jesus came here, to untangle the Truth from the stories that spring up around the God of the Universe? (And consider this: Perhaps earlier stories were given by God as prophetic stories to be fully realized when Jesus came and said, "I'm what all your many stories have been pointing to all these years.")

His response: Perhaps. But what this tells me from a scientific point of view is that we evolved along the same lines, and that we do have very powerful brains that can create, study, account, philosophize, etc. What we don't entirely know is just how much greater we are to, say, the ape, than ourselves. Would another species, given thousands of years, make a similar jump from simple animal to complex human-like thoughts. Our ability to reason is admirable, but many animals do as well. Just not with the degree of complexity we do.

I believe, and I think science will bear this out, we have tremendous brain power, yet we do not use it all. There are times, however, when our brains, the dormant parts, kick in a bit. These are times of great clarity, enlightenment, etc. that we all at some point get. I think it's merely a natural part of our anatomy. But I also think these periods of greater clarity are often times mistaken for some sort of religious"awakening."

I wrote: Just something to ponder. We are all buzzing and buzzing around the essence of the Truth, but none of us -- not even Christians - know the full truth or the import of it. We cannot share God's thoughts.His ways are above our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts... but oh, how he loves us and tries to give us what He can (through our filters, barriers and borders) that is good and kind and gracious and redemptive.

He responded: I'm glad you are so humble about this Kris. As am I, he said humbly. I am constantly amazed by the vast amounts of Christians who "know" the truth. We had a Mormon babysitter once who was very, very sweet. I remember she gave us the book of Mormon and said, in all seriousness, that this was "The Truth"!! I chuckled inwardly, but didn't have the heart to tell her what the most likely truth was-- that it was an entirely fabricated religion, based on tablets that no one had ever seen and supported a theory that Native Americans were an evil lost tribe of Israel.

But I also have to add one thing, and I think my politics will become clearer here (OK, call me a Liberal -- ironically, I think Jesus is a total radical liberal!): God loves SOME of us. I can't square his love with the idea that an innocent Iraqi child blown up by an insurgent or stray US missile, is loved. I can't understand why a soldier who has both legs blown off would be happy with God teaching him some kind of"lesson" and that this is merely part of His "plan."

And when we have the quintessence of ignorance masquerading as piety in the White House, I have to wonder about His love. Let's look at the situation in Iraq, for instance. In December last year, 6,000 Iraqis were killed. That's double what we lost on 9/11. And that is just one month.

Were these people all "evil" and deserving of this? I hardly think so. If they are all God's children, is this any way to treat a child? There are millions more dying of AIDS in Africa, starvation, genocide in Darfur...I only ask because I am curious: "Why, God?"

I wrote: I do not do "ritualistic" religion. I know the Catholics and the Lutherans and others do and if it works for them, great -- they're all going to heaven, too. But it won't be that way in heaven. If I don't meet God every day personally in a casual, friendly, loving,non-ritualistic conversation (at church or elsewhere) -- while driving my car, eating a sandwich, taking a walk -- I feel really out of touch and cheated (but by myself, not God! I know He's always right here!)

He wrote: Funny you should say that. When I was at Catholic school, but paying Protestant fees because I wasn't Catholic, I was told explicitly that I was going to hell. I thought it ironic, once again, that an all-loving God would condemn me to hell because I didn't subscribe to one way of thinking.

And that brought me to the subject of hell itself. If God so loved humankind, and created us with all these faults and foibles, don't you think He would cut us some slack and maybe let some people off for good behavior, rather than perish for all eternity in hell?

No, hell to me was always an obvious creation by man to balance out the idea of heaven. There had to be a yin/yang principle here, otherwise there was no real punishment for being "bad."

And God, again if he truly loved what he had created, would not, COULD not, go against his own nature and create something so diabolical that its very existence calls into question his benevolence.

I wrote: Do you realize God is using you right now to refine me and using me to refine you? What you ask gives me the sweetest dreams!Seriously! I was out evangelizing the world last night while asleep--and I NEVER do that while awake (except maybe in my blog -- it seems to be going that way a lot lately, but that's just 'cause YOU started it! )

He wrote: Yes, I realize that delving into one's belief system wakes up the mind. And I appreciate your comments here. I am glad to be taking part in something so stimulating.

I wrote: I would love for you to know what I know and to see and feel what I feel, but as I say, you gotta go get your own. My relationship niche with God is already occupied! You can get one just as great, but it takes some work... as much time as you have spent dancing all around the idea of God.

He wrote: There is a converse here too. I would love people to be free of having to think one way. I think it is very liberating, to live one's life and not feel like there is a man in the sky spying on me all the time. Besides, with the recent decimation of our civil liberties, I now know that my own government might be spying on me! That's enough for me.

I wrote: He wants you or you wouldn't be so compelled to keep looking, ya know?!

He wrote: Maybe He does! But He is going to have to work for it. After all, He created me to question, right? ;-)

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There you have it -- the agnostic who still ends believing that God created him to ask questions! This man wants to believe -- he's just having a hard time of it.

I have answers to every issue he brought up, and am eager to dive right on in and tell him what I believe is going on that redeems God's "character" despite the atrocities being committed on a global scale... but by now there are a lot of others looking in on this blog, with love and concern and questions and answers, and I am going to sit on mine for a while and see what you all have to say -- or share -- in response to this man's questions and concerns -- and his very, very good heart, which is hurting for a world in very deep trouble.

Don't yell, "No fair!" If no one else responds, I most certainly will! (But don't let that be a rationale for remaining mum. I expect you to get involved -- here and now!)

If my God is on trial here, and won't speak up to defend Himself... I will!

God has nothing to defend himself against -- he has done no wrong, He is Good All The Time -- unless you subscribe to the belief (and I don't know anyone who does) that He designed us "fatally flawed" by granting us free will to be His image-bearers and heirs... or not.

But if we choose "not," the consequence has been laid out from the foundation of the earth: eternal separation from Him, which some theologians call hell and which Jesus dreaded more than the beating and crucifixion he would suffer -- which is why he wrestled so and sweated blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking if there were "any other way" to save us -- knowing he would be taking our sin upon Himself and paying our penalty himself: to be separated entirely from ("forsaken by") His Father for three days while he visited hell and defeated death and Satan... to pave a way back into God's presence.

And all it takes is a "Thank you, Jesus!" and belief that He is who he said He is and did what the Bible claims He did.

And some people call that exclusionary. I don't know in what way! All are welcome to acknowledge what He did for them....

The ball -- as always -- is in our court....

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