Happy Halloween 2014

Halloween will always hold a special place in my heart. After all, it is my birthday.

Growing up I always found the magical aspect of this holiday more engaging than either fear or pranks. Still, the video below is pretty good on those latter two points, and so I share it here with best Halloween wishes to all.

Star Trek Continues

In the past few years we’ve seen a reboot of the Star Trek franchise. A new timeline in an alternate universe allows writers to rethink the original series in movie form. Personally, I’ve enjoyed the upgraded special effects, despite the terrible plots that include a supernova that can “threaten the galaxy” and transporter technology that makes star ships seem redundant.

If you yearn for the older, simpler ways (and I don’t), there’s another option. A fan-made “Star Trek Continues” series picks up where the original series left off. The vignette below shows the transition, picking up from the end of the last episode that aired in the 1960s. Two episodes and two other vignettes are currently available on the website. You might want to check them out.

Yesterday I also shared about Star Trek: Horizon. This is a privately-produced film set in the same period as Star Trek: Enterprise. You might want to have a look at it as well.

//player.vimeo.com/video/46712562 Star Trek Continues V01 “Turnabout Intruder” Vignette from Star Trek Continues on Vimeo.

See Also:
The Coolest ‘Star Trek’ Reboot You’re Probably Not Watching (CNet)
Star Trek: Horizon – Could It Be Good?

Star Trek: Horizon – Could It Be Good?

My first real experience of the Star Trek universe, outside the movies of the 1980s, was Next Generation. Yet, despite the series’ flaws, my favorite was Enterprise. This fifth Star Trek series was set decades after the events of the First Contact movie, when humanity was just beginning to reach out beyond the solar system to explore the galaxy. There was no Federation, and Star Fleet was in its infancy.

What I disliked most about the series was the heavy dependency themes related to time travel. It seemed so unnecessary, as this period of history in the Star Trek universe was full of possibility and the challenges to be faced were monumental. The writers really could have done a better job.

A new movie is set to come out in not too long. Entitled “Horizon,” it is set in the same period as the Enterprise series. There is some question as to the quality of the movie, as it is being produced by fans rather than through official channels. Still, the trailer below is promising, and I hope the film lives up to the expectation that is being set.

Be sure to check out the fan page on Facebook as well.

Bicycles & Buses in Curitiba

As I’ve said before on this blog, although I’m very fond of Uberlândia, Curitiba would be a welcome alternative. The capital the state of Paraná, it’s got a pretty good reputation in Brazil. See below for a video about how the city has been addressing mass transit and mobility, and further down is a tweet linking to an article about how Curitiba’s former mayor revolutionized public transport in his city.



See Also:

The Art of Eviction in São Paulo

Property invasions, occupations and evictions are part of life in Brazil. I’ve shared on this blog about families occupying unused real estate in Brazil, something that’s often done in hopes of a judicial decision giving over ownership to the occupiers. Sometimes it works out, and often it doesn’t. Below is a special case, a video of a group of “artists” who occupied a building in downtown São Paulo. From the looks of it they made it into a sort of hippie commune. I couldn’t help but notice that they all looked to be the children of affluence, though perhaps this is a mere surface judgment. It’s harder to take their situation as seriously, given that they don’t constitute families or seem to be in dire need of shelter.

See Also:

Humanism: Creed of the 21st Century

The following talk, by James Croft, Leader in Training with The Ethical Society of St. Louis, was given last week at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I cannot recommend it highly enough for those interested in humanism, as James eloquently provides both a thumbnail sketch of its history as well as basic principles (“the point of all this”) and makes a compelling case for its importance today.

The Power of Community Building

“Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Back in my days as an evangelical minister I was never a fan of Tony Campolo. His son, however, may be winning me over.

Tony Campolo always seemed to me to be coming from a ragther unorthodox position, though I rarely was able to put my finger on the what exactly bothered me. In later years, as I began to embrace the cause of social justice as part of Christian discipleship, I found myself encountering Mr. Campolo’s writings more and more often. He is, after all, a key figure in the Red-Letter Christian movement. This group aims to put special emphasis on the words of Jesus, distinguished from the rest of the text by red letters in many evangelical editions of the Bible. These verses tend to focus on what is called “kingdom life,” related to such topics as loving and forgiving one another (Jesus had a lot to say about Gehenna and judgment too, though!).

Bart Campolo has taken a different, and yet very similar, path in life from that of his father. He is now the Humanist chaplain at the University of Southern California. The talk included below, given to a gathering of the Secular Students Alliance, explains how he became a Christian and how that relates to his current work as a chaplain for non-theists. What comes across is a beautiful description of the power and value of community.

Bart’s conversion experience was somewhat different from mine. Whereas I found my way into evangelical Christianity through studying various religions on my own, Bart was brought into the fold through a megachurch’s youth group (I would have thought it’d have happened at home). It was a search for truth, meaning and purpose that led me to Christianity. Community came as a secondary concern, although that was always very important to me. Initially I took comfort in thinking of myself as part of the “evangelical movement.” Then, throughout the following 21 years, I was always looking for my specific “tribe” and not quite feeling I was in the right place. Bart went the other direction, finding community first and most importantly, then never feeling quite at home with the doctrines.
There’s so much good in what the younger Campolo has to say in this talk, things that need to be heard and understood when throughout the various groups and associations made up of atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and skeptics. He calls us, in very evangelical style, to form loving, supportive communities in which people have a sense of mission that runs deeper than merely proving others wrong. As Rev. William Murry put it in Becoming More Fully Human:

“In this context it is important to note that a community is more than a group of individuals each seeking his and her own interests. A community consists of individuals bound together by common interests, a commitment to one another, and a strong communal sense; its members identify with the larger whole and find much of their life’s meaning through their involvement in the community. Meetings, simple rituals, rites of passage, and learning and working together help to create a genuine community.”

See Also: