The FENX and The Fox: The “non-role” role of a Racing Jacket in the Origins of The FENX

Posted on by Aaron in Cedarville University, FENX 4.0, FENX II, Star Wars, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Not all Jackets are created equal, they just aren’t; it’s a fact of life.   I happen to know this because I own one of the coolest jackets ever; it’s so cool that it was probably the understudy for Luke Skywalker’s jacket at the Yavin awards ceremony in Star Wars Episode IV:  A New Hope (I wonder  if that got broadcast across the galaxy as”The First Yavin Awards”?)  This happens to be a black, red, and white Fox Racing  padded leather jacket given to me in college by my father; the first racing jacket he ever owned.  He previously tried to give it to my  brother, but for some reason the cool factor didn’t hit him the same way.  I pull it out every Spring and Fall, never knowing what adventures it might be involved in.

Several years ago, one Spring afternoon in April, this jacket was resting on a post in my dorm room at Cedarville University.  The weather was perfect and my brain told me that my Lake Ann Camp polo shirt didn’t need that jacket to tag along to ward off the elements; the elements weren’t the danger, something else was coming.    The clock on the wall said I was late for a afternoon class, my last class of the day before my dad was supposed to pick me up for Easter break in Michigan.  Exiting the room, I assessed my transportation options:  the Revo scooter wasn’t working, so my best option was the navy blue custom tricycle I sometimes called the “FENX II”.  Strapping my feet into the pedal locks and adjusting the handlebars, I flew out of the dorm at nearly top speed…right down the paved hill my dorm rested on.  Hurtling towards the sidewalk, I didn’t see the motorcycle coming right away; once I did the bigger cycle missed me, but my cycle still flipped over and I was attached to it at the pedals.

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The FENX and Prayer: Being Someone Elses’s Answer

Posted on by Aaron in FENX 4.0, Star Wars | 1 Comment

On the rare occasion that I get to go before an audience and speak about my journey so far, it is all but inevitable that I will talk about purpose and destiny at some point; partly because they are ideas that interest me, and partly because it’s easier to bring in Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or Terminator that way (all popular franchises in our culture that speak to destiny).  Speaking before a Christian audience, I’ll often frame my ideas about destiny and purpose around the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He prepared for us in advance (or ‘in advance for us to do’)”.  Put another way, I will sometimes ask this question:  “Whose prayers are you destined to be the answer to?” I’ve thought much about this as an idea in recent years, as a third-person concept outside of my personal orbit.  Recently, that’s changed – and for the better.

In my last post I mentioned attending the Leadership Summit at National Community Church two weekends ago.  After it’s conclusion my brain was more than full but I wasn’t done thinking.  I began thinking about this idea of answers to prayer again and it was as if God was asking me personally “What if you intentionally prayed that way?  What if, every morning you prayed that that day, somehow, some way, you could be the answer to the prayer of someone else; what might happen?”  I’ll be the first to admit that I was harboring some apprehension about this prayer “experiment” because consistent prayer is one of the things that puts you on the front-lines of combat in spiritual terms and in conflict, those on the front-lines generally pose the greatest threat to the opposition.  The opposition in turn wants to strike back at your weakest point, and for me that’s a point of biological structure; because of some primary and secondary conditions I’ve lived with all my life, or a long stretch of it, I’m weaker and very vulnerable to pain and discomfort.  Moreover, already knowing what this feels like and what forms it can manifest in, tends to increase the dread if you know it’s coming (or might come); hence, the apprehension.

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Tension, and Perseverence: Learning to live in the hard spaces of life

Posted on by Aaron in Star Wars | Leave a comment

Last weekend I attended the Leadership Summit at National Community Church.  It’s a once a quarter event wherein all the Small Group Leaders and Ministry leaders at that church get together to listen to and learn from the staff.  The theme for this year has been “If Leaders (fill in the blank with something leaders should be doing)” Building off the successful format of past incarnations of Leadership Summit, this instance continued the trend of doing short TED style talks on various topics.  One in particular was Dave Schmidgall’s “If Leaders Embrace the Tension”, wherein he talked about living in that uneasy place of pressure where strings are being pulled, hard and uncomfortable questions are being asked and ease is nowhere to be found.  Yet, leaders are called to live in that space; just like leaders are sometimes asked to walk through the dark Valleys of Shadow with those who are living in them and struggling to press forward out of them (though like pronouncing the language of Mordor “there are few who can”).

After the summit last weekend I was ruminating on this idea of tension, and it became much harder and much more personal:  How do I live in the tension between reliance on the Creator and Master of the Universe (a good thing) and the continued pain, discomfort, and difficulty in life that I loathe but live in regularly because of my biology and medical history?  The answer is a simple one, but it isn’t easy: I just do.  I persevere because there is no other option. I get up every morning and ask the Master of the Universe to handle the things I can’t (and working in Congress is a lot of that).

The FENX was born of that tension, it’s helped answer some of the question of “how do we live  in this difficult space?”  If I didn’t have to live here, the need for the FENX wouldn’t exist; the future possibility of the “needs of the one meeting the needs of the many” might never even have been, and many of my crazy stories wouldn’t either.  As my friend Heather Zempel wrote recently, there is “Beauty in the Tension

My friend Andy Piscotti asked me this week what I might have to say if ever put in a “TED Talk” style situation as he was asking me my thoughts on this last Leadership  Summit.  more than anything thoughts on perseverance began to coalesce and he inspired me to get that on paper (or screen as it happens):

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Giving Life: Should have asked for that Midichlorian Count…

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes, Star Wars, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To break the chains of routine or elude the bonds of habit, sometimes people do something spontaneous, acting on a whim.  It’s never been better captured than in the words of Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory:  “What’s Life without Whimsy?”  I did a bit of that this week when I decided to give blood for the first time.  I know it doesn’t sound all that earth shattering, but when you’re the one who tried to give blood in High School and were told “there’s not enough ‘you’ in you” – I think the reference was to a lack of mass multiplied by the acceleration of gravity, not a lack of awesome – then being of the proper combination of those two components is “kinda a big deal”.

My apprehension grew when I started investigating the whole procedure, wanting to make sure that I wasn’t missing a step somewhere.  Asking a donor to bring a list of all the pills you’re currently taking gave me pause as I scribbled it all out on a post-it I ended up not needing (thought that might knock me out of the running – first physics, now biology…you’d think I hated science, but then there are probably folks who would want my blood for the very reason of what was in it…).  Is it bad when one of the volunteers tells you they’re ready to start and you’re not because you are intently reading the list of medications to make sure you aren’t taking something that would prevent you from donating?   (At least my Mom will smile and laugh internally if she ever reads that; because I almost always read that sort of stuff…comprehension is another matter.)  Then came the questions.  Some folks are probably glad that you answer them on a computer because answering yes to some of that stuff to another person could be embarrassing, then again if I answered those questions the person asking might think I grew up in Puritania, Peralandra, or some other non-Earth place that CS Lewis wrote about (hint: I think that really only leaves one).

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Life As Story: I never thought I would actually read a book by Donald Miller.

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes, FENX 4.0, NBC News, Star Trek, Star Wars | 2 Comments

I really like books; I like owning them, having shelves full of them, and reading them.  I’m currently in the midst of four separate books between various small groups and my own personal reading.  I started reading Frank Peretti at 11 years old and started collecting the Star Wars expanded Universe at 12; 17 years later my Star Wars  novels count is well over 80 and takes up three shelves of one of my bookcases.  I was obsessed with Christian apocalyptic fiction for most of Jr. High and High School thanks to the Left Behind books (but I won’t say anything more about that – except that I never finished the whole series).  When looking at my bookshelves, I never expected for it to hold a book by Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz (which is going to be released as a theatrical film soon)JRR Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, G.P. Taylor, Chuck Colson, and two series on Philosophy and Popular Culture (Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers, Terminator, Green Lantern, Batman, X-MEN, Battlestar Galactica, 24, LOST) sure, you’d find those, but Donald Miller?  Wasn’t he the guy that the “cool kids” read, those on the 21st Century cutting edge of Christianity?  Yeah, that was way too “Christian Hipster” for me when I actually thought about it, and I honestly would have rather read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books if given the choice (which I own but  haven’t finished).

All that changed one night a few weeks ago.  It was a cold Tuesday night and I’d just finished leading a C.S. Lewis reading group called “The Inklings” (what else would you call it?) when I ran into my friend Andy.  We hadn’t seen one another since the Leadership retreat for National Community Church a few weeks prior, so we got to talking.  Before we knew it we got talking about dreams, destiny, and how it takes intense conflict and perseverance to make a good story (all in “epic superhero/comic book movie” context as well as some of my own life story).  All of the sudden a light goes on inside Andy’s mind and he asks me “Have you ever read Donald Miller?”  I said “no”, and I wasn’t so eager to begin.    Andy began to explain that he understood my hesitation, as he didn’t like Donald Miller either, at first.  It wasn’t until he read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years that his perspective began to change (and he has now lead multiple smallgroups though this book).  In fact, my friend believed so much that I should read this book that he bought me a copy and had it sent to my house.  When that happens, you’ve got to give the book a shot because someone you respect sees it as a powerful vessel for wisdom, transformation, and change.  So I began reading.

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The FENX and the journey from the Moons of Nibia to the planet Vulcan: The Converese of an Idea

Posted on by Aaron in FENX 4.0, Star Trek | 3 Comments

Author’s note: I’m spoiling the plot for a few of the original Star Trek films here, so if you have never seen them and plan to, stop. reading. now.

The genesis of a blog post will often come in like The Flash, swift and mind jarring, and at the most random times.  Recently I was thinking back to a few summers ago when a local cinema in Washington, DC was showing some of the original Star Trek films at midnight in preparation for the imminent release of the reboot directed by J.J. Abrams.  As such, when some friends of mine asked if I wanted to go see Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Kahn with them at midnight I couldn’t turn down the offer to see the finest film in the series on the silver screen, as it was released shortly before I was born.  Over the years I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the film (and it’s sequel) because of how it handles issue of life, death, loss, love, and responsibility (or lack thereof) and the reality that “no one is ever safe” in the midst of characters that for many are synonymous with popular culture.

The tale begins with Admiral James Kirk overseeing a batch of cadets at Starfleet Academy undergoing the Kobyashi Maru scenario, a test of command ability that everyone fails.  It’s Kirk’s birthday and he struggles with aging and riding a desk job instead of exploring the galaxy from the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise.  Soon enough, they are asked to take the Enterprise on a mission with the training crew of cadets to investigate an incident at a Federation starbase, Regula I.  Meanwhile, another Starfleet vessel, the U.S.S. Reliant, has been hijacked by an old enemy of Kirk’s, an enemy bent on revenge for actions from 15 years prior.  This enemy comes across knowledge of the Genesis Device – technology that can create life from lifelessness (as well as the reverse), which happens to have been created and stewarded by an old flame of  Admiral Kirk’s and the son Kirk never knew.  After a brutal battle fueled by the rage of his old enemy, Kirk’s best friend makes a great sacrifice to keep the  “ship…out of danger…” telling James that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one” and the film concludes with the hope of new life from lifelessness.

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The FENX and Strange Encounters: The Question of the Greater Miracle

Posted on by Aaron in FENX 4.0, NBC News | 2 Comments

Author’s Note:  Penned almost 4 years ago, I still think about this event a lot, considering the controversy that ignited over the events in Florida the lady was referring to, and have really been considering it in the last week.  The Greater Miracle is often the harder road, the road bearing footprints you can see because it’s not paved, but few prints to follow.  When I wrote this the FENX IV wasn’t finished, Carl Sear at NBC hadn’t called yet, I didn’t know pro-life television existed, and I certainly didn’t know who Chris Rush or Zack Arnold were, and wasn’t thinking about articles written in Roll Call.  Almost four years later, some of this path makes more sense than it did in Spring 2008.  How big is God to you?  Is He big enough to NOT do something you want because there is a larger story being written, even in your own life?

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The FENX and the First Book: The Question of Job

Posted on by Aaron in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reading through the Book of Job again, as I was two years ago when I first wrote what follows, we’ll see if my thoughts have changed…

I just finished reading though the Book of Job. It’s a fair assessment to say that Job is a pretty depressing book and certainly not on a typical top-ten list of “Favorite Books of the Bible” – I wonder what mine might be? Anyway, why isn’t it? Obviously, because it details to great degree with real calamity and suffering which Job endured. To the American mind, suffering is a bad thing, something we don’t want for various reasons (it hurts, makes life hard, it’s not part of the American dream); yet some don’t get to live life on “easy” or “normal” or use cheat codes. So often when these things happen to people we read about, people we know, or ourselves we ask one question – WHY?

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The FENX and Scott Pilgrim: A Hero for the 21st Century vs. The League of Evil Ex’s?

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Author’s Note:  Thoughts on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (via a Facebook note) after it’s release in 2010; great movie.

Anyone who knows me knows that I really enjoy heroes, comic books, and video-games. Now if someone can successfully turn that into a movie, I am all in. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is all this and more. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on the six volume comic book saga of the same name, volume six having just recently released in the last month. In truth, I have not read the comic books yet, so I do not know how well it follows the source material.

In the film, Scott Pilgrim (played perfectly by Michael Cera) is a 22 year old bass player in a band with some friends from high school. The band’s desire is to make it big, to sign with a producer everyone calls “G-man” and Scoot is dating Knives Chow a high school senior. Enter Ramona Flowers, a roller-blading punk girl with wild hair colors that Scott really wants to date. The audience soon learns that in order to date Ramona Flower, Scott Pilgrim has to fight and defeat Ramoa’s seven evil exes (a.k.a. The League of Evil Exes). It’s a riot to watch Scott Pilgrim go one-on one with with Lucas Lee (played by Chris Evans – Fantastic Four’s Human Torch and soon to play Captain America) and Todd the Bass Player (played by Brandon Routh; Superman in Superman Returns). I particularly enjoyed the “Bass Battle”. Some are going to see this as romantic-comedy-esque, because yes, romance is one of it’s main themes, and it’s a very funny movie. As someone who doesn’t like romantic comedies all that much, I actually like this (battling a League of Evil Exes who all have superpowers to win the heart of a girl; who doesn’t?).

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The FENX and the Last Son: Long Live the House of EL

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes | Leave a comment

Author’s Note:  This is a post/note written for Facebook in May 2011 at the conclusion  of Smallville on television.  Since then, it has been announced that Smallville will be continuing in comic book form from where it left off at the end of the 10 season finale.

As Bilbo once said, “I’m going now, this is the end; goodbye”  For Smallville fans, that was last night.  For the past decade the world has watched the story of how Clark Kent of Smallville, the Last Son of the planet Krypton, became Superman, the Man of Steel.   I have watched the show since shortly after it began, and have enjoyed it.  In this appreciation I am not alone – as my whole family watches it too – from my parents and brother to an aunt and uncle who are pretty much Lois and Clark in real life (my Uncle looks like Christopher Reeve).  While some enjoy the early seasons more, being a fan of the entire Superman mythos, I enjoyed the latter seasons to a greater degree once characters like Brainiac, Zod, Darkseid, and the fledgling Justice League (JLA) came into play.  (I also wonder how the latter seasons might have differed if Miles and Millar had stayed on as showrunners…as most of what I would consider missteps have occurred within the last three seasons).

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