The FENX and the First Class

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Warning: Spoilers and Continuity issues ahead!

Recently I went to see X-Men: First Class the 20th Century Fox/Marvel prequel/reboot of the X-Men movie franchise. Even though I am an unabashed comic book/superhero fan I rarely offer my thoughts in a written review on such movies, but a recent discussion with a wise friend of mine has convinced me otherwise (as well as my own adventures as a Xavier-esque character with the FENX).

This particular X-Men outing is produced by Bryan Singer (the director of the first two X-Men films, and the ones I enjoy the most) and directed by Matthew Vaughn (who previously directed Kick Ass and was originally going to direct X-Men 3: The Last Stand after Singer left – but he too left the project) so creating a comic book movie isn’t something new for either of them.

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The FENX and Wounds: Thoughts on a piece of wisdom from A.W. Tozer

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Over the last few months I’ve begun to listen to sermons given by Matt Chandler, lead pastor of The Village Church in Texas. This morning, as I was listening to his sermon series on Habakkuk he quoted something he attributed to Martin Luther while it’s really something offered up by A.W. Tozer: “It is doubtful whether God can use a man greatly, until first He wounds him deeply.” Now I don’t know if this is true in one-hundred percent of cases (therefore I can’t say it’s a law in the same way the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is a law – always true in very case) but in my life it appears to be truth. I also wonder if the term “wound” is synonymous with “burden” – it would seem that it could work out as such. These deep wounds in my experience are often things which, as a result of carrying said wound, forces an individual into closer proximity and deeper understanding of both themselves and the Heavenly Father, the Creator and Master of the Universe. This proximity is something He desires for us but we don’t desire for ourselves because of the sacrifice and/or pain that is often required to bring someone to a point wherein an epiphany occurs: alone, you cannot hold your own life together – you are in need of something more (and He IS that something more) in order to cope with the difficult thing life WILL hand to you. When this realization occurs, often amidst trial, then closer proximity to Him can follow. (Not to say that it cannot happen otherwise, but the crucible of trial is often the best teacher; it is why what the Apostle Paul has to say about suffering – In Romans 5 – will ALWAYS be leagues better than anything Jedi Master Yoda can come up with.)

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The FENX and the Chris Rush Project

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It is rare for me to come across something that I find so compelling that I have to act. A good friend of mine recently commented to me that we often come in contact with situations which impress upon us and move us, but they do not impact us enough to actually do something about it. For some it’s poverty and/or homelessness. For others, like Mike and Heather Colletto, it’s the trafficking and subsequent slavery of another human being – the robbing of another of that individuals’ inherent dignity bestowed upon them by the Creator by seeing them as less than human and ensnaring them in to a life of bondage either by deception or force. Still, for others it is the sacredness of human life – especially the unborn. This is a cause to which I have attached myself, along with countless other friends and strangers. In the midst of ALL that seems to be transpiring in our great Nation over this issue in the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a particular “sub-issue’ which isn’t addressed all that often, maybe because it gets wrapped up into the various facets of the larger issues at play within the Pro-Life Cause. This crucial “sub-issue” is the “quality of life” for individuals with medical conditions, physical challenges, handicaps, disabilities – call it what you like.

Previously, I wrote about my experience being interviewed on this very subject by an Emmy-winning pro-life television show, because of my life experiences, trials, and triumphs with Cerebral Palsy. Since that interview four weeks ago to the day, this issue of quality of life, the importance of it, and the lies surrounding it have been made starker than ever before.

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The FENX and the Trenches

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If there’s something I have learned over the last five years since my college days, it is that REAL Life is hard. I know it’s true because of the clever ways we as human beings try and evade and or escape such a reality. I do it with video games, comic books, and distractions of general geekery – yes, sometimes adventures with the FENX is that needed distraction. Others vie for the same sort of escapism by way of choices and substances that are magnitudes more destructive. Many of us escape though movies (guilty – Neverending Story, anyone, anyone). Who hasn’t felt like Bastian, Alex Rogan, or Luke Skywalker at some point in their life? Sometimes life throws us huge curveballs, challenges we didn’t see coming (that’s no moon…). One could argue that my entire existence has been exactly that for my family.

I’ve spent a lot of the last five years (since college at Cedarville University) walking in various valleys amidst some pretty high and steep mountains. While those mountains have been fewer, the freshness and clarity upon the apex is a marvel unto its own. I’ve trudged though tough trenches of pain and veered though dark vortexes of confusion, wondering if and when difficult aspects of my life will change or cease all-together (they haven’t yet). Aside from facing the pain, discomfort, and difficult head-on and try and bend it to the might of will power and tenacity (fueled by Christ in me, the hope of Glory – this is the banner we raise – I know no other way) the toughest part of any trial is to face it alone.

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The FENX and the White Warlock (Old Man Winter)

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Imagine for a brief moment that you are standing on the sidewalk in a busy city as the snow falls fast and the wind whips, grasping at you with icy talons. All of the sudden in the midst of nature’s temper-tantrum of frigid pandemonium emerges a clean aerodynamic form as it roars past; you cannot see into it and whoever (or whatever) might be within its confines (presumably) cannot see out of it. What are you thinking in that moment? What do you do? How do you react? Do you suddenly think we aren’t alone in the vast cosmos? A week ago that was me. I wasn’t the bewildered bystander though, I was the unseen one inside the all white alien form, and that form was the FENX.

Last week was baptism by snow as I slowly made my way home across the treacherous “Hothscape” that Washington, DC had transformed into over a matter of hours one afternoon. The government shut down around 3 pm that afternoon and I left “early” at 5 – already too late as I would soon learn. As I locked myself into the FENX; inserted keys; flipped switches to activate displays and check lights; set the Blue-tooth on the phone so I could catch-up on Star Wars: The Clone Wars Round-table discussions, all of this was routine but I knew this was going to be an adventure and visions of The Empire Strikes Back started to dance across my cortex. The snow was falling and it was sticking to the FENX with no place to go. Before too long I was having a tough time seeing and often opened the canopy so I knew where I was headed. My memorized route was being altered by law enforcement as there was too much snow to know what to do with and I was praying safety a mile a minute even though the FENX is a veteran survivor of storms (but of the summer sort). As I slowly went along the weight of the snow gave my muscles a run for their money in lifting the viewport for sight (but I empathized with Luke Skywalker’s plight of the downed Snowspeeder and trying to open the canopy to escape the oncoming Imperial Walker). I can only imagine what passersby must have thought as they saw me roll by. In the end (thanks to much evident grace) I made it safely home and away from the world of Wampas outside. I knew the White Warlock of Old Man Winter had returned and caught me unawares; thus one of my greatest enemies had returned and our struggle began once again – and I was clearly losing.

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The FENX and the Media

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Life so far has been full of many crazy (some even fantastic – in the older sense of the word) adventures. As much as this shouldn’t surprise me considering I read things like Dune, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings – and thoroughly enjoy the TRON universe – many times it does. Worth is one of the greatest things humanity struggles with (both internally and externally; self worth and the worth of another) and I sometimes wonder if I am worthy of the adventure I find myself on. From a proper perspective of humility in relation to the Creator and Master of the universe, I’m not – but rather blessed to be on said journey.

Greatest amongst the recent adventures is obviously The FENX Project. I was reminded of this a few nights ago when I had dinner with Carl Sears and his wife Sheila. Carl is the producer behind the NBC News story on Dad, The FENX and I and his wife is the one who helped “discover” us on that late summer night in 2009 when I was driving home from the Capitol and her camera crew spied something coming toward them which they considered to possibly be a UFO, and in a sense the FENX was – in being an unidentifiable object flying past them. (To my friends to who secretly wonder if I’m really from somewhere else, here’s your shot but I am sorry to disappoint.) At dinner we shared memories of that night in July and the surrounding circumstances when it came to working on the NBC project together, such wonderful people. I shared with them a number of unlikely stories involving places like the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Capitol Hill, and reactions from Members of Congress. It occurred to me, as it has many times, that I don’t lead a regular life – even if it seems so normal to me. (I’ve the Creator and my family to thank for that.)

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The FENX and Physicians…

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December: the greatest and worst month of the year. It’s a period of 31 days filled with great hope and wonder. The hope of a coming Savior now arrived and fulfilled. The wonder of grappling with those implications and seeing the bright faces of children during the season as it washes over them (or in some cases folks who just grow old but never bothered to grow up). It’s also filled with Winter, with snow, and with cold; the older I get the less I like that – it makes my life harder. In the midst of this period of days stand days long remembered, never forgotten. Every year I spend time reflecting on the two and a half weeks that changed my life, where a young boy persevered though pain and trial and came close enough to Death to shoot the Reaper’s eye out with a paintball gun; much better than a BB gun, I don’t care what a kid who stuck his tongue to a pole and yet wants said armament at Christmas says.

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The FENX and the Master(s) of the Universe: An excercise in Sovreignty

Posted on by Aaron in FENX 4.0, NBC News, Star Wars | Leave a comment

Two days from now I will be sitting at a table with (almost) my entire family eating turkey, enjoying their company, and reflecting on what I’ve been thankful for in 2010. It’s been a tough year in some respects, just like the previous year was. It’s sometimes easy for me to let the things that happen to me which are difficult or downright unjust crowd out everything else. I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons in 2010, lessons which the Master of the Universe sees fit to have me learn, lessons about identity; contentment; perseverance; trust; and owning who you are – embracing one’s destiny and calling no matter where it may lead, knowing it can alter and morph, even if it puts you in places you’d rather not be and you reside there longer than you want, often facing things which seek to damage the core of who you are, to diminish the person you are wired to be.

Passengers hate it when they are flying on a big commercial airplane and the captain comes over the speaker system to inform them the tower on the ground has put them in a holding pattern, forcing all those passengers on board to have to wait longer to reach their destination – and not one of the passengers on the plane has the power to change what is happening to them; the ultimate authority in air traffic gives a directive and it puts a wrench in things – I say this as someone who is flying home to celebrate thanksgiving and I’ll be at the airport a dozen hours from now. This is just on a plane; imagine such a scenario invading the rest of your life and not just your travel plans.

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Yellow Jackets, Airplane Passengers, The Force(cast) and The FENX

Posted on by Aaron in Cedarville University, FENX 4.0, NBC News, Star Wars | 1 Comment

Although it has been a month since I’ve written in this space it has been a very interesting and adventurous month for The FENX Project. Almost a month ago exactly NBC Nightly News went live with the piece produced by Carl Sears. Since then some very interesting things have happened:

1. Cedarville University has thankfully taken it upon themselves to promote the story in conjunction with a story on me earlier this year.

2. Other opportunities to tell the story of the FENX Project on radio and TV have arisen and right now I’m waiting to see if these opportunities come to fruition

3. I received an e-mail recently from a gentlemen whom I had met on a plane headed to Michigan for Easter this year (and wrote about here) telling me he got to see the FENX piece by NBC and showed it to all his family and friends – making sure they knew he met me on a plane.

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The Story of the FENX and NBC News II: Going Live

Posted on by Aaron in Cedarville University, FENX 4.0, NBC News | Leave a comment

Last Friday I received an unexpected but welcome e-mail from Carl Sears, the NBC Nightly News producer who has worked tirelessly to create the NBC story on The FENX Project started in 2004 by my Dad and I. (I wish all folks in the news business were as great as Carl has been.) In the body of the e-mail Carl informed me that the story had gone live on the Internet that morning and that it had been sent to all the local affiliates around the nation. To say I was surprised was an understatement – it had been over a year since the process of creating this news piece started and no one was sure if it would ever air (the hope was always there but the reality of the news business and the need to maintain continuity within a broadcast can make it tough).

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