Daily Archives: May 20, 2013

Massive Tornado: Pray and Do Something to Help the People of Oklahoma

2509863_G

This week has been a rough week for many locales in the Midwest with serve weather and an outbreak of tornados. Ground zero for many of these storms has been the State of Oklahoma, the center of we call “Tornado Ally” and today that state, particularly the suburban communities around Oklahoma City were devastated by what might be one of the most powerful tornados ever to hit an American city. Ground zero was the city of Moore Oklahoma, no stranger to such weather having been hit by major tornados in 1998, 1999 and 2004. Today’s tornado is estimated to be at least an EF-4 with winds of 160 miles an hour and some estimate that it could be an EF-5, the strongest category of tornado with winds of 200 miles an hour cutting a swath of destruction a mile wide at the base of the tornado and a path 20 miles long. It was on the ground about minutes hitting its crescendo as hit struck Moore. Whole neighborhoods are destroyed with only driveways and foundations remaining.

article-2328000-19E6E2DE000005DC-495_964x658

 

See the time lapse video on NBC News: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news/51945473/#51945473

article-2328000-19E6B121000005DC-567_964x613

The casualties continue to mount. At least 51 are known dead and hundreds injured at the present time and the toll is certain to mount. The areas hit included residential areas as well as schools and hospitals. Two schools received direct hits and one of those schools has reported that students were killed. The major hospital in the city was destroyed and now unable to operate. First responders in many cases are often victims themselves and quite possibly will return to their homes and find that they no longer exist. Lives destroyed and disrupted and property destroyed or severely damaged.  The people in Oklahoma are incredibly resilient and tough but they will need help from other Americans, both through the Federal and State Governments but also from various relief agencies such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army Disaster Services and other agencies who are trained and equipped to give aid.

article-2328000-19E6E2D3000005DC-904_964x732

This happened to our fellow citizens, Americans. These are American citizens just as other Americans were impacted by Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, the city of Joplin Missouri destroyed by a tornado much like the one that hit Oklahoma today. In other places in this country whole areas have been devastated by flooding along the Mississippi, Red  and Missouri Rivers, and earthquakes like the one that hit the San Francisco Bay area in 1989.

article-2328000-19E71083000005DC-929_964x535

I have been through tornados, major hurricanes and severe earthquakes. I have provided emergency assistance directing an emergency shelter for a hurricane and post disaster counseling to staff members of a school destroyed by a tornado. All things being equal I would rather go through an earthquake or hurricane any day of the week before I ever want to go through another tornado. There is something unearthly in the way they wreak devastation, almost a terrible randomness as to where they hit and what survives and does not.

mooreoklahomatornado

Please pray for those affected and do what you can to help. To do so through the Red Cross either go to their website www.redcross.org or text REDCROSS 90999. To do so through the Salvation Army go to their website https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/uss/eds/aok or text “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone; to confirm your gift, respond with the word “Yes.” A state religious group, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma is also providing relief services and those that want to donate to them can do so through their website at http://www.bgco.org/ministries/disaster-relief/donate-to-disaster-relief

Of course there are other ways to give but those are the first that came to my mind and ones that I believe will be able to respond quickly.

article-2328000-19E724A4000005DC-940_964x718

Please, these are Americans. I know that last year when Sandy hit the East Coast that some pundits and politicians did what they could to obstruct aid to the affected areas citing their “principles.” However to me it doesn’t matter if an American is a Republican or Democrat, if a State is a “Red State” or a “Blue State” but rather that they are Americans and that as Americans we are either in this together or we are not. As a Christian I cannot simply say that person is not my neighbor because they do not vote like me, share my faith or live in a different part of the country. They are my neighbors and if you are an American they are yours. Please do what you can to help through private means and encourage your representatives to speed Federal assistance to the people of Oklahoma and other areas hit by these terrible storms.

Peace

Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under natural disasters, News and current events

Star Trek: Into Darkness

I saw Star Trek: Into Darkness yesterday and as I mentioned in my last article about the subject last week I did promise that I would do a review of it when I saw it. So I saw the movie and to sum up my experience in the words of Spock it was “fascinating.”

star_trek_into_darkness-HD

Now the “Prime Directive” of writing a movie review of a recently released film is not to give away spoilers and I will not violate the Prime Directive.

I saw the film in its 3D format in a nice theater. I have come to enjoy the 3D experience as the technology continues to improve. Director JJ Abrams has put together one of the best Star Trek films of all time. I have been watching the Star Trek franchise since the very beginning of the original series when I was a kid and continued watching TOS in the early days of syndication before the first film Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released in December 1979 when I was a sophomore in college.

Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_32

Needless to say I am a big fan of the franchise as a whole and having seen every movie, every episode of TOS, TNG, DS9, most of Voyager I have to consider that I am a Trekkie, Trekker or whatever label that you want to give me. The only series that I have not seen except for a few episodes was Enterprise because I was deployed or traveling on various other military duties around the world through much of its run. The times I was home it was hard to find because the local television stations didn’t carry it.

When I was a teen ager I read most of the TOS novels that came out in paperback and when TNG came out I read quite a few of those as well. Each one kind of expanded my Trek experience, and at one time I think I had most if not all of the TOS and TNG Technical Manuals.

My preferences in the Star Trek franchise have been the TOS, TNG and DS9 series, the last of which I am currently watching in order. I watched every TNG episode in order between the end of the 2012 World Series and Opening Day 2013 before beginning DS9 which I am now into Season 5. I figure that I will get Voyager when I finish DS9. I missed a lot of Voyager episodes due to deployment or working nights in civilian hospitals.

As far as the previous movies they have been a hit or miss affair for me. Of the Original Series films I was not a big fan either of Star Trek the Motion Picture or Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was okay for me but the three films that I can watch almost any day of the week are Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to which the new film has some interesting connections, as well as Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. However my favorite of these has to be The Wrath of Khan and the TOS episode that is sprung from Space Seed. As for the films associated with Star Trek the Next Generation I found First Contact and Nemesis to be the best, but overall found the television series much better than the films.

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-25

All that being said I have said almost nothing about the new film as of yet. I loved the first film in the reboot of the series, Star Trek which came out in 2009. I liked the casting, the story line which broke the old time line and paradigm which allowed the new series to take on a life of its own even which keeping connection to other parts of the series. Because to this the possibilities that Abrams and his team have opened up are very “Roddenberry” and the new film has the feel of what I think Gene Roddenberry might have imagined for the future of the series.

star trek into darkness 650 paramount

The fact is that Roddenberry was not afraid to break the molds of his own creation. He killed Spock, destroyed the Enterprise and took the story with a different cast to a different century. As the creator of the series he was not afraid to take risks and to take the series to places that many fans could not have imagined. I can only imagine that after 10 feature films involving two separate series and 703 television episodes in one timeline spanning 5 separate series that Roddenberry would approve of the new life that Abrams and his team have give to the series.

star-trek-movie

I found that the cast is really beginning to gel as the crew of the Enterprise. Even though they are different actors each has captured the spirit of characters of the Original Series. Chris Pine as Captain Kirk is younger but believable as Kirk. We see the defiant and independent nature of Kirk in his performance. Zachary Quinto as Spock is as close to perfect as to how I imagine Spock could be in the new timeline. The appearances of Leonard Nimoy as Spock Prime and his interactions with Quinto’s Spock are priceless. My favorites in the other characters brought over from the Original Series are Bones McCoy played by Karl Urban and Scotty played by Simon Pegg. Sulu played by John Cho, Uhura played by Zoe Saldana and Chekov played by Anton Yelchin are all good in their parts but because the characters are only seen briefly in each of the films they are harder to get to know, unlike the cast members of either TOS or TNG who were known to fans through their respective series before they appeared in any of the films.

HH

As far as the villain of the film, initially known as John Harrison played by Benedict Cumberbatch is as good of villain as you can get in Star Trek, but then he too is reprised from the TOS series, better known as…. No won’t say it, it would violate the Prime Directive, even though you can look it up somewhere else like the the Internet Movie Data Base at www.imdb.com Because of what Abrams does with this part of the story line a whole new set of possibilities remains open regarding this villain in future episodes and Cumberbatch was an excellent villain that I would not mind seeing again should they decide to reprise his role.

Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_Torpedoes_Drones.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-large

The story line is excellent, especially in light of 12 years of war following the terrorist attacks of 9-11-2001. I think one think that transcends the terrific action and special effects of the movie is how it is possible for those defending the ideal of freedom to cross the line into tyranny when they believe freedom might be threatened. It really is a fascinating metaphor that is important, because the darkness referred to in the title is not really the outside threats to freedom, but the threat harbored in each of us when we give in to the temptation to not ask the hard questions about the morality of our own actions that we take in the defense of our freedoms.

trek19n-2-web

Abrams dedicates the film to the post 9-11 veterans and that is something that I appreciate because he backs that up by working with the charity The Mission Continues. Abrams had 6 veterans form the honor guard folding the flag at the somber memorial service scene at the end of the movie, something that most of us who have served over the past 12 years have seen or participated in too many. For me that was especially touching.

Anyway, I don’t think that any fan of Star Trek can go wrong in seeing this film and it may help bring new fans into the fold by sending them back to watch the series that helped begin everything in the Star Trek universe.

Live Long and Prosper,

Peace

Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under film, star trek