Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fall in Love with the Future.

My brother sent me this image, today. He and I are both huge fans of Ray Bradbury; we both spent a great deal of our childhood buried in his books and short stories.

As an aside, my brother is actually the inspiration for the name of this blog. He currently has several dozen hours worth of tattoos on his person - including an octopus at the lower end of a half sleeve, and a squid on his neck. I often ask him how his cephalopods are doing, and he typically informs me that they're doing wonderfully. He wants to add a nautilus to his collection, and I hold out hope that a cuttlefish will eventually join them.

Cephalopods are neat.

But back to Ray Bradbury and his letter.

When I was young I was enamored with science fiction. The first television shows I remember seeing are the old Adam West Batman series, and the original Star Trek - both in syndication at the time. A few months before my 7th birthday, Star Trek: The Next Generation began to air.

I also read voraciously. I consumed any book I could get my hands on, and before I was out of grade school Nancy Drew and The Babysitters club had already been replaced by 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and Sherlock Holmes. Other girls my age read a never ending parade of stories about horses and crushes on boys and hairstyles while I sat quietly in my room reading about aliens, time travel, robots, and super heroes. As my parents became increasingly religious (they were "born again" when I was a few years old) the media I had access to became increasingly limited. Any sort of secular books were replaced with religious stories that were, frankly, completely insipid even if they weren't all about god. No matter the book, the story was: "Good-christian-child has a bible lesson. Good-christian-child does something bratty or obnoxious in a situation that somehow mirrors the previously studied lesson. Something unpleasant happens, like good-christian-child is picked last for something, or the friend they were bratty and obnoxious to stops talking to them, or they just don't get everything they've ever wanted handed to them. Good-christian-child asks adult why bad or unpleasant thing happened. Adult repeats initial bible lesson. Good-christian-child Learns Something, I guess, and does whatever the verse originally said they should. Good-christian-child then gets everything they want." Every childrens/tween/teen book that has ever been released by a christian publishing house is like an episode of Full House if you replace Uncle Jesse and Joey with Jesus and the Apostle Paul.

I could always get away with science fiction, though. I would imagine this was because my dad was a fan - particularly of Star trek. That made me love it all the more. Fantasy began to become more and more closed off to me, as a genre. Magic was satanic, you see.

But science had not yet come under fire (and never really did) in my household. Science became my magic. Daydreams of fairies and unicorns were replaced by aliens and DeLoreans. While other kids were watching he-man and she-ra, my brother and I were often (and inconsistently) limited to things like 3-2-1 Contact, Bill Nye and Mr. Wizard.

All the while the armageddon-rapture-torture-fantasy was gaining momentum in the churches we attended.

While church was telling me we had no future, only misery, destruction, and revenge, science and its strange and wonderful cousin science fiction were telling me that the future would be wondrous.

I'm actually a bit sad that so much of what's popular in science fiction, right now, is dystopian in nature. I honestly long for sci-fi that doesn't take itself quite so seriously, and aims to show us the best side of humanity rather than posing the question who's really the monster, here. The Stargate franchise has grown increasingly dark to keep up with series' such as Battlestar Galactica. You keep your Walking Dead, and I'll enjoy my Doctor Who from the safety of behind-my-couch, thankyouverymuch.

I'd probably feel better about the whole thing if Douglas Adams were still alive.

Back to the point, Bizzaro Christianity has a morbid fascination with despair. Don't live in the now, because the now isn't as important as where you're going, and this is all transitory because the real you isn't this you at all. The future so many of them currently look to, however, will bring horrific suffering and torture for anybody they happen to not like. Wherever they look, it's agonizing or meaningless.

I don't abide it. The you is who you are, and that's a wonderful gift that should never be minimized. Science and progress move us inevitably onward, no matter how much fundamentalists drag their heels and protest. The future will come, and if humanity gets to be there, it will be fantastic. We'll understand so much more than we do now, and we'll have found so many new mysteries to explore.

Fall in Love with the Future.

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