Picard and the Podcast

2 Jan

I must admit, I am a Star Trek fan. I am not dressing up like a Klingon and going to conventions, but I have liked most of the movies and various spin-off series of the show. One movie most true fans do not like is the movie Generations. This movie was an attempt in the mid 1990’s to merge some of the cast from the original series with the cast of the Next Generation series. Of course, such an attempt made for a convoluted story line and the various plot holes were what drew most of the ire from devoted fans. Nevertheless, there are many excellent individual scenes and one of those is the one I link below.

If you haven’t seen this movie (spoiler alert) an energy ribbon called the Nexus destroys everything in its path while transporting people into a kind of problem free alternate reality. This ribbon is threatening two ships and Captain Kirk attempts to save the ships. He saves many people but is lost in an accident and presumed dead. One of those saved, a man named Soran, desperately wanted to stay in the Nexus and after being saved devoted himself to returning to the Nexus. The movie flashes forward to the time of Picard, where Soran is still working on getting back into the Nexus. Picard tries to stop him, only to be drawn into the Nexus himself. This clip is what Picard experiences in the Nexus.

Now what does this have to do with anything? Well, in recent years we have experienced the phenomenon of the podcast. You can listen to any great preacher in the world at any time of the day. You can listen to a 1978 John MacArthur message one day and to the best of the Passion conference another day. You can hear John Piper’s voice change from the early 80’s to today. You can hear such great teaching all the time, great worship music, just a click away. Great books are everywhere, many free to read online.

It’s like the Nexus, a problem-free alternate reality. A rich reality but not real. You can put in your earbuds listen and, as Guinan says, “It’s as real as you want it to be.” None of the effort of really reading your Bible with a meditative heart. None of the messiness of listening to a flesh and blood preacher with all his flaws and being in a church with all its flaws. None of the struggle of walking with a people of God through the years in the joys and trials of life together. “Time has no meaning here.” You can listen to MacArthur and Piper and others without regard to the struggles their own church fellowships have endured.

It is not wrong to listen to podcasts and take advantage of the great resources online. Like Picard marveling at his children, we can be blessed by the truths we hear and read online. But we can’t live in the Nexus. There comes a time when we, like Captain Picard, have to say, “This isn’t real. This can’t be right.” Every day, we have to say to the online world, at least for a good portion of our day, “Go on without me.” We have to leave the Nexus and live in the real world. It will be more complicated and difficult but there are real battles to be fought and real lives to be influenced and real joys to be found.

In the new year, will you and I live with people in church and out with all the uncomfortable unpredictability of life in God’s hands, or will we live with headphones on and screens in hand, ignoring all but the Nexus of our own creation, helpful to no one but oh so assured of our spirituality?

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