It’s my “fourth” birthday on WordPress; I figured I ought to commemorate it.
I’ve been busy studying theology, brushing up on psychology, delving into the philosophies of the great humanists of the 1500s, doing extensive reading on the history and politics of the period, and writing endlessly about it, which means I’m not sure what to do with this space. It occurred to me that I could redefine it as a history-heavy zone, with particular thoughts as to my writing process; then I thought I could define it as a philosophical zone. But I’m not entirely sure I want to sink that much energy into either one, nor do I feel entirely comfortable doing both in the same space. My life teems with many different things, but I’m not sure they all belong on one blog… where one moment I’m discussing N.T. Wright, and the next post I’m ranting about historical events. Success is generally centered around specializing on one thing at a time, and I’m not sure which one I want to succeed at.
So, in the meantime I’ll say that I was never more fortunate than when I nabbed a Roku and hooked it up to Amazon Prime. The first two episodes of The Man in the High Castle are out, and my little sci-fi/history mashup loving heart is just thrilled to pieces. The premise is “what if the Nazis had won WWII?” America is divided between Japan and Germany. Hitler is about to die, which means the Germans and the Japanese will soon be at war again over the divided US territories. And then there’s that pesky Resistance, those Americans who refuse to give in without a fight and hold onto the dream that maybe they can rescue their nation from the clutches of evil.
There’s a lot going on in these two episodes but what struck me was the harrowing truth behind them; a society in which a few are rebellious and driven to pursue what is morally right, and a larger group that enables evil to remain in power because it is fearful of its own destruction… and finally, those who are resigned to it, and passively accept this new regime, which includes firing up those good old Nazi ovens for the infirm and fatally ill every Tuesday. The modern stomach rebels at the thought, even as our eyes bug out as we watch the Japanese calmly lock a family in a room and threaten the uncle with gassing his sister and her children if he doesn’t give them the information they want.
Beyond this, though, was the theme of HOPE… part of the plot revolves around circulating banned film reels showing the defeat of the Nazis and “what if the Americans had won the war?” The characters puzzle over why these films should be important, since they can literally do nothing against either Japan nor Germany, but what they fail to realize is that these prints instill in them that thing called ‘hope’ which has throughout the generations striven to make humans take risks in an attempt to bring about a better world. If you can strip someone of hope, you have defeated them; but so long as a spark of it burns, evil can never utterly triumph. It’s a powerful but subtle message for the current culture, which may at times think that hope is lost and that things will never improve. If we have hope, we can shift the tide and find our courage.
At the heart of it is a budding love story… and the end of the pilot episode has a twist so big it literally had me screaming at my television with admiration. I don’t know where the story is headed, if the series will remain as good as it is so far, or if it will cross some line in the future into distasteful instead of inventive, but waiting until November 20th to get more episodes is going to be difficult.
(So far, the content’s not bad, except for some strong language, including f-words, and some partial nudity in prison, along with some violence; but the camera shies away from anything too brutal. If they can just keep smut out of it, I’ll be delighted. I’m getting pretty sick of graphic sex scenes on television.)