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Don’t lead with your pain.

There’s been an unconscious mantra making rounds in my head for the last few months. Don’t lead with your pain. Simple enough as thoughts go. A complex algorithm as far as implementation goes. No matter where I begin my life story, death has a starring role… or at least a pivotal one. I’ve always thought so anyway. In recent months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell my story differently. What do I begin with? How do I punctuate or embellish? How do I include others in my current narrative?

In January, my company moved to a new location. The office space was shuffled like musical chairs and I was eager to meet and get to know new people – people I hadn’t been sitting near for the last five years. I’ve been making my rounds in the new office – chatting, dining, walking and cycling with people. Getting to know them from where I am now. Repeating to myself all along, don’t lead with your pain. Don’t mention Mom (dead). Don’t mention siblings (dead, dead, in prison, drug addict). Don’t mention dad (dead). Don’t mention singleness (lonely). Don’t mention friends (deserters). Don’t mention hopes (disappointment). Don’t mention dreams (deferred). Don’t mention ambition (dust). Don’t mention life (pointless).

It doesn’t sound as if I’m left with much, but I give thanks as often as I remember for the measure of joy, and faith God has blessed me with. These two things keep me going. They keep me moving. They add purpose to my days, my years, my life. I love conversation. There’s no pleasure like eating a good meal with good company and good company is revealed through good conversation. Walking in the fresh air brings peace and serenity even if for only the duration of the walk. And cycling has become the joy of my life. In sharing these activities, I have lead with my joy – simple everyday joy-filled moments. I have opened myself to begin new narratives with each new person I engage with.

I’m coming to embrace the idea that my story doesn’t have to be about me, ergo my pain. Perhaps my story is the prologue to our story. Our individual stories flow into the multiplicity of us. How do we begin? Where to do we start? What are we leading with?

Just a thought, but everything begins with death, darkness, or a void.

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. {Genesis 1:1-2}

Be blessed as you go.


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Joan Rivers: Die Laughing

A Pop Culture vs. The Bible Post

I think comedians are innately sad people. Or rather people who started their comedic journey as an effort to hide or heal themselves. Usually, you can hear in the way they express their humor which they are attempting to do. Hiders usually lash out – they have a sharp, harsh humor, most likely at someone else’s expense. Healers usually attempt first to be understood – they will share their experiences in as universal a way as possible.

I didn’t know what to think about Robin Williams when his death was reported. I was certainly disconcerted hearing that he had taken his own life, but I wasn’t surprised. I’ve learned through my own trials that the loudest laughs chortled through the deepest sorrow. It wasn’t until Joan Rivers died that I understood better the nuance I couldn’t quite put my finger on with Robin. He was a healer. He was a gifted comedian who created a space to bring forth genuine laughter. A true sadness of his death is that, in that unalterable moment, he allowed his gloom to overcome his gift.

The Friday following Joan Rivers’ death I watched two hours of televised tributes to her. I didn’t laugh once.

Initially, I watched out of curiosity. After a while, I was repelled by disgust. By the end of the second hour, I was quite sad for the life she had lived.

Bitter. Self-hater. Shallow. Unfulfilled. These words describe her own commentary about her life and career.

Iconic. Legendary. Trailblazer. These are the words her friends, admirers and reporters used in their commentary regarding her. They wanted to be like her. Many interviewed for the tribute specials, credited Joan  with their success; they didn’t think they would be where they were had she not gone before. Yet in the same specials, Joan herself rejected their praise disdainfully. However, she desperately wanted everyone’s adulation.

In her own words, Joan wanted the end of her life to look like the excesses of Hollywood culture.

Joan Rivers. When I die quote.png
from “I Hate Everyone…Starting with Me” by Joan Rivers, 2012

Perhaps that’s the saddest thing to me and it speaks volumes about what she valued most in her life. She wanted to be seen. She wanted to make headlines. She wanted to be photographed and sang over by other celebrities. I understand that she was a comedian and irreverence was her Schlick,  but regardless of what she did and what she believed, words have creative power. She painted a portrait of a woman who was never satisfied with who she was, what she had achieved or what she had. She lived in fear of going broke, being rejected,  and not being wanted or loved. Truthfully, if I allowed fear to ride me, those would be the top incapacitators. You may have similar fears (of varying degrees). This is not uncommon. However, not all of us tear other people down in order to hide our own insecurities.

Joan Rivers. I Hate Everyone Starting With Me Cover
“I Hate Everyone…Starting with Me” by Joan Rivers, 2012

Joan Rivers made a career out of belittling people and calling her words “humor”. The point of this post is not to deride the departed, but to warn the living.

Joan’s demons are not reserved for fame-seekers, her demons are common to all of mankind. (1 Peter 4:12). The demons, aka the enemy, insinuate themselves in our thoughts. Thoughts transform into desires and desires become plans. Suddenly we’re on a path living a life we didn’t really want for ourselves, but the attention and worldly benefits are misconstrued as blessings. Before long we are giving no care or concern to our spiritual health or needs. Everything becomes about the here and now and the outer image – how others see us and our trappings of success and popularity.

That is not a well-lived life. It is an empty life. A very unfortunate way to choose to live.

Joan Rivers knew that and she told us with every joke she uttered. Her audience may have forgotten or chose to rename what she was selling but she was clear: hate was her product. She was a hider who hid in plain sight. She dressed her hate up in glamour and the masses ate of it.

Who follows someone who hates themselves and everybody else? People who also hate themselves, those who don’t see any beauty or truth in who they are.

There is another way – a fulfilling way to live and die. A way  of love and self-acceptance. Reject fear. Embrace who you are. Nurture the good  in you and minister to the needs-improvement-and-betterment areas. Be an example of self-care and love and eventually you will inhabit a community full of similarly loving people.

Be blessed as you go and check the company you keep while you’re going.

Psalm 1, NLT

Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.
But not the wicked!
    They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.
They will be condemned at the time of judgment.
    Sinners will have no place among the godly.
For the Lord watches over the path of the godly,
    but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

He Knows My Name by Francesca Battistelli

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…then I watched three recent Beyoncé videos.

Beyonce video Feature Photo

A person’s art reveals their struggle

This is a follow-up to Rewriting 99 Problems. A day after watching the now infamous elevator video, I sat down to write about the relationship dynamics that were standing out for me in that small space within the camera frame. I spent most of the day thinking, wondering and asking aloud, “Why would a woman stand by, apparently unphased, while her husband was being attacked by her sister?” I couldn’t think of one good reason that would not have me, as the wife, checking my sister for disrespecting my husband and therefore me. Or if I knew there was just cause for my sisters’ anger, checking my husband myself. Under no circumstance would I have stood by and done nothing.

I couldn’t understand the emotional disconnect in the video I watched.

Until I watched three of Beyoncé’s recent videos. “Partition” really saddened me. “Drunk in love” truly disgusted me. “Pretty hurts” pretty much said it all.

Here’s what I know about love: love lifts, love protects, love honors, love respects.

What I saw in Beyoncé’s videos was a plea for love hiding behind a gyrating body decorated to showcase the promises of lustful fulfillment.

Lust does not fulfill. Lust does not satisfy a desire for love.

The sad thing about Partition was that the video began with Beyoncé sitting across the breakfast table from her husband. She was covered by a full robe and pretty much had the look of a lady of the manor. Yet her husband was ignoring her. She couldn’t get his attention. So then she goes off into a fantasy land of provocative corsets and barely there lingerie doing all sorts of erotic things by herself, on furniture and in sequence with other women. During this sequence we see the back of her husband’s head as he now focuses his full attention on her performance. It’s only in this sequence that she’s touching him – and only then does she smile – and it her that she shares how great and spontaneous their sex life is. This is where the viewer is to assume a great sex life translates into a great relationship, and in their case, a great marriage.

Refrain: Take all of me. | I just wanna be the girl you like. | The kind of girl you like is right here in me.

Source: Youtube Screenshots from Beyonce's Partition video. She begins with trying to get her husband's attention, then fantasize about what she'd do if she had his attention. Just as she's about to lean in for a kiss, she snaps back to her life, where he's ignoring her.
Source: YouTube Screenshots from Beyoncé’s Partition video. She begins with trying to get her husband’s attention, then fantasize about what she’d do if she had his attention. Just as she’s about to lean in for a kiss, she snaps back to her life, where he’s ignoring her.

Truth: I have never met a man who was content to showcase his wife’s body to another human being (i.e. another man) most especially when the husband loved and respected his wife.

Another truth: I have never met a woman who wanted anyone’s attention more than she wanted her husband’s when the wife loved and respected her husband.

Drunk in Love is more of the same, but what’s disgusting about it is that they both actually speak in detail about the mechanics of a sexual encounter between the two of them. It’s lyrical pornography. The video opens with Beyoncé walking on a beach in a bikini with a sheer dress covering holding a large trophy upside down. It’s looks like a trophy from Pretty Hurts. She calls the song Drunk in Love but everything she’s talking about sex – random, drugged (she says: Neva tired, neva tired I be sippin, it’s the only thing keeping me on fire (as she thumbs her nose)), rough, violent (Jay-Z says: I’m like, now eat the cake Anna Mae). Even though she’s gyrating throughout the whole video and the viewer is apparently to assumes she’s dancing for her husband, there is not one shot of them facing each other with any tenderness. In fact the camera never captures Jay-Z looking at her. There are shots of the back of his head with her in front of him. However, there are several shots of her looking lovingly – longingly – at him. By the end of the video I was left wondering if she still considered herself to be the trophy or if she’s attempting to represent her husband as her trophy.


Pretty Hurts is a very sad confessional describing how she became focused on image. Her self-worth from an early age was invested in how she looked and pursuit of the beauty pageant crown. At one point the pageant host asks Beauty Contestant Beyoncé, “What is your aspiration in life?” She takes nearly a minute to answer. There are shots of her falling into deep water (drowning?), siting backstage in despair, sitting nonchalantly on the floor at home in front of a massive collection of trophies and ribbons before getting up to smash the display. With tears welling and falling in a quick shot, she says, “What is my aspiration in life? Well, my aspiration in life would be to be happy.” She closes the song with the question: Are you happy with yourself?” and answers with a buoyant, “Yes!”

I think she’s shared and shown far too much for us to believe that.

All this to say:

A woman who has never learned to love herself in her simplest state and form lives on the precipice of self-destruction when she allows her primary validation to come from outside of herself. We all seek acceptance and we all want who we are to be loved by those whom we love. That’s natural. What’s harmful and destructive is when we place everything important to our existence on the temporary nature of youth, physical beauty, physique, money, fame, popularity, etc. She’s doing everything in her knowledge-base to remain the prettiest woman in demand, while at the same time, she’ probably destroying what she wants most – her marriage and family.

Pretty Hurts by Beyoncé

Mama said, you’re a pretty girl
What’s in your head it doesn’t matter
Brush your hair, fix your teeth
What you wear is all that matters
Just another stage
Pageant the pain away
This time I’m gonna take the crown
Without falling down, down
Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Perfection is the disease of a nation
Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Tryna fix something
But you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery
Blonder hair, flat chest
TV says bigger is better
South beach, sugar free
Thinner is better
Ain’t no doctor or therapeutic that can take the pain away
The pain’s inside
And nobody frees you from your body
It’s the soul that needs surgery
It’s my soul that needs surgery
Plastic smiles and denial can only take you so far
And you break when the paper signs you in the dark
You left a shattered mirror
And the shards of a beautiful girl
When you’re alone all by yourself
And you’re lying in your bed
Reflection stares right into you
Are you happy with yourself
It’s just a way to masquerade
The illusion has been shed
Are you happy with yourself
Are you happy with yourself
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Jay-Z, Solange and Beyoncé: Rewriting 99 Problems

JaySolangeBey Rewriting 99 Problems Feature Photo

It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman. ~ Proverbs 21:19, KJV

I don’t follow celebrity gossip… normally. However, when the elevator video leaked with Shawn Carter aka Jay-Z getting attacked by his sister-in-law, Solange Knowles while his wife, Beyoncé stood nearly motionless in the corner looking on, I was disturbed. And like many others, I had an opinion. My thoughts weren’t centered on what Jay-Z did or did not do to deserve to get kicked and punched by his wife’s sister. The question looping in my mind was: What would cause a woman to stand by while her man was being physically attacked by anyone, much less her baby sister?

It was a question that truly troubled me. More disturbing were comments I read on various websites across the internet insisting that Beyoncé couldn’t smear her image by interfering in the one-sided brawl. These commenters were in effect stating that some things were more important than the husband/wife relationship between Shawn and Beyoncé Carter (reasons people gave as a possible (and, in their opinion, acceptable) explanation for a Beyoncé not coming to her husband’s aid when her sister physically assaulted him in front of her in that elevator) were:

  • Her dress was expensive, she couldn’t risk damaging it
  • Her face, image, brand were more important than her relationships she couldn’t risk getting a mark on her or smearing her make-up while she was in public
  • A bodyguard was in the elevator, he’s paid to step in during such altercations

Such sentiments provided a very discouraging view into the mindset of the public in the midst of their consumption of a pop culture episode. I know we have become a very superficial nation but can anyone really believe that a husband is not worth a dress to a woman? His honor is worth less than a good make-up job and a photo-op? Defending your man is not worth your effort because you pay someone to do that?

In all the years I’ve listened to and communicated with women, I have never once encountered one who would allow someone to speak an unsolicited cross word against her man – even if she had just run him down to the person. Now, some would perhaps allow certain folks to repeat or reinforce what they’ve said about their man, but don’t let that person try to come up with new dirt or their own dirt because then they become suspect. In a similar manner, this episode had me looking at Solange like: How do you have a bigger beef with your sister’s husband than she does herself? What’s really going on?

The headlines read: “Jay Z attacked by sister-in-law”, but the story to me was “Woman stands aside to watch her sister attack her husband”.

Stranger danger

Years ago, while walking home on a dark night, a violent scene unfolded before me two houses away from my own front gate. At the time, I lived on a quintessential Harlem street, lined on both sides by beautiful, well-kept brownstones. I saw a young man on a bike being chased by about five other young men wearing black jackets with hoods. They were headed in my direction. About mid-block, the chasers caught up to the rider and knocked him off his bike. The young man went flying onto a car hood and then slid to the ground. As I watched in horrified bemusement, the group of young men chasing him circled him and started kicking and punching him.

I pulled my eyes away from the macabre scene about fifteen feet away from where I stood to look up and down the block. It was a dark night even with the street lights.

I was looking for cameras. My street was a popular setting for television shows and movies.

I didn’t see any cameras but the fact that I looked for them first says a lot about how much I’ve been acclimated to seeing violence as entertainment as well.

I walked closer to the frenzy of punching fists and kicking feet and asked in a quiet voice, “Excuse me, are you really doing this in front of me?”

In other words: Is this real? I couldn’t believe people would so blatantly commit such a violent act in front of a bystander.

This may sound very self-absorbed, but I don’t mean it to be: my humanity was offended. As a human being, I was deeply offended that a group of human beings thought it was okay to abuse another human being in front of me. How dare them subject him and me to that sort of abuse?

The whole group of five attackers looked up at me with stunned faces, then they immediately turned around and ran off. I helped the young delivery man up, sat him on a stoop then called a neighbor to come out and assist, followed by a call to police.

All that to say: Many people will assist strangers with no regard for themselves. I’m thinking  The aid you provide your spouse should be much greater.

I don’t want to become so immune to violence, that watching a video of someone getting attacked is dismissed as celebrity craziness, family drama, things-other-people-do-therefore-it-has-nothing-to-do-with-me. If I can’t be horrified by the abuse of one person, how can I possible care about the abuse of hundreds, thousands or even millions if the abuse of one doesn’t make me cringe and put an end to it?

Vicarious superficiality

Jake-Gyllenhaal-Jay-Z-Beyonce-Meme-467Family fights are nothing new. What is new is the public’s ability to see inside private lives. More disturbing than Beyoncé smirk after watching her husband get beat up by her sister is the public’s response to it as entertainment.

What the comments on social media and websites I was deeply saddened by the public treatment of a marital relationship but I guess I shouldn’t be surprise. The worship of celebrity culture treats everything celebrities do as entertainment. There is no real value in entertainment because entertainment is not real. Unfortunately for those being developed by, or taking their cues from, popular culture via social media and entertainment vehicles, there is an assumption that the transient or interchangeable unreality of celebrity lives is something to mimic in their lives. Most people won’t admit that directly. Most people would say they prefer realism in their own lives… even while they project something else.

There was very little to no value, honor or appreciation for the husband and wife relationship. All the focus was on the sister/sister and sister-in-law/brother-in-law relationships – those relationships dominated that space. Had there been no knowledge of a marriage between two people on that elevator, no one would have guessed that was in fact the case.

I am not suggesting that celebrities need to be more real so they are better role models for the people who idolize them. That’s not my message. To me, this incident became a social commentary on marriage in general in America or at least in certain communities. For example, people commented that “family comes before marriage” therefore Beyoncé had to stand by her sister. What I understood from the predominant attitudes commenting online was that image, brand, beauty, and wealth are all more important than our support, or lack thereof, for our spouse. If one is fortunate enough to be a pop star, then one does not have to honor one’s spouse at all.

That’s a very sad commentary, indeed.

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Star Trek’s Final Frontier

A Pop Culture vs. The Bible post by LaShawnda Jones

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.  ~ Psalm 111:10


During a rest period over the holidays, I watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Filmed in 1978, it looked and sounded like many of the variations of Star Trek episodes I’ve watched over the years. I’m almost certain I’ve seen this movie at least once before over the years, however it felt I like a first viewing. Halfway through the movie, one of the bridge officers is abducted by a beam of light that penetrated the hull of the starship. The officer’s name is Ilia (the Slavic form of the Hebrew Eliyahu/Elijah meaning, “my God is Lord”).

Some time later Ilia reappears on the ship as an exact replica of herself. Her features and physical body are the same and she can access memories from her former body, however as a recreated being her function and purpose had changed.

Captain Kirk, curious about this anomaly on his ship, confronts Ilia with his officers and questions her. Their conversation goes something like this:

Kirk: Who is…’V’ger’…?
Ilia: V’ger is that which programmed me.
Kirk: Is V’ger the name of the Captain of the alien vessel?
McCoy: Jim, this is mechanism. (He’s doing a bio scan of Ilia as he speaks.)
Spock: A probe, Captain (confirming McCoy’s finding). No doubt a sensor-transceiver combination, recording everything we say and do.
Kirk: Where is Lieutenant Ilia?
Ilia: That unit no longer functions. I have been given its form to more readily communicate with the carbon-based units infesting Enterprise.
Security Guard: “Carbon-based units”…?
McCoy: Humans, Ensign Prarez – us.
Kirk: Why does V’ger travel to the third planet of the solar system directly ahead?
Ilia: To find the Creator.
Kirk: Find the Creator? Whose…!? What does V’ger want of the ‘Creator’… ?
Ilia: To join with him.
Spock: How?
Ilia: V’ger and the Creator will become One.
Spock: …and Who is the Creator?
Ilia: The Creator is that which created V’ger.
Kirk: Who is V’ger?
Ilia: V’ger is that which seeks the Creator. I am ready to commence my observations.
Spock: Doctor, a thorough examination of this probe might provide some insight into those who manufactured it, and how to deal with them.

I got a kick watching this on a stormy winter Sunday afternoon. It was like an added bonus of a Sunday school lesson!

I had always thought the appeal of Star Trek was the adventure and exploration of the universe as we can only imagine it to be. Paying attention to the words in this movie revealed to me what I have discovered over and over with Star Trek franchise throughout the decades and more recently on my own personal journey with God – the true voyages are internal.  The space adventurers were willing to search far and wide for anything to explain everything they were in that moment of time. Only to come to the realization that the deep space is within our humanoid forms. Exploring who we are is a continuous adventure throughout life. 

An all-consuming search for our Creator leads to an inescapable confrontation with our true selves. Likewise, an all-consuming exploration of ourselves leads us to a face-to-face with our Creator. 

Purpose of a creation            

Decker: Does V’ger object to the presence of the two carbon units?
Ilia: The carbon units are of no consequence; V’ger will determine their purpose.
McCoy: Their purpose is to survive.
Decker: You said V’ger’s purpose was to find and join with the Creator.
Ilia: That is how V’ger will survive.

V’ger was a created entity that was programmed to learn all it could in the universe and return to it’s creator. When the starship Enterprise encountered V’ger, V’ger was in search of it’s Creator. It abducted Lt. Ilia off the Enterprise because it needed a way to interact and communicate with species on the Enterprise – the carbon units aka humans. In short, V’ger was on it’s own vogage of self-exploration.

Spock took it upon himself to go off on his own to explore V’ger and came back somewhat comatose – there were indications of some neurological trauma. Spock attempted to mind-meld with V’ger and the experience literally blew his mind. Imagine! Joining with something that has accumulated incalucable knowledge. In the below exchange, Spock attempts to explain the experience.  

Spock: I should have known…
Kirk: Were you right? About V’ger?
Spock: A life-form of it’s own. A conscious, living entity…. I saw V’ger’s planet: a planet populated by living machines. Unbelievable technology. V’ger has knowledge that spans this universe. And yet… with all it’s pure logic, V’ger is barren. Cold. No mystery… no beauty… I should have known…
Kirk: Known what, Spock? What? What should you have known?
Spock: Jim… (Spock grabs Kirk’s hand) This simple feeling is beyond V’ger’s comprehension. No meaning… No hope… And, Jim, no answers…! It’s asking questions…
Kirk: What questions?
Spock: “Is this all I am? Is there nothing more?” 

Spock should have known about V’ger’s search and experience because his Vulcan half (an unemotional but very intelligent and logical race of people) was in constant conflict with his human half (a highly emotional and often irrational race of people). It’s rare for Spock to show any emotion (I can’t recall any other scene actually), however, this was a very emotional scene for him (he was on the brink of tears!) – analyzing a machine with characteristics similar to himself, a living being with unfathomable knowledge and merciless logic. We all seek knowledge. We all seek some sort of understanding. V’ger was a created machine that had traveled the known universe and amassed all the knowledge therein. When Spock tried to mind-meld with this machine he overloaded his capacity. More importantly, he was made aware of the true knowledge: everything that V’ger had learned on it’s travels through the universe amounted to nothing real. V’ger had infinite knowledge, but no emotional intelligence – no ability to connect with another being. He couldn’t compute touch, love, compassion, joy or sadness.   

The end of logical knowledge…

Spock: Captain… V’ger must evolve. It’s knowledge has reached the limits of this universe and it must evolve. What it requires of it’s God, Doctor, is the answer to it’s question: “Is there nothing more?”
McCoy: What more is there than the universe, Spock?
Decker: Other dimensions. Higher levels of being.
Spock: The existence of which cannot be proven logically, therefore V’ger is incapable of believing in them.
Kirk: What V’ger needs in order to evolve is a human quality. Our capacity to leap beyond logic.
Decker: And joining with it’s creator might accomplish that.
McCoy: You mean this machine wants to physically join with a human? Is that possible?
Decker: Let’s find out.
Kirk: Decker! Don’t!
Decker: Jim, I want this. As much as you wanted the Enterprise, I want this. 
[Decker is encircled in light and Ilia walks and joins him in a pillar of light. Their joining causes and eruption of light beams that spreads steadily outward, across the universe.] 
Kirk: Spock, did we just see the beginning of a new life-form?
Spock: Yes, Captain. We witnessed a birth. Possibly, a next step in our evolution
Kirk: I think we gave it the ability to create it’s own sense of purpose… out of our own human weaknesses and the drive that compels us to overcome.

All of the Star Trek franchise is an illustration of the struggle and melding of logic and emotion, passion and reason, belief and unbelief. faith and doubt. The series and movies discuss fictitious planets, beings and relationships, but the substance is certainly based on something real. 

True seekers – true voyagers – will always discover the True Source. They will come into contact with God and be awed even by their simple comprehension of all that He is.

Psalm 111

1 Praise the LORD, I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

2 Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. 3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate. 5 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. 7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. 8 They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness. 9 He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever— holy and awesome is his name.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.