Is PAC-MAN God? (Eye of the Tiber Submission)

Eye of the Tiber is parody website; a Catholic version of “The Onion”. They used to accept fan submissions, and since they didn’t post this one when I sent it to them a couple years ago I decided to put it here.

NEW STUDY REVEALS PAC-MAN IS A METAPHOR FOR GOD

In a shocking discovery made by Global Academic League for Analysis of Game Algorithms it has been revealed that the popular video game “PAC-MAN” is really a metaphor for God himself. According to Professor Sonia Edjog, the PAC-MAN allegory is “obvious” once you see the connection.

“It came to me during Mass last Sunday,” she reported. “Father was just raising the two broken pieces of the body of Christ when it dawned on me; ‘You know? That looks an awful lot like PAC-MAN.’”

From there, Edjog and her excited team of specialist brainstormed for days coming up with more connections to the Eucharist shaped protagonist.

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Red Plumber, a leader on the team, informed the Eye, “Just consider how the game features three distinct men, who are yet one PAC. This is a clear parallel with God and the trinity.”

“We have also pondered PAC-MAN’s never ending quest to be one with an array of wondering souls and return them home; a clear metaphor for Jesus’ role as the Good Shepherd. The picture was completed when we realized that after dying at the hands of the ungrateful lost souls, PAC-MAN is resurrected from the dead.”

Professor Edjog and the League are currently investigating the possibility that “PAC” might be a loose acronym for “Persona Christi”.

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Spoilers for Series 9 Episode 1 of Doctor Who

I hated The Magician’s Apprentice and I’m not sure why.

When I think of all of the elements of the episode (the return of UNIT, or the Master working with the Doctor for instance), I cannot help but think that they seem like good or brilliant ideas. When I saw that the show was breaking the cardinal “rule” and showing a Classic Who character earlier in their timeline, I was fascinated and intrigued. When the Doctor left his last will and testament I was perplexed, but excited. And when the Doctor rode into the middle ages on a tank playing rock and roll I was astounded, but impressed.

So why didn’t I like the episode? At the core the reason the episode-and indeed-much of series 8 simply did not work for me is presentation. Steven Moffat rarely has bad ideas (in my opinion), but he sometimes decides to present them in a way that is not right for Doctor Who. When I imagine a different incarnation of the Doctor going through the same scenes-I see a great episode. If Tom Baker, or Matt Smith, or Tennant, or Eccleston had gone through the same episode I think it could easily have been one of my favorites.

I don’t think this is because I hate Capbaldi as an actor. Rather, it has to do with what one knows will accompany those other actors. One of the great skills of Doctor Who is that it has rebooting built into itself in the form of the Doctor’s regeneration (so the narrative never rows old). But its not simply a new face that walks out of the TARDIS every three years, at times it may also be new head writer, or differing styles of filmmaking and lighting, as well as general tone and pacing. Between Tennant and Smith is probably the best example of this phenomena. If not for the title card and interdimensional copper cube, one could easily mistake The End of Time and The Eleventh Hour for taking place on different shows (or even different networks).

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Despite this, there are several elements of consistency between series 4 and 5. Element which are lacking between 7 and 8, and the changing of the guard that came with Capbaldi’s run. Though series 5 of Doctor Who successfully updated itself for the modern era, with darker visuals, plots, and more realistic writing, it never lost the inherent sense of fun which had accompanied the show thus far. With the exception an episode here and there like Midnight or The Name of the DoctorDoctor Who always keeps itself from being too serious or “Christopher Nolan-esque”. There’s the always the inherent excitement and adventure, without an over emphasis on suspense or drama.

And when I say always, I do mean always. While I am not as familiar with Classic Who as New Who, I have seen episodes from the 1st, 4th, and 5th Doctors, and none of what I have seen indicates to me that the series has ever lacked charm and wit altogether. Or at least that’s what I would have said until series 8. Again, this comes round to good ideas versus good execution. Doctor Who is a fun show. It’s never a full blow drama. It started as a show for kids, and though it has expanded its audience since then, never has it limited itself so much as with this current incarnation of the show.

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In an attempt to make the Doctor appeal more to the Classic Who generation, Moffat has written the 12th Doctor as totally unlikable (without actually making him very much like a classic Doctor). The Doctor of the now is jerk. He is simply not a nice person. He is not honoring his oath to be “never cruel” which he renewed in The Day of the Doctor. For pity’s sake, the Doctor just spent 500 years defending one town. It makes no sense in his character’s arc-for him to revert to the person he was as the 9th Doctor. He should be happier now than ever! He has a new lease on life! His entire freaking planet was brought back from oblivion!

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Another problem is the incredibly desaturated and darkened world, which the editors of series 8 and 9 have created. The world of this Doctor is bleak and lifeless. Not a world of adventure, but of death and pointlessness. A world which evokes disgust, typical of an independent student film-not Doctor Who.

At the end of the day, I think I can (after writing it all down) say what I did not like about The Magician’s Apprentice. It’s boring. It’s not fun. It does not include snappy dialogue or witty humor. I don’t need to the Doctor to be younger or older, I just need him to make me excited and interested in the world around him. The Doctor should make the universe more exciting, not abjectly depressing.

Even this was less depressing than Death in Heaven!

Even this image is less depressing than Death in Heaven…

(But again Capbaldi himself is awesome don’t hate me bye.)

What is “The Liturgy of the Hours”?

Catechism of the Catholic Church #1174:

…the Liturgy of the Hours “is truly the voice of the Bride herself addressed to her Bridegroom. It is the very prayer which Christ himself together with his Body addresses to the Father.

Whenever I talk to other Catholics, I think the prayer they have heard the least about is ironically “The Liturgy of the Hours” (also known interchangeably as the Divine Office). I say ironic, because next to the holy sacrifice of the Mass-and indeed, in some ways more so-the Liturgy of the Hours is the most minutely ingrained of activities in the life of a Catholic (at least for priests, nuns, and monks). Whereas the Mass is widely attended and known to all Catholics, the Divine Office is known primarily to non-laity (that is the priests, nuns, and other consecrated religious). This is likely due in part to the fact that while attendance at Mass is mandatory for all the faithful, participation in the Liturgy of the Hours is only demanded of the consecrated religious {Read Code of Canon Law 1174 for details}.

But what is “The Liturgy of the Hours”? In simple terms, it is a selection of readings from sacred scripture (the Bible), various writings from saints and theologians, and various small reflections. Additionally, as the name would suggest, the prayer is prayed throughout different hours of the day. And depending on the time of day, the specific version of the Divine Office is called either Matins, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, or Compline. Lauds is for morning, Terce is for the middle of the day, Compline for right before bed, and so forth. This list is found in Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium, which goes into greater detail about how the hours should be treated saying that Lauds and Vespers are, “the two hinges on which the daily office turns; hence they are to be considered as the chief hours and are to be celebrated as such.”

In Use

From the phrasing and preference thus far, it’s easy for those who are not part of consecrated lives to assume that this prayer is exclusive to such groups. However, nothing is further from the truth. The Code of Canon Law says that those in married or single lives are “earnestly invited to participate in the liturgy of the hours” and The Catechism of the Catholic Church states “The Liturgy of the Hours is intended to become the prayer of the whole People of God.”

The Divine Office is so highly regarded as a prayer by the Church, that it is described almost as an extension of the Mass itself:

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1174 (part 1):

The mystery of Christ, his Incarnation and Passover, which we celebrate in the Eucharist especially at the Sunday assembly, permeates and transfigures the time of each day, through the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, “the divine office.” This celebration, faithful to the apostolic exhortations to “pray constantly,” is “so devised that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praise of God.”In this “public prayer of the Church, the faithful (clergy, religious, and lay people) exercise the royal priesthood of the baptized. Celebrated in “the form approved” by the Church…”

Personally, I have found this ancient and rich prayer immensely interesting. Though the prayer is not prayed by many laity, I pray Lauds every morning and  Compline before I go to bed. If you are interested in trying out the Liturgy of the Hours, I highly recommend a website such as divineoffice.org (which has Matins, Lauds, Vespers, Compline and one of the prayers for the middle of the day). If you find you are interested enough in the Office, you might be interested in getting your own book of Christian prayer or the four volume set of the Liturgy of the Hours. A google search would be sufficient to find either. (The big difference between the two is that the Christian prayer book does not have Matins: one of the longest hours.)

P.S.

One of my all time favorite ways to pray the Divine Office is to chant it. There is chanted recording by the monks of Norcia here:
http://osbnorcia.org/en/category/audio

(The header image is from the same website.)

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Sources:

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1174-1175

Code of Canon Law 1173-1175

Sacrosanctum Concilium 81

Photo used in post is from:
http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2014/07/the-art-of-book-in-third-millennium.html#.VfrK0xFViko

Why didn’t the Doctor save River Song?

The following article will feature spoilers for Doctor Who up until directly before series 8.

Doctor Who is not a show known for following its own rules very closely. This 2010 Special A Christmas Carol is perhaps the best example; featuring the Doctor’s attempts to alter a man’s past and make him a moral person. The whole concept is so superfluous and impossible, as the man’s memories are seemingly altered (yet somehow he is aware of the fact simultaneously).

While time itself is far from immutable in the universe of the Doctor, what is considered unalterable are the various “fixed points in time”. With the exception of The Waters of Mars, changing a fixed point in time is never successful, and will cause the destruction of time itself (as in The Wedding of River Song). However, although fixed points cannot be undone, one can control the circumstances of how they happened. For example, in the aforementioned Wedding of River Song the Doctor is able to cheat death by having a robotic teselecta “die” in his place. All parties who know of the Doctor’s death in Utah still record it happening-but the audience is made aware that the reality was always different than it seemed.

An identical situation is seen in The Day of the Doctor when the Doctor decides not to destroy his home planet, and the audience sees that reality always happened this way (and the audience simply never knew it). And this is my main problem with the Professor River Song. The Doctor’s wife dies the first time the Doctor meets her, in the largest library in the universe. She sacrifices herself and is killed-though the Doctor “uploads” her to the library data banks.

But here there seems to be a logical inconsistency. The Doctor loves his wife, and he has had at least 1100 years to think about her death since he saw it happen in the library. Even if we assume the worst-that River’s death is fixed point in time-wouldn’t the Doctor at least want to go to the same lengths to save River as he did to save himself? We know for a fact that River is a great actor, convincing her parents she did not know who they were throughout series 6. So if the Doctor brought River a teselecta the day before she was supposed to go the library, there is no reason the tesselecta couldn’t die in her place.

But maybe you think that that this still would not work because the teselecta’s crew of people would be killed by all the energy anyway. Fair enough, then why not use a ganger as in The Almost People? River would not even have to show up anywhere near the library since we know that Amy Pond could control her ganger from anywhere in time or space. Plus there’s probably a timey-wimey way to download the computer River’s memories so that the real River would know what that version of herself did and said in series 7.

Of course, I write this without the benefit of hindsight. Perhaps the writers of the show will write this in and bring River back from the “dead”. I for one would really enjoy it if River were a permanent part of the show, just like the TARDIS or the sonic. I just love the idea of another regenerating character on the show. Rather than waiting every three years for the Doctor to be someone new, we can have a new version of a favorite character every year and a half (as we alternate between time lords).

And before a wiseguy points this out, yes River supposedly ran out of regenerations when she healed the Doctor in Let’s Kill Hitler. But seriously? Why on earth should healing the Doctor once dispose of all the seven (at least) regenerations she still has. You could argue that River should have less regenerations because she is not a proper time lord. For writing purposes though, one could always argue that she should have more because she is not a proper time lord.

In any event, there remains the basic problem with the Doctor’s death vs. his wife’s. The Doctor once asked Clara Oswald if he was good man. If the Doctor will go to extraordinary length to save himself, but not his wife, the answer to that question is a resounding no.The In-Laws

Post the First

I wanted a blog to write and share information on both popular culture and Catholicism. So I have created this.

Before someone points this out, I should say first of all: I fully appreciate the irony in naming a blog this way given how atheistic and anti-religion Doctor Who can be, but those are not the elements which I love-and they do not (always) stop me from enjoying the show.

Anyway,

Pax Christi.