Monday, April 27, 2015

Twenty Years from Sliders to Red Dirt Latte

It has been Twenty Years

From Sliders to Red Dirt Latte

Written by Dan McDonald


            Yesterday I discovered that this year is the twentieth anniversary of one of my favorite television shows in the 90’s – Sliders.

            In those days I pretty much liked just about anything science fiction, even if I lived a strict Conservative life with a very cautious philosophical and theological perspective regarding life. But most everyone has to find an outlet for their human desire for adventure – so sitting down for an hour or two of science fiction imagination was the way someone cautious about life did it. One could watch Sliders and imagine going to endless alternative earths.

            I guess it is only now, as I have somewhat broader horizons of perspective, that I can see a real connection between my love of Sliders and my Christian theology. In the Biblical world the story of Israel and the story of Christ and the whole story of redemption are built around themes like sojourn into a distant hostile place and the promised return home. There is a universal restlessness in the experience of human life that is expressed in a prophet’s lamentation that man is born for trouble like the sparks from a fire fly upward. The restlessness is seen in an Abraham who does not trust Pharaoh's desire for his wife and so he seeks his own safety by saying she is his sister. He is far from home and cannot live at ease as he might have in his home environment. Solomon, writing of the journey of his mind and thoughts in Ecclesiastes was on a similar journey, even if it were mostly in letting his thoughts seek their natural ends. In his mental sojourn he struggled to find his way home. Home for Solomon was discovered in bits and pieces. In thoughts like “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die: a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is panted.” Even a time to move on from a beautiful quote such as can be read in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 if a reader would want to. For Solomon the search for home in all his slidings (connection intended) meant a discovery of how the fear of God and the keeping of his commandments established the parameters or the walls he could call home in his sojourn. I suspect Solomon would acknowledge having made plenty of mistakes in his journey, but he might have said when all was said and done that he had discovered what his father had discovered that there was no place on earth or in heaven where He who formed us was not present.

            As a creedal Christian who confesses the Nicene Creed on virtually every Sunday I have realized that Jesus lived a life of sojourn, exile, and return. He left his father to come down to earth and be born as a man. In the Gospel of John his relationship to his mother is spoken of twice. The point that is made is made in an almost suppressed manner. He is leaving his mother and she understands and says “whatever he says to do, do it.” Then he leaves her in the care of John at the cross. He has left father and mother to be joined in the great redemption of his bride. He makes his way home to build a house with many rooms for his bride. He builds it and he will return when he has completed and so until then he in heaven and we on earth remain sojourners awaiting the completion and the moment we can say "Home at last."

            I never saw, when I watched it twenty years ago, the connection of Sliders to the universal experience of humankind, with our yearnings to recover that place we call home. It has been human from the time of Eden to be cast into the wilderness, to feel displaced, to be on a sojourn away from home, in search of home. So much of humankind’s greatest literature is devoted to the universal human experiences of being cast out of our homes and comfort zones, forced into the wilderness of sojourn and given the yearning and hope for return home. Naomi was bitter yearning for home, Odysseus wondered if he would find anyone who knew him when returning home. Sliders explored this human experience of a small group of people being cast out into foreign universes, in a sojourn into the exile while hoping soon for the return home, finding trouble but also joys in their shared journey. I did not feel free to enjoy this show years ago but now I understand it expressed such a universal human experience.

            I have to wrap it up because I discovered that the actress in that show slid from acting into a life married to a man working for the United Nations. Her life these days is composed of slides from one locale to another as their family goes wherever the United Nations sends them. She blogs; writing and taking photographs, and raising her family. She writes from places like Rome and Uganda, and also vacations to an American home that no longer has quite the same feel of home. It was a joy this week to discover Sabrina Lloyd’s website @ Some of you who work your way laboriously through my wordy too long blogs will love her beautiful prose and photographs. Her writing style is a place to discover an example of fine blogging. I love how she weaves together words, sentences, and photos their impression making its mark on your soul. I speak enviously of those who can write blogs like this. I enjoy the art of brevity but haven’t discovered the gift.

 I think the fictional Wade from Sliders would have been proud to know the real Sabrina Lloyd who once presented her to an audience watching the adventures of that small band of sliders, moving from one earth to another earth in search of the earth that they knew as home. Art imitates life and life imitates art. “Sliders” was art exploring our lives of sojourn looking for home. Sabrina Lloyd in real life expresses on her website her sojourn, away from home, or at home in the sojourn. We discover in reading other people’s unique sojourns that we are bound together in distinctly different but universally connected human lives where we sojourn in search of home.

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