Randy and Stan Make Alien Contact in South Park Episode 1306, “Pinewood Derby”

For the Pinewood Derby, father-son teams build cars with official Pinewood Derby kits and then race them against each other. Randy, unable to bear Stan’s potential loss, steals an experimental magnetic semi-conductor and cheats by including it in the car to make it heavier on the front end. During the race, Stan’s car bends space and time and travels at warp speed all the way to space. When an alien ship makes contact and says that it wants to meet the people that designed the warp drive, the whole world watches.

Unfortunately it’s a gangster alien that takes the world hostage and forces Randy to build him another warp drive to escape from the alien cops that are chasing him for stealing a bunch of space cash. Oh my!

When the alien cops follow this alien gangster to earth the alien gangster takes Stan hostage and makes Randy lie about him being there. However, when Randy finishes the car and shows the alien, he has Stan shank the alien, killing him and allowing all the countries of earth to take and divide up the stolen space cash. The cops return, but the earthlings deny knowing about the cash so that the cops leave.

After the rest of earth nukes the Fins for threatening to tell on them all, the alien cops return again and the whole world continues denying any knowledge of the money. Stan, however, comes forward, and returns his Pinewood Derby trophy, confessing that he cheated and emphasizing that the longer he lies the more he has to maintain and perpetuate the lie. That doesn’t get the rest of the people to admit how they’re lying to the alien cops, though.

It’s at this point that we learn that these aliens were just testing earth – something they do to every planet after its inhabitants discover warp speed in order to decide if that planet should be admitted to the Intergalactic Federation of Planets. Because the people of earth lied and cheated they are forever banned from this Intergalactic Federation.

That sucks.

What’d you think of this episode? Did you like the message about lying or was it a little bit basic for South Park.

I think it was an interestingly constructed lesson and there were some good chuckles in the episode, but I also think it was the weakest episode of season 13 so far.

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Quran Read-A-Long: An Attempt to Grapple with the Notion of Faith in Islam

I like this quick tale about Abraham in verse 258. I can’t say I have anything in particular to add to its understanding, but I like it. I think it’s funny that the demonstrative tale in verse 259 would be placed between Abraham’s assertion of God’s greatness and his seeming lack of faith in verse 260.

It seems especially odd to me that someone speaking to God would then question matters that God says are so, like resurrection. It seems somewhat illogical since faith is believing without proof and Abraham already has proof of God since they’re chatting casually. Why would Abraham tell God that he has faith but that he just needs a little proof to lay his mind at ease. Needing proof is the essence of not having faith. As Jesus said, it is a wicked generation that needs signs. Not to go all Jesus quoting on anybody – I think it can be very annoying when people do that to make a point – but I do it to emphasize the notion of faith, which is Jesus’ point. You have to believe in things without being shown that they are so. Otherwise you don’t have faith.

I know it seems silly but it makes me think of the Keanu Reeves movie, Constantine. Reeves’ character, thought that he deserved to go to heaven because he believed in God and hell and damnation and all the stuff, as a Catholic, he was supposed to. The angel Gabriel (in the movie) tells him that he doesn’t believe in these things. He knows them to be true because he died briefly, saw these things, and was then resuscitated (or came back to life, if you prefer the symbolic language).

In any case, the point is that once you know, it’s no longer faith. It’s knowledge. That isn’t to say that faith is without knowledge, but just to say that Abraham’s request in this story, considering the mention of faith, is at odds with what my understanding of faith is (and I’ve worked very hard to understand faith). Perhaps faith in Islam is meant in another way (or the translation is tripping me up and Arabic has an in between word) and I’m failing to understand that (and when I say faith, I’m not using the word as a substitute for the word religion). If you can shed light on this issue, I’d be most appreciative.

Finally, my apologies for the two week hiatus from Quran Read-A-Long. Life became overwhelmingly busy and disappointingly, this and my other blogging “responsiblities” got pushed by the wayside. I felt an absence, not from the rest of it, but from this, and am glad to be doing it again. I hope that in the future I don’t have to skip any weeks. Thanks for your patience.

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The Cow 258-260

258. ART THOU NOT aware of that [king] who argued with Abraham about his Sustainer, [simply] because God had granted him kingship? Lo! Abraham said: “My Sus’tainer is He who grants life and deals death.” [The king] replied: “I [too] grant life and deal death!” Said Abraham: “Verily, God causes the sun to rise in the east; cause it, then, to rise in the west!” Thereupon he who was bent on denying the truth remained dumbfounded: for God does not guide people who [deliberately] do wrong. 259. Or [art thou, O man, of the same mind] as he who passed by a town deserted by its people, with its roofs caved in, [and] said, “How could God bring all this back to life after its death?” Thereupon God caused him to be dead for a hundred years; whereafter He brought him back to life [and] said: “How long hast thou remained thus?” He answered: “I have remained thus a day, or part of a day.” Said [God]: “Nay, but thou hast remained thus for a hundred years! But look at thy food and thy drink, untouched is it by the passing of years – and look at thine ass! And We did all this so that We might make thee a symbol unto men. And look at the bones [of animals and men] – how We put them together and then clothe them with flesh!” And when [all this] became clear to him, he said: “I know [now] that God has the power to will anything!” 260. And, lo, Abraham said: “O my Sustainer! Show me how Thou givest life unto the dead!” Said He: “Hast thou, then, no faith?”(Abraham) answered: “Yea, but [let me see it] so that my heart may be set fully at rest.” Said He: “Take, then, four birds and teach them to obey thee; then place them separately on every hill [around thee]; then summon them: they will come flying to thee. And know that God is almighty, wise.”