(March 6, 2017) Robert and Maureen McQuillan reminisce and share a challenge to dare …
An article in a magazine about movies/TV shows/comic characters grabbed our attention last week –taking us back to the fifties, yet speaking about a real need today!
In a day when some serious-minded Christians, including church leaders, are saying that we need a fresh revival, here was an article by the delighted editor about another revival, that of the renowned 1950s British comic book hero – Dan Dare.
First Eagle, April 14, 1950
Okay… many, especially our younger generation and non-Brits will wonder who’s he? Who was Dan Dare? This editor (not an aged senior, by the way!) stated it simply – ‘Before there was the science fiction Quartermass, before Doctor Who, before … there was Colonel Dan Dare – Pilot of the Future.
Boldly going places
We can easily add that decades before Star Trek and the Klingons or Star Wars and Dark Vader, there was Dan Dare and his arch-nemesis, the evil reptile-looking Mekon of Mekonta, ruler of the Treens! Decades before James T Kirk ever declared the Enterprise’s mission to ‘boldly go where no man has gone before’ we who were kids in the fifties can reflect and boldly declare that Dan Dare has been there, done that!
Well … so it seemed to youngsters back then. From Friday April 14, 1950 kids in England were known for rushing to the corner store every week to get the latest edition of a new super-sized comic – the Eagle, the cover of which mesmerised us with this brave intergalactic hero who would take us into outer space and new realms of imagination, who would put the evil Mekon to flight.
If you were fascinated by the modern computer generated creatively of movies such as Stars Wars, the incredible artistic versatility and imagination of the brilliant Frank Hampson back in the fifties – long before computerisation – will blow you away. He never used an eraser to correct errors, but patiently scraped them out. His artwork is worth a big ‘Wow!’
Check out this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSCC31pTbJk YouTube presentation based on Hampson’s Eagle artwork/imagination/creativeness. Note the acknowledgement in the end credits – declaring Frank Hampson (and Thunderbirds’ Gerry Anderson) ‘Visionaries of a better future.’
The vision continues
What really caught our attention last week was the editor’s comments regards the fact that the old radio Dan Dare Adventures shows were being updated and released on audio CDs as Dan Dare – the Audio Adventures Continue (We were over at our local library like a shot!).
This wasn’t some old fogey of an ancient editor writing enthusiastically but a younger man caught up with the reality of Hampson’s 1950 artwork and the Dan Dare character. And what did he write? Something that is very relevant in these troubled times of terrorism, deceit and uncertainty –
‘Amid today’s global turmoil we are once more in need of a heroic figure. The beliefs, value and hope Dan Dare represents are just as relevant today.’
Beliefs, value and hope
The interesting thing is that Eagle was created by an Anglican minister, Reverend Marcus Morris, deputy chairman of National Magazine Company, concerned with the violence and sensationalism of American crime and horror comics and their effects on British children. He and the incredibly creative artist, Frank Hampson set out to produce a more wholesome, uplifting alternative.
We’re three months into 2017 and our world is still in a mess. Globally we hear of wars, rumours of war, chemical warfare, violence, sensationalism, parents unable to direct their children, murders – even of children – financial concerns from governments down, road rage, increase in crime, lies and deceits, legalisation of drug use and same sex marriages and so on. We continue to hear too that some churches are still into non-biblical teaching, way-out ‘strange fire’ practices, non-visionary leadership, dictatorial leadership, faithful church attenders unable to contact their senior minister or someone with experience for advice and meaningful prayer, that Islam is growing faster than Christianity! The list goes on!
Of course we are thankful for breakthroughs in the medical world, for the good care experienced doctors and hospital give, what dedicated research has achieved. For close friends who care and pray, for the God who is still on the throne and over everything and for whom nothing is impossible. For our Lord who hears our cry as we look to him first in when things go wrong, knowing that he will never let us down!
As that secular editor’s observes, the world needs good news – a new daring hero with Dan Dare values! Unsaved people in the marketplace of life need Christ – to further his vision, Jesus needs Christians who will boldly go where others haven’t or won’t.
Many decades ago, Dr Billy Graham hit the nail (eg the world’s problems, people in trouble) on the head when he decreed that sin was behind still humankind’s troubles. Even back in October 2012, he wrote: ‘Sin lies at the root of most of society’s difficulties today’ (https://billygraham.org/story/the-sin-of-tolerance/).
He has said, ‘The most devastating effect of sin is that by it, we’re blinded to it.’ Also that ‘Sin is the second most powerful force in the universe, for it sent Jesus to the cross. Only one force is greater – the love of God.’
Today we need committed ‘out there Christians’ – not in outer space but out there out of the church and in the marketplace of life. And not to Bible-bash sinners who haven’t got a clue about the reality of sin and the existence of the God who loves sinners, but ‘local missionaries’ who will demonstrate by their lifestyle Dan Dare characteristics – which are so fundamentally Christian – of beliefs, value and hope!
We’re delighted to know of such friends who dare to boldly go where no man has gone before, even if church leadership or their love ones don’t understand them, their calling or their vision. (One such person called today as we were typing this article and shared an incredible story of how his boldly going where no man has gone before has resulted in an outstanding blessing of God on a family when all seemed impossible).
Incidentally, that Star Trek ‘man’ bit was later changed in the spin-offs to ‘no one’ to include bold women daring to venture beyond local frontiers. There have been, and still are, daring ladies who share Jesus on every God-given opportunity including overseas missionary works.
Troubled, distressed, fearful, sickly people around us need hope, the real hope that Jesus offers. They need to hear what real values in life are all about, to hear genuine biblical beliefs from caring Christians who have been there, done that!
Active Christians don’t leave everything to the pastor! They too seek to fulfil scriptures such as Matthew 6:33 and 28:18-20 locally as well as abroad. They’re down-to-earth good Samaritans! They’re visionaries of the future, they see the bigger picture; they aren’t blinded by colour or creed, they want everyone to find salvation, peace and joy, and a great new life in Jesus.
The big reptilian Mekon is still out to destroy
Billy Graham also declared that his belief in the devil, the originator of our global troubles – ‘There are two great forces, God’s force of good and the devil’s force of evil, and I believe Satan is alive and he is working, and he is working harder than ever’ and that ‘God never tempts anyone. That is Satan’s business.’
Back to Dan Dare… his enemy, Earth’s enemy was Mekon whom he fought on every occasion the Mekonta ruler dared to subtlety show up!
There’s a Mekon out there today still intent on destroying God’s creation (and helping so many people blinded to the reality of the Saviour, Jesus, to destroy themselves!). Christians know him as Satan, as the devil! So does the Bible, God’s instruction book to forgiveness of sin, a healthy life, a wholesome way of living and enjoying the Saviour’s favour and blessings.
Next month not only celebrates the 67th year of Earth’s science fiction hero Dan Dare (interestingly this hero is the first listing on http://www.onthisday.com/date/1950/april/14) but April 14 is Good Friday, a far greater celebration of a greater hero, the greatest of all – the beginning of a weekend that Christians rejoice over than more any celebration humanity can come up with!
It’ll soon be Easter when we remember that God has fulfilled his promise of a Saviour who would bring all humankind, male and female, fallen through sin from the original Garden of Eden close relationship with our creator back to himself. Easter isn’t about chocolate eggs or bunny rabbits any more than Christmas is about Christmas trees – it’s about salvation from sin and restoration to God through the gift of his only Son, Jesus who died and rose again to life to be our Saviour, Lord and friend!
Christian witnessing takes courage
Courageous Dan Dare went into outer space to save the world from Mekon – Jesus Christ came from outer space to earth to save us! That’s real good news. Go share it, brave bold Christians filled with the power of God – the Holy Spirit!
Christians need to be courageous – but that’s where the Spirit of God comes in! Jesus told his followers to believe to receive great supernatural encouragement from heaven – ‘A total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations – starting from here, from Jerusalem! You’re the first to hear and see it. You’re the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high’ (Like 24:46-49 Message).
One of Hampson’s several Eagle strip cartoons as required by Reverend Morris was his regular The Road of Courage, a so carefully researched and meticulously crafted telling of the life of Jesus – one of courage, one of hope offered to all who believe.
Jesus has shown us what real courage is – he left heaven, became a human (we call it the incarnation) and sacrificed his life on Calvary for us. Friday April 17 this year is the Christian celebration, not of the Eagle or Dan Dare, but of someone who had the greatest vision for a better future for all people – sins forgiven following genuine repentance, restoration of a meaningful relationship with Father God, eternal life and an exciting ‘what’s next, Lord, round the corner?’ adventure here and now as we follow him.
But why wait until Easter? Let’s take a step of faith now in this restoration challenge. Captain Kirk can deal with Klingon types, Luke Skywalker with Dark Vader types, Dan Dare with Mekonites.
Our courageous Saviour dealt with Satan on Calvary – let us make it real for those in need of the greatest hero of all time – courageously introduce them to good beliefs, values and hope as found in Jesus Christ’s gospel.
Where does Jesus want you to dare to boldly go where you haven’t gone before? The road around the corner or across the street to some needy person? Start a new ministry? Take a short-term missions trip? Engage in a new ministry? Testify to someone that no one has ever mentioned Jesus to? Write or compose a chorus? Finance a ministry or better support your local church? The possibilities are endless when you ask the Holy Spirit!
Dare to travel our own road of courage, go boldly where others haven’t yet! Let God’s vision of a regenerated people continue – be an active part of the future, not in outer space but here where troubled, hurting, spiritually blinded people need to hear the good news of Jesus.
(Scripture emphases ours) Links: Tim Edwards https://connectingwithyou.net/2017/03/06/the-second-step-in-restoration/ + George Forbes https://connectingwithyou.net/2017/03/06/the-making-of-a-missionary-church/ + Carol Round’s https://connectingwithyou.net/2017/03/08/are-you-a-procrastinators-club-member/ + Stuart Reynold’s https://connectingwithyou.net/2017/03/08/martyrs-by-proxy/