NOT using the panel discussions of the most recent World Science Fiction Convention in Helsinki, Finland in August 2017 (to which I be unable to go (until I retire from education)), I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. But not today. This explanation is reserved for when I dash “off topic”, sometimes reviewing movies, sometimes reviewing books, and other times taking up the spirit of a blog an old friend of mine used to keep called THE RANTING ROOM…
Us 21st Century folk have a weird idea of what, precisely, prayer is. For the most part, we think it has little to do with laptops, cellphones, GMO-made Human insulin, skin cancer, organ transplants, and bioremediation.
Yet a quick exploration of the word “prayer” leads to a fascinating observation: it shares the proto-Indo-European root “prek” with a number of other words. Some of them: “precarious”, “precaution”, and a dual-use word for logical argument word, postulate (to “suggest or assume the existence, fact, or truth of (something) as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or belief.) that has a math usage as well: “an assumption used as a basis for mathematical reasoning.”
This is interesting because in geometry, “A postulate is a statement that is assumed true without proof.” For example, you’d think that this postulate is absolutely true: “Postulate 1: A line contains at least two points.”, yet it is only ASSUMED true but doesn’t need proof.
Would that we did the same for prayer! It’s OK in math, and logic, but NOT OK in religion. Funny that.
A number of religions allow for prayer and it’s interpreted in many, many ways. A slow read through the Wikipedia entry (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer) is very educational.
So how does this all connect at ALL with plot?
I’m at a men’s retreat with a group from my church, most of us also attend a Bible study together. The subject (in case you can’t guess!) is prayer. So then, how DO prayer and plot intersect? There’s certainly no fancy word-way they do. But the spirit of the two DO intersect. Paul wrote 32 prayers in his letters to the various churches; in the Book of Acts alone, the disciples prayed 37 times and it was recorded, so the subject is important as well.
I sometimes think that the Bible is only good for spiritual advice of suggestions or teaching, but I forget that there IS entertaining story in it. Noah’s ark has been made into twenty-one movies (according to Wikipedia) alone; thirteen about the Exodus; seven just about Joseph, including of course, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1999)…I’m not going to count them all. If you do, the article’s here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_based_on_the_Bible
So, to see if there was a word intersection, I searched in my Etymology site and alas, I couldn’t see anything. I tried looking up “plot” in my Bible concordance, expecting very little – and I stumbled across an incredibly detailed story that, were it expanded into a screenplay or a novel and then set in the 21st Century, would probably reach BLOCKBUSTER series status!
It begins with the betrayal of a state government by a former agent. When the state finds out about it, they begin to plot the kidnapping and murder of the agent. There’s deceit, lying, and intrigue to start with – then the feds get involved! Oh, and it’s not because they were spying; this superpower doesn’t think the state’s worth their time to do anything more than routine monitoring. But the nephew of the agent overhears the state plans and at his mother’s urging, goes to the feds and spills the plot. The chief of the federal agency believes the kid, speaks for him, and is granted NOT just a SWAT team, but seventy Humvees, and two hundred foot soldiers and paratroopers!
It ends when the feds storm the prison, grab the ex-state agent and remove him to a secure location. Though it’s not explicit, I think there’s an implication of some sort of running battle between the state and the feds! Once the man is rescued, he’s locked up (for his own good, right???)…this one might be called, THE AGENT AT DAMASCUS.
The federal officer in charge of the prison attempts to get the former state agent to turn informer on the state – and keeps trying to break him for two years! He doesn’t want to get the armed forces on him because he has secrets to keep, so he’s subtle, maybe even playing psychological games with the man – who, having been a state agent for some time and had an extremely impressive kill record, never give the officer what he wants, and after two years he was replaced, probably THE AGENT IN HIDING.
The new man, once he reviews the files, he decides to send the prisoner higher up; where he is bumped higher still, until the man is sent to the capital because he’s requested an audience with the supreme leader of the nation. By now, I have to imagine that the case has hit both the national news as well as the tabloids; most likely the LAST thing the state government wanted to happen! On arrival in the capital, he not only was given a place, but the state representatives asked to see him – and he turned THEM on each other. While he never saw the president, he stayed in the capital for two more years…this one say, call it THE AGENT ON TRIAL.
This plot is clearly outlined starting in Acts 23, chapter 12 and running until the end of the book; Saul, who’d become Paul after an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, then goes on to write most of the letters of the New Testament – writing prayers we still use two thousand years later. Interleaved through the story are the prayers of one man, Paul of Tarsus, former agent of the state, traitor, and now a man with influence in that nation’s capital.
If you left the the Christianity out, you could market it as a standard thriller…well enough. You get the idea. Prayer and plot; who knew they could be the foundation of “THE AGENT: an APEXView Original Mini-Series”…