Monthly Archives: September 2017

A Story of St. Michael the Archangel

Today is the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, so I thought it would be appropriate to share this video. It’s the original radio broadcast of a letter written by a Marine to his mother while he was stationed in Korea in 1950. This young Marine had a strong devotion to St. Michael the Archangel (after whom he was named), and that devotion ended up saving his life. You can also read the text of the letter here as well as below.

Dear Mom,

I wouldn’t dare write this letter to anyone but you because no one else would believe it. Maybe even you will find it hard, but I have to tell somebody.

First off, I am in a hospital. Now don’t worry, you hear me, don’t worry. I was wounded but I’m okay. The doctor says that I will be up and around in a month. But that is not what I want to tell you.

Remember when I joined the Marines last year; remember when I left, how you told me to say a prayer to St. Michael every day. You really didn’t have to tell me that. Ever since I can remember you always told me to pray to St. Michael the Archangel. You even named me after him. Well I have always prayed to St. Michael. When I got to Korea, I prayed even harder. Remember the prayer that you taught me? “Michael, Michael of the morning, fresh corps of Heaven adorning…” You know the rest of it. Well, I said it every day, sometimes when I was marching or sometimes resting, but always before I went to sleep. I even got some of the other fellas to say it.

Well, one day I was with an advance detail way up over the front lines. We were scouting for the commies. I was plodding along in the bitter cold; my breath was like cigar smoke. I thought I knew every guy in the patrol, when along side of me comes another Marine I never met before. He was bigger than any other Marine I’d ever seen. He must have been over 6 feet 4 inches and built in proportion. It gave me a feeling of security to have such a body near me.

Anyway, there we were trudging along. The rest of the patrol spread out. Just to start a conversation I said, “Cold ain’t it.” And then I laughed. Here I was with a good chance of getting killed any minute and I am talking about the weather!

My companion seemed to understand. I heard him laugh softly.

I looked at him, “I’ve never seen you before. I thought I knew every man in the outfit.”

“I just joined at the last minute,” he replied, “the name is Michael.”

“Is that so,” I said surprised, “that’s my name too.”

“I know,” he said, and then went on saying the prayer, “Michael, Michael of the morning…”

I was too amazed to say anything for a minute. How did he know my name, and a prayer that you had taught me? Then I smiled to myself, every guy in the outfit knew about me. Hadn’t I taught the prayer to anybody who would listen? Why now and then, they even referred to me as St. Michael.

Neither of us spoke for a time, and then he broke the silence.

“We’re going to have some trouble up ahead.” He must have been in fine physical shape for he was breathing so lightly I couldn’t see his breath. Mine poured out in great clouds. There was no smile on his face now. Trouble ahead, I thought to myself; well with the commies all around us, that’s no great revelation.

Snow began to fall in thick great globs. In a brief moment the whole countryside was blotted out, and I was marching in a white fog of wet sticky particles. My companion disappeared.

“Michael!” I shouted in sudden alarm. I felt his hand on my arm, his voice was rich and strong, “This will stop shortly.”

His prophecy proved to be correct. In a few minutes the snow stopped as abruptly as it had begun. The sun was a hard shining disc. I looked back for the rest of the patrol. There was no one in sight. We lost them in the heavy fall of snow. I looked ahead as we came over a little rise. Mom, my heart stopped. There were seven of them, seven commies in their padded pants and jackets and their funny hats. Only there wasn’t anything funny about them now. Seven rifles were aimed at us.

“Down Michael!” I screamed, and hit the frozen earth. I heard those rifles fire almost as one. I heard the bullets. There was Michael still standing.

Mom, those guys couldn’t have missed, not at that range. I expected to see him literally blown to bits, but there he stood, making no effort to fire himself. He was paralyzed with fear. It happens sometimes, Mom, even to the bravest. He was like a bird fascinated by a snake. At least that’s what I thought then. I jumped up to pull him down and that was when I got mine. I felt a sudden flame in my chest. I often wondered what it felt like to be hit. Now I know.

I remember feeling strong arms about me, arms that laid me ever so gently on a pillow of snow. I opened my eyes, for one last look. I thought I was dying. Maybe I was even dead. I remember thinking, “Well, this is not so bad.”

Maybe I was looking into the sun. Maybe I was in shock, but it seemed I saw Michael standing erect again, only this time his face was shining with a terrible splendor.

As I say, maybe it was the sun in my eyes, but he seemed to change as I watched him. He grew bigger, his arms stretched out wide, maybe it was the snow falling again but there was a brightness around him like the wings of an angel. In his hand was a sword. A sword that flashed with a million lights.

Well, that’s the last thing I remember until the rest of the fellas came up and found me; I don’t know how much time had passed. Now and then I had but a moment’s rest from the pain and fever. I remember telling them of the enemy just ahead.

“Where’s Michael?” I asked. I saw them look at one another. “Where’s who?” asked one.

“Michael, that big Marine I was walking with just before the snow squall hit us.”

“Kid,” said the sergeant, “you weren’t walking with anyone. I had my eyes on you the whole time. You were getting too far out. I was just going to call you in, when you disappeared in the snow.”

He looked at me, curiously. “How did you do it, kid?”

“How did I do what?” I asked half angry, despite my wound. “This Marine named Michael and I were just…” “Son,” said the sergeant kindly, “I picked this outfit myself and there just ain’t another Michael in it. You are the only Mike in it.”

He paused for a minute. “Just how did you do it, kid? We heard shots, yet there hasn’t been a shot fired from your rifle, and there isn’t a bit of lead in them seven bodies over the hill there.”

I didn’t say anything; what could I say? I could only look open-mouthed with amazement.

It was then, the sergeant spoke again. “Kid,” he said gently, “every one of those seven commies was killed by a sword stroke.”

That is all I can tell you, Mom. As I say, it may have been the sun in my eyes, it may have been the cold or the pain, but that is what happened.

Love, Michael

St. Michael, pray for us!


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“Star Trek: Discovery”: Was It Worth the Wait?

Back in 2015, CBS announced the premiere of a brand new Star Trek show, Star Trek: Discovery, the first since Star Trek: Enterprise was canceled in 2005. Set roughly ten years before the events of The Original Series, Discovery follows the journey of the impulsive young officer Commander Michael Burnham (who, confusingly, is a woman) as she comes to terms with her parents’ death in a Klingon attack on a scientific outpost and struggles to honor her logical Vulcan upbringing while still embracing her human heritage. Yes, after her parents died, Michael was somehow adopted by Ambassador Sarek…the same Sarek who is Spock’s father. This makes her Spock’s foster sister, and if you’re wondering how Spock can suddenly have a human foster sister after 51 years (let alone why Sarek would agree to adopt a human child), you’re not alone. Then again, I only watched the free premiere, so maybe it was explained in part 2.

This was only one example of the parts I found troublesome. Time and again the cast and crew insisted Discovery was set in the Prime timeline, yet everything about it looked and felt as though it belonged in J. J. Abrams’ Kelvin timeline. The tech and uniforms were way too modern to be just two years after the events of “The Cage” (TOS’s first pilot episode, later reused in the two-part episode “The Menagerie”). They apparently kept some of the sound effects from TOS, but coming from such highly advanced technology, it sounded jarring and out-of-place. Just because it makes the same boops and beeps as the Prime ships doesn’t automatically mean it’s set in the Prime timeline. Try harder.

I didn’t much care for the Klingon redesign, either. Their look is already so iconic, why mess with it? It’s like suddenly making Vulcan ears round and giving them funny noses instead.

And maybe I’ll catch some flak for saying this, but it’s my blog, so I’m going to–I found it vaguely annoying that they had a woman in command of the Shenzou. It’s nothing against Captain Georgiou–heck, I think the show should have been about her instead of Commander Burnham–but at this point in the Prime timeline, ten years before TOS, women were not allowed to command a starship (don’t believe me? Go watch “Turnabout Intruder”.). Obviously that rule changed, or else we wouldn’t have Janeway and Voyager, but at this point in the Prime history, a woman in command of a starship simply wouldn’t have been a thing. I could easily have overlooked this thanks to Georgiou being awesome, but it was just one more instance of non-canon-compliance they were asking the audience to overlook.

The episode itself actually wasn’t too bad–the show has a lot of potential. I would probably continue to watch it, maybe even overcoming my objections to the canon alterations, if it were broadcast on TV the way every other Star Trek series has been. But it isn’t. CBS has seen fit to make Discovery a paid-access show; the only way to watch the season will be to subscribe to their All Access streaming service. Although Discovery was good, it wasn’t great–certainly not great enough to make me subscribe to their streaming service. And it’s sad because it really feels that CBS doomed Discovery before it even premiered by making this decision. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other people out there who feel the same way I do, that the show was good enough that I would watch it on TV but not good enough to make me pay a monthly fee to watch it. If/when it has low viewing figures, Discovery will be pulled, and the powers-that-be will claim that audiences just aren’t interested in Star Trek anymore. No, what we’re really not interested in is your corporate greed.

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Tolkien Week 2017: Into the West

All good things must come to an end, and so we round out Tolkien Week with “Into the West” performed by Annie Lennox for The Return of the King. This particular video was shot at the 2004 Oscars, where “Into the West” was nominated for Best Original Song (which it won). Fun fact: The Return of the King won 11 Oscars and is tied with Ben Hur and Titanic for the most wins (and has the largest winning sweep of any movie). It was also the first (and so far only) fantasy movie to win the award for Best Picture.

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Happy Birthday, Bilbo and Frodo!

We interrupt the musical posts of Tolkien Week to wish everyone a Happy Hobbit Day and to wish Bilbo and Frodo Baggins a very happy birthday. Party on, hobbits!

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Tolkien Week 2017: Gollum’s Song

Rolling right along, we come to “Gollum’s Song” performed by Emiliana Torrini for The Two Towers. The title is pretty self-explanatory–it’s the story of Smeagol’s downfall, of his tragic transformation into Gollum, and what it foreshadows for Frodo. In a sense, Gollum is what Frodo could have become if he succumbed to the Ring, and I think Frodo realized that. It was one of the reasons, I think, that he tried so hard to redeem Gollum–if Gollum could be saved, perhaps Frodo himself could be saved from the Ring’s influence as well.

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Tolkien Week 2017: May It Be

Today we have the haunting and ethereal “May It Be” performed by Enya for The Fellowship of the Ring. I daresay this is the most popular ending song out of both trilogies. There’s no denying it has a definite Elvish quality about it (maybe they secretly hired Elves to record it). And I don’t know if this was on purpose, but I always thought the reference to “an evening star” was a clever reference to Frodo carrying the Light of Earendil.


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Tolkien Week 2017: The Last Goodbye

For today’s entry we have “The Last Goodbye” performed by Billy Boyd for The Battle of the Five Armies. Having Pippin himself sing the credit song for the last-ever Middle-Earth movie was the perfect finishing touch for the six films that captured the hearts and imaginations of thousands of moviegoers and changed all our lives forever. It was a bittersweet song for a bittersweet movie.

I’m not crying…you’re crying…

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