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Saturday, December 1, 2012

With Six Cents Less

Well, I have to say, it's a little disheartening having to review this episode today. I just got done listening to "Groundhog Jay" and would love to review that episode. In short, I thought it was near excellent. But, alas, that review will have to wait for over a month. :(  It's not that "Three Dollars More" was a bad episode, it's just that today's episode was considerably better, and it's going to take some extra thought to review an episode that came out over a month ago. I'm listening to it again, but it's a little hard to remember now the thoughts I had when I first heard the episode.  However, the more of the episode I listen through, the more things I think of that I can address, so this might be a fairly full review nevertheless.

Overall... I think I liked this episode. Originally, when I first listened to it, I had some complaints. I thought it was a little rushed, like "Great Expectations," and I concurred with Alex Jefferson (the blogger) when he said that it seemed a little unnecessary to have two separate failed attempts at an RoC adventure before finally bringing Whit in to help. Also, because of the two silly adventures, I got the impression that the episode was a little bit too focused on entertaining, rather than bringing across the point about tithing.

However, after listening to it again, I've formulated a different opinion. I still have some minor complaints, and I'll get to those later, but I think this episode was actually very well done. Once Whit came on the scene, I thought the moral lesson came across very strongly. Obviously there was a good bit of silliness thrown in for the first half of the episode, but I suppose that can be disregarded, as it was likely designed to keep the younger listeners attentive. But I could use Barrett's words and say, "It was absurd!" or "This is ridiculous!" :P  I thought the acting was good--better than usual, even--and the plot, especially of the last adventure, was very well constructed.

When the episode descriptions for this season surfaced over the summer, I was excited to see that we'd be hearing from the Room of Consequence again. Without looking on AIO Wiki, I guessed that the last time we heard from it was when Liz Horton experienced the adventure backwards in "Hindsight." And I was right. I was wrong, however, when it came to my guess about how many RoC episodes there have been in Odyssey history. My guess was that there were around three or four total. I could think of "Into Temptation," "Hindsight," and "The Eternal Birthday." I guess that just shows how big of an Odyssey geek I am. There are 12 total episodes (including the two from this season) that feature the Room of Consequence! (There are also two Odyssey videos that featured it, I see.) We could have a whole special album full of these episodes! Looking back through the list, I remembered all of the episodes, but I forgot that most of them featured the RoC. It's funny, because I seemed to remember only the very unique RoC adventures. I remembered the very first one, "Into Temptation"; the one where Liz experiences the same day multiple times, "Eternal Birthday"; and the one where the machine runs backwards, "Hindsight." Many of the rest of them, I remembered as Imagination Station adventures, I guess. Most of them are very good episodes. The only one I don't remember very well is "Thy Kingdom Come." Maybe that's just because I haven't listened to it as often; it just seems like that was one of the more forgettable RoC adventures. It's probably different for different people.

Anyways... all that was to say that I was glad to see the return of this machine. It's been odd for it to have disappeared for these 15 albums, since we've last seen it.  And it did seem to run a little differently. It took Matthew and Connie mere minutes to program a somewhat elaborate adventure for Barrett to experience. I don't remember there being much programming involved in the other episodes. I thought it was all based on the user's own mind, as in the case of the Imagination Station.  But, I suppose I can think of an instance or two where the adventure needed to be programmed. Jason programmed Heather's (or was it Erica's?) adventure in the soap opera TV show in "Soaplessly Devoted," and Whit and Eugene had to program Liz's adventure in "The Eternal Birthday."  But those are the only ones I can think of where it was specifically mentioned that the adventure was pre-programmed. It just seemed more like a game than an epic adventure into your possible future when Matthew and Connie were able to manipulate it so drastically with a few keystrokes. Plus, weren't these adventures always supposed to be plausible outcomes of choices? I don't remember there ever being an option where the user would experience a completely ridiculous future, as Barrett did in this episode.

All that aside, I really was happy that we got to see the RoC in action again. We'd had two/three Imagination Station episodes in this season already, so it was time for a change.  The Room of Consequence has always seemed to be very effective in its persuasion of the conscience of the user. This time, the writers decided to utilize the machine to teach a lesson that, surprisingly, hasn't really ever been touched on in Odyssey history. And I thought they did it quite effectively. But I'll get to that later. Right now, I'd like to get out of the way the few minor problems I had with the story:
  • As was the case with scenes featuring several tween girls in Albums 51 and 52, particularly, I had a little bit of a hard time following the scenes with the older Matthew and Barrett the first time I listened. It was a little difficult to distinguish the two voices. But, eventually, I got the difference between their voices, and it was no longer a problem. So that was only a very minor complaint.
  • One more important problem I had was that on at least two occasions, Mrs. Meltsner spoke in front of the church during a Sunday morning worship service. Now, granted, these events took place during the fictional RoC adventures, but I seemed to me that they were representative of what would be a perfectly normal occurrence. Now, as was the brief complaint I had last week about Emily and her feministic dreams, this is a personal belief and preference that I try to support with Scripture. And this time, I'm backed by my whole denomination at least. 1 Timothy 2, as well as 1 Corinthians 11, I believe, say that a woman should not speak in the church, but that they should remain silent during the worship service. They shouldn't speak up, but should address their husbands with any questions and comments they have later. I know that's just as controversial as what I said last week, what with all of the female pastors and worship leaders and such. But that's what I believe, so that's just something I wanted to add.
  • My final complaint is the most relevant to the actual story of the episode. I didn't really like how much Barrett seemed to have backslidden in the future. I know it was all fiction, but Barrett wasn't like, "Hey! I know I'm a Christian now, so there's no way I could act like that and lose my salvation." I just thought it was very odd that Barrett totally gave up on going to church, helping people, and making God a priority, but Matthew still treated him as if he was a Christian and didn't really address that issue.  And then what struck me as most weird was that when Matthew told Barrett that Joey, the kid at the recreation center, had recently "given his life to Jesus," Barrett was like, "That's awesome!"  On the one hand, he seems to have no care about spiritual things whatsoever, but then he's still excited when someone gets saved.  From my point of view, and from the Bible's point of view, if you've been saved, God has changed your heart and your desires, so that you will never ultimately rebel against Him again. You will sin, sure, but He's sealed you with the Holy Spirit. Nothing you could do could separate you from His love, and because of that love, you're not going to want to live in unrepentant sin. Jesus died for your sin, to take the wrath of God away from you. If His wrath no longer abides on you, you could never backslide so much so that you would end up in Hell, with His wrath on you again.  I know many people don't share that conviction either, but that was something that bugged me about this episode, so, again, I just had to bring it up.
Alright. Now to the good stuff.  I really liked the message of this episode. I think my family differs a lot from the traditional view of tithing, in that we don't believe that God requires a rigid ten percent, as He did in the Old Testament. There's no rehashing of that commandment in the New Testament. But there are several passages--particularly in 2 Corinthians 9--that talk about giving cheerfully to the church, supporting your local pastor, and stuff like that. So we believe that Christians are not absolutely obligated to give ten percent of their earnings to God, as is the majority view today. We believe that ten percent is a good starting point, but that it's really about your heart and what's going on inside of you when you're giving your money.

I was surprised to hear that that was basically the main point of this Odyssey episode as well. Whit specifically says to Barrett at the end of the show that he probably figured out by now, tithing is not so much for God's benefit, but for our benefit. It shows us our heart condition and when we're not trusting God to provide for us. When we don't trust God enough to give Him just a portion of our income, it's showing that we probably don't trust Him in other areas either.  So, yeah, I thought the writers handled this topic very well. Better than I was expecting, for sure.
That brings me to another positive. I actually found myself liking Whit in this episode! Andre Stojka's performance in this episode really made me think back to the old days of Whit, where he was the grandfatherly character with good advice and biblical values to teach the kids. And this wasn't just a generic moral lesson, this was a teaching straight from the Bible. And he even made a Gospel application when he said that we should be willing to sacrifice for God, because of how much He sacrificed for us.

And, on the subject of actors, I realized the second time I heard this episode that, Brandon Gilberstadt is back!  I knew I recognized old Matthew's voice the first time I heard the episode, but I couldn't pinpoint it. This time, it came back to me, and I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't know he was still around and willing and able to do a voice for Odyssey like this. I mean, he was in that one episode in Album 50, but I thought that was just a one-time thing--especially since they had to get him over the phone. But yeah, it was nice ot hear from him again.

Oh, and one final thing!  Am I the only one who thought that the pastor of Barrett and Matthew's church sounded a whole lot like Paul Herlinger? There were a couple of scenes that started off with him talking, and I was shocked when it sounded so much like the old Mr. Whittaker. I was thinking, why didn't they just use this guy instead of Andre Stojka? I think he could have done a great job sounding like Whit.  But what's done is done, I guess. I really would have liked to see how he would have done though. I'll have to look up who that actor was.

Wow. That was a long review. I had even more to say than I thought. Are you guys liking these long reviews?  If you're not, and they're taking too long to read, I can try to shorten them, so let me know. Thanks for reading it if you did, though.  I appreciate your appreciation of my hard work. :)   Make sure you come back next week for my review of "The Bible Network"!  I have a lot to say about that one. ;)   Please comment!

-- Christian


  1. I agree that the first scenario is a little unusual as far as Katrina speaking up before the offering. However, I don't know of very many men who would do that either.
    The second scenario is more realistic in the sense that Katrina talked to the pastor and then was prompted to bring up her point.

    The verses you mentioned were more specific to the time that it was written. It isn't making a statement against women pastors, but addressing the questions and things that would be asked during services. BUt this was because women were less educated back then and so they had more questions.

    I don't agree with the "once saved always saved" view point. While this episode wasn't trying to say that "not tithing" will send you to Hell, they did a good job of pointing out something. Tithing helps keep your priorities in line. You see, Barrett gave up tithing, and therefore it kept his focus on what he could do with his money.

    I've seen cases where believers turn what they believe because they got on the wrong path. One can't say that they were never saved to begin with. If you lose sight of God, and fall into sin, sin begins separating you from God all over again.

    Great review otherwise. Keep it up!

  2. Expect a PM with why k disagree with you, Christian :p

  3. @ FJ: I was actually waiting for you to show up on my previous review and tell me why I was wrong. :P *goes and looks* Oh wait, you did comment. I shall respond to that one over there as soon as I finish with this one.

    I knew you would bring up the cultural argument, and I just have to disagree with you. The verse says, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man." If that were all he said, maybe you could make the case that that only applied to that culture and that today is different. But Paul goes on, "For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression." If it were a mere cultural problem, he wouldn't have appealed to truths from the very beginning of creation to back it up. The fact that he used Adam and Eve as his example is evidence that this applies just as much today as it did 2,000 years ago. "The head of every woman is man." The woman does not have the authority to teach a man in a church setting. That's just the way God wants it. It's not demeaning of women; it's just putting them in the place He created them for. (More on that in my reply to your other comment. :P)

    With regard to your argument for believers being able to lose their salvation, I'll post here what I posted in The Soda Shop on this topic:

    "So is it our works that are keeping us saved? Like, we need to work to remain saved, and if we stop doing good works and start doing bad enough works, we are no longer saved by God's grace alone?

    If we're saved by grace alone, that means that we are kept saved by grace alone. Our good behavior and not rejecting God don't keep us saved; God keeps us saved.

    Furthermore, if you're a saved person, God has given you a new heart that no longer delights in doing evil. If you're delighting in sin and willfully rejecting God, that's just evidence that you never got a new heart.

    And what about the verses that talk about the Holy Spirit as the seal of our salvation until the final day of redemption? Is the Holy Spirit just going to up and leave us when we sin enough? Isn't He supposed to help us to fight against our sin? Why would He just leave us to ourselves when He's supposed to continually sanctify us and keep us until we die?

    It just doesn't make sense that someone who has had their sins washed away forever--their past, present, and future sins have been totally forgiven--could become "un-forgiven" and guilty before God again. If Jesus took the wrath of God on the cross for them, then how can the wrath of God abide on them again?"

    Thanks for commenting, even if you still seem to disagree with me on so many matters. ;)

  4. You have some good points, but I guess some Christians will never agree on, or completely know which angle is right until the day we'll know everything.

    *note to self; Comment more often than to disagree about controversies. :P

    Side note: I really do enjoy the way you thoroughly explain your point of view. You do it in a respectable manner, and not an "in your face" approach. And that is good in any discussion.

  5. Thank you for the compliment. :) I do my best to be respectful even when I blatantly disagree with someone. I'm glad I'm coming across that way.

    And, don't worry. You'll have more to disagree with, I'm sure, in my post next week. I had a very fundamental disagreement with one of the stories in "The Bible Network," and I plan to discuss my disagreement in depth in my review. So don't miss it! ;)