Saturday, August 4, 2007

Beware the Salt Sucker


This devotional is kind of special to me. It is adapted from the very first sermon I ever gave, waaaaaay back when I was a sophomore in high school. I was 15 then! I still have the original notes, so much of it is pretty much lifted straight from it.

This is kind of on the light fluffy side, being based on an episode of 60's Star Trek (I was a serious Trekkie at the time.) It could benefit strongly with less emphasis on plot and more on moral. But, I think the message is valid, so I'm sharing it.

Beware the Salt Sucker

Forty years ago, before men landed on the moon, a different type of space exploration was taking place once a week on televisions across the country. That was the Star Trek phenomena, which brought intelligent writing to a genre long since ridiculed for stupidity.

Today, the show is very dated looking. But more often the not, the writing makes one think. And one episode in particular, should make us all question what we do with our lives.

That episode is called The Man Trap, and it is the first episode of the show to air, way back in 1966.

First, let me introduce you to the characters and the premise. Star Trek is about a crew of brave adventurers sailing their ship the Enterprise all around the galaxy, and encountering all sorts of weird stuff. The captain is a man named James T. Kirk, but everyone calls him Jim. He’s flanked by his two best friends, a pointy eared alien named Spock, and cranky old country doctor Leonard McCoy.

In this episode, the Enterprise has been ordered to check in on a husband and wife team of archaeologists, Robert and Nancy Crater.
So we begin this episode with a shot of Kirk, McCoy, and Expendable Crewman #1, teleporting onto the desert planet where this dig is taking place. On Star Trek, the skies are always red and nameless characters you've never seen before always die. But for the purposes of this sermon, I'm going to name the third character "Bob." Now on the planet, our heroes move towards the cave where Robert and Nancy Crater apparently live. We then learn that apparently, Nancy Crater is Dr. McCoy's ex-girlfriend. Apparently she ran off with that Robert guy and left poor McCoy alone. Kirk, always the bringer of good-advice, tells McCoy that when visiting an ex-girlfriend, one should always bring flowers. So he reaches down and picks some dry grass.

Gee, thanks Kirk. I'll remember that tip. (Kirk is the one in the gold, McCoy in the blue)

They walk into the cave, and find Nancy Crater. If there was any bad blood left between McCoy and Nancy, it quickly evaporates when McCoy notices she hasn't aged a day since when he saw her last several decades ago. However, it only appears that way to him. Oddly enough, Kirk sees an entirely different, older woman. Things are even weirder when Bob, the expendable crewman, sees yet another, blonder Nancy Crater. It becomes apparent that each man sees exactly what he wants to see.

They talk for awhile, then Kirk sends Bob out to look for Robert Crater. So Bob goes outside and leans against the door like a moron instead.

Nancy (the blond one) walks out after him and starts acting really flirty for no reason and the audience groans.

At that point, Robert Crater shows up inside the cave and basically tells Kirk and McCoy to leave. Also he wants extra Salt so if they could give him some on the way out it would be great. The audience dislikes this guy because he looks really sweaty and weird.

Just then, BLOOD CURDLING SCREAMS come from outside. The men run outside to find Nancy (the old one) standing above the dead body of Bob, the expendable crewman.

One thing is certain: Bob is dead, and something is responsible. Nancy is too distraught to be of assistance, so Kirk and McCoy return to the ship to do an autopsy.

They discover something disturbing. Bob shouldn't be dead. There is only one thing wrong with him, his body contains no salt. The human body needs salt to survive, and Bob lost all of his, apparently sucked out through the red welts on his face. Remembering Robert Crater's bizarre request for extra salt supplies, Kirk and McCoy return to the planet to question him, bringing along Expendable Crewmen #'s 2 and 3 (or for the purposes of this sermon, Larry and Steve.)

Nancy Crater is nowhere to be seen, so Kirk orders Larry and Steve to go get killed-I mean go find her. Kirk asks Robert Crater why he wants Salt, and he makes up some excuse about needing it to replenish salt lost through sweat, this being a desert planet and all. He shows them a box that used to be full of salt, and is now empty. You can almost believe he too, because the man perpetually looks like he just got through playing basketball in 100% humidity while dressed asan Eskimo.

Having got nowhere with their interrogation of Robert Crater, Kirk and McCoy head back outside and run right into the dead body of Larry.

Then the scene shifts, and we see Nancy Crater now standing over dead body of Steve. From this point on, we can't really refer to her as Nancy, so I'm going to call her "The Salt Sucker."

Having realized that things are going badly, Kirk starts calling for Steve to come back to the ship. The Salt Sucker hears this, so begins to...TRANSFORM INTO STEVE.

Having assumed the form of Steve the Expendable Crewman, it runs up and meets Kirk and they return to the ship. Kirk starts scanning the planet for any signs of what could be killing his crew, not knowing that he has let THE SALT SUCKER loose on his ship. It doesn't take long for a random crewman to show up dead.

His plastic tarp vest and aluminum foil arms couldn't even protect him! With crewman dying all around him, Kirk figures that Robert Crater knows more than he lets on, so he and Spock go back to the planet to arrest him.

He resists. They catch him anyway. Once back on the ship, they interrogate him. Then we learn his horrible story. About a year ago...or was it two? Crater can't even remember. His wife, the real Nancy Crater, was killed by the strange creature that we're calling The Salt Sucker.

Originally, he was upset about this, but then he discovered that the creature could do things for him. It was a shape shifter, and it could become anyone or anything that he wanted it to. All it took was a little salt from his jar. As long as he controlled that jar, he controlled the creature. Just then, the creature comes from around a corner and grabs him! He tries to resist, and reaches for his jar of salt, only to find it empty. He promptly dies.

Kirk chases the Salt Sucker, right into Dr. McCoy's office. The Salt Sucker transforms back into Nancy, and begs McCoy to protect it.

McCoy, unaware of what is going on, protects her by taking away Kirk's weapon.
Then things get weird.

The Salt Sucker grabs Kirk's face, and begins to suck the salt out of him. However, in order to do this it must transform into its true form. If you don't like ugly things, scroll past it, fast! This thing was traumatizing our parents forty years ago, and it hasn't gotten any prettier!

With this staring him in the face, McCoy does the only thing one should do in this situation. He shoots it with his gun.

The creature falls over dead. The day is saved, but the crew sits around very somberly for few minutes to think about what they've learned.

Then the ship flies away into space. Roll credits.

What was the point all that? There’s an important spiritual allegory here.

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. Matthew 5:13

When Jesus used the metaphor of “The Salt of The Earth”, to get across the point that a person without goodness is like salt that has lost its saltiness. Salt that doesn’t taste salty is worthless, just as a Christian who does no good is worthless.

Like the Salt Sucker in the story, the devil wants your salt. He doesn’t want you to live a good life, and he certainly doesn’t want you to spend your time serving Christ. And like the Salt Sucker, he’ll offer you whatever you find appealing to get at your “salt.”

Every person has temptations that they are susceptible to, that may not even interest another person. I know my weaknesses, and chances are you know yours.

The problem is that sin can be fun. Robert Crater lived with The Salt Sucker for several years, enjoying the pleasures it brought, all while feeding it salt from his supplies so it wouldn’t go after the salt in his body.

Look at some of the stuff on television, music, magazines, the Internet. There are some bad things out there, but they may make you happy. You may like some of that stuff, and the devil will see you get access to it. All he asks is a little salt.

On the surface, sin can be as pretty as young Nancy Crater...but at its core it looks like the horrible monster it really it.

Sin offers amazing fun for awhile, and the things you can do are only limited by your imagination. The problem is that it slowly takes its toll.

We run out of salt, and we can’t live without it. Physically or spiritually.

Will you be like crater, and when the devil shows up, will you reach in vain for your salt, only to find it all used up?


Lorrie said...

Star trek....pish posh. :-p Very amusing, my mother would say "who thinks of these things?" (regarding star trek salt sucking alien creatures, not your comments about it)

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