Michael Joseph Manacci

When you grow up the way I did, as the son of amateur astronomers, you get introduced to Geek Culture very early. Science Fiction, in particular, has played a huge role of influence in my life, not just as a writer but the very essence of who I am. My very first exposure to Geek Culture was in 1997 when I attended my very first Sci-Fi convention at age 4 with my mother and father. Within the realms of the vast depths of my imagination, I visited the galaxy far, far, away, and the final frontier many times. For reasons unknown, whatever reasons though, there was this one franchise that evaded me through my adolescents.  To be fair, I was always aware of its existence, but I was totally unbeknownst to the levels of depths, mysticism, and groundbreaking ideas all woven into a beautiful tapestry using the ancient art of storytelling. I speak of what could very well be the genesis of modern science fiction: Frank Herbert’s Dune. Dune is perhaps the most important and the most underrated science-fiction franchise of all time. Its universe is far more vast than Star Trek or Star Wars combined; so vast in fact that one could get lost deep within the realms that only exist within your imagination.

We must also never forget how important Dune is to the history of science fiction. By the early 1960s, the days of writers like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells were long over with the previous decade of cheap and poor quality of films and dime store novels having left a bad taste in the mouths of the American public. Frank Herbert didn’t just break the glass ceiling by writing Dune; he smashed all doubt and discouragement against Science fiction. In so doing this, Herbert rebirthed this beloved genre and blazed the trail for creators like Gene Roddenberry, Michael Chricton, and George Lucas. 

Given that Dune’s universe is so massive, we will be focusing on Frank Herbert’s original novel from 1965. In this installment of the Dune saga, the main character, Paul Atredis, is preparing to face the final trial of an organization called the Bene Gesserit, to fulfill his destiny and lead house Atreides in their new endeavors on Arakkis. His mother, Lady Jessica, was exiled by the order for giving birth to Paul when she was ordered to only produce female offspring. 

After waking up from a vision-filled lucid dream of the planet Arrakis, Paul’s anxieties and fears of this trial are nearly crippling as the final preparation is made for his test. After some heated exchange from the Gesserit mother to Lady Jessica, the Bene Gesserit mother places before Paul the test of Gom Jabbar. Gom Jabbar is a test given within the order to test the “humanity of individuals.” If a trial bearer can manage to withstand his pain caused by the device used in this trial, the test bearer has officially conquered instinct and, to be more specific, fear. Until this point in the Dune universe, no male had ever passed this test. Unbeknownst to Paul, he is about to be subjected to the most pain ever to be subjected through this trial. The Bene Gesserit mother doesn’t really have high hopes for either Paul or the outcome of this trial. 

Against all odds, Paul Artredis manages to ignore both the tremendous amount of pain and his instincts telling him to quit. Rather he remains aware of his pain and what the device is doing to him. With the trial completed, Paul is admitted to the Bene Gesserit order and is deemed a success in the order’s breeding program. Paul goes on to lead the natives of Arrakis, also known as the Fremen, in a rebellion against the emperor Shaddam IV. With the corrupted emperor dethroned, Paul is appointed the emperor of the known universe. 

Fear, in itself, is by far one of the most human emotions. From the time of humanity’s earliest ancestors, humanity has always found an unwanted companion in fear. Fear can motivate one to succeed. Unfortunately, it can also turn your closest friends into bitter enemies within your mind. Although it can sometimes seem to have good intentions, it is never from God, and it has absolutely no power over you as a Christian, Dear Reader. 

The Bible tells us in Psalm 27:1-6 that:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is my stronghold of my life-of who shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me, to devour me it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear. Though war breaks out against me even then I will be confident. One thing I ask from the Lord, this is the only thing I seek. That I may dwell in the house in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble, he will keep me safe in his dwelling. He will keep me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon the rock. Then my head will be exalted above my enemies who surrounds at his tent. I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Fear may be the mind-killer, but it can and will kill the body and the soul. However, Dear reader, you are declared dead to your fear, dead to your anxieties, and dead to your sins. You are a new creation in Jesus Christ, one made in the image of God and loved by the very same God. No longer live in fear, but boldly proclaim your new god-given courage.