Master Splinter’s Unexplored Backstory

Hollywood has an obsession with happy endings.  And here, I’ve posted about how the film industry often glosses over horrid consequences of the characters’ actions to achieve a happy ending.

This glossing over horrid consequences isn’t limited to endings.  And it isn’t limited to Hollywood.  As it turns out, the comic book industry employs it too.

My daughter loves the newly rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon.  As a matter of nostalgia, I’ve picked up the original comic book run, now collected in graphic novel format.  Some elements are changed, because the comic book was intended for a much more mature audience than my 5-year old daughter.

Among the changes is that Splinter is Hamato Yoshi.  Yoshi is covered in the ooze and mutates into a rat.

In the comic book, the backstory is more complicated.  Yoshi was a member of an infamous band of ninja thieves and assassins know as The Foot.  Yoshi had a pet rat named Splinter, and the little rat would mimic his master’s movements and through that learned the secrets of ninjitsu.  Splinter tells us that Yoshi was known as The Foot’s finest warrior.

The comic never again mentions any of that, bringing to focus the next part.  Yoshi main rival was fellow Foot Clan member Oroku Nagi.  Nagi and Yoshi competed in everything, but their most bitter rivalry was over Tang Shin.  Shin only loved Yoshi, but Nagi kept trying to win her hand.  Eventually, Nagi threatened Shin with death if she didn’t love him, and Yoshi killed Nagi for it.

Rather than face an honorable death by his own hand for killing a fellow member of the Clan, Yoshi and Shin fled to America.  Nagi was survived by his younger brother, Oroku Saki.  Saki vowed vengeance and trained hard.  Eventually, he was selected to head the New York branch of The Foot, and there he sought out his brother’s killer.

Saki murdered Shin, and staged the scene to surprise Yoshi when he returned home.  Without a word, he cut Yoshi down.  During the fight, Splinter’s cage was broken and the rat ran free.

You know the rest… he found the turtles, got covered in ooze, they grew up… blah, blah, blah.

I want to seize on three facts:

  1. The Foot Clan is an evil band of assassins.
  2. Hamato Yoshi was a member of The Foot.
  3. Yoshi was the finest warrior of the Clan.

Do we understand what is left unexplored in every iteration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

Either the sensei of the TMNT or the master of the TMNT’s sensei is a cold-blooded killer.

And that puts the first issue of TMNT in perspective.  After telling the tale of the turtles’ mutation, Splinter reveals that his only purpose in training them was vengeance.  He tasks the turtles with finding and killing Oroku Saki, who now calls himself the Shredder.

So, unlike most iterations, the comic book has the turtles on the offensive.  They seek out Shredder and kill him at the end of the issue, under Splinter’s orders.  Most iterations have the turtles stumble on to The Foot’s activities in New York City and gradually learn that the mysterious head of it, Shredder, is the old enemy of Splinter: Oroku Saki.

While most iterations have Splinter/Yoshi a member of The Foot and The Foot a gang of assassins and thieves, they gloss over the fact that as “the finest” warrior of The Foot Splinter/Yoshi would most certainly be involved in such activities.

That should keep TMNT fans awake at night…

Pastor Dad

First off, before I forget, I have a post scheduled to appear on Wednesday on Josiah Concept Ministries analyzing the atheist argument that religion is inherited from parents and culture so it can’t be true. The final word count was 666. Omen? I hope not.

Recently, I had been reflecting on how I’m doing as a father. I think that I spend enough time with the kids; after all, I’m now taking care of them on Mondays and Wednesdays since we can no longer afford full-time child care. I’m looking at the book Geek Dad perhaps later on as we determine the permanence of the Monday/Wednesday situation. That will hopefully help me with some more activities for the kids, as I really don’t want us to sit around and watch TV everyday. That gets old quick.

Ashleigh always wants to play with me. She’s genuinely excited when I come home from work. She’s always waiting for me when I come in the door. She’s as proud of who I am as I am of who she is; she is quick to introduce me to everyone as her daddy.

Gabriel, in his own way, shows me love. He gets a big smile on his face when he sees me, and starts kicking his little feet. He likes when I hold him up high, and when I tickle him. I can make him smile real big even when he is in the middle of crying hard.

I take all of that as signs that the kids love me, and that I’m meeting their emotional and physical needs to whatever expectations they may have.

But I don’t think that I do enough spiritually for the children. I don’t read the Bible to them or pray with them. The only time I mention God at all is when we’re getting ready for church. I’m essentially sending the message to them the God is someone we only think about on Sundays. This isn’t so, and I know that isn’t true. I now need to teach the kids what is true.

Justin Hyde posted a great article on The Resurgence about pastoring the family. He said:

Husbands/dads, don’t clock-out on your way home; be ready to be present and engaged; don’t let your kids or wife expect to hear your formulaic: “I’m tired;” turn your phone off (I recently read something like this: “If you touched your wife as much as you touch your iPhone your marriage would be in a much better spot.”); cancel your cable TV; repent of your addiction to new projects, hobbies, and distractions.

This is good advice. There are many days when I come home and I just want to crash. But I should be ready instead to spend time with my kids. The advice on building a routine doesn’t apply to me, since I don’t have a 9 to 5 job. I will have to make as much time for praying together and Bible study with the kids as I can. This means some prep time on my part.

Through that article, I was able to download a copy of Mark Driscoll’s e-book, Pastor Dad. Good starts, both of them. But, I want to dig a little deeper. So I found some additional books on introducing the Bible to children:

To apply all of this, I will need to set aside some time each night to read and study the Bible with Ashleigh, Gabe, and Jody. Of course, Gabe’s not going to be able to participate just yet, but that will change later on. The reading will have to be short, because I know Ash is not going to sit for a long time and listen to me read. Then, we’ll have question and answer time. The key is to be interactive and engaging.

Then, we should have a family prayer where I ask each their intentions, and then offer praise and thanks for God and his blessings, along with the others’ intentions.

I want to make something like that as close to a nightly thing as possible. With my schedule, that’s not always going to happen, as I work late nights and closes occasionally (read: more often than not). But I will still be able to set aside some time to do all of this.

Getting Jody on board shouldn’t be a problem at all. Part of me thinks that she has been waiting for me to take the initiative in doing this, since it is the responsibility of the husband to teach his family in the ways of the Lord. I know she’ll be supportive, as a Proverbs 31 woman should: “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life” (vv 10-12). I know Jody fears the Lord: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (v 30).

She will help me, and help I will need always. I need to take more responsibility in the spiritual development of my own children, else I could lose them to the rising tide of skepticism. I know this tide all too well, fighting on the front lines as a Christian apologist. Up till now, I’ve been concerned about the spiritual welfare of complete strangers on the Internet. It is time to turn that concern to my own house, and channel at least some of the energy I’ve been using online into helping my children know the truth of Jesus, and help them place their faith in him who saves “to the uttermost all those who draw near to God through him” (Heb 7:25).