Justice League: Hawk Girl

This is the big one, this is the one with the most perplexing moral dilemmas. This is the one where we talk about…Starcrossed.

Oh my gosh, this was the episode/movie that changed the whole series. For better or for worse is debatable, but it made Hawk Girl go from less-prominent-character and GL’s love interest, to one of the most important characters on the show.

All we know about Hawk Girl’s backstory comes from this episodes, since all she tells us before was apparently a lie. She is from the Planet Thanagar, she’s a soldier, her mission was to investigate Earth and its defenses.

Now, Shirara Hall (Hawk Girl) didn’t mean any harm by this, she thought it was in order to help Earth. That her people were going to defend it and themselves from their enemies the Gordanians.

All too soon she finds out she was wrong. Her people’s real intent was to use Earth to build a hyper-space bypass, that is a kind of force field, to protect themselves, in the process turning earth into a caramel apple of a planet. Which would destroy all life. They seem amazingly cool about this, never thinking of the fact that Earth is full of people, who are conscious like them and who have feelings.

The problem is, by the time Shirara discovers this plan, she’s already betrayed her friends’ weaknesses to her people. A thing she felt kind of bad about already and now realizes was a huge mistake.

So she takes the plans for the death star (sorry, bypass) to the Batcave, where she figured they’d be after they escaped, and gives it to them. They aren’t too happy to see her, even GL, who’s still sore from the fact that she had a fiancé she never told him about, and that she sucker punched him after an appeal to him for trust. But she gives him his ring back.

After which she gets caught and imprisoned.

To make a long story short, the Justice League does some majorly awesome battle with the Thanagarians, which really shows the best of everyone; Wonder Woman sets Shirara free, reluctantly; and Shirara and GL shut down the bypass. Then Shirara decides to resign from the League before they can vote her out (though we find out later that thanks to Superman, they voted her in.)

I think I’ve told this story before anyway, but I haven’t told how it affected the show and the League both.

Wonder Woman was the angriest about being betrayed. She and Shirara never got along all that well. Flash said it was because they were so much alike, and I have to agree. Wonder Woman also left her home in order to help Earth, the difference was it never came down to defending one or the other. This similarity never seems to occur to Diana, and even if it does, she must dismiss it because she never made the wrong choice. Though she never had to make such a terrible choice as Shirara either.

This really is Diana’s worst moment. And she brings it out in Shirara also, Hawk Girl never admits she did anything wrong. She tells GL (John) that she did what she thought was right when she betrayed them, and she did what she thought was right when she helped them. Perhaps, being a military man, John sort of understands this kind of thinking, but Diana doesn’t. And the others don’t either.

Hawk Girl’s betrayal acts as a crucible for the other members of the League. Each of them deals with it differently and shows they’re true colors. Superman says he doesn’t know if he could ever really trust her again, but he votes in her favor anyway. John stays out because he think he can’t judge fairly (Justice, remember.) The Martian, whom I haven’t got to yet, must have voted in her favor, and he always seemed to empathize with her more because his whole planet died too. Flash, whom everyone loves, is ready to put the whole thing behind him permanently. He never brings it up again, he never acts like Shirara did anything. We know he wanted her to stay.  Batman must have voted against her, which is no surprise, he barely trusts anyone anyways. We never really hear how he felt about what she did, but he acts angry…for him. Wonder Woman thinks she doesn’t deserve a second chance.

And that’s the moral dilemma we are left with at the close of this episode. Even if we all could figure out if Shirara made the right choice in turning on her own people, we still have to decide if she should be forgiven completely, and if she should stay.

Here’s my two cents:

Hawk Girl is the most complex character the show came up with. She had Batman beat for that. She is scary, many people say, but also compassionate and gentle at times. Fiercely loyal, yet she has divided loyalties. Committed to doing what’s right, but she does wrong thinking it was right. Should she have known better? Yes. But so should we all.

Basically, I side with her. I think the bitterness and unforgiving nature that a lot of the League displayed when she finally returned to it was a far worse crime than what she did. They were never the same. Superman became more controlling. GL became more emotionally confused. Flash stayed Flash.

But Wonder Woman surprisingly learned something in the end. She was the most unforgiving at first, and later she tells Shirara, in kind of a snooty way, that she forgave her a long time ago. Shirara replies “Did I ever ask fro your forgiveness?” Both of them are proud, but Shirara does remind Diana that not everyone caters to her opinion. At the end of the day, they learn to have mutual respect for each other, and Shirara realizes that Diana actually does care about her in her own we-don’t-get-along-but-I-love-you kind of way.

I think the writers handled the situation poorly, but notwithstanding, Shirara is an amazing character, who has to make tough choices, and gets little appreciation for them and little mercy.

And I never knew who Hawk Girl was before that show. She’s pretty unforgettable once you’ve seen it.

I think that sums it up. Until next time–Natasha.

Justice League: Green Lantern.

Ever notice how obvious superhero names tend to be? Green Lantern is no exception.

I probably have the least to say about this JL member, simply because he’s not given a whole lot of focus in the show save for a few episodes. Plus, I don’t particularly like him, so hopefully this will be a short post.

However, GL (as his friends call him) is far from being an unimportant character or member of the League. One interesting thing about him was before he became a Green Lantern, he was a soldier. (Or was he a soldier as an undercover Green Lantern? Honestly it’s never fully explained.)

It’s pointed out in the show that this military background shapes his view points and how he handles problems. Sometimes too much.

For example, in the Justice Lords episode (the one where an alternate reality Justice League crosses dimension to help a. k. a. take over our Justice League,) the alternate GL shares how he used to be up nights wondering if some evil was happening somewhere that he couldn’t stop. And since they set up they’re totalitarian rule of the world, he sleeps better at night. Versus Hawk Girl, who normally is not the soft and gentle type but who seems to regret that the people are all afraid of them now instead of feeling reassured by them.

The fact that this GL could find a tyranny a comforting thing shows something about the way his mind works, even if our GL would not carry it that far. He likes order. But he’s very different form his alternate itself in that he has a lot of passion. He and the Flash are best buds, and the Flash looks up to him. He also has a soft spot for Old Yeller, and is so neat that he folds his socks. (My mom does that.)

But GL’s strong point is his sense of Justice. He keeps the League focused. And he wants to make sure they are maximizing their potential. When personal feelings get in the way of doing their job, he wants people to suck it up. Sometimes this is not good. He tends to forget that what makes the League work is that they are not just partners, but friends. Friends who trust each other, fight with each other, and at the end of the day would die for each other. Of course, he would do all those things too, but he tends to miss the motive behind the action. In one episode when he is accused of destroying an entire planet, Hawk Girl, Flash, and someone else (I forget which person it was) stick up for him, even when he thinks he is guilty. At the end of it he says “You believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.” Hawk Girl nonchalantly replies “That’s what friends are for.”

GL also loses his rationality when he is very distraught. Getting ready to attack even when attacking will do no good. But those occasions are rare.

I mostly have the GL from season one (which was labelled season two) in mind. Because sadly enough, he changes a lot after that. You would like him in one, but in two and three he starts doing some things that seem out of character. Presumably because of what happened between him and Hawk Girl.

That’s a long story. And it’s better to save it for the one about Hawk Girl.

GL is the most down to Earth out of all of them because he simply does his duty, even when he doesn’t like it. He tends to be too hard on himself. And Flash and the Joker both say he doesn’t watch enough movies. (An ongoing joke the writers have on themselves.) But he’s dependable.

He is the only African American character in the main League, which never comes up and in my opinion doesn’t matter, it works for him. They are all very different.

And that’s about it, as a side note, it’s said that GL is more powerful than Super Girl, but aside from beating her when under mind control, we never see any other evidence that he’s got more power when he’s under his normal restraints just like she was. I don’t know all the logistics of that.

Until next time–Natasha.

Justice League: Superman

I’ll admit upfront The Man of Steel was never my favorite. I don’t have much against him, but our personalities just never clicked.

He kind of reminds me of Mr. Incredible (who is clearly based off of him.) And like that hero, I think most of Superman’s mistakes (and successes) are the type that a dad might make.

There’s more to this than you might think. In the JLU show I’m referring to for all of this, Superman was the one who founded the Justice League. He said he needed more help protecting the Earth. So you might truly say he was the Father of the League.

That is how he relates to it an its members. Even though they are all friends, it’s demonstrated several times that Superman can never forget that he;s the mpst powerful, for better or for worse.

Unlike with Wonder Woman, Superman is someone we have to look at the background of before his character on the show will even make sense. Especially since its referred to several times.

Superman’s worst moments all have to do with Apokalips, if you’ve read my other superhero posts, you’ll know that that is the hellish planet Scott Free and Big Barda hail from.

The trouble is, the writers of JLU didn’t believe in making characters who could be stronger than the evil of Apokalips. Scott is the only one they ever let escape it without help, and that only because they couldn’t change too much about him. (And Scott actually had help originally, so his story got totally rewritten for that show.) Superman gets targeted by DArkseid after crossing the wrong person (I forget exactly who it was.) And brainwashed via machine into forgetting who he is and then attacking earth.

I hated that whole twist, but it creates his central conflict, so I ahve to include it. One cool thing about the whole mess was that Lois Lane, the one without powers or any notable fighting skills, was the one to snap him out of it. She keeps him grounded. (Honestly, it’s the best version of her I know of.) Other than that, the whole thing completely detrys Superman, and he has a hard time picking up the pieces.

This comes into play on the show many times. Darkseid is the one who can upset Superman’s self control (aside from Luthor.) The others have to hold him back from attacking. Batman gives him one hard hitting talk about getting over it. Deserved, I grant you, but as usual Batman has no tact whatsoever and its clear superman is sore and bitter about the whole thing. IT would be hard not to be, if you’ve never forgiven yourself for it, which he hasn’t.

We see in another episode that his greatest fear is losing control of his powers and destroying everything without being able to stop himself. Something I can relate to. Very much the Elsa-complex. And just like with her, superman only feel reassured when he lets someone who loves him reach out to him and help him bear the weight of his own powers.

I’ve heard that we are more afraid of our greatness, our glory, than we are of our weakness. It ain’t kryptonite that gives Kal-el nightmares.

MAybe we could all learn something from the way his friend help him wiht it. My only problem is that he never seems to be cured, which I think he could be. But notwithstanding, they were on the right track.

Some good things Superman does are also fatherly. He gives pep talks. He keeps the Leauge centered and focused, and whenever he cant ake a hit for is friends he does. HE’ll get in front of them to sheild them, or put him self first if they are falling hard, the best time was when he got Batman out of a burning watchtower in the nick of time. I love that scene because Superman is using his invulnralbily and speed without regret or thought of himslef. It’s pure.

No one is afraid of him most of the time, some jokes are made at his expense regarding how he can’t intimidate people like Batman can; but friends and enemies alike are terrified of him when he’s truly angry. Like most mild mannered people, when Superman gets ticked, he gets really ticked.

Even though he starts the league in order to have help, he has a hard time delegating to them. They feel like he doesn’t think they can take care of themselves.

One of the worst episodes (at least if you go by the hardest to watch) was “The Secret Society.” That was the one where the obligatory team split-up happened. The writers had the sense not to ever do this again, and the way they did it was completely annoying.

You’d really expect a team of adult superheroes to be more mature. Frankly, all their problems came out of nowhere. I never understood what Green Lantern was talking about for the first en minutes when he was laying out their problems.

But well-written or not, it did introduce some problems that came back in later episodes. One of them being Superman’s problem with letting other people be in danger.

If I had to say what the best thing about Superman was, I wouldn’t know how to answer. Or would I?

My favorite thing about him was that, except with his three most hated foes, Superman is a very merciful guy. He doesn’t hold grudges against anyone else, he expects the best from people. We never hear him knock any of his friends for being anything but less powerful than him–and not always right.

Superman got made into a complicated mix of proud and humble by the time the show ended, but over all, he’s likable. And he is the League’s fearless leader, and no one else could be like him.

All of them care about him deeply, as is shown in the episode “Hereafter.” And they share how he encouraged them, and set them all a good example. Because most of the time, his motives were pure, and his character more steady than the rest of them.

And I think that says it all.

This is pretty fun, I can’t wait till the next installment, and even if the J.L. isn’t your thing, I hope you’re enjoying this trip down memory lane with me.

Until next time–Natasha.

Justice League: Wonder Woman.

So, I’ve been thinking about my once-time favorite show a lot, and I thought why not take a closer look at it?

Because, as I’ve explained, I no longer watch it, but I think I was too harsh with it in some ways when I mentioned it before on this blog. It’s a sensitive subject you know.

There are some really bad episodes on it, and no mistake, but there was at least twenty or so that were worth watching and also thought provoking. (And there’s not that many episodes to begin with.)

With that introduction out of the way, Let’s get started.

The best thing about this show was the characters. I don’t think a single fan will argue with me on that point. Nomatter which ones you liked, you pretty much only watched the show because of the characters. (Though it has some of the best animated superhero action I know of.

These characters could nail corny one liners; awesome climatic dialogue; flirty romantic; serious romantic; fun; angry; under mind control; you name it. And all of it seemed to fit. That was how good the voice acting was. You believed you were really watching them.

So that’s why I’m going to dive into each member. But it was putting them all together that made the show freaking incredible. More on that later.

I’ll begin with my favorite: Wonder Woman.

Now, you have to throw out the Linda Carter version of her completely. She has no sister, she can’t sing, and she has no interest in someone in the military.

But Wonder Woman, generally called Diana on this show, makes up for all that by being totally awesome. And I don’t just say that as a crazy fan.

In a way, Wonder Woman balances out the League. She is one of the most powerful, but she is also the most simple in some ways. She’s straightforward but not overly blunt. Somehow she manages not to irritate the inferiority complex in other people that Superman tends to (more on that later.)

It’s not hard to see why. Diana has no trouble picking a fight, or winning one usually, but she doesn’t rub in her advantages. Unlike some of the other top super powered beings, she has warrior training, and she know what it’s like to work for her skills, instead of just to be born with them. She’ll pull her rank when she needs to, but it’s not often.

But more important than her power is her heart. As cheesy as that sounds. Diana always strikes me as the most motherly out of the female supers. She just has a way of caring about her friends and wanting to help them, but not too much. You get the feeling she’s the one they’d turn to for some serious mom-talk. We never see her really use this ability full on except in “Kid’s Stuff.” But it’s an underlying theme of her character, and you can sense it even when you can’t see it.

Without a doubt, the best episode with her in it is “Maid of Honor.” But that’s also the best episode for discussing the Wonder Woman/Batman dynamic, so I won’t give away too much.

But in that episode Diana meets the Princess of Kasnia (made up country) after she is nearly abducted in the middle of a party. The Princess, Audrey, is not much phased by this event, but in order to continue on her merry way, she needs Diana to escort her around. Diana agrees to this and ends up having a blast. She and Audrey become friends instantly, and she decides to keep and eye on her, which won’t be hard because Audrey is inviting her to all her events.

They way Diana and Audrey interact is flawless. Audrey brings out the hidden party girl in Diana, and Diana shows compassion and some tough love to her new friend. We get to see Diana at her best in both the fun friend role, and the friend who-loves-you-too-much-not-to-be-hard-on-you role. Diana also gets to play detective in a way, and we see how though she is a lot more instinctive than Batman, her instincts are right.

Pretty much is was impossible not to love her after this episode.

But Diana has her flaws. The major one we see most in “Starcrossed.” and “Hawk and Dove.” But many people refer to her as “stuck up.” What’s odd is that we never see her act stuck up except in the latter one, and that was a new development.

Diana does act like a Princess, I’ll grant you, but she is one. I’d call it confidence and a really refreshing unaffectedness. (By which I mean she’s never awkward, though sometimes she unconsciously makes other people feel so.)

Her real flaw is she is vindictive. She’d rather fight it out than talk it out. Which is a typical superhero problem, and Wonder Woman has it in a typical way. Slugging it out is simpler than trying to peaceably settle it, and she has a temper. She eventually becomes aware of this flaw and tries to control it, but she has a hard time forgiving.

To her credit, like Mr. Darcy, she seems to take great care in not letting herself be offended easily. WE almost never see her get angry at friends, and then not without great provocation. See’s easy going and spontaneous. Not often spending a lot of time thinking things over, but her decisions work out 80% of the time. Basically, you could sum up Wonder Woman by saying she’s rough around the edges, but her heart is in the right place, and she’s a lot of fun.

I wouldn’t say she’s the core of the League, or what holds them all together, like I said, I believe her effect is more to steady them. She provides back bone. She’s the midpoint between all-too-human and all–too-powerful.

Actually, Wonder Woman is kind of the most balanced superhero in my mind because her powers are definitely super, but she only has two actual powers. Flying and Strength. The rest of it is skill and her magic armor. It makes her easier to understand than the ones with so many powers one can’t even keep them all straight (not to mention the writer keep changing them as time passes.)

I’ll talk more about her in the Batman one, but for now:

Truth. Justice. And whatever Wonder Woman’s motto was.

–Natasha.

The Do-good principle

Hate, love, they’re talked about a lot. As are the reasons for doing either. But I’ve noticed one reason in particular has been overlooked, and I think it’s worth mentioning.

If anyone besides me has read “Mere Christianity” (and the odds are you have) you may remember a point Lewis made about people who ae cruel, and people who are kind. He  used the Nazis as a more widespread example, but there are plenty of others, you’ll have encountered them yourself. Lewis’s point was that the Nazis were cruel to the Jews because they hated them, and then they hated them more because they were cruel to them.

Likewise, if you love someone and are kind to them, you will love them more because you were kind.

I think it’s simple really, when I do bad to someone, I am seeing the worst in myself, which I don’t like, therefore I will not like them, not through any fault of their own, but because I choose not to take responsibility for my own actions.

and if I do good to someone, I will always remember them as someone who caused me to bring out the best in my character, so I will like them more than ever.

Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? But boy, is it overlooked.

To me, this explains why the Gospels start off with John the Baptist’s calling to repentance, before Jesus’s calling to love. Because if this principle is true, then the first step toward loving people is to admit your sin was your own.

Because it seems to me that hatred for someone you’ve abused is just misdirected hatred toward yourself and your sin.

I am not saying that hatred of others is not real, I am saying that in this case, it is unjust, and a product of our desire to shun responsibility.

In my case, I’ve had people who would say things to me that were wrong, but the more they said them, the more they believed them,  till it wasn’t what I did that really mattered anymore, but what they felt I did. I’m sure you’ve been there too.

This is the explanation for racism. Whatever kind. The white people hated the black people because they were cruel to them, the black people hated the white because they eventually returned the cruelty; pick any two races, two parties, two families who are feuding, and you’ll find the exact same thing.

Take even the recent election. The more one side rails against the other, the more they hate that side. Even though, any sane person knows that victory or defeat depends a lot more on what you do with your own party than on what the opposition does.

This is also why people who serve each other tend to be nicer, more forgiving people.

The only cure for hate is to start doing good for the people one hates. It is the hardest thing perhaps in the world to do that, but it must be done.

This rule will apply to more than hate, it will apply to laziness, envy, greed, jealousy, an almost any vice. It started with the person doing something wrong.

But let me clarify: hate can begin before someone has ever met the object of it, therefore they could not have sinned against them. I won’t deny this is real, but it is rarely self-begun in that case. Usually there is a cause for such hate, and then the solution is not repentance but forgiveness.

But I’d say that’s only 10% of the hatred out there, the rest is taught or grows out of our own selfishness.

It works even if it’s not hate per sec. Children who are rebellious started off at one point disobeying once or twice, then made it a habit, and the more times they did it, the more they felt like doing it.

I can even cite a non-biblical, or religious, source for this idea.

Watch your habits for they will become your character, watch your character for it will become your destiny.

It’s the same idea. What you make a habit of doing will become your character eventually.

As you can see, I’m not the first to hit upon this principle. But it is not well known enough, and never has been. It’s too hard to retain. It’s more natural to us to blame others for our behavior, or excuse ourselves, or even in some cases enjoy being bad.

Like I said a few posts ago, evil will change your idea of fun (Girl Meets World) and this principle explains why. Call it the snowball effect, or something akin to that.

The Golden Rule is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I used to think that meant if I was nice, others would be nice to me. Well, that is a possibility. But the Golden Rule is really for us. If we treat others how we want to be treated, eventually we will come to love them as ourselves, which is just paraphrasing the Golden Rule. (Jesus said both things real close together after all.)

Simple, profound, and difficult. It must be right.

One last thing, I’ve mentioned before how our culture is obsessed with evil people. If you think hard enough, the Do-good principle is at the heart of this too. The more we choose it, the more we like it. Any character that starts off as good guy and ends up a villain will be applying the inverse of the principle.

I think that wraps it up for now, until next time–Natasha.

The Lord of the Fantasy.

Yesterday I saw “The Fellowship of the Ring.” For the first time.

I know, Christian; millennial; homeschooled; how is it possible I’ve never seen it before?

I haven’t read the books either (gasp.)

Honestly, the story just didn’t appeal to me. The ring creeped me out, and there weren’t a lot of girls in the story. Up until recently, I really didn’t have an interest in any story without girls in it. Girl Power and all that.

I’m sure some of you haven’t seen or read the series either, but I’m  not going to recap, I’d never fit all that into one post, or two.

The point is, now that I’ve seen it, do I like it?

Sort of. I actually only decided to finally take an interest because I’ve been reading a lot of J. R. R. Tolkien, and what better way to understand a writer than through his material?

but reading about his creative process is very interesting. Did you know he never knew much about what would happen in the legend before it actually did happen? HE always had  a sense of the story being given to him, not imagined.

And knowing some of it, I completely agree that no one could make that up. It really happened.

No, I don’t mean I think it actually did, (though If I were told it had historical base, I might,) but it would make you think so.

Genius.

And it just the thing to make you feel how little you actually know about writing.

I can easily feel smug about my talent when I compare it to most modern authors, who don’t know how to really write. If I have even an inkling more than they, I’m ahead. But next to real genius, my efforts still look like child’s play.

Nothing wrong with that of course. Plenty of good books are written n that way, and it’s not a reason to stop. But it is a reason to be more humble.

I think we get lied to a lot about our abilities. Not everything we crate is beautiful just because we created it. Being unique does not equal beauty. Some of the ugliest and most disturbing art I have seen was unique, because it was unhealthy.

See, rarity works both ways. It can either mean you have an incredible gift and are using it well, or that you are creating something horrid, that only people who have a flaw in their soul will like.

That is not an exaggeration. It is hard truth.

Now, it may be a rare person who will create such bad art, but it’s not so rare as it was, because we’ve started letting them off the hook by saying they are expressing themselves. (As if any of us would want to know the self they are expressing, if that was the case.)

But this is not a post about that, I think I’ve made my point.

But most art is on better footing. Not all of it is about pleasant subjects, but it will at least be making a healthy point about the sadness of a more tragic subject.

Tolkien’s work is very much a blending of both, and a skillful blending because he does it without shifting the overall tone of the story.

No one should read fantasy without considering its tone, and its message. Anyone who thinks fantasy is for pure entertainment and has no real life point, is reading it wrong and does not understand the genre.

See, if I may wax Tolkien-like for a moment, fantasy is far closer to real life than we think. But because we have no guard against it, we accept truth in fantasy easier than we will in real life.

Think of you favorite books, mine are all fantasy or fiction, and I know that the truth I learned from them became a part of me because it was ins tory form, and that was much easier to take in and retain than any “real” lesson would be.

The Gospels tell us that Jesus constantly used stories, known as parables, to teach the people. But only to his disciples would he explain the full meaning.

The reason he gave was that it was for his disciples to know the things of the Kingdom, but he people had shut their ears, and eyes, and hearts.

This makes more sense to me now than it did when I first heard it. Someone recently expounded on it, saying that the stories were so even the people could understand the way to have an abundant life. (I paraphrase.)

As we all know, many people consider Jesus to be a moral teacher but not the Son of God, and that being the case, they will only accept his teachings on that basis, so the stories are an effective way to convey that.

In this case, the motivations of Jesus and of fantasy writers is the same. Both wish that the people would understand them if they spoke plainly, but people don’t like that for the most part, so in order to get their message out, they use stories. Because they want people to have a better life, even if they stubbornly refuse to have the best life.

You might compare it to how, in stories, the heroes will have the best life (if they win) but the people who helped them along the way will still have a better life than otherwise. No good author likes making everyone in their story miserable just because they aren’t the hero. (Not that some don’t do it. Check out Les Miserables, though I don’t know if Victor Hugo liked it, so much as though he needed it.)

So, the first thing fantasy teaches us is that if we want to be happy, we have to be good. That is the foundation of all healthy fantasy, because any that says otherwise is lying, the real world will prove that.

There’s plenty more about this subject to be delved into, but for now, I’ll sign off.

Until next time–Natasha.

A strong mind and a soft heart.

Someone said recently, in a video I watched, that many people now have weak minds and hard hearts and we need more people with strong minds and soft hearts.

And I agreed.

But I suppose I didn’t really ponder what that meant, until I was reading “The Problem of Pain,” by C. S. Lewis. (Who, as some of you know, is my favorite author.) This book is as brilliant as his other books, but not fully developed in his style. It’s one of his earliest intellectual apologetics books.

But brilliant, just the same, if you can follow what he’s saying. (A lot of words ad terms that people would have known in the last century, but we wouldn’t know make it hard to always know what he’s referring to.)

Anyway, I remember back when I hadn’t read any of Lewis’s books except the Chronicles of Narnia and eventually “Mere Christianity,” I had the mistaken idea that he was very much a reason-driven person; but once I learned more about him and read some of his other works, I found out that despite being brilliant, he was very much a believer in feelings being a guide as much as the mind.

To put it more concisely, Lewis would have favored both a strong mind and a soft heart.

The thing I noticed lacking in his non fiction was an acknowledgement of how God affects our feelings, and uses our sense of need much more often than our sense of morality. But having looked closer, I see that he did addresses that, just in a very reason-oriented way.

This appeals to me, since I hate to have things be too dumbed down for me to feel at all like I’m learning; but I have little respect for people who can’t get out of their mind and into their heart.

For me, it’s a temptation to despise people who are much less intelligent than I am, because I have never in my whole life been considered of average intelligence. I admit, I do get my share of vanity from this, but it’s no credit to me. I figure I just use the brains that God gave me, and the only reason I’m smarter than a lot of people is because they don’t use their brains.

Yet, I am not at all intimidated by people who are smarter than me in their ability to learn and retain information. Because I value wisdom even more than intelligence. (If they really are two separate things, and those who lack wisdom but have a high IQ are not really just smart idiots.)

Frankly, I don’t consider even those with Special needs as stupider than me, because often they see things more clearly than a genius would. If anything, a lot of intelligence blinds you to the obvious. I have social awkwardness problems because I tend to get wrapped up in my own thoughts instead of sensing other’s feelings and reaction. As far as that goes, a dog might be more aware than the hyper-intelligent person.

Genius is not a bad thing, and when it comes out of a place of a lot of suffering, it can actually be a persons link to sanity, the ability to go inside themselves and their creations instead of focusing on what’s around them.

But my point here is that intelligence is not the same as having a strong mind, a strong mind is a wise mind, and mind with a  sense of humor. If you ever check out the book of Ecclesiastes, you’ll find a man who is wise, in a morbid way, but seems to have no sense of humor.

What about a soft heart?

Well, hard-heartedness is rampant nowadays. (When has it ever not been? The natural tenancy of man is to be selfish, unless he is consciously trying not to be.)

It’s a term we don’t really think about now, but it means to not let anything penetrate your heart. Neither pain nor pity nor love.

I move that technology has made us more hard-hearted. Charles Dickens would have agreed with me.

Also, being bombarded with negativity, and also propaganda. We have started to celebrate the hard-hearted; cold; and evil people of stories and real life.

You put out what you get put in.

As wrong as I think it is to admire any evil person for being good at what they do, I have to admit we’ve made it awful hard to admire the good. If someone is good, there is always some attack on their character, some dirt dug up, some rumor spread; to be fair, even the bad people get made  worse by rumors, but that only furthers the point.

Look, it’s okay to admire a good deed. I recently saw a short documentary of a celebrity (Julia Roberts I believe) taking vaccinations to a village in Africa. I think what she did was admirable, and she proved to be more of a down-to-earth person than I would have expected. (Because Hollywood seems to drive people crazy.)

That is admirable. I know nothing about Julia Roberts when she is at home, and not in front of a camera, but what she did was good. It’s good publicity for her, sure, but also for the cause she was supporting.

Getting back to the subject of a soft heart: A soft heart is an open heart, but not open to the wrong thing, that’s why you need a strong mind too. You need both.

And there is equal danger in lacking one but having the other, either way.

A soft hearted, but weak minded, person may end up supporting the wrong thing and in the end doing more harm than good to the same people they were trying to help.

But action without heart is sure to lead to an empty life or worse, one spent doing harm.

There’s plenty more to say on this topic, this post was sort of an introduction to the idea so I can reference it later without confusion, but for now, I’m done.

Until next time–Natasha.

The appeal of evil.

I have an unusual subject for you all today. (At least I hope it’s unusual.) What is the alluring power of evil?

Believe it or not, this was sparked by a chapter title in The Ever After High book “The Storybook of Legends.”

In this particular chapter, Shannon Hale takes a rather startling turn from the rest of the book, which has dealt with our protagonist, Raven Queen, feeling unfit for evil. WE all feel bad for Raven, but in this chapter Hale shocks us with a rather long inner battle in Raven’s mind about whether evil might actually be an intoxicating thing. There was a lot of power at Raven’s fingertips. (Literally.) A whole army of evil servants willing to do whatever she wanted. And she could even take revenge on everyone who “had ever made her feel like dirt.” While shes’ thinking this, Dexter, one of her few friends, comes up to her and says he almost didn’t recognize her because she looked so angry.

Personally, this chapter made sense to me. Right from the start of the day Raven feels the pressure to sign the book and seal her fate. She dresses up in her mom’s cape, puts on striking make up, and looks the part. She even feels the part, mistaking the inner turmoil shes’ feeling as evil, when in reality, it’s her uncertainty mixed with her fears of both signing and not signing.

But is the power of evil really so appealing?

Many sources recognize that evil appeals to our desire to control, to have absolute power, to manipulate others and ourselves. Pretty much any book with magic in it will deal with that part of evil and power at some point. (And if it doesn’t; frankly, I question how relevant it is.) Take the ring in the Lord of The Rings. It isolates the person wearing it, and tempts them to keep using it, to keep having control. Another example is The Green Goblin, whom I mentioned in my post about Spider-Man. The Goblin offers Osborne more and more control, but the price is to do evil. We all know which he chooses.

But though it’s easy to identify what desires in us prompt us to give in to this kind of evil, I rarely hear it discussed whether the desire itself is not evil to begin with.

A lot of kids, sad to say, are rooting for Raven to be evil. Why? Because it’s so darn cool. (I don’t speak for myself, here, of course.) Because she’s so much more intimidating when she’s evil. Even people in the story are rooting for her to be evil. Which is infuriating both to her and to the fans.

Girl Meets World pointed out the fact that just when we think we’ve seen the worst of it, someone finds a new way to do evil. Why? “Because it’s evil that fascinates us.” Heck, there’s a whole movie about that coming out on Disney Channel, and I am not endorsing it. Seriously, no one watch Descendants 2, it’s terrible. Whatever you’ve heard about it, if you’ve heard about it at all.

Girl Meets World actually tackled the subject of evil in another episode, and Riley’s dad said something wise, that evil changes our idea of what fun is.

The fact that evil is a kind of thrill is a sad fact of life; but it does not give us a pass.

Let’s go back to Raven. She has always felt like evil is not a good fit for her. But she knows other kids at school who are destined to be villains who like it. They have no pressure on them to be nice, in fact, they are applauded for being nasty. And Raven could have gone that way. It was tempting.

And what is it that makes it tempting? Is it not our desire to control things? And is that desire good?

Because when it comes down to it, it’s all about motive. Evil would not be appealing to someone who had no evil desires, and every human being has evil desires. As James 1 tells us, and as any honest person will have to admit. I’ll admit it right now, I sometimes have desires that I know are bad. I get angry, and I don’t always want to let it go, though I know I must. I feel like hiding the truth. And I give into fear.

I don’t do any of this as much as I used to, but I still feel like doing it sometimes. Something is wrong with some part of me.

This doesn’t make you a bad person, in as much as any human being can be a good person. But it does present a problem. It means none of us are perfectly good.

And if so, aren’t we all evil?

I don’t need to protest, you’ll all probably do it for me. Because nowadays our immediate response is “Don’t judge me.” Or “Nobody is without flaws.”

And yes, I am not one to judge. But I can at least go so far as to say, it is not good to have evil desires.

But does that mean Raven has already lost? And does that mean we all have?

Yes and no.

We are none of us good by nature. But neither are we completely bad. The mistake the Ever After High books are highlighting for us is that is it wrong to think anyone is automatically all good just because they are supposed to be, and it is wrong to think anyone is all evil just because they were taught to be.

Raven Queen has the purest heart of just about any modern character I’ve encountered, but even she was able to see why evil can be tempting. So why did she decide not to choose it?

Why did she give up control?

Well, Raven is smart. She figured our that by giving up control, she was really taking control for the first time. But not of her destiny, per sec; but of herself.

Raven saw more clearly than most of us that signing away your life to evil will never be a happy fate, no matter what perks it seems to have at first. One big part of it was she didn’t want to become full of hatred. Which she would have been, because she’d always blame her destiny for her unhappiness. (And not unjustly either.)

Unlike the foolish Apple White, who put aside all misgivings in order to do what she thought she was born to do.

In conclusion, it is the desire to give in to evil that we all need to guard against. It is what prompts us to do wrong, and it needs to die. Every time it comes back. I know of only one way to accomplish this, and that is through Christ.

But even so, any of us can choose to resist it. We should.

Hope you enjoyed, until next time–Natasha.

Going back to the basics.

I revisited My Report Card post, someone just looked at it recently. Of course, the reason I re-read it is because, as I said in the post, I need my own advice.

Disappointed again.

Boy, it’s hard not to just let this become your attitude toward life, isn’t it?

Funny story: back when I was a kid, I got disappointed frequently for awhile, and one day I got it into my head that if I said I hoped for the opposite of what I wanted, then what I actually wanted would happen. It even seemed to work.

But what’s not funny at all is how many of us still think that as grown men and women.

I realize now that my negative thinking was more likely to prevent what I wanted from happening than to allow it, but at the time I had a rather negative view of myself. It wouldn’t be the last time I felt almost like I was cursed.

If you check out Genesis, you’ll find that the original human beings were indeed cursed, but it was for trying to get what they wanted by doing the wrong thing.

The Man was cursed with thorns and thistles and constant work.

The Woman, which to us at least sounds worse, was cursed with painful labor, even though of course, it’s not constant.

As John Eldredge has pointed out in “Wild at Heart.” The curses are more than just what they sound like on the surface.

Men were cursed with futility and failure. Which I think doesn’t mean things like work are futile, or that men will constantly fail, a curse is really a lot more about your perception of what’s happening.

And don’t men feel like their lives are futile a lot of the time? And like they are failing?

So do women of course, but for us it’s even more personal, I think.

It’s not just having kids, it can seem like whatever women do, it ends up being a long and painful process, and one we never really feel ready for.

And of course there’s the part about having desire for, and being ruled by, your husband.

Relationship difficulties, am I right? Not fun.

Women feel like their desires contradict themselves, after all. We want this, but we also want something very different. Ah! Why can’t we be simpler?

Well, where’s the fun in that? But my main point is this all feels like a curse… and it is.

But not completely. Like I said, it’s your perception.

The reason I think that is because Christians like to say Jesus freed us from the curse of Adam and Eve; which is true; but not in the way we think.

At bottom, a curse leads to sorrow and suffering. Jesus was cursed if you can believe it, because the Word says “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” Which is what a cross is made from. Major suffering.

But Jesus does not free us from having to suffer and know sorrow. He knew plenty himself, and part of the deal of being a Christian is learning to be like Jesus.

I’d venture to say 90% of our problems as Christians come from not understanding what being like Jesus entails. Maybe even more.

I like better the answer I heard from another source, that Jesus’ suffering redeemed our suffering. The thing about a curse is, it never makes your life better. (Read “Ella Enchanted.”) But suffering can ultimately make your life better, if it is in the right hands.

So in a sense, maybe my younger self was right. But now that I know this, I know that my disappointments don’t have to make me bitter, or just plain delusional. (Why do we use delusional as a word to apply to people who believe things are better than they are? IT’s far more often the other way around.)

All that said, will disappointment hurt? YES!!

Does it have to break you? No.

It might, being broken isn’t as bad as being bent. Broken is fixable.

So is bent, but it’s harder, definitely.

But once you’ve cried, or ranted, or whatever you do to feel better; it’s time to pick up the pieces.

Because as bad as I feel, and as much as  might want to quit, I’ve come to far to give up now. I’m finishing this thing.

Frankly, I can’t accept defeat because I’ve staked everything on victory.

You can’t quit when you realize what you have to lose.

And looking at the bigger picture, I see that one disappointment is not worth throwing away everything.

In a way, I needed to write this more than any of you needed to read it, because I had to remind myself of all that.

Still, I hope it was helpful to someone else besides me, thank you for reading, and until next time–Natasha.

Give or Take?

Hey everyone, get ready to dive down deep.

In my post about Spider-Man, I mentioned something about being given something or taking it.

I was specifically thinking of power of course, since that was the thing in question. Spider-Man was given power, if you don’t believe in fate, at least you have to admit that technically the spider did give him its power.

And I mentioned Elsa.

Now, there’s been a lot of movies and books that explore the idea of whether all special powers are evil. I mean, a lot, it’s a huge theme now.

So, what’s my take on it?

Better yet, is there a biblical take on it?

Because the first mistake many Christian kids make is thinking that it’s entirely up to them whether this stuff is okay or not. People have justified horoscopes as being harmless.

But are they?

Okay, no one wants to hear the Christian freaking out over invisible demons type of thing on a blog, so I won’t. But I can’t avoid it either when talking about power.

We all have seen or read, or heard of in real life, a story about someone grasping for material power. Authority; wealth; strength; sway. Some of us think that’s dangerous, some of us are still grasping.

Assuming for the moment that we all agree that it’s dangerous, than good. WE won’t try for it. But I notice another trend that’s prevalent in our culture.

Magic. Real or fake, magic sells. Kids think it’s cool. And I think it’s all right in a fantasy context.

Magic, however, is all about power.

Which is why it can be a great symbolic way to teach us about the follies of being power hungry, but it can also masquerade as something harmless and fun. This happens even in stories.

(Ever see Disney’s Sword in the Stone? All the magic in that ends up backfiring in several ways, despite how harmless or fun it seems. Merlin actually teaches Arthur that in a way, magic is no toy.)

Plenty of people think there are powers we can’t understand in the real world. Some are even scientific. That’s no great leap of logic.

But is power given or is it taken?

You’ll find that in real life and in stories, the villain often brings the tale to just that sort of crux. Where the hero must choose whether they take power, or whether they use only what they’ve been given. In Prince Caspian, this amounts to calling up the white witch, or using the forces they have and believing Aslan will show up in the end, with help. We all know what the right choice was.

The truth is, real or not, things like horoscopes; and Ouija boards; and tarot cards; and magic tricks; they all are rooted in the same thing: Wanting power. Often sold as wanting knowledge. Knowledge of the future, mostly. After all, our greatest fear is not being prepared for the future. But as the saying goes, knowledge is power.

We think if we know, we’ll have the power to control it.

Like in Macbeth, where Macbeth finds out the future from three witches and tried to make it happen, only to be killed in the end. Because you cannot control your fate.

Even in Frozen, when Elsa is told fear will be her enemy. I don’t think it was wrong for the troll to warn her of that, but her parents immediately tried to control her fate. Elsa learned to do the same.

Often in The Bible, and in old myths, people are told the future without asking for it. And that is a given thing. Usually in the form of a prophecy. You might notice that it rarely has the same negative outcome as seeking out such knowledge does.

God may choose to reveal to people what will happen, often the knowledge only prepares them, they can’t do anything to prevent it.

That’s the difference you see. Control is different from preparation. Or even prevention. In the end, somethings in the future are changeable, but most aren’t.

We’re told to focus on the present, and that is a wise thing. Live in the now, even commercials will tell you that. I’d just add that there’s a lot your better off not knowing or thinking about.

But one final not on power: Everyone has some. Everyone is indeed born with certain powers. The power to choose being the most famous one. That is a gift. Use it wisely.

And it’s okay to have the gift of music, or athletic ability, and to build on those gifts. I don’t want anyone thinking I meant that was a bad thing.

It’s going outside of your natural talents that leads to harm, in whatever form you do it in.

That said, I’ll end this here. Until next time–Natasha.