Don’t quench it.

 I don’t want to sound like I’m tooting my own horn, but sometimes it’s not easy to publish these posts.

I firmly believe that fear should never stop you from saying what you believe, but it is still tempting to back off and not go there. If you get my drift.

Maybe I’ve mentioned this before, but the word belief is getting to be a misnomer these days. So often “I believe” turns out to really be “I think. I hope. I suspect. It might be true.

To believe something means to be past just thinking it, it means you’ve thought it out till you’re sure it’s true.

That doesn’t automatically make it actually true. But it does make it a lot harder to convince you otherwise.

I find, as an opinionated young person, that people rarely try to convince me I’m wrong, more often they just try to convince me I’m not the only one who’s right. Or that my rightness is no different than their opposing opinion, even if they’re opposites.

I can tell you this, our modern mindset of putting  stigma on absolute truth has made it harder to speak the truth boldly.

I’ve met so few people who even will, and those I have met often go too far in the other way and speak the truth without the grace to see how and when they should say it.

And often there’s a great disgust in the hearts of people who have strong beliefs, because they find people who don’t to be repulsive in their weak wills.

This is just what I have observed.

And I won’t say I don’t face that temptation too. I often think many don’t realize that those of us with strong faith and conviction have our own struggles. They think we enjoy being the way we are and that it gives us a kick to look down on the rest of the world.

But not all of us look down on others, and all of us struggle with the pride problem that conviction can present.

Pride really sneaks up on you. That’s part of the reason a lot of folks started backing down from their positions. They didn’t want to be too proud and judgmental and miss the heart of the whole thing, which is to love you fellow man. At least if you’re Christian.

Actually, the very heart of Christianity is to love God, totally and without rival. Loving people comes next.

I’m not asking you to feel sorry for people of conviction, Christian or no, most of us envy them.

But I notice that had not stopped anyone from telling me to back down a little whenever I get too close to home.

I probably have the tenancy to overdo it, I think most people like me do. But I strongly resist the idea that I should stop.

Here’s the thing; I may very well get carried away, but at least I get carried somewhere.

The Bible says people who don’t have strong conviction are like ships on the water, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. Doctrine can also mean ideology, philosophy, or mindset. It’s not just Christian doctrine.

People who have  strong beliefs will go somewhere. It could be the wrong place, but at least if you’re gong somewhere, you can also change course. A ship tossed on the waves has no course, it’s at the mercy of the storm. And storms aren’t known for being merciful.

I would rather go too far in boldness than not far enough.

It is true that no one may listen. But that doesn’t make it right to shut up. Check out the book of Jeremiah for that subject. The poor guy never seemed to have any luck with people hearing his prophecies. But he couldn’t’ stop, because the word of God was like a fire in his bones.

Jeremiah was young when he started prophesying. I bet he never had much of a normal life. He probably never got married or had children. He probably never really lived in peace. It was hard for him, but he had to keep speaking God’s word.

That’s the thing about the word of God. Once it’s in you, you can’t keep it to yourself. If you try, the same thing will happen to you that Jeremiah experienced.  It’s stifling.

The Bible says “Do not quench the Spirit of God.”

You don’t even have to be Christian for God to speak through you. Anyone who speaks the truth is, in essence, speaking for God. Which is why the evil in the world hates them; it hates those who claim to have the answer even more.

If I ever get more well known than I am now, I’m pretty sure I’ll be hated, mocked, slandered; and if I wasn’t, I would take that as a bad sign.

If the world loves you, then you probably are too much like it. And that’s never a good thing in my book.

There’s a little anecdote I want to share before I end this:

I just posted about Friendship, and how it’s been confused with homosexuality, to the detriment of us all.

What I didn’t share was how often I struggle with wondering it that’s right. It’s not from any real conviction that it is, it’s because I hear it constantly. Just like you all do, I’m sure.

And when you hear something more than seven times, you start to believe it. Unless you really put up a fight not to.

But just writing out what I actually believed in that post cleared my head. I felt more sure of myself.

You see, it’s stripping me of my identity to keep questioning something when I already know what’s true and what’s a lie. And I know that I know that I know.

It’s not just people who don’t express themselves who forget who they are, it’s mostly people who stand for nothing and so fall for everything.

You will never hear me say certain things are okay when I know they aren’t. And you will never hear me say some things are wrong when I know they aren’t.

Standing up for what you believe in is more than posting it on social media, or blogging it even, it’s being able to look someone in the face and say “No.”

And you will get in trouble for it, at least 5 out of 10 times, if not more often; but it’s worth it to have a clear conscience.

That’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.

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In defense of friendship.

So, I’ve been reading The Lord of the Rings, finally, I’m almost done with “The Fellowship of the Ring.”

And so far my favorite character is without a doubt, Samwise Gamgee.

Though Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli would all be close behind.

They were my favorites in the movie, along with Eowyn, but I’m definitely not alone in that.

But Sam is the best, he’s the comic relief as well as the heat of the group. Kind of like The Flash. you ever notice how often those heart characters are also the funny ones, it’s like the heart has to make sure people don’t get too sad or discouraged along the way. This is another reason I like Spiderman.

Anyway, there’s some controversy with Sam and Frodo that’s pretty messed up.

I’ m bringing this up not to have a political axe to grind, but to address another problem with this mindset of our culture.

People interpret certain words and actions as pertaining to certain feelings. You know what I mean. A kiss means one thing, holding hands means another.

To my astonishment, I’ve discovered that something as simple as expressing a great wish for your friend to come back alive, or to survive, can be perceived as sexual.

First of all, even if this is between a man and a woman, I’d still say it was messed up to look at it that way.

Things are pretty desperate when a man can’t want a woman to come back alive without being in love with her. I. e. Sexually attracted to her.

Is that all we’re good for to each other? Meeting some sexual need? Is that the only goo reason to care about each other’s well being. Because it seems thoroughly selfish to me.

I know some kinds of love can be selfish like that. No doubt you’ve experienced that kind of love, either in yourself, or in someone else, and it’s not always the romantic kind anyway. Familial love can be just as selfish. And so can friendship love.

My concern is that we don’t know what friendship is anymore.

I’ve had friends of both genders whom I’d be very upset about if something happened to them. I’d take steps to prevent that too. That doesn’t mean I want to be with either of them. It just means that I (shock) happen to care about other human beings besides myself.

And my guess is I don’t need to explain this to you folks who are reading this, but it sure as heck seems like it needs to be explained to a lot of folks who are spouting off their opinions every where I turn.

There’s nothing wrong with having an opinion of course, just so long as it’s a healthy one.

But if you can’t even believe in affectionate relationships out side of romantic ones, that’s not healthy.

Because the amount of people any one person can have romantic feelings for is limited, but the amount of people they can have affection for is almost limitless. You can get fond of almost anyone if you know them long enough and they don’t drive you crazy, in some cases even if they do drive you crazy.

And there’s a big difference between Sam wanting to protect Frodo and save his life, and Sam not being able to go on without Frodo. (I do think Frodo could not have gone on without Sam, but for a very different reason, the Ring would certainly have possessed him if he had been left alone with it.)

It’s a very natural thing to protect your friends. If you don’t, you aren’t much of a friend, that’s why gossiping about your friends is the best way to lose them. You exposed them instead of defending them.

In fact, friendship starts from a willingness to help another person not be lonely, a lot of the best friendships come from two people who had only each other, and were hated by everyone else, or just ignored. My own parents started out in such a relationship.

And between a man and woman, that often turns into love. But it’s not because friendship is inherently romantic, just immaturely so; it’s because companionship is the best foundation for a romantic relationship to grow on. But it doesn’t happen that way every time. And it doesn’t have to happen that way for it to be a healthy relationship. I think men and women can be lifelong friends and never need to take it further than that.

In a perfect world, we could all be like that and no one would be suspicious of it.

In the Bible, King David, a man with over seven wives if I remember right, had a friend named Jonathan, and they had a bond of souls.

David said at a later time that Johnathan’s love to him was better than women’s love.

This does not mean it was homosexual at all. There’s actually a distinction David is making between friendship and sexual love. He found the one with women, but he never seemed to have a wife he really was friends with.

David is simply recognizing here that friendship love is more sweet and loyal than romantic love often is, romantic love is famously fickle and inconsistent. And a guy with seven or more wives would certainly know that.

C. S. Lewis wrote that he’d rather have friendship with his wife, forever, than be romantically attracted to her forever. Because friendship was a better thing to have.

Now, just to be clear, friendship does not mean a feeling in this case. It means a certain unselfish way of acting, putting your friend first before you. Like Johnathan did for David. It also means having someone else who is passionate about the same things as you are. As Lewis says in “The Four Loves.” IT also means willingness even to lay down your life for someone else, as Jesus himself says is the greatest love of all.

All this can be in a romantic relationship, but it does not make it one.

In fact, this kind of friendship is really the kind of love we should have toward all people.

I think stigmatizing it is a huge mistake, and part of the reason people find it difficult now to make connections with each other in any way that’s not over a screen, where misinterpretation is a lot harder.

And until we let go of this stereotype, we can’t really be inspired by characters like Sam to be noble, loyal, and self-sacrificing; which is certainly what Tolkien intended when he wrote the story.

That’s my food for thought, until next time–Natasha.

Thoughts on The Spiderman Trilogy.

Hey folks, so the Solar eclipse is happening right now. Pretty cool right?

Of course no one will read this until it’s over, probably.

I don’t have any real thought provoking observations about it, there’s plenty of those out there, I’m sure.

It is funny to think I haven’t lived to see one of these yet, and I’ll probably live to see only one more. Of course form where I am, I can’t see it fully.

But I digress.

I really like the old Spiderman movies, with Tobey Maguire. They’re a bit old fashioned, but then so am I.

And I only just saw 1 and 2 this year. So it’s new to me.

I know they aren’t the most epic of superhero movies, but I think that’s part of their charm.

Whoever wrote those films, (Raimer wasn’t it?) knew how to use superheroes. I think the themes of all three are pretty great, even if the third one is notoriously inferior. (I haven’t seen it yet, but I ‘m not convinced I would hate it.)

The trilogy is dealing always with the question of power. with power comes responsibility. But many people don’t live up to that responsibility.

There’s the Green Goblin, Osborne, who misuses first his business power to do a dangerous experiment, and then gets corrupted by the effect that experiment had on him. He ends up going completely insane.

Then there’s Dr. Octopus, who was definitely less desperate to begin with, but was over confident about a power source he couldn’t really control or understand, he gets turned into a monster by it, but in the end his better self is able to overcome it and he saves the day. Only after he is willing to let that power go.

In the third movie there’s three villains. Harry Osborne, who is following in his father’s footsteps. The Sandman, who I know the least about, but is given power by an accident if I remember right. And Venom, who is the worst of all.

In the third movie, Spiderman is also abusing power. In the first two, his struggle was leaning what to use it for, and whether he really should use it all, this time around he is struggling with wanting more. The struggle his first two foes were falling to has finally come around to him.

Which is important to note, you will always be tested on the same things your greatest enemies are, your greatest enemies are always the ones who had the opportunity to be heroes  and chose the wrong thing. That’s why so often the good guy is the better version of the bad guy. With similar skills and personality traits, but with a stronger character. Because it’s always hardest to fight yourself.

In the end of the third film, two of the villains give up on villainy; one forgives Peter, the other just decided to stop, (I think, I’ve seen bits and pieces only) like Dr, Octopus. The third one decides to embrace the monstrous power, and enjoys being bad. Some villains do. The others all denied really being evil, but this guy got a kick out of the thrills of it. No rules, and all that.

Peter Parker finally rejects the power of the weird alien goop because he realizes it’s making him into the wrong kind of person.

This seems like a decent way to cap off the first two films to me, I think the complaint is it was too choppy and spread out over three separate stories. IT wouldn’t be the first movie like that.

but the idea at least was good. Thought the mud always freaked me out and still does, but I think it’s like The Ring of Power. IT’s supposed to scare you so you know hwy it has to be resisted. (Where did that instinct go? Now it seems like people embrace the fear and want more of what’s causing it, instead of knowing to run from it.)

Tobey MAguire’s PEter Parker had charm becuase he was really just a normal guy, with extraordinary character, given extraordinary powers at a confusing time of his life.

But it’s like it was planned. With the exception of Harry’s Hobgoblin persona, none of Spiderman’s villains are born because of something he did. Not like Ultron, or even Loki, or Hydra’s reoccurring villains. All of them would have risen up whether or not there was a Spiderman. But Spider man was given his power at just the right time to stop the Green Goblin, and later all the rest.

Actually, you could see special planning in how he stopped Dr. Octopus. Spiderman had no cause to know Otto Octavious, but by sheer luck it seems, Peter got to meet him before he went bonkers, and so was able to talk him back into himself.

And Harry was his friend. So was Venom, briefly, but not really a good one.

There’s really a Supernatural aspect to the three films. And I don’t say that just because I look for it, it was glaringly obvious form the first one.

Here’s why I think that makes them better.

If Superheroes were in fact real (and the Bible has at least one, if not more, that were real;) then I would expect their powers to be a gift from God, to protect His people from some great threat that ordinary abilities just won’t cover. If they gave themselves powers, I would expect it to corrupt them, because power that is grasped at will corrupt.

The Bible says that Jesus did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped. But Satan did. Jesus is our savior, Satan is the great enemy. Because equality with God means having all power, over all things. Jesus didn’t try to take it, it was given to him. (Read the first part of the Gospels for the whole story.) Satan tried to take it, he got cast down.

Which is precisely what happens to Spiderman’s villains. They try to harness power and it destroys their lives. But Peter is given power, and though it test his endurance, in the end he knows it’s his gift. Something he has to use for others.

I am not saying Peter Parker represent Jesus, I am not one of those people. I think few superheros even being to fit the role of a Christ character. They aren’t supposed to.

They are heroes, plain and simple. The kind of heroes we should all strive to be. Whether we can climb walls or see through them or not. Whether we can fly or shrink or shoot an arrow backwards. (By the way, I took archery for awhile, I still have serious doubts about Hawkeye being able to do that. Even if he looked first, it could change in a split second. But it sure is a cool trick if you suspend disbelief.)

If anyone but Peter Parker was Spiderman, Spiderman could not be what he is. That’s why the trilogy was smart to focus on how Peter Parker’s normal life is such a huge part of his Spiderman life.

Those are my thoughts for now, unil next time–Natasha.

A continuation…

I thought I’d say a little bit more about Age of Ultron.

Actually, this isn’t isolated just to this movie, its in a lot of stuff now.

But one specific scene that really bothered me was the conversation between Bruce Banner and Natasha (Black Widow.) She shares some more of her dark past, about being sterilized.

Maybe I’m just naive, but the practices of whatever organization she was supposed to being sound more like Granny Goodness’es orphanage than they do a spy school.

Furthermore, if she started being a spy when she was six, like the first movie showed, why would she still be in training in her twenties?

But worst of all, she refers to herself as a monster because of what happened.

Am I the only one that finds that really degrading to the many people who choose to have that operation for various reasons? Not all of them are good, but not all of them are monstrous either.

but aside from that, I have a problem with them referring to Banner and Natasha as monsters to begin with. Then later Tony Stark (who I never liked) says he and Banner are both monsters and they should own it.

This was exactly the problem I had with Ever After High’s occasional confusion of principles. And the whole point of that show initially was that just because you were raised to be evil, and other people think you are, doesn’t mean you should be or have to be.

And it sure as heck doesn’t give these three avengers the excuse to be monsters.

I’ve worried about it myself, most people have. We all act in ways we aren’t proud of, and sometimes we scare ourselves with how messed up we can be. Or how mean. Maybe like Banner we have anger issues, maybe like Natasha we’ve lost all our integrity and want to get it back, maybe we have a huge ego like Tony and don’t use the best judgment.

What do all these things boil down to? Fear.

All three of them are afraid that they will either fail the team just when they are needed most, or will actually be the reason it falls.

That’s why all of us feel this way. I should know. IT defined me for a long time.

At least movies like Frozen are honest about it. Fear is the monster, it has nothing to do with our power or our personality. It’s this weakness in us that makes us prone to fear, and every human being has it.

But that’s no reason to shame ourselves or each other. And in my humble opinion, it was disgraceful for the movie to shame it’s own characters and also every person watching who struggles with their issues. That’s not lifting up a beacon of hope, folks.

And don’t tell me “Well, that’s just the second movie, and their character arcs aren’t finished yet.” That’s no excuse. If I can’t find some truth in every single installment, then it’s not worth watching.

Also, the way the movie portrays people in the military is just wrong. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are only in the army because of a horrible thing that happened to them when they were kids. They want revenge on Stark. So they let themselves be turned into human weapons.

Um…most people do not join the military because of personal loss, there are more noble reasons than revenge to try to do something. I notice just about every agent in these films is in for some personal reason. Which may be okay for them, but sometimes people just sacrifice themselves for the good of mankind, and they don’t need a personal payoff in doing it. And war is no way to redeem one’s character either, it’s too morally debatable to begin with.

I also hated Ultron. His view of humanity is terrible. And Vision, whom I was counting on to be more positive, basically says. “yeah, you’re mostly right, but I’m pro-life.” I’m pro-life of course, but his argument certainly wouldn’t have convinced me if I was wavering.

And what Ultron said about humanity is a lie. Most of what he said is a lie. He quote my least favorite Disney movie several times, (Pinocchio) and I think it’s supposed to symbolize how he view humans as puppets he can manipulate and alter as he wishes, and himself as a real person, the enlightened man.

Ugh.

I notice he reflects all the worst parts of Stark, and magnifies them. He’s arrogant, inconsiderate, and has the same sense of humor. And he denies being like him, just like Tony denies that what he’s doing is insane.

By the by, when Huntress did something similar to what Tony did on the Justice League Unlimited show, she got got kicked out. Just saying.

I’d have to agree with Fury that Tony was a loose cannon. His actions were inexcusable.

And these are the heroes.

It might sound like I’m being too hard on them, but consider what we’re giving our youth and children to look up to.

A lot of them love the Avengers, they love every single movie, no matter how bad it’s message is or how depraved the ideas get. And we aren’t doing anything to stop it.

Because it’s cool.

Gosh, and to think how often that word excuses things that are wrong.

I’m sorry if there’s a marvel fan out there who’s getting really mad at me right now, but I just don’t see where the good in this is coming from. Excitement alone isn’t enough to salvage it.

And if we say it is, then we are disrespecting the very genre itself. Superheros were meant to be looked up to and to inspire kids and adults alike to be heroic and brave and self sacrificial, the superhero craze began right after WWII for crying out loud. America wanted its youth to be like soldiers. Devoted to good and their fellow man at whatever cost.

And what have we let that become?

I don’t care what’s modern and culturally acceptable, it’s still wrong. Id on’t think I’m alone in this conviction either.

And if you saw something in the Age of Ultron movie, or the Avengers movie that I’m missing, please tell me,  because I’m hard put to it to find anything in it to honor.

But I do have some hopes for Guardians of the Galaxy.

Until next time–Natasha.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

I know this movie is old news now, but I saw it for the first time yesterday, SI I thought I’d give my thoughts on it.

I’ve made no secret of my general disinterest in the Avengers, but I like to keep moderately up to date on them. I guess I’m hoping I’ll finally see what everyone else sees in it.

I’ll list the positives first: The character interaction of this film felt way more authentic to me than it did in the first one. You can buy that these people have known each other for awhile now. Clint Barton’s family was a cool part, and how Natasha is basically like their aunt, that’s cool.

Also the action made a bit more sense this time around, it wasn’t as all over the place as the first one felt, at least to me.

Fury was barely in it, but he always makes the plot more confusing so that was actually a good thing. He was in it enough to provide a good element of inspiration.

Finally, Quick Silver was great. I expected to dislike him most of the time but I didn’t. (I did go into it know what happens to him at the end, so that made it easier.) I think he was the best part.

And as a side note, Captain America and the Hammer did look totally like he could have lifted it, I saw it move. And the look on Thor’s face was priceless.

But beyond that, I don’t think this movie held up to the original”s standard, and definitely not my own.

Nice action is great in a superhero flick, but for me it doesn’t make it or break it, so long as the scenes don’t look like a sixties Batman fight, I can tolerate less spectacular fight techniques. And a lot of cool powers isn’t enough to tip the scale either.

Banter gets old unless it’s really good, and cliches and subverted cliches can be equally annoying. (Just because you subverted the cliche doesn’t mean it was a better scene.)

No, what gets me is the heart of a film. It’s why the Incredibles and that Justice League movie about two earths are my favorite superhero films, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

What the heart of Age of Ultron is would be hard to say. Other than Ultron gets his heart ripped out, which was gruesome even if he’s a robot.

I think the heart of it was supposed to be putting the civilians first, and valuing human life instead of just victory over evil.

Did I miss the announcement when a superhero valuing human life ever became something they had to decide in the middle of the film? Uh…that used to be for villains who were finally starting to see the light.

Oh that’s right, superheroes apparently are villains, in a way. (Gag.)

Look, if I have to question the moral choices of my hero, then they aren’t my hero anymore. I can’t look up to someone who is morally inferior to me. That’s stupid.

But I get why it’s popular. So many people identify with this because they are unsure of what their moral standard should be.

A hero should be an inspiration, so why did most of the Avengers spend more time in the film depressing me than they did lifting me up?

If you want to make a morally ambiguous, or philosophically uncertain film, great, but don’t call that a hero film. Heroes are the people who stand up for what’s right, defend the defenseless, and don’t back down from the villain. They are not the people hanging back brooding over whether or not they have the right to even interfere. Yes, the right.

Isn’t that what it’s all about? The Avengers are being accused by Ultron of being the disease of the planet, and they wonder if he’s right.

Well, if he is, it started when they made him.

Up till then, only the Hulk was a threat to society, and he was getting better. If they movie had focused on how the power of love and trust can make people rise to new heights, that would have been a good message.

One many would call cliche and cheesy. But there’s a reason these messages keep being repeated time and again, in every generation. And guess what, the generations that reject them are the ones that crumble in on themselves.

See, the day good things become too boring for the population is the day the population becomes more interested in feeling things strongly then they do in feeling what’s right. It’s like the people who chase erotic love instead of lasting love. The first one is just more of a thrill.

And believe me, I get how these new movies are emotionally seductive, if I may use that term. The stakes are always high, and there are tense moments, and some touching ones that feel very real.

But to what does it all tend?

When I watched The Hunger Games I understood everyone’s fascination with them. I’ve heard snippets of Twilight, and I get why teens were sucked into the series. I get it. Folks, I am not immune to the appeal.

But the appeal is something I despise in myself. Even though it’s there, I know it’s not good.

As a human being, I am as tempted as anyone to sacrifice principal for something that will make me feel all keyed up and pumped, or make me hang on the edge of my seat, or make me sigh and feel all wish- washy. Hey, those aren’t bad feelings.

But pursuing something just to get those feels, that’s either a waste of time, or it’s downright dangerous.

I know this for a fact. I’ve read and watched stuff for all those reasons, that’s how I got addicted to it. And that wasn’t healthy.

Now, it;s become kind of a joke to say you’re addicted to something that people really think is harmless. But addiction is never, ever harmless.

It makes you unhappier in the long run, it can make you depressed. It can make you pull away from the people around you. And it can make you crazily obsessed over something to the point where you neglect real world things.

That’s not a joke. And no one should act like it is.

But most people are unwilling to pull away from their screens long enough to really tell whether or not they have a problem. that’s part of the problem.

As for the Avengers, this movie made them look seriously messed up. Natasha’s whole part just made me sad, but without any hope that she’ll get better. She’s not allowed to, where’d all the conflict come from then, it is the only character development she gets after all…

Yeah, so I didn’t like it. I thought Ultron sucked, not because he wasn’t creepy, but because he made no sense to me. None of it did. I wish they’d decide whether the infinity stones control people or people control them. They can’t make up their minds.

There’s more to be said on this, but it’ll have to wait. Until next time–Natasha.

The Guardians of the Galaxy.

I’m a little late to the party on this, but I thought I’d review Guardians of the Galaxy.

This will go on record as being the only modern Marvel movie I actually like. So far.

It’s also the only one I get at all emotional watching. The sad scenes are actually sad. And that killer scene at the end when they all have the stone, it’s the only Marvel end scene that actually makes me feel pumped.

I’m sure some people think there’s something wrong with me that the Avengers moviesare basically boring to me, but I never feel like anyone, least of all the heroes, is really stopping to take in the weight of what’s really happening.

The Avengers are really like soldiers in an army, no time to be emotional, or to have hesitations, or to need more time to figure things out, they just charge into every battle they can and kick rear end.

I’ve never like watching people beat each other up without any personal investment in the fight. In fact, sometimes I get mad at the hero for punching the villain when I feel the villain didn’t deserve it, or that there was more mature way to handle it.

I feel like the Avengers are often like kids who can’t solve anything except by slugging it out.

Obviously, the Guardians of The Galaxy are the same way, so what makes the difference?

First of all, the Guardians acknowledge the dysfunctional nature of their anger issues. It’s not pretty, but at least they realize it’s messed up, and slowly begin trying to control themselves. This is a nice change from it being no moral conflict at all as to whether you should beat the crud out of the person you’re angry with.

Secondly, no one expects any of the characters to be good when the movie starts out. And none of them are. But over the course of the movie they realize what’s at stake, and they realize that working along side each other might be bizarre but it feels right, and it’s nice to have friends; so they are motivated to protect each other as well as the innocent people.

Thirdly, the villain, instead of bringing out the worst in the team by manipulation that they’re too blind to see coming (Loki anyone?) ends up bringing out the best in them. Spurring Gamorra to finally stop being an assassin Quill to finally stop being a selfish jerk, Drax to be willing to help someone else and admit his rage just wasn’t enough to justify his actions; and Rocket and Groot to stick their necks out for someone else.

By the way, this is traditionally the role a villain is supposed to play. Heroes are usually created when ordinary people rise up to stop evil, not when evil draws them together to destroy them.

There’s more reasons to like this movie. I think the on-the-edge violence and questionable ethics of the heroes makes more sense in the Galaxy setting, because of course the justice would be less focused in some planets, and we’re dealing with criminals turning good, not good guys experiencing moral conflict. The guardians start out at the opposite end of the scale, so we like them better as they progress, instead of worse as they give into temptation.

The way they constantly bicker isn’t really funny to me most of the time, I feel more frustrated, like Quill does, then like I’m enjoying it. but that’s another good point, they have to stop the petty banter before they can really realize why they need to do what they need to do.

Another point, and by far one of the best points of the film, is when Rocket says, for the first time not really sarcastic or bitter “Quill, you’re asking us to die.” The timing here is perfect, because Peter says “Yeah I guess I am.” And turns away, because he realizes he can’t actually ask people to die for his 12% of a plan. This moment is what makes this movie seem real, because the stakes are high, but there’s a healthy respect for the lives of your friends, and how you don’t have the right to demand they risk them. That’s why it’s not as cheesy or cliche when Gamorra  stands up and says she’d be grateful to die among friends. No one really believes they’re going to win, but they’d rather die trying with people they care about than live by running away.

That’s what makes my absolute favorite part (battle-wise) so much more meaningful. when Quill grabs that stone, it’s not from the greed for power, he knows it’s going to kill him. The cool thing is, Gamorra knows it’s going to kill her too, so do Drax and Rocket; yet they still grab on, proving they meant what they said about being willing to die with friends.  And what a horrible death too, so it’s really brave of them all. I think for me it means the most when Rocket does it, because he just lost Groot, his first real friend, and might not have a reason to sacrifice himself for the rest of them whom he didn’t even seem to like, but he does anyway.

Then that moment when the stone suddenly stops killing them, it’s amazing.

We know it’s not just that they’re powerful, because the group of people that held it before was still destroyed, I’ve always thought that it was because when they held on, they were all one in heart. With the same motivations, the same drive, the same will; and that was stronger than Ronan’s insane wish to destroy all life.

And darn it if that doesn’t inspire me even when it’s between people whom I wouldn’t normally admire.

But I guess it’s because they find a moral rock to stick to, whereas a lot of other superheroes have been losing their grip. (Not like I’m pointing the finger here, Batman.)

Actually in a wired way, the Guardians remind me of some other superheros, but that’s for another post.

Until next time–Natasha.

God (or the Universe.)

Time to get controversial:

So, I notice this trend going around (and by trend I mean it’s an accepted rule,) of replacing God with “The universe.” In both books and movies.

Even books written by people who claim to be Christians.

What took the cake was something I saw yesterday on a kid’s show in which a character referred to the universe by saying “May the universe have mercy on you…” or something like that. It was clearly a phrase that is supposed to have the word “God” in it.

Now, this is just stupid. There’s  no other word for it. Not even because of the compromise implied here, it’s because it’s as cheesy as substituting all those mythological exclamations for normal ones in modern fantasy. It might be kind of funny, but no one can take that seriously.

The reason I’m complaining about the above incident is that many people are completely serious about this whole universe thing.

Do I have something to say about this? You bet. (Sorry, I’m in a sassy mood.)

First of all, if you want to believe the universe is somehow conscious in some abstract way no one ever defines, that’s up to you, but that is not the same thing as believing in God.

People act like it is. Like we theists need to be pacified with the fact that movies deign to mention the most important fact of life, instead of ignoring it as most do. I mean, they should get the badge of courage right? It’s only something everyone thinks about.

The people of our culture puzzle me. The God-question is by farthe most important one any of us will have to answer, and yet we’ve made it taboo to even admit to wondering about it. Like it’s a weakness.

“Oh Adam’s sons, how carefully you guard yourself from everything that might do you good!”–The Magician’s Nephew.

Can I just say right here, it’s not weak. It’s actually smart to wonder about God. Even Atheists do. (A TV atheist will never admit that; but in real life you get different degrees of each belief.)

But I don’t think my readers will argue with me on that point. It’s a question worth asking, but it’s how we answer it that really matters.

And to answer with “the universe,” is really vague. What does it even mean?

As far as I can make out, it’s supposed to mean fate, things happen because somehow, something causes them to happen, and for some people it works out better than for others, because for some reason, the universe shows them more favor.

At first I  couldn’t see the appeal of this. “Just call it God, people,” I think; but as I pondered it more, I saw that there are some benefits to this point of view.

First of all, the universe has no personality, therefore, whomever it favors, it favors by mere chance. Which means all the horrible things that happen are just accidents, and no one ahs to be blamed for them. No one has to worry that there was a Divine Being punishing them, and they also aren’t’ burdened with explaining why God would allow bad things to happen if He’s good.

This seems way easier to me than Christianity, which often is like a set of contradictions. (So are the best people, I notice.)

But then I thought, if the universe has no real consciousness beyond this vague causing of events, then we have nothing to appeal to.

Think about it, if the universe is just basically pushing buttons on the machine of life, then we’re all basically experiments. And not planned experiments, but experiments that happened as a result of the universe just doing what it does.

I guess that gives us leave to live however we want, knowing it makes no difference in the Grand Scheme of things.

It sounds kind of depressing to me. Complete freedom with complete lack of reason to be free.

I guess that ‘s why so many people are depressed now.

But if we venture to say that the universe does care about us, then we’ve just put a thin veil over something that really is theism, monotheism at that.

It’s nothing new, this universe idea. It’s just another excuse for human beings to live the way we want.

And that’s not even seen as a bad thing any more. “Do what you want,” the movies tell us. Even if it’s tearing your life apart, be selfish, be cruel, be self-centered. What’s the real harm?

I’ll tell you, the amount of disregard for the feelings of other human beings that is portrayed on most TV shows, it’s terrifying to me.

Why do your feelings matter anyway?

If God is the universe, than nothing you feel matters. Why do you feel at all?

But, what if God is actually God? I’ve already listed some cons to that, but what at the pros?

I mean, if God is real, than maybe there is some way to get Him to help you. That’s how all religions start.

But Christianity takes it further and says God is real, and He is so real that He has placed signs all around us to show us who He is. That He has taken pains to make us believe in Him. And even that we have no excuse not to.

The Truth is, sometimes I don’t like what God is doing, but I can’t argue it with Him. Not because He’ll stop me, but because I know better.

What excuse do I have no to believe in God?

(If any of you have a different point of view to offer on this subject, I’d be glad to hear it.)

But as for me, I just can’t accept he idea that the Universe can just have sprung into its own entity. The thing is, we can look at the Universe and know it’s a thing of time. We can measure that. But time had to start somewhere. And the only answer that makes sense to me is that there is Something outside of time. And that’s God.

I’m not ashamed to admit I believe in God.

So, you won’t hear me ever saying “Or the universe.”

Until next time–Natasha.20160426_155712100_44464-26-12 046100_1573 (1)20160625_123317_001cropped-3-forest.jpg100_2914100_1770 (1)

Justice League: The Martian

Okay, first of all, if you were wondering I do know that he has a name.

The Martian Man-hunter’s name is J’onn J’onz, or something like that I don’t recall hearing his last name pronounced, but the first is just like John is said in French. Why a man from mars would have a name with a pronunciation like French, I don’t know.

Last but not least, as they like to say.

J’onn actually is the least relatable out of the seven, simply because he’s the only one who’s most definitively not human. He doesn’t even look human, unlike Superman, and partially Hawk Girl. He also doesn’t act human most of the time.

You’ve seen the character before, straight faced most of the time, really deep voice, rarely shows emotion. Spock-like.

But  not at the core.

J’onn was given some decent character development in the first season, and then pretty much reduced to the tech guy and overseer in the second (he also had to play bad cop to some of the junior members,) a decision the writers themselves seemed to regret, as one whole episode is devoted to the problem that became for him.

J’onn fulfills the family role of wise uncle or grandfather. He always seems older than the other members, even Batman. He usually provides the most cool headed and unbiased perspective.

The best example of this is in “The ties that bind.” In that episode, Flash and J’onn are the main League members. Flash is worried about being perceived as immature. We all know that J’onn is the most mature of anyone. What happens is that Mr. Miracle himself and Barda show up at the base to ask for some help in retrieving their friend Oberon from the clutches of Granny Goodness, the person responsible for brainwashing both of them in the past. They have to go rescue this guy named Kilberon. (By the way, he’s a modern invention, not from the original comic.)

J’onn refuses because Apokalips is a threat to Earth no matter who’s in charge of it (out of the choices) and he has no wish to make enemies with either side. Barda thinks this is a load of crud, probably because she’s made enemies with all of Apokalips, and Scott accepts it none too happily, they begin to storm off, when Flash intercepts them and volunteers to go just as an individual. Now they had wanted Superman, and J’onn was very much against that (Superman tends to be a loose cannon where anything Apokalips-related is concerned,) so they turn him down–until he shows how fast he is. Then they let him come.

Long story short, Flash helps them, they succeed, everyone gets home safety…and then J’onn calls Flash in to say something. Flash immediately launches into a speech about how he went behind J’onn’s back, but it turned out all right, and you know what? He’d do it again. How did J’onn like that?

J’onn takes a moment to sigh quietly, then he says “I was just going to ask you if you wanted to play–‘ (I forget the name of the game.) Flash just blinks and says “Oh, sure.”

That’s J’onn, super serious, but deep down he has a big heart. He probably felt Flash did the right thing after all–and maybe, just maybe, he wished he was not so practical and had been willing to recklessly do the same.

One thing the JLU got right that I think Marvel gets wrong a lot (sorry) is that the brainy part of the team should be led by the heart part. Whenever push came to shove on the show, you knew the characters thinking with their hearts and not just their heads were going to win.

When Batman and Superman debated crossing one of their lines to beat the Justice Lords, Superman opts for trusting one of his sworn enemies instead of being willing to kill.

When The League votes on whether Shirara can stay or not, it’s the people who are willing to give her a second chance who get the majority.

When Wonder Woman teams up with Hawk and Dove to defeat a magical war machine (I kid you not) it is Dove’s Peace–oriented perspective that saves the day, and Diana has to yield to it.

This list could go on, but I think that’s enough examples to make my point.

And perhaps the heart over head principle is most apparent in J’onn because he is the most in his head of all of them, but he’s also really devoted to the League because he sees it as his new family.

He only falters one time, in the horrible episode “Secret Society.” The one I really have a problem with finding believable. But even assuming the League really would act that way (out of the clear blue since none of those problems were there before,) J’onn’s part was both annoying and sad. he didn’t like them all tearing each other down, he’s actually the first to leave because it bothers him so much. It’s kind of out of character I think, but also understandable. He does end of being the one to save the day however, so I guess he redeems himself.

J’onn does make some tough calls over the course of the show. He’s also really sad quite a bit of the time, and loenly. His whole planet of people has been destroyed, though Mars is still orbiting the sun. Unlike Superman, J’onn actually watched it happen and was snatched from it seemingly by random chance.

Sometimes the strain of being the only mind reader is too much for him, when he pushes himself too far. But sometimes he can see things the rest of the League can’t because of hi understanding of thought. Like when they are fighting this thing called the Android (not the phone), who can copy all of their powers but is working for Lex Luthor. Wonder Woman tells J’onn to stay out of it because otherwise they’ll never beat him. But J’onn either through reading Luthor’s mind, or assessing the situation, realizes that the Android needs to be able to know what they want. So he allows him to copy his powers, telling him they are not his enemies. The Android then realizes Lex lied to him, and proceeds to defeat him and then leave.

Like I said, J’onn sees things differently.

And that wraps up this series. I hope you enjoyed, until next time–Natasha.

Unique Freaks

I just read a great quote on BeautyBeyondBones, I don’t know who said this but “Speak the truth, even when your voice trembles.”

Amen to that, actually, amen to the whole post. But as much as the idea of alien’s replacing God is interesting to me, it’s not my forte.

To be honest, I don’t really watch or read that stuff. Except for C. S. Lewis’s space trilogy, which should be read more, I think.

I do have something on my mind today.

You know what’s cool now? Being Unique. Being your own self.

You know what’s not cool? Being different.

That sounds like it would be the same thing, but it’s not.

Here’s a trend I notice, it’s okay to be true to yourself, and to have your own tastes, so long as though tastes fit the cultural norm.

A teen can have a unique taste in music, so long as it’s modern music. Or a flair for singing, drama, playing music, sports, art, or academics, and that’s okay; but a flair for leadership, making speeches, writing, reading, or anything religious of any sort, that’s ignored or given a passing nod.

It seems to be this whole follow your dream idea is pretty exclusive when it comes to examples.

But that’s not even the real problem.

What I see is that these sources all seem to suggest that teens are all the same. They all care about these things, the few who don’t usually will. Though sometimes that’s a whole story in of itself.

I also notice that while we’re encouraged not to care what anyone thinks of us, that is completely flipped around when the person in question is opinionated. That person always needs to lighten up, seems to be the message. After all, no one likes someone who goes around challenging the people are around them. It’s just a party killer. And we all know, parties are more important than whatever lame issue the uptight person is concerned about. (Can you feel the sarcasm in my words?)

There are those who can never be pleased with anything, I’m not talking about that type of person.

I mean the forgotten man. The person who had deep beliefs and is deeply moral, and who is just trying to live up to that.

Actually, according to these media sources, living up to standards set by someone else is actually a bad thing. (It couldn’t just be that some people set unreasonable standards and should be challenged on that.)

Well, the Youth of America at least have bought this crud. Like most bad ideas, it’s a good idea with a little bit pf poison mixed in. But that poison has spread.

If you so much as express a different point of view, you will get shut down with “Everyone’s different.”

Which is another way of saying no one is. As Dash points out.

Of course, if being special really is the cause of all society’s problems, then it’s a good thing we’re teaching everyone that no one is better than them. Even if they’re monsters, they’re still as good as anyone else. (Heck, they’ll get their own TV Show about it.)

But I just have to ask, if we’re telling all the kids that they each deserve the same thing, then isn’t that probably the reason they all feel so entitled to things they never earned.

Some things cannot be earned: Love, Mercy, the right to choose our attitude. The right to be happy. These are given.

But those are about it. The rest of life is about what you put in being what you get out. To say otherwise is to lie to people.

Even more than that, the lie itself is really two lies. Not everyone is different just because they are unique.

IT is true, no two people are just alike. But whether someone is actually different is up to them.

The ideal world would be one where we were all the same in regards to how good we were, and all different in regrades to how we expressed ourselves.

But right now, it’s not like that. WE are not all the same in what we deserve. We are not all different from each other in how we choose to live.

See, the normal state of our culture is to be pluralistic and progressive,  than the different people are the ones who hold that there is one truth, and that the older ideas of it were closer to the mark.

Nobody feels like they fit in, according to statistics. And I think that no one does, because we’re all made for a oerfect world. This world isn’t it.

But listen carefully: Jsut because you dont fit into to this world doesn’t mean you auotmatically fit into the other.

We all have the same problem, we are all born for heaven; we all deserve hell. That’s what the Bible teaches.

It’s apparent in how we cry out that we deserve all this stuff, but we don’t live like we do.

All that stuff own’t make us happy anyway.

My real concern on this Earth is not to make it better, though I’ll do that too, but to help other people get ready for the real place we all should be.

Which is why, though I want us to improve as a society, I only want that because it would hopefully mean we’re returning to truth instead of personal preference.

My world view will never ever be the popular one–until Jesus comes back.

But, if I really am supposed to not care what people think, then why should that bother me?

You see, it’s hypocritical to teach that, but teach that it only applies to the people who fit within your idea of what’s acceptable.

We should empower people to do what’s right, that’s all that’s worth doing in the long run.

Because, people don’t care what food they ate thousands of years ago, or necessarily what they’ll eat a thousand years form now. They don’t care who slept with whom. Or who killed someone else.

But what people never stop being curious is aobut is what people thought about God, morality, and the purpose of life, all throughout the ages.

So, I take it, that’s what lasts. That’s what we’ll be remembered for even when no one knows what our clothes looked like or what sports we watched. Or even what people we knew. But what we did because of our faith, or lack thereof, that they’ll still talk about centuries after we;re gone.

Don’t they?

That’s what makes people different.

Until next time–Natasha.

Tech Crisis.

 

How about Wall-E?

You may have seen this Disney film from a few years back, I was just having a conversation with someone about it a few days ago. We were thinking about how technology is changing us. Not a new subject, I know, but have you noticed it’s one people seem constantly concerned about?

Well, at least they’re concerned, that’s a start.

I don’t think I’m at all misinterpreting the movie when I say it’s about how technology cripples us in the long run. It’s funny, when the movie fist came out, I wasn’t as aware of the Tech Crisis (I’m calling it that now) as I am today, but now that I’ve seen it firsthand, it’s all too clear. The human beings in that movie are all sitting around on their duffs, 24/7, watching their little holographic screens. Doing whatever the ship’s computer voice instructor tells them. They’re all so fat (no nice way to say it) they can’t even stand up by themselves. We’re shown later that it’s the time in space’s effect on their bones, they’ve lost a lot. ( I wonder if that’s actually symbolic of a loss of backbone, but I can’t say for sure on that.)

I’v heard that we’re a materialistic society, but the way I see, we’re more and more a people who are materialistic without the materials. I’ll show you.

Look at your phone right now, or your computer, or whatever. It’s probably small enough to be held in your hand. It weighs less than a pound. Now picture what’s inside it. A little micro-computer. Metal, chemicals, battery, and whatever else they make phone out of.

Believe it or not, that is all the physical material that many of us are obsessed with. The rest of it is all just images and ideas in our mind.

The actual material of on-screen transactions is very minimal. Nothing like the obsession with wealth that we used to term materialistic. That’s still a thing, but the other is far more common.

So, you see, we’re materialists without material.

And what’s more, even the mental material is often not really that. There’s plenty of indoctrination going on through TV, but the bulk of what we watch is completely useless to our minds, even as deception. The real deception is that we think it’s funny.

But this is not to come down on any particular genre or person. I think though that our concern needs to be followed up by action.

I can make myself pretty unpopular among the people around me when I actually have a problem with this kind of stuff, but if I allow that to change my mine, I have no backbone either.

Now, I freely admit, I use technology a lot. For this blog, I have to. And for typing anything, because I tried a typewriter, and I’m nowhere near accurate enough to make it worth the time and effort. (Plus you can only print one size and on font and that just doens’t work for me.) I do use smart ohones and tablets to look stuff up. I use dictionary.con instead of an actual dictionary often enough.

None of that is bad, and it’s not wha tI’m talking aobut.

I recognize that technology is helping us get soemthings done more effciently. And that using it to relax with isn’t a bad thing, in moderation.

But I think I overuse it too often. Binge watching stuff isn’t healthy. (Unless you have no other choice because you can’t keep it another day.)

Just to be positive for a moment, I’ll also say that without the internet I wouldn’t have found some of the books I love, been able to buy my favorite comic book, or found my favorite speakers. In all those ways, technology has been a blessing to me.

When I say I hate it, it’s not the items themselves, it’s the idea of it and what’s it’s turned us into.

I am an introvert, I won’t say I’ve never preferred being holed up, with YouTube, in a room by myself, to hanging around other people, but I rarely choose to do that. I have one simple reason:

I want to be the kind of person who prioritizes people over things.

Who actually tries to hang out with their family.

Who is available to their friends.

Sometimes technology is an aid to that, but I’ve found nine times out of ten that a good book works far better. Plus, it shows more of your priorities with what you read than with what you watch (other than watching stuff itself.)

It’s a bit cliche for the person at the other end of the screen to urge you to turn it off, but hey, it’s your call.

One more thing about Wall-E:

It’s a movie about learning how to be human.

Wall-E has overtime developed human feelings by watching their old movies and exploring their stuff. Their real stuff, I want to point out. He’s surrounded by materials that people used up until they went away and became reliant on their tech. The reason they did was because Earth got too messy to live on.

Wall-E, in true Blast form the Past style, falls in love with Eve, another robot. But Eve is more like a robot than he is, at first. Over the course of the film she starts doing more and more things that she wants to do, or are right to do, instead of just what she’s programmed to do. She develops a human personality as well.

You know how when someone seems checked out as a human being we’ll refer to it as auto-piliot? Well, the villain of the movie is Auto, the piloting system that has also developed it’s own consciousness, but a controlling, deceptive one. Intent on keeping power by keeping humanity stupid and dependent on himself. He doesn’t want to be turned off.

A great moment of the film is when the captain, after learning about Earth thanks to Wall-E, finally stands up to Auto and yells “I don’t want to do nothing! That’s all I’ve ever done is nothing!” He finally succeeds in turning Auto off and taking aback control of the ship.

They go back to Earth to take care of it, accepting their responsibility as people.

That’s the movie, in a nutshell. Rediscovering what it means to be human. Through a robot.

Ironic.

Until next time–Natasha.