Infinity Wars–2

There will still be spoilers, but if you read the last post,  you probably don’t care or you’ve already seen it, so we should be good.

So clearly there were a lot of deaths to talk about in this movie. My first question is if they were all necessary?

thr heartbreaking ones wee definitely Gamorrah’s, Spiderman’s, and Vision’s. Even if like me you never liked Vision, it was still pretty sad to see Scarlett Witch first kill him and then watch him die again  thanks to Thanos. That does make it seem meaningless.

But Thanos sacrificing Gamorra in order to get the soul stone that was both repulsive and emotional. Though personally, I don’t think she’s dead. I think she’s in a coma, because a fall like that shouldn’t have killed someone so enhanced, plus the whole thing felt like a cop-out of sorts. And there was that vision of her he had at the end, I think the Soul Stone has Gamorra in some sort of suspended animation. (Ask your nerd friends if you don’t know what that is, it’s a comic thing.)

Gamorra is so coming back, so it wasn’t so bad with her. And Spiderman too. Vision, probably.

But do their deaths add anything to this movie?

Spiderman’s? Not really. It adds to Tony Stark’s many issues to watch his yong protegee dissolve,a long with a bunch of other people. But it doesn’t have a lot to do with the movie’s themes.

But with the other two I have more to say. An ongoing theme in this movie was sacrifice. Thanos wants to sacrifice half of all the life in the universe just so the other half can go on to survive and thrive. he claims that when he did this, with Gamorra’s help, the planets went on to be lush and people no longer starved.

I guess Thanos has never heard that we actually have enough food for everyone on this planet, we just do not distribute it. Killing half the people is more likely to make that worse, not better. Collapsing civilization as we know it will cause more starvation as people struggle to put their systems back together. I don’t know what fantasy world Thanos is living in…one of his own device it seems. Since he can alter reality.

however, if he could alter reality, why not turn all the garbage dumps in the universe inot farms? Why not make the landscapes more fertile? Get rid of the Sahara? That’s just on Earth, but you can imagine in this world it would apply to all the inhabited planets.

Thanos is gong to live forever anyway, if he was so benevolent, he could have worked something out that wouldn’t have thrown off the balance of the universe.

It’s laughable that he blames his won planet for rejecting him, sure Thanos, that’s why the gravity and orbit was off, it had nothing to do with messing with the forces of nature. Just keep telling yourself that.

Now it doesn’t take much thinking to see the inherent problems with Thanos’es solution, but my beef with  this movie was that it’s more thinking than any of the good guys did.

In what is becoming the predictable Marvel fashion, no one in this movie had a good counter argument for Thanos. Gamorra clearly thinks what he is doing is wrong, but she only calls it murder, she does not go farther into it. Are we just meant to assume that murder makes it wrong?

And I would agree that murder is wrong, and this kind of genocide is insanely evil, but I would not just say that. I would have a reason for it.

I only know Murder is wrong becuase I know that God is life, I know that we are made in His Image, and that he forbids murder and it is never a good idea to disobey God. Because His rules govern the universe. That would be what I would say to Thanos.

But when Thanos is laying out his whole twisted philosophy, all our supposedly brilliant heroes can do is stare stupidly at him in horror, and then say they’re going to stop him. Well great, but why? So far we see no reason to think he’s wrong…other than it seems an overly complicated solutions compared to just rearranging things so there would be more resources.

Thanos’es philosophy matches that of many people in the real world, which as I said to my family, is the really carry thing about him. That he’s big purple, and powerful isn’t a problem, its that he represents real ideology.

Even scarier is that lots of people think that we are over populated. They don’t even question it. It’s not actually true. Our cities are over crowded, but the world itself still has plenty of room. Plus people are dying everyday, all the time. We kill each other so much, we don’t need some big bad guy to do it for us. We have enough of those already.

Vision tells Ultron he is on the side of life, and that is all the Avengers can seem to come up with in this movie. Never, ever, let people die.

Ironically, Vision is the first to realize that death can be necessary. Thanos is right about that, but murder is not. Self Sacrifice is not the same thing at all, to lay down your life for your friends or the greater good, that’s a noble thing to do. No one should disparage that. Gamorra tries to do this, and to his credit, Peter Quill was going to do as she asked and kill her before Thanos got the information out of her, but Thanos stopped him.

Captain America is so hesitant to let anyone die, at least since the Winter Soldier, or Ultron. Which is silly. He’s a soldier, he should understand the necessity of sacrifice to stop evil.

Then Gamorra herself fails when she sees Nebula being tortured. Now, I give her a bit more leeway since it’s just terrible to watch that, worse than a quick death scene. But then Quill later blows their chance to depower Thanos when he finds out Gamorra is dead…and Nebula didn’t whack him over the head because…?

yeah, there are some issues I have. Thanos makes his sacrifice, I agree that he didn’t really love Gamorra, but he thought he did. What he considers love, of course it was never going to be her if it came before her and the stone.

The Dr. Strange says he will sacrifice Tony ad Spiderman to protect the stone, and he doesn’t. Perhaps he has his own reasons for that, but it seems the movie is saying that the Avengers cannot let people die or else they would not be the Avengers.

That’s…stupid.

You have go consider stakes. It is not evil to let someone sacrifice themselves in a war, especially not if the whole galaxy is at stake and they can help.

There is simply no point in risking your lives as often as the Avengers do if you are not prepared to let someone lose it if they have to. You cannot live dangerously and fear death.

I am not saying we should be heartless and not care. I think on the contrary we care more when someone goes out nobly, and there is some meaning in it. Better that then the pointless carnage at the end of this film.

See, if three, or four people had laid down their lives willingly, half of the population would have been spared. Think about that.

Yet again we wonder who our real heroes are, if they cannot even make that kind of sacrifice.

Whosoever seeks to save his life shall lose it, an whoever loses it for My Sake and the Kingdom’s shall find it.

Jesus said that. And I think it fits. Int eh end if a few good guys had died for the sake of all, then more good guys would have survived.

Hopefully the second movie will clear all this up. Because life does not have true value unless it valued but  not so much that it cannot be given up.

Until next time–Natasha.

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Infinity Wars!

It’s finally time! I have it in writing that I have been anticipating this since before Justice League came out. (See Expectations for the New Justice League.)

 

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                                Infinity Wars!

Spoiler Warning. Seriously. Do not read further if you are planning to see it.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s talk.

I would like to preface this by saying I still prefer Justice League, but that is completely my own bias and I am not saying it was a better movie, I am also not saying it wasn’t. You’ll have to figure it out.

So, the Avengers movie where people finally died, right? (You were warned.)

Not that I believe for a second that any of them are staying dead. My bet is that they will all come back, and then some of them will die again just so Marvel writers can say there were lasting consequences. I mean some of these people don’t have their quota of three movies in yet, so we know they’re coming back.

But if you walked in not knowing what to expect, unlike me, since I saw spoilers, which I regret now, then the death toll of this movie would have knocked your socks off and not in a pleasant way.

I actually almost choked up when Gomorrah and Peter Parker died. I don’t like Peter so much in this new version, but he was 15, and it’s just hard to watch a 15 year old dissolve into ash even when it’s a movie.

You might wonder if I think that these deaths added stakes to it? Yes and no. I think it guaranteed we would all come back to see the sequel. Of course now we want to know what happens.

I guess MArvel has the right to market what they know will sell.

Forgive my cynicism, but I still can’t believe it really happened or that it will last. Especially with such a serious out.

But you might want a little more detail. If you aren’t going to see it, here’s the plot in a nutshell.

After Thor Ragnarok, Thanos shows up, slaughters all the Asgardian we spent the whole of that movie trying to save–including Valkyrie we presume–and then kills Loki off like a sucker and sends Thor floating into deep space, where he is later rescued by the Guardians of the Galaxy. Whoa t first aren’t sure what to make of him. but as soon as he explains about Thanos, Gormorrah is all set to do whatever it takes to keep Thanos away from the remaining Infinity stones. Thanos has two, thanks to Loki. The purple one and the blue one if I remember correctly.

Meanwhile, Dr. Strange has called Tony Stark in to tell him of their impending doom. Strange has the Green Time Stone, and he says he must keep it away form Thanos, he’ll need help, and Tony needs to assemble the Avengers. Of course since the whole mess from Civil war, Tony isn’t on speaking terms with half of them. And naturally his typical selfish behavior is to hesitate because he’s afraid to call them up. Just when he’s going to finally dial Cap’s number, Thanos’es five horsemen of the Apocalypse show up. Only, it’s just two of them for now. (Yeah, they aren’t really explained any better in the movie, they are just there, and they’re despicable.)

They fight, Spiderman hears the commotion, and dives out his bus window to get in on the action, much to Iron Man’s consternation. I was a little sad that Zendaya didn’t get even a cameo int his, but I figured she wouldn’t have been in it long enough to make it worth paying her.

Anyway, Doctor Strange gets taken by Squidworth (As Iron man dubs one of the buddies) and out into this weird acupuncture trap. Iron man goes after him, Spiderman follows, kind of by accident. Then Iron man gives him his Iron Spider suit to protect him from the atmospheric conditions. Once he realizes he’s stuck with Spiderman he says “Congratulations kid, you’re an Avenger now.” Nobody cheered by the way. Even Peter just looks happy for second then you can tell he realizes this may not be a good thing at the moment.

To make a long story short, they go to Thanos’es planet, upon Iron Mans suggestion, to face him. Eventually they are joined by half of the Guardians of the Galaxy. After getting their rear ends handed to them by Thanos and losing Gomorrah, the Guardians cam there to find him, I guess. I’m not sure they even said why.

Then back on Earth, Vision and Wanda have finally started their relationship. Not married of course, though they should be to be comically accurate. And yes, it was as out of left field as Black Widow’s and Hulk’s. But at least it had a basis in the comics first. Then the horsemen of the apocalypse show up to take Vision’s Infinity stone. The other Avengers show up, Cap, Natasha, Falcon, and they kick their rear ends. Then they all go join Rhodes, or War Machine if you prefer, to go to Wakanda and try to get the stone removed from Visions forehead without destroying him.

And if you think you’re confused, imagine watching it.

The horsemen show up in Wakanda with an army of alien drone dogs things, we find out Thanos was behind the Chitarri invasion of earth, and he’s been in Iron Man’s head for years, and presumably Loki’s too. Everyone put s up one heck of a fight. Thor shows up after a trip to a magical forge guarded by peter Dinklage (sorry, a giant space dwarf. Their words, not mine.) He’s got his ax now, and some people know he had an ax in some renditions, including the old animated movies of the Avengers, so that was a bit of eye candy for us geeks.

Rocket and Groot helped him, by the way, so now they’re on earth. I will say, when they all showed up and Thor blasted the bad guys, everyone in the theater started to slow clap. I think my family began it, but we all couldn’t help it. Thor really is awesome.

Then Thanos shows up and kills half of them. The end.

Not really, but you’ll have to read the net installment to get the rest of my take on it.

See what I did there?

Natasha will return in Infinity Wars part 2.Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Loki, War Machine, Vision, Scarlett Witch, Falcon, Bucky, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-man, Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Teenage Groot, Mantis, Nebula, 4K

 

Loud and Proud?

This is not going to be easy to write.

My ever prolific English Class tackled religion this past week. And how two people were driven away from the church by the thing known as a move of the Spirit. The crying, the shouting, the running around, the jumping up and down. The experience that is baffling to anyone watching it.

And someone in my class even said they gave up on church because of seeing that and not wanting to be that way.

If you are not sure what I’m talking about, then it will be hard to explain it. You really have to see it for yourself. People “get happy” as it is sometimes called.

In the Bible if anyone had a reaction like that it was the Spirit of the Lord coming upon them. Interestingly enough, in the New Testament no record is given of people jumping or running or crying or rolling around on the floor, though the Old Testament has some wild stories about that.

And it’s a staple of Revivals to have that happen.

But it can freak people out.

And I should know, it used to freak me out too, and if I’m honest it still puzzles me on occasion.

I am not a demonstrative person. I might get loud, maybe jump a little on my toes, but I’ve never been so overtaken by God that I behave wildly.

I don’t think it’s bad for that to happen, certainly the people it happens to enjoy it. For them it’s a release, a way to clear their emotions from all the stress of life, a way to feel closer to God.

The Church tends to view these spiritual experiences as more holy, and signifying someone is closer to God, versus the people who sit quietly or at most raise their hands and sing.

While people outside the church tend to view this as us getting overexcited, or perhaps being out of our mind, or just weird. At any rate, it’s nothing they want a part of.

But why?

I do sympathize with the no Christian a bit. That kind of behavior would freak me out normally. It can look an awful lot like crazy behavior. But it only comes on in church. During worship usually. I don’t hear about it happening in someone’s private life. Which is perhaps why people decide the church is the problem. Believe in God sure, but those people are weird…

Well, we are weird, I admit. Any people group is going to be wired to the people not in it, and even to other in it who just don’t jibe with their style. I feel a bit out of place at the Nigerian Church that my dad loves because I don’t get it. My dad doesn’t like the style of where I go. But doctrinally, the two churches are almost he same. So the question is, why is the way we worship such a devise issue for us and for Non-Christians who investigate?

I need to be fair. First of all, I do not by any means think that people have to get excited in the loud and energetic way in order to worship God. My favorite way to worship is in private, not so loud. I do enjoy is corporately too. If that really is an obstacle to someone, then going to a church that isn’t like that is no sin.

On the other hand, one thing that Christians who worship in this way tend to understand is that Worship is not really about our control.

At bottom, being wierded out by God moving in what seems like ridiculous or crazy ways is saying that you know better than God what is appropriate. It is also saying that the world gets to measure how sane it is to act in a given way. Why should the world decide this?

People filled with the spirit aren’t going and committing mass murders, or hurting other people, or filled with rage, not truly crazy behavior.

The reason it’s hated is that is is foreign. Even to other Christians. Every Christian is called to be holy (set apart) from the world. People who are acting crazy and don’t care are clearly not concerned about the world’s opinion of them.

God is not going to make sense to us all the time. So it would follow naturally that the way we worship is not always going to seem sensible even to us. As the people it happens to, they don’t get it either.

But I submit that you don’t always need to get it to know it.

And that applies to the many people who don’t experience this. We are not lesser as Christians. The folks who “get happy” are not always the most spiritual in their everyday lives. In fact, often that is the case. Maybe they need it more because of that.

God connects with people however He can, and for some that is quiet, for others it is loud.

I submit that God Himself doesn’t really care so long as the connection is real and true. Why would one little person jumping up and down discomfit God? Why would one person not doing that give Him pause?

What does give Him pause is genuine heartfelt worship, which means not feeling inferior to your fellow believers nor taking pride in being more holy than they. It means giving up control one way or the other. admitting you can’t control whether your worship loud or quiet. Just so long as you worship.

Everyone has their gift, be it small or large, and they can bring that. That’s all that God requires.

And if it’s all that we require of each other, we wills top comparing ourselves. That’s just not important.

Those are my thoughts, until next time–Natasha.

Believer and Pain.

You may have heard that song by Imagine Dragons, “Believer.”

I am not a huge fan of Imagine Dragons, but I still want to give them a shout out for having the band name I would want to have if I was in it. I freaking love the name Imagine Dragons.

But their music is a little to heavy metal/pop for me.

However, I’ve heard this song, who hasn’t of a certain age? And since I actually watch lyric videos to find out what a song is about, I watched one for it and found out the song is about something a bit unusual.

It’s become typical to have, pardon the word, bad-ass songs. (I really want a clean equivalent of that word to use.) The “in your face” song.

I like some of them. And this song is technically in that category, but it has a profound twist. The song is about pain. The pain, as the words say, making you a believer.

People love this song. In the past the idea of pain being what made you a believer would have seemed problematic to me. I’m a huge believer in beauty being an inspiration, love being motivation, and peace being what gets you through.

Yet, in the past few months, my most constant companion has been PAIN.

What does a dreamer like me do when pain seems to be taking over their life. For weeks I didn’t want to write or even read, or think about all the stuff I wanted to do with my life, because how could I do it? I felt crippled by something that was mostly in my head.

Now this song didn’t bring me any great revelation. But it has made some people decide to keep going, and I read one person decided not to kill themselves after hearing it.

And I can say it’s because the song is true.

The words “My life, my love, my God, they came from pain.” I don’ think it means pain makes any of those things, but it’s a honest realization that without pain we’ll never know if those things are real.

To be honest with you guys, I haven’t seen a flat out miracle in a long time. I haven’t seen the things that make people think Christians are doing LSD. ( we aren’t.) I haven’t seen a miraculous healing in a long time. And I’ve never seen happen to me.

Like I said, I’m a dreamer. I believe in all those things. Call me crazy. There are things in this world that cannot be explained away.

yet I still have no personal evidence.

And what do you do with that when you’re suffering for months for seemingly no reason.

I admit freely I got pretty mad at God over it. I gave him a piece of my mind. But in the end I always come back to Him. I guess you could say I’m addicted.

It’s rough too when people get tired of hearing you complain about what you’re going through. And the only response I got from God was “trust Me.”

You Christians who read this, you ever wonder why you trust God? What He’s done to make you so confident?

I have.

Yet, I began to notice there was a miracle taking place in my life. I was being plagued by fears about how I was feeling, and anxiety. Then gradually that changed. I started to be less afraid. I have a low pain tolerance, and do not handle it well, but now I was pushing on through it. Moving on with my life. Drawing closer to God.

And oddly enough, I came to see that pain can be a gift. It’s not one anyone wants to keep. (I would hope.) I wouldn’t take it. But if it comes, and you accept that, then it is a gift.

Pain jolts you out of your stupor that the distractions of this world can put you into.

I know Christians who ware waiting for the next revival, the next breakthrough, the next movement of God. I think they don’t realize that they are waiting for pain.

Because pain is a part of creating life in this world. from childbirth to starting a business or becoming a professional athlete, it’s going to hurt.

Pain sucks, and no mistake. I don’t enjoy it. But I know it’s necessary. I still wish it wasn’t when I’m feeling it, but looking back I don’t want to change it.

Pain can indeed make you a believer, because you don’t know where you believe till you’ve been through the fire, the rain, and all that.

Sometimes the miracle is not being saved from suffering, but in seeing yourself changed by it.

So, good for Imagine Dragons. They hit something profound.

Until next time–Natasha.

Real Life Stories.

Permit me to write about something that probably makes me a geek: Story Structure and Cliches.

If you are not into film reviews like I am, or book discussions, you may not feel this subject is important, but I submit to you that it is and it affects your life more than you think.

Let’s jump in:

First of all, a story structure is the type of story you have constructed. Each genre has a few different structures to it. Romances have a comedic structure, or a sappy structure, or even a adventurous structure. It all over laps.

The structure, as you can probably guess, is the blueprint of how the story plays out. Its’s how you use your characters and plot devices, how you narrate the story, and how long it is. A short story has a different structure from a long (in this case 300+ pages) story.

The reason story structure is important to the non-writer or reader is because it will be present in pretty much every area of your life that you hear anecdotes, sermons, lessons, plans, or ideas in.

It can tell you a lot about a person when you know the structure they use to talk about themselves. Are they dramatic? Are they pragmatic? Are the emotional or are they stoic? What does their self;narration tell you about them.

I think, ladies and gentlemen, that the adage that life is a story is the truest way to describe it. The way we measure each other is through the elements of story. The way we talk is shaped by it.

You may have heard the saying that we are each the hero of our own story. I do not think that is true. It is quite possible to be the villain of your own story.

I was just watching a Superman movie, and before it came on some creators of a different Superman story were shown talking about their own personal kryptonite. The last man said “I would say I am probably my own kryptonite.”

That man is honest.

We have other weaknesses, but we are our own worst enemy most of the time.

Ever wonder why the protagonist who constantly makes mistakes and misses the point annoys you so much? They remind you of you.

People have acknowledge that we dislike the most human characters most strongly. In real life that is also true. People who screw up constantly frustrate us. The one worker on the job who has to be re-shown how to do something again and again, that student who’s a little slow, that junkie who won’t stay clean, you when you look at what you’ve accomplished in your life and think you could have done so much more.

We are vicious on these people as a society, and sadly often as individuals, I do it too.

But are we really just mad at ourselves?

I’m not the first person to suggest that, and I won’t be the last either. I am just throwing it out there.

In a story we root for the capable and the good. I’ve known some commentators to think this is delusional of us. That we don’t want to face up to our humanity in the flawed characters.

But writers understand why the good characters have to be the role model. They are the best of us and we only get better when we have a better person to admire and imitate. The human characters cannot do that for us because they can never be our superiors. In life you cannot look up to the person that is failing constantly. You have to find someone who is succeeding more that you.

Let’s talk about cliches/tropes now:

A cliche or trope is thing that writers use a lot, if it’s a trope it’s just a way to tell the story that is necessary to the style. But a cliche is overused, unoriginal or lazy.

In real life cliches show up everywhere as old poetical slogans, cheesy commercials, lame excuses. Don’t you hate them?

I know I roll my eyes.

But tropes are more interesting. I often, as part of the people group of internet review watchers, here people complain that a solution was used in a movie or book that seemed like magic, or too good to be true. Or even occasionally too bad to be true.

Tropes are fascinating simply because they show up in real life, tropes are what make stories seem real to us.

Here’s a few of them:

  1. The Chosen one.
  2. The magical happy ending
  3. Redeeming Wicked Characters

You’d be surprise how angry people get over the last one.

The chosen one means the hero is selected, one might say called, to be the answer to the stories problem.

It’s something we see in real life a lot. We know some [people are born to do certain things, and could not be happy unless they did them. Artists are born, writers are born, speakers, and those are just the common language ones. There’s thousands more.

We can see how historical figures were meant to shape the world. Gandhi being one of our more popular examples now.

The magical happy ending can be unrealistic, but more often then not it comes because the chosen one set things right. Peace is restored. People begin to thrive again. How often have we seen this in history? And even in our own lives. Maybe our happy endings don’t last,  but the principle remains. You notice any time a story becomes a series the happy ending is temporary. It is meant to resolve one problem, not every problem, and that is how we live it out in our lives.

As for redeeming evil characters, we don’t see this as often. But when we do it’s surprisingly true to how stories portray it. People change because someone is kind to them; because they realize what they’ve become; because they have a revelation of truth. This is how characters change in stories, and it’s true to life.

Why does all this matter to the person who does not care about assessing stories?

Because stories are going to shape how you think about this stuff in real life. IF you don’t believe someone in a story can change, chances are you don’t believe people can change.

It’s funny to me whenever someone acts like how they view fiction and how they view reality are separate. Like it’s not their mind and beliefs in both areas. Give me a break.

I hope this was enlightening or interesting to everyone, until next time–Natasha.

How women dress (modesty.)

I couldn’t get into this in my previous post, but I briefly mentioned a discussion in my English Class about how women dress.

Deep breath.

I’ve grown up going to youth group, so I must have heard this discussion at least a dozen times, usually once or twice every six months is when it comes up.

Every time, there were some girls who got really bent out of shape about it. Even offended. And the same thing happened in class. A few women, particularly the oldest one in our class, were in favor of having certain standards, shall we say; and one girl was getting a bee in her bonnet about being held to different standards than men.

If I want to not wear a shirt, or not wear a bra under my shirt, why shouldn’t I be able to; was her argument, a man doesn’t have to do that.

Um…how can I put this? A man doesn’t have a…reason to wear those things for decency’s sake.

To me the issue is really quite simple. Modesty depends on what you’ve got to work with. And wearing revealing clothes also depends on that, often enough.

I don’t wish to make men or women reading this uncomfortable, if you’re sensitive, and I am one of those folks; but I have to be honest too about this issue.

The real problem women seem to have, at least I’ve never yet heard a man complain that it’s not fair that we ask him to dress respectably, is that they have to deal with men gazing at them lustfully, and men do not have this problem.

Well, I don’t know about that. But I think it goes deeper, women also resent the idea that men can tell them to do anything, including how to dress; and then they get iffy even if other women are telling them.

After all shouldn’t girls be able to express themselves however they want?

If I was to be glib, I would say I’d rather not express myself then have me ogle me. And I’ve yet to catch one doing it, thank you very much.

But it’s not that simple is it?

And girls who resent this, do have a point. It’s not fair that women have to worry about it so much. It’s not fair that we have to worry about being raped, or have creepy remarks being made about us, and all sorts of stuff. Statistically, I think women are the victims of more violent cries then men are, though it depends on where you live.

It’s not right that we have to think about all this. My whole bus stop incident was one that I was prepared for, I’d thought about how I would handle it when something like that happened to me. But just the fact hat I knew it would happen and had to be prepared, is pretty sad.

Please men, please be shaking your heads and saying “Wow, that is terrible.”

I hope to God I never get assaulted, but 1 in 3 women are, or is that just the successfully assaulted ones? The attempted assaults could raise the number higher.

And if I’m in a dangerous spot, I hope that I have a good man around to protect me. Because the fact is, few women get assaulted when they have a man around them. In fact, kidnappers and assaulters will purposely target girls who they can tell don’t have a good Dad. Even losers in schools who pick up chicks and use them though they don’t assault them will go for the fatherless.

And I notice it’s the fatherless women who tend to have the most issue with how they dress.

We can talk about rights all day long. We can wish men didn’t lust. We can wish, quite frankly, that women didn’t lust. Don’t tell me any girl over 18 who likes men at all has never ogled one herself. Double standard much?

But the reality is, people lust. People are messed up.

And as I said, I believe there are really good men out there. And good women. I’m truly sorry if it’s never been your experience to meet one. But it’s not too late.

The point is, as I said in my class, do you play with matches in front of an arsonist? Do you drink in front of an alcoholic? Do you do drugs in front of a junkie?

Some people do, they are called being part of the problem. And people who don’t do, but don’t try to help their loved ones who are doing it are called enablers.

Not all men are enslaved to lust, not everyone does drugs. But if you know that someone has a weakness for something and you utterly disregard that by what you talk about, do, or dress like around them, you share the responsibility.

Sorry if I’m insulting your freedom, but explain to me where you get off?

“But Natasha, it’s my body, I can do what I want.”

Honestly, I’ve heard youth leaders try to be delicate and gentle about it, and it goes right over the girls heads. They turn up their teenage noses and stick out their chins and say “I have the right to dress however I want.”

Well, you have the right to jump off a bridge too, but don’t blame us for you broken bones.

But let me back off from laying down the law. I’m risking losing you guys by being too passionate.

I have felt like it was unfair too. I went through that phase.

It’s not all the girls fault. Whether we can blame men for checking us out if we dress that way, I can’t say, but we can blame them for acting on it.

I’d like to end this with another college story.

The other week I went to an event but couldn’t find the building for a good 45 minutes. (New student troubles.) I asked a few different people for help and they couldn’t tell me. But one young man decided to help me find it. He walked me form one end of central campus to the other. At first I was concerned since it was a total stranger, and not that many people were about. But he never was anything but courteous and respectful. a true gentlemen. He stayed with me until we finally found it, then left me outside the room.

I haven’t seen him since, And I doubt I will since we have different class schedules, but he made my evening a lot pleasanter even if I was stressed out. And later I realized he probably escorted me because there was an assault on or by our campus not that long ago. And I was alone.

I think I would have been fine, but that doesn’t change that I appreciated the consideration.

Which is why I say for one fellow who might have been wanting to use me, I’ve had a dozen who wanted to help me.

I think how men view women is shaped a lot by how women view themselves. If you dress like a sex symbol, don’t BS me that you view yourself any differently. If you dress like a princess, you think of yourself as a princess.

You cannot give off mixed signals and expect to be treated with consideration. Most men will not try anything on a girl they can plainly see wouldn’t go for it. Those who will are the reason we need good men around us.

And that is that.

That’s all I’ve got to say about it, until next time–Natasha.

The problem with authority.

Here’s one of the main problems I have always had with authority:

Should I question it?

And if I were to expand that, I would add, should I view myself as inferior to authority.

Let;s start with the highest authority in my life, God Himself.

The Bible tells us to talk to God as we would to our father, or our friend, which is pretty humble on God’s part, and surprisingly hard for us to do. If we believe in God at all, then it’s daunting for most adults to think about addressing Him, especially as a friend. That’s why religious jargon is so common in all types of religions.

Just because I can talk to God as my (almost) equal does not make Him my equal. That’s the truth. But God has no interest in creating distance between us and Himself, so He allows for that equal kind of communication.

Language, by the way, is the best equalizer between people, especially for those in authority, we’ve all known the frustration of someone talking over our heads and then talking down to us in a condescending way.

God’s authoriyt is untouchable, so clearly He is my superioer. I hav eno problem with that, He doesn’t rub it in.

But any other authorities in my life are going to be human. Since I dont’ belive Animals to be above me, and the Bible says that even angels are not higher in authority. (Make what you will of that, it’s a whole other post.)

And the problem with humans is that they make frequent mistakes.

Knowing this, and being by nature a bit of a smart alec, I have always been unsure about authoiryt. I didn’t wonder aobut it when I was very young and would call my teachers out on inconcistities in whtat they wee saying when held up agaisnt my NLT Bible. And yes, hat was in Sunday School (I’m not giving you non church goers much confidence in the institution am I? It’s really not so bad as that, I’ve been to much more accurate churches since then.)

When I was under some family friends instruction, this attidtude I had became a problem. I’m sharing this becuase I figure I’m not the only one.

And it’s important even for people in authority to think about this because  I’ve had my teachers be just as confused as me over the nature of our relationship.

My Youth Group Leader used to tell me not to answer every single question, because the other kids wouldn’t even try since they knew I’d answer. I thought maybe he had a point, so I attempted to hold back. (It wasn’t fair though, because in youth they ask you “who knows…?” and it would be dishonest not to raise my hand, wouldn’t it? It’s a honest question, right?)

“Someone other than (insert my name)?” My leader would ask despairingly as the rest of the group looked blankly at them.

Nope. Only me.

I began to get really frustrated with this. Often the leader didn’t know the answer either. Until they looked it up. If I knew, why couldn’t I say?

Why did I have to play dumb for the sake of everyone else?

This came up when those family friend’s tried to teach me also. Whenever I caught on, I would be impatient and interrupt them. Which bugged them. Sometimes I jokingly said “Not the way we do it,” when referring to a lesson that compared to a household function (like cooking.)

I shouldn’t have been rude, but at the time I had no inkling that my jokes were being perceived as disrespectful. I just wanted to be funny.

And that’s when it came up again, my teachers, or just adults in general, seemed to think I owed them greater consideration just because they were older than me. I didn’t have the same freedom with them as I did with my family.

And if they did something wrong, I had to be careful about saying so. Often, I couldn’t say so without offending them.

Once I talked to a whole group of adults about how stupid I thought their arguement with this other group had been. I thought, (and my dad hadn encouraged me in this)that I had as much right as anyone to point this out; but they ended up very offended over it.

Looking back, I think I was right. It was stupid. And I also think a kid has just as much right to point that out as anyone else, sometimes kids are the only ones without an agenda.

I now know that that stuff doesn’t fly with many people. I would say one of the main reasons is, we (because I am an adult now) are insecure.

I’ve caught myself getting annoyed with kids for doing the same things I used to do, and I feel guilty, because I know the kids are right. And I’m wrong. But I don’t want to admit that to them because I don’t have to.

And there’s the rub. People prefer not to admit they are wrong anyway, but most of us who are healthy will admit it to our peers and our superiors, but precious few will admit it to kids. Because kids can’t make us do it.

Kids would, if they could, they are pretty straightforward about their sense of justice. Bless their hearts. IF they had control, we’d all be more honest…and probably in more danger. I am not suggesting we always give in to kids and their sense of right and wrong, kids are apt to be one sided too.

But I do think we need to remember that as far as morality goes, kids are often superior to us. They may lack the social skills we’ve invented in order to not offend each other when we notice something’s wrong, kids don’t have that, they can chafe our hide with their bluntness; but they’re still right.

And adults who are like kids in this respect are usually disliked by many people for their blunt honesty, the wise know they should be listened to.

I don’t know where I fall in this category anymore. I’ve bitten my tongue for many years, and only now are people starting to encourage me to un-bite it. I’m finding some people can accept my more difficult qualities.

But people like me, and I know you bloggers are like this or you wouldn’t use the freedom of the internet to express ideas you have no audience for in your social circles, we aren’t encouraged a lot in this world.

So, here’s to all of you who blurt out the truth and step on toes and challenge authority, and can’t seem to help it, there is a reason we desperately need you.

Until next time–Natasha.

Language Barriers.

Sometimes courage is not slowing down long enough for fear to catch you.

And sometime courage is staying still long enough for peace to catch up with you.

But I’d say the first one is my motto today. I woke up feeling achy, but upon getting up I felt better, and I’ve learned that my stress symptoms increase when I’m inactive. Inactivity can be just as hard o your body as hyperactivity.

So with that in mind, I want to switch subjects.

Some of you who’ve been reading my college posts know that I’m studying Language. Specifically English and ASL. (Guess which is harder.)

A few of my older followers probably remember that I went on a mission trip two years ago (almost three) to Cambodia, and there I learned a bit of Khmer.

Khmer (pronounced Ka-mai) is not an easy language to learn by rote. You have to hear it, and in my opinion you have to hear it spoken in real settings. My attempts to learn more of it since haven’t panned out well. I need a tutor I bet.

My ASL teacher wanted us to journal on a movie we watched in class about. Audism is a new term, probably not i most dictionaries, that refers to discrimination based on one’s ability to hear.

It’s a real thing. But it seems to bother people the most when their own families won’t include them in conversation by interpreting for them.

Welcome to my world, I would say. I’ve been frustrated many times over the years by being left out of conversations. I wish I could blame it on being deaf but all I can attribute it to is being young and not having common ground.

I guess being deaf makes it hard to have common ground and that’s the sting. Even if they did, they can’t talk about it.

But the problem between people of different languages isn’t really lack of knowledge. It’s a lack of heart.

Very profound things can be communicated between people who speak different languages. We’ve heard that love doesn’t need a language. It’s true. In Cambodia, the people were very welcoming and nice to us even though we couldn’t understand more than a few things they said. We didn’t need to to understand good will.

I’d venture to say the trouble between different groups of people isn’t about language or skin color, it’s about suspicion.

Remember when I talked about strangers? How we wish we could connect with them?

Oftentimes we build walls around ourselves so that we won’t have to deal with strangers as people. The don’t challenge us, we don’t feel guilty.

And that’s the real reason behind slavery I think. Slavery has happened many times between people of the same race by the way, just different divisions. Sometimes it’s not even between tribes, it can be between classes. They don’t talk about that when they teach kids that America is evil for having slaves.

Yes it was evil a lot of the time, but America is not the exception in any way except that it fought a war over it. You look far back enough into almost nay country and you’ll fine slavery. Often not between different races.

We don’t have to look different to make strangers of each other.

We don’t have to look the same to believe we’re kindred.

To be open to new and different ways is to be open to life. Life is constantly changing. People who recognize this are more likely to accept each other, I think. There is n o point in trying to live in a certain time while the rest of the world moves on.

And coming from a home-schooler raised to believe that the old ways are better, that’s a big concession.

I believe they are better. They were healthier, more in line with natural law. But I don’t believe you change the world by staying in the past. The world won’t stay with you. Solutions always lie ahead of us.

True brotherhood between nations always begins, and always will, with the laying aside of suspicions. The willingness to see each other as part of the same family. Just different looking and different sounding. (Heck some of us have that in our immediate family. I’m not exactly like anyone else in mine, my sister even observed that it’s hard to place who I look like.)

Suspicion is the killer of phileo love (friendship/brotherly love.)  You remember that part of Pocahontas? “They’re different form us, therefore they an’t be trusted.” But what led to that? Immediate suspicion.

You know, both the Native Americans and the White men were already determined to think that their ways were the only way and that they had nothing to learn from anyone else. Both of them. Is it any wonder that they were immediately suspicious of each other? While Pocahontas both in the true history and in the movie represented those of us who think we have something to learn from each other.

I will never be convinced that my religion is not the correct one, but what I like about mine is that it allows me to recognize wisdom in other cultures. There is no culture without it’s own revelation of God that it understand better then others.

Americans understand freedom, for example. Jews understand holiness. I think many Asian cultures understand the flow of the spiritual into art and lifestyle better then we do. I think the Native Americans understood a lot about the way God speaks through nature.

The list goes on.

And that’s not exclusive of course. It’s just a sample.

Language is a gap between people, but in God’s mysterious ways, He was made it one of the most powerful ways to bridge the gap between people, if we approach it humbly and with love and patience.

Standing in the Need of Prayer.

“It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer. It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer.

Not my brother nor my sister but it’s me, oh lord, standing in the need of prayer. Not my brother nor my sister but it’s me, oh lord, standing in the need of prayer.

Not the elder nor the deacon but it’s me, oh lord, standing in the need of prayer.

Not my father nor my mother, but it’s me oh lord, standing in the need of prayer.

Not the stranger, nor my neighbor but it’s me oh lord, standing in the need of prayer. 

Standing in the need of prayer.”

This song used to strike me as selfish. Come on, none of the rest of these people need prayer? Get over yourself.

But since reading Toni Morrison’s “Strangers.” I see this song, particularly the last verse, differently.

Morrison thinks that we find in strangers a part of ourselves. That we wich to merge with them, to draw them into ourselves and so regain whatever we’ve lost. In my previous post I talked about that feeling at length.

Now I just want to look at this song, and what its words mean if you see it all as the person singing saying “When all these people are in need of prayer, I am too. Because we’re all part of the same body.”

When we pray for humanity, are we really praying for ourselves? Not for our petty problems (or sometimes serious problems) but for what we hope to have in our own suffering.

I think we may have genuinely selflessreasons to pray. But Jesus specifically told us to look on others as worthy of the same love we would show ourselves. Even when they weren’t deserving of it.

I’m not inot all this “we’re all one, in each other,” wierdness. Not ot the extent it’s taken to, tat we literally are inside each other and acting dependently. We may be depednent, but it’s not in the way that implies.

No, our hearts and minds are our own to guard and keep, and no one else can do it for us completely. Even God Himself leaves a lot of it up to us to choose. That’s the price of being free.

But we are connected in a way. We all suffer, we all have joys, we all share the human experience. And that’s not something to take lightly.

So when someone is suffering in the body, as Paul says, all the rest suffer with it.

The usffering of christians in the middle east is my suffering also. I don’t die, I don’t feel ohysical pain, but deep down the knowledge that they suffer affects me. I may not think it does, bu it does.

Becauase we share the same faith, we’re connected.

My faith connects me more to other christians, but my hunaity connects me toe veryone else.

That’s why I can feel pity for someone like Hitler or Stallin, I know what it is to be human and to fall. And I know what it is to rise up. I wish they could ahve.

My shared experience is all that enables me to pity them and motivates me to help others.

I note that shared experience can pass between humans and animals also, and even, some might say, being humans and other spiritual beings. There’s an ungodly trend going around of pitying the devil in shows and movies and books (Paradise Lost might be the most famous example of this) and while I don’t see why it’s popular, especially if you don’t believe in the devil anyway, it’s only possible because we have spirits, otherwise how could we understand them at all?

Of course that will be denied, but this post isn’t about that so I’m not going into it.

The point is, when you’re in the need of prayer, or of love, or of anything really, you will know better how much other people are in need of it. When you need help, someone else does.

I’ve seen this in my own life, my own suffering has been frustrating to me, but looking around I see how other’s share similar physical and emotional pain to me, and maybe when I pray for myself, I need to pray for them too.

We’re all standing in the need of prayer.

Christian or no, I hope this post was enjoyable to you. I seem to be on a grave bent tonight, but it’s where my mind was.

Until next time–Natasha.

 

The Bus Driver.

You know those moments that people tell stories about? The ones that Christian authors use to impart spiritual lessons, and pastors do it too, to the point where it’s almost annoying. You want to say “Not everything has to be a lesson, man!”

Well, I have one of those stories tonight.

I’ve been taking the bus to college, as you know. (Sounds like the title of an article doesn’t it?) And last night I noticed something as I got on: I tapped my pass and the driver said “Thank you.”

I thought “Why’s he thanking me? He’s the one putting in hours of his life doing a really boring job that no one appreciates him for, though they should because I sure as heck don’t have the patience to be a bus driver.”

I know the driver just meant to be friendly. That was what struck me. He wasn’t being polite, just friendly. Trying to make the rather isolated situation a little more comfortable.

To the best of his efforts, since we aren’t allowed to talk to bus drivers unnecessarily. Of course I know that’s for safety reasons, but what a lonely way to make a living if you can hardly even talk to the people you see all day. And you don’t have a co-worker there to cheer you up either.

I feel awkward just in the 12-15 minutes I spend on the bus not knowing anyone.

I’m pretty sure way back when the public transportation thing got going, there wasn’t a rule about talking to the driver. And I’m certain that other passengers at least used to talk to each other. It’s sad to see all the young students on the bus make awkward eye contact with each other, but bury themselves in their phones rather than strike up a conversation.

We’ve been raised with the idea that talking to strangers is bad, and dangerous, and worst of all, unnecessary. That’s the killer isn’t it? We feel that as long as we have our electronic transactions, we don’t need to talk. even bus passes are just card stickers now, no eye contact is even required.

And I see this, and I think to myself, we’re so lonely. We’re just starving to connect with each other.

It’s not that we want to connect on some soul level with every human we meet. I think we want to feel part of their world, just as they, in a small way, are part of ours. We might never see them again, but they were people, and we were interested in them just because of that.

Though most of us would agree general kindness is a good thing, very few of us stop to think what common courtesy and kindness require, that you care. That you see other people as beings who shape your world and are in it and whom you owe some recognition just as they owe you some, because that’s what it is to be human.

To be ignored is perhaps the most inhuman of practices that we do on a regular basis, and I think we feel it deep down, we know something’s not right.

When I do happen to strike up a conversation with someone I don’t know, I always feel it’s a bit of an awkward trade off. You ask the culturally acceptable small talk questions, (which have been disdained by the more withdrawn folks of society, but are in place for a very good reason) but you don’t really feel like you can trust them. Still you try to make things more comfortable by being more familiar, because somehow we feel less afraid when we know someone, even if it’s just their name. Even if they didn’t tell it to us, we just heard them called by it.

We yearn to know things about each other. I don’t think it’s just busybodies who feel that way. It’s everyone. We’ve all looked at a particular stranger and wondered what their life was like, and we wish we could be in it somehow, because maybe we’d find something there that’s missing in our own world.

I’m not the first to think of this, there’s an insightful essay called Strangers by Toni Morrison that I recommend you check out.

What the bus driver, and myself by my slight smile and nod in response, are trying to do is reestablish something we feel we’ve lost.

My question is, is it just this generation that’s lost it? Or have people felt this way ever since we left Eden? I see something of it it Cain’s plea to God after he is sentenced to wander the earth. “Anyone who finds me will kill me,” as if he doesn’t know who that anyone might be.

Abraham said “I am a stranger in a strange land” but he still tried to have peace with some of the land’s inhabitants.

Being strangers and being estranged don’t seem to be the same thing. One is a fact of life because we can’t know everyone, the other is a deliberate choice to be shut off from the rest of the world.

In that sense, the person like me who has spent most of her days at home may yet be less a stranger to others then the person who closes them-self off to feeling or knowing anything about them.

I think we are hungry as a whole to reconnect somehow, but we don’t know the secret. I think technology has only provided the mask to hide behind so that we no longer know this, people used to know that being strangers was a sad thing.

Until next time–Natasha

(P. S. Watch for a new movie review in the next week or so, I’m planning on doing a DCOM.)