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.

Why I write and Read.

Hello readers, sorry for not posting. I’ve been busy.

I’m super excited about finishing up some of my books. Maybe if I ever get one published I’ll leave the title in a post.

I just hope my writing makes sense.

You may find this hard to believe, but I actually write more fiction than non-fiction. This blog is maybe 20% of my writing time.

But I love fiction.

I love fantasy.

I love making it up even more than I love reading it.

There’s something magical (ha ha) about world building.

And you know, this is worth bringing up here, because I do pray about what I write. Yes, I want it to change people’s lives. And I might not be there yet, but someday I hope what I have to say will matter to someone.

I hope that one of my books will be like C. S. Lewis’s and Hannah Hurnard’s writing is to me. I hope that people will get caught up in it like I got caught up in the PErcy Jackson series. And won’t have regrets later about how I ended something. I hope people will be inspired like “Carry on Mr. Bowditch,” and “The Enchanted April,” inspired me.

I know that reading is now taking second place to movies and shows, but it will always be the better choice. Though it is the harder one. I myself find it easier to watch something that takes little effort and little imagination, then to read a book that requires both. Currently I’m reading Jane Eyre, and the language is a bit of a challenge even for me–and I read Shakespeare. (I promise it gets easier the more you do it.)

I notice folks are a lot more picky now aobut their stories. I blame the lack of imagination in movies for it. I don’t mean people who make movies aren’t imaginative (though some… you know what I mean.=,) I meant hat your brain really doesn’t have to fill in any of the blanks when it’s all right before your eyes.

A good movie is like a great view. It can be soaked up and inspiring, but it’s not going to challenge your mind in the same way thinking of a great scene will.

Words are as important to our mind as food is to our body. (That’s a paraphrase of what Miss Sullivan says in The Miracle Worker.)

Frankly, when books let you do some of the work yourself, they are treating you with respect. Authors are not concerned with showing us things, they are concerned with making us see. Different form movies.

Now, it’s fine to be shown things, but it will never give you the maturity learning how to see for yourself will.

For instance, my favorite movie showed me a lot of things about myself, but it was the book I read before watching it that had made me able to see those things.

It’s great when you can balance those things out, I hav enothing against drama. But only drama, only movies, only shows, that leaves you only with what youve ben told. Not what you’ve discovered.

This is the real problem I see with people my age, they believe what they’re told, but they don’t know how to figure out for themselves what something means. They think something can mean whatever they want.

The truth is, no good artist (of any sort) sets out to tell the world something ambiguous. There truly is a right way to understand them. In some cases, we know too little about the person to be sure, but in many others people choose to see different things in their work.

Which isn’t wrong, but it would be wrong to then say that’s what the artist meant.

Also, it’s better to take best things out of something than it is to take the worst out of it.

I can’t tell you how many times I talk to someone who seems to be a nice, intelligent person; and then I realize they beleive only what the culture aorund them had taught them.

If we exposed ourselves to more books, older books, ones not subject to our modern ideals, we would find very different points of view. And maybe if we didn’t jsut assume they were wrong right off, but actually opened our minds, we’d be shocked by how much sense they make.

I get that I’m old fashioned, but heck, who says that’s wrong?

The problem with being completely modern is that every age is prone to certain defects, certain wrong ideas, and if you allow yourself to be propelled along by what’s modern, new, popular, then you will be caught in the good and the bad of it. Human nature being what it is, you’ll probably more caught in the bad.

Like for instance, being bad, rebellious, a rule breaker is kind of nodded at in our culture, as you’ve no doubt noticed. I want to know who decided being selfish, rude, inconsiderate, and reckless was the new face of cool. (Oh Jane Austen, where have our Edwardian values gone!)

I respect the idea of being yourself to certain point. It’s healthy to be honest and unique. It’s not cool, however, to use that as an excuse for not being accountable for your behavior to other people.

Which, if we read more books, and were more open to them, we might realize. There used to be this thing called manners, and standards, and it used to be considered right to adhere to them.

The fact is, it does matter what you do. It does matter whether you are on the right or wrong side. And the world to lie to us, and say that you can be bad and still be making an impact for the greater good, why, that’s the most idiot idea ever heard!

No folks, it’s not the bad ones who are bringing anything refreshing to the table.

And that’s what books taught me.

Until next time–Natasha.

Justice League: The Flash.

Oh yeah.

The Flash is one of my favorite superheroes, despite the many jokes about his name. (His alias is Wally West for those of you who don’t know.)

On the JLU, Flash could always be counted on to lighten the mood, and the mood often was pretty heavy.

On a show about alien invasions, bizarre mind control, diabolically clever bad guys, and unbelievably powerful supervillains, there really isn’t much to laugh about. The show was never corny enough for none of it to seem serious.

But Flash keeps everyone from taking themselves too seriously. Which is his obvious role: comic relief.

But what sets him apart is that he is not merely that. We all know the comic relief guy can be totally useless often enough, because, it’s funny. (Actually, I typically find that character annoying.  Ron Stoppable was the only one I laughed at, and that was after I got used to him.) But Flash isn’t, there are several episodes in which in the crunch, it all comes down to him.

And he’s arguably the least powerful. Since Batman’s gadgets probably out weigh Flash’s one superpower in terms of usefulness. But Flash is pretty resourceful when it comes to making the most of his speed.

He is after all, the fastest man alive.

And the only being faster than Superman that was ever officially shown. (Though that was on the Superman show. (Which is worth checking out, but avoid any episodes with magic in them because they were absolutely horrid.)

Here’s another interesting thing about him, he was also the only one of the team ever to overuse his power to the point where he actually burned himself out.

Unlike the other’s, Flash’s power is still tied to his normal human abilities. That is to say, he has to keep a lot of calories in his system because his metabolism burns them up so quickly when he runs. This means that, just like a normal human, he can expend his own strength. He does it one time on the show and it nearly kills him, but his friends save him. (By the way, that part of the episode never made sense to me.)

We never really find out whether or not Flash needs the League, in the same that Batman or Superman or Hawk Girl, or the Martian need it. He’s more like Diana and the Green Lantern in that he could probably be okay on his own, handling his own villains, and still have other friends and family. Flash is not dysfunctional.

In fact, he is also one of the only members who really has a life outside the League that isn’t just in his secret identity. As The Flash, he goes and visits kids in an orphanage, regularly. They love him. He’s not so infamous that his popularity ruins any personal good he can do as The Flash.

The funny thing is, we never see him as Wally West on the show, because we don’t need to see him that way to know he had a human life too, because Flash really never ceases to act like a normal person.

He’s not a genius, though I doubt he has only average intelligence. He’s not super skilled with weapons or gadgets; he doesn’t talk the talk; and he flirts with girls; Flash never acts like he’s someone special.

That’s why the rest of the League loves him, though they rarely admit it. In the Justice Lords episode, it’s even demonstrated that he’s the glue that holds them together. He’s also the one who busts them out when everyone else is unable to do anything because of their doubles. (The alternate Flash is dead, you see. It’s really sad.)

It’s interesting that the supposed death of Superman daunted the League, but the death of Flash twisted them. But not so surprising, since in Hereafter, it’s Flash who stops Diana from taking that road by reminding her it’s what Superman would have wanted.

It’s also Flash who is the first to completely forgive Hawk Girl after she betrays them, and the only one in my memory who never criticized her or even seemed angry.

One of my favorite Flash episodes was the Christmas one Comfort and Joy. In that one, Flash encounters the Humanite (a weird gorilla-shaped mutant with genius intelligence who talks with a deep silky voice.) Humanite is up to his usual no good stuff, when Flash makes an impromptu speech about Christmas, after his gift to the orphans got accidentally destroyed. Humanite is actually moved by this (though he still knocks Flash out for awhile just to get even) and repairs the toy and helps him deliver it to the kids. It’s really sweet, but better if you check it out for yourself.

Flash also shows compassion to another villain, who is really just a man who goes off his meds and does crazy things. Flash talks him into turning himself in with the promise that he’ll visit him. We don’t see him do it, but we know he’s going to.

Because as irresponsible and often immature as Flash seems. he is really neither. He cares about people.

Finally, there’s an episode I forget the name of, in which Batman and Orion follow Flash around for a day, and Orion just doesn’t get why Batman even puts up with Flash, and Batman just says sadly “No, you don’t.” Through the course of the day we see how Flash can be both annoying and really caring. And we wonder also why Batman actually seems to envy Flash in way.

Finally we get it. Batman may care about people, but it has never been his only reason for doing what he does. And he’s never been as able to open up to people as Flash is.

The truth is, what Batman acts like as Bruce Wayne, Flash actually is, effortlessly. Batman always feels that the Dark Knight part of him is there, preventing him from really being carefree and open; while Flash is always the same person, whatever mood he’s in and in whatever guise.

Batman may never go to Flash for life advice, or want to have him as a mission partner, but he still wishes he could be more like him. And I’m not sure we can say that of anyone else in the League, except possibly Superman.

Flash is humble too, and the least suspicious out of all of them. He’s also willing to go against them when he thinks it’s right, as in the episode featuring more of my favorite characters The Ties that Bind. In it Flash helps out Scott Free and Barda when they come to the League for help. (They’ve helped the League, so it was a fair trade.)

Actually, Flash is the only League member known to disagree with the Martian and get away with it in the end.

There’s only one bad Flash episode in the whole show, and he wasn’t the bad part of it. Actually, he was almost playing a Christian role. (I wonder if he is Christian. But even if not, it doesn’t take away anything from his character.)

So, that, in a nutshell, is The Flash. But check him out yourself for the full appreciation of how awesome he is.

Until Next time–Natasha.

Happy is as happy does.

I notice that I talk about problems a lot on this blog, and not a lot of solutions. I know I didn’t start off that way. I used to blog about mostly positive stuff.

And I notice more people read my blog since the change happened.

It’s a simple fact that negativity sells.

Not that that’s why I write about it, that’s just what’s on my mind a lot. But I do wonder if it’s quite healthy.

I think about how in past centuries, or even decades, there’s been plenty of hardship to go around, and there were people then who couldn’t say enough about it.

It’s not like venting, where after two or three times (or if you’re more mild than me, once,) you  can move on, get over it. Be cheerful again.

No, nay saying and foreboding is never satisfied. We’ve all met that cynical person, a lot of us live with one, you know the type, they can never stop talking about what’s wrong with people, the world, the country, etc.

And it’s a bit of a downer to say the least, but it’s even worse if you start thinking “I’ turning into that person.”

That’s the last thing I want.

You see, my siblings and I, we have a thing where if someone in a story morphs into a villain, or is defeated in a deeper way than just losing their live or health, we say they gave in to the darkness. They lost to it. Most often this means they turned evil, but it can just mean they gave up the fight.

And when this happens, we feel as if they died. More than we’d feel it if they really had. Death isn’t really just the end of life, it’s the end of vitality in life. IF that makes sense.

And we all have our personal battles with this type of loss. It is recoverable from, but it’s difficult if you’ve let yourself get to that point to even want to come back.

It’s like C. S. Lewis said, some people like happiness, and others, for some reason, don’t.

And the thing I notice is that cynics, they really don’t like feeling happy. They don’t trust it. If they feel glad for a day or two, or an hour, they always find something that will put them out of sorts again, and they go back to comfortable pessimism.

People who like happiness, on the other hand, may go through times where they emotionally can’t feel it, but they will push through that until they find it again. PR they’ll adjust until it’s not so hard. There is a downside to this, they may be more focused on happiness that on doing what’s right (ultimately compromising their own goal) but overall, I think they are more satisfied than the other type.

A person who likes happiness can forgive themselves quicker than someone who doesn’t, because they don’t want to feel down about something for too long. I notice that the ones who don’t like happiness tend to dwell on their own faults, and on rectifying them.

They will perhaps say that they don’t deserve happiness, but it really it  because they don’t trust it that they avoid it. Human beings really have no trouble accepting what they don’t deserve.

Which is fine, I think God made us that way so we could receive his gifts, no gift is given because it is deserved, then it would be a prize.

And Christians who don’t like happiness will always, always, treat salvation like it’s a prize instead of a gift. Trust me, if you’ve known any one of these folks, it’s part of the reason people don’t like Christians as a whole. Not the main reason, but part of it.

Like Peter Quill (Guardians of the Galaxy) says of the townspeople in Footloose, these are the kinds who have sticks up their rear ends. They can’t have fun.

I knew how to have fun once, I still have it every now and then, but I don’t have it often enough I think. It’s mor ein my nature to be happy, or at least ot want ot be and not ignore it, but often the people I’m surrounded by and the circumstances I’m in seem to prevent it.

Which isn’t right, I ought to rise above such things. But it is difficult.

Misery loves company.

I know that I’m more cynical than I used to be, it seems to happen with age, and with the knowledge of more and more problems that you will have to deal with as you get older. Like taxes; ageing; and voting; to name a few.

And the amount of things that just tick me off about this culture.

But all that is temporary after all, and happiness can’t really be built off those things.

It works like this, if it’s foolish to build your happiness upon something, like money, or fame, or even family and friends, then it it foolish to lose your happiness over that thing. Permanently. Grief is fine to feel for a time, but not the hill you want to die on, if you get my mixed metaphor.

As this song goes:

I will build my life upon your love, it is a firm foundation. And I will put my trust in You, oh Lord, and I will not be shaken.

Love is the only things worth building your life on, and with love, truth. Those things never change, and never will. They can’t be taken away by our culture, or the people around us, not unless you let them take it.

And he is a fool who lets that happen. (We all do it though, so we’re all fools together, but it’s more important who ceases to be a fool than who starts off as one.)

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

Growing cold.

I’ll be getting back to my Justice League stuff soon, but today I want to talka bout a verse that has intrigued me for a long time.

Maybe you’ve heard this “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many will grow cold.”

That verse is from Matthew  24:12

Just for context, that whole chapter is about end times.

Which is a big theme nowadays.

But what most of us who haven’t been in church a long time don’t realiz is that the Bible calls all time after the ascention of Christ the End Times, or The Last Days. We’ve had 2,017 years of the Last Days.

But a fun fact about God is that he says a thousand years is the same as a single day to him, so with that view of it, it’s been two days and a few seconds since Jesus left.

Witht hat perspective, Jesus could show up at any minute.

But this post is not about that, I;m merely setting the stage for my actual topic.

The reasib the context is important is because whenever the End Times are referenced in Scripture, they usually are getting progressively worse. For instance, it is said it will be like the days of Noah, then like the days of Lot. Lot’s days were worse than Noah’s.

What this means is that the cooling off of love that the above verse talks about is going to increase more and more as time goes. It won’t just stop and then plateau.

Whether or not you are a Bible fan, I think you’ll agree with me that there is a big loss of love going on in the world today. And that it has gone on for some time.

What I never really thought about before was the first half of that verse. “Because iniquity shall abound.”

In the Bible Iniquity is a word used to not just mean sin, but to mean sin that is like a disease, sin that spreads and infects everything around it. (My personal take on it, I don’t think that’s the official definition.)

There’s a lot of iniquity to go around now. Always has been since those words were first spoken.

But did you know that the love Jesus is referring to in that verse is the Unconditional Love that the Church is meant to show?

And by Church, I do not mean a gathering of believers. IT’s great when you can find that, but most often you’ll find that the actual church is only a percentage of the people in the building. The ones who are actually godly and care about living holy lives. That’s who I’m referring to.

So, in summary, the Love of these Christians will grow cold because of all the sin around.

Now for the shocker: I always thought this verse was a warning to those who took their faith too un-seriously. Now I think this verse is a warning to me.

That’s right, me. The person who’s been obsessed with her faith ever since she was a kid.

But lately, I notice I do have a problem with love.

You see, I find sin to be an annoying thing. Not that I expect perfection, but when I discover people are lax about the most basic principles of Christian Living, I get kind of…testy.

I’m just telling you all the truth here. I do have a vindictive personality.

I have high standards for myself, and while I do not hold others up to that level, I do expect more from them than they do from themselves.

What irritates me is that I like it when people expect a lot of me (within reason,) but the majority of folks do not.

How many of you have felt the same way? I know some of you have. You look around and wonder why everyone else has lost their minds, and you seem to be a lone sensible person in a sea of stupidity.

And to make matters worse, these others will constantly tell you that you’re just better than they are, but you shouldn’t expect them to be like that.

At this point, smoke usually starts coming out of my ears.

But even if I’m right to be angry and disgusted, I do face a danger here.

It’s true, many people are less moral than I am. It’s not pride, it’s fact. But that doesn’t mean I get to stop seeing hem as people.

That is the temptation. Once we feel someone is lower than us in some way, we cans tops seeing them as full human beings, who deserve love and compassion.

We’ve all done this, we warn someone about doing something dumb, they do it and come back crying, and we just shrug and say “I told you so.” And don’t help.

Because obviously the fact that we told them so means we don’t need to help them any further.

Well, maybe if people were like dogs, and lived only to do what their master wanted and occasionally get a bone or a toy in return, that would suffice.

But people are not dogs. And when we got he extra mile with them, sometimes it’s only then that they can understand what we were trying to say all along.

Jesus actually said “If someone compels you to go with him one mile, go with him two.”

We’ve all seen it in movies, a person forces another to help them, the other person eventually comes to care about them, and even when they no longer have to help, they decide to stick around anyway.

Life is really no different.

And the hard truth is that even if you go the extra mile, you may never make any lasting change in someone’s life…but they will change yours.

We still need to do it.

And though sin makes it easy to despise people, as I know only too well, it does not make it right. Sin never made anything right.

Christian or not, your life is going to be better if you learn how to show Unconditional Love. Love that can’t be driven off, duped, or disowned. It just is.

I have to go now and get ready for a driving lesson, until next time–Natasha.

It was life changing.

First of all, thank you to the people who read my posts even when I’ve not written any new ones, I appreciate your loyalty.

Second, obviously, I’m back from my mission’s trip.

I know some of you will want to hear how it went and some probably don’t care, and here’s the thing, it’s as interesting as the person makes it.

I found after my mission trip last year that what was most important to me about it was not what everyone asked me about. They wanted to know what I did, I wanted to talk about the people and place itself.

This time around, I am more interested in what I did. Because I did it to get out of my comfort zone.

And I certainly succeeded there because I was uncomfortable about half of the time. I did not feel like God was just keeping me cloaked in grace this time around. Which means that it was not so easy and smooth as it was before. Part of the reason for that was I went with people I knew slightly instead of total strangers, and a lot more personal issues were involved because of that, nothing like a trip to another place to bring out everyone’s insecurities and quirks. I ended the trip by getting yelled at over something stupid and unfair. Lovely right?

And so I’m debunking the myth here that all mission’s trips are supernatural and life changing experiences, at least on the surface. They aren’t. I won’t say that this trip did not change my life, I believe it did, but not in the easily recognizable way we expect when we use that phrase.

If this trip showed me a little more about myself and the people around me; gave me a little more knowledge of how to do certain things; helped me overcome a few more of my fears; and gave me the chance to change lives even in a small way; it was life changing (duh on the last part right?)

If nothing else, I got a lot of cool souvenirs.

That was a joke, of course, though seriously, they have nice stuff at Swap Meets.

If you asked me what I learned through the experience, I’d have to say I learned that everyone is human. That is, I saw both the good and bad sides of my team mates, more than the team I went with last year, and these were not worse people, I dare say, they were just more able to lose their cool around each other. I realized that people have expectations of each other that are often not met, or not met in ways we think they will be.

But I also saw that the flaws that normally make me disinterested in being friends with someone can be compensated for. My team mates have plenty of annoying quirks (as I do myself) but they have a lot of good qualities that make up for them. The ones that don’t, well, they don’t.

And I saw myself in a lot of the annoying things they did; scary, right?

So, all in all, I can’t judge. The things that were seriously wrong I do have a hard time with. Maybe you’ve been there, you see sides to people that you just can’t excuse because it goes against your principles, not just your taste. When that happens, all I can do is back away.

That does not mean I will not care about those people, of course I will, but it is unwise to be intimate friends with someone who has a serious difference of principle from yourself, because when you need a good kick in the pants, how can you count on them to give it to you? The best friends remind us who we are, they don’t excuse us when we act out of character.

I have tried to be this kind of friend, with very little success, I suppose because I never actually know people as well as I think I do. Or else, they don’t know I know them that well.

I have waited a long time to find friends who will encourage me in my principles, and it can be a long and lonely search, but how can I be satisfied with less? Who is to say that it is impossible? It’s only impossible if you give up looking.

And on that note, I got to know some people better who did bring out the best in me. I hope to continue to know them more.

At the end of the day, I need to trust my instincts. My first impression of people is often mostly accurate, it just needs expanding.

So, that was this trip. And on the less emotional side, I did cross another thing off my bucket list: Rock Climbing. (I so recommend trying this if you can tolerate heights at all. It’s a real rush to conquer a climb.)

I hope everyone found something of interest in this post, and until next time–Natasha.

 

Avatar

I’m breaking from my new series to catch up on my film reviews.

Also, I realized today that it is nearly the two-year anniversary of this blog. I’ve grown from two followers to forty one. This is pretty cool.

Anyway, to the review:

I am not talking about the show Avatar, I’ve never seen it. I’m talking about the movie that kind of went under the radar.  I remember first seeing commercials for it and thinking it looked cool. Blue aliens, they aren’t usually my thing, but it was an interesting concept.

And I finally got a chance to watch it.

The story is about a man named Jake Sully, who is an ex-marine, and has lost the use of his legs, but thanks to being a twin and having the same DNA of his dead brother, he is able to replace him in an experimental program that will use his soul and mind into the body of a human/alien being, and allow him to infiltrate their culture and find out how to get the valuable metal they have in their forest. Unobtainium. (That name was said with a straight face throughout the entire movie.)

Creepy sounding right? But once you get over the initial weirdness and your mind adjusts to the idea of a man being inside a large blue thing with a tail, it’s not so bad.

The character I found most intriguing, next to Jake, was Grace. A scientist on the project, who at first didn’t like him being there because she thought he was dumb. (Incidentally, Chris Pratt auditioned for Jake’s role, and Jake Sully is a lot like Peter Quill from Guardians of the Galaxy. Apparently Pratt gets type cast.)

After a lot of in between events that fill us in more on these blues aliens (I can neither remember nor spell their actual name) Jake and his new body end up on their planet, Pandora, with a handful of other humans in avatar form. Jake has some run ins with the flora and fauna of this world, and one of the natives is going to shoot an arrow through him, but the seeds of their ancient tree stop her. It’s not quite as crazy as it sounds. This tree is like the Home Tree from Pixie Hollow, a source of power.

The native spares him, and then saves his life, making it plain that she thinks he’s an idiot, but he has s trog heart, and she’s not going to kill anyone the tree says to spare. Later she takes him to her people and he is trained by her to be one of them.

There’s a lot more to it than that, but this movie is really long, so I’ll go to the important part. After months of this, Jake begins to feel more conflicted about destroying these people. And Grace, who was in charge of a school for their children and ahs been allowed around them again, is also not for the idea of destroying their home and them. But their protests get them locked up. And after a lot of cat and mouse with them escaping and being caught again, Jake rallies all the tribes of the aliens against the humans. I’ll admit this was the most intense action I’ve seen in awhile.

Of course there is the obligatory scene where the blue people find out Jake was playing them and the girl he’s fallen in love with (and mated with…skip that scene) is furious with him and sends him packing. But as cliché as it is, the actors sold it really well, and made it more unique. Plus we never get that annoying scene where the hero is bellyaching about how they ruined everything and lost the girl, blah, blah, blah. Jake never wastes time.

In the end, the blue people win over the Earthlings, with the help of they’re planet’s god, Awah (Phonetic spelling,) who causes all the animals of the forest to help them, even the ones that would normally eat them. Jake gets to stay there, along with a few other people, and they use they’re mystical tree to make him permanently one of their kind.

The verdict:

I really recommend checking this movie out for yourself. It’s a lot like Atlantis, only with Milo Thatch replaced with an ex-marine. It’s also like Epic and Fern Gully. But the themes are more adult, and a lot more interesting and complex.

I knew Grace would change her mind about the people from the beginning, because she was learning about them the most and spending time with them, she had a more open mind, and more respect for their culture. Jake closed off to begin with, but you knew he’d change his mind too.

The bigger surprise was that a handful of the other humans also changed their minds, and sacrificed even their lives to help the people.

One of the most gripping lines is at the end, when Jake, in making his video log, reverses the terms, saying “The aliens went back to their planet, a few were selected to remain.” The aliens now being his own people.

The is movie is somewhat like Ender’s Game in plot device, but not in tone. I hated Ender’s Game and I didn’t like Ender. Jake on the other hand, I could at least root for. I felt sad for him, and his friends, and I could see clearly why the natives did not deserve what they got and how the whole project was bad to begin with and got worse as it went. You also see that the other humans had almost no respect for the natives, they thought of them as primitives, little better than animals, and that destroying them had no moral implications. The familiarity of such thinking was scary.

I don’t like movies that paint humans as the most evil, despicable race that there is. But I don’t think this movie would do that unless you chose to see it that way. Some of the humans are noble. It is more about how one race cannot dominate another in that way, and that it is not treason to join the opposite side if they are in the right. (Just like in the Hawk Girl post I just did.) It’s also about respecting life.

Even though the religion of the movie seems very Eastern, I found none of it to directly contradict my own faith. I actually thought Awah was a good representation of God in some ways. The rituals were weird, and I did skip some, but mostly it was fine.

Also, instead of the head of the tribe taking an instant disliking to Jake, the mother of it is the most just to him, and she is the one who frees him and Grace at the end, instead of the love interest. I thought that was cool.

This has been a very long review of a very long movie, so I’m signing off now.

Until next time–Natasha.100_2868

Justice League: Hawk Girl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After which she gets caught and imprisoned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s my two cents:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justice League: Green Lantern.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time–Natasha.