The Avengers: Age of Ultron

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But to what does it all tend?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

So–the drama.

Drama.

The word every highschooler dreads, unless they are one of the ones who seem to enjoy it.

I don’t mean the acting type of course, I mean the emotional type.

There’s a difference between the notorious drama and real issues, the difference being drama tends to be mostly in a person’s head, and is generally petty and immature.

So, being as isolated as I have been, my encounters with drama have been minimal, but as I hang around my peers more, I’m starting to see it.

I think I could do with never seeing it again. It stresses everyone out, even those who aren’t directly involved; it makes people feel bad; it puts a damper on everyone’s mood; and it makes tension at the worst possible moments. People take sides, and at the end of the day, its usually over something that wasn’t worth all that trouble anyway.

Sound familiar?

Actually, I’ve seen plenty of this drama around much older people, even people in their seventies. I’ve been in it myself. I don’t like it, but I don’t think anyone escapes it entirely unless they are a hermit or a recluse.

So far I have added no new enlightenment to this annoying phenomenon. You may be wondering why I choose to being it up anyway. I mean, don’t we all just have to deal with it?

Pretty much.

You see, drama happens because human nature tends to be petty and dishonest, as Megara points out in Hercules. Someone gets in a snit over something stupid, blows it out of proportion, and soon its a full scale war.

The problem is, very few of is realize we are creating drama when we first begin it. The hurt seems perfectly legit to us; or, in some cases, it doesn’t, but we are still upset. And feeling like we’re being stupid only makes us more miserable and hence causes more drama.

Now, as much as we all have probably caught on to those facts, we still do it.

So, here’s my take on the problem.

Human beings are flawed. (Duh.)

That means we can’t always behave the way we think we should.

We literally can’t.

But even though we lack the willpower. we still have the conviction that we ought to do better, and conviction without willpower is torture. So we feel guilty but can’t do anything about it.

This leads to shame. The shame makes us defensive, and so we act worse. Thus the cycle continues.

There is no formula for preventing this from happening, but there is a cure.

One has to mature as a person. I don’t cause as much drama as I used to because as I get older and more mature I see the potential storm on the horizon, and I avoid it. Not always, and it takes two to tango, so sometimes the storm happens whether I want it to or not, but it is getting more rare.

I also let things go more quickly, thus stopping the problem early on.

I wish I was to this point, but the most mature people just don’t get offended period. That way they can’t be the cause of drama.

It’s better to have the attitude that we will be able to deal with whatever comes, and not to sweat it. Then, if it ends up being too much to handle, it will generally be something more weighty than drama.

What I mean to say it, drama is drama because people freak out over little things. If no one freaked, then the annoyances that compose drama would be soon forgotten and even sooner gotten over.

Kind of like how when I was a kid and scrapped with my siblings, my mom would usually treat it as a passing problem and quickly resolve it and in an hour or a day, all was forgotten. But when Mom or Dad made a big deal out of it, I remembered it for weeks, some things I remember to this day.

And some things like that should be remembered, but most shouldn’t.

Christians call this Drama Queen complex the old, dead self. It’s the past of us that we have to overcome daily. Until it becomes more natural to us to ignore offenses, or forgive them and forget them quickly, than it does to make drama.

We all need to be stronger than that old dead self. We need to be healthier, and more confident and kind and unselfish.

As Kim Possible often says “So not the Drama.” That’s the kind of nonchalance a lot of us desperately need.

In that spirit, I think I’ll end this post. Until next time–Natasha.

100_3137

all is new….this is living now!

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.

 

While I was gone…

I really couldn’t help not posting for several days, I was out of state and away from my computer.

That’s all my explanation and apology. It was a family tragedy.

It happens to everyone, but as the cliché goes, you never think it’ll happen to you.

I think though that I knew it would happen eventually, I just didn’t know when and I didn’t see it coming. I almost don’t believe it still.

What a crazy week, between visiting the bereaved my family tried to snatch a little bit of the vacation we were planning to have this year because now we can’t do it, and then there was a hasty funeral and long trip home.

Bringing me up to today, when I’m recovering and still trying to process these events.

There’s a few things I think everyone experiences when one of their family members dies. There’s a realization that death really happens, and could happen to you. The immediate response is fear.

There’s usually anger. In this case the cause of death was not wearing a seatbelt and driving too fast. Why was the person so stupid?

There’s shock of course. And most of all there’s regret that you spent less time than you wished with them.

If I’m totally honest,  I admit that people probably spend about as much time with each other as they really want to. The problem isn’t that death cuts it short but that we prioritize the wrong things or just neglect the ones that are more difficult. And the truth is, if it were me who died, other people would feel like they should have spent more time with me.

And maybe they should have, or should really. But I wouldn’t blame them all that much that they didn’t because that’s the way life is. We don’t always get the chance to do all that we think we should. We’re human and we miss what’s right in front of us, or what’s far away from us and yet very real.

This may sound like I’m taking a cynical view of this, but I’m not, I’m trying to avoid the common mistake of thinking that knowing this was coming would have made anyone different. It should make us different anyway, but I’ve never liked the idea of being nice to people because you fear death.

The fact is, death may be a wake up call for some, but for many it’s a shadow. One that will go away in time if we heal in the right way, but one people often cling to as their new normal.

The important thing is not to focus on death and how it’s a possibility, because it always was, and it’ll ruin your life to be always thinking of it.

The thing to think of is how everyone’s life is so short, but no one’s is meaningless.

I didn’t know this person who died all that well, I wish I had, but at least some people did. It is better to find out that someone was an amazing person than to find out that they did no one any good.

What I have learned is that there is more to people than you can know based on a slim acquaintance. Even if you are able to judge one part of their character, there may be another part you knew nothing about. If that makes me a little less quick to assume in the future then that’s a good thing.

But I don’t expect it to completely change my own character, and I’m not foolish enough to try that, only One person’s death can change someone’s character in that radical way.

Maybe you were expecting a different post, and for all I know, this just sounds like the typical way people try to comfort themselves after a tragedy, and perhaps that’s what it is.

Perhaps, also, that’s fine because grief is typical in life.

I am not afraid to die myself, I am only afraid to die before I’ve really helped anyone or changed anything, or done something that was important and unselfish and brought God the glory.

I know what kind of person I want to be before I die, but I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near close enough to being her.

And I don’t know how well my family member was satisfied with his life, not too well from what I’ve heard, but he couldn’t see the incredible person he was destined to be.

I guess it’s not where you are now so much as where you’re going to be, sooner or later, and with many bumps along the way.

As many times as I have heard the above said, it’s so easy to forget and think the present is our permanent state of being. It’s not. Things will get worse or better, they will never stay just the same.

Worse or better will alternate, but the overall effect is up to you and what you want to believe in.

And those are my thoughts on this for now. Until next time–Natasha.

The Do-good principle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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