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.

A strong mind and a soft heart.

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

And I agreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about a soft heart?

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

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

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

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

You put out what you get put in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time–Natasha.

Going back to the basics.

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

Disappointed again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relationship difficulties, am I right? Not fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All that said, will disappointment hurt? YES!!

Does it have to break you? No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give or Take?

Hey everyone, get ready to dive down deep.

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

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

And I mentioned Elsa.

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

So, what’s my take on it?

Better yet, is there a biblical take on it?

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

But are they?

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

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

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

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

Magic, however, is all about power.

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

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

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

But is power given or is it taken?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Spectacular Spider-Man!

I do not like spiders, but ironically, my favorite superhero was Spider-Man when I was a kid. Back when it was the only superhero comic I read. (We used to get them in the mail, cool huh? I wish that still was a thing.) And while Scott Free and Big Barda may be my new favorites, along with Wonder Woman, Spider-Man will always hold a special place in my affections.

And that’s why I have now seen the Tobey Maguire movie version of it, which was the most true to comic book version that I have seen. (I couldn’t have  been the only one disappointed by the less mature, and more goofy Spider-Man in Civil War, though even so, he was the best of it, in my opinion.)

I’ve talked about Superheroes in general a lot, but I haven’t talked about most of them specifically, let’s do that.

In my view, Spider-Man and Batman are a lot alike. (I apologize for the hyphens, but autocorrect keeps putting them in.)

I don’t mean personality wise, but let me say, I’d forgotten how sad Peter Parker’s story was. It was even worse seeing it then reading it. I guess that means the actors were convincing. The movie version is even more like Batman because Peter sees Uncle Ben after he’s shot and goes off at once to stop the killer. Only to find in an  un-Batman-like twist, that it was a guy he could have stopped.

Lesson Learned: Revenge is stupid and so is yelling at someone over nothing.

But I would not be flippant about it, Spider-Man had a legitimately crummy life, whatever version of him you know. he gets dumped constantly; his friends turn into villains; his villains turn into worse villains; his family dies. Not fun.

The amount of times Peter Parker gets really hurt, emotionally and physically, are enough to make you ache in sympathy. Why? You ask. Why do the writers keep doing this to him? (If anyone knows the answer tot hat, please comment it, seriously.)

By contrast, Batman witnesses one personal tragedy (though more later in some versions of him) and is scarred for life. Ig et that there’s a difference of age here, but still…

Really, it’s their personality. Spider-Man is a wisecracking kid trying to dot he right thing and pay the rent at the same time. Batman is a rich kid with nothing else to occupy his time except making business deals and going to events. Nott hat I fault him for that. To each his own, but perhaps Batman gets more of the luxury of wallowing in Self Pity.

After all, Peter has to support his aunt, and keep any eye on Mary Jane and his other friends. (Though they dwindle.)

Maybe it’s true that idleness is worse for your character than almost anything else. Bruce Wayne can be kind of self absorbed, though he does a lot of good. Peter doesn’t have that option. So  even though he’s younger, he’s got more heart. (Like Captain America says.)

Maybe that’s why my favorite version of Batman, and the only one I really like and respect, is the Justice League Unlimited one. AS much as I wanted someone to punch after he turn down Wonder Woman, he still is at his best when he’s with the League.

It brought him a bit out of the shell of darkness most of his movies place him in. It’s even in the background. Most of the JLU adventures take place in the daytime, whereas if you go to a Batman only film or show, most of it is at night. Interesting, right?

I could go on for a whole other post about Batman’s good moments in the League (maybe I will, who knows?) But for now I think it’s enough o say he needs friends.

Another difference between them, despite their similar origins, is that Batman usually has people around him who wish he’d let them be more of friends or family to him, but he won’t.

Where as Spider-Man will, but he gets deserted or libeled or overlooked.

I really think Peter Parker just needed to be cut some slack by his writers, but I guess that just doesn’t leave people o the edge like horrible things happening does.

I ought to have learned by now that a person like me, who likes peace, tranquility, and happy endings; is never going to be satisfied with superhero material unless I purposely stop before it gets ruined again.

It’s the never ending battle of super-heroism that is what I don’t like about the concept. And no one said it had to be that way when the genre started, it just evolved into that. And that was what kept stuff selling. Which we can only blame consumers for.

Apparently, I’m pretty much a minority in my tastes on that score.

Anyway, you might be wondering if I liked the movie. The answer is: I neither liked it nor disliked it.

The Green Goblin is without a doubt the scariest Spider-Man (or Marvel itself even) villain I’ve ever seen, though there are DC villains even worse than him. He was too real. I firmly believe what happened to him could happen in real life, and probably has.

Nonetheless, it was not exactly a tragedy because he chose it himself and kept choosing it. My sister said choice was the big theme of the movie.

I agree, and I would add so was the difference between being given power, and trying to take it.

This difference is sort of pointed out in Frozen, when people think Elsa is using sorcery, but as we know, she was born with her powers, making them a gift.

That’s actually a subject worth covering in another post, but I can’t delve into it here.

The Green Goblin, or Osborne, made all the bad things happen to himself by poor planning and experimenting with dangerous things and ultimately committing murder and hurting his son’s emotional well-being. A classic case of a villain who doesn’t know he’s a villain. Only, he does, in a way.

Peter, on the other hand, directly cause only on of the bad things that happens to him, and is sorry for it. Not blaming anyone else. But instead of letting it crush him, he does the only thing he could to honor Uncle Ben’s last bit of advice to him, he uses his powers for good instead of selfish gain.

You have to pick up the pieces after your life is shattered, or you and everyone around you will step on the broken glass.

And those are my words of wisdom for now, until next time–Natasha.

The Lost Art.

Hello

Hola

Bonjour

Sak Sabai (phonetic spelling.)

Aloha

As you noticed, all of these are greetings. These are the words you begin a conversation with.

But what comes after that?

For most of my life, the conversations I’ve had with people I’d just met have centered around school, grades, and age. That’s what kids ask each other about…and adults.

I mean, it doesn’t really change when you get older. “Where do you work?” “What do you do?” “How’s business?”

These are just common questions, and they aren’t bad, they just aren’t super inventive. But I don’t really want to talk about those conversation starters, because as rote as they are, they are getting rarer.

I feel like there’s no real established mode of getting to know someone anymore. You can go and meet people, but it’s often hard to really get a conversation going with them. The main reason tending to be that they pull out an electronic device within two minutes.

I  have found a welcom exception to t his patter in the groups of people I’ve been hanging out with lately, but before that, I found it difficult to connect with anyone new. Who wasn’t way older than me. I honestly don’t know if this is because of me, or becuase the older generation is jsut better at communicating, or both. Whatever the case, it’s been a lot of work to learn how to talk to my peers.

I think people who grow up in tight knit communities don’t appreciate how difficult it is when no one lives near anyone else, or is likely to have much in common. Thankfully there are things everyone knows about, like movies and music.

What I see a lack of is genuine interest in other people’s lives.  It used to be the case that even though most people were not consideed remarkable, they were at least consdiered worth knowing about. Some take this too far and turn into busybody’s, but a healthy interst in others is a good and rare thing.

Have you ever just sat and listened to someone talk about their life? Probably. And Probably they were far older than you. not to marginalize anyone. It’s very lucky to find a younger person who will listen like that or be listened to.

Recently I was asking someone about themselves, not wierdly, just casually; I almost thought they were pleasantly surprised that anyone would do that.

I am not the best lsitener either, but I try.

All this to say, Conversation was once called an art.

I have an example from Kim Possible, the’rs an episode, I think it’s  called “Job Unfair.”

Init Ron and Kim are praparing to jusmp from a plane (I think, or a helicopter) and Ron asks one of those questions that your’e supposed to politely reply to with curiousity. Yo uknow “Do you want to know where I got__?” And Kim responds by asnwering the question herself. As people will do when they don’t want to hear about it. Ron mournfully says “The Art of Conversation is truly dead.”

Of course, Ron is mostly kidding; but I think that does hit the proverbial nail on the head.

We all have so much going through our minds at all times. We start to think we’ve seen and heard it all, because every situation is probably in a movie, or a song, or something we’ve been through a hundred times. I have to wonder if movies are doing us a huge favor in the long run. At least the ones that all ahve the same basic plot.

The problem is, you have to find people intrigueging to care about them. I don’t mean they’re partciuclar personalities have to be intersting to you, but human beings in general need to be being disinterested in that sense is cold and cruel.

A disinterested party is thought to be one that can judge fairly in a dispute, but beyond that, they can’t help you much, they have no reason to.

I have to wrap this up now, I hope you enjoyed this post, until next time–Natashsa.

It’s not what you do.

I’d like to start off by personally thanking all of you faithful readers who keep coming back to this blog, even on days I don’t post, it really is encouraging.

Also, it was finals week, so I had to devote more time to finishing up my project, that’s why I only blogged a couple times, but it’s Summer Vacation time and hopefully that will get better. You other bloggers know what I’m talking about.

So, today’s topic: What’s wrong with Millennials?

Okay, that was kind of a joke.

The thing is, we get criticized a lot, and I can’t be the only one who feels like it’s a problem. People judge us before they even know us.

Movies aren’t helping either, they show us more and more often addicted to our handheld devices, or they show the next generation down (whatever they’re called) addicted even more.

On the other hand, movies at least feature main characters who aren’t typically glued to a screen, because who’d watch that movie? Not me.

But, this is no time to start whining about how nobody understands us.

I actually sympathize with the older generation who thinks we’re throwing away our lives on things that don’t really matter.

They say we’re not mature.

And a lot of us aren’t.

But, it’s not all our doing either.

I notice a constant theme in the material aimed at our generation: Self Discovery.

I like Self Discovery to an extent. It’s perfectly healthy to be independent and creative and try new things.

It is crucial to your development to know yourself.

But I have some concerns about where this train is taking us.

I saw a bit of a show the other day, one of those “reality” shows where they aren’t filming actors, but the lives of real people. And there was a baby shower happening, and some moms were passing around advice. But to my slight horror, all they said was “Let the little things go” and “Don’t worry because you’re going to be a great mom.” Don’t doubt yourself, basically.

Look; it’s all well and good to not be afraid of being a mother, but since when is that all you need to know about it?

Isn’t it kind of selfish to focus on how you feel and not on how your child is going to feel growing up? I think some advice in that area would have been timely.

Plus, “Let the little things go,” is advice most of us aren’t taking. Who is famous for freaking out about every little inconvenience?

Yet, simultaneously, we also are known for going with the flow.

This is not everyone to be sure. It may not even be most of us, but it is what is being made into our image. Thank you, television.

The worst of it is, we are warned about not accepting what the people around us think about us, but not against not accepting what the TV and Movie industry says about us. I find what they say very offensive a lot of the time.

We all should take a moment to ask ourselves who made teenage promiscuity, drinking, and rebellion, cool in the eyes of the culture?

Who made dark and gritty the new face of teen movies and novels?

Who made a mockery of parents?

Beep be deep a deep– The Entertainment Industry.

With a lot of help from other sources of course.

See, it’s not what the majority of people do that makes it a cultural trend, it’s what the majority of people see as normal.

For example, we all have lied. But if it wasn’t accepted as normal, few people would admit to doing it. And less people would keep doing it.

I don’t lie, at least on purpose. The scary thing is that there are kids who, when they hear that, scoff at it.

What have we done?

In all fairness, a lot of blame does go to parents, since it’s not like it’s a law that kids have to watch certain shows, and shows or no shows, it is the parents who set the moral tone of the house.

And the shows warn us that parents don’t understand us, but guess who does? The shows themselves.

But I’m sure you’ve heard all this before.

And I don’t want to make things harder for parents by making them feel guilty.

But we all need to think, hard.

Personally, I’m considering the effect movies with swearing and a lot of sex jokes have on my mind. Just because I won’t tell those jokes, or swear, does it mean it’s not affecting me?

But I’m lucky that the only way I see the corruption of the world is generally through the screen, literally. Most of you probably see it every day, in person. If its’ disheartening to me, it must be worse for you.

It is exhausting to stay positive in a world with so much negativity. But let me offer a small tip before I close.

Remember that comic book I keep referencing?

Well, there’s a very important character in it, Auralie. She’s got only one line, but it’s what we see her doing that is important. It is said of her “Her thoughts are beautiful, she creates beauty with her mind, imagine doing that on a world like Apocalips.”

It’s really not what’s around you that makes you happy or hopeful, it’s what you grow inside you.

For me, that is faith.

And if Millennials and other generations alike choose to focus on growing those good things inside ourselves, then it won’t matter what’s happening around us. I mean, it won’t harm us.

It’s not many who will make that choice, but everyone has the option.

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

Lessons from a five year old.

I consider myself a spiritual person. I pray, I worship, I read my bible. Which is all great. But every now and then I run into something I haven’t thought of before, that somebody else gets.

My cousin just recently discovered church and she loved it. The child came alive at each service, and I was loving watching her.

But she went farther than I thought possible. And watching her, I noticed a few things.

One was that she always prayed using the words “I hope,” instead of “I ask.” If you pray you know the drill, everyone has their way of beginning and ending, and I wouldn’t say one way is better than another, but I thought “I hope”? Is that right?

Then I thought, on the other hand, maybe the kid’s got a clue. I mean, why do we pray if not for hoping it will affect something? That’s why people who haven’t prayed in years may do it when they’re at then end of their rope.

A lot of people don’t like the idea that people only come to God when they’re desperate, they think that they should be able to use logic, reason, knowledge; things like that, to find God.

Which is all well and good, except the majority of the population will not use any of those things to make most of their decisions. (You know what I’m talking about.) And no matter how smart you are, you’re never smart enough to understand God. At some point, you have to be humble enough to admit you need him if you’re ever going to accept Him. That’s the plain truth.

Which, bringing it back to prayer, means that you need to admit it even to yourself, what you’re really asking when you pray is for things to get better, and to get better in ways you can’t do yourself.

A while back I saw the movie “Bruce Almighty” for the first time, hopefully the only time, I didn’t like it. It wasn’t all bad, but it was close. In that movie, the grand solution Bruce finds to his problems, after being God for week or so, is that people have to solve their problems themselves, and help each other. I agree that we should help each other, and try to help ourselves when it’s appropriate, but beyond that, I don’t think there’s a worse conclusion the movie could have come to.

Praying is not about helping yourself, but about recognizing that you can’t. Until you do, your prayer is empty. My cousin gets that prayer means hope. That’s something I didn’t really grasp before.

There’s one other thing she taught me:

The Bible tells us that Jesus makes intercession for his followers, which means He intervenes on our behalf when we’re in trouble, whether of our own making or of another kind.

I knew this already, but my cousin discovered it in a unique way, and made me realize what it actually means, if you think about it.

To have Jesus sticking up for you would give you so much more confidence if you believed it. But Christians generally don’t think about it much because, honestly, it sounds too good to be true. And a non-Christian might scoff at such a notion, or just think it sounds cool, but not believe it.

Frankly, most of us don’t think of Jesus doing anything except dying; but according to our faith, He’s not dead still. Check out some Revelation Descriptions of Him and see how dead He sounds in there.

It’s easy for people to see why my cousin would buy all this, she’s five, anything is possible. But it’s more puzzling why someone my age, who’s supposed to be jaded and apathetic and disconnected, can believe such things.

I really think the majority of us spend our lives trying to hide from those ideas, in one form or another. Whether we live in a country where appeasing spirits is the normal thing, like cleaning house; or we live in a Western civilization where believing in them at all is enough to make you  a freak.

But freak or not, that’s the way I think. And it doesn’t bother me that a kid can believe the same thing, because we are told to be like little children in our faith. It’s not that we put reason on the back burner, no, just ask C. S. Lewis about that, it just means knowing that our reason is limited but there are more answers out there than we know. Every kid knows that.

Being Christian means buying the whole package,  just like anything else worth being. There is no pass, no get out free, and that’s fine by me.

And my cousin is a smart kid, I think I’ll probably learn a lot more from her before we’re through.

Until next time–Natasha.

Speed Limits

Lately I’ve been studying my Drivers Manuel so I can take the test–yippee.

I just want my license, but it’s a slow process.

Anyway, I noticed something yesterday, not reading the manual, but just thinking about cars and trucks in general:

Every single vehicle has the ability to go almost twice as fast as it’s allowed to go.

That’s true with other things. Ovens can go up into 500+ degrees, whoever cooks stuff at that? Have you ever used all the levels on an electric beater? Microwaved something for longer than five minutes straight? You can. But you don’t.

And if you have done those things, God help you.

As far as I know, those temperatures or times aren’t ever used for practical purposes. And it’s illegal to drive faster than the posted speed limit, as we all know. (If you have one.) Of course everyone breaks that law out where I live, unless they are superbly law abiding citizens.

I started to think this was odd, that they even make cars to go so much faster than they should, or build other things to go over the safety limit.

But then I thought, they’re actually wise to do that. There may come a day when people will make stupid laws that cars cannot be built to go faster than say, 80 miles per hour, but if that day comes, we’ll be no safer for it.

Driving is dangerous, but necessary, (as I have found out in trying to find a job without having a set of wheels available.) A lot of things are like that.

And it’s good that things are dangerous and have risks. Because in the end, it’s safer to have a known danger and to teach people how to deal with it responsibly, than no have little or no danger, and give them free reign.

It’s good when we teach each other a fundamental truth about how God works.

The way God set it up, living is dangerous. Not always in that it can kill you, but of the risks you take of falling. Of messing up. Of sinning. God set us a speed limit.

If you want a happy life, you have to balance it, you have to stay within the speed limit. And as oversimplified as that sounds, in the end, it works.

But here’s the thing, you need to have the ability to go faster than you are supposed to go, because, as we all know, different roads have different rules. And the criminals won’t follow any of them, so it’s important to be able to switch gears.

Parents, teachers, government officials; all of them can be quick to try to make a safer environment, and to an extent, I’m okay with that, but you have to allow for some amount of risk.

The risk is there whether you see it or not, so to tell children there is no risk is to lie to them, it’s better to let them face some risks and learn how to deal with them so they’ll be able to face the ones we don’t see coming.

The reason cars can go faster than they should is so in an extreme circumstance, you’ll be able to protect yourself, or you’ll be able to switch gears on a different road. It’s the same with guns. The same with fire.

Good things aren’t generally safe things.

Heck, I painted my nails today with deadly poison, called nail polish; but it’s harmless once it’s dry, and if you do it outside where you won’t breathe it in too much. (I wouldn’t do it every day though.)

Even germs are actually healthy for you in the right amount. Because the only way to protect yourself from danger is to embrace it, and you can quote me on that.

That’ll be it for this post, until next time–Natasha.

Sick day

So, I’m not feeling so hot, well actually I do feel hot. I’ve been fighting a lot of allergy symptoms and even a slight fever yesterday.

I don’t even know why.

To be honest, I hate allergies. They are your body’s reaction to a perceived threat, like a toxin, only without the threat being real.

See, a real threat like smoke, requires a reaction to get it out of your system; but something like pollen, or dog hair, or peanuts, those aren’t toxic, but foe some reason your body thinks they are.

In my case it’s hereditary. Some people develop food allergies because they were fed whole foods too early in their infancy.

It’s just something you deal with, you don’t really have an explanation.

But it was kind of a big week for me and getting sick was not on the agenda.

Of course, I know things happen unexpectedly. I know you can’t control life. But knowing that can make it frustrating. The temptation is to blame God, or life, r chance, or your own poor luck, for dumping these problems on you that you weren’t ready for and couldn’t prevent.

Or maybe you could have, and then you start blaming yourself for being so stupid.

The thing is, I am way healthier than most of the people I know. No one in my house has serious health issues, that can’t be managed easily at least.

But if all I have is allergies and an occasional cold and once in along while the flu or some other unexplained minor illness, I’m doing pretty well.

Still no one likes it, whatever they have.

But I do have a lot to be thankful for. I can be thankful that this only happens every so often. I can be thankful that I no longer get migraines or bad eye headaches on a frequent basis. I can be glad that I don’t have asthma or any lingering heart problems from when I was a baby.

Sure, I’m miserable, but I’m not dying. And I can do stuff, it’s just a matter of how comfortably I can do it.

I get a few minutes of relief every now and then thanks to medicine, which I have access too.

Much as I’d rather complain, I know it could be so much worse. Also, complaining makes you unhealthy, it’s a proven fact.

So this isn’t an in depth post about a movie (though I did just re–watch the original Karate Kid) or about a social problem. But it’s about my personal life.

And my faith is involved. I know better than to wallow in self pity. I do look forward to the day when my health will not even be a matter of caution, but in the meantime, God doesn’t promise perfect health all the time. Just that He will give you enough strength for whatever you need to do, sometimes more, sometimes not.

I believe in healing, but I know it doesn’t always happen, and not always when we want it to. I also know sometimes we have to deal with other issues before we can be healed.

Most of all, I know that the best testament to the power of faith is being able to smile even when you feel bad. A real smile. I

I

m still getting there, and some days I get close than others, but the point is, I at least have that option now.

That in itself is enough to be a miracle.

I remember, sometime last year, I had a night where I was throwing up at least three times, and again the next morning, and though I was tired and miserable and thinking I had eaten the wrong thing; for awhile at least I was able to praise God even while sitting next to the toilet. (And if you’ve done it you know how uncomfortable and lonely that is.) IT didn’t stop the throwing up, but it did give me peace. And that’s more than I used to have.

So, it’s good to look back and see how far you’ve come.

This isn’t just another happy–slappy testimony about how God brought me through something, it’s about how HE’s bringing me through it. Even while I’m still suffering. I hope that count s for something more than the normally criticized too–happy–to–be–relate-able stories.

Maybe you have a similar experience, or you’re going through something rough yourself, I hope this post was a slight encouragement then, until next time–Natasha.