Intermission.

I am just writing this post to inform all my readers that I won’t be posting for a few weeks. Check your emails at the end of the month for more material, but for now I’m on a hiatus.

Hey, everyone needs a break.

Until then–Natasha

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Is God always right?–1

You ever wonder if God always does the right thing?

It sounds nuts, doesn’t it?

But it’s actually something most people have wondered. You probably have.

It comes up a lot in Christian movies, but surprisingly, super hero stories of all things are also dealing with that problem.

That infamously awful Dawn of Justice movie is one example. Lex says “If God is all powerful, he cannot be all good.”

Well, my thought with that is that Lex Luthor is insane. He always was, the movie version is just more cartoony than the…cartoon version…hmm. Weird.

(Can anyone tell me what Lex is short for?)

Anyway, I actually have a good reason for thinking Lex is off his wagon (other than the obvious ones.)

My case is that it is because God is all powerful that he can be all good.

I know that in the movie, Superman is meant to be the god in question. But though superman has a lot of powers, he has no powers that would make him a god. Other than his ability to see everywhere.

Superman has no better understanding of humanity than anyone else; he has no ability to see into people’s souls; and nowadays he’s not even angelically good.

I know that Marvel is kind of redefining what godly qualities look like. But they used to mean goodness, wisdom, and yes, power.

If God is good, he must be all powerful.

But why does it seem like God does things that are bad?

I’ve heard it brought up that God in the Old Testament is bloodthirsty; cruel; judgmental.

I understand this to an extent. God tells us not to murder, yet He strikes people down.

And people actually make fun of this now, mocking the idea that someone could be struck by lightning from heaven. Though that’s hardly funny when you think about it.

I really don’t think God works that way most of the time, but as often as I’ve heard pastors downplay it, I have to admit, if you believe God is all powerful, you have to acknowledge he could do things like that. And that He does. Sometimes.

I don’t believe that God never judges people. that;s His job and his alone.

But what about those stories in the Bible where whole nations are supposed to be wiped out?

Well, human pity tends to say that’s terrible. And the Israelites themselves didn’t follow those instructions. I feel like in our modern world they would be applauded for thinking for themselves.

But what happened because of that was that the Israelites were corrupted. here’s some fun facts about the nations they were told to destroy. They did human sacrifice. Including Children. They also has sex as a means of some weird worship ritual. They were terrible cultures. They led the Israelites to do those things to.

The Israelites. like all people struggling to be different, often were swayed by the folks around hem. Just as we are by peer pressure. They wanted a king because it was the cool thing. They wanted to build altars to the popular gods.

And if you think that’s changed over the centuries, then you need to take a closer look. It’s the same now.

But in that time, pretty much the only way to deal with that sin was to eradicate the sinners. It wasn’t pretty, but it was the only thing to do.

God wanted a holy people. he wanted them to understand that the wages of sin is indeed death. If they would be his, they could not belong to the world around them.

It may sound insane to justify mass murder on those grounds…and in some ways, it is.

After all, I would say terrorists are insane.

There are a few differences though.

First of all, I think we can all agree what the other nations were doing was terrible and inhuman.

It’s different to give the death sentence to murderers then it is to a nation of lesser sins.

There’s a lot of theological reasons about why everyone in these nations needed to be killed. At the very least, it was war.

Beyond that, all I can really say is that you have to believe.

But I don’t think that’s enough.

It’s not hard to think that if the God of the Bible is the one true God, then it is his right to decide who lives and dies.

It’s more problematic when you think how many other religions claim that.

And even more so if you think that no matter if it’s true or not, it seems terrible.

But God is ever merciful.

We deserve nothing form him. That he chooses to spare one nation and destroy another is all in His own plan, and who are we to question it.

But even so, he does not despise our questions.

He does remind us that He is god, and we are man. We can’t understand.

And if there’s one thing I’ve observed about humanity it’s that our pity for each other is not consistent.

We get all bent out of shape over God’s judgement. But we make death threats on the internet to people who’ve never done us any personal wrong just because we don’t like them. We murder each other over stupid things like money. We use each other. We lie We cheat. We steal.

We who abuse children; and have holocausts; and start arguments just to pick a fight.

Should we really talk?

I just have a feeling those who would condemn God need to take a good look at themselves.

God at least has reasons for what He does.

But if that’s not enough (and it never is) I also want to point out that God, by position, has the right to do things we don’t do.

I realize I haven’t made perhaps the strongest argument with this post, but it’s a good starting point to dive deeper into this. So until next time–Natasha.

Why lions are awesome!

Lions and tigers, and leopards, oh my!

I had to get that terrible joke out of the way.

I’ve been watching NatGeoWild a lot lately. I may not be a huge animal person, but I have my level of interest. Which has certainly been expanded by the things I’ve been watching.

The channel just had a Big Cats week, so I recorded about ten different programs, which I still haven’t finished watching.

My favorite big cats by far are the lions. Cheetahs and leopards and jaguars are cool. But lions take the grand prize.

I am no professional, but my astute observation after so much research is that lions are unpredictable.

If you have cats of your own (I have three) you probably would agree that cats are often predictable to a retain extent, but constantly do things that puzzle you. Like one of my cats likes being petted only every so often, and only on her head. But sometimes she lets you do more. There’s really no way to know.

Lions are like that times ten. Traditionally we all know them as the king of beasts, but not everyone knows that they are good mothers, protective fathers, and surprisingly affectionate pride members.

Watching the lions and lionesses with each other reminds you of watching a pair of highschoolers with innocent school level crushes, or a new married couple perhaps.

Lions date, did you know that? It’s not exactly how we do it, but when an aspiring male wants to mate with his female of choice, he has to prove himself, usually by bringing her dinner or helping with a catch.

Lions risk their lives to get food, so the lion has to be committed to this idea before he goes for it.

But lions are no easy pickups. Some swatting and growling can be involved before they agree to be mates.

I also think that those who represent lions as only bloodthirsty killers have never actually watched lions alone.

Lions are very territorial, but they still can surprise you.

9 out of 10 times, a lion will chase another lion off, or look out for number one.

But I was watching one story about three different lion prides. One of which was decidedly more fierce and merciless. These lions had some excuse to be, since they had to guard a whole herd of buffalo, whereas most prides don’t rely on just one herd for food. But there was one horrible part where they tortured one unlucky member of a rival pride to death.

It was so sad, the pride the victim was from had to surrender to save her life but in the end they got too dehydrated and had to move on, thought hey waited as long as possible. The mother of the lioness waited the longest.

I started feeling bad at this point, even though it was a lion, and it wasn’t like I knew her or anything.

But it turns out I must not have been the only one. The next day the three prides (one of which stayed out of he fight,) all stared trying to eat the same giraffe, and the merciless lions tried to take another lioness form the competition. This time the lionesses pride didn’t do anything, probably because they had surrendered and figured they were licked.

But then something even the commentator couldn’t explain happened. the other rival pride, the owners of the turf, stepped in and drove the angry lions off. Saving the lionesses life, though she was hurt. The angry pride didn’t dare mess with the actual owneres of the turf. (Kind of like a kid int he cookie jar doesn’t throw a temper tantrum.)

you have to understand, these lions had no real reason to help out. They just wanted these intruders off their land.

My personal thought was they’d seen the killing the day before, and sometimes I think lions just get tired of it. They didn’t want to settle things that way.

And that’s a really human emotion to witness from wild animals.

IT put me in mind of all those cute stories of how animals save lives. Which my sister reminded me of after I shared this story with her. Whatever you might think of cats and dogs, both creatures have been unknown to rescue both each other and humans.

Even wild animals have been known to save humans, for whatever reason. Lions included.

If you have read this far, first thank you; second, you might be wondering why I told all this. It’s not exactly my normal subject matter.

Well, hey, I have other interests. This is my blog , I can do what I want.

But also, I found these lions inspiring, in the way only animals can be. Sometimes it takes an animal to remind us of what it means to be human,

Mercy, compassion, these are the exceptions int he animal kingdom. And animals aren’t evil for that, they do have to survive in am roe basic way than we do.

But that’s exactly why we should realize that if even wild beasts can find some compassion in themselves, it must be an important part of life.

Some lionesses take care of cubs that aren’t there’s even when it’s at risk to themselves. Sometimes the males, classically portrayed as eating off what the girls hunt, actually allow struggling mothers and cubs to share with them.

Lions are a lot of things but they aren’t selfish.

And I think that’s a lesson for us.

For me, watching this was amazing for another reason, because I thought that God made lions, and God is compassionate. If even his wild creations can show mercy, then how much more his intelligent, spiritual ones?

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

Meh.

I recently reached 500 likes on this blog, so here’s a thank you to all of you who click the like button when you are done reading.

Seriously, when I get views but no likes, I don’t know what to think. Maybe the person just felt “meh” about it.

Meh, I never use that word. I guess it’s an emoji now, I ‘m sure I ‘m not the only one who can’t keep up with them. I wouldn’t even know that one if not for that horrible movie that just came out. (I didn’t watch it by the way.)

You  know, that meh thing is really pretty sad. If you did make the mistake of watching that movie, I’m sure the only emotion you felt was frustration that the two meh parent emojis couldn’t express any… emotion– it was just wrong.

Deadpan characters can be funny, but this was deader and more pan. (What does that term even mean?)

Personally I thought it was sad, the idea of two people never be able to express their feelings with their tones or expressions. It’s like most of communication is gone.

And that’s all the emotion that movie got out of me, except disgust, if you want a review, look on YouTube.

Anyway, meh is kind of like the new “whatever.” You know how people hate it when you tell them that word? “Whatever…” Like you’re just too bored with the conversation.

The truth is , you probably are and just want to get away, but that hurts their feelings. Sometimes with good reason, we can’t always get away from uncomfortable conversations.

I realized today that I have a lot of moments myself where I want to go “whatever” and just back out. I don’t’ want to sort it out. I don’t have the energy or the willpower, just leave me alone, or let me do what I want.

That sounds like both a bratty teenager and a grumpy elderly person.

You know I think elderly people are grumpy because they don’t have to worry about getting ahead in life anymore.

Not that they are all grumpy, but the ones who are.

Maybe we just slip into that when we feel we don’t have anyone to impress. Like how I’m more tempted to just use my authority with kids to settle things and not actually what’s fair; because I don’t have to.

I hate that when I see it in myself, but I realize it’s al too common in humans to be that way. It’s not just me, all of us do that. We let ourselves go when we think we can get away with it.

The reason presumably is that we don’t really like being good all the time, it’s tiring, it feels like a duty we owe God, our family, and ourselves. But when our family isn’t there, we can be okay with shortchanging ourselves and therefore God.

Normally it’s nothing big, not for generally moral people, it’s that little sin yo might not even feel bad about, but you knew it was wrong.

It’s scary when you add it all up and realize how much you do this.

I am not one to say that if you sin in this way a lot, you are going to hell. (If you’re a Christian that is.) I don’t think these sins are always pure evil in of themselves. But in that they are sin for you, they are.

See, personal morality has been twisted around nowadays. It actually means knowing what will be sin for you because it pricks your conscience. Not getting to choose what is right and wrong period.

Sins of unfairness, or inconsistency, or gluttony may not seem that bad, and maybe aren’t bad for others (that is, what you are being unfair, inconsistent, or gluttonous about is not a problem for others) but you struggle with them.

I think we get sick of the struggle partly because we hate that it is a struggle. Why can’t it be easy to be good? Why did we ever make the mistake of letting this become a problem?

Deep down, every human being yearns for perfection. We chase what we once had, wishing we could get it back.

But we also yearn to sin. We don’t like it, but it’s there. Sometimes we give way to it because sin has a way of making it seem more painful to resist, even though it’s actually more painful not to.

We are lazy, I’ll grant you, but my questing is why? Why do we decide it’s not worth an effort?

We do deceive ourselves. Maybe because the truth hurts.

The good news is, you can start again. And you can be your better self and remember that sin isn’t something you enjoy. As always, it’s a choice.

And if worst comes to worst, you can forgive and be forgiven.

But it starts with not saying “whatever.”

Until next time–Natasha.

Christmas and Carols.

I’m not the only one who’s been doing their Christmas shopping this week. Ideally, I would do it at the beginning of the month, but I tend to forget about it till Christmas is one week away.

Anyway, just thought I’d mention that.

I wonder if people really think about the true meaning of Christmas anymore. I’m supposed to read “The Man who Invented Christmas” for my book group, it’s about how Dickens wrote a Christmas Carol.

I don’t think I really think about the Christmas story. I’ve heard it so many time, it goes over my head.

It takes the Charlie Brown special, or a ghostly little book to remind me that the Christmas story has power.

Also those old carols.

If you have ever learned more than the first two verses of old hymns, you know the standards versions are totally ripping us off. Jesus Loves Me has two more awesome verses. And all the Carols are way cooler if you get further in.

I love O come Emmanuel, O Holy Night, and We Three Kings.

And I love the extra verses.

“O come thou wisdom from on high, and order all things far and nigh; to us the path of knowledge show, and cause us in her ways to go.

O come desire of nations bind, in one the hearts of all mankind; bid thou our sad divisions cease, and be thyself our king of peace.”

Isn’t that great?

One other song that improves upon more verse is Little Town of Bethlehem.

That song used to bore me, but when I learned it had three more verses that were very cool, I started to love it.

For example:

How silently, how silently, this wondrous gift is given, as God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven; no ear may hear His coming, but in this World of Sin, where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.”

What I like about that last line is how it being the song to us, in our modern day. Even though the Christmas story id definitely more celebrated than the Crucifixion, Christians tend to turn to the Cross more for symbolism than for…any other story.

I mean, if you turn on Christian Radio, you’ll hear the cross and death mentioned in jsut aobut every single song.

That’s not wrong of course. But I think the Christmas story had importance as more than just nostalgia.

I wish I kept this in mind more, but it’s like the songs says.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend on us, we pray, cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today; we hear the Christmas Angels the great glad tidings tell, o come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.”

If you are not a Christian, or even if you are one and are sick to death of hearing these songs, then maybe it’s sounds like mumbo jumbo.

And for the record, some of it is poetic license. I don’t actually think that we now hear Christmas Angels (unless you’ve had a more face to face experience than I have.)

I doubt there are angels specifically for Christmas, because Christmas, as Dickens pointed out, is not a day, it’s a way of life.

Christmas just means Christ Mass, or Christ Day.

As the song says, “Be born in us today.”

The true meaning of that refers to how Jesus told us that to enter the kingdom of heaven we must be born again.

Jesus Himself was born again, in a way, since he already lived before becoming a baby.

It may sound whacked out, I won’t argue. I don’t think God always intends to sound sane to mere mortals. I don’t think God much cares if we understand how He does things. We don’t understand ourselves.

That it sounds crazy is actually the point. Most people don’t have a problem believing a Man in the brutal times of Roman Occupation in Israel could have been crucified as a heretic. It happened frequently.

But people do have a hard time swallowing that A virgin could supernaturally conceive and give birth to the son of God, made flesh.

Though, when I consider that I’m questioning how the Person who made DNA could make up for the other 23 chromosomes….I feel stupid.

Believing that Jesus was born in a miraculous way is the first step to believing you ca be reborn.

When I was little the idea of Jesus living inside of me wasn’t weird to me at all, now I realize it could sound crazy to some…a lot… of people.

Of course, I don’t actually mean that a man is moving inside of m body. That’s not what it means at all.

But that God puts His own Spirit in us, and it becomes one with our spirit.

Which is actually how it was meant to be in original creation. The reason we say sin is spiritual death is because it severs us from God’s spirit, which is life.

God cannot dwell with unholiness, which is why Christ’s work clear us of our guilt and makes us holy.

Which all started with him being born, not into sin, but blameless.

The miracle of Christmas is that rebirth is even possible. That we all have a chance at being made new.

That’s worth living out every day.

Until Next Time–Natasha (Christ’s Birthday)

Irreverence.

I watch a lot of YouTube, and a lot of movies. This often gives you a look into the worst of humanity (the part of it that’s online.)

Like Furrys, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with liking anthropomorphic animals, but do you know the sick connotations that term has?

I hope not for your sake. But I’ve picked it up streaming through videos.

Anyway, you know what I notice, there’s a growing problem that’s being almost ignored by he folks who comment on this stiff. (Like I am now, I guess.)

Maybe this is familiar to you, some one who thinks they are super funny is going on aobut something, and they throw in some remark against God. (It can even be a non christian God.)

I don’t know about Buddhists, Muslims, or Jews, but this really bugs me when it happens.

The insolent tone these folks use is kind of disturbing.

I won’t defend other gods, but I don’t really think they are something to joke aobut when someone truly believes in them.

Take an example from a movie I recently watched (it wasn’t good, by the way) the main character calls God a racist b—, with no real grounds for it that I could see, and other people in the movie think this is great. And funny. She’s applauded for her…moxie, I guess.

You know what’s celebrated in our culture? Irreverence.

We laugh at it, even applaud. Those who are out of control and insolent to everybody are praised as fearless and independent.

I wish I could say it was just unbelievers. but I’ve seen it among Christians too.

Some of you 40+ readers will remember when it was bad to use the phrase “Oh my God.” or any other cockamamie phrase that threw around God’s name.

Now I hear that all the time in church.

It’s hilarious. kid shows even nowadays will not use that phrase, or words like “heck” or “darn” because it would bother parents, but I hear it in church. Even in Sunday school.

I use darn and heck myself. Because to me, they mean nothing, or nothing important. You darn a sock. Heck isn’t even a real word exactly.

But throwing God’s name around implies that you feel the same way about that word that I do about these two words. That it means nothing to you.

And I’m convinced that for many people, it doesn’t. The idea that God would even take offense to that, if they believe in him at all, never crosses their mind.

It may seem like I’m being judgmental to mind this. But I’m really not. It’s a serious problem, your language reflects your attitude.

Now people will swear up and down that that’s not the case. We all deny stuff. It’s not a spectacular example of human failings. That’s why we shouldn’t buy it. People deny plenty of things that are harmful to themselves and others.

It’s like my cousins who use exclamations like that because their parents do, and they never stop to think what they are actually saying. And their parents learned it from their parents. And so on.

Irreverence is a huge problem because it signals a lack of ability to take anything seriously when it comes to the Spiritual side of life.

The Spiritual may not actually be ridiculous, but as C. S. Lewis pointed out, treating it like it has already been found ridiculous is both lazier than trying, and creates a general attitude of flippancy that ruins morality.

I think it is also possible to take things too seriously, but at this point, the only thing we’re in danger of taking too seriously is ourselves.

So the challenge is, do we need to look at how we talk aobut things and start watching ourselves more closely.

I’m pretty sure I do.

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

Adulting?

Did I mention yet that I got laid off? No? Maybe?

Well now I have.

It’s not the first time, so I guess this isn’t a new experience for me entirely. At least I’m not as hopping mad as I was when it happened before. That was a whole other story.

I won’t really reflect too much on it here, since you’ve all probably had that happen to you.

Anyway, you know that new term going around the internet? “Adulting.” ?

At the store I worked at we actually had plaques and notebooks that said “Coffee then adulting.”

I wouldn’t have a clue what that meant (Other than the adult part) if I hadn’t seen a helpful YouTube video titled “No you are not adulting.” (Check it out, it’s on a cool channel.)

So, because I’m trying to enroll in college; waiting for my first tax return; wondering what new job I’m going to find; and hoping to get my driver’s license next week (if you pray, please throw one in for me;) I seem to be adulting.

I mean, I don’t like that term.

But I think I know why it was invented.

There’s a lot of people my age who don’t feel adequately prepared for adulthood, one minute you’re 17 and haven’t a responsibility in the world beyond school, which isn’t your choice anyway; and then boom! You turn 18 and you start wondering what the heck to do after you graduate. Or you might have just graduated, depending on when your birthday is. And suddenly careers or college is staring you right in the face.

If you don’t live in America, Canada, or some parts of Europe, and I know some of you who read this don’t, then I imagine it’s a little different. Maybe 17-18 isn’t the year everything changes for you. Which is fine and all, not every country has to have the same system. But in American especially, you can’t legally do most things till you’re 18. So it is a big deal.

 

However, just because I can do stuff now, doesn’t mean I want to.

I don’t want to pay taxes, but I won’t get much of a choice there. I don’t want to have more expenses than before.

And I think that’s where my generation is finding itself. When we were teens and kids we were told we could become anything. But we didn’t hear the people adding under their breath “but it will cost you a fortune.”

I’m speaking to someone right now.

For example, if I wanted to get certified to be a ASL interpreter, it will take me at least two years, maybe more, doing multiple classes. And classes other than Sign are required to finish.

And that’s an easy one. And cheap–er.

I think the truth is, we millennials missed the part in every story where the person has to hazard all they have, like Bassanio in Shakespeare, in order to win the prize.

The fact is, you never get time back. Money can be refunded, time never is. And older adults tend to think that millennials don’t take that into consideration.

Well, my theory is, they do and they’re scared to death.

Personally, for all of my eighteenth year, I was feeling almost paralyzed from wondering what to do with my time. Looking back, I hope I didn’t waste it.

Well, I know I didn’t, because if I had had the chance to do more, I would have. When opportunity isn’t there, I don’t think it’s a waste to occupy yourself at home while you wait.

But now, it’s crunch time. I have to make some major changes in a couple months of time.

And I am not qualified to give all people, millennials or otherwise, my five tips for dealing with this period.

But I do have a little piece of advice.

One thing I do think I did right in the last year was choosing not to obsess over my lack of direction. I thought about it a lot. But in between times, I chose to keep reading, writing, and studying language. And pursuing activities outside myself. And learning to drive.

I believe that was a smart choice.

Another thing I believe I did right was committing my time into God’s hands. I may not see why I was in limbo for so long, but there was a reason, and there were moments of understanding. Like getting to go on another mission trip. I might not be able to do that again this year. (Here’s hoping.)

And don’t discount the little things. Getting to spend more time with my cousins, we have a bond now because of that, that I might have missed otherwise, and that’s a precious thing that time can’t wear away. Though it may take a back seat during some seasons.

And being there for my family. I hated being stuck at home so much, but the fact is, my family did need me. I may not feel like I do a lot, but even what I did was more than if I hadn’t been here. And I bring things to the family circle that nobody else does.

I don’t just say that to be cliche, it is true. I’ve observed it over time.

So it was a tough year, but I don’t believe any year spent seeking God is a bad one. No matter what bad things happened during it.

Heck, the Friday before my birthday I spent going to the second funeral of the year. IF that’s not symbolic of what I’ve been saying, I don’t know what is.

And all you 50+ folks have my sympathy for how much more frequent funerals must get as you and the people you know age.

But I don’t mean to be depressing.

Anyway, making the most of your time will make you feel better when you don’t have a clue where you are going next. I’ve still spent too many days sitting around doing nothing, even though I despise that attitude.

Adulting is not something you start to do when you’re 18, it’s something you learn to do over life. In fact, adulting is the wrong word for it.

It’s called growth.

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

The secret love of pets.

So, I’ve considered writing about pets on here before, like every other blogger seems to do. But I never really decided to do it.

The reason I’m finally bringing up this noncontroversial topic is that my grandma has lost both her dogs in this past week.

They were 15 years old, and since they were good sized dogs, that’s a ripe old age.

Plus until the last couple years, they weren’t in too bad shape. But they were falling apart and she finally had to put both of them down within days of each other.

You know, I’ve never seen her so down as the past few days.

My family had to put our dog down a few years back, he was a young dog, especially for his size, and should have lived a good 8 years or more, but he had a liver problem.

The truth of the matter was, we later suspected that he had had a problem when we got him. He always had a weak stomach, and at first we didn’t realize he was worse until he wouldn’t eat for days and only lay around. And turned yellow.

Not a pretty sight. He was so miserable we just couldn’t bear to keep him suffering any longer.

It still hurts to think about that.

I am not one of those people who has to live with an animal before I get really fond of it. I don’t go animal crazy or anything. Now that we have three cats, I like cats, but before I was never what you would call a cat person.

So I understand people who can just take or leave animals pretty well. But what I Think is more interesting is what having a pet can teach you about love.

You may never realize it of course, but some people do, and I wont’ be the first to remark on it.

My dad says, rather drily, that we were more broken up when our dog died than when a family member of ours died.

In a way that might be true, at least I know I cried more. For some reason I don’t tend to cry when people pass away. My personal thought is that it’s too close and too real, and I just don’t process it through tears. Not yet anyway.

But I don’t think that it means I loved a dog more than my family. If I had to choose between the two, I’d pick my family. (Though it would be heartbreaking.)

But I notice I’m not the only one who seems to express grief more freely over a pet passing than over family passing. Maybe you know people like that, or maybe you are that person too.

And I think the reason for it is pretty profound.

The truth is, we feel the death of an animal more, or more purely, because we see it with unclouded vision.

Pets rely on us completely. Especially if you’ve raised kittens like I have, and they can’t even go to the bathroom without help (at least people are born knowing that much.) And the reason we love them so thoroughly is because they can’t give us anything in return for our saving their lives. The don’t feed us, or clothe us, and some of them couldn’t even protect us in a pinch. They cost us a lot of money and they don’t pay it back. We can’t even hope that when they grow up they will help us in turn, as some parents do with their children.

And those of us who have cranky, bratty, or strange pets know that our love for them doesn’t change just because they aren’t always loving us back.

Why, our cats are downright ungrateful about us feeding them high quality food. They like junk food better. (The nerve!)

Now I wouldn’t do what some would and use all this as proof that pets are complete wastes of time. On the contrary, I think we should have pets for this very reason.

It’s important to the human soul to be able to love something unconditionally, and even more important to be able to love something that can’t return you anything tangible.

I believe the reason that people’s passing on leaves a different ache in our hearts is becuase we rely on people too much.

It’s not bad to need each other, but we all know that we often need each other in the wrong ways, in the wrong amounts, and that’s why we fight and fail and have to begin again (and that’s in a healthy relationship.)

When you lose something you rely on, part of the grief is, as C. S. Lewis observed, selfish. It’s not concerned with what was best for the person, but what was better for you. Or at least what you think was better.

But when you don’t rely on a creature and you lose it, you mourn it for being what it was. For its own sake, and so you have a purer, less selfish grief.

I do not mean at all to say grieving for people is bad. Nor that admitting you wanted them is bad. I only meant hat it’s a different kind of love.

The beautiful thing about loving our pets is that we don’t think about it. We just do it. We don’t expect credit for it. It’s not about our ego.

And if it were to be, most of us would agree that it wasn’t really the pets we were thinking of.

So those are my thoughts, until next time–Natasha.

Wins vs Sins–1

This may be an old subject with some of you, but I think it’s one of those that has to be revisited again and again.

And that is the subject of positivism vs negativity.

Since studies have shown that the former is clearly better for health and happiness than the latter, most of us have no excuse to be negative. But you’ve probably noticed that that hasn’t stopped the vast majority of people from being negative.

The problem is that it is and always has been a habit to be negative. I know people who will admit that they shouldn’t be that way, but will not put in the effort to actually change their attitude.

I started thinking about this last night, when I was watching a YouTube video (way later than I should have been, but sometimes it happens.) This video was criticizing this other YouTube channel that those of you who are big movie watchers have probably heard of. Cinema Sins.

I happen to have watched a few of their videos myself (what person hasn’t who looks up internet reviews?) I didn’t like them. Not for any of the reasons this guy was listing, but because the channel was hugely inappropriate in its humor. (And I mean gross levels of it. Not just that tongue in cheek kind of stuff.)

Anyway, so I wasn’t super defensive about hearing it criticized. And I thought the video made some legitimate points, but I won’t list them all here.

What I really was thinking about was the point that questioned if these wholly negative reviews were actually good reviews or good comedy.

I want to unpack that idea more than the actual video did, because I think it’s a whole missed discussion opportunity.

Judging both from the comment sections of YouTube, and actual people I’ve heard talk about this, many just don’t see the point of even caring about movie reviews or reviewers, and whether they are serious or not, because, in these people’s minds, movies should not be taken that seriously.

To those people I would say that when kids are kissing frogs and maniacs are planning crimes because of something they saw in a movie, we had better take it seriously.

Even if what we take out of that is that people are morons.

Well, to be fair, many of them are.

But stupidity, in my experience, is almost always taught. It’s not an innate trait of the average person to be an idiot. There’s always a few who just seem to be born without a clue, but usually it’s choices made between childhood and adulthood that shape someone’s intelligence.

Even so, intelligence is not a permanent thing. People can become stupider, they can also become smarter. We used to understand that before IQ tests cam along to tell us those things are set in stone.

So, the charge that movies are playing to the stupidest parts of human nature, and society, should be taken seriously. Because it reflects on us, what we find funny, and what we support.

People like Cinema Sins are right to be disgusted with cinema that is only there to be stupid and “funny.”

I think the dumbest thing anyone can say about movies is that they don’t matter and should not be taken seriously.

That eliminates about a third of the voices on this subject.

So, turning to the other two main opinions on reviews, I want to explain where I am on this.

At first when I started watching negative reviews, I liked it. I was frustrated with plenty of the entertainment out there, and I thought a lot of it was dumb. It was nice to be agreed with by a public source. Plus, it was funny; and I also learned some terms that people use and how movies and shows are typically rated. All helpful and interesting stuff to know for the movie goer who really wants to be careful about their time.

But the problem was, these reviews picked apart movies I did like as well as movies I didn’t. Sometimes I acknowledged they had a point. But other times, like with my favorite movie of all, it was really painful to hear it mocked to dust.

More recently I started seeking out more positive reviews. Cinema Wins, a spin off of the other, makes good review that are all focused on finding the bright side. Another good channel was How It Should Have Ended; which does poke a lot of fun at films, but ultimately they are positive, and just freaking genius some of the time. (If you like that type of humor. I won’t say everyone would like it.)

Now, Cinema Wins is sometimes naively positive about movies. But the guy knows he is, and admits it. Which is why I prefer it to these negative Nancy reviews I’m so sick of. A reviewer of movies should actually want to like movies. Otherwise how can they admit anything is of merit in any franchise?

See, at first it didn’t occur to me that watching movies expressly to find fault was a problem. But once I noticed that I couldn’t enjoy even movies I liked as much anymore now that I had all this negativity going through my mind, I got upset.

I’m not even a big fan of the entertainment industry as a whole. But when I find a gem, I don’t like it being picked apart.

Now everyone will have different standards for what constitutes a good movie. Often I think people go by the wrong things, but that’s because reviews have shifted to focusing on stuff that is minor.

How well a scene is shot, how colorful it is, or how melodic the soundtrack is are not really major things. And nitpicking every line of dialogue, or every element that doesn’t make perfect sense can completely miss the point both of the movie, and of storytelling itself.

When people used to gather around storytellers (like we do around TVs now) it didn’t matter how realistic the story was. The point was in what it meant. Was it a warning? Did it explain something about life? Did it give hope?

What’s ironic is that now, many movies and books actually use this older reason for storytelling telling as a plot point within their story.

Take that briefly popular The Giver book. The whole story turns on the past, the stories as it were, that the Giver shares with the Receiver.

The same thing with Ayn Rand’s little Anthem story. The books and tales of the past end up opening Prometheus’ eyes to the present.

It’s sad that even though this element of storytelling is used, it has to be done undercover, because people will pick the actual book to pieces over little things.

No one would fault the Receiver for accepting what the Giver tells him. (Or gives him. I haven’t actually read the book.) But in the real world, stories aren’t often received so well.

I think I’ll have to make a part two to finish this properly, so until next post–Natasha.

God is good.

God is good.

That’s a favorite debate topic for Christian films. I guess it’s also a favorite DC topic since Lex Luthor makes that infamous statement “If God is all powerful, He cannot be all good.”

Because it’s been talked aobut so much, I’m not sure I have any new wisdom to add to the subject, but I’d like to discuss it for a minute.

I just reread “The Hiding Place,” which is a really good book, and I felt like toward the end the quesiton of God’s goodness comes up.

What ‘s funny about The ways of God is that just His power is not enough to convince us He’s right.

We’ve all apologized when we weren’t sorry or admited something we didn’t want to admit becuae we were afraid of someone in power over us. For very weak minded people, power seems to equal right, even though philosophically we would scorn hat idea.

But I notice that in the Bible, way back in the Old Testament, people often only obeyed God because of His power.

Actually, up until recently in our history, that was totally acceptable logic. We like to feel we have the moral high ground, but many of our ancestors would have thought it was just common sense to obey whatever god was most powerful. It’s led to some messed up religions.

To bring  it back to the point, everything that happens to the Ten Booms in the latter half of the book seems to be terrible. Corrie and Betsie escpecially suffer in three different prisons, one of them the hellish Ravensbruck.

Corrie speaks of wondering why such cruelty could happen, of having to trust God to carry the burden of what she saw and felt watching the atrocities that happened there.

Though we cannot all have witnessed such things firsthand, we have plenty of news examples nowadays to make us ask that same question. Why did God allow it? Is he really good.

In the movie version of the Hiding Place, one embittered prisoner mockingly tells Betsie and Corrie that God is either powerless, or He is cruel, they can’t have it both ways.

Betsie replies “When you know him, you don’t need to know why.”

This is the kind of thinking that makes skeptics believe religious people are crazy. AT least, I think if I were a skeptic I would think it was crazy.

Would you trust God if you were going through death warmed up? If you lost everything? Would you believe God was good if you were mistreated be everyone around you and all you saw was cruelty?

Perhaps, after a time, all of us would begin to falter, if we were left to ourselves/

But God didn’t leave Corrie and Betsie without some signs. The little miracles that happened. Corrie not being checked in line while she has hiding the Bible, the vitamins bottle that did not run dry, the mercy of an otherwise merciless guard or medical trustee, Betsie’s visions.

What I draw from the story is that if God truly meant for us to be miserable, He would no provide these little wonders, these signs of love.

You can’t make those fit in with the idea of a distant, cold God, unless you really stretch your imagination.

Terrible things happen to us that God does not stop, but if we know personally that HE is good to us, then logically, we know these things do not mean He is doing us an evil.

John Eldredge (author and speaker) says that we have doubs about God’s goodness, we might know how He acts in front of a lot of people, signs, wonders, etc. but what is He like when you get alone with Him?

Well, here my theology meets reality. As someone who claims to have a relationship with God, what is my experience of Him?

(Actually, it surprises me how little I talk about this. I’m not ashamed of it, but even at church the subject comes up way less than you would expect.)

In many ways, knowing God personally is a private thing, more so than even knowing your spouse; but it is also meant to be shared.

My knowledge of God is that He is caring, He is loving, He does meet the needs of His children.

Personally, I have had harsh things said to me by people, people have betrayed my trust, people have misjudged me, God has never done that.

Some might say that’s because He is not real, or He is not like I think He is, so how could He do any of those things?

But for my money, none of that matters, I know what I know.

The evil man kind does to itself is bad enough, that there should be any light at all in the sea of darkness is a flat out miracle.

Like how the studios that produced Batman vs Superman also produced Wonder Woman.

Or how the same company that gave us some of the stupidest shows on TV also gave us movies like Frozen, Cinderella, Big Hero 6, and other classics.

Jesus said that the condemnation of men is that lights has come into the world, but men loved darkness.

And to my amazement, and yet also not for I have been guilty of it too, the real reason people doubt God is good is because they themselves are not good and do not want to change.

Bitterness, hate, selfishness; we don’t like giving that up.

Anyway, I hope that made sense.

Until next time–Natasha.