God (or the Universe.)

Time to get controversial:

So, I notice this trend going around (and by trend I mean it’s an accepted rule,) of replacing God with “The universe.” In both books and movies.

Even books written by people who claim to be Christians.

What took the cake was something I saw yesterday on a kid’s show in which a character referred to the universe by saying “May the universe have mercy on you…” or something like that. It was clearly a phrase that is supposed to have the word “God” in it.

Now, this is just stupid. There’s  no other word for it. Not even because of the compromise implied here, it’s because it’s as cheesy as substituting all those mythological exclamations for normal ones in modern fantasy. It might be kind of funny, but no one can take that seriously.

The reason I’m complaining about the above incident is that many people are completely serious about this whole universe thing.

Do I have something to say about this? You bet. (Sorry, I’m in a sassy mood.)

First of all, if you want to believe the universe is somehow conscious in some abstract way no one ever defines, that’s up to you, but that is not the same thing as believing in God.

People act like it is. Like we theists need to be pacified with the fact that movies deign to mention the most important fact of life, instead of ignoring it as most do. I mean, they should get the badge of courage right? It’s only something everyone thinks about.

The people of our culture puzzle me. The God-question is by farthe most important one any of us will have to answer, and yet we’ve made it taboo to even admit to wondering about it. Like it’s a weakness.

“Oh Adam’s sons, how carefully you guard yourself from everything that might do you good!”–The Magician’s Nephew.

Can I just say right here, it’s not weak. It’s actually smart to wonder about God. Even Atheists do. (A TV atheist will never admit that; but in real life you get different degrees of each belief.)

But I don’t think my readers will argue with me on that point. It’s a question worth asking, but it’s how we answer it that really matters.

And to answer with “the universe,” is really vague. What does it even mean?

As far as I can make out, it’s supposed to mean fate, things happen because somehow, something causes them to happen, and for some people it works out better than for others, because for some reason, the universe shows them more favor.

At first I  couldn’t see the appeal of this. “Just call it God, people,” I think; but as I pondered it more, I saw that there are some benefits to this point of view.

First of all, the universe has no personality, therefore, whomever it favors, it favors by mere chance. Which means all the horrible things that happen are just accidents, and no one ahs to be blamed for them. No one has to worry that there was a Divine Being punishing them, and they also aren’t’ burdened with explaining why God would allow bad things to happen if He’s good.

This seems way easier to me than Christianity, which often is like a set of contradictions. (So are the best people, I notice.)

But then I thought, if the universe has no real consciousness beyond this vague causing of events, then we have nothing to appeal to.

Think about it, if the universe is just basically pushing buttons on the machine of life, then we’re all basically experiments. And not planned experiments, but experiments that happened as a result of the universe just doing what it does.

I guess that gives us leave to live however we want, knowing it makes no difference in the Grand Scheme of things.

It sounds kind of depressing to me. Complete freedom with complete lack of reason to be free.

I guess that ‘s why so many people are depressed now.

But if we venture to say that the universe does care about us, then we’ve just put a thin veil over something that really is theism, monotheism at that.

It’s nothing new, this universe idea. It’s just another excuse for human beings to live the way we want.

And that’s not even seen as a bad thing any more. “Do what you want,” the movies tell us. Even if it’s tearing your life apart, be selfish, be cruel, be self-centered. What’s the real harm?

I’ll tell you, the amount of disregard for the feelings of other human beings that is portrayed on most TV shows, it’s terrifying to me.

Why do your feelings matter anyway?

If God is the universe, than nothing you feel matters. Why do you feel at all?

But, what if God is actually God? I’ve already listed some cons to that, but what at the pros?

I mean, if God is real, than maybe there is some way to get Him to help you. That’s how all religions start.

But Christianity takes it further and says God is real, and He is so real that He has placed signs all around us to show us who He is. That He has taken pains to make us believe in Him. And even that we have no excuse not to.

The Truth is, sometimes I don’t like what God is doing, but I can’t argue it with Him. Not because He’ll stop me, but because I know better.

What excuse do I have no to believe in God?

(If any of you have a different point of view to offer on this subject, I’d be glad to hear it.)

But as for me, I just can’t accept he idea that the Universe can just have sprung into its own entity. The thing is, we can look at the Universe and know it’s a thing of time. We can measure that. But time had to start somewhere. And the only answer that makes sense to me is that there is Something outside of time. And that’s God.

I’m not ashamed to admit I believe in God.

So, you won’t hear me ever saying “Or the universe.”

Until next time–Natasha.20160426_155712100_44464-26-12 046100_1573 (1)20160625_123317_001cropped-3-forest.jpg100_2914100_1770 (1)

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.

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.

 

The Lord of the Fantasy.

Yesterday I saw “The Fellowship of the Ring.” For the first time.

I know, Christian; millennial; homeschooled; how is it possible I’ve never seen it before?

I haven’t read the books either (gasp.)

Honestly, the story just didn’t appeal to me. The ring creeped me out, and there weren’t a lot of girls in the story. Up until recently, I really didn’t have an interest in any story without girls in it. Girl Power and all that.

I’m sure some of you haven’t seen or read the series either, but I’m  not going to recap, I’d never fit all that into one post, or two.

The point is, now that I’ve seen it, do I like it?

Sort of. I actually only decided to finally take an interest because I’ve been reading a lot of J. R. R. Tolkien, and what better way to understand a writer than through his material?

but reading about his creative process is very interesting. Did you know he never knew much about what would happen in the legend before it actually did happen? HE always had  a sense of the story being given to him, not imagined.

And knowing some of it, I completely agree that no one could make that up. It really happened.

No, I don’t mean I think it actually did, (though If I were told it had historical base, I might,) but it would make you think so.

Genius.

And it just the thing to make you feel how little you actually know about writing.

I can easily feel smug about my talent when I compare it to most modern authors, who don’t know how to really write. If I have even an inkling more than they, I’m ahead. But next to real genius, my efforts still look like child’s play.

Nothing wrong with that of course. Plenty of good books are written n that way, and it’s not a reason to stop. But it is a reason to be more humble.

I think we get lied to a lot about our abilities. Not everything we crate is beautiful just because we created it. Being unique does not equal beauty. Some of the ugliest and most disturbing art I have seen was unique, because it was unhealthy.

See, rarity works both ways. It can either mean you have an incredible gift and are using it well, or that you are creating something horrid, that only people who have a flaw in their soul will like.

That is not an exaggeration. It is hard truth.

Now, it may be a rare person who will create such bad art, but it’s not so rare as it was, because we’ve started letting them off the hook by saying they are expressing themselves. (As if any of us would want to know the self they are expressing, if that was the case.)

But this is not a post about that, I think I’ve made my point.

But most art is on better footing. Not all of it is about pleasant subjects, but it will at least be making a healthy point about the sadness of a more tragic subject.

Tolkien’s work is very much a blending of both, and a skillful blending because he does it without shifting the overall tone of the story.

No one should read fantasy without considering its tone, and its message. Anyone who thinks fantasy is for pure entertainment and has no real life point, is reading it wrong and does not understand the genre.

See, if I may wax Tolkien-like for a moment, fantasy is far closer to real life than we think. But because we have no guard against it, we accept truth in fantasy easier than we will in real life.

Think of you favorite books, mine are all fantasy or fiction, and I know that the truth I learned from them became a part of me because it was ins tory form, and that was much easier to take in and retain than any “real” lesson would be.

The Gospels tell us that Jesus constantly used stories, known as parables, to teach the people. But only to his disciples would he explain the full meaning.

The reason he gave was that it was for his disciples to know the things of the Kingdom, but he people had shut their ears, and eyes, and hearts.

This makes more sense to me now than it did when I first heard it. Someone recently expounded on it, saying that the stories were so even the people could understand the way to have an abundant life. (I paraphrase.)

As we all know, many people consider Jesus to be a moral teacher but not the Son of God, and that being the case, they will only accept his teachings on that basis, so the stories are an effective way to convey that.

In this case, the motivations of Jesus and of fantasy writers is the same. Both wish that the people would understand them if they spoke plainly, but people don’t like that for the most part, so in order to get their message out, they use stories. Because they want people to have a better life, even if they stubbornly refuse to have the best life.

You might compare it to how, in stories, the heroes will have the best life (if they win) but the people who helped them along the way will still have a better life than otherwise. No good author likes making everyone in their story miserable just because they aren’t the hero. (Not that some don’t do it. Check out Les Miserables, though I don’t know if Victor Hugo liked it, so much as though he needed it.)

So, the first thing fantasy teaches us is that if we want to be happy, we have to be good. That is the foundation of all healthy fantasy, because any that says otherwise is lying, the real world will prove that.

There’s plenty more about this subject to be delved into, but for now, I’ll sign off.

Until next time–Natasha.

The appeal of evil.

I have an unusual subject for you all today. (At least I hope it’s unusual.) What is the alluring power of evil?

Believe it or not, this was sparked by a chapter title in The Ever After High book “The Storybook of Legends.”

In this particular chapter, Shannon Hale takes a rather startling turn from the rest of the book, which has dealt with our protagonist, Raven Queen, feeling unfit for evil. WE all feel bad for Raven, but in this chapter Hale shocks us with a rather long inner battle in Raven’s mind about whether evil might actually be an intoxicating thing. There was a lot of power at Raven’s fingertips. (Literally.) A whole army of evil servants willing to do whatever she wanted. And she could even take revenge on everyone who “had ever made her feel like dirt.” While shes’ thinking this, Dexter, one of her few friends, comes up to her and says he almost didn’t recognize her because she looked so angry.

Personally, this chapter made sense to me. Right from the start of the day Raven feels the pressure to sign the book and seal her fate. She dresses up in her mom’s cape, puts on striking make up, and looks the part. She even feels the part, mistaking the inner turmoil shes’ feeling as evil, when in reality, it’s her uncertainty mixed with her fears of both signing and not signing.

But is the power of evil really so appealing?

Many sources recognize that evil appeals to our desire to control, to have absolute power, to manipulate others and ourselves. Pretty much any book with magic in it will deal with that part of evil and power at some point. (And if it doesn’t; frankly, I question how relevant it is.) Take the ring in the Lord of The Rings. It isolates the person wearing it, and tempts them to keep using it, to keep having control. Another example is The Green Goblin, whom I mentioned in my post about Spider-Man. The Goblin offers Osborne more and more control, but the price is to do evil. We all know which he chooses.

But though it’s easy to identify what desires in us prompt us to give in to this kind of evil, I rarely hear it discussed whether the desire itself is not evil to begin with.

A lot of kids, sad to say, are rooting for Raven to be evil. Why? Because it’s so darn cool. (I don’t speak for myself, here, of course.) Because she’s so much more intimidating when she’s evil. Even people in the story are rooting for her to be evil. Which is infuriating both to her and to the fans.

Girl Meets World pointed out the fact that just when we think we’ve seen the worst of it, someone finds a new way to do evil. Why? “Because it’s evil that fascinates us.” Heck, there’s a whole movie about that coming out on Disney Channel, and I am not endorsing it. Seriously, no one watch Descendants 2, it’s terrible. Whatever you’ve heard about it, if you’ve heard about it at all.

Girl Meets World actually tackled the subject of evil in another episode, and Riley’s dad said something wise, that evil changes our idea of what fun is.

The fact that evil is a kind of thrill is a sad fact of life; but it does not give us a pass.

Let’s go back to Raven. She has always felt like evil is not a good fit for her. But she knows other kids at school who are destined to be villains who like it. They have no pressure on them to be nice, in fact, they are applauded for being nasty. And Raven could have gone that way. It was tempting.

And what is it that makes it tempting? Is it not our desire to control things? And is that desire good?

Because when it comes down to it, it’s all about motive. Evil would not be appealing to someone who had no evil desires, and every human being has evil desires. As James 1 tells us, and as any honest person will have to admit. I’ll admit it right now, I sometimes have desires that I know are bad. I get angry, and I don’t always want to let it go, though I know I must. I feel like hiding the truth. And I give into fear.

I don’t do any of this as much as I used to, but I still feel like doing it sometimes. Something is wrong with some part of me.

This doesn’t make you a bad person, in as much as any human being can be a good person. But it does present a problem. It means none of us are perfectly good.

And if so, aren’t we all evil?

I don’t need to protest, you’ll all probably do it for me. Because nowadays our immediate response is “Don’t judge me.” Or “Nobody is without flaws.”

And yes, I am not one to judge. But I can at least go so far as to say, it is not good to have evil desires.

But does that mean Raven has already lost? And does that mean we all have?

Yes and no.

We are none of us good by nature. But neither are we completely bad. The mistake the Ever After High books are highlighting for us is that is it wrong to think anyone is automatically all good just because they are supposed to be, and it is wrong to think anyone is all evil just because they were taught to be.

Raven Queen has the purest heart of just about any modern character I’ve encountered, but even she was able to see why evil can be tempting. So why did she decide not to choose it?

Why did she give up control?

Well, Raven is smart. She figured our that by giving up control, she was really taking control for the first time. But not of her destiny, per sec; but of herself.

Raven saw more clearly than most of us that signing away your life to evil will never be a happy fate, no matter what perks it seems to have at first. One big part of it was she didn’t want to become full of hatred. Which she would have been, because she’d always blame her destiny for her unhappiness. (And not unjustly either.)

Unlike the foolish Apple White, who put aside all misgivings in order to do what she thought she was born to do.

In conclusion, it is the desire to give in to evil that we all need to guard against. It is what prompts us to do wrong, and it needs to die. Every time it comes back. I know of only one way to accomplish this, and that is through Christ.

But even so, any of us can choose to resist it. We should.

Hope you enjoyed, 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.

What I hate (and love) about superheros.

Not the first time I’ve talked about this I know, but I actually have found a couple of superhero films that I like, and the new Wonder Woman came out this month, so let’s go for it.

First of all, start with the negative.

What I hate about superhero movies is how darn depressing they are. Seriously, there’s some pscyo villain who has some non-relatable reason for wanting to destroy humanity, and we’re all supposed to sympathize with them, even when they’re point of view makes no sense. And the hero never has a really good answer for them.

At least in the last decade and a half of films.

But when they do it right, the villain is tragic or at least someone we won’t feel sorry for; and the hero is not shaken by the villain’s warped world view.

Not all superhero movies are depressing, they were originally inspiring.

What I like about superhero movies is they can give us a cool story, with plenty of unrealistic action and science and powers; but they keep it grounded in real life. The perfect combination some would say.

In my personal opinion, “The Incredibles” nailed this one in every way. The heroes never stop being normal people with their own quirks and problems to work out.

In contrast, the Avengers never stop acting like superheroes. I have never seen any of them really loosen up and turn off the charm and bravado and wise cracking, and just be people.

The whole idea of a superhero is a person with special powers, who uses them unselfishly. The MCU can’t even decide whether it’s heroes are heroes or villains.

What shocks me is how many people are applauding this, even while many are horrified. People find a movie boring now, if the villain is not just as compelling as the hero.

I don’t mind an interesting villain, but if they aren’t going to reform by the end, I don’t want to get attached to them.

This will sound sacrilegious, but I have never made any connection with any modern superhero except briefly for Captain America. (In his first movie.)

But, what I do like about the superheros I actually connect with, is how they never let anything stop them from doing the right thing.

It’s like Superman says of his friends in one episode of the animated Justice League, he tells the bad guy he’s fighting that none of them will stop fighting as long as they ‘re breathing, and able to move. (I paraphrase.)

I appreciate the teamwork they exhibit. It’s what makes they’re powers are attractive, because the team shows the best of everyone.

But it’ how they are with each other in ordinary life that really makes it work.

I think Guardians of the Galaxy was better in  this regard, even though they all start off as enemies and end up with rather dysfunctional family–friendship dynamic, it worked.

Anyway, there’s no formula for making a good superhero flick…which is the problem. Personally, I find movies where there has to to be a violent action sequence every five minute to be boring.

I’d really start to think superheros just don’t have self control.

At least when Mr. Incredible loses it, there are serious consequences.

I really hope that this new Wonder Woman film sparks a new trend, because I think this genre had a lot of potential if people figure out how to use it right.

In the end, though, whenever you have huge quantities of something, the’res only going to be a few really good products to choose from.

I think some people see it as stuck up to even complain, the masses like the total crud that studios pop out every two years, why not we? What makes our opinion so much better?

Well, I can’t really say. I have my reasons, my concern is that the majority of us don’t use reason when we’re judging a film or any other thing we like. We want to be entertained. Not taught.

(I know folks who won’t even try to hide that this is their perspective.)

And if that’s what you want, than even a really well-made movie is lost on you. Take Frozen as an example. I know for a fact that despite its popularity, not even half of the fans fully understand why it’s a great movie. They like the songs, the cool clothes, the funny scenes, and the wishy-washy message about love; but they miss the real deep message about true love, and the really important stuff the movie is telling us about ourselves.

And many just can’t stomach the format.

Personally, I don’t care about formatting.(Most of the time.) My tastes go from those super-boring-to-most-people real life story movies, to a few of the notoriously bad Christian movies, to Disney, to obscure movies very few people have ever heard of and movies that were supposedly made to sell toys.

I don’t care. I just want the movie to speak to me. Otherwise, what’s the point? Literally.

Now, it is possible to get caught in the trap of assigning meaning where meaning clearly wasn’t intended, which is why I think movie reviewers are important in moderation. Just like book reviewers are. I’d be hypocrite if I said that’s a bad thing.

But I do think there is too much credit given to the movies that are huge successes. Frankly, a lot of them are trash. Except the ones that are not.

But, there are legit reasons people like even the Superhero movies that I despise. A lot of the times they can overlook the flaws because the heroes are just so cool, and I suppose that’s fine to a certain point.

But you can’t just excuse every problem because a movie appeals to your personal taste. Per example, I used to like Pocahontas the best of any Disney princess movie, but though I don’t hate it now, I admit it’s pretty flawed. (Sorry to any fans out there.)

Anyway, I risk shooting the sacred cow just writing this, but I think people will see where I’m coming from.

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.