Black, White, and Grey.

You all know that you can spell grey with an e or an a? Weird huh?

The spelling of grey is arbitrary, it’s not even a British English vs American English thing as far as I know. (Unlike spelling honor, valor, favor, flavor, and other “o-r” words with an “o-u-r”, which they do in Britain. Or used to anyway. Which is why, I, being the C. S. Lewis fan that I am, still “misspell’ those words sometimes.) How you spell it is entirely up to you.

Doesn’t that just seem fitting? Because we like to say there there’s black and white morality, and then there’s a grey area. The grey area is your arbitrary perception of right or wrong, or your uncertainty thereof.

In simpler terms, the grey area is moral limbo.

Some say there is no grey area. (Gray area?)

Well, I think that there probably is. But I think we need to be more specific about what we mean when we say grey area.

We don’t mean that some things are neither right nor wrong, we mean that some actions are right or wrong in different circumstances, and those circumstances are not always plain to see.

See, I believe in situational ethics, but not what the term means now, but just that different situations call for different actions.

What I don’t believe is that your code of ethics can change with each situation. Just the enacting of it does.

See, if you are a inconstant person when it come to telling the truth, than your ethics are that truth is only important some of the time. So whether you tell it in one situation (where it won’t hurt your case), or hedge it in another (where it will), your ethics have remained the same.

Likewise, if you tell the truth whether it hurts you or not, you ethics are to be painfully honest.

Simple, right?

But that’s more of a black and white example. Or is it?

People would argue that lying is better sometimes in order to save someone’s feelings, I personally think lying is justifiable only when someone’s life is at stake, and that’s a rare situation.

But you see how this black nd white thing can quickly be turned into a grey area.

It’s kind of the inspiration for the title “Fifty shades of Grey,” but I won’t go there. (No, I haven’t seen it, and I won’t if I can help it.)

But this is where all this arbitrariness has gotten us.

Part of the reason I enjoyed Mr. Miracle so much was because in the 70’s, right and wrong could still be cut and dried things. Clearly, Scott was doing the right thing, and his enemies were monsters (literally often enough.) Barda sometimes verges on doing something bad, but she is always stopped or stops herself before it gets to that point.

But look at superhero movies and comics now, our heroes spend more time trying to figure out if they are really heroes than they do defeating the bad guys. Who often try to say they aren’t bad guys. You know, back in Shakespeare’s day, a riveting villain was one who knew they were evil and wanted to be different but had one vice they would not let go of (Read Hamlet.) Shakespeare called it what it was, insanity. There was no grey area. most of his villains don’t even want to change.

Now, we have bad guys who don’t want to change yet we feel sympathy for them because they are more human. Plenty of people will defend to the last this way of treating bad guys.

When this trend started, it wasn’t all bad. Some villains do just need to be shown some mercy. But I would argue they are the ones who are less evil and more confused or bitter. Which would not be the majority now.

Some people are cruel because no one had ever been kind to them, they can change because of mercy.

But some are cruel because no one ahs ever stood up to them. And that is not something mercy is going to fix.

Why should we sympathize with people who have never really been mistreated but decide that it’s their destiny to control everything?

I have both real life and fictional examples in mind, and I’ll bet you do too.

I think this is pretty long, but my word count is not working, so I’ll wrap this up.

We all need to realize that you don’t prevent evil by questioning good. Someone needs to tell the media this. (Of course, sometimes evil masquerades as good.) But when good is apparent, we should not second guess it.

There’s this thing called faith. I like what that one girl in the first avengers movie said after the big New York showdown. The avengers saved her life, so she believes in their intentions.

You see, it’s not the good guys fault that there are evil creatures raining from the sky, but it is their fault that the rain stopped.

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

Give a little more than you take.

I haven’t yet mentioned that I read the second installment of the Mr. Miracle comic series.

I have a whole list of the problems with it, but I’ll sum it up as being far lesser than the first one.

Of course, as I do, I had some deeper thoughts about it and also about why it bothered me so much. You see, by comic book standards of the seventies, most of it was passable; it wasn’t terrible if I compared it to the Superman of the fifties and sixties. However bad it could be, Barda and Scott could never be that campy and still be the same characters. But they weren’t the same.

I know that this bothers me more than some would say it should, and some hard core fans would be even more upset than me, but for my part, here’s why I get upset when this happens, and it happens a lot.

When a creative person underperforms, it bothers me because it seems like they didn’t know what they had. Often, I think that even when I like what they’re doing. Because it seems too good to be the work of some one who was not trying to be astounding, and often the source was not.

Check out the making of Frozen, for example. It was a long process and what they were trying to do at first ended up being the opposite of what they did.

I also think of the early Ever After High series, it seems like the show was just supposed to be for kids and yet the points is made were worthy of a lot of adult consideration.

Generally something like this gets ruined because of a new writer who just wants to use the franchise to make money. But sometimes the staff remains the same, and they just seem to lose touch with what made their show or series so great.

(Forgive me, but I think this happened with the Percy Jackson series when it switched to “Heroes of Olympus.”)

The problem is, once you get a devoted fan base, you always have an audience, even if you were to do the worst thing possible some of them would defend it. And believe me, as an aspiring writer, I think about how I would handle this problem.

There will always be those who don’t like anything you do that’s new, either. When Ever After High switched over to covering the opposing point of view in their rebel-royal conflict, a lot of people weren’t happy, including me. But I had to hand it to them that a couple times it came out well and deserved some appreciation.

I don’t think a little change is bad, writers and movie makers are always expanding their vision, or so we would hope, and they fill out their stories. They have the right to do that.

so, I would not have faulted Kirby for that, and some would say that is what he was doing.

But there was a very serious problem with how he ended the story. He let evil have the last say. It was sort of like how the Empire Strikes Back ends, (always my least favorite by the way,) but even worse. Because we know it’s not over for Luke and his friends, and we have hope, but the evil figure of this comic book steals the best moment of the whole story from the best people in it. It’s just so unfair to them, and they don’t seem to realize it.

I can’t go into it fully, but that is what I had a problem with. The beauty of Kirby’s creation of Mr. Miracle was in how good triumphs over evil against all odds, and even against our human weaknesses.

Together Scott and Barda are unstoppable. But only when they are being the best they can be. I’d say that’s true in real life. I hope all of us have met at least one couple who was like that, amazing separately, but together they became an inspiration.

That’s what made the whole thing work. I liked Scott okay by himself, and I like Barda by herself, but I didn’t really get into their stories until they were together.

And it wasn’t that that changed, it was how they were together. It just wasn’t the same. But worst of all was I felt like Darkseid showing up at the end made it his victory.

In fact, I really wonder if Kirby did it on purpose. But that’s a whole other discussion.

I guess the point I want to bring out of all this is that, fan base or no, your work will not be worthy of admiration if you lose touch with what made it special. It’s important to know what truth you want to show, and to listen to what your positive feed back is telling you; what people are getting out of your work, I mean.

I’ve been surprised by what people got out of my stuff sometimes, but once I saw it that way, I thought it was even better than what I planned.

Which is not to say you can never try anything different, I try different plots and usually I like the result, and my siblings are always trying new things with their creative pursuits, but you have to have a core.

Otherwise you might start to think it’s about you, and how great you are, instead of about what you give to other people through your creativity. Or your service, if that’s how you give.

I think I’ll end with this song which is about that very thing:

“A single voice is joined by multitudes in song, with every note they’re finding harmonies that rise to carry on, richer and richer the soil in which they thrive, higher and higher a hymn of what it means to be alive.

You’ve got to give a little more than you take, you’ve got to leave a little more than was here; you may be prideful of the strides you will make, but keep one things clear. You’re just a player in a much bigger plan, and still you have to give it all that you can, the very measure of your soul is at stake, you’ve got to give a little more than you take.”

–Natasha.

National Women’s Day.

A while ago, the women here in America celebrated this “holiday” by boycotting work and going on marches.

And I didn’t even know there was a national holiday dedicated to women.

Of course, I didn’t celebrate, but I got to thinking, maybe a day to celebrate being a woman isn’t such a bad idea. Or a day to celebrate being a man.

But I’d do it a bit differently.

I think celebrating womanhood should look less like one big hate letter to the male population and more like one big love letter to the people around us.

On that day, a woman would make it a point to either dress up or dress down, depending on what makes her feel more comfortable with herself. (Personally, dressing up does that for me.) She’d either do her make up or not do it, whichever makes her feel confident and pretty.

A woman would spend the day, not protesting that she was a victim, but taking control of her time and spending it doing things that she feels really matter. Which could be hanging out with her kids, cleaning up a park, volunteering for a charitable organization, or visiting her family, or going out with her other female friends for a girls day.

Then she should do something fun, like go on a date, or if she’s single, do one of her favorite things.

The perfect day would include the kinds of talks that women love to have, and the kind of peace that they love feeling when they feel loved and cherished.

A strong woman does not need a man’s permission to be feminine; she would celebrate whether anyone else did or not.

I’d put hearing my favorite songs; eating assorted chocolates; watching a good movie or reading a god book; and hanging out with people I care about in a relaxing place; all on my list of things that make up a perfect day. Not to mention feeling close to God.

How men would treat women on this day would just be to say the things they should say all the time. To admit that they need women in their lives. And to be equally proud to be men.

Because when both men and women are glad to be what they are, it’s an irresistable combination. People like to see it.

Which is not to say all the problems between men and women would be fixed in one day, or even that everyone would celebrate. But the point is, if you will celebrate, really celebrate.

I just don’t see the joy in ranting and raving about injustice on the one day you get to be celebrated on. Which goes for any holiday. Who celebrates Christmas by protesting all the people who don’t get of give gifts? Or don’t go to church, or don’t celebrate at all, no one does that. (If they do I feel sorry for them.) What people do instead is they give to someone who has nothing, or they invite someone to go with them, and take someone in.

Celebration is about joy, and sharing that joy with other people. There will always be those who’d rather be miserable and gloomy, or who will focus on the wrong thing. but no one should pay them any mind except to help them.

That’s what I’d call celebrating my womanhood.

If nothing else, just taking a minute to be glad for what you have is celebration. We have so much in America, and if you’re reading this blog, you’ve got a lot more in your hands than many people will ever get to see in their lifetime.

Let’s not complain so much.

Until next post–Natasha.

Totally Scott Free.

Like I asked a moment ago, what is total freedom?

Well, it turns out it’s not just being able to choose. Scott had a choice. That didn’t give him freedom.

Of course choice is a big part of it, but as weird as this is going to sound, freedom is actually the ability to choose the right thing.

What’s the difference?

There’s a big difference.

Take the extreme example of drug addiction. Most addicts are not force-fed the substance they are addicted to, they choose to take it. They bring their hand to their mouth, or whatever form they use. They are not free. They were at one time, one time they had the choice to not try drugs, and they forfeited their freedom from drugs when they chose to try them. Now they can’t stop.

Choice is not freedom, it is the medium freedom is accessed through, if that makes sense.

Freedom is a state of being, not an ability.

Total freedom is humanly impossible without some sort of Divine intervention, and that is just the truth.

But what about all that stuff about taking freedom?

That’s all true. Freedom is a fight.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” John Philpot Curran.

It’s a fight for me.

There’s another quote about freedom being in disobedience, but as far as I can see that kind of thinking leads to disaster. Freedom is obeying the right thing. Like your conscience for example.

We do choose what we listen to, but what we listen to is what makes us free or slaves.

To go back to Scott Free, he spent years listening to Granny Goodness. (The name is a misnomer.) It wasn’t until Granny took away her voice from him (as punishment, but if you ask me, the psycho was just too arrogant to realize she was doing him a favor,) that he started listening to Metron and then Himon.

You got to be careful what you hear. I can’t tell you how many times I did not struggle with a sin, or a fear, or even a symptom of disease, until I heard about it. Knowledge is not always power, or it’s not always a good power.

One more thing about freedom: It’s a lifestyle.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”–Nelson Mandela.

We can blame other people for enslaving us, and some of us have a reason to do that, but blame will not free us.

We want to take our freedom, and then we want to pass it on.

Scott didn’t think of anyone else but himself needing to be free at first, but after Barda helped him, he realized she should be free too, and later he came to wish everyone could be, though he knew you can’t free everyone and that they really have to want it themselves.

Barda is an interesting example of someone who is uncertain about freedom at first. She wasn’t ready to leave when Scott did, but once she left, she resolved never to go back without putting up one heck of a fight. And she did.

Even though Barda never seems to want to free others, she is the one who is responsible for bringing four additional people back to earth with them. Four of her furies. Though the furies get a chance at freedom through this turn of events, none of them stay on Earth. They are too bound up to their home planet, even though it will be the death of them.

So we see that freedom is offered to all of us at one time, but few of us accept it.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14.

This verse is generally taken as “It’s so hard to be good, why is it so hard? Why did God make so few things okay for us to do?”

The truth is, the things that are bad to do in of themselves, those are pretty much summed up in a list of ten commandments. Dishonoring God; dishonoring parents; dishonoring what’s sacred; lying; stealing; adultery; greed and covetousness; murder; etc. You can find rules like that in many other books and creeds.

But the list of mistakes we make with even the things that are good, that list is extensive. I couldn’t name all of them if I tried. The reason the road to freedom is narrow is because the road of slavery is so broad. We enslave ourselves to nearly everything; but we free ourselves only in doing what’s good, healthy, and holy.

Scott Free is a little bit like how they portrayed Moses in “The Prince of Egypt” movie. (Thank you Dreamworks.) He can have power, wealth, respect, fame….and he can live a life built on slavery. Or he can run off and become a nameless nobody in a strange land, only to return later to secure the freedom of others.

God is the one who told Moses to go back (and that was the part of the story they changed the least,) and I don’t think anyone ever gets fired up for the freedom of others without it being a Divine thing. Because there’s a certain power in fighting for other people.

So, those are my thoughts on the story and the concept. I hope it all made sense, since I’m still figuring it out myself. I do recommend checking out the stories for yourself. (With the exception of the Barbie Fairytopia one, please do not watch that.)

Until next time–Natasha.

“Freedom to dance, freedom to sing, freedom to grow, I’m telling you Pharoah, let God’s people go!”–Jason Upton.

Getting off Scott Free.

Some of you may remember the post I did about Mr. Miracle. Well since then I have actually read the comic book of that title, and I thought I’d share my reaction.

Oh my gosh! It is freaking incredible!

Seriously, I have never been a huge comic book person, but this one blew me away.

You don’t realize the first time you read it how great it is, you only see that it’s way better than most of the other stuff in the genre, but upon rereading you notice the details that went into the character arcs and plot build up, and how, remarkably, there is no real discrepancy anywhere (I can think of one place that something didn’t entirely add up, but it was minor, and I’m not sure it was really an error, and it was just one.)

Sorry everyone, I’m still in fan girl mode. Which for me is both way more excited and way less than what you’d typically see made fun of on TV.

Aside from geeking out about it, I do have another reason to share it with you guys. I need to do some writing about liberty for a school thing, and all I can think about is this comic book as a reference. (Which is the first time in my life that has happened, I assure you.) The reason is, liberty is a huge point in the story, though it’s ironically the one I’ve thought least about, because being the person that I am, I want to talk about the love story.

But it’s time I gave the idea of freedom some consideration.

Scott Free starts off as a brainwashed prisoner of the hellish planet of Apokalips. I won’t give away all the details here, it would be far too long, but suffice to say he’s different than the other drones. In Barda’s words, they never got to him. Scott is affected by his life on this planet, but he refuses, for a reason unknown to himself even, to ben to all their rules. He in encouraged in this by Metron and Himon, two people who try to help whom they can become free minded.

Now the narrator leaves no doubt in our minds that no one on Apokalips is free minded except Himon. And he has precious few people who are even willing to try to learn his ways. But Scott becomes intrigued by him.

Long story short, with help from is unexpected ally, Big Barda, Scott flees the cursed planet and comes to Earth. We aren’t told exactly what he does at first, but he learns about the place and develops a passion for seeing justice served, but always with a degree of Mercy. he takes on the name of Mr. Miracle and tries to live a quiet life. Or quiet for him.

But Scott soon finds that you cannot just run from oppression and think that will be the end of it, after Barda joins him on Earth both of them try to keep their enemies at bay using their respective skills, but Scott quickly realizes he cannot run forever. So they return to face their past. To face themselves in a way.

I  have avoided this part of the story for one reason, I was concerned that the story was trying to tell us that finding our self is the answer. I know many people will take that from it, and take it at face-value. But how many of us really know what finding our true self even means?

Oddly enough, what came to my mind was a Barbie movie of all things, and not one of the good ones either, it was the second one of the Fairytopia trilogy. (Gag worthy, especially if you already hate Barbie, which I did for a while probably because of those movies.) But there’s one good part, Elena, the “Protagonist” is faced with the option of eating a berry that will turn her into whatever form her “True self” is. Elena was born without wings, and wanted them badly, winning them as a reward for saving the day in movie No#1. Her fear now is that her true self will not have wings.

I actually understand Elena for once. But her friends tell her “Whatever you are, you’ll be happy, because you’ll be your true self.”

Mixed up in the sappy stuff of this whole idea is actually an important truth. Our true self is not always what we want it to be, but what it is best for us to be.

This applies to Scott, as well. He wanted to be free; he wanted, in his own words “tranquility;” and he thought he could find that by running until they stopped pursuing him. Barda knew better, but she would rather chase after a delusion with Scott than be realistic by herself.

But Scott had to realize that we cannot be free by running, running is just the start, the begging of the dive into the deep end.

Freedom is not something anyone can be given, it is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.”–James Baldwin.

Barda, on the other hand, knew you have to take freedom. She lived this next quote.

Better to die fighting for freedom then to be a prisoner all the days of your life.”–Bob Marley.

Barda figured on dying in the fight to be free, but she intended to go out with a bang.

What makes this story oddly different is that their battle is a mental one. Scott literally fights it out in his mind. Barda nearly loses on that account, but Scott saves her in the nick of time.

It might be said that Scott will get out of anything, but Barda will avoid getting into it as long as she remains standing. She’d be free to start with if she could.

But the thing it, none of us are born free. We say we are, but we are all slaves to something. To sin usually, there’s always that one thing we can’t shake, sometimes its many things. Others of us get enslaved to people. Being a Christian is comparted to being a slave for God.

Only, in that last instance, it does not last. God wants free people. The reason we consider ourselves slaves fro Christ is because we don’t trust ourselves with total freedom.

What is total freedom anyway? It is not the absence of tyranny, that leads to anarchy most of the time.

I think I’ll dive into that in my next post, until then–Natasha.

Crossed wires.

“Though I may speak, some tongue of old; or even spit out some holy word;  I have no strength, with which to speak; when you sit me down and see I’m weak.”

These are the opening lyrics to a song from Brave, “Learn me right.” (Yes, it inspired the titles of my last two posts.)

It took me a while to even like this song, but I realized eventually that it was a description of how I felt about myself.

You see, like many Christians, I believe that God endows us with some of His power. (My faith gives me strength in other words.)

Like the song says, as much as I could quote the Bible or pray or even speak another language, (I actually speak three,) I lost it when it came to speaking up for myself.

I have no problem standing up for other people. I actually can be reckless in doing so and get myself into trouble; and I have no problem defending myself when I have done nothing wrong, but when it comes to explaining myself, there I have a problem.

A reoccurring scene in my life is one of having an older person take me aside, with one or two other adults, and explain to me how I’ve offended them with my behavior. (I have talked about this before, but I don’t remember how many people read that post, so I’m retelling it.) This has not happened recently…exactly, but it has happened a lot.

Anyway, once I realize what’s happening–again– I start to feel nervous, I freeze up. I have a hard time speaking.

I came to see that this bothers me so much because I feel weak. I can’t defend myself, and there is no one there to defend me. I also feel exposed, and not by my own choice.

I get angry very quickly when this happens, and though I don’t feel angry at the time, the feeling comes later. I can’t believe how I’ve been humiliated. And let me tell you, I’ve had some mortifying things said to me.

Honestly, when you don’t speak, people take that as an invitation to keep explaining your problem until you want to scream. Though I know I have done this to others too, so I can’t judge.

What has always insulted me the most is that people go behind my back and appeal to someone who has the authority to threaten me, punish me, and make me miserable at home; instead of coming to me first.

I know they meant well, but that is not the same as doing well.

I’ve been around the block now myself, I’ve been in a position of authority and had children misbehave and disrespect me. It is very annoying. A lot of the time it is also unintentional.

I can’t say I always handle it right either, but I do try to go directly tot he person who I have a problem with, and then to an authority if and only if that fails. you know what’s ironic though? Often the authority I go do doesn’t actually fix the problem by backing me up; they often throw it back on me.

I’m not saying all this to vent. I’ll bet you’ve had similar experiences.

But let’s talk about the most painful part, being misunderstood.

“I’m misunderstood,” can be used as an excuse nowadays. When it is used in that way, it’s probably not true. You may be perfectly understood to be a brat, or a wimp.

But, often the claim is made in frustration. Someone may have tried and tried to get their point across and found it was like they were speaking gibberish to the other party. That’s legitimate pain, and it’s happened all through history as well as our private lives.

If you’re like me, your personality may be so unconventional that people don’t know what box to put you into and so misunderstand your words, tones, and actions often. And sometimes, I actually deserve to be reprimanded, I’m not faultless.

Or you could be misunderstood because of crossed wires due to someone else’s accidental or sometimes intentional interference. That hurts a lot and you have my sympathies if that’s you.

Or, you like completely different things from the people around you and they think you’re a freak, or at the very least an oddball and they can’t connect with you.

whichever of these you are or have been, you’ve probably asked, along with me, what’s the solution?

Well, what’s not, is to do what a later verse of the song describes:

“So I had done wrong, to prove (put?) me right, my judgement burned in the black of night. When I gave less than I take, it is my fault, my own mistake.”

Two wrongs do not make a right. The worst thing for any of us to do would be to react poorly. Don’t retaliate. Don’t send a hate email or whatever. Don’t blast the person in question to you friends on social media.

Don’t judge too harshly,  remember the chances are you will do the same thing, we all have misunderstandings.

Also, and this is hard for me, don’t be afraid to look in the mirror. Make sure you were giving it your best effort, otherwise perhaps some of the criticisms or miscommunication is your own doing.

Give more than you take. Then, at the very least, you’ll be able to look back and say “I did my best, and I put the most effort into making this work. It was not for lack of trying.”

It rarely happens that the situation has changed drastically for me, but I have changed. I’ve gotten tougher, but also more willing to apologize, even if I believe I was in the right.

I’m still working on the right way to stand up for myself, but nine out of ten times, peace is better.

“We will run and scream, you will dance with me, we’ll fulfill our dreams and we’ll be free. We will be who we are, and now heal our scars, and this will be far away.”

–Natasha.

 

Learn me right–2

So, as I said at the end of y last post, no one can make you stop caring except you.

But what do teens care about? Is it really video games, and dating, and drugs, and pop starts.

Well, most of us do care about at least three of those, and often too much. But I think we choose to zero in on those things for a few specific reasons.

  1. We don’t listen to our parents.

I’m serious. Just about every parent I know thinks kids should not spend an excessive amount of time playing with a little screen in their hand. My parents would have never let me date till I was a reasonable age, which is not 13 or 14, like a lot of kids start now. And parents also disapprove of a lot of music and the behaviors of many celebrities.

If teens listened to their parents on this, being obsessed with that stuff would at least be harder, or more in check, then just having free reign over their choices.

2. Nobody stops us.

A lot of us are just dying for someone to keep us more in line, but we often end up being the more strong willed person in our interactions with authority figures. (Thanks due in part to the many unnecessary law suits over disciplinary actions.)

3. Perhaps most importantly, we aren’t given a reason to look beyond what’s right in front of us.

It really saddens me to think that by the time I have kids of my own, things like books, and manual driven cars may be close to being extinct. I miss letter writing or even email being a thing. And I miss people taking notes on real note paper instead of on an app on their electronic device.

Technology has its uses, the problem is we have this immense amount of power when it comes to information, yet we are not taught how to use it responsibly.

For my money, the experience of going on a field trip yourself beats any instructional video you can find on the internet. There’s no movie you can watch that make you actually be there, be breathing n a different culture or place. And nothing you see on a screen exercises your imagination like reading a page of  a book.

It’s fine to use a computer for things that aren’t super important, and won’t shape your character in a large way; but when that becomes our main mode of interaction, we fail to see anything beyond that.

I’m sure this is nothing you haven’t heard before, but though we talk about it, what do we do about it?

May young people who have ideals do not reach for them simply because they don’t know how. If fact, our technology may be the most contact we can have with something bigger than our own lives, which is very sad, but all too often the case. This is nothing new, teens have wanted to be part of something greater than their world for ages. Whether it was getting out of a small town or getting out of the city, or getting out of their country; they wanted more.

It’s my firm belief that we were all meant to have more. Way back in Genesis, God placed man and woman in a garden, but He told them to fill the earth and subdue it.

Think about that for a moment. A garden is a wonderful place, I’d gladly live there, but I would not stay there, and neither would you. A garden is a place to rest in and nurture, but we all want to expand, and we all want to go out and conqueor challenges. We are meant to.

I’d like to quote two characters from that old-ish show Kim Possible.

Both of them have something to say to this subject. The first one, Shego, my personal favorite, really won me over when she replied to her boss’s condescending suggestion that she spend more time on the internet “No thank you, I have a life.”

I cheered.

The other, Kim herself, once was summing up her accomplishments, and on top of saving the world, she added “And looked Josh Mankey straight in the eye.”

I thin Kim has a point here, not every thing has to be big and fame worthy to be important to you. And Shego at least understands that internet subsistence will leave you starving for real things.

Actually one of Shego’s better traits is to do things herself in the most efficient way she can, versus Kim who likes jumping over stuff, even when she could just walk through a door.

They are both right in a way though, it’s good to challenge yourself, but it’s also good to keep things in proportion. Which is why when we get bogged down in the everyday, like myself and my friends, we can lose track of the grand purpose of our lives.

I’ve never heard of someone being given an average destiny. God tells all his people that they are priests, and Paul tells all Christians that we will be rulers. There is no such thing as an average destiny.

Survival is really a myth. Human beings are not meant to survive, as a song I’ve heard says, we’re made to thrive.

To bring this back to my original point about young people and youth groups; my theory is, young people don’t truly want to survive. (Braveheart anyone?) They want to feel like they have an important role in life. But you can’t look at what everyone else is doing and figure out your role. Personally, I’ve realized I don’t want what everyone else has, I want, as Shawn Hunter from Girl Meets World said “What I’m supposed to have.”

I don’t think I’m alone in this either. We really need to listen to what teens actually are trying to tell us. And help them before they get caught in the web of survival.

Learn me right–1.

Today I started thinking about the years I spent sitting in Youth Group feeling frustrated.

I’ve started going to a new youth group by the way, which appears to be much better.

But I always wanted to know why youth don’t seem to take their faith or the bible seriously.

The conversations I’ve had with other teens about passages in the bible that aren’t often talked about, well their ignorance or indifference is surprising.

But over the years I’ve sat in Church services that talked to grown men and women pretty much how the youth leaders talk to their youth, only the adult services focus more on sin.

as any Christian teen over here can tell you, Youth Groups tend to cover purity, identity, and not behind addicted to technology by being a good example to your friends.

And all those are great messages, which I have needed and still need. The problem was, those messages should be seasonal, or every so often, but they made up the bulk of my youth group teaching.

As a homeschooler, I always felt like it was to easy for me. No one talked about books much, no one watched the same movies as I did, often enough; and no one expected me to retain much of what I heard, or to do the ridiculously easy assignments.

People could come to our youth leaders with their problems, but they couldn’t seem to actually follow their example. Why?

I don’t have a magic answer, but let me tell you about a contrasting experience I had.

When I went on my missions trip, the other teens were the most well-behaved, respectful bunch of peers I’ve probably ever been around. Except other homeschoolers. (Sorry, but it’s true.) We all wanted similar things, we all took pains to be nice to each other and to serve the people of Cambodia well. A lot of them also ate bugs, but hey, that’s normal in Asia. (And most other places except America.)

Phones were still a bit of an issue, but they at least kept it to a minimal. what made this group so different?

Well, the sad thing is, it didn’t stay that way entirely. Once we all go back, all of us hit some heavy obstacles in our everyday lives. Some of us floundered, others kept right on swimming. I admire one member of the group in particular for continuing to be of service to the people around them. I myself had to deal with a lot even the very day I came home.

I’ve never been common, and I don’t think anyone else would exactly fit the societal mode either, so what caused some of us to lose our grip?

My theory is it’s the same thing that plagues most other young people, here and in every place where kids have the opportunity to d more than survive.

You see, there’s a principle of life. Your situation is not what matters, it’s your outlook.

The fact is, no matter how hard our life is, we choose whether we live just for survival or not.

I have known plenty of people who are just trying to get through every day, whether its’ doing their school, their work, or possibly actually trying to keep food on their plate.

And like or not, when you live like the day-to-day challenges are the worst thing in your life, you have adopted an attitude of survival.

It’s not a good way to live, because it’s selfish, and it makes your vision very narrow.

They wonder why teens don’t care about church, it’s probably because they have learned to survive without it.

Personally, if I hadn’t found a good church to go to, I’d be at the end of my rope right now. I need the encouragement of being around other people who believe, people who I can sing to God with and they wont’ think I’m crazy. Non-believers take that kind of freedom for granted, I think. But it’s harder to find than it seems.

They say that the church is not relevent. That may true of some churches. But the ones I have gone to are usually quite relevant to some people. They feed the homeless, provide free childcare in a safe environment for busy parents. provide na alternative to secular culture; and give Christians a place to feel they are understood.

The church is much more than a safe haven of course, but the one problem is, very few teenagers appreciate having a safe haven unless they are in big trouble.

The teens I’ve known who came to church consistently were the ones with the most unstable lives, often enough. Sometimes they were more committed. Sometimes they were pastor’s kids and took more of an interest because of that. But I never heard any one of them say they came to church because it was a challenge, or because they felt it was dangerous.

That is, in my opinion, a huge percent of the problem.

we’ve taught kids that they can be anything, and prepared them for an adventure when they are young, but when they are teens, we start saying “Only a few more years of school.” There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, in other words. I don’t blame anyone for hating public school as I can’t imagine going to it myself, but church is treated the same way.

And I know you may not go to church and so may not care, but trust me, this is affecting you too. What do you get when a whole generation starts living just to survive. I almost prefer the past generations who lived for fun or to make a wealthy lifestyle, kids have grown up hearing that is not the most important thing, but they have no heard what is.

Or maybe they just don’t believe it anymore.

I am not letting teens off the hook. No one can make you stop caring except you.

But I’ll have to continue this in part two. Until then–Natasha.

Strange Magic

Since I just recently re-watched this movie, I thought it’d be a good chance to do a review on it, especially since there are only two main positions on it.

People either love this movie or hate it, very few are indifferent.

A lot of folks think this movie was George Lucas’ big joke at both our own and fairytales’ expense. The ending scene may well leave all the audience turning to their friends and asking “What the heck did I just watch?”

The movie seems so obviously bad that it’s baffling how many people left positive reviews for it on Amazon. Why?

Well, it may surprise you that after stating all that, I actually like this movie. You’ve probably never heard of it. I never had until a chance line in a review of a different movie, and the clips that started showing up on YouTube’s homepage.

I will not deny it is the weirdest movie I have ever seen all the way through. It beats out “Willy Wonka and the Cholate Factory.” It is not weird in the way that I’d say was wrong. It has no questionable scenes, no creepy stuff, no inappropriateness, beyond what will go over kids’ heads and is hardly even a thing to adults. It’s still arguable that its even inappropriate because I think circumstance counts for a lot.

So, that said, what is this movies big flaw that baffles its audience?

It’s really hard to pinpoint. The weirdest is scattered all over the place, but it mainly is in the awkwardness.

Maryanne, our main character, is socially awkward. I find it quite believable and in some ways too familiar for comfort; but that is the point. Maryanne is very human, despite being a fairy, and often doesn’t know how to handle herself unless it’s at the end of a sword. She is constantly shocking her father and sister with how rude or indifferent to people’s opinion she can be.

That said, Maryanne never does anything that can be considered truly wrong in the course of the film. she is painfully honest, fiercely loyal, and her chief flaw is being merciless to her ex, Rolland. Though he really leaves her no choice, and she never hurts him beyond what the situation calls for.

What makes up the rest of the awkwardness in this movie is the use of the love potion. It will make any two creatures fall in love with each other, though it seems only to work if they are of the opposite sex. It also only works on the one it’s dusted onto, so it can lead to one-sided, over-the-top obsession. An imp scatters the potion all over random creatures, leading to some very repulsive matches. It makes your stomach turn, and Maryanne’s as well.

But I can’t call that a flaw in the plot itself because the whole idea is supposed to be love shouldn’t be forced. We are supposed to be disgusted with how the misuse of this potion can ruin people. Maryanne’s sister spends a large portion of the movie in love with someone she’d normally be terrified of. Bog, the king of the Dark Forest, used the potion at one time, to no affect, and later realizes how wrong it was of him to do so.

Definitely the best thing this movie has going for it is Maryanne and Bog. Maryanne proves able to be very un-judgmental when she learns what Bog did in the past and why he hates love, she even sees herself in that and sympathizes. Bog also teaches her how to see the Dark Forest as a place that is more challenging than her own, and not actually evil, just different.

That is the powerful thing in the jumbled world of this movie. Because the audience perceives everything how Maryanne does, we see the forest as scary, evil, ugly, and hostile. But when she learns to see the beauty in it, we do too. Also we learn that sometimes ugly things are still amazingly complex. Like a centipede. Plus, some things will only grow in the Dark Forest, or on the line between it and the Lighter one, because some species need it cool and damp. This is stuff we have to remember as we watch, because everything in the dark forest looks the way it does because that makes it blend in with its surroundings. The creatures are ugly because they have to hide in the uglier places.

While I don’t think embracing ugliness is wise, it is wise to realize that different places look different for a reason.

There’s no racism message in this film, it’s more “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

But the best massage is that true love prevails. Maryanne goes from being a person who goes by appearances to being a person who doesn’t care about them. This has its drawbacks, as she is rude at times, and also impulsive; but it makes her a perfect match for Bog who is tired of being simpered to and having everyone afraid of him. Bog on the other hand rapidly goes from being bitter and somewhat evil to being heroic because he’s finally met someone who understands him.

The message is not that it’s okay to be evil, but that love can change you. Also, that love will accept you how you are. None of our characters are perfect. But only Rolland, the guy who thinks he is perfect, is the one who never changes. Everyone else grows and learns from their mistakes. But they also all learn that perfect or not, they can be loved. just for who they are. It’s a surprisingly sweet message in a very weird package.

So what’s the verdict?

I like this movie because only a move this weird could make you get past weirdness and love it anyway. In a sense, if you like the movie, you’ve learned what it was trying to teach you.

But…

If you can’t stand singing, especially if the songs are all unoriginal popular songs, most of them from the seventies, then this is not your movie.

All the songs fit the story, but one or two are completely unnecessary, and only one or two feel entirely natural in the movie.

And if the awkwardness of the dialogue is going to turn you off, than be warned, it is awkward most of the time.

The voice acting is sometimes surprisingly moving, but many times the characters make it weird, and to some people it will feel flat.

Also, the movie can grow on you, but it can also shrink.

Don’t watch it with anyone who hates musicals. Their scorn will  absolutely ruin it for you. Unless you are able to completely block it out.

But if you can get past all that and dig deep you’ll find that with all its flaws there’s something very charming about this film. Which seems to be the whole point. And for the rest, blame George Lucas’ weird imagination and not me. Or the movie itself.

Until next time–Natasha.

P. S. ( I hope I didn’t lose respect from anyone for liking this. You have to laugh at yourself, ladies and gentlemen.)

Important or unimportant?

Continuing from my previous post about teens and fame and correction…

What does this pressure towards fame have to do with the correction thing I mentioned? Because we teens feel so important, we don’t need correction. That’s the obvious answer, right?

Wrong. I’m inclined to think it’s because teen feel so unimportant.

At some point, either during high school or college, we wake up to the fact that not everyone can be the best, like we were all told back in kindergarten.

Actually, back in kindergarten I was told we can please God by helping others, and years later I still believe that. Go figure.

I’m not dissing the message exactly, but we all feel disillusioned at some point. If you never have, good for you.

The fact is, this disillusionment proves nothing. As a boy C. S. Lewis felt even more disillusioned than some of us have. He never expected to become famous or even to be greatly important at all, from what I gather from his writings. And he stayed immensely humble even after he became famous.

Whether you feel great or not has little to do with whether you will be great. But I do know that the surest way to not be great is to strive after it in all the superficial forms.

Which to most teens seem unattainable, and so they give up thinking they are important.

Many of us come from broken homes and other bad situations, it may seem like no one ever thought we were important.

Personally my problem had always been being told I’m exceptional, but not being encouraged to be. People think I’m already on the right track so they need to focus on the people who really need help.

But no matter how smart I am, it doesn’t make me exceptional. Like I mentioned before, several years ago I found out that God wants us to accept correction. For a long time, I’d only accept His. IF it was in the Bible, fine; but if it wasn’t, what did anyone else know?

As stupid as that seems, I was 13. I’m just glad I had something I considered the infallible period. But since then I’ve learned to listen to other people more, and the downside can be you start questioning your infallible source.

I’m still convinced the Bible is always right. But I’ve had my moments. And if you have no such rock to hold onto, you’re bound to drift.

Honestly, I think I wouldn’t be sane if not for the Bible and my faith. Someone like me, left to her own devices as I often have been, could go very wrong. But I also could go very right with the proper direction.

That’s what God has given me. I had to be willing to learn from Him though.

I want to be clear, neither with God nor with anyone else should fear be your only motive or your central motive to learn from them.

I didn’t learn jack squat from anyone I was afraid of. In fact, once I was afraid of them, that pretty much cut off whatever good they had done; maybe you’ve been there. If God was not my safe place, and if I had not found other people who were also a safe haven,  I could not learn from them. You probably will not learn from anyone you don’t trust.

Once trust in established, its’ your choice. You can misuse this new confidence you have to get away with stuff you never would have dared to do otherwise, or you can get wise and listen up.

Sometimes you need to shut up, and sometimes you need to speak, but what people older than you, or more experienced, will teach you is when and how to do either.

The more times you shut up or speak at the right moment, the more other people will start to think you’re wise. And when people think that, they’ll trust you. That’s the main thing about true greatness, people know they can count on you to do the right thing, and to advise them to do the right thing. In that sense, you can be great on social media just as much as on TV. If it works.

One more thing:

“The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps. A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident.” Proverbs 14:15-16.

Consider the sources in your life now. If all you hear is rage, and at surrounded by people who do not consider these steps they are taking, then find some new sources. It’s okay to know people like this, we all do, but do not listen to them. This goes for you TV and movie influences as well. It’s okay to know what they say, but if they do not encourage departure from evil, and they do encourage you to believe their every word without questioning, then don’t heed them.

Fox news has a motto “We report, you decide.” You may not think they live up to it, and I admit, they are not perfect, who is? But that’s at least the right kind of thinking. You need to think for yourself.

But don’t be self-confident if you’re only thinking through your emotions. Wise people know not to act when they’re in a rage. Trust me, it always backfires.

But then again, feel free to question what I’m saying. I would not be a hypocrite. You can take my advise or leave it. But I will say, I need to take it myself.

So, hen you’re done with this post, take a minute to think about what I said. Maybe you disagree, maybe not. I don’t mind more imput.

Until next time–Natasha.