Tech Crisis.

 

How about Wall-E?

You may have seen this Disney film from a few years back, I was just having a conversation with someone about it a few days ago. We were thinking about how technology is changing us. Not a new subject, I know, but have you noticed it’s one people seem constantly concerned about?

Well, at least they’re concerned, that’s a start.

I don’t think I’m at all misinterpreting the movie when I say it’s about how technology cripples us in the long run. It’s funny, when the movie fist came out, I wasn’t as aware of the Tech Crisis (I’m calling it that now) as I am today, but now that I’ve seen it firsthand, it’s all too clear. The human beings in that movie are all sitting around on their duffs, 24/7, watching their little holographic screens. Doing whatever the ship’s computer voice instructor tells them. They’re all so fat (no nice way to say it) they can’t even stand up by themselves. We’re shown later that it’s the time in space’s effect on their bones, they’ve lost a lot. ( I wonder if that’s actually symbolic of a loss of backbone, but I can’t say for sure on that.)

I’v heard that we’re a materialistic society, but the way I see, we’re more and more a people who are materialistic without the materials. I’ll show you.

Look at your phone right now, or your computer, or whatever. It’s probably small enough to be held in your hand. It weighs less than a pound. Now picture what’s inside it. A little micro-computer. Metal, chemicals, battery, and whatever else they make phone out of.

Believe it or not, that is all the physical material that many of us are obsessed with. The rest of it is all just images and ideas in our mind.

The actual material of on-screen transactions is very minimal. Nothing like the obsession with wealth that we used to term materialistic. That’s still a thing, but the other is far more common.

So, you see, we’re materialists without material.

And what’s more, even the mental material is often not really that. There’s plenty of indoctrination going on through TV, but the bulk of what we watch is completely useless to our minds, even as deception. The real deception is that we think it’s funny.

But this is not to come down on any particular genre or person. I think though that our concern needs to be followed up by action.

I can make myself pretty unpopular among the people around me when I actually have a problem with this kind of stuff, but if I allow that to change my mine, I have no backbone either.

Now, I freely admit, I use technology a lot. For this blog, I have to. And for typing anything, because I tried a typewriter, and I’m nowhere near accurate enough to make it worth the time and effort. (Plus you can only print one size and on font and that just doens’t work for me.) I do use smart ohones and tablets to look stuff up. I use dictionary.con instead of an actual dictionary often enough.

None of that is bad, and it’s not wha tI’m talking aobut.

I recognize that technology is helping us get soemthings done more effciently. And that using it to relax with isn’t a bad thing, in moderation.

But I think I overuse it too often. Binge watching stuff isn’t healthy. (Unless you have no other choice because you can’t keep it another day.)

Just to be positive for a moment, I’ll also say that without the internet I wouldn’t have found some of the books I love, been able to buy my favorite comic book, or found my favorite speakers. In all those ways, technology has been a blessing to me.

When I say I hate it, it’s not the items themselves, it’s the idea of it and what’s it’s turned us into.

I am an introvert, I won’t say I’ve never preferred being holed up, with YouTube, in a room by myself, to hanging around other people, but I rarely choose to do that. I have one simple reason:

I want to be the kind of person who prioritizes people over things.

Who actually tries to hang out with their family.

Who is available to their friends.

Sometimes technology is an aid to that, but I’ve found nine times out of ten that a good book works far better. Plus, it shows more of your priorities with what you read than with what you watch (other than watching stuff itself.)

It’s a bit cliche for the person at the other end of the screen to urge you to turn it off, but hey, it’s your call.

One more thing about Wall-E:

It’s a movie about learning how to be human.

Wall-E has overtime developed human feelings by watching their old movies and exploring their stuff. Their real stuff, I want to point out. He’s surrounded by materials that people used up until they went away and became reliant on their tech. The reason they did was because Earth got too messy to live on.

Wall-E, in true Blast form the Past style, falls in love with Eve, another robot. But Eve is more like a robot than he is, at first. Over the course of the film she starts doing more and more things that she wants to do, or are right to do, instead of just what she’s programmed to do. She develops a human personality as well.

You know how when someone seems checked out as a human being we’ll refer to it as auto-piliot? Well, the villain of the movie is Auto, the piloting system that has also developed it’s own consciousness, but a controlling, deceptive one. Intent on keeping power by keeping humanity stupid and dependent on himself. He doesn’t want to be turned off.

A great moment of the film is when the captain, after learning about Earth thanks to Wall-E, finally stands up to Auto and yells “I don’t want to do nothing! That’s all I’ve ever done is nothing!” He finally succeeds in turning Auto off and taking aback control of the ship.

They go back to Earth to take care of it, accepting their responsibility as people.

That’s the movie, in a nutshell. Rediscovering what it means to be human. Through a robot.

Ironic.

Until next time–Natasha.

Happy is as happy does.

I notice that I talk about problems a lot on this blog, and not a lot of solutions. I know I didn’t start off that way. I used to blog about mostly positive stuff.

And I notice more people read my blog since the change happened.

It’s a simple fact that negativity sells.

Not that that’s why I write about it, that’s just what’s on my mind a lot. But I do wonder if it’s quite healthy.

I think about how in past centuries, or even decades, there’s been plenty of hardship to go around, and there were people then who couldn’t say enough about it.

It’s not like venting, where after two or three times (or if you’re more mild than me, once,) you  can move on, get over it. Be cheerful again.

No, nay saying and foreboding is never satisfied. We’ve all met that cynical person, a lot of us live with one, you know the type, they can never stop talking about what’s wrong with people, the world, the country, etc.

And it’s a bit of a downer to say the least, but it’s even worse if you start thinking “I’ turning into that person.”

That’s the last thing I want.

You see, my siblings and I, we have a thing where if someone in a story morphs into a villain, or is defeated in a deeper way than just losing their live or health, we say they gave in to the darkness. They lost to it. Most often this means they turned evil, but it can just mean they gave up the fight.

And when this happens, we feel as if they died. More than we’d feel it if they really had. Death isn’t really just the end of life, it’s the end of vitality in life. IF that makes sense.

And we all have our personal battles with this type of loss. It is recoverable from, but it’s difficult if you’ve let yourself get to that point to even want to come back.

It’s like C. S. Lewis said, some people like happiness, and others, for some reason, don’t.

And the thing I notice is that cynics, they really don’t like feeling happy. They don’t trust it. If they feel glad for a day or two, or an hour, they always find something that will put them out of sorts again, and they go back to comfortable pessimism.

People who like happiness, on the other hand, may go through times where they emotionally can’t feel it, but they will push through that until they find it again. PR they’ll adjust until it’s not so hard. There is a downside to this, they may be more focused on happiness that on doing what’s right (ultimately compromising their own goal) but overall, I think they are more satisfied than the other type.

A person who likes happiness can forgive themselves quicker than someone who doesn’t, because they don’t want to feel down about something for too long. I notice that the ones who don’t like happiness tend to dwell on their own faults, and on rectifying them.

They will perhaps say that they don’t deserve happiness, but it really it  because they don’t trust it that they avoid it. Human beings really have no trouble accepting what they don’t deserve.

Which is fine, I think God made us that way so we could receive his gifts, no gift is given because it is deserved, then it would be a prize.

And Christians who don’t like happiness will always, always, treat salvation like it’s a prize instead of a gift. Trust me, if you’ve known any one of these folks, it’s part of the reason people don’t like Christians as a whole. Not the main reason, but part of it.

Like Peter Quill (Guardians of the Galaxy) says of the townspeople in Footloose, these are the kinds who have sticks up their rear ends. They can’t have fun.

I knew how to have fun once, I still have it every now and then, but I don’t have it often enough I think. It’s mor ein my nature to be happy, or at least ot want ot be and not ignore it, but often the people I’m surrounded by and the circumstances I’m in seem to prevent it.

Which isn’t right, I ought to rise above such things. But it is difficult.

Misery loves company.

I know that I’m more cynical than I used to be, it seems to happen with age, and with the knowledge of more and more problems that you will have to deal with as you get older. Like taxes; ageing; and voting; to name a few.

And the amount of things that just tick me off about this culture.

But all that is temporary after all, and happiness can’t really be built off those things.

It works like this, if it’s foolish to build your happiness upon something, like money, or fame, or even family and friends, then it it foolish to lose your happiness over that thing. Permanently. Grief is fine to feel for a time, but not the hill you want to die on, if you get my mixed metaphor.

As this song goes:

I will build my life upon your love, it is a firm foundation. And I will put my trust in You, oh Lord, and I will not be shaken.

Love is the only things worth building your life on, and with love, truth. Those things never change, and never will. They can’t be taken away by our culture, or the people around us, not unless you let them take it.

And he is a fool who lets that happen. (We all do it though, so we’re all fools together, but it’s more important who ceases to be a fool than who starts off as one.)

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

Growing cold.

I’ll be getting back to my Justice League stuff soon, but today I want to talka bout a verse that has intrigued me for a long time.

Maybe you’ve heard this “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many will grow cold.”

That verse is from Matthew  24:12

Just for context, that whole chapter is about end times.

Which is a big theme nowadays.

But what most of us who haven’t been in church a long time don’t realiz is that the Bible calls all time after the ascention of Christ the End Times, or The Last Days. We’ve had 2,017 years of the Last Days.

But a fun fact about God is that he says a thousand years is the same as a single day to him, so with that view of it, it’s been two days and a few seconds since Jesus left.

Witht hat perspective, Jesus could show up at any minute.

But this post is not about that, I;m merely setting the stage for my actual topic.

The reasib the context is important is because whenever the End Times are referenced in Scripture, they usually are getting progressively worse. For instance, it is said it will be like the days of Noah, then like the days of Lot. Lot’s days were worse than Noah’s.

What this means is that the cooling off of love that the above verse talks about is going to increase more and more as time goes. It won’t just stop and then plateau.

Whether or not you are a Bible fan, I think you’ll agree with me that there is a big loss of love going on in the world today. And that it has gone on for some time.

What I never really thought about before was the first half of that verse. “Because iniquity shall abound.”

In the Bible Iniquity is a word used to not just mean sin, but to mean sin that is like a disease, sin that spreads and infects everything around it. (My personal take on it, I don’t think that’s the official definition.)

There’s a lot of iniquity to go around now. Always has been since those words were first spoken.

But did you know that the love Jesus is referring to in that verse is the Unconditional Love that the Church is meant to show?

And by Church, I do not mean a gathering of believers. IT’s great when you can find that, but most often you’ll find that the actual church is only a percentage of the people in the building. The ones who are actually godly and care about living holy lives. That’s who I’m referring to.

So, in summary, the Love of these Christians will grow cold because of all the sin around.

Now for the shocker: I always thought this verse was a warning to those who took their faith too un-seriously. Now I think this verse is a warning to me.

That’s right, me. The person who’s been obsessed with her faith ever since she was a kid.

But lately, I notice I do have a problem with love.

You see, I find sin to be an annoying thing. Not that I expect perfection, but when I discover people are lax about the most basic principles of Christian Living, I get kind of…testy.

I’m just telling you all the truth here. I do have a vindictive personality.

I have high standards for myself, and while I do not hold others up to that level, I do expect more from them than they do from themselves.

What irritates me is that I like it when people expect a lot of me (within reason,) but the majority of folks do not.

How many of you have felt the same way? I know some of you have. You look around and wonder why everyone else has lost their minds, and you seem to be a lone sensible person in a sea of stupidity.

And to make matters worse, these others will constantly tell you that you’re just better than they are, but you shouldn’t expect them to be like that.

At this point, smoke usually starts coming out of my ears.

But even if I’m right to be angry and disgusted, I do face a danger here.

It’s true, many people are less moral than I am. It’s not pride, it’s fact. But that doesn’t mean I get to stop seeing hem as people.

That is the temptation. Once we feel someone is lower than us in some way, we cans tops seeing them as full human beings, who deserve love and compassion.

We’ve all done this, we warn someone about doing something dumb, they do it and come back crying, and we just shrug and say “I told you so.” And don’t help.

Because obviously the fact that we told them so means we don’t need to help them any further.

Well, maybe if people were like dogs, and lived only to do what their master wanted and occasionally get a bone or a toy in return, that would suffice.

But people are not dogs. And when we got he extra mile with them, sometimes it’s only then that they can understand what we were trying to say all along.

Jesus actually said “If someone compels you to go with him one mile, go with him two.”

We’ve all seen it in movies, a person forces another to help them, the other person eventually comes to care about them, and even when they no longer have to help, they decide to stick around anyway.

Life is really no different.

And the hard truth is that even if you go the extra mile, you may never make any lasting change in someone’s life…but they will change yours.

We still need to do it.

And though sin makes it easy to despise people, as I know only too well, it does not make it right. Sin never made anything right.

Christian or not, your life is going to be better if you learn how to show Unconditional Love. Love that can’t be driven off, duped, or disowned. It just is.

I have to go now and get ready for a driving lesson, until next time–Natasha.

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 Do-good principle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A strong mind and a soft heart.

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

And I agreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about a soft heart?

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

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

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

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

You put out what you get put in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time–Natasha.

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.

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.

It’s not what you do.

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

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

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

Okay, that was kind of a joke.

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

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

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

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

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

They say we’re not mature.

And a lot of us aren’t.

But, it’s not all our doing either.

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

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

It is crucial to your development to know yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who made a mockery of parents?

Beep be deep a deep– The Entertainment Industry.

With a lot of help from other sources of course.

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

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

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

What have we done?

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

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

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

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

But we all need to think, hard.

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

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

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

Remember that comic book I keep referencing?

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

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

For me, that is faith.

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

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

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

Lessons from a five year old.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s one other thing she taught me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time–Natasha.