Getting Connected.

I recently told you all about learning ASL, okay time to confess:

I have been watching ASL videos almost nonstop the past three weeks. I’m talking about every single day.

And those of you ho have tried to learn a new language know, it can make your head ache.

But when you do it that much, you will either have so much in your head it can’t compute, or if you’re like me and already are partially familiar with ASL, you will start thinking, breathing, even dreaming in  sign language.

There will be moments when instead of spoken words coming first, sings will come to your mind.

You won’t be able to sing without using motions.

yeah, someone out there knows what I mean.

Or, in my other language of study, Spanish. Sometimes I voice things in Spanish. I do have to think about it and the grammar.

Probably everyone knows about the effects of having a second or third language. One thing I’m particularly proud of is being able to sign while speaking Spanish. Or even another language. So long as I thoroughly know what the other words mean, I can sign it too.

But actually that’s not so difficult. Other Signers have talked about being able to speak two languages at once. The hard part is singing and talking, not really what language you’re talking in.

I know talking about this isn’t my typical subject matter, but it is something I’m interested in, and I think other folks are interested too.

Actually there’s  a growing interest in deaf culture. A lot of young people ware interested in it.

I’m fortunate to have discovered some good YouTube channels and  a Deaf Center not too far from where I live, but for years I had neither of these. (One of the Channels has only been around for a couple year to begin with, I started learning before then.)

Deaf people no longer consider their lack of hearing to be a disability, but most hearing people do. And many even treat deaf people like they’re stupid. Or make fun of sign language.

Even I have heard the jokes about knowing sign language…followed by getting the finger. I mean, seriously?

What’s worse is that I found out to be an interpreter you need five years of training at least, and that is for legal or medical signing.

I can’t sign legal or medical terms extensively, I don’t know how I would learn that unless I got involved with some program for it. It’s not everyday speech for the most part. (I mean, deaf people talk about that stuff of course, but they wouldn’t to someone they didn’t know well anyway, most people don’t do that.)

I am more interested in interpreting at a Church, or some other organization that would be less formal and involve more friendly interaction. But when I was assessed, I was assessed only on  News/political and medical categories. (Plus speed and accuracy, which I did poorly.) Naturally I hadn’t studied either of those much.

As important as those things are, there’s everyday situations that I would probably learn to handle a lot more quickly and would come up a lot more often. What I’m not sure of is if interpreters are used for that.

So you see, I know very little myself about the culture.

But since I’ve been studying it more, I’m convinced the gap does need to be bridged.

A lot of the Deaf are convinced that the Hearing community can’t understand them, and that overall it doesn’t want too. In my experience that’s not always the case, but I have limited experience.

A person like me, who has no deaf family and has not been to school and studied ASL there, and who is still interested, is rare. There are not many who just want to learn without having any personal contact with  the deaf world.

I’m unique in that way.

For me it started with the language and then eventually I started being more interested in the speakers of the language.

Anyway, here’s the thing about the cultural difference:

What I hate is when people assume I can’t possibly understand them because I was raised differently. It always makes me determined to understand.

The way I see it, I don’t know what it’s like to be deaf, or blind, or even Hispanic. It’s true, that’s not my culture.

And they don’t know what it’s like to be me, in my culture. No one knows what’s it’s like to be me, except me.

So it is silly to say that having the ability to hear or not hear puts any more of a barrier between people than just having different lives and backgrounds always does.

What I feel, only I know. I and God. What they feel, only they know.

My point is that we’re all human, I happen to believe that humans beings can understand each other as much as they wish to. They just don’t usually wish to. And that goes for any relationship under any circumstances.

If anything, being bilingual will help you appreciate someone’s choice to try to communicate with you at all, instead of being resigned to awkward silence.

I have a feeling we all have had that experience  too many times for comfort.

I would rather not be put in a box. I would rather not have anyone assume I feel one way because I’m hearing; because I’m white; because I’m middle class (barely’) because I’m young; because I’m a Millennial; because I’m a Christian; because I’m a conservative; because I’m from a two-parent home; because I’m homeschooled.

All these things shape who I am. Only one of them defines it. (You can guess which.)

No one should assume I think a certain way or feel a certain way until they know me beyond the labels. No one should put me in a box.

And that goes for deaf, blind, special needs, and any other thing you can think of.

It’s not what category I’m in but how I act and believe that will make me what I am.

And that transcends any disability and any difference that’s only on the surface.

So, that waxed very poetical towards the end, but I think I made my point. Until next time–Natasha.

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Awkward grace.

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For King and Country.

I try to stay away from a lot of political stuff on this blog. I don’t want to become centered on that.

But I have some thoughts on what’s been going on recently in America. What with this kneeling business and all. And other stuff.

If you live in a different country you may not have heard about the sports players kneeling for the national Anthem as a protest against Racism.

I don’t know if the Constitution forbids that, I don’t remember anything about that when I read it, so I can’t exactly say what they did was unconstitutional.

And I also wouldn’t say disloyalty to your Government is always a bad thing.

Hold on a minute, let me explain:

I would not call the German’s who tried to help the Jews or bend the rules slightly for honest people wrong for not following the system.

I would  not call the Chinese who resist the Communist Revolution wrong.

I would not call it wrong to refuse to lie, kill, steal, or otherwise sin even if your Government told you to.

I would call that the Appeal to Authority thought fallacy, and it it not only stupid, but dangerous. (As all stupidity is after a point.)

I think you are never wrong to do the right thing, as Mark Twain said.

With that in mind, why do I think this taking a knee stuff is not right?

I will admit that the players themselves are probably thinking of it as a good thing and not intentionally trying to be disloyal to the country; or, if they are, they are not aware of why it should be otherwise.

If that sounds condescending, then I’m sorry. Because the only alternative is to think they are intentionally giving the finger to every person in this country who respects it.

I don’t think even that absolute patriotism is an admirable thing. It leads to blindness usually.

Also, I will confess that I’ve seldom ever felt really proud to be an American. I love the ideals this country was built on, but I am only ashamed of the ideals it is turning towards now.

So, I can understand why these players may be having difficulty in feeling kinship with their country.

But I am appalled at how many News Channels and talk shows are lauding this kind of response.

I don’t like the knee bending because I find it immature and insolent at the same time.

It may be kind of weird to pledge allegiance to a flag, or to show honor to a piece of cloth. But the flag is a symbol. Like a crucifix. People shouldn’t go around pledging their hearts to a little wooden figurine, but there is sometimes an inspiring power in physical representations of invisible truths.

The pledge of allegiance equates the flag with the Republic “for which it stands.”

If you diss the flag, you are not dissing racism, you are dissing the Republic.

The flag stands for the American way. Which has nothing, and I repeat nothing, to do with Racism. One way or the other. You won’t find Racism in the Constitution. Or the Declaration of Independence. Or Common Sense. Or the Federalist papers. (That I know of.)

Further more, the Bill of Rights can be amended, so even if Racism had originally been a part of our Constitutional principles, it has long been removed.

I’d like to ask all of those players if they have read the Constitution.

But one might make the point that it doesn’t matter what the Documents say, so long as the Country as a whole is still Racist.

Tell that to Fredrick Douglass; he quoted the Declaration, he claimed his constitutional rights.

But still another question I have is how dissing the flag is supposed to do anything about racism?

What are you protesting really? Racism or America?

Whew! I am getting worked up.

But from a rational standpoint, I still don’t see how it helps their cause.

I do note that most of if not all of these players seemed to be African American.

If they really feel so concerned about racism–these poor, discriminated against professional National Foot Ball league players… of whom at least half are African American–then why waste time making people angry over the flag? Why not form a group and start changing things where Racism actually is? Because it’s not in the NFL.

National heroes like them cold have a lot of influence around inter city gang members, and the underprivileged kid in the ghettos, where Racism take thousands of lives, probably yearly.

What makes me really angry is that these players, and the people supporting them, aren’t going by facts, realities, or statistics. They aren’t going to the places where this stuff actually happens and finding out the real reality. They aren’t interviewing anyone with other viewpoints than what makes theirs sound more real.

Have any of them read the books I have read that actually deal with racism and black lives being at risk? Have they watched documentations? Have they heard stories other than cover stories (which are usually tweaked,) have they talked to African American’s who aren’t democrats to see if they all feel discriminated against too?

No.

Where are the people protesting that Ben Carson should have won to keep up the trend of black presidents?

Well, Ben Carson is a conservative. He doesn’t feel discriminated against.

That is what it boils down to. None of this is based in reality. The News Network is not reality.

What’s really fake is the idea that bending a knee to the flag can do anything except incite anger. Does it inspire anything but more resentment and more hatred in people’s hearts? On both sides of the debate.

I can’t tell these player what to do mainly because I can’t speak to them directly at all. I can’t tell anyone who approved them what to do either.

I don’t think the liberal media is going to read this post. And if they did, they wouldn’t listen.

That being said, I do not expect to change the minds of the people who are determined to think this is okay.

What I do hope is that if someone is not bent on one perspective or the other, they’ll consider mine.

I won’t say the Conservatives are handling this in the best way either.

To me it’s not about the party, it’s about the principle. I believe in respect and honor, and compassion, and mercy, and justice.

That’s why I don’t condone ignoring all of those things in order to show the world that as far as you’re concerned, you’re country can go to pot.

But I run the risk of overstating my point, so I’ll stop here. Until next time–Natasha.

 

Wish Fulfillment.

I’ve been rereading “Pride and Prejudice” for the umpteenth time.

I am not one of those Austen-land level fans (though I’d totally spend a week at an English manor wearing Empire Waist dresses and having tea.) But I have to appreciate the brilliance behind that book as much as the next person.

Jane Austen loves the Cinderella story. Poor girl attracts rich man with her charms of sense and character, and they eventually live happily ever after.

Even if a lot of the ending does seem like wish fulfillment, it’s the best kind of wish fulfillment. We all know how it should end, and in books if no where else, endings ought to be what should have happened, at least 90% of the time.

I had no problem with wish fulfillment endings before I started watching movie reviews on YouTube. Then I was introduced to how critical my generation tends to be.

And the one who aren’t critical seem to blindly like whatever movie panders to them, be it good or bad.

I would not be the one to say we should all just drop our differences and get along because sometimes there are legitimate points on both ends of the spectrum.

Too much criticism renders anyone, but especially a youth, cynical.

No criticism at all renders anyone gullible and empty headed about art.

Wish fulfillment is one of the main things that gets complained about.

“Oh that was convenient.” “She is such a Mary Sue.” “This ending makes no sense at all.”

My problem more often is that I feel that the movie provides its happy ending just to avoid making people angry, and doesn’t bother to work it out so that it’s convincing.

Heck, all the difference between a good ending and a bad one can be made with just the actors. In book form that’s a little harder to pull off.

But my question is what is so wrong with wish fulfillment anyway?

Don’t we all want to get what we wish for? Isn’t that how we define a wish?

On what planet then do we complain about getting what we wanted?

On Planet Earth of course.

I guess people only complain when the fulfillment was what someone else wished for, not them.

I can’t argue with that myself. I certainly prefer endings I wanted, but there have been times when a different ending works out well and I have to admit that.

But in life, many of us just want to get what we want.

Though to be honest, I wonder if most young people know what they want now. The ones I know don’t seem to have more than a vague idea. I know I only have bits and pieces. Even older folks don’t seem to have a clue what they want.

If you went up to ten different people and asked them “What do you want? I mean really want? More than anything else in the world?” Most of them would give you either a stupid answer that they clearly didn’t think through, or possibly a blank look and a shrug.

For example. If you were to say the next iPhone, that would be a stupid answer. You want other things more than that, even if you don’t know it.

You would be amazed at how few people know what they really believe, but even fewer know what they want.

There are some tried and true answers to the question. All of us want love, in some form or other. We all want meaning. We all want to be important to someone.

Notice that those three elements primarily make up Happy Endings.

Then there are our more specific dreams.

Lot’s of young people have dreams now, very diverse dreams. Many of them even have the drive to fulfill those dreams. Oddly enough, no one is calling this Wish Fulfillment.

Even though we all know from Cinderella that a dream is a wish your heart makes.

I was annoyed by the song after a certain point, but I think she’s right about that.

It really is isn’t it? Your heart has a wish to do something, that becomes your dream.

For many of us it’s been a long time since we had a dream.

We find a place in life and in line that we can make work, and it suits us to a degree, and it’s fairly safe because we know  a lot about it, and that’s where we decide to stay.

For some of us our comfort can even be in pushing ourselves to new degrees of excellence, provided it’s excellence in an area we feel we have a shot in.

But Pride and Prejudice might show us this, that it’s only when we find our perceptions turned upside down and inside out that we begin to finally see our way clear to what we should be.

Maybe it’s when we’re cornered and have to face up to our own flaws that we start to find a way to push past them.

I had such an experience recently, more then one as it so happens. I have more coming I am positive.

If I might wax philosophical, I think that Happy Endings are what we prefer because we are meant to have them.

I think that we have to work towards them, as Sabrina Carpenter sings in “The Middle of Starting Over.”

I think also that they come to us.

In every human life I believe there is an intertwining of the results of our own choices, and the events caused by a higher power.

The Bible says we partner with God. I’d have to say the evidence points that way.

Wish Fulfillment is not a bad thing when it is born out of someone becoming the kind of person who wishes for the right things, and a belief that righteousness is, in the end, rewarded.

Jane Austen’s books would all be examples of such a blending of ideas.

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

Breaking it down.

“[M]an has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” or “false,” but as “academic” or “practical,” “outworn” or “contemporary,” “conventional” or “ruthless.” Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don’t waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong or stark or courageous—that it is the philosophy of the future. That’s the sort of thing he cares about.”
― C.S. LewisThe Screwtape Letters

If you haven’t read this book, read it. It is devilishly insightful. (Ha ha.)

I thought I’d follow up on my Your God will be My God post with a post delving a bit more into the why behind the matter.

It’s true that many of the youth of today have no real idea of what it means to believe in something.

But it might be less obvious why that is.

Everyone has their own theory. But the funny thing is, even one person has so many different causes for it that you’ll here the same man blame the government, the school systems, the church, the parents, and the youths themselves, all in the course of one or two conversations on the subject.

So ladies and gents, I am here today to simplify this mess as best as I can. I believe you can narrow every single problem down to three basic causes.

But first let me define what problems I mean a bit more:

I am referring to the moral ambiguity or just plain confusion of the younger generations.

I am referring to the spinelessness of the older generations in general to stand against this tide.

I am referring to the blind adherence to the principals of society that many people exhibit.

I am referring to the unbelievable corruption of the authorities of said society.

There now, I hop that’s enough to intrigue everyone.

First of all, as Lewis points out in the above, youth now (and then when he wrote it) hear scores of different worldviews presented to them. Often the worldviews are blended into each other so that they are barely distinguishable. Every one declares their personal worldview to be true. The youth is often not given any measuring stick to go by, and so remains confused and unable to stick to any one thing.

But what has changed in the past sixty years is that now, many people will not even try to compel the youth to believe in what they themselves believe in. Instead they will say “whatever works for you.”

This philosophy is fed to the youth from every imaginable source, including their parents and all too often the church, so if they meet someone who thinks that’s a load of crap, they think that person is the odd one out, never realizing that in terms of history, they are the oddballs. (Every homeschooler’s experience.)

But that’s where the second problem comes in. The older generations may not even totally believe that philosophy, but they are afraid to go against it because a lot of major power sources in the world are busy promoting this idea. Unfortunately, often the courageous men or women who dare to oppose are shut down by said sources, sometimes they are shut down by their own friends or fellow workers.

This explains why people blindly go along with this stuff. And why the most corrupt individuals are the ones who rise to power in this sick system.

But I can break it down more than that.

This is nothing new. The root cause of all this is the same thing: Sin.

Sin comes in three parts. There’s the sin of the individual, the sin of the world at large, and the sin of the devil. And I mean what he causes specifically.

It might sound nuts to blame the devil, but if you can’t accept that, then think of it as the reason why sin keeps getting worse. Something is constantly causing new ways for people to be corrupt, call it what you will, you can’t deny that things get worse over time.

The sin of the individual in this case is that every human being is selfish, and every human being tends to think more of themselves then they should. IT is all too easy for people to be lazy about what they believe. Pluralism is not popular because it is wise, peaceful, or inducing to happiness; it’s popular because it’s convenient and easy. A get out of jail-free card.

The sin of the world is that as a whole, people tend to act in the worst ways. Peer pressure, mob mentality, you know the drill. Sometimes that’s not the case, but whenever a lot of people get upset, sooner or later some of them will let their emotions get the better of reason.

And that stems back to individual sin.

And then all you need is some misguided or misguiding leader to step up and you get a whole movement going which could be pure idiocy. Often it turns to pure evil. (Holocausts, the reign of terror, the after effects of the Civil War and Civil Rights movement.)

Messed up people create messed up societies which choose messed up leaders, and so the cycle goes till a righteous generation chooses to end it.

But this generation is being robbed of the ability to even figure out what righteousness is.

The thing is, Pluralism is spoken of like its a fact. But it’s a belief. By its own philosophy, it has no more credit than any other morality.

But it keeps its followers blind to its own contradictions. They stay that way because of sin.

But there is hope.

One thing pluralism cannot change is that some people do instinctively know that right and wrong are real. And these people may yet see through the deception.

But it would help if more of us could help them see that the deception exists.

Not wanting our beliefs challenged is an old human flaw, if it even is a flaw. (I think it’s really just a twisted version of a very healthy wish for stability.) But we need them to be.

And by the way, there is a cure for the sin problem. It’s Jesus.

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

Your God will be my God.

You know what the most important question anyone can ask you is? What do you believe?

I think we undervalue this question now. Everyone has an opinion, but no one has to be affected by it anymore. Our opinions are just floating around on the breeze.

Funnily enough, that used to be how we’d define not having any beliefs.

I feel like if one of the heroes of even two centuries ago (or even one) was to come back alive and see how we think now, they wold be incredulous.

They would be disgusted with out lack of backbone.

Now that is not everyone, I understand; but here’s the thing, this pluralism has become like the flu, it sneaks up on you and breaks in new ways that aren’t always recognizable as what it is.

I would venture to say that a lot of young people and plenty of older ones are believing in pluralism without even being aware of it.

Here’s why I think this:

I’ve complained before of how young people will just shrug when it comes to moral issues. You know the drill, if it gets too difficult for them, they just say “Well everyone’s entitled to their opinion.” They say it automatically without thinking about it. And they will defend that position up until they or you are too frustrated to keep talking, but they will never stop to think they might be defending something that has no basis in reality.

I don’t blame them for the nonsense that they are taught, I blame them for being unwilling to question it. Not that that’s anything new. People have always been that way and it is just more obvious now than it used to be.

The thing is, I hear this from christian youth as often as non-christian. I am always surprised that they can shrug off the problems with certain movies and music and lifestyles as being “that person’s choice” or “what they believe.”

Then it hit me: The thing I have never considered is that the youth of today think that Christianity is their religion because they personally believe it. Not because it is superior to any other in of itself.

I really think this is it, and with other religions than Christianity too.

Nowadays it is almost nationally accepted that people believe what works for them, because it works for them, and not because it is fact.

Now you can disagree about facts all day long, and someone is sure to be nearer the truth than the other, but neither may have it totally correct. That is a legitimate debate and one that can be given more or less credit based on observation.

But if observation itself is reduced to a matter of personal taste, then what are we left with? Nothing but flimsy opinions that have no real foundation.

It is actually inconceivable to many youth that there could be One Right Belief. And if you say you think there is, they will get frustrated at you from being so stubbornly opinionated.

If it’s true that people believe what suits them best, why do we have martyrs? Why do we have zealots and radicals?

Do you think radical Islam is the religion that best suits the needs of most of the people who believe it? Or is it just what their taught and never allowed to question? They may very well fervently believe it. But that doesn’t make it true.

Pluralism is destroying a lot of people’s souls, they believe it, does it follow that it’s good for them?

Has it been good for the country overall? Or any country that’s fallen into it?

The answer, if you look at statistics and not at the Media, is no. A resounding no.

I would venture to say this country has never been worse off than it is now.

The people in this country have no respect for it anymore. People on both the left and right end of the spectrum.

I can’t say I exactly blame all of them. Our country has been divided so long it’s no longer debatable. (It’s about the only thing both sides agree upon.) The truth is, when there are no absolute values, then there can be no healthy country. There is no way to keep people in order who can’t tell right from wrong. even criminals used to know they were criminals. Now they will defend thier actions as not wrong but just freedom of expression. OR just them not bieng able to control themselves becuase of how messed up they are.

And sadly, even in the Church, many people don’t actually believe in Christianity in full.

The very basis of Christianity is that there is one God. He decides what’s right and wrong. Either we are for him, or we are against him. There is no gray area. There is no middle ground. There is no thin line between Him and the Evil One. No, the line is a huge chasm. The difference is whether you fall into it or not.

People can reject this view. But if they say they believe it, they better realize that means the cannot believe anything else. If something contradicts the Bible, it’s out.

I say this because it is something millennials really don’t understand about faith. Faith involves loyalty to one person or one group of people. It means their enemy is your enemy, their friend is your friend.

Ruth understood this. She knew that if she went with Naomi it meant she could no longer worship a pagan god. “Your people will be my people, your God will be my God, where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.” She told her.

One last thing: I do not say that every young christian who has pluralism mixed up with their faith is damned. I think many of them are sincere and godly in other ways and don’t realize the contradiction in their theology. I would even say their own souls may not be in danger.

But the problem is, other peoples’ are. Everyone’s soul is in danger when it has no rock to hold onto.

So here’s to the faithful ones who still are holding on to absolute truth. You’re not alone.

–Natasha.

 

 

 

 

How to recognize a weasel–part two.

This is not really a continuation of my Beauty and the Beast review, it’s more a commentary on films in general.

I said when I reviewed The Hunger Games that the movie was trying to make you think it was good, but it really had no strong message.

It turns out there’s a lot of that going around. I just saw La La Land and it was the same thing. It seemed good because it was trying to be like an old fashioned romance, but it totally lacked morals. I’m actually surprised that many good people thought it was great.

I get why, I wanted to like it. But I kept waiting for a moment where the characters did something I could really admire, but they didn’t.

I think my Grandmother thinks I’m just predisposed to dislike every movie that recently (in the last five years) came out.

But I liked “Hidden Figures” and “The Intern.” And heck, I like “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I liked the new Cinderella movie.

I’m not impossible to please.

I am hard to please. I missed the memo when pleasing the more difficult audience suddenly became not what movie writers were supposed to go for.

Which is not to say I should just get to say any movie is bad because I personally didn’t like it. I didn’t like Hacksaw Ridge over much, but it’s not a bad movie. Some things are just taste.

But some aren’t. Like caring what a movie is actually trying to say. And if it’s not trying to say anything, then it’s smoke and mirrors, because no one can come up with a decent creation if they don’t have a goal in mind.

My sister is a painter and drawer, she never paints a picture of nothing in particular. I know some artists do to express freedom, but even they are trying to express something. I write, I never write a story or  post about nothing. My other sibling crafts, she never makes nothing in particular.

Whether you’re a good or bad artist, you can’t be an artist without a goal or a point in mind.

And a film without a real point is just trimmings and trappings over a bare framework.

But we’ve gotten really good at those trimmings.

We have realistic looking CGI to the point where most of us have seen more vibrant landscapes on TV than we have in real life.

We have actors who can be airbrushed to perfection.

We have locations to die for, almost.

We have surroud sound. We have cool scores. We have promotional ads!

What we don’t seem to have is stories. Everyone is talking about how unoriginal Hollywood is getting. I guess the directors figure if you can’t make up a new idea, you have to dress up an old one.

But lest we be too copycat-ish, we’ll throw out all the old morals the plot used to entail. Let’s have more sex, shooting, explosions, and dumb throwaway lines that will become t-shirts and memes and be forgotten a few years hence. That’s what people want to see.

Well, unfortunately, I’m starting to wonder if that is what people want to see.

I can still remember the feeling I used to get when I finished watching a really good movie. I felt braver, better, and like life was more beautiful because of that film’s ideas. I felt like I had a glimpse into something I wouldn’t normally see or think about. Every now and then I get that feeling again.

But not form these big hits that have recently come out. They just don’t do it for me. I could look every recent superhero film I’ve seen in the eyes and tell it “The Incredibles was still better than you.” And forget the romantic comedies.

Well, I digress.

I read in one book that since the Fall we’ve gotten really good at covering up our shame with fig leaves Whether they be ordinary fig leaves or designer fig leaves.

Or as Shakespeare put it “All that glitters is not gold.”

Shakespeare tells us that if we are “young in limb, in judgement old,” we will not stake our happiness on things that are shiny and seem valuable on the surface, but inside contain dead men’s bones. (Merchant of Venice.)

The fig leaves represent the way we try to cover up our shame. And our current shame as a culture is how little we understand right and wrong. A lot of us feel confused about a lot of things, so we cover it up by making movies and other things that sound good, and sound profound, but if we were to really examine them they would be as fragile as leaves and one yank would destroy the facade.

The words of Shakespeare warn us not to value things that are dead inside just because they satisfy our senses.

I look for life in a movie. Some movies are just too foolish, others are deliberate garbage, others are the result of poor writing.

We need to be able to tell, because if we can’t, we’ll admire all the wrong things. And you can’t admire garbage on a screen, and then appreciate gold in real life.

Let’s just say that anyone who takes fool’s gold for the real thing will never recognize actual gold when they see it. They don’t look the same when you’ve seen both.

And can I just point out that the people who are telling us it doesn’t matter and to just enjoy the garbage are usually the ones making it… don’t you think they have a slight agenda?

I’m basically giving you all permission to dislike popular films for good reasons. And to like good films with all the enthusiasm the youth are showing for the bad ones. That’s where the “young in limb” part comes in.

Wisdom and Passion are the two great helpers of life, and they have to be forged the right way.

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

Don’t quench it.

 I don’t want to sound like I’m tooting my own horn, but sometimes it’s not easy to publish these posts.

I firmly believe that fear should never stop you from saying what you believe, but it is still tempting to back off and not go there. If you get my drift.

Maybe I’ve mentioned this before, but the word belief is getting to be a misnomer these days. So often “I believe” turns out to really be “I think. I hope. I suspect. It might be true.

To believe something means to be past just thinking it, it means you’ve thought it out till you’re sure it’s true.

That doesn’t automatically make it actually true. But it does make it a lot harder to convince you otherwise.

I find, as an opinionated young person, that people rarely try to convince me I’m wrong, more often they just try to convince me I’m not the only one who’s right. Or that my rightness is no different than their opposing opinion, even if they’re opposites.

I can tell you this, our modern mindset of putting  stigma on absolute truth has made it harder to speak the truth boldly.

I’ve met so few people who even will, and those I have met often go too far in the other way and speak the truth without the grace to see how and when they should say it.

And often there’s a great disgust in the hearts of people who have strong beliefs, because they find people who don’t to be repulsive in their weak wills.

This is just what I have observed.

And I won’t say I don’t face that temptation too. I often think many don’t realize that those of us with strong faith and conviction have our own struggles. They think we enjoy being the way we are and that it gives us a kick to look down on the rest of the world.

But not all of us look down on others, and all of us struggle with the pride problem that conviction can present.

Pride really sneaks up on you. That’s part of the reason a lot of folks started backing down from their positions. They didn’t want to be too proud and judgmental and miss the heart of the whole thing, which is to love you fellow man. At least if you’re Christian.

Actually, the very heart of Christianity is to love God, totally and without rival. Loving people comes next.

I’m not asking you to feel sorry for people of conviction, Christian or no, most of us envy them.

But I notice that had not stopped anyone from telling me to back down a little whenever I get too close to home.

I probably have the tenancy to overdo it, I think most people like me do. But I strongly resist the idea that I should stop.

Here’s the thing; I may very well get carried away, but at least I get carried somewhere.

The Bible says people who don’t have strong conviction are like ships on the water, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. Doctrine can also mean ideology, philosophy, or mindset. It’s not just Christian doctrine.

People who have  strong beliefs will go somewhere. It could be the wrong place, but at least if you’re gong somewhere, you can also change course. A ship tossed on the waves has no course, it’s at the mercy of the storm. And storms aren’t known for being merciful.

I would rather go too far in boldness than not far enough.

It is true that no one may listen. But that doesn’t make it right to shut up. Check out the book of Jeremiah for that subject. The poor guy never seemed to have any luck with people hearing his prophecies. But he couldn’t’ stop, because the word of God was like a fire in his bones.

Jeremiah was young when he started prophesying. I bet he never had much of a normal life. He probably never got married or had children. He probably never really lived in peace. It was hard for him, but he had to keep speaking God’s word.

That’s the thing about the word of God. Once it’s in you, you can’t keep it to yourself. If you try, the same thing will happen to you that Jeremiah experienced.  It’s stifling.

The Bible says “Do not quench the Spirit of God.”

You don’t even have to be Christian for God to speak through you. Anyone who speaks the truth is, in essence, speaking for God. Which is why the evil in the world hates them; it hates those who claim to have the answer even more.

If I ever get more well known than I am now, I’m pretty sure I’ll be hated, mocked, slandered; and if I wasn’t, I would take that as a bad sign.

If the world loves you, then you probably are too much like it. And that’s never a good thing in my book.

There’s a little anecdote I want to share before I end this:

I just posted about Friendship, and how it’s been confused with homosexuality, to the detriment of us all.

What I didn’t share was how often I struggle with wondering it that’s right. It’s not from any real conviction that it is, it’s because I hear it constantly. Just like you all do, I’m sure.

And when you hear something more than seven times, you start to believe it. Unless you really put up a fight not to.

But just writing out what I actually believed in that post cleared my head. I felt more sure of myself.

You see, it’s stripping me of my identity to keep questioning something when I already know what’s true and what’s a lie. And I know that I know that I know.

It’s not just people who don’t express themselves who forget who they are, it’s mostly people who stand for nothing and so fall for everything.

You will never hear me say certain things are okay when I know they aren’t. And you will never hear me say some things are wrong when I know they aren’t.

Standing up for what you believe in is more than posting it on social media, or blogging it even, it’s being able to look someone in the face and say “No.”

And you will get in trouble for it, at least 5 out of 10 times, if not more often; but it’s worth it to have a clear conscience.

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

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.