Millions of flashing lights.

I wonder what people are doing when they find this blog. Surfing through internet stuff to kill time. Or perhaps checking their own blog and then seeing what’s new on WordPress. Not that I’m ungrateful or think that’s a bad thing, I just wonder how much of it we do.

People say we are over connected nowadays, we’ve all heard it. Most of us probably agree with the statement to a degree, just not as it affects us. I have heard statistics, but I’m not going to list any about the subject at hand. There are no statistics  that can measure how connected you feel with the people around you. Can we take a moment to acknowledge that, good.

The truth of the matter is, nothing you see in front of you can make a connection with your heart of hearts if all it is is flashing lights. Why don’t we ever ask ourselves just what the substance of a text, or a post, or a picture is? It’s flashing lights, it’s not the sound of a human voice, or the touch of human affection, or a real face in front of us. It’s just an image. It serves about the same purpose as a photograph or a letter used to, conveying part of the person, as a way to remember them and get a small taste of who they were when they couldn’t be with us. The more you knew them, the more you could get out of such reminders. Pictures are good I think, and it’s fine to take them even on a phone, but can they substitute for actually seeing the person?

Three things that don’t have value in a culture of technology:

  1. Privacy.
  2. Silence.
  3. Seriousness.

For the first thing: Moments of being alone with your thoughts. Time to yourself. This is not seen as a good thing, by you or by your friends who keep texting you all the time, or who constantly post new things for you to read. Wanting time alone can only mean you’re tired and cranky, not that you want to stay SANE.

Secondly, there is almost no silence. When we’re tired we turn on the TV or whatever our preferred form of tech is, ( if you don’t do this, then you have my apologies,) but I’ve found I’m more rested after just a little quiet time outdoors or in my room. If a stay at home mom is reading this, I know it’s hard to get a break; if a working person is reading this, I know that it can be just as hard to. Frankly, if you go to school it’s even harder because half your day is taken up without your consent. But there are still hours of time that most of us have that we fill with distaction form how tired we are, instead of rest.

Thirdly, When your day is crammed full of things that seem disconnected with each other, it’s hard to give full attention to anything. Again, if you go to school it is not your choice that subjects are seperated by the hour, but an hour is too long for some things, and far too short for others. I can spend hours writing, I get frusterated if I spend one hour trying to figure out a song on the keyboard. I have to take it in little bites.  Our minds look for connection and patterns, we need them to make sense of the world. The whole world is one interworking system, nothing is independent of everything else, yet nothing is the same. Both sameness and irregularity play havoc with our ability to reason and think and feel.

Yet entertainment is becoming increasingly both same and irregular. People who play the parts in the media industry now utter lines that come out of nowhere, and whose very randomness is supposed to be funny. I laugh sometimes, but unless it is very well done, such humor shows less, not more, cleverness. And plots are cliched. Based on what sells, not on a good message. I have to give Disney and Pixar credit for sometimes being an exception to this, but only sometimes. By and large there are no exceptions beyond the least popular movies and shows.

More than movies though, is our hopping from computers to phones to tablets to ipads to computers again, in a cycle of boredom.

Let me now quote a show called “Girl meets world”I heard this on one episode and liked it a lot.

“Not until we switch off our computers, put down our phones, and look into each others eyes, will we be able to touch each other’s hearts..there is no connection you can make with any screen that compares with the moment you understand only human beings have souls.”

Note the word understand. If you’ve read this far, I must have your interest on some level, so please, attend. I cannot possibly state enough the importance of knowing human beings have souls.

Personal story: A while back my sister and I decided to stop watching movies and youtube clips on the weekdays, we wanted to spend more time reading, and doing other stuff, and getting our studies done. At first it was hard and it still is in a way, (although I’m currently on break for a week,) but I noticed a change almost right away. I was happier, I was more interested in things. My brain was more receptive, I could enjoy reading more. I could go outside and really look at the world around me. I had more time to pursue interests, and more time to just rest without watching a screen, or to listen to music instead of watch music videos. I am more awake. That, versus yesterday, when we watched things for hours on end, and at the end of them I felt cranky with everyone, bad about myself, and confused about where I was in my personal life. I might have felt all that anyway, but it seemed so much worse than of late, and I couldn’t even think as clearly. To be honest, I’ve noticed the quality of what I’m watching plays a part, you feel clearer after good movies, and sutpider after stupid ones. It’s just the way it is.

I have found myself more paitent with people, and more at peace. Because in the absence of a screen, I have to use real substance to feed my imagination, not sicken it.

This is very long, so I’ll save the rest for a later post. I think we all have plenty to consider, myself included.

 

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Intermission.

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

Hey, everyone needs a break.

Until then–Natasha

Happy New Year’s resolution.

Another year, another chance to fufill my goals.

But I’m not into making New Year’s REsolutions. I think, like most people, that they are an optimistic waste of time.

The real problem with NEw Year’s resolutions isn’t what every one says, that being that we just can’t hold ourselves to them.

That is a problem. But the truth is, if you really try, you can keep a resolution.

I have. As I’ve shared before, I’ve gone cold turkey ont hings, and I haven’t gone back to them.

I’ve sucessfully taken a break from doing certaint hings and eating or drinking certain stuff.

It can be done.

Yay!

I think it’s a lame exuse to say Resolutions just can’t be kept. Improving yourself isn’t a bad idea.

But the problem I do see with this New Year’s thing is that it makes resolution a joke. OR at the very least a fun thing. Or, if not that, then a popular fad.

Which kills all power in the resolution.

Resolutions are never fun, they aren’t funny, they usually aren’t popular.

For example, I could resolve to go see every new superhero movie the day of its release. That’s not going to be that hard on a personal level, though financially it would be.

It’s not like that culturally unacceptable. No one’s going to call me a prude or anything if I do it.

But if I were to resolve never to watch television fora w hole year, I’m sure some people would call that overboard.

(Try it and see, it’d be an interesting experience.)

But making a resolution just because everyone else is doing it and it’s a tradition defeats the point.

One has to be  serious about what they resolve. There has to be a real desire to change, and a real will to stick it out. Trust me, when there’s not , yo won’t last the week.

And any Christian would tell you, the grace of God is what makes it possible.

One can resolve and stick to it on mere will power, but that’s not the best way. It’s better to resolve something out of passion. Hiving the correct motivation to.

Those changes just aren’t made a whole lot. They’re the changes we all secretly wish the people around us would make, and wish also that we ourselves could make.

Humanity longs for change. None of us are always satisfied with who we are. Nor should we be.

I am no talking about hating yourself. I mean hating the thing that you do that are less than good. Or just mediocre.

Sometimes you have to hate the dumb things you do before you realize just how dumb they are.

I want to meet goals, but i don’t expect to change my habits all in one day or one week. So I make a dream list every new year.

I should review my old one and see if I did any of those things.

Until next time–Natasha.

Is God always right?–1

You ever wonder if God always does the right thing?

It sounds nuts, doesn’t it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If God is good, he must be all powerful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After all, I would say terrorists are insane.

There are a few differences though.

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

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

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

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

But I don’t think that’s enough.

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

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

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

But God is ever merciful.

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

But even so, he does not despise our questions.

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

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

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

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

Should we really talk?

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

God at least has reasons for what He does.

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

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

Why lions are awesome!

Lions and tigers, and leopards, oh my!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I think that’s a lesson for us.

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

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

Not my father’s.

 

First of all, my holiday was pretty good. Family; that family’s friends; gifts.

But just the day after Christmas things were back to the old pattern. I got told that I was so influenced by what my father believes it was unbeleivable.

It’s funny, my dad would probably never say that. I don’t think most people who meet me feel I am easily swayed by people’s opinion.

But what does frustrate me is that I don’t explain my own positions. I never have explained my political positions (that is, what led me to that conclusion.) IT’s nto becaue I don’t have reasons. I have lots of reasons.

I actually have too many, and I usually feel that if I laid out my whole line of thinking, no one would listen. People rarely listen when I even begin to explain my views, if they hold different ones.

I’ve learned to keep my disagreement to myself.

Which is, I figure, just what the opposition wants.

I’m not the only one who does this, I know others who do. People who are feeling that the opposing side is so bull headed that there’s no point in trying to explain why we think differently. We never get that far, we figure, so why bother?

Funny, whichever side of a given issue you’re on, you probably have felt this way.

But, no one gets wiser when we all keep in in.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,”

Of course I’m not one to say that we can all always learn form each other’s points of view.

That’s not the reason we share points of view.

If someone’s view is false, then nothing can be learned from it, by definition. But there is a lot you can learn from the person who holds that view.

You can learn why they hold it, how it came to happen, and what effect it has on them and the people around them.

With very extreme views, often that last thing is obvious.

But I submit to you that truth itself is not something another human can teach you, just by telling you something.

We learn from each other’s character far more than from each other’s words, though those are a big part of it.

But that is the danger of looking to the popular, or widely accepted or hated opinions; also of looking to the media, or a celebrity; or a parent to guide you to truth; they aren’t always in it.

I doubt anyone has the capacity to hold all truth in their minds at one time, but it is certain that some people are on the track to discovering more of it all the time, and others to never ending deception.

That’s why we do ally ourselves with certain groups of people. I prefer Fox News not because I believe its unbiased (I don’t) but because I know the people on Fox news hold belief systems closer to my own, and therefore are more likely to point me in what I believe is the truthful direction. But I don’t completely swallow all they say, I don’t know if they really expect that actually.

The difference I do perceive between Fox and CNN is that one seems to expect people of different views to tune in occasionally, but the other really doesn’t.

But I’m not getting into that debate (and I won’t get into it in the comments, just in case there was someone reading who would try.)

My point is, human institutions are like compasses. Some aren’t accurate, some are, but at their best, all they do is point you to the right thing.

So, if I do share a lot of my father’s views on things, it is because I see him as a pretty accurate compass.

But I don’t agree with my father on plenty of subjects. I choose to keep those to myself because I don’t think it’s anyone’s business. not anyone who’s not close to my family anyway.

But the reason I agree, as far as politics goes, is that my faith is the same as my dad’s essentially. Bible-based. And I would only expect our ideas to line up most of the time because of that.

I won’t pretend that my parents haven’t influenced my beliefs, of course they have, and I’m glad they did. They are good, honest people, and I have no reason to be ashamed to agree with them.

But they do not define my beliefs. The older I get, the more I realize this. That even though my beliefs have not really changed since I was a child, they have become more my own, not less.

Actually, whether you like it or not, after a certain age, your beliefs are your own. No matter if you’ve ever questioned them or not.

To all of us there comes a choice to question, or to accept what we’ve been taught. All of us decide, for a myriad of reasons, which we will do. All of us, no one gets left out of that. Once you decide, it’s your belief.

Some folks might whine that their parents ruined their lives, but after a certain age, you ruin your own life.

Depending on where you live and what your family is like, that could be a different age for all of us, but we hit it sooner or later.

I know our parents shape us, but they don’t define us.

And one last thing:

Like everyone, I have doubts. I never reassure myself by telling myself that “my parents are sure, so it must be true.” I can’t imagine that actually being comforting.

No. I have to go back to what I have experienced, and heard, to remind myself why I believe.

And that’s all I have to say about that, until next time–Natasha.

Meh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We do deceive ourselves. Maybe because the truth hurts.

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

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

But it starts with not saying “whatever.”

Until next time–Natasha.

Christmas and Carols.

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

Anyway, just thought I’d mention that.

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

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

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

Also those old carols.

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

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

And I love the extra verses.

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

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

Isn’t that great?

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

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

For example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas just means Christ Mass, or Christ Day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s worth living out every day.

Until Next Time–Natasha (Christ’s Birthday)

Racial Stereotypes and Movies.

You know what I notice when I watch internet reviews? Most of the ones out there are by more…liberal minded youths.

Youths being subjective, some of them are in their thirties.

But they more to the left, if you know what I mean.

I still enjoy their reviews and get something from them, but on certain issues, they always end up disappointing me by taking the opposite stance from what I would.

A common example would be racism in films (by the way it’s a lot easier to see racism in films than in books.)

A lot of the time it’s just pointed out to make a sarcastic joke, and the observation is not based on substantial evidence that the movie was being racist.

Like in old Disney movies.

Maybe, and I say it with reluctance, Walt Disney did have some racist leanings. A lot of people did in the forties and fifties, even those who wouldn’t have identified themselves as for segregation.

But I might point out his movies were probably one of the first, if not the first, to feature ethnic characters in a kid’s film.

Also, I question whether all stereotyping is harmful.

To a kid, the stereotyping is a lot less about color or speech and a lot more about how the character acts. They won’t recognize singing a certain way as a stereotype. They’ll be paying more attention to whether the character is being good or bad.

And that’s why black is associated with evil and white is associated with good.

Before you get all offended (if you’re the type who does.) Let me further explain.

The black vs white thing has nothing to do with race, as much as certain groups of people would like you to believe it does. It’s all about the contrast between darkness and light.

This goes way back to the Bible itself, along with plenty of mythologies around the world. Darkness, night, underground, etc, is always representative of evil.

Which is not a coincidence or a chance but a deep truth. In darkness you are blind and you lose your way. That’s how you become evil. In a nutshell.

But light, daytime, open air, they all represent truth and goodness.

And we all know the connection there. Freedom and seeing things clearly leads to happiness and goodness.

Plus most people are afraid of the dark as children and prefer the daylight hours.

That villains are traditionally clothed in black or other dark colors is not a racist thing, nor are references to things looking blacker than before. Context, people, context.

Black characters are not often cast as villains anyway.

Which is also called racist, but I think the white people ought to be more offended over this.

why are we always portrayed as evil maniacs who lie, kill, steal, as if it were nothing?

And if this doesn’t bother you, but black characters not being villains does, you have a problem.

Because that’s basically saying white people can be evil and it’s normal, but black people can be evil and it’s special. It makes them important.

How messed up is that idea on so many levels?

Furthermore, if old movies portrayed black and Asian characters as goofy, quirky, and stereotypical, were they any better to white characters?

Couldn’t the whole tea party thing from Alice in Wonderland be called an English stereotype? Could the white rabbit who’s always in a hurry and kind of a milksop be a stereotype?

Actually all the characters int eh movie are white and very quirky.

But if that’s not the best example, what aobut the princess movies?

The only non white princesses are also ones portrayed as more proactive and hardworking and anti damsel in distress. (Pocahontas, Tiana, and Jasmine.) You can argue all day about how their ethnicity as a whole is portrayed, but aren’t they less helpless and docile than Cinderella and Snow White and Aurora; all European.

And aren’t all the white princesses up till Merida stereotypically man–oriented without any power of their own?

Merida and Elsa are still the only real exceptions to this so far.

Am I saying we should come down on Disney for all this? NO.

I don’t care.

I really don’t need movie characters to tell me what my gender should do or be. I don’t see little boys walking around being princely. (Too bad.) If I like identifying with princesses, it’s because something in the idea of it itself appeals to me. Not because i think that’s the embodiment of what a woman should be.

I would find that thought ridiculous.

And I don’t ask movies to define femininity for me. Wonder Woman is just as feminine to me as Cinderella. Because woman are different, and what we share is hard to capture in one film.

Saying that Cinderella or Wonder Woman are the peak of womanliness is as silly as trying to pick between a t\super smart guy or the tough wrestler guy as the epitome of manliness.

Doesn’t a man need both brains and brawn? Don’t most men fall between those two extremes. Or in some cases, are both. (Hi Batman….and most Superhero men.)

And don’t most women have both a tough and bold side, and a demure and beauty loving side.

For me those two sides are inseparable. I can be bold and appreciate the finer things in life simultaneously.

And any movie that says those are mutually exclusive is idiotic.

Just like any movie that thinks it can accurate portray an entire ethnicity is idiotic.

Here’s the rub.

People are all different. A movie portraying an ethnicity can only portray the most well known parts of it, or the worst parts, or the funniest parts, to get so many people to follow along.

It’s not a movie’s place to define a race. Only to use race as a storytelling tool.

It can’t tell you what you are, and how you live. It’s not able to do that. And no one should ask it too.

That’s not to excuse any film that’s using stereotypes just to put people down and dump on one culture or another. Those films are garbage.

But most films are just trying to tell the story using what the majority is familiar with. And that’s true whether it’s an american film portraying English stereotypes, or a Bollywood film portraying American stereotypes. (It happens.)

Whatever. Can I just focus on the actual message?

Those are my thoughts anyway, until next time–Natasha.

Spiderman 3

I know I did talk about this already but at the time I hadn’t seen it yet. Now that I have I want to give you my assessment of all the complaints I’ve heard about it.

My assessment is: THE COMPLAINTS ARE STUPID.

I don’t normally just dismiss all the hate a movie gets as ridiculous, but this time, I am.

Okay, okay, to be fair. It was not perfect.

The only part I thought the criticism of the pacing rung true with was the end.

I thought each villain was set up well, but bringing them all together was too rushed, and though it made for an interesting battle, Venom and Sandman’s partnership wasn’t very intimidating or epic. For me it was more about Harry coming through than either of them.

And Harry’s change of heart was…not bad, no, but rushed.  Again.

I put all this up to superhero films not being allowed to be longer than 2hrs+. I mean, they aren’t 3 hrs long ever.

I would say this movie was written as well (for what it was) as Braveheart or Titanic. But those movies had more time to wrap up all their plot devices, and character arcs. This one set everything up flawlessly, but it couldn’t deliver slowly enough.

But I have no real complaints. The timing thing made it weird, but by no means un-moving. I actually teared up when Harry died.

And yes, Peter as one weird nerd. As MJ even says.

 

You don’t like Peter because he’s some dreamboat, hunky, suave playboy…like Tony Stark. (Sorry.) You like Peter for all the opposite reasons. Because he’s dorky and normal-ish. And a good guy despite how many times his heart gets ripped out. And he’s smart of course. (thought hey really down play that in this trilogy.)

It’s a little weird to me to have so much voice-over, with such blatant message giving in a superhero movie. But I don’t think it’s wrong.

IT’s a stylistic choice, and it doesn’t kill the gravity of the moment.

Spiderman 3 is a comic movie and it’s not wrong for it to play out as such. Even the special affects are way more comic book than sci-fi. But that’s why you love it, if you love it.

And at the end of the day, and the movie, it’s not about all that anyway. It’s about the heart.

Aunt May kicks off the message of this film by talking about revenge and how it eats away at you. Which the space mud is a not so subtle representation of. You may not remember in the scene where it latches on to Peter it forms itself first into a goblin shape, and then into a claw-like hand which  goes for his heart.

Creepy. And exactly what revenge does.

I actually appreciate that the movie isn’t pretending like this is a new idea. It’s not. We all know (or should) that revenge is bad. But we also know that Peter never truly dealt with his revenge against the man in the first film whom he thought killed Uncle Ben, and it’s been a stain on his character (at least for me,) I like that they went back to it instead of repeating it never happened.

Peter never forgave himself or the killer for what happened. Sot his movie is not pulling this plot out of nowhere, but actually addressing what they’ve built up to for a long time. Yes, it’s shaky because the guy in the first movie pretty much admits to killing Uncle Ben. I don’t like that, but I sympathize with them wishing they could tell a different story, and knowing that movies are kind of set in stone until they are remade. So they didn’t have a real choice in the matter.

Anyway, not only is the mud symbolic of revenge, but revenge has been the driving force of Harry and his father’s characters since the first movie. So it was gong to be a major part of this one anyway.

And the contrast between how Peter, Harry, and that other guy (Eddie?) handle their revengeful wishes is important.

All three are consumed by it for a time, but we see that with people who’s character started off stronger and more loyal in the beginning can easier throw off their anger an hatred.

Harry, even though h’es mostly a wimp, a crybaby, and a jerk; had his moments of being willing to help MJ and not wanting to kill his best friend.

Those moments of humanity and mercy on Harry’s part show he’s better than his father, who didn’t really resist the goblin’s sway. And also show that he truly felt something for Peter and MJ at one time.

Eddie (?) on the other hand was dishonest and cocksure from the start. It’s not exactly fair to say he was evil; and he had less reason for his actions than Peter or Harry. But the mud was influencing his mind, and he clearly did not have the character to resist.

A brilliance of this plot was having Peter’s revenge and jerkish-ness be verbal as well as physical. And show up in other areas of life. We see how vicious he has become in the club scene with MJ, but it’s enough to make him realize what this has done to him.

That he runs to a church is not a coincidence. He did tell Eddie “If you want forgiveness, get religion.” How interesting that you could read that as “if you want forgiveness in yourself.”

It’s never been hidden that Aunt May is a Christian, and that Peter has been raised with some knowledge of that faith. It shows in a lot of the things he says and does at critical moments in all three movies.

This movie was dark. Peter is a lot less nice in it. He’s starting to get a big head. MJ also does a lot of stuff we don’t love.

But as Peter says, when people have problems, they work through them.

There’s times in our lives when we aren’t so pretty, and we aren’t so loving as we might wish. I’ve had them. You’ve had them. The point is not that we are worse people, it’s nothing out of the ordinary, but that we move on and become better for it. That’s the extraordinary thing.

This movie is also about choice. As Peter says at the end in his narration. All three movies were about having a choice. Peter says Harry taught him that.

But really, Harry just capped it off. Peter had seen that already with Norman Osborne, and Dr. Octopus, and Venom, and his own life.

We have a choice. We can choose to forgive. Even ourselves.

That’s the movie’s message in a nutshell.

–Natasha.

Of Christmas Classics and Childhood Innocence.

Who doesn’t love old Christmas Classics?

Even though I realize now that there’s a lot of things in those movies that are not explained very well, I don’t think they have to be for the movie to be good.

Actually, I think they make it better.

If you’ve ever seen Frosty Returns, you might recall that Frosty tells one kid that “Some things just can’t be explained.”

And it’s true. I mean, can anyone really explain gravity? Can anyone decide what light is?

 

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I watch Frosty the Snowman now, the nostalgia makes me want to cry.

Because I’m sad for what we have lost.

I love the innocence of these old films. They have songs in them that would never make the cut now. Like the “If you sit on my lap today” Song from Santa Claus is coming to town.

That song is innocent. Whatever might be read into it now.

I am not saying by the way, that we should write songs like that for our modern movies. The problem with losing innocence is that once it’s gone, it’s gone.

You can never un-see or un-know what you know.

It’s impossible for me to forget the threats of terrorism, and drug abuse, and sex trafficking.

And that’s why I would like to encourage any parents our would be parents reading it that innocence is actually a very wise thing to preserve in your child.

It’s going out of fashion now.  The general attitude is that children will have to face reality sooner or later, and hiding it from them is stupid.

And parents who choose to shelter their kids rarely explain why in terms that make sense to those who hold the above view of it.

When parents say they don’t allow their kids to watch or listen to certain things, they usually justify it by saying those things are inappropriate.

But what does that mean? And in the day of gender confusion and school shootings, does that idea have any merit?

I think so.

The way my parents handled the issue was never voluntarily bringing up any shocking behavior. But if I asked about it, they would explain. My dad often more than I wanted to hear. My mom usually more vaguely, because she didn’t like talking about the stuff herself.

My parents used both caution, timing, and natural curiosity to handle the problem of telling my siblings and I about the crud in the world. And that’s the key.

Now that I’m almost 20, I hope I will not be in for too many more moral shocks. (please Lord.) But I am glad that most of the ones I had came when I was over the age of 10.

I am glad I can remember a time when I did not know those things. And that I did not grow up hearing about them all the time. Or that if I did hear, I did not understand, so I cannot remember.

I am glad that I had many years of relative carefreeness.

Why? Because I had no suspicions. I still remember when I could watch a movie and not get the sexual innuendos. Wasn’t’ that great?

I mentioned in my Wonder Woman review that I had the experience later of being horrified to learn about how corrupt people can be. That’s not a fun experience, but I would urge anyone with children not to avoid it by letting their children in on everything without setting boundaries.

Obviously, adults don’t talk directly to children about this stuff (usually) but they let them watch or read things without screening them first. And it adds up.

I am glad to be horrified over sin. It does not make you weak. It is actually a good thing to be sickened by it. To a certain extent. It’s a godly quality. The Lord himself is horrified by sin.

Did you know that there are some sins God does not even imagine us doing? It’s true. It says in Jeremiah 19:5, 7:31, and 32:35 that the sin Israel was committing had not even entered his mind.

God then, is innocent.

You may ask how that’s even possible. And the reason I can think of ties back in to shielding children from corruption.

A pure mind cannot ever conceive the depths a corrupt, sick mind will stoop too. A good man cannot even imagine doing what an evil man does.

The best protection from corruption is to not know about it. Innocence in childhood can be a great foundation fro a strong moral character. Because a child is not ready to process e evil and sort it out from good. That’s why it is the parent’s job to feed them on good things.

I want to make it clear I do not mean parents should pretend evil isn’t real. Children will figure that out no matter how much you try to hie it. What I mean is, trying to give them the best you can and make sure what’s influencing their thinking is a pure as possible. Evil is always evil, and it’s always defeated.

(I recommend A Thomas Jefferson Education for more on how to ease children into knowing evils sometimes wins and preparing them for that harsh reality through their books and movies.)

We are told nowadays that children only grow up with concepts of good and evil because we teach them too. And we are advised to throw away responsibility and treat them like case experiments. Exposing them to all things and letting them decide.

but no matter how hard you pretend it’s otherwise, children will decide based on you. Whether they reject your morality, or imitate it. You will be their guideline. You are teaching them one way, whether you like it or not.

So, why not teach them good, noble things, while it’s up to you. Before friends and school have a stronger grip on them. (Though find the best school you can by all means. And encourage healthy friendships.)

I want innocence for my children because it’s the last part of life that remains a little linked to how things were mean to be. And a child who has that experience will be able to imagine better things more easily than one who only ever saw the darkness in the world.