Valetine’s and Ash.

Insert obligatory Valentine’s Day Post:

Actually it’s also ash Wednesday and I used to go to a Lutheran Church, and Lutherans and Catholics both celebrate Ash Wednesday, so yeah.

Seriously, we joke about observing the holiday’s, but what are holidays for if not to turn our minds to the same good old ideas at least once a year. That is why we have annual celebrations.

So on this holiday devoted to love, but especially Eros, it’s only right to honor that by posting something about it.

As you can imagine, an day devoted to love of any sort is a win for me. I love love. I never get tired of discussing it.

But what does an always single person like me get out of Valentines’s Day?

For us singles, this day either becomes a day for friends and family (including the friend zone people you secretly hope will do something romantic after all on Valentine’s Day) or a day for moping about our loneliness.

I’ve never seen the point of the latter. Truthfully, since I’ve never not been single, it’s just not a bigger deal to me to day then an other day.

But because of that this day also isn’t a huge deal for me at all. My family makes home made Valentine’s, we give each other candy, sometimes my parents go out or get each other candy or a special card. But that’s about it.

Since I’m not on social media, I don’t have to suffer from all the FOMO of seeing my friends’ perfect days and dates.

Sure, I could be envious, but actually all the friends I have are single or not dating their crush or already married, so I don’t have all that much to envy.

Like many Christians, I take this day as one to think of God’s love on, and to think of how I should love other people better. One of the best ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day is to just be nicer to people, or do something for someone in your life that you wouldn’t normally do.

St. Valentine (who’s full title is actually the official name of today, we all cut out the Saint now) was a man committed to preserving godly marriage in a day and age when it had been outlawed. At least that’s the account I’ve heard.

So that’ partly why romantic love is the focus of the day, but also godly love. For St. Valentine was a christian (duh), and it takes guts and faith to keep marrying people when it could get you killed.

Sadly I have to wonder how many Christians today would even put up a real fight if that happened. I mean, the definition of marriage has already changed. What next?

But that’s a sad thought, and this is supposed to be happy. However since today is also Ash Wednesday, which among other things, reminds us that we are dust and we will return to dust, the mingling of love and death seems appropriate.

Ash Wednesday is also the beginning of Lent. The 40 days of fasting before Easter that some churches observe. It’s not a bad idea, fasting is a sobering thing, but healthy in the right amounts.

Some folks think it’s obsessive, but it’s not scientifically dangerous to fast 40 days if you are in good health and drink lots of water and even juice. OF course you should know your body before you undertake food fasting.

Lent reminds us to be humble, and to remember Christ’s sufferings and fasting for us before the cross and resurrection of Easter.

Love and Death, as Rick Riordan observed in his books “The Son of Neptune” and “The House of Hades” are oddly often similar.

But I don’t go so far as to say they are the same thing. Death can be a part of love, but it doesn’t follow that love is a part of death.

Today represents all the “dizzy dancing way (we) feel, when every fairy-tale is real” as Both Sides Now puts it, and it also represents the suffering, shadow, and death that the Christian life, and any life really, entails.

I enjoy the fairy-tale part, the giddy feels, the romantic movies, the candy; the dreaming about one day actually having a date on this day…but do I discount the not so pleasant parts?

You might know that one song from Disney’s Robin Hood, that Maid Marian sings (or thinks, one or the other) “Love goes on.”

Love, it seems like only yesterday, you were just a child at play. Now you’re all grown up inside of me, oh how fast those moments flee.

Once we watched a lazy world go by, now the days seem to fly, life is brief, but when it’s gone, love goes on and on.

Love will live, love will last, love goes on and on.

I think that sums it up, love goes on even to death, and today of all days we should remember that.

So if your’e celebrating with someone you know, then just do something a little more selfless. Be willing to suffer. Yes guys, even to watch chick flicks, and girls even to do something that you might not find all that romantic, but he wants to do.

And singles, hey, make the most of today with what you can.

“…and provide for those who grieve… to bestow on them a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isiah 61:3.

-Natasha.

 

 

Should we have Black History Month?

Inching my way to 60 followers, it’s hard to believe that for a long time I had 2 or 3. Thanks to all of you who decided to support this blog.

Sometimes I wonder why, when my blog is a lot less flashy and techy then most of the other ones out there, and most of my posts are just my thoughts about things.

But I think it’s great that blogging is one of the few places left n society where people actually seek out each other’s opinions and read them, and hopefully discuss them in a healthy way.

So let’s jump right to the controversial stuff.

My YouTube bar is reminding me it’s Black History Month, and I see it on TV too.

Since I’ve never been to school, these special months or weeks of study devoted to one group or subject are pretty foreign to me (pardon the slight pun) but I do  have some thoughts on just the concept of having a Black History Month.

I’ll preface this by saying I think Black History is an important part of our past, and also highly interesting to delve into. Blacks played a key role in all our Wars, and in plenty of our other movements, most notable the Civil Rights one. None of that is dispensable history.

Bu-u-t, that’s actually the problem. How on earth is Black History a separate thing from White History? OR vice versa. Doesn’t having a whole month devoted to it imply that it’s different somehow? Like they were another set of people in another place doing other things?

It’s like separating World History from American history. You can do it for a while, America is a young country, but sooner or later you have to include it because it became one of the principle countries in world affairs.

I happen to believe that blacks and whites have intermingled pretty much ever since their origin, maybe not all in Africa, but in other places. I think history itself shows it. (There are paintings of darker skinned figures on Egyptian wall accounts.)

But okay, maybe the idea has merit. ATtleast, when it was conceived. Back in the 80’s a lack of black history curriculum was a problem. At least if I can believe the TV shows account of it.

I have nothing against blacks themselves ( a term I am using because it is Black History Month for crying out loud) but I do have a problem with segregation.

As a white girl, it’s awkward for me when all this race stuff comes up. I didn’t used to give a rip what color someone’s skin was. I don’t really when it comes to people I know. But I hate how “minorities” (barely small enough to be that anymore) are pitted against each other.

The way I see it, setting aside a whole month to Blacks, even if it’s in name only, is more likely to promote envy and jealously among whites, or other races, then it is to promote understanding. In a perfect world maybe everyone would get it, but that’s not this world.

I think history should be taught as it happened. Mingling different aspects of it as the topic calls for. The best history books I’ve read have covered various parts of it, and how it affected various peoples.

You can’t study the American Revolution with any thoroughness unless you also learn how France and Germany were involved, how slaves were affected, and how the Spanish came in at one point. The Native Americans were a part of it too.

And it’s unfair to disregard all that. No country is, metaphorical, an island. Other countries are always involved in their affairs. Much like in person to person interactions.

I think one objection that might be made to not having a black history month is that black pride would not be raised, because our history would be taught as primarily white in important figures.

Well firstly, that’s not true, as I said.

Secondly, if that was how it actually had happened, then…that’s the history isn’t it?

Even if blacks had had  nothing to do with this country until recently, the history still matters.

Besides, if we are all equal, why doe sit matter what color someone is? Can’t we still learn from their life?

Can’t I be inspired by Harriet Tubman as much as by Harriet Beecher Stowe? Or maybe more.

Would you tell me that black Americans are incapable of being inspired by white historical figures.

What does that sound like to you? Equality?

Give me a break.

Now hold on, I am not saying I think black Americans are incapable of being inspired by white ones. I am only saying that would be the implication if we used color as a measure for how crucial it is to learn about a person.

Which is the problem with Black History Month. I want to be inspired by all worthy people, but in the proper context. Not separated as if I have to feel differently about each one depending on their race.

I may make someone mad by saying this, but I don’t give more credit to Martin Luther King Jr. for his stance against bigotry then I give to George Washington for his fight for freedom.

Because both are important. Yet in our public school system, Martin Luther King Jr will be given his fair share of attention, but Washington will likely be misrepresented or swept under the rug.

Why should white students be made to feel excluded? Why should any students?

You see how it comes full circle?

Well, If there’s a point I didn’t cover, feel free to comment below and share your thoughts.

Until next time–Natasha.

Your image.

You know how celebrities have whole teams of people in charge of PR? Or at least one agent, (it probably depends on just how big a deal they are,) you likely also know that these people are said to be in charge of the image of the star.

Or if some celebrity is getting a bad rap, they need to work on their image.

That’s the idea I want you to keep in mind.

What about us ordinary people? Don’t we worry about our image also?

We just don’t call it that. But we all think about how people see us. It’s like some pop songs say “The world is watching you” and we all feel like that sometimes.

Or maybe we feel invisible.

I think I tend to feel more invisible. I’ve been that person that nobody really talks to, or just waves or says a superficial hello to, but no one is really interested in my company.

I actually have a friend now who just became my friend pretty much because they actually liked talking to me, which shocked me considerably.

Not that people don’t say I’m interesting but you get the idea.

I know that I’m not the only one, I’d say at least 50% of humanity feels ignored a lot of the time, event he ones in the spotlight at their job, or in their family, or in the eyes of the world, when they aren’t performing, they feel ignored. That’s why a lot of people perform, it’s too get attention.

How does attention effect our image? Image is all about what kind of attention we get. Negative attention means a bad image, positive means a good, and no attention means…bad pretty much. Who likes being ignored?

Maybe those who have learned to like it as a means of self defense.

There are those souls who just seem self sufficient. You probably know one or two, or you are one, they seem happy by themselves. They’re introverts. They could go on singing their merry song without interruptions.

But I guarantee that even those people blossom out when someone takes a special interest in them.

How much of what we think of people is based on what we see of them? Tabloids rely on photos to influence our perceptions of people, commercials rely on images to affect our emotions, we post pictures of ourselves to give the impression that we are having a good life. OR maybe to plead for sympathy. It depends.

There’s that saying that no man is an island after all. We don’t want to feel like Robinson Caruso in our lives.

People are deeply lonely, that may be one of the defining characteristics of humanity. even career women and successful men who love their jobs feel lonely.

Often our success is just our way to compensate to ourselves for our personal pain. WE decide that if we can’t have what we really crave, hen we’ll at least have an impact in another area.

It’s been observed by others that we all wear masks, that we hide our true self.

But even if we were true to ourselves, I think the loneliness would remain.

I mentioned in a recent post how pain and suffering can make me feel lonely. My dad is getting over a bad cold, and he said the same thing about getting lonely just lying around being sick.

But I think human pain itself makes us lonely. I think knowing how much other people are capable of hurting us makes us lonely, we have trouble trusting them.

IT’s terrible to not be able to trust, it makes us insecure.

You’ll find pretty much all your issues can be traced back to someone breaking your trust at one point, or you breaking your own trust. I know all my issues do back to those two things.

How does that effect your self-image?

Here’s where we get to the part where all this comes together.

A celebrity’s obsession with their image to the public is just a manifestation of their obsession with self-image. They only get to parade it around for the rest of us. Get to? More like we make them do it. Society can be cruel to its idols.

But is there a way to stop this? Can we ever cease to be lonely? Can we get over our mistrust?

Well, the world’s answer is no. You can manage your junk, but you can’t get rid of it.

The religious answer is that you can get rid of it someday if you do the right things now.

The Christian answer is the only one I know of that gives three different answers that don’t contradict each other.

The Christian answer is first of all that we need to realize our image is supposed to be reflecting God. Genesis 1 says we are made in His image and likeness.

This means that we are literally God-like.

But obviously our image has been screwed up.

The second thing we need to do is recognize that in this life, we’ll never be perfect. SO in a way the world is right, our junk does stay with us all our life.

But, and that’s a big but, thirdly, we know that there is a next life.

It’s actually part of Christian doctrine to believe that heaven effects earth even now. In other worlds, our eternal life bleeds into our mortal life.

Our junk, our pain, and our sin, they happened. Nothing changes that. But Jesus can take those things and transform them. Use all of them to drive us to him, and to redemption, instead of separation. The more we embrace that, the more our eternal life impacts our here and now.

In a sense, our junk is removed even before we really feel different.

Our image can change.

Personally, I think it’s a relief to not have to worry about my image anymore. I do get hurt still, but I have a way to bounce back.

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

 

A lantern in our hands.

I just read another great book titled “A lantern in her hand.” This isn’t a review of it, but I want to credit the book with inspiring this post.

The book is, as it turned out, about love. And I am a sucker for any story where love is the focus and the savior as it were. I say sucker, but I don’t believe it’s really naive to think so.

Love gets a bad rap when it comes to making it the saving grace of a story, but I would wonder what else is better?

So I have a question to put to you, viewers, what makes life worth while? I mean, what makes anything we do important?

You see the main character of the book has dreams to be an artist, a singer, a painter, and an author. She wants to put something fine into the world. As a modern woman (or man) we can all empathize. Almost all of us aspire to greatness at one point in our lives, whatever we may settle for later, and movies and popular stories have certainly helped drive it into our heads that any life that doesn’t change the world is common and ordinary.

I personally relate. I think I tend to see life as wasted when you aren’t doing something big.

The point this book made is that being a mother and a wife is a big thing.

Now, to even suggest that motherhood might be enough of an aspiration is resented by most women.

I won’t say I haven’t seen it that way myself, but I know better.

It’s not that motherhood is all a woman is good for. That’s not it. The point is that what is done in love is done well.

If someone dreams big dreams, it’s a good thing, but they have no failed in life if at the end of it, they fulfilled different dreams.

Some women dream of doing big things, and also of being mothers. Is it a failure if they fulfilled the latter, and fall short of the former.

What if it’s not wrong when a parent’s dream of the finer things is fulfilled int heir children’s lives?

It seems hard on the parents. But if there’s one thing the age of pioneers and pilgrims should have taught us it’s that one generation has to light the lamp, or the lantern, and dare to dream, even if they will never see the completion of the dream. Because sometimes one lifetime isn’t long enough for us.

Back in the Bible when folks lived to be 900 years old, they could have all lived to see their dreams fulfilled, but maybe now that our lives are shorter, we have to learn to be more content with less.

That’s not bad, I think on the contrary a shorter life leaves less time to get too comfortable in this old world. Which isn’t where we all belong.

I guess I’m rethinking my goals. I still hope to make an impact on the world, but if I end up in some corner of the globe with a small circle of friends and family to take care of and help and inspire, my life won’t be wasted. If I only get tot ell my stories to my children they are still worth telling.

Some parents, like the father in “Little Britches” and Casper Ten Boom from the writings of Corrie Ten Boom (The Hiding place; and In my Father’s House.) shine out most in when they leave behind in their children.

The Bible knew that parents are reflected in their children, not always, not every time, but often. I think today we’ve lost that.

Actually, we’re ashamed of it. We hate being like our parents because we feel it makes us less ourselves.

But the truth is, humanity is interconnected. When I went to Cambodia, I felt a common bond with the people there who couldn’t even speak English, it had nothing to do with how similar our lives or personalities were, but in that we’re all human. WE all share certain things.

In spending a few days in their lives, I expanded mine. For I became a part of theirs, and they a part of mine. I don’t mean that they influence what I do over here a whole lot, but there is a connection.

It’s hard to describe, some people have already hit upon the idea that humanity is all connected with each other, and I believe it’s true.

Even more so in families. We are a part of each other.

I believe strongly that we are all unique. But sharing our traits with others doesn’t take away from that. I resemble both my parents according to some people, but I don’t look exactly like either of them simply because I resemble both.

People are like those math problems where you have to figure out how many different way you can arrange the numbers. Only our numbers are limitless and we all have our own special part.

But what we share is, when you think about it, what enables us to love each other.

That’s why there’s so much hate now over he areas of racial tension both in America and all over the globe. It’s because the politicians are focusing on our differences. We should enjoy our differences, and I do, but inflaming them makes them more important than they really are.

Just like in any family where the parents or children puts too much emphasis on being alike or unlike each other. It’s just not important enough to fight over. (I mean of course, to ever begin to fight over. If one side is being unfair about it, I do think sometimes it has to be fought out.)

I might be white, privileged, young, and geeky, but it’s never bothered the people around me, no matter what their background is, and why should it?

To bring it back to the idea of accomplishment, I think the big things are kind of life the differences between people. Important, but not more important then things like love, wisdom, and nurturing and protecting and dreaming.

A wise man leaveth an inheritance for his children, the Bible says. And it’s no shame if in your whole life, what you accomplish benefits someone else more than you, some might even call that selfless living.

Until next time–Natasha.img_1549-4

In defense of Orison Scott Card.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I need to take a look in the mirror.

I was on YouTube the other day and I discovered there’s been some controversy over Ender’s Game, the movie and book, because the author Orison Scott Card is against homosexuality.

Now I’m not at all surprised that he made a lot of people mad with that, but what does bug me is the eye-roll and sarcastic tone that accompany these people who were talking about it.

They imply that Card’s fatal flaw is this, and you have to take it or leave it, but they never seem to entertain for a second the idea that maybe Card has a good reason for what he thinks. No, he’s just a Mormon blindly following his doctrine.

Because obviously an intelligent man who could write a best selling book and have it made into a hit movie has no basis for his beliefs…right?

Ugh. I guess he could, but I’d hope not.

Now the truth is, I don’t like Card either. For widely different reasons that I’m surprised no one else is mentioning. I hated both the movie, and the sequel/parallel series Ender’s Shadow.

I have actually never hated a book more then that one.

But whatever my opinions are of his writing, I wouldn’t say the man is stupid or even conventional. Among other Mormons he has quite a few who are dubious about him.

But I should try to be fair here. If I were in the place of the people criticizing his beliefs, and I thought homosexuality was normal, then he would seem archaic to me.

But here’s the thing, I can’t actually just change my beliefs on a dime.

You see, contrary to what the country at large seems to think now, I don’t find it rational to change your beliefs just to match the times. Not every “new” discovery can be trusted. Not all theories are justified and proven. And a lot of what is dubbed science is based on what people want to think is true.

Back when the country looked down on homosexuals, the AIDS crisis was seen as God’s judgment. And as incurable, untreatable, or else too much trouble to fix. The people got what they deserved, in the majority’s mind.

I think it would be a mistake to rule out God as the cause, but it also would be a mistake to assume he caused it. Either way, I believe in helping people.

It’s not like if a gay person was drowning you’d refuse a life-vest because of your worldview. Right?

Well, that’s how I see it.

But there is a line. We can’t pretend it’s not there.

Just because the country now holds the opposite view of homosexuality doesn’t mean any actual facts about it have changed. It proves nothing.

But I suspect those who are attacking Card, or rolling their eyes, don’t care about facts or proof. Their self-avowed thinking is that you should let people do whatever they want and ignore it if you don’t like it.

Which sounds good for about two seconds until you apply it to just about any crime you can think of.

My point is not that these people are evil. But that they need to check their logic. IF we dismiss everything as dependent only on our point of view, then what becomes of things like protecting ourselves from criminals? Or from each other. How do we stop children from doing stupid things?

The reason this bothers me so much is not because I have a political axe to  grind. It is because I don’t like how we shield ourselves from truly learning and seeking out truth by these phrases and attitudes that really mean nothing.

If a hater was to claim Card was a hater himself, but have no basis other than that it’s accepted that homosexuality is normal and good, then that person has no real grounds except their own opinion.

But what about the non-hater? The person who feels uncomfortable with Card’s beliefs, but still thinks he’s a good writer.

Which category I fall into by the way, since I loathed the ideas in his books, but I won’t deny he draws you into the story…in a bad way.

Well, my solution was to to read them. But if you enjoyed it…still don’t read it, please.

But if they are determined, then the only thing they can do is accept that Card has reasons for what he thinks. Now if they are good or bad, I can’t even say. You can believe the right thing for the wrong reason. And the wrong thing for the right reason.

In the end it’s up to the person what they’ll tolerate.

But anyone could have pointed that out.

I guess my defense of Card is that his beliefs don’t have to be popular to have merit. Popular beliefs rarely have real merit. Because if everyone believes something, it’s generally been too twisted around to have real weight.

Believing the earth is round has no weight now, because it’s no longer in controversy.

I just wish that the myth that some beliefs are unimportant would get debunked. Plenty of beliefs are stupid, but the stupider it is, the more important it is. Because beliefs matter. They change the world.

We can roll our eyes, but we are in denial if we think it won’t make a difference how we handle this problem.

I care what Card believes because I know it’s important, especially considering how many people he influences.

If you’re reading this you must care a little bit about what I believe. And I obviously about what you believe.

Frankly, we couldn’t have much of a conversation if we didn’t.

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

 

Half the Sky.

This is a break in style for me, because “Half the sky.” is a book, not a movie.

Though if they make a documentary of it, I wouldn’t  be surprised.

This book is about turning the oppression of women around the world into opportunity for them.

As you know if you’ve been following me for some time, I am no feminist. I am also no activist. Not in the cultural sense of either term. But I would not let my political positions keep me from recognizing important issues.

Though the writers of this book do take a more Post-modernist/socialist approach to aiding women then I do.

But I won’t be blinded by the fact that we disagree on stuff. It doesn’t take away from how amazing this book is.

I have to say for its type, the book is brilliant. Normally books about world issues are kind of a dull read, not many people find facts and ideas all that interesting in nonfiction.

But this book is different. All the issues, from sex trafficking, to maternal mortality, to honor killings and rape, are presented through stories of real women. Most of whom beat the odds and went on to lead amazing lives, Some did not; but on the whole the stories were very inspiring. They all pointed to education as the common catalyst for a women’s empowerment.

I don’t think empowerment is as big an issue in the USA as it is just about every where else except Europe and a few wiser countries in the other continents. We complain when we don’t get paid a certain wage, or when we don’t have a lot of representatives in a certain field, but in most places it’s rare for women to have any say in any field. Even in how they raise their children or run their household.

It is not all the men’s fault either. Women are for some reason a lot more apt to hold themselves down then men are. Men tend to push the envelope, maybe it’s part of their nature; women tend to work with what they have. But what they have can be just about nothing.

With that in mind, this book is important. It’s important to now what’s going on in the world. Not every dirt has to be dug up, granted, but I don’t think issues that take the lives and rights of millions and millions of girls each year are minor or ignorable.

The book said that these issues get labeled as “women’s issues” and so they are put low on the priority list. And there is some truth in that. At least, when was the last time you heard mass rape and honor killings covered on the news? I hear about terrorist attacks far more often.

And that’s not wrong by any means. But I do think if women spent less time talking about clothes and makeup and stupid life tips on the air, and more time focusing on real world issues, it might get out there.

While I am not for making the government fund aid programs (it’s impractical) I am so for aiding programs by private citizens. The fact is those programs do better anyway. People connect more with individuals then with the UN or any other agency.

The book backs up it’s individual stories with research that is put in simple and easy to follow ways, and also  concise. The book is 250 pages long.

It’s not a short read, not for me anyway, but it’s better digested. One or two chapters at a time is about all you would need to get the most out of it.

So if you want to better educate yourself, definitely read this book.

Until next time–Natasha.