More than a stereotype.

I know Thanksgiving was last week, but I’d like to start this post off with a few things I’m thankful for.

I celebrated my 20th birthday recently. And my sixth spiritual birthday. I can’t believe it’s only been 6 years since I became a  Christian, I can’t imagine not knowing God. I also can’t believe I’m no longer a teenager, after seven years of it, I almost forgot what that’s like, I hop my twenties are the plus side of not being a teen.

I’m thankful for my family, they are doing better for the most part, and we recently found out we have a family member we’ve never met. My dad has a half brother, I could swear it’s like a movie.

I’m thankful for my friends…because I actually have some finally! And I’ve been getting to know them better over the past few months.

I’m glad for making good grades despite feeling overbooked this semester.

I’m thankful for RWBY providing me with a lot of interesting content to think about and enjoy.

And of course I’m thankful for all of you. I had not idea I’d ever make it to 80+ followers.

Now, on the subject of thankfulness, I’d be the millionth person to write about that at this time of year, but it’s truly something we need to remember every single day. And honestly, I don’t. I’m not a negative person but I don’t stop and thank God for things every day, and I really should, because school is teaching me I have it really good.

We had to read “Death of a Salesman,” over the holiday. Real cheery play, perfect for the occasion–can you hear the sarcasm?

At this point I’ve become philosophical about the darker content. At least the dramas are easier to stomach than the poetry was, poetry really shouldn’t be dark.

I digress. I had a revelation reading about the terrible people in this play, terrible in that their mediocre, petty, and false. I just stopped on one page, and understanding rose up inside me. I thought “I am happier in my simple life than people like this will ever be, because they strive for money, recognition, and gratification. They want to prove they are something, and prove they’re a real man (or woman) and prove that they’re the big shot…and it’s all vanity. And I don’t need to prove anything, and I don’t need money or fame to be happy. I’m more content now then someone like that has ever been.” Of course I didn’t think it in those exact words, but you get it.

It just fully hit me for the moment that what bothers me about these plays we read and stories too is the incessant hunger I find in them for what doesn’t matter. People have some agenda to push, some need to be affirmed by people whom they resent. I find resentment, envy, hatred, and selfishness in all of them. I realize it reflects what the author thinks people strive for and even what they need. They think people are that petty and can’t connect. Endless hunger and discontent drives these stories.

And I can’t believe how foreign that feeling is to me, like, what world are they living in.

You know, I’m not unaware of those feelings, of course I do have that restlessness sometimes, I think all young people do, and older folks too. But by the grace of God, it has never turned me into the monster you find in these stories and dramas. Everyone is either cheating on their wife or destroying their relationship with their family…or raping someone, or murdering someone. You know, like most people do when they are down on their luck…yes, I’m being sarcastic.

If I’m honest, I’ve blundered a lot in my relationships, and I’ve even destroyed them. Butt at my worst, I’ve never done what the people in these stories do. I attribute that to God, because I know that in my selfish human nature I have the capacity to do things like that, but in my redeemed new nature, I would never do it.

These stories would make you afraid to love anyone if you didn’t believe in a God who can change people’s hearts. We read these stories and know that we are like that. We’re petty and selfish and envious and discontent.

We are like that in our flesh. But fortunately I don’t believe that is all we are. I feel so sorry for my classmates who have no defense. no reason to say “That’s not the end of the story.”

The more I see of what people are thinking and saying, especially ones my age, the more I pity them. I pity them because they are so, so lost.

Young people are desperate for faith. They are looking for someone to be willing to have it. They don’t have it themselves because they’ve had different opinions battering them since grade-school. Many don’t actually want to abandon the idea of God, they just aren’t sure how they can hold onto it. They doubt they are smart enough to figure it out.

Young people are aware of how they are stigmatized, and they believe it. That is the saddest thing. They believe they are stupid, shallow millennials, who are fit only to embrace the stereotype culture has of us.

Most of them care about more than just their phones and their shows, but they talk about that because they feel incapable of talking about anything else. If you aren’t mingling with them, you don’t realize…the ache is palpable.

Man, they want to connect, they just don’t have a clue how to. No one taught us to.

You don’t realize it, but no one did. I was never taught how. I had to learn. TV didn’t help. TV would have taught me to be selfish and snarky if I went by how kids are portrayed on the shows.

We’re called flaky and air-headed, and maybe we are. (Not me obviously.) But…we are expected to be. We don’t know any different. In fact, it’s part of our culture to expect flakiness.

That’s another subject, but what I’m trying to say is this stereotype is killing us faster than social media is, not because we may be addicted, but it’s because we’re written off that we are not helped.

Guess what, it’s not us who don’t care. It’s not us who are apathetic, it’s the 40+ year olds who’ve decided we’re losers who are beyond hope. I assume, if you’re reading this, that’s not you. But I bet you know some.

I am not condemning the previous generation. Millennials frustrate me too, but they are not what I was told either.

I do not think we can change the culture as a whole quickly or easily, but what falls to us is to reach out to people we do know. And to try to rediscover what connecting with them means. Our hunger for it isn’t going away, and Netflix can’t fool us into accepting a substitute forever. But I don’t want us to let that depress us, I think we should be excited that we get to rediscover friendship. If we don’t let fear stop us.

And I’m not being naively optimistic. There’s plenty we’ve lost. But I refuse to believe that that’s the end of the story.

Until next time–Natasha.

 

 

 

Ships: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly–2

I talked about the bad and the ugly ships (see previous post), but what about good?

Glad you asked (and if you didn’t, stick around, I might surprise you.)

Okay, I’ve talked about fictional relationships before, if you’ve read my Justice League posts, about Batman and Wonder Woman, and Mr. Miracle and Barda.

I talked in those posts about how Scott and Barda have an extremely functional relationship, while Batman and Wonder Woman, on the JLU show, has a potentially good one, but kept getting in their own way, and how I thought we could learn from both.

I’m risking losing some of you here, but I will say that I think shipping characters can be a healthy use of time. It can be innocent at the very least, and women usually can’t help it, honestly. But even for men it might be  good tool for gauging where your own expectations for a relationship are.

I’m often confronted with what my own standards are when I find some fans shipping characters I either really like, or really hate the idea of being together. 

Abusive relationships and homosexual ones are at the top of my list of “NEVER EVER EVER” along with incest, obviously (eww.)

But what about the ones I like? Asking myself why I like it has proven very useful to me in deciding what makes a good relationship.

The nice thing about fiction ships is that you get so much variety. There could be many reasons it works, and they can be specific to the characters as much as real life is. You learn to broaden your view of a good relationship. With that in mind, I’d like to talk about some of my favorite kinds of ships. 

  1. I do love the pure, unadulterated, they just fall for each other upfront ship. It’s pretty rare now, and even mroe rarely is it intersting, but when it is, it’s really beautiful. In my mind it’s the most realistice kind of relationship. Most people marry someone they intitially liked and grew to love. A lack of tension can make a relationship boring, but when it’s well written and you see how well they suit each other, you wont’ find it so. Pure love is simple, but it’s never boring.
  2. I like the healing kinds of ships. Ones that are based around one character helping another through a very hard place in their life, and they develop those feelings along the way. The ship is cool because it feels earned, and you can definitively understand why the characters trust each other. This kind of relationship also happens in real life quite a bit.
  3. Perhaps the funniest ship I like is the one that starts off with them not liking each other. It’s overused in romantic comedies. But it’s not a bad idea functionally.  It provides more comedy then the other two, and often the most character growth out of the three. It involves very different people having to learn not just to understand, but to love and appreciate each other through their differences. Though how these relationships resolve is often unrealistic, the concept it not, because most married couples find  out that living together is that exact experience. Learning to love. In that way, the animosity-to-love ship is the most real of all.

So, that said, how does seeing this in fiction really help me?

For the first kind of ship, I’d like to use the classic example of “The Princess Bride.” That’s not technically shipped, because there was never any doubt of it, but these kinds usually are established early on in the story anyway. In the movie/book Wesley and Buttercup fall in love, and stay in love. It’s pure, real, and powerful. But it’s opposed. What makes the story great is that at no point do either of them tear each other apart, split up over some stupid fight, or waver in their affections for each other. They know their own mind, and yet they still have to fight for what they want. (Wesley does anyway.)

The power int his is the very constancy. Love never fails.

I think Scott and Barda fit this example well too, but I already wrote about them so I won’t rehash it all here.

Often the healing ship can happen just through characters supporting each other, not always with a traumatic experience having to happened first. I think Jamie and Landon fro “A Walk to Remember” are a good example of this. Older films tend to have it more. People sharing each other’s burdens is a powerful thing.

For the last ship, I could name dozens of examples if I had an hour to think about it. But that won’t be necessary. My current favorite ship of the animosity sort is the Qrow and Winter ship from RWBY. I have a lot of other ones I like, and they are all different, which makes the description hard. I’ll stick to the one for now.

More than for the other two, you have to fundamentally understand both characters for this ship to really be good. I am not about watching people fight and then like each other without any really good reason for the change. (Sorry Quest for Camelot, I like you, but it was clumsy at best.)

I like this ship because both characters have certain traits in common. They care about their family, believe that people have to learn how to fight for themselves, and are loyal, perhaps too loyal at times.

They are also widely different. Qrow is open about his opinions and not one to care much for delicacy. He has a rough and tumble approach to family togetherness, and to telling the truth.

Winter by contrast tends to keep her opinions in reserve unless she feels superior to the person she’s talking to, she’s more willing to submit to authority, and though she’s not very gentle, her approach is more cool and severe than rough. It’s hard to imagine her ever playing a game with anyone.

They hate each other–ostensibly, but they aren’t so different in essentials as they think.

That’s why I like it. If two people share core values, then initial disliking of each other can be a good catalyst for growth. And not such a bad foundation for a relationship. The other kinds may be easier, and heartwarming, but in the end, most of us will have fights with our spouse, and have to be willing to change, or compromise. We’ll have to learn to be more humble in how we approach disagreement.

Again, many fictional couples could fit into this category.

 the cool thing is how diverse it can be. When you realize why people suit each other, it can give you a better understanding of love.

Love is not all hearts and roses, though that’s fine, but in the end love is about growing with someone. Any ship can give you that picture. And the more different they are, the clearer it becomes that love isn’t really about type. It’s not about a formula.

Whether people are alike, or different, they will still grow together, and that’s why it can work either way. Maybe it’s a bit of a reality check to us, not to think we know exactly what kind of person will suit us. In “Anne of the Island” L. M. Montgomery shows the foolishness of thinking you’re fancies are what would be best for you.

A little honesty: If you got exactly what you wanted, the chances are it would be bad for you because they person would let you get away with too much crap.

Unless you think that you don’t dream of them tolerating a lot more of your quirks then most self respecting people would…yeah, I know. Brutal. I’m working on not thinking that way myself, but I know marriage will stills hock me by showing  much of a fantasy that really is.

Jane Austen’s books are more realistic, people have faults,  but are they ones that you can grow with, or ones what will make you worse? That’s the real question.

Toxic relationships often are more about people being ill suited for each other’s faults then intentionally harming each other.

Anyway, that’s about all  I have for now, until next time–Natasha.

 

Ships: The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly–1

Today I want to talk about the internet phenomenon known as SHIPS.

At least, if you watch YouTube.

So, for those of you who don’t know, ship is modern slang for “Thinking two characters on any given show/movie/ or book series, should be together in a romantic relationship, thought the rare person may use the term for friendships also.” (Personal definition.) It’s relationship  mayhem in some places

Usually shows are the worst for shipping. Too many diverse characters who may have a heartfelt moment or two per season, and it can get pretty annoying trying to figure out if the show actually intends for them to be together. Even harder when often show writers are swayed by fan reactions.

Shipping is the bane of some internet surfer’s existence online. And with good reason, I’m not against shipping, but there are huge problems with it.

You might ask why I’d even bother writing about something so stupid. And my answer would be, shipping can be stupid, but it also tells you a lot about what people take seriously, what they look for in relationships, what’s on their mind 24/7, and what kind of standards they might have, particularly in their viewing pleasures.

You cant ell some people who watch porn are the ones leaving shipping comments.

Also, gay and lesbian ships have become unavoidable. Even when each character in question is confirmed to be straight, in a different relationship, and perfectly happy. Shipping is not rational for many people.

The problem is, we can all laugh when it’s a show (or roll our eyes) but unfortunately, people often are irrational in real life as they are online. Many people date with about as much discretion as they ship. So I think shipping may tell us plenty about what passes for romance nowadays.

Lewd humor and jokes and porny comments are hardly a new form of substituting for romantic love. IT’s as old as the hills. (Read any Shakespeare Romantic Comedy if you don’t believe me.) However, thanks to the internet, you can now find people like that mixed in evenly with people who are just genuinely having fun and enjoying the content. I’m starting to think some shippers just don’t enjoy anything till they sexualize it.

Aside from being gross, it often disrespects and minimizes the message a show may be trying to communicate. It often saddens and disgusts me to see a heartfelt scene between friendly characters, and to find it reduced to sexual subtext by fans. Fans, who quite frankly, couldn’t care less if they ruin the video for anyone else.

Now, the simplest solution is not to read the comments, but many people read comments to ask questions, and see some interesting feedback or innocent humor. Also to communicate with the channel host, which there may be some good reasons for. Yet they’ll see this other stuff too, and some of it is hard to forget.

I won’t give any examples here for that very reason, I’m sure you can fill in the blank form experience.

Some people just don’t give a rip whether you want  certain ideas in your mind or not, and they can be the most infuriating to encounter, that’s in real life too. It’s like how some people don’t care if you want them to cuss in front of you or your kids. An attitude of consideration for other people would, if adopted by everyone in the world, wipe cursing and inappropriate humor off the face of the earth.

Shipping can reveal the worst in humanity, and how shallow we can be. And how corrupt. It’s not all that uncommon to see people shipping siblings with each other…or people and animals…yeah….

I really don’t know what more to say on that, except that if this is becoming acceptable, even in fiction, what have we lost?

I really think as far the porn part of this goes, anyone using fictional characters for that is taking them way too seriously. And yet, not seriously enough.

If all someone’s honest art means to you is a sex object…why even watch it? And I have a hard time believing anyone who justifies that kind of attitude really treats real people with much more respect.

What you think, and what you imagine, it is not separated from your character. You are what you think, and what you dream, as much as if not more than you are what you do for a living and school.

One might wonder why I don’t talk about how unrealistic shipping can be, since fictional relationships are famously portrayed as better than real life. My answer would be: Not in this case.

In the case of YouTube shipping, no, it’s never better than real life when it’s what I’ve been talking of. In fact it’s much, much worse, than many people’s reality would be. I’ve seen people endorse a sadistic, abusive relationship…I guess they get a kind of pleasure out of it.

The problem worsens because the more of that you see, the more you find it enjoyable, and not horrifying. The whole trap of using art to change minds is in what it makes look appealing, even if the real life experience would not be so.

And guess what, it’s not usually the victims whose minds are influenced by this, it’s the perpetrators. It’s far easier to be deluded into thinking something is natural and pleasurable when you’r the one doing it to someone else, not when it’s done to you. Isn’t that just the way with human beings?

Stealing might look admirable until you get stolen from. Punching looks cool until you get punched.That’s not the worse of it either.

And I couldn’t close this article without saying something about the HATE wars.

I don’t take what people say to be online to be particularly serious. Good or bad, they know nothing about me. But some people do take it seriously, and others will still let out a lot of venom and aggression toward people that seems unhealthy at best…and out of control at worst. 

It’s pretty dumb to tear someone down over a fictional relationship. To have a “one true pairing” that you will not give up on, even after all’s been written and done. As much as I hate some ships, I don’t want to destroy the people who support them.

I find it odd that anyone takes it seriously enough to do so. However, I do really like some ships, And I even think they can be beneficial, for reasons I’ll expound upon in part 2

Until next post–Natasha.

“If He raised the dead…”

If anyone has ever been forced to read Flannery O’Connor’s works for a class, then they’ve probably read “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” And though I thought from the title it might be a witty commentary on the modern way of dating, I was sadly disappointed to find out that  it mean a good man in general is hard to find…or woman.

Anyway, I’ll spare you the grisly details. The story really only has one interesting point or two in my mind, and that one is where the villain of the story, “The Misfit” discusses God with the grandmother, either our protagonist, victim, or other villain, depending on how you look at it. The Misfit declares that there is no way of knowing if Jesus really performed all the miracles he did, but that the most crucial one to know of would be if He indeed raised the dead. If he did, the Misfit thinks, then he was who he said He was. If he didn’t…then not.

The grandmother is unsure what to say, finding out that in the moment of danger it can be hard to actually believe what you’ve been in the habit of believing.

Jesus raising the dead is probably one of the hardest miracles for people to believe in. It’s the one that pushes our concept of what could be possible just a little too far.

Actually the Misfit is off if he thinks just that was proof. Some of the prophets also raised the dead, and later it is thought that Paul did the same, and Peter did it too.

And I’ve heard stories of it even in our modern time. Though it’s surprising how many people would be skeptical just because of that, who wouldn’t be of the Bible stories. We think that because it’s written down it’s far away, and somehow less spectacular.

Jesus raising the dead can be a weird story anyway, he did it no less than three times at least. Not counting after the crucifixion. One time, most famously, it was Lazarus; another time it was a man  Jairus’es daughter, and the third time it was the son of a widow. The last two times it was pretty straightforward but the Lazarus story is bizarre. Jesus purposely delays going to see him so that he cab perform the miracle to show his disciples that death has no power over Him. Yet with Jairus’es daughter he purposely makes sure not that many people are there to see.

Jesus mourns for Lazarus and his sisters’ grief even though he knows what is coming. Showing he does not minimize our pain, and that’s important, since we all know more people die than come back from the dead.

I think people are chary of this notion also because the culture has made an occult and zombie driven ritual of raising the dead. It’s easy to forget that those things are cheap imitations. I look at any power trick evil has as simply imitating something good.

This doesn’t answer he question of whether he did it or not. And to answer that,  and the corresponding criticism that religious people will believe anything, I would simply say that skeptics will believe anything in order to doubt.

If on can accept the other miracles Jesus did, then one has to accept that he raised the dead. It’s as simple as that. It’s all or none with God,, no half baked faith.

It’s funny that the Misfit imagines he’d want to believe any more if he’d been there, to those who have an open heart, all miracles are wonders, and to those who don’t every miracle is but a terror. We’ve probably all felt that panic at something totally unknown and strange to us, usually it lasts only a few moments till we get a reasonable explanation worked out, but a miracle is hard to dot hat with.

God’s miracles are things you have to get used to, but you can, most people don’t know that it’s possible.

Why though, is the Resurrection of the Dead so important to us, and to Christ, enough to make a statement of it?

There’s an idea that’s been going around for a long time that we should accept death as  a part of life. The phrase is kind of a self aware oxymoron. But it’s a part of several religions, and people can find it comforting to look at death as normal. We hate to feel like we’re particularly unlucky in experiencing loss.

But, The Bible would actually encourage people not to accept death, if it were taken at it’s word.

not only does it not ever tell us to just accept it and move on, but it deliberately makes a point of saying God is Lord even over death, and that he will overthrow it. Even the psalms are full of references to resurrection. We are told that event hose who die fro God are merely “sleeping” (which by the way, is I believe where the habit of calling it “at rest” came from.) In fact Jesus calls death sleep in at least two f the cases where he raises the dead, Lazarus and the girl.

This seems like denial…until they start to rise, and the Bible never gives us any indication that they were anything but normal. Jesus himself acts the same after he is raised from the dead…only cheerier perhaps now that the ordeal is over. We know that they ate. What we don’t know is how they felt about it.

We do know, from later scriptures that raising people from the dead is not the same as being given our new heavenly bodies. These people still have to eat and drink. They still walk the earth. It’s more of a returning to the norm, then it is becoming new.

That said, since becoming a new man is the whole point of Christianity, is raising the dead even necessary to the faith? Many would say no, because they don’t really believe it, or think it doesn’t effect them.

And hopefully I haven’t lost those of you who don’t believe this at all. Though I think I would have a long time ago if I were to.

But as I said, Jesus made a point of knowing us that death isn’t really so powerful. I think there are many reasons, one is that He doesn’t want us to fear it, another is that signs and wonders are part of serving him, still another is simply compassion.

What I wonder is why some people got a second chance at life. They probably didn’t need it to go to heaven, so why come back? It seems like it’s more for their loved ones. I really can’t answer that, I don’t know enough.

For now, I think I’ll just conclude with the thought that Raising the Dead is one of he pillars of the faith for a reason. Maybe we should all think about what that means to us.

Until next time–Natasha.

The Gauntlet.

You know, I love to draw meaning from stories, it’s one of the most fun things I know of. I hope all of you have had that experience of sitting (or standing) with someone and just analyzing a story you both like. You get such a satisfied feeling afterward.

As I mentioned, I’ve been watching RWBY, and the show is just too good not to analyze in depth. There’s a lot to choose from, but today I’m thinking of one of its more sobering themes. It’s problematic, but it plays into a common concern parents and teachers, as well as young people like myself, have with entertainment, and how we should prepare kids for the world.

RWBY has, ever since season 2, not hesitated to bring up the question of when children should be considered adults. The idea the show deals with is if it’s really correct to call kids kids after they’ve taken up the gauntlet to fight for good.

This dilemma is presented literally by Yang, a girl who actually uses “gauntlets” to fight, and makes a point on multiple occasions of saying she doesn’t consider herself a kid. Now that she (spoiler alert) has made the choice to risk her life defending the world, been on a mission armed to the teeth, and then lost her arm defending her friend, she feels pretty adult.

Yang’s perspective is understandable, but it is counted by her mentor Ozpin and also her father, Ozpin never talks to Yang about it specifically but he does wish for the youth on the show to retain some of their child-likeness as long as they can, knowing it won’t be for long. He also hopes they will  not lose their sens of humor. Yang’s father Tai tells her directly that she’s still got a lot to learn, just fighting and undergoing trauma doesn’t make her an adult.

Yang does go on to prove she is growing up by making her own difficult choices. But we are still left wondering if it had to be that way. And if it’s right for children to take on such adult roles.

It’s an old problem on shows with young characters that they tend to act more adult than the adults, but this show takes a closer look at why that is. Maybe the simple truth is that we talk down to kids, and they are capable of handling far more than we realize.

Children, as any teacher who’s had any success might tell you, are capable of grasping very deep subjects, often faster than adults do. Things like loss can be hard on kids, but sometimes they still handle it better than adults.

It depends on the person, but it’s fair to say that children surprise us with their maturity often enough to make us question if sheltering them really makes sense.

i don’t mean you shouldn’t protect kids from knowing about evil. But some people think that includes not telling them about suffering and pain, and that’s not something we really can keep from kids. There’s no sense dwelling on it, but if it comes up, should we hedge around it as we often try to do?

RWBY is honest about one thing: This is war. As a kid, that’s what I was told. We’re in a war between good and evil. That wasn’t hard to accept…it’s not really like that’s news to a child. They see the fight all around them.

But in a war there are casualties, an damages, and wounds, and losses. What do we do with those? Some say we should encourage children to think about the happier things in life as long as they can. Others that we should not shield them from harsh realities.

If I might offer some insight on what I think the real answer is…

I think that we over think it, honestly. Unfortunately, the reason we do that is because we have the luxury of it. Not so long ago, most kids would have known someone who had died, or had lost a close family member. Tragedy would not have been a strange notion to kids. They weren’t sheltered from it because there was no way for them to be. Parents couldn’t hide the truth. Cruelty and hate were things kids witnessed, not just in bullying or movies or online, but in person. Between adults.

In many countries, this is still the case. I don’t know why the West doesn’t get it, honestly, I think it’s because we spend so much time running from realities like that ourselves. For some reason, we think our happily ever after comes without a struggle.

It’s not that we should give up on happy endings, which our culture has more of than most, all over its’ fiction and sayings and ideals, and I love that about America; but we tend to pass over the part in every story where the hero or heroine had to got through nearly hell to get to the better ending.

It’s quite simple, if you want a mediocre, quiet ending, then live mediocre and run from what would make you a hero. If you want a truly happy ending, then you have to embrace the sorrow in life and let it temper you into something new.

My pastor pointed out this past Sunday that Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” He said “we need to learn how to mourn.”

And that got to me, because, I don’t know how.

Golly gee whiz, I’m not the only one am I? As a freaking culture, we don’t know how to mourn. Our whole message to people is that if you get knocked down, you get right back up. You shove people’s abuse of you right back at them. You keep moving forward.

Well, yeah, you should, but first you have to mourn.

If we hold it together all the time, then our strength will be brittle and a strong enough blow will shatter us. But if we let ourselves break over and over again, we’ll heal a little faster each time.

And this applies so much to children.  I wasn’t usually told to stop crying when I was upset as a kid. Mostly, I could express my feelings. But I still bottled them up out of insecurity, a huge part of my christian journey was learning to cry over my hurt. And just let myself admit it sucked. It’s funny, when you quit trying to be strong all the time, you find things aren’t so hard to bear. Not with God’s help.

And other people’s.

And dang it, that’s what we need to tell kids. Yes, you’ll have hard times. But it’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s because we treat suffering like it’s something to fear that it’s so hard to deal with it. It can be scary, but that doesn’t mean we need to fear it coming.

And there is comfort. That’s important to remember.

–Natasha.

 

Who is the answer?

In English Class they make you study the worst of humanity. But there are some interesting works covered, like William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience.

If you took any subject that involved poetry there’s a good chance you know about Blake already, but I’ll outline it for those who haven’ts. The Songs is a collection of poems covering multiple subjects from two perspectives, one of childlike innocence, and one of more mature (and cynical) experience.

Blake will talk something like a chimney sweep (back in the day, those were little boys because they could fit inside the stack;) a procession of orphans on Holy Thursday, a garden; or a lamb and a tiger; and look at it first how a child would, with simplicity and a rose tinted view of the world, and then switch int he corresponding poem to an adult’s perspective, aware of all the bad things in the world.

It’s a unique idea, and it brings to mind how many poets and writers turn more cynical in their later days anyway. I think one reason, among many, is that they realize their ideas aren’t enough to fix the world’s problems.

Humans have this odd notion that our beliefs and ideals are enough to inspire people to resolve the issues int he world. With our Civil Rights Movement, protests, charities, and speeches, and of course, art.

I believe in all those things, but I have no illusions that they’ll work for everyone, at all times. My professor was commenting on how sad it was that it took a full hundred years from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement to really change how people felt about African Americans. My private reaction “A hundred years seems like a long time for human to change their culture to you? The world’s been around thousands of years and slaver and other evils still exists, they just shift around. It’s not like we’re getting rid of it altogether. Any progress a nation makes in eradicating an evil is a fight against the odds.”

I’m not cynical, I’ve just come to realize that mankind is not the answer to the world’s problems. At one time, perhaps we were, but since then we’ve become too much of the problem.

I don’t buy into that sci-fi super-villain mentality that mankind is a disease, by any means. I just consider us too much of a mixed bag. We undo each other’s work. We make progress for a century or two, and then we lose it. We ebb and flow. That’s okay. Because we aren’t the answer, we’re just part of the solution.

You can guess where I’m going with this, of course, Jesus is the answer.

Seriously, as often as we hear that, do we get it? Christians get all fired up over how we can change the world around us…I think “The Bible doesn’t say to change the world. The Bible says we need to change. We need to be different from the world. And then those in it will either come to the light, or they will shun it.” Jesus commanded us to make disciples, not to turn political tides.

I don’t have a problem with doing that. We are citizens on this planet and should promote its well being as much as we can. But at the end of the day, we don’t belong to the world, and the world won’t save us. And we can’t save it.

I pray for what goes on in the world, but I recognize that is is what is important to me that I can affect the most. I used to think my life wouldn’t be effective unless I reached a lot of people. I still believe that’s possible, but now I also see that numbers aren’t what’s important.

What is important is people, individuals.

“The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual – for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.”– M. Scott Peck.

This is the true battle.