The Cruelty of God–2: Polaroid

I talked about why God has the right to take things, but this does not exactly answer the question of whether it is cruel for Him to do so, only that it is not wrong.

And there are multiple reasons. But for the kind of thing I was talking about, the thing most precious to you, there is an answer that no one likes, but everyone needs to hear.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the way human beings tend to love things. While thinking about it, I started thinking of the song by Imagine Dragons, Polaroid.

If you haven’t heard it, the lyrics go like this:

“I’m a reckless mistake, I’m a cold night’s intake, I’m a one night too long, I’m a come on too strong.

Chorus: All my life I’ve been living in the fast lane, can’t slow down I’m a rolling freight train, one more time gotta start all over, can’t slow down I’m a lone red rover.

I’m a hold my cards close, I’m a wreck what I love most, I’m a first class let down, I’m a shut up, sit down.

I am head case, I am the color of boom, that’s never arriving, yet you are the pay raise, always a touch out of view, and I am the color of boom…

Chorus

I’m a midnight talker, I’m an alley walker, I’m a day late two face, I’m a burn out quick pace. 

I am a head case, I am the color of boom that’s never arriving, yet you are the opera, always in time and in tune, and  I cat he color of boom…

Chorus

I’m gonna get ready, for the rain to pour heavy, let it fall, let it fall, let it fall upon my head…”

What I noticed about this song was that the man compares himself to a bunch of negative things, and what they all have in common is this idea of falling short by going too far. He can’t stop himself. He’s reckless, too cold, he goes one night too long, he comes on too strong.

The whole image of a fast lane, and being a rolling freight train implies he is stuck on high speed. He even says “can’t slow down.” And when he start all over, he does the same thing. Which is why he’s alone.

Holding cars close implies he also goes too far with secrecy and caution. Leading him to wreck what he loves. Making him a let down, and someone people tell to shut up and sit down because he goes too far.

He then says this had made him a head case. The color of boom imagery ties in to how hard he tries, but int he end he just looks like he’s going to come through, and then he never does.

His frustration is that the person he’s singing to is out of his reach because he can’t get it under control.

The last verse suggests being alone and in the dark, and using up your life too fast.

Then, even more interesting, he compares himself to the other person, saying they are always in time and in tune. They have the self control he lacks, and it makes them beautiful.

Then, on a more hopeful note, he turns to rain. Something that he can’t control, but can save his life. The only thing with more than enough to satisfy him.

How does this relate? I’m glad you asked. (I hope you asked.)

What Imagine Dragons has hit upon with this song is the same thing in “Till We Have Faces” and “Hinds Feet on High Places.” When we love, we go too far, and not far enough at the same time. By not being able to stop and be satisfied, we ruin our chances. (Notice in the song, letting the rain fall on his head is the one time he stops moving.) God does not have that problem.

We cling to everything we can get our hands on. We have that one thing we stake all on, and if it is not God, he is, as that commentator scornfully said, a jealous God.

And only someone who scorned God could not see why He should be.

We destroy ourselves and each other in our mad quest for satisfaction. Or, in some cases, our absolute refusal to be satisfied by anything but dissatisfaction. (Apathy, pessimism, cynicism.) We hold our sins–and our virtues–so tightly, we become slaves to them.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but it ends in death.” (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25.)

God is more than right to call us on this, but He does more than that. He will wrench the thing from our grasp.

If it’s a person, or if it’s our career, or if it is a thing, it usually doesn’t matter. It may not b e a death, it could just be a separation. It could be hospitalization for it. That’s not really the point.

We worship these things, when we should only worship God.

Frankly, it is our desire to have our cake, at all costs, that kills us.

You are addicted to TV, it breaks, you replace it.

My dad used to be addicted to a video game, it would break our computer. The computer would freeze up playing the game, but not doing other things. To us, the hint was clear, but he would just buy a new computer. Not that we could afford it.

I’m happy to say he has quit, but for years it was a problem.

God seems cruel to do this to us. But if he let us live in that, we would put ourselves into our own hell. We want to be left alone to ruin our lives, they are ours right? But God will not leave us alone.

People can hate Him for that, but for my part, I decided a long time ago that I love Him for it, I did not like how life under my idol felt.

When God takes something; sometimes, even often, He later gives it back, now redeemed; purified from our addiction, we can enjoy it for the good it actually was.

But in the end, it is more important to have God himself. And I will not apologize for saying so. The worst time of my life has been when I felt I did not have Him.

Until next time–Natasha.

The Cruelty of God.

I’ve had this phrase stuck in my head since last night. It sounds blasphemous, but I promise, I have not fallen off the deep end.

This thought has come to me from a few different directions. One thing that started it was a rather nasty string of comments under a Christian Movie review of Left Behind (the terrible 2014 one.)

Commentater: Good question! The Christian God is fond of punishing the sons for the sins of the father, so maybe the baby would just be born in a shit world?

I mean, the Catholic idea of “original sin” is Adam’s sin, which needs to be washed away with baptism. Other Christian denominations think Jesus’s blood solved the whole original sin deal with the crucifixion alone. But 40 years of wandering in the desert was because of the golden calf worship; that’s a definite example of kids paying for their parents’s misstep. (To, ahem, say nothing of the genocides committed by Israelites when God was like “These people don’t believe in me. Feel free to kill them all.”) Even the Christian God brags about it when he’s all “I’m a jealous God, and I will mess up your kids if you cross me.” So yeah, I guess from a Christian perspective I can see that it would be like ‘Let that atheist bitch have her godless kid during the apocalypse; serves them right for not believing!” It certainly fits with the mythology.

Boy, these people sound embittered.
I hope it’s okay to quote them anoyomously, since comments are basically anyoumous. I ahve no idea who these people are.
And I don’t want to attack them personally. They simply sum up an idea I’ve seen before; and I have asked myself, if God is good, then why okay such things?
Even in Christian’s personal relationship with God, he can do things that seem terribly cruel. Just read Job.
The cruelty of God has been summed up by one lady who said “If this is how you treat your friends, I can see why you have so few.”
And in nowhere have I seen it better handled (outside of the Bible) than in that underrated book Hinds Feet on High Places. (I mean, maybe it’s not underrated, it might be too specific to be widely popular.)
In that story, Much Afraid is asked to sacrifice the human love in her heart, a love that it rooted in every fiber of her being, and it hurts terribly to do this.
Another good book for the subject is “The Great Divorce.”Though C. S. Lewis is not one to humor delusion. He shows quite clearly why the things we cling t are bad for us.
But the cruelty of God is simply this:He demands of us what is most precious, and were are most invested in, the very thing we built our life on, staked our hopes and dreams one, and would die for, HE demands us to Give UP…or, if we won’t, often He takes it from us.
Job said “The Lord gave me what I have, the Lord has taken it away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
I’ll need to split this post int two parts to properly cover my point, so in this one, I will focus on the charge against God and how it might be answered, and the next one, I will lay out why I think God might have a few things to say of us in return that could shift our perspective.
But like all humans, I have a limited view of things, and there is likely more to it than I can say.
So, first of all, the Charge that it is cruel for God to take children or parents away. As made by the commentators above, and millions of other people through time.
Why is it not made by Job? he was not wicked or rebellious against God, God pronounced Him righteous in fact. Satan is the one who accused him, God let Satan take away even his children.
Job says “God gave me what I have, God has taken it away.”
God’s response at the end of Job is much the same. “I made all this, can you make these things? Then why do you question my right to do as I wish with them?”
God in his humility sometimes deigns to explain things to us, but we demand explanations when we should instead just be thankful for them. Why should God have to explain Himself to us?
The simple fact is, God owns everything…so how can he take it?
It is our problem that we stupidly imagine we own anything in this world that he has not let us have.
I don’t expect this to comfort a bereaved person. Only someone with faith already developed can find comfort in this knowledge. But it still stands. For comfort, we must focus on God’s kindness and patience.
And it is there. Few deities allow themselves to be questioned. Most pagans would not dare to do so of their smaller gods. It is because we first do not believe in God, and second, know that he will not strike us for questioning him, that we take advantage of that freedom.
The charge that it is cruel to kill children for their parents sins is somewhat more serious. That has to do with justice, not ownership.
Not many people like the idea that parent’s own their children in the West. Though at the time the Bible was written, it would not have been questioned. Until you were married, you belonged to your parent. Marriage was the great liberator. Boy, how perceptions have changed.
 God later promises that will no longer be the case, but the reason it ever was it a little more complicated.
It has been scientifically proven that some sins or tenancies to sin get passes down to the 4th generations, which is how far God says he will punish. According to the Bible, the unfortunate outcome of Adam sinning was that sinning became genetic. Our bodies carry the mark of it, as well as our souls.
I do things I’ve seen my parents do, you do too, if you have kids, they copy you.
Frankly, God could punish children just as easily for what they do was for what their parents do. God does not punish innocent people, but if you are already guilty, then family guilt will be added to personal guilt, and in the end, which it is does not matter nearly as much as we pretend it does.
God does not say he will kill the children for their parents sin, by the way. Frankly, no one even in our present time would think it strange if the child of a known criminal or tyrant tried to make amends for what their parent did, we would think it stranger if they didn’t care. And in some cases, the law might even hold them to that.
There were times when children dies for their parents sin. Well, there was two times that come to mind. Only in one case was the child innocent that we know of. And that was David and Bathsheba’s first child.
David does not blame God, he accepts that he will see his son in heaven. It is not, strictly speaking, the child that was punished. David lost the joy of raising him, (he was an affectionate father, we know–maybe too much so,) but the child was not worse off. If anything, going straight to heaven is a reward.
I suppose again, the problem here is if you have no faith, that is cold comfort.
There isn’t much I can say about that. Any defense of God, is first, unnecessary, and second, only sensible if you believe in Him.
Paul said you have to believe that God is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. That he is good, in other words.
That’s all I can cover now, but in part two I’ll break this down more–until next post, Natasha.

The Snake Cycle.

Okay, Thomas Sanders, I admit it, you are a freaking genius.

You may not know it, but it’s buried in there.

I was reading  a book by G. K. Chesterton and I came cross an analogy for eastern philosophy’s view of eternity that arrested my attention, because I hear it used elsewhere.

Ironically, I do not think Thomas Sanders, winner of best YouTube Comedian Shorty award (hope I spelled that right), knew exactly what he stumbled on…or Joan, his friend who helps research and write this stuff.

It’s the snake devouring its own tail picture. I did not know it was a real symbol, but apparently it is. (In occult stuff, as well as Viking culture. Weird.)

9eff4aa32768e751963a2221e13b98b0

I believe, given what I know of odd eastern mysticism, it would mean in that context that eternity flows in and out of itself, it feeds into itself, starting over and over again, regenerating, reincarnating.

Some cultures view time as cyclical, or traveling in a circle, which is why we have repeating patterns.

The biblical view of time is better represented by a wheel that rolls on a line, like the seraphs from Ezekiel’s vision, cycles repeat, but changes and alternations and progress still happen. Time is a vehicle getting us from one place to another. The only way a mortal being could travel without being burned up.

You’ll find the idea in “A Wrinkle in Time,” the 4th dimension is time, which is another way of saying the 3rd dimension is solid objects and the 4th is them moving. The 5th dimension is moving through time, or more accurately, moving time itself. Bending it.

That’s not really relevant to this, except as a concept slightly different from the repetition of the eastern view.  Even they think you reincarnate into better or worse states, as I said in my last post, all religion seems to share the idea of a better or worse end after death. In this case Karma is what decides that.

To be fair, I’m sure there’s nuance depending on whether you’re Hindu, Buddhist, or some other variation of a reincarnation-believing religion that I don’t know about because I live in the West. (Hey, it’s hard to keep track when you don’t live in it.)

But the point is, Thomas Sanders links this odd idea to the idea of losing motivation. He only applies it to creating his videos, but it easily applies to more than that. He actually sort of acknowledges this in other videos about “Why do we get up in the morning?” and “Learning New Things about Ourselves.” Even coming into the more lighthearted “Becoming a Cartoon.” He has a habit of getting existential.

Being the unashamed nerd that I am, I find his philosophy to be the most interesting part of his videos.

If you want to see for yourself, 6:00 minutes in is where the part that really interests me happens. I want to give credit where it’s due.

 

Patton (Morality) describes the creative process as a whole, mushy vision, and the solution to this is Logic. Yet Chesterton points out that a purely logical way of viewing things only narrows your perspective. The creative process may be unclear, but that mirrors how we see life, not always clear on what is happening, but able to see more because we cannot see all, than by trying to fit all into our logical minds.

That leads to a very dark, bleak, panic as Logic in this video discovers, being the solution to a problem he has caused. And those who try to see the world with reason alone find themselves in that  position, as Chesterton elaborates:

“Their position is quite reasonable; nay, in a sense it is infinitely reasonable, just as a threepenny bit is infinitely circular. But there is such a thing a mean infinity, a base and slavish eternity. It is amusing to notice that many of the moderns, whether skeptics or mystics, have taken as their sign a certain eastern symbol, which is the very symbol of this ultimate nullity. When they wish to represent eternity, they represent it by a serpent with his tail in his mouth. There is a startling sarcasm in the image of that very unsatisfactory meal. The eternity of the material fatalists, the eternity of the eastern pessimists, the eternity of the supercilious theosophists and higher scientists of to-day is, indeed, very well presented by a serpent eating his tail, a degraded animal who destroys himself.” (Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton. Pg 47.)

This got me to thinking about the anime I watch. I’ve noted this particular philosophy to be present in it. It’s a common one in anime, and other eastern influenced stuff, it’s also frequently found in the Church. It’s a common idea to men.

That you can, like with a piece of wood, whittle your character down into something beautiful and smooth.

katsuki-bakugou-my-hero-academic-4k-3o

My Hero Academia‘s eastern philosophy of lopping off all the bad habits and tenancies and honing your skills down to the basics. That you have a basically good nature, with potential, but you need to be trimmed, (it is literally expressed almost that exact way in Best Jeanist’s words to Katsuki Bakugo in Season 2.) It’s basically the same thing. And the same as the materialism which Chesterton is referring to, which by the way, he compares to madness.

The idea that materialism shuts out everything but just the material. It’s literally the definition, but the definition is awful, he thinks, because it is so narrow.

It may encompass the whole world in that it is a world view, but it also shuts out much of the world, anything that can’t be measured by matter. Including our emotions.

My Hero Academia is not that extreme. It certainly has a better worldview than materialism. It’s not completely wrong to think we should cut out the bad things of our lives.

The bible teaches that.

But here’s where it deviates, and I may add, where Thomas’s Logic has to cooperate with his Morality, since he is smart enough to know nullity is not the way:

The Bible says not just to remove evil, but to replace it with good. The idea is not to be some enlightened martial arts master, cut off from all negative emotions, inner peace is not the annihilation of troubling feelings, but the overcoming of them with better ones.

Few people can succeed at shutting off their feelings completely, even depression is a feeling, and those who can are only less able to understand them. But it’s far most possible to overcome our emotions by focusing on better things. OF course, we still deal with the bad stuff, but we do not dwell on it.

I could go for a long time about all the fictional examples of this, and even real life ones, but I think I can leave it here.

Good for you Sanders.

And Chesterton is a genius also.

Until Next Time–Natasha.

 

Rebirth.

I’m still perusing the 39 clues series, I just finished book 4. Despite my post about how profound these books actually were, I was surprised to din this passage:

Irina stared ahead at the wall. Rebirth, she realized. This chamber wasn’t about death at all. It was about rebirth.

Could that happen? After a life lived, after choice after choice after choice led you someplace small and dark…could you…change?

To give you a little context, Irina is an ex-KGB spy with the expected checkered past to match, and she is looking at an Egyptian painting of a queen going into the afterlife.

She recognizes the subtle idea hidden in almost all mythology somewhere, of new life.

This is not really a romantization on my part, or hers, surely anyone can see that any idea of the afterlife is a suggestion that we can have a new kind of life. Generally a better one than we have here.

Some people think that this being common to all cultures is a sign of how we fear death and want some kind of weak comfort out of it.

Such a person writes off heaven as wishful thinking.

What that person would be missing is two things: One, why do we fear death? And two, why are our ideas of what happens after it so oddly similar across culture. There’s an afterlife, but many common themes in even what kind of after life it is emerge. Themes like wealth, ruling, reunion with loved ones, and there being two different kinds of afterlife. The idea of being able to help our loved ones achieve the good life is a theme in many religions also, from Native American to Egyptian to the Catholic idea of Purgatory. (to be fair, I believe the idea of paying people out of it is now old, but it was the norm in Martin Luther’s day.)

But why do we fear death at all? And why do some religions even carry an idea of dying before you die? Of getting renewed even in this life?

Irina is contemplating this, and you could almost see her quoting those lines for Jean Valjean in Les Miserables: “Take an eye for an eye, turn your heart into stone, this is all I have lived for, this is all I have known.”

Since I was using the 39 clues as an example of family problems, why not put this into that context?

It’s opening a can of worms to even ask how many of us have lived to get even with their relatives who hurt them. To see that they get paid back.

Or, how many of us have, as in Irina’s case, lived under the thumb of some of them. Unable to free ourselves because of our own weakness and desires to get ahead.

Never let it be said the root of fear and cowardice is not selfishness.

I can just feel how uncomfortable even thinking about it would make some of us, myself included. Ugh, I don’t want to think about it. How could I be so stupid as to try to even the odds? How can I still sometimes just wish to retaliate, regardless of the consequences.

If you’ve never felt like this,you are probably perfect…or you have no family. Sorry if that’s the case, but it’s a safe bet most of you do.

It’s not really mistakes that ruin a family dynamic, but the inability to move past them.

Whether someone can’t forget because it was just too traumatic, or because they are too spiteful to not want a shot at revenge, or because the other person is still dong it and constantly reminds them, family drama is a mess.

How many of us have the estranged sibling, the difficult child, the absent or abusive parent, or the critical extended family?

You don’t have to raise your hand.

Just thinking about it is painful.

So, what do we do? We have a terrible time even forgiving ourselves, let alone them.

It’s the sheer beauty of what she sees that make Irina start to wonder about rebirth. Could it be true?

Once, she’s back out, away from it, in the distraction of everyday, noisy life; she pushes it away. Yet the seed has been planted. Irina eventually ends up turning around.

Hope of that sorts sees fragile, better in fiction, but in our real sometimes awful situations, is it even possible?

Yes, it is.

The path of rebirth begins with wanting it. Sometimes it takes a terrible loss, a huge blow up, or sometimes it takes seeing a picture of something better. I’ve wanted it after seeing movies with more positive role models than I always had in my real life.

For your sake, I hope your calling comes through beauty, but may times it is through pain. Sometimes a mix of both.

Really, the method is not the important part. What we do with it is. Do we finally open ourselves up to rebirth? New life? A new way? Whatever the cost?

Or do we go back out into the everyday, noisy, busy crowds and lose ourselves in them.

How does rebirth happen?

It always involves a death first.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:25.

There really is no avoiding my faith while talking about rebirth, even if I wished to. Jesus died for us already, but He also teaches us that we must die ourselves in order to be reborn.

“3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

“…And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3)

You know what’s interesting is that I’ve read and watched all sorts of genres, and been debriefed on related ones, to the point where I know the idea of dying is almost always tied to redemption and new beginnings.

The more mystical genres, such as many animes, fantasy movies/shows/books, and superhero sci-fi on occasion, have death along with resurrection. From Dragonball to Harry Potter to time travel epics to Superman, people die and come back to life in order to get final victory.

Genres like The 39 Clues are a little more practical, but the same theme of self sacrifice remains. especially in war stories. It is just irreversible. (The few exceptions to this are usually too weird and creepy to be valuable.)

Irina’s story also involves death in order for her redemption to be complete.

The idea I’m presenting is not really disputed, in fact, it just goes unacknowledged by most people.

God promises that with the death of our old self, the rebirth of our new selves will happen immediately.

“26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36.)

Change starts with you. That is perhaps the truest teaching of Gandhi, and it was hardly original. It might be more precise to say change starts within you.

All you have to do is ask and want it. Really want it. Sometimes we just have to be sick of ourselves before we can be willing to let go of all our grudges and selfishness.

Irina was sick of herself. And so was I, when it was my turn. I like myself much better now.

Until next time–Natasha.

The 39 Clues to Family.

So, I’ve been rereading an old favorite series of mine called The 39 Clues. Only the first ten books, it got weird, dark, and gritty after that.

But the first ten books were actually brilliant in their own way, the series went wrong because it deviated from their theme. They were concerned with the actual clues.

Let me summarize if you are not up on the plot (and the books aren’t all that well known so don’t feel bad if you aren’t.) Our main characters are Amy and Dan Cahill, they belong to an old and powerful family of over 500 years of being the most gifted, powerful individuals in the world. Many famous historical figures were supposedly Cahills; but, thankfully, this is not your typical Illuminati type story.

Instead of trying to rule the world, the Cahills contribute to it, with arts, science, strategy, inventions, and impressive physical feats like scaling Mt. Everest. The Cahill family has 5 branches, four of which have a them that relates to some particular gifting. Strategy and Cunning is one; Intelligence in inventing and science is another; Creativity in the arts; and physical prowess.

Amy and Dan start off not knowing about any of this, or what the family’s big secret it is. Or that the 5th branch, is one without a particular gifting, but they do have a focus: Reconciliation. Because, like most families, the Cahills a have a lot of junk and an ongoing feud of five centuries full of blood, backstabbing, and theft, all in a quest for power.

(Spoilers if you read past this point, but the books have been out for so long, I doubt it matters.)

The secret turns out to be a serum that give you all the gifts I listed above, the four branches each got one fourth of it, but the completed serum would make you a better superhuman than Captain America…and also corrupt you.

Amy, in book 10, reflects that she’s glad she and Dan come from the Madrigals, the branch without serum in their DNA, because though it does not make you evil, it does make the temptation to power hunger so much stronger. Messing with genetics is never a good idea and never without its drawbacks.

However, Madrigals, like most different groups, are hated by the rest of the branches, who also hate each other. So, she and Dan don’t broadcast their heritage till it unfortunately comes out by circumstances beyond their control…or fortunately, as it turns out.

Long before then, Amy and Dan learn that their parents were part of the clue hunt, and were killed by the mother of two of their rivals, Ian and Natalie Kabra, Isabel Kabra, the culprit, is a psychopath in fine degree. Who tries then to kill Amy and Dan several times, enlisting the aid of her children, who blindly assume she is not actually going to go throug with it.

Amy at first hates Isabel when she finds out, and almost gets Dan killed by angering the woman; but then she ends up being given the chance to either get ahead in the game, or to save the life of Ian, who by the way, pretended to like her and then dumped her and tried to bury her alive…yeah, nice guy.

Amy has just found out she’s a Madrigal at this point, and that they are supposed to be evil, even that her parents were supposedly responsible for a lot of the deaths of innocent people (they are later cleared, but she did not know this yet,) and yet she drops the item that would give her the huge advantage, and saves Ian.

She later tells Dan what is one of the most important themes in the series: I saved Ian, I can’t be inherently evil. Just because we’re madrigals, doesn’t mean we still can’t be good. (Not a direct quote by the way, just a paraphrase.)

Amy and Dan become full Madrigals and learn their branches true task, but they are not sure they can embrace it and try to unite the branches, because they are not sure they can forgive them. In the end, though, they realize that this is what they want to do.

But how? And that is what begins my look at what these books got right.

As I reread book 1, it struck me how the series is a perfect illustration of a thing that Christians call “Generational Sins.” Or, “Generational Curses.”

The idea comes from a verse in the Bible where it says God is a jealous God, “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.” (Deuteronomy 5:9.)

Science has, in the last century, proven what was obvious long before then, that families pass down sins.

In L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series, it becomes a running joke about certain families, like Sloans, Pyes, Pringles, Drews. Macallisters, and so on. Each family has characteristics, sometimes shown by physical appearance like goggle eyes, other times jut a reputation for pride and nastiness.

It’s not contested much in the books, but it’s the idea. It’s also part of the Classic Southern Mindset about old families. And the English idea of needing to marry into a respectable family. It’s in nearly every culture.

Yet outside of medical issues, it can be completely ignored in American culture. Or if it isn’t, the reason for it escapes people.

The verse above says God punishes the the third and fourth generation’s sins. Which seems unfair, at the time however, there was no way to get rid of sin, and it would be passed down. Adam and Eve tainted the whole human race by sinning, it has become part of our DNA. (Seeing the connection?)

God later promises to no longer punish children for their father’s sins, once they have been redeemed from sin’s power. Then people will stand on their own merit. Even pre-Christ, there were times when the children of a wicked man would turn out good.

The same sins tend to get repeated. Alcoholism can be genetic, so can other addictions, or tenancies. We’ve all heard “You have our father’s temper” or something like that said to us or our friends.

I have an odd mix of my dad and mom’s tempers, so I get it both ways.

It doesn’t take Amy and Dan Cahill long to notice that each branch of their family is subject to certain kinds of cruelty. Whether it’s by manipulation, inventing things that destroy, abusing creative power, or being violent, yet cruelty and callous disregard for life are the common thread. Even though some Cahills are good and kind, there are far too many like that. And they see the same flaws in their family members on the quest.

Pride is a big part of it also. Big shock there.

Amy and Dan don’t have a lot of knowledge or wisdom about what to do, but they end up dong some things right by accident.

Time and again in the clue hunt they spare people’s lives, or help them when they do not have to, or refuse to play dirty;  ultimately Amy even chooses saving someone over getting the serum.

At first the other competitors look down on them for this…but overtime as Amy and Dan continues to pull ahead, and also to prove themselves compassionate, the other members of the family begin to wonder. Why are they trying to kill each other? (Good question right?)

They start to see the real difference between them and Amy and Dan. A difference of heart.

In the end the difference becomes crystal clear, and they all decide to follow Amy and Dan’s lead in trying to forgive and reconcile.

Generational sins suck,majorly. All of us have our own flaws, bu it can be discouraging to realize we have family flaws too. Ones we’re taught, that come out when we least expect, and that seem ingrained in us. Even in our DNA.

Like Ian and Natalie Kabra in book 10, we may have a shocking realization of how messed up our family actually is.

Like Hamilton, we may start to feel guilty for all we did with our family, blindly believing they were right.

Like Jonah Wizard, we may be horrified at the cruelties we’re capable of, and want to shake our family line.

Or, we may be the peacemaker, wondering why our relatives just can’t let go of their hate and envy.

Whatever position you find yourself in, these books provide at least part of the answer. IT is only by practicing compassion, and making a choice to extend mercy, that we can begin to heal.

When a person who has been severely wronged still decides to be merciful, it is one of the most powerful things int he world. Pride breaks, fear dissolves, curses end, and depression lifts.

Mercy is not pretending someone never did wrong, it is giving them the chance to be better by setting them free of your wrath for it.

That is all I’ve got for now, I recommend checking the series out, until next time–Natasha.

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Broadening horizons.

Any other person who’s experienced this is going to recognize this situation almost immediately.

I present to you an ordinary day in my college life going to the language lab to work on French, nice people work there, friendly.

I need to watch a movie, so the person at the desk gets me the catalog. I look through and note one of the movies was one I saw mentioned in y course material, but then I also noted aloud “Oh, but it’s rated R.” At which point I got the look, you know the one, the slightly incredulous/amused look. “You’re in college, I think you could watch an R-rated movie,” she says. To which I replied that I did not really like R-rated content. Indifferently, she said “Well I think you need to broaden your horizons, girl, because it’s really good.” I read the description and it sounded all right. I have certain themes I’ll sit through an R-rated movie for, and at least with R, you know to expect certain scenes and avoid them, unlike PG-13 which can sneak them in when you weren’t looking.Oh, but Natasha, it’s not real.

Yes, they aren’t actually pretending for the camera, they totally aren’t actually touching and kissing, they aren’t actually nude, that’s all CGI now!

(IT’s not CGI, by the way, in case you were wondering if I’m serious. I know not everyone who reads this lives in America, and perhaps the standards are different other places, but here it’s quite ridiculous.

Needless to say, this lady irritated me, but for lack of any real knowledge of French films beyond the terrible one I watched in class (and I was embarrassed by that) I decided to give it a try.

And it eared the R-rating, rather unnecessarily, I thought. It had little to do with the plot. But whatever, I tried to not look whenever I knew what was coming.

The lady also said I seemed kind of judgy as I was looking through the catalog and commenting that one film was probably more depressing in French. (It was Dead Poet’s Society, which is sad already, so it was a joke because French films are known for their sad endings.)

Judgy?

Let me clarify, to me judgy means not simply knowing your own tastes (as I do) but declaring other people’s to be inherently bad because they do not meet your standards, and your standards are based on a sense of self importance, not simple conviction that something is bad to consume.

No one would call it judgy if I chose not to eat McDonald’s but no one would think it was okay for me to say eating there is some kind of crime.

However, man people would be more concerned if I smoked, and not nearly as many would call it judgy to decry it, since it is proven to be harmful.

By the way, have you heard that nobody actually smokes? It’s the cigarette who smokes, the person is the sucker. (Not an original joke on my part.)

Anyway, the point here is that this lady was being kind of judgy of me for commenting on these movies. But my annoyance only increased when I brought the film back and she asked how it was. I admitted I liked it (as in, it was not torture, I don’t think I’d watch it again, it was weird.) She said smugly (though not meanly) “I knew you would. See, you just need to broaden your horizons.” I replied quietly that my standards are based on experience, which I tried to explain before, but she only returned that I should “live life.”

On my way back to my car I though over this and got more annoyed. Broaden my horizons! Spoken with all the confidence of someone who knows nothing about me and what I watch.

Is it really the same thing for me to be skeptical of movies? I can objectively guess what will be in an R-rated film, and if I don’t want to subject myself to it, that is my choice and preference. It’s not that I have never tried it, it is that I have, and found much lacking.

I’ll just say it now: R-rated movies are by and large the most unimaginative, cheap, lazily written, and immoral films I have risked watching. I’m not about to get deeper into it by checking rated X stuff to see if it’s worse, this is bad enough.

R-rated movies substitute swearing for character development; sex for relationship building and two people finding out about each other, which your average crap teen flick will at least try to do; and violence for stakes.

The hard rating and shocking material allows filmmakers to get away with the worst kind of writing, and no one cares, because if they honestly had standards, they would not be watching.

I still remember keenly my disappointment when I watched Children of a Lesser God, a famous movie in the ASL world, and screenplay…and instead of character development, I got them shacking up for half the film and yelling at each other, but neither of them really knew the other well enough for it to feel like a real relationship.

So, one language research movie being such a disappointment, coupled with how much I disliked the other french film I saw, made me skeptical to just assume it would be good.

It was decent.

But the lady who spoke to me honestly would not have cared even if it wasn’t, to her, the whole point was my narrow mindedness, had I hated it, she would have been undeterred because she would have assumed I was too critical–not that I knew what I did like and got exactly what I expected.

Her whole manner was of the sort that your annoying babysitter took with you back in elementary: the superior, more experienced, worldly-wise person, to the young naive, child with overprotective parents.

Are my parents overprotective? I’ve never thought so, I know non-Christian with more protective parents than me. My parents have never stopped me for watching movies I am old enough to watch, if I so choose, my dad used to let my sister watch movies with him that were way too old for them. Which is how they ended up knowing the plot of several adult movie before me, I was always sensitive to disturbing content, like my mom before me.

In my house that was respected. And my dad also realized that just because he likes that stuff did not make it good for him, he’s revised his standards  a lot over the years.

People in this country tend to have an assumption about my type of person. They think we are just too innocent to know how we sound. I am perhaps lucky to get this instead of what my unfortunate peers often get, bullied for being snobs.

My countenance and good manners tend to get me put into the too angelic category of sheltered. The one where they don’t blame you, but think you need to break out of it and not assume you were taught the right thing (and any notion that you could have come to your own conclusions is thrown out immediately. As you can see, even when I told the lady this, she continued to believe I was simply narrow in what I tried.)

Now, if I was mean…or had a more unreserved temper…I could definitely have made this lady think I was the other kind: the pedantic, self-righteous snob sheltered person. They are still discredited, but they just have a manner that makes people more inclined to get mad at them instead of be tolerantly condescending.

I knew I couldn’t change her mind either way. I could only convince her I was crazy on top of it all.

But the whole episode reminded me that I have been treated like this time and gain by various people my entire life. It happened as early on as age 4-5 by my relatives, and still continues this day from some of them, though they now know me to be more assertive so the  belittling tone has disappeared, my family is not cruel enough to be mean on purpose. But that does not stop other people who meet me from treating me the same.

Since I am usually established as a nice girl early one in my acquaintance with anyone I usually get the benefit of the doubt, they assume I am judgy because I have never tired to experience anything else. Probably because my parents topped me. joke’s on them, I got exposed to more things because of my dad than by any other person I know. He had his reasons.

I don’t consider myself judgy. I had times when I was in the past, but I criticize things now based on what I’ve seen of them. I am extremely good at predicting patterns however, so if my instinct says “this is going to get bad” I generally believe, and I’m rarely wrong.

Come to think of it, the people who have always treated me as sheltered never actually got any proof that I was. Other than I don’t know what a lot of TV shows and movies are. I once got told Twilight was a great series by just some such people. Who were all of two years older than me at most, one was a year younger, but they actually bullied me because I was so sheltered.

The real proof of it was I didn’t catch on till the last day, but that had much more to do with not being used to people being  cruel to me than to not reading those stupid books. As if Twilight prepares anyone for real world experiences, ha!

Other Christians have treated met hat way too, they never seem to see the sad irony of doing so.

As a kid, I was telling y sister, I was really a firecracker. She remembers our spirited (to put it nicely) fights, I remember sassing my parents, and standing up to way older people than me whenever I considered it necessary. Was I always right, no, a lot of the times I wasn’t. The point is, I was hardly the little angel these “broaden your horizons” people would imply.

If I though it was worth it, I could have been exposed to more mature content earlier if I chose to be.

It often surprises people after they have known me a while to learn that I am not afraid to declare my opinion, even if it’s unpopular, and that instead of being cowed by debate, I get more emboldened by it.

The truth is, I can take anything except that condescending belittlement of being treated like too naive to get it.

And y guess is, the people who use it have met enough people like me to know that it is most effective in shutting us down. It is unfair, to be sure, but their fear of us makes them wish to put us off.

It’s funny to me how people either act surprised when I say I can be opinionated, or say “yeah, I could see that.”

You know though, my personality is not really the point. Someone could be a meek and mild person, but just as firm in their convictions, and have good reasons for them; they would still be discredited.

I feel I was done a disservice by other members of the church who treated me this way. Though I deal with the same temptations myself sometimes around kids. My Sunday school calls me out for suing words they are told are rude (though they are not cuss words.) I am trying to respect that, since I know how I felt when I was their age. There are few things worse to a christian kid then when their Sunday school teacher does not uphold the values they are taught.

Anyway, this was a lot more of a rant than I meant it to be, but I think there’s some good points in there, it boils down to respect.

I don’t expect respect from the world for my beliefs, but it is difficult to tolerate the scarecrow they set up in my place that they can then ignore or knock over as they choose, since it is not actually what  I think, and I guess I would like to encourage other people who have had this experience not to assume these people are right.

Being sheltered is a paradox anyway, in some ways we are exposed to far more than the average kid in America…but that is not true for other countries. Someday I might have to compare notes with someone who grew up in Africa and see just how much more they saw than the average public-schooler. I already know stuff that would shock you.

Anyway, until next time–Natasha.