Friends or Family?

Well my family has left for vacation, and I am staying at home.

I’m not completely alone, my grandma is still here.

This is going to be the longest I’ve gone without seeing my family. Three weeks. It will be hard, my siblings and I are each others’ closest friends.

We spent our last full day together with another friend, and then watching our favorite anime together, (it’s My Hero Academia if you’re wondering.)

One thing we talked about in passing was how we’ve had difficulty befriending someone we know, and it seems like they don’t really want us to.

I pointed out that church (where all but one or two of my friends are) is supposed to be family, as the bible says, but if you look at how we’re instructed to behave to each other, it sounds more like friendship.

Proverbs even says better is a friend close then a brother far away, and there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Then I pointed out that we three have always been family, and we have always related to each other as sisters, but that it was only the past 5 years or so that we chose to also become friends.

Up until 13-14 I’d say, I treated my sisters like sisters. People who annoyed me, and who I could annoy, with no fear that it would end our relationship. There is a security in a healthy family, room to grow up and develop, while making plenty of mistakes along the way that family blows off, while it would end most friendships.

Of course, the biblical way to treat siblings is nothing like that, but as most adolescents, I didn’t care.

But after returning to Christ, I began rethinking how I acted. It didn’t change a whole lot until my sisters did the same thing, but overtime we began to build our relationship into something very strong. We enjoy it now. We enjoy each other’s personalities, and we are our closest confidantes. We have the kind of sibling-hood you read about.

And sometimes that amazes me, because I know it didn’t have to be that way. I’m so glad we all chose to become friends. (There’s actually a show on Disney Channel that addressed this idea, Liv and Maddie, “Sisters by birth, friends by choice.”)

I was comparing it to the Church family. Once you become a christian (as our doctrine goes) you are part of the family. And the basic instructions off the bat are that we accept you as such. overlook you faults the way a family would, and be your support. If we fight, we also forgive quickly.

That’s a family dynamic, a baby Christian needs that because they will get a lot wrong in the first year or so. That’s okay. I did too. And I was raised in Church. You cannot teach spiritual maturity, only exhibit it and hope it will benefit other people. I had my  mom as an example of it for years before I learned to emulate any of it.

A new Christian is only beginning to be a new person. And that makes them immature. We are meant to show grace.

The sad thing, a lot of churches do not even reach the family dynamic. They don’t accept people, they don’t forgive, they don’t support.

This does not mean that it doesn’t work however. The problem with corporate church is that the same flaws tend to creep in as with businesses and charities, many just don’t do what they should because management skills are not adequate.

Which is why I think the church was never meant to be a corporate experience, but there are people who find a way to work the system.

Many churches do find the family dynamic. But what the New Testament instructs us in is far closer to friendship in many ways.

We are not just to support each other, but to find each others strengths and talents, and develop them. We no longer just accept, we are also to correct, to sharpen each other. To hold each other accountable.

Family can do this, but it is something that comes more naturally into a really good friendship. Family can be too close to see the problem. Friends build distance on purpose by having diverse interests, getting space from each other, and so they learn more about the other person because they see them from more angles than if they lived with them constantly.

The church is designed to meld these two dynamics into a hybrid I think only is possible in spiritual ways. It is really difficult to explain until you experience it. My family became my friends. I hope someday to have friends who will be family.

The trouble is, churches can not really support friendship. I have a church that supports family a lot. Better than most places do. But it is still trying to figure out friendship.

A lot of discipleship we do is focused on family, one girl who’d been through their school of ministry even admitted to this. Not a lot of it is focused on friendship.

Yet, I think a lot of what the epistles show us is how to be a friend as well as a brother or sister.

I think in Acts, the apostles already had a family dynamic, but after they started to travel and organised, they had to have friends.

My dad has learned the hard way that family can be heard to organize to do anything if everyone acts as and individual. It takes the build up of friendship, the learning to work with a very different person, to speak their language, that allows for teamwork.

Some families achieve this with seeming ease. My family never had been particularly good at this except in crisis situations. I think it depends on how well the family knows itself.

A lot of friends now are not on this level, thanks to the lack of interaction we have except through technology, but you’ve probably met or known people who still have this teamwork ability. Hopefully you are one of them.

And my whole point to my sisters was that this ability is a choice to develop. That is what makes it different.

We have no choice about our family. We need to accept hem no matter what.

But within the family we tend to have friends. It won’t be every remember, an not the same for every member you do have it with, but there will be the odd person here and there.

I have a bond with family I only see once or twice a year because we are family, but I have a different bond with people I choose to be around and are not related to me except by faith or being in the human race.

I realize a lot of this post may only be interesting if you are a christian, but it was something I had not realized before, and I’ve been in church my hole life. Plus, it’s always interesting to think about social circles like this and how they work.

Plus my real point that friendship is choice, it doesn’t just happen, is one I think many of us need to understand. Myself included. Movies show friendship as something that can happen in an instant…sometimes it can, but I have never found those friends to be the ones I am likely to see the most often or talk to the most… Maybe God in his wisdom reserves the instant friendship bond for a more eternal significance. The people you surround yourself with are going to round our your rough edges, and that’s better for you.

Until next time–Natasha

Speaking of friendship, it is a factor in the book series I am publishing on Kindle, here’s a link if you want to check out the first two installments, more coming once I replace my laptop-

You can also visit my author page and ask me questions about the series if you’re curious about how me and my coauthor came up with the idea.

Thanks for your support!

Aftermath–plus special announcement at the end.

“We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”–C. S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man.)

I’ve written about this brilliant little book before, but one thing that interests me that I have not really touched on is what happened in the aftermath of it.

The system in England when Lewis wrote that books was followed pretty quickly by America, it was probably already in place in the rest of Europe at the time, at least the countries at the forefront of our minds.

Nazism, the great evil of the War, was leading to the abolition of most men, but Lewis was concerned that what they were teaching schoolboys (and girls no doubt) was going to lead to the abolition of all men, in feeling if not in biological form.

Wise men saw where it was going, but where has it taken us now?

We live in the Post-Modern era. It is rightly called that, if we mean by modern Modernism, which Lewis and his predecessor G. K. Chesterton were both very much concerned with. Modernism was not about being modern in a fashionable sense, like it’s usually used now, or referring to technology or medicine. Modernism was the principles, or lack thereof, of thorough rationality. Which Chesterton showed in his book Orthodoxy to really be irrational.

It is basically materialism, but with odd ideals on top of it, that really make no sense whatsoever if you take the idea literally that nothing has any value except in our own emotions.

But as Lewis pointed out, the men who taught this didn’t believe it themselves. They were teaching values in spite of themselves. The problem is, even if they were better than what they taught, it had the same effect on their students as if they hadn’t been.

My parents, and perhaps your parents generation were the prime victims of this teaching’s first effects.

You’re probably familiar with how psychology got very popular in the 60s-90s, and it still is now. It was beginning before then, but at least in America, it really took off once we began pushing religion aside and needed explanations for all the phenomenon’s sin and human nature used to explain.

We’ve come full circle almost in the pat few decades, we’ve come back to realizing that psychology explains nothing. Now we are looking to physics and other such things, we’re looking to sexuality, we’re looking to race, we’re looking to everything except what originally worked for people: Religion.

My dad had behavioral issues as a kid, and born when he was, he was medicated, put in Special Ed and diagnosed with mental illness, he tried rehabilitation. Like many people of his generation, and ours, he also tried drugs.

It’s strange that drugs and psychology both took off at around the same time. (People can bicker about dates, but a few years or even a decade on the grand scale of time is pretty much the same time.) Both were around before then, but they got popularized, jsutfied, studied, and theorized about. They came to be seen as normal.

Clearly they aren’t the same thing, but strange that the very thing that told us that our dependence on substance was a problem coming from deeper issues did nothing to stop us from abusing substances.

Have you noticed that to highlight a problem in society is no to weaken it, but exposing it makes it become uglier, more used, more prolific, draws more people in.

Exposing it just to comment on it, that is, real solutions are different.

But Psychology did not fix anything, it diagnosed things. Medication could not fix those problems, in face many meds make the problems they treat worse. My dad went off his, and does better now that he did while on them. (Of course, you should be careful about getting off medication, the process is difficult and should be walked through with a doctor’s help. He didn’t quit all at once.)

Now, we live in the information, option generation. In the aftermath of all that identifying, we’ve become clueless about what to do.

Relationships have been diagnosed, studied, and tested; the result? We have a really hard time maintaining even eye contact.

Are they directly related things?

I think so.

Exposing how bad we are at relationships did not help us fix them. It made the revelation overwhelming.

Before, people knew some folks were bad at relationships, but those who were were seen as responsible for their own actions. Since no one thought it was genetically inevitable, people could try to improve, or could be ignored by the general public if they chose to remain unpleasant. Not knowing how deep our mental problems supposedly went, we thought we could move on.

Having it blown so completely out of proportion crippled us. Because it made us think we were powerless to do anything about it.

Doubting our ability to control ourselves is now common phrasing for young people. “That’s just the way I am.”

But we took it further.

It was too depressing to live in that, so we began to take these things that were exposed so that we could not hide them anymore, and we began to say they were not bad, not shameful, after all. Instead they were cool, enlightened, they were our identity.

It’s okay to be gay, it’s okay to have mental health issues, it’s okay to have a disability, it’s okay to do what makes you happy.

Not all the above examples are on the same level of crazy of course, but they all stem from the same thing, a desire to take a shame and turn it into a pride.

In some cases that may be okay. But we’ve gone way, way too far past that line.

I do not blame young people all that much for being so stupid, not really.

When I read books written in the 60s-80s, I often find them depressing.

The infamous Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus was one of the most insulting things I ever read on the difference between men and women. A lot of authors who commented on it were condescending to both genders.

Like our differences can be summed up in quirks. Try it and it fails you, you’ll never find any one thing that makes men and women different other than our sexual organs, if you look only at what we do and what we enjoy and what we hate and how we think. The difference is harder to pin down then that, anyone who tires just makes fool of themselves.

When the explanation for differences was so stupid and limiting, it’s in line with human nature to throw it out and go to the opposite extreme, that there are no differences. That’s insane, but it’s less boring. Youth do like exciting things.

Plus, the new and different aspect is attractive to many people.

If you look at any popular attitude held now, you can trace it back to evolving from an attitude the previous couple of generations have. We have mutated it into something different.

We now speak less of the values they valued, and more of vague ideas about self-fulfillment. But it all make sense, that age of reason led to discrediting pleasure and fulfillment as in our own minds, leaving the young people weaponless to defend pleasure on the grounds o fr eason, the natural result we that young people ignored reason, ignored common sense, and ignored restraint.

Now we have this mess.

IF you listen to how we talked now, it’s becomes obvious. People acknowledge that there are reasons to ear healthy, exercise, and focus on happy things; but then make a joke out of doing none of those things. They laughed it off, but behind the humor, there’s a secret guilt, and a secret bewilderment.

Why, if it is so obvious, do we find nothing compelling about reason? And why, if it is so unimportant, do we make a joke out of not following it that hides a note of serious concern.

We are unsettled. We are drifters. The previous generations removed the foundation of our lives, tried to put a weak one in it;s place, but like sand, it crumbled when the floods of real problems struck again. It was never going to hold up.

But, lacking both  a solid foundation, and now even a sandy one, we have none. Hence our myriad of problems that center around confusion, uncertainty, and depression. Our general feeling of purposelessness.

We now do not have the logical skills to explain why we feel this way, only words of mental illness, social anxiety, and being addicted to screens.

We laugh at it because we have no idea what to do about it.

This, I present to you, is the aftermath of the abolition of Man, our humanity is not gone completely, thanks to God and the preservation of some values even so, but it is hanging by a thread because our defenses are so weak.

We are glorifying our weaknesses because we have been robbed of our strength and glory.

That is what happened. And it turns out, abolishing man’s strength and glory is very close to abolishing man himself, it is good for us that God redeems our weaknesses, or we would have no hope.

But we do have hope. That’s what this blog is about after all. That even dry bones can live again.

It is now almost the third or fourth anniversary of when I started it with just that premise. And I still think that  a return to truth is the only way to preserve hope.

So, with that in mind, until next time–Natasha.

Announcement:

I have now published the first two parts of a series I wrote on Kindle!

It is about superheroes, mystical creatures, and mysteries.

There may be over 20 parts in all, at 0.99 an installment (lowest price possible), if you would like to check it out, here’s a link to find it, the series is called “When It Started.”

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=When+it+started+Natasha+Queen&rh=n%3A154606011&ref=nb_sb_noss

Passengers

I just watched Passengers.

My reviews would probably be better if I saw these movies when everyone was still interested in them, but that’s what happens when you’re on a tight budget.

I find Space Movies weird. I like Interstellar, I watched Gravity one time, but there’s always a surreal feeling to it.

It’s the opposite of Star Wars, which makes space seem more normal to be in. These movies really empathize how weird it would feel to be in space.

It’s odd, because C. S. Lewis’es idea of space is that it is full. Vibrant. Not an empty vacuum.

And his idea, while seemingly ridiculous at the time, has now some scientific basis. Scientists think space is filled with kinds of matter we can’t identify. They are not sure what it holding everything together anymore. It just is.

Since they aren’t allowed to say God anymore, at least in secular textbooks.

One of the most annoying things about my astronomy class was that every time we got to something that couldn’t be explained, we were not allowed to say God.

Just like in this movie, when Jim is railing at the universe, he is not allowed to call it God.

Yet, the Universe has a sense of humor? How can a thing have a sense of humor?

You might just as well call it God.

If you look for God in nature, you will find Him. You may not find Him quite like how the Bible would describe Him, no one should take Nature as the ultimate authority on God’s character, Nature is fallen, like mankind, and subject to sin and destruction. That’s what Romans would tell us.

Christianity explains why Nature is both cruel and kind, light and dark, creative and destructive, wise and yet senseless. It’s because it reflects us, the same battles we find inside. Why we use nature for analogies, like having “stormy” feelings, or a “sunny” personality.

Space movies (and books perhaps) seem to capture the human feeling of being lost and overwhelmed by what we find around us. Yet, what we find is beautiful, terrifying, and full of wonder.

Without a personal touch, it seems empty and meaningless.

It’s not much of a stretch to say Passengers mirrors the Adam and Eve story, though it also adds the redemption story to it, self sacrifice, and the power of choice.

A chosen fate seems more bearable than one forced on us.

I don’t know if discussing Jim’s earlier actions in a moral light is what I want to do, they were bad, but not entirely unexpected. The important thing is, once he actually learned to love, he made the right choice. The same with Aurora.

The tree symbolism brings the Garden of Eden story into play too.

The message of the movie seems to be two-fold, that nothing happens without a reason, and that paradise is where you make it. That Love makes the difference between heaven or hell on earth–or in space.

I do not agree 100% with  the idea that we can make our own paradise, but I do agree that love makes even a bare spaceship into a garden of life, and that was a fitting way to show it.

It takes both the higher purpose of saving all the other people, and the smaller choice to stay with the other person to make the redemption complete.

A good metaphor for life, in it’s way. Two people united for the good of all is what marriage is meant to look like, and certainly what I hope mine will be.

It’s a sentimental movie, but that is by design. Not sure I would watch it again, I do not like sad stories, but it was worth checking out.

A closing thought from G. K. Chesterton: The only way to feel at home in the universe is to also feel like a stranger in it. (I paraphrase what he says in his book Orthodoxy.)

You could say, through this world, all of us are just passengers. On our way to either the worst possible disaster, or paradise. Our choice.

Until next time–Natasha.