Those who make them are like them.

I have another post about abuse today.

It won’t be especially sad though. Today I have more of a thought “Why does abuse happen?”

There are many, many reasons, I couldn’t possibly address them all.

But for a christian family like mine, I believe there is one reason that can be common. It’s not the only reason, but it’s an important one to understand if there’s ever going to be  road to healing.

That reason is Idolatry.

Idolatry is a fancy sounding word for one of the most common sins to man, that of worshiping something other than the One True God.

Even if you are not a Christian, it’s probably no strength for you to agree that there are things worth devoting your life to, and that many people do not devote their lives to the right thing, so if the religious term throws your off, just think of it like that.

Idolatry is just easier to use for me, since it’s one word, but in Church we usually call it False Images, False gods, or just Idols themselves.

In my family the False Image was My Family itself.

My dad has long been obsessed with being a better person, but his version of better was rather vague and unrealistic. It usually involved ridding himself of his faults as a parent and husband.

But his biggest faults in that regard was simply focusing on the flaws. He didn’t prioritize us ourselves, but this idea of what our family should look like.

Our family should have its own ministry (one he approved of)

Our family should make music

Our family should be more hospitable

Our family should all go tot he same church.

Our family should be a witness to the extended family.

He never took into consideration that maybe it was not his job to decide how we should serve God.

I am aware of  the Bible’s teaching about a whole household serving God. However, it never says everyone in the house should do the exact same thing. In the New Testament the control of family is a little lesser, since may early Christians did not have their whole family’s support.

It didn’t stop with Church stuff anyway. That was just what annoyed me the most.

Maybe you’ve had the same experience with your relatives.

My dad would also say repeatedly that our family was the most important thing to him and he got his happiness from us.

Which bugged me, I thought “We get our happiness form God, not each other.”

Not to misunderstand me, people can greatly increase our happiness, but it does not spring from them. If it does it’s fleeting, people die, they move, they move on, they ditch us, not all of them, but human based happiness is just not permanent.

It sounds like a Christian Cliche to say We Get our Happiness from God.

Oh, we’re so spiritual, right?

I know, but it really is true. It can be misused sure, to hide real problems, but so can most things.

It’s not that God makes me feel happy all the time, it’s that when Id o feel happy, it’s in God. I know it is from Him, and it is a gift.

By the way, there’s been a teaching in the Church that says the Bible never says “God wants you Happy”

Let me set you free if you’ve heard this: That is bull-crap.

No, you won’t find the exact words “God wants you happy” in scripture, the Bible prefers the words “Joy” “Rejoicing” “Praising” “Thankful” “Peaceful” “Exalted” and “Satisfying the desires of your heart.”

All that is stronger than happiness as a chemically induced fleeting feeling, though that too, because God also wants you healthy, and a healthy person will produce that physical feeling of happiness too.

I digress.

My dad used our family as a false god. Like all idols, it had to be removed from him for him to turn back to the real God.

And we had also to give up serving my dad’s happiness, instead of serving God’s. We wanted our dad to be happy, sure, but we could not keep trying to fill the void of God in his heart.

And we could not let him punish us with emotional abuse for inevitably failing to do the impossible.

It struck me what the Bible is talking about when it warns about idols.

You are what you adore, what you trust in, you become.

If you trust in a lie, you become a liar, and eventually, if you fall in with C. S. Lewis’s point of view in The Great Divorce, you become a lie itself.

If you trust in money, you become a miser.

If you trust in drugs, you become an addict.

All these states of being are merging you with the thing you worship. In the case of drugs it literally will get worked into you bloodstream, your DNA, and your brain engineering, and passed on to your kids.

“Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.
 They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
They have ears, but they do not hear;
Noses they have, but they do not smell;
 They have hands, but they do not handle;
Feet they have, but they do not walk;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
 Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them.” Psalms 115:4-6

“They have mouths but they do not speak; eyes they have but they do not see; they have ears but they do not hear; nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them.” Psalms 135:16-18

That’s why we are all sinners, by the way. Adam became a sinner, and in a way, he became sin, and so we carry that in our DNA now. We are born in sin, as the Word puts it.

Jesus became sin for us, the Word also says, in order to finally get Sin out of us. He killed sin by becoming it, and then dying.

The Bible also teaches that the Spirit of God is able to divide soul and spirit, and that is how we are saved from sin. God can separate the sinner form the sin.

We ourselves cannot do that, except by loving the sinner. We cannot transform them. But loving people will help them choose to be transformed.

In summary, I think almost all abuse happens due to idols

Many abusers are addicts, after all. All of them put power above God, certainly. Abuse is all about feeling powerful.

It’s important to keep in mind that focusing too much on being abused also can be a form of idolatry. God wants us to be healthy, and if we focus on him, we’ll start to heal. If we are letting Him help us.

But don’t wear your sorrow like a badge of honor, Paul boasted of his weakness because God was glorified in it, not because weakness all on its own is a glory.

One last thought

All of us are meant to be at rest, and to rejoice. Abusers and abused alike. However you handle your past, whatever you went through, even if you were the abuser in some ways, don’t think it mean you cannot ever be happy,

Happiness is not what we deserve, desert does not come into it at all. It’s the natural state of things. You can’t earn it because you were created for it, it’s just like putting a key into a lock. No question of deserving it, it would be stupid to ask that.

So, it’s okay to move on. Really.

And that’s all I got for you today. Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Millions of flashing lights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

So I watched Encanto…

One of the unsung perks of babysitting in this country is that you get to use people’s streaming accounts even if you don’t have them. I’ve watched a crap ton of Netflix and Disney Plus because of babysitting.

That’s how I watched Vivo…which is a better movie than Encanto, bite me.

Funny because Lin Manuel Miranda worked on both, I just think Vivo’s plot and themes suited his talents better than a Disney Girl musical (since now we aren’t even pretending they’re princesses…although this movie might as well have been about a princess.)

I’m not going to hate on Encanto, it was an enjoyable ride, but after watching it, I do think it is inferior to its predecessors.

I’m sure all of you are too nice to hate on me for saying that, but if I went on a different platform, I think I’d start a riot. Everyone seems to love this movie.

Well, it’s mediocre, sorry, not sorry.

I won’t deny the animation was gorgeous, a joy to watch. The songs were…predictable. The only one I thought really stood out as creative lyrically was the “Pressure” one. Then, Imperfect was okay, and “WE Don’t talk about Bruno” was impressive editing-wise, but lyrics were a little weird, I thought.

But I’m not much for modern musical movies, to be fair. I like old ones better.

i have before unashamedly said that I like Disney movies–some of them–and that Frozen is actually my favorite movie, for personal reasons. See: Why a DP movie is my favorite. Why a DP movie is my favorite part 2. I don’t think it’s the most amazing movie ever made, but it stands out form other Disney films, I’m not the only one who thought it has a different vibe, wrapped up in a Disney package, it still somehow felt unique. Thought he haters will never admit it.

Encanto is a beautiful mess, that is my honest opinion. I was interested in the plot while watching it, and the 3 year old I was watching it with loved the music. But I kept waiting for the movie to make its point…and by the end I was just…non plussed.

Encanto basically has two or three over arching themes, and it tries to bring all of them together at the end, but it doesn’t finish any of them. The ending was one of the most rushed I’ve seen in a Disney film, and the characters were not well flushed out. We only get depth on Luisa and Isabel, and it’s dropped after one song.

Abuela’s character being the cause of the magic disappearing was predictable, I called it form the beginning. But that wouldn’t have been bad. I thought it actually added to the idea that families often miss the obvious when it comes to their problems. It’s true in my family, for sure.

I actually thought they were going to do a Brave thing, and make it both the older and younger women had pride and selfishness, and that was the cause of the rift. And the magic of the family was tied to their unity.

The movie implies this, but doesn’t say it.

I could put that down to a wish for subtlety, except every other theme in this movie is blatant and shoved in your face, as with most kids’ movies, so why they would hesitated to spell it out for us, if they actually intended it, I don’t know.

I don’t necessarily mind blatant messages, I think kids need things to be spelled out for them, and adults who watch kid content should be prepared for that. But I think you can do it tastefully and creatively. Just singing it to save time is not tasteful.

The imagery in this movie is probably its best feature. The lights, the candle, the sand, the cracks.

I kind of thought Bruno’s character was less impressive than he could have been, he was exactly what I expected, and the goofy, kooky character seeing the future and then hiding…well, it’s a little old. But it’s not bad, so it’s more of a personal wish than a criticism.

What actually made me mad about this movie was the ending. The first half was quite good, but it was like they ran out of run time. Isabel and Mirabel get over 20 years of disagreeing, (or 18, or whatever it was) and it takes 2 minute of one song for them to suddenly understand each other?

I was the scapegoat and my sister was the golden child, it took us months of disagreeing, and years of tension before that, to work out our differences. Especially when our dad poured gasoline on the fire.

And another thing, I found it stupid that only Mirabel was yelling at Abuela at the end. If Luisa and Isabel were really that miserable, seeing Mirabel do that should have just burst the dam. Especially for Isabel.

Also the magic was so poorly explained.

I know that magic does not always need to be explained in a story, I actually don’t like it when it is, like, We didn’t need an explanation for Elsa’s magic–and the one we got made no sense.

But in this movie, the magic disappearing is the whole point, so that is the time to explain how it works, the entire point of most of the film is Mirabel trying to understand the magic, so explaining it was totally necessary.

And what is explained…nothing!

I mean, I guess the magic relies on the family’s…bond? But then why doesn’t it crack every time one of them fights? The one lady with the weather powers should be having cracks every 10 minutes. Isabel and Mirabel should have been causing issues all along. Then Abuela’s obsession with perfection might actually make more sense.

Or how about this, make the fact that Abuela herself actually has no gift, and just guards the candle and house the reason she doesn’t like Mirabel. Mirabel reminds her of her own mortality, and humanness, and we tend to project our insecurities onto other people. So when she’s yelling at Mirabel, she’s really upset at herself. And Mirabel annoys her by not being as stressed about it as she is. I’ve known that to happen to many people in real life, myself included. Misery loves company.

This is almost implied in the movie…but never enough to be sure it’s actually what it’s saying.

Also, the conflict of this movie is set up poorly.

We’re supposed to be wonder why Mirabel has no gift, right? Well that question is never answered. Ever.

Then we’re supposed to wonder if the gift is becoming a curse…

But the thing is, Mirabel’s mom is a really nice lady, and supportive of all her daughters, and so is their father. Isabel is so driven to be perfect…why?

I can’t recall her ever actually being told she was doing something wrong. Maybe she just wanted to avoid it ever happening, but most people aren’t afraid to fail until they have failed in a painful way, and we never see her do that. Perfectionism comes from not being able to control things when you were a kid, but we get no such story with Isabel.

We never see Luisa told it would be selfish to take a break. She just assumes it.

We’re meant to think Abuela made them think this way just by her example…but even if that is true, no one ever questioned it before? And why do none of the men feel this way? They seem carefree, and happy-go-lucky. No pressure there.

And while the townspeople take advantage of the family’s gifts, they aren’t ever pushy about it.

So why are these two girls so driven? Isabel says she was going to marry the guy for the family…but they never push her to do it, they just assume she wants to marry him. If she’d ever spoken up about it, I’m sure they’d have been happy to push Dolores forward instead. Why does it need to be Isabel?

And by the way, Dolores character had the potential to be so much more compelling. Imagine if you could hear everything? Everything anyone ever said about you? That sounds like a curse to me. Maybe that’s why she tries to be invisible, so people won’t talk bad about her.

Would make relationships difficult, and relaxing. She’s shown to be jumpy, but she doesn’t get her own song, and she doesn’t ever get a moment to explain it. A total waste of potential. I’d say her life is way harder than Isabel’s.

I mean, when the main conflict of your story is your MC just isn’t special enough….what the heck movie? Is that what counts as drama these days? Her family loves her, and the one person who actually is hostile to her, Isabel, is not even in most of the movie, and resolves the conflict in 3 minutes…yay!

Mirabel is all like “I can’t embrace Isabel!” and then 5 minutes later “Oh my gosh, I was so wrong about her!”

Uh…you weren’t really, you just didn’t know why she acted that way, she still acted like a b-word. And perfectionism is no excuse to bully your sister, Isabel. How about an apology?

Nope…nothing.

I mean Isabel could have said she envied Mirabel her freedom to do whatever she wants. Built on the trapped by your gift thing…but nope.

And another thing, if Isabel is so stuck…why doesn’t she want to try something other than growing flowers? Her whole rebellion is spraying herself with colors and growing cacti…who in the heck said she couldn’t grow cacti? Cacti are useful, heck her mom could use aloe to cure people, everyone would be all over that. And she has a whole room to experience with crazy flowers in, and no one else seems to care…what exactly is holding her back?

I mean, Abuela only cares when it becomes convenient for the plot, she never reprimands Isabel before then.

Movie, stop expecting me to assume domestic abuse, actually show it if you want to use it, you coward!

You now that just ticks me off about this film, and every other kids’ media I watch these days. Domestic problems are assumed. No on’es family is actually good, no one is actually happy, it all hast o be fake. You can bet if I see a nice character, I’m going to find out they have skeletons in their closet later in the story.

And while no human is perfect, not all of us are as royally fricked up as the movies imply. Sometimes we just get frustrated once in a while, and guess what, we move on! Some of us actually deal with it in a healthy way. Geez! What is the problem Hollywood?

I think it’s on purpose, the idea of contentment just doesn’t sell, so every character has to have a dark side.

Frozen kicked off this trend–but you know how Frozen made it work?

Because we actually see Elsa’s powers backfire, we see her parents tell her bad advice, we see her fear of herself grow–the movie accomplishes this in 10 minutes. We all perfectly understand why Elsa is afraid, how it affects her, and that Anna is unaware of it.

Then when Elsa goes berserk, we know why. It’s not random, we see the causes.

And her problems instead of being over in 5 minutes, take a whole movie to work through. And are revisited in the shorts and the sequel–which are not great, but at least they aren’t delusional enough to say Elsa is never going to doubt again. Of course she will, but she now lets herself be helped, that was the difference.

Where is this in Encanto? Or should I say Donde esta en la cinema Encanto? (Pretty sure I said that wrong, but my Spanish is not great, and the constant switch in the movie was not as charming as they thought it was. I was just left feeling like the whole thing should have been in Spanish, or English, pick one.)

Nada! Nunca! It’s not there. You won’t find any deepening, or further introspection of any of these characters. One song, that’s it.

That’s one of my problems with the movie.

The other one is the Magic itself, and the Miracle. It’s never explained.

And why Mirabel does not have a gift. She wanted to know.

I think the movie’s biggest mistake here was that when Mirabel went to get her gift, the door began to form…but then it stopped.

If she was truly just not meant to have one, fine. But then why did she start to get it and then it stopped? The candle changed its mind? Hmm?

Sure seems like something went wrong, not looking at Bruno’s excommunication or anything.

And if the family splitting is what lead to the magic cracking, than it would have made perfect sense that Mirabel’s lack of gift was because it weakened after they sent Bruno packing. Like, it literally seems like that’s what they are implying.

Mirabel even sees the same cracks as Bruno. Which could have been taken as maybe she was going to have the same gift as him, because he wasn’t around, but because he still is, she couldn’t get it, and it broke.

Then restoring Bruno the family, and fixing the house should have fixed her problem. But she still has no gift at the end…even though she restore the magic, so she has magic, but no gift….because logic….

You have all the set up to make this make sense…but no pay off? Nothing.

Because oh she’s just special enough without a gift…

(How can not being special be what makes you special? It’s a logical fallacy.)

Well if that’s true, why restore the gifts at all. If it really had become a burden, then just let it go, accept change.

Wasn’t that the message? If you hold onto the past too tightly it crushes the very people you were trying to protect…I thought that’s what they were saying.

But I mean, i’s Disney, so of course the Magic shouldn’t have disappeared at the end…but Mirabel still can’t have a gift because reasons.

Even though it clearly show she didn’t get a gift because something went wrong, setting it right doesn’t give her one…why? She doesn’t want one anymore?

I fail to understand you movie.

I thought they all should have either lost their gifts for good, or never lost them at all. Maybe they just could have corrupted, been twisted, like in Frozen. Because they were used wrong. That’s more true to real life anyway. We don’t lose our talents because of stress, but they do become less pure.

So in the end, this movie has two messages. Or three really. 1. You don’t need a gift to be special, because not being special is what makes you special. (Cure the Incredibles rant about celebrating mediocrity) 2. If you put yourself into one box, it will crush your spirit, it’s okay to have more than one interest and to take a break. 3. Holding onto the past is bad. Embrace the future. (As long as you do it by not forgetting what made your family special in the past and reigniting that flame….get it? Because it’s a candle, we’re so clever).

How did anyone like this movie’s ending? I get liking the songs and story, but the ending? It makes no sense. None few these three messages is finished. Nothing is explained, and there is no truth. Everything goes back to being exactly how it was, except that Isabel goes disco tech, Luisa takes naps, and Dolores gets with the guy who’s about as deep as a kiddie pool.

Mirabel is not a different person than before. And the town is the same…so yeah…

I really thought there could have been something really good there. Heck, even all three of those message together would have been okay, if they were finished. But they aren’t. There is no point of resolution.

An apology is not a resolution if the problem is that complex. That worked in Brave because the mother -daughter conflict is present in the whole movie, shown to be the core of its problems, and is explained as the way to resolve them. Merida humbling herself makes sense, because Pride was her problem.

But the whole family conflict in this movie is so shaky. Not everyone is unhappy. The problem are so minor that literally two conversations fixed them, and Bruno comes back with no fanfare whatsoever, and Mirabel isn’t even the reason.

Mirabel was actually mostly useless, she spends most of the movie making the problem worse, and in the end is the reason the magic goes out…so way to defy negative expectations there, movie.

Guess she really was the bug in the system…and maybe it deserved to crash and burn…so show that. Don’t just make it all go away because apologies!

Ugh…

Perhaps I am oversimplifying. But it was still poorly done.

Encanto is, in my opinion, a product of our culture.

Fewer and fewer movies and show have any definite meaning now. And fewer and fewer people seem to notice it. We are becoming incapable of discerning structure and payoff in a story.

As long as the label diversity is stamped on something, we swallow any amount of lazy writing, and Hollywood knows we will.

Encanto is a badly written movie that would not have stacked up to a 90s Disney Movie, and they have very weak conflicts usually, but at least hey are clear. Ariel may be kind of a bratty teen, but at least I know why. I know why Aladdin wants to be a prince, even if he’s a liar. I know why Mulan is going to war ( and that is one of the best Disney movies there is).

I don’t know that with Encanto. It would have taken like 1 extra song, and 5 minutes to explain, but it’s not there. They could have cut the unnecessary songs and put in actual story, they could have not rehashed the begging like 3 times for padding. It was fixable. How did someone not say “Uh guys, we didn’t answer any of our own questions in this script…can we like…fix that?”

But no one cars, becuase diversity!

I can’t say I see what a magic house really has to do with Columbian culture. Or how themes that are so clearly modern are really representing what makes it special. Kind of the running joke of representation in Disney is that it’s…you know, based in fictional countries, so you can’t really represent real ethnic groups…

I mean, people complain about how all the old movies had white characters…but they were stories form Europe, of course they could have white characters. Whenever the movie were set in other countries, they changed the ethnicity…I never really saw the issue. People just like to complain.

And I don’t mind if a movie is set in a Mexican, or Colombian culture, if it’s good. I enjoy movies like that.

But I won’t approve bad writing just because it was packaged in a nice look, and fun songs.

I’m sure it would be fun to watch Encanto, but it has no meaning. It is gutless, it doesn’t commit to any one message, because it doesn’t have to to be liked, and the creators knew that.

But I think this in underminding our chilrend’s abilty to tell when there even is a emssage in osmeitng.

Implied messages that are not stated are usually called propaganda. Subtle, but propaganda. When a message is boldly stated, it opens itself up to criticism.

But if it’s vague, you can’t really criticize it. So it is gutless, but the implicates are enough to squeeze it by the virtue signalling SJWS, so they think it has meaning.

If you still think I’m being too harsh, I challenge you to take Encanto, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Moana, take a pen, and write down each main element of those movies. each character’s conflict…and then how the movie resolved it.

I defy you to find a way it really was fleshed out. It’s implied, that’s all. Implications don’t help us in real life. People need actual ideas if they will change.

But if you can feed yourself with colorful, but empty visions of meaning, you can fool yourself into thinking you’re being cultured, but you are really being conditioned.

Encanto is not evil or bad in of itself, so much as it is just lazy, but what scare me is it never would have been praise so much a few decades ago, and now it’s haled as top tier.

A Goofy Movie did family conflict better, sue me.

Well, I think I have ranted enough, this movie is not horrible to watch, but I can’t endorse anything it says, as it says nothing whatsoever. That’s my verdict. Watch it for a good time, but don’t expect any substance, and you’ll be fine.

Try Brave or Frozen if you want the exact same message but with an actual message. Or any of the renaissance era movies.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

At the end of a fast…

I decided to follow up my previous post.

Mostly because I think the perspective when you start a fast and when you end it is totally different.

I mentioned before that I have a hard time with the prayer part of fasting.

Well, I decided to do something about that finally, at the urging of the Spirit, I think. And start committing more time each day to God.

So far, it’s not anything spectacular.

But I was watching this YouTube video the other day after I had already started, I’ll try to link it here:

But this lady is talking about how 1st century Christians had it rough, and how we in the West, 21st century are spoiled, I’ve heard it before. I’m tired of it, you know?

But then this part of the video, at the end, that she impressed me with is where the 1st Century Christian makes this summary.

Basically pointing out that we have the Bible, we can meet freely in public, and we can openly have our faith…but we don’t read the Bible, we shirk church, and we hesitate to tell others about our faith. And our pastors often encourage this attitude instead of rebuking it.

And this lady says “I (the 1st century Christian) can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think I have it better.”

And I thought that is just so true.

Of course, as many commentators were quick to point out, there’s many countries where it’s still deadly to be a Christian. We in the West can feel like the world revolves around us.

I believe God let us be the safe haven to persecuted Christians for a purpose, so we could support them and give them refuge…but a lot of us don’t even remember that it’s our job. That Paul told us to remember those who suffer for Christ as if it were us ourselves.

I suppose it would do no good to worry about it, but, I do think, I could be more aware of it.

Of course it’s getting more dangerous even in the West, but we’re still a far cry from the East and Middle East.

But it’s a more mature attitude to realize that for all that, it’s better to be real about your faith, even if you’re suffering, than it is to have no real faith, and have it all.

Why do we do this, in the West? We squander what we have, and waste our oppertunities.

Not everyone may be a door to door evangelist, or a street preacher, and nowadays, that isn’t received so well anyway.

But tagging Christian Instagram posts and tweeting Bible verses is not exactly witnessing.

I’m sure it blesses some people, but it’s not witnessing in of itself to do only that, and not get more personal, and that’s where we seem to freak out.

I remember this line from “The Devil Wears Prada” where Nigel confronts Andy about her superior attitude towards the fashion industry. “Most girls would die to work where you only deign to work.”

Couldn’t that be said of us? “Many people would die to do, or say, what we barely deign to do or say.”

I don’t mean to be too harsh. Many of us here have found ways to influences others and minister to them even in our wealthy and overstuffed culture. And I’ not hear to disparage that. What is this blog but my attempt to use the internet as a way to tell people about God, instead of just distract them from Him.

But we can’t deny that, at the very least, we brush things off much more easily than our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world do. We examine ourselves less, and we compromise with the world more.

Case in point:

Pre-fast, I’ve been exposing myself to more and more sexual content in fiction on the net. I don’t do it on purpose, but I read stuff that has it, and I can’t always scroll enough to skip it. (They ought to make some kind of button for that.)

I don’t think it really affects me…at least, at first I thought that.

But sure enough, those thoughts end up in my head more.

I find actually, that for someone like me, the biggest trap of sexual content is not that you start to lust after the characters or actors involved, I don’t, but it’s that you start to read it into everything. You assume it’s there, even when it isn’t. And your mind supplies the subtext.

Even if you don’t like it, you expect it, and it becomes part of the experience for you.

Post-fast, I read something last night that was like that, more than I expected it to be, and I felt so disgusted it surprised me–because I haven’t been feeling that repulsed for a while.

But I just felt like God was looking through my eyes at it, and it embarrassed me, even if I didn’t intend to see it. I scrolled right quick, but I still felt dirty. And yes, I repented, but it was still jarring to have that experience again. In a way, though, it was relief, at least it still bothers me.

Sexual content is tricky. You can be disgusted by it and still find it addicting just because of the way our brains and bodies are wired. Why else do we like cringe comedy?

And we like that judgmental feeling of being above that, but still viewing it.

I know a lot of Christians who fall into that trap.

The good news is, if that’s all it is, you can get out of it fairly easily. Just cutting out the source will usually do it.

A real sexual addiction is much harder to kick, but not impossible, with God. I’m thankful I’ve never had this problem.

Some people would argue that it’s not bad as long as you’re not engaging in it…I don’t think that’s biblical.

But I give into temptation to let it slide.

And I honestly think, that’s more our temptation as young Christians. The devil doesn’t tell us to think it’s good, not at first. He just tells us to let it slide.

Let it slide when you see LGBTQ content that you know is unbiblical, but it’s popular, so don’t knock it.

Let it slide when you see a sexually charged scene, because it’s not like you’re doing it.

Let it slide when people are expressing attitudes that are anti-Christian in a blatant way.

And i don’t mean that they just aren’t Christian themselves, of course we’ll encounter that, but some creators go out of their way to pollute and corrupt Christian ideology when they write about it, I do think that’s dangerous. If you don’t know your bible especially, you’ll believe anything people say about it.

I remember I was watching this Tiktok compilation of people who left Christianity, out of curiosity, thinking maybe I’d understand it better.

And, it was full of bitter, ignorant people who clearly didn’t really know what Christianity taught at all. Their church either failed to explain, or they weren’t paying attention.

And hey, sometimes it’s that you’re not paying attention. Even the worst churches are bound to get something right, I find most people who complain pick and choose what they listen to from a church, instead of listening to all of it. My father could go to a church that taught basically what his Church taught, but find the one point they didn’t express the same way as him, and make that all he heard. And one time I remember he said he didn’t like a worship song’s lyrics, and then misquoted the lyrics to mean something that the song did not actually say. I was astounded by how he could convince himself it was bad, when we’d all heard the same thing…I thought.

One person in the compilation mentioned reading the whole bible all the way through (which in one sitting, or even over a few days, I found questionable, even I can’t do that and I read very fast) and saying she found so many contradictions.

I’ve read the same bible all the way through more than once, and I was like “What contradictions?”

A lot of minor discrepancies are just misunderstandings, which if you research actual scholars, can be cleared up very easily. They can also be mistranslations, depending on what version you use.

And other contradictions the Bible itself will explain, and acknowledge. They are not really contradictions. The God of the Bible is a collection of paradoxes, much like humans are. He’s Just and Merciful. Stern and Kind. And we’re told that we will perceive Him through the lens of how we ourselves act.

Which is just true of world views in general. Ever notice how prideful people think everyone is proud, and selfish people think everyone is selfish? And kind people tend to see more kindness in others. It’s because we look for what we put out.

Maybe I’m just too biased to see the problems with Christianity, but I’ve heard a lot of criticisms launched at it that only proved the people didn’t understand what the religion actually teaches, and only believed some twisted version of it they got from someone else. I mean, if I want to criticize Hitler or Marx’es philosophy, I would read something they actually said, or did. Not just what their enemies said they did. That’s just smart.

All this to say, just because someone disagrees with you does not make them worth listening to. They could be lazy, ignorant, and stubborn. Taking criticism of the faith fro people who actually study the topic is more useful.

But I think we’re a little too trained to listen to all complaints against Christians, from everyone, regardless of whether they are the kind of person who’s likely to be honest about it or not.

To get back to my original point, I think due to all this confusion, we are worst off than early Christians in some ways. Though we have a lot more opportunities.

But valuing God for Himself is the best gift we can have, and that is the thing we struggle with. We devote our time to so much else.

Now, when I started my fast, I only stopped doing one thing. I kept all my other distractions the same.

But you know what? I stopped wanting to do them as much.

Funny, but watching movies, and reading fics just didn’t seem quite as important without this other thing I was already sacrificing. I still did it, but, I just didn’t feel the need to as often. I began doing things outdoors more, interacting more with my sister instead of just sitting alone doing my own thing.

My energy improved. I felt tired at first without the high of my addiction, bu over the last week as I replaced that more with outside time and time with God, and have recover form being sick, I feel much more energized. My mood is better.

You see, this is what I was saying in my other post. When you give up even one thing, you realize how many things you don’t really have to have in your life. It feels like you do, but then it’s gone, and you find there’s always something else you can do. We don’t rely just on one thing.

Fasting makes me a little more disciplined that before, even if it’s for a short time, but usually, after a fast, discipline comes a little easier for a while, that mindset sticks with you for a bit. Eventually, you do lose it, that’s why fasting is supposed to be a reoccurring practice.

My family is also nice enough to encourage me to stick it out, and not to give it up. Which is always helpful. And to help me occupy my time in other ways.

I find that even doing other things, my thoughts center more on God just because I am aware that I am not doing something, for Him.

(I hear this works in marriage too, for making you feel more loving to your spouse because you know you’re doing or not doing something for them, even if they don’t know. Try it.)

Perhaps the most embarrassing thing I’ve realized though, is that my lack of interest in God is mostly my own fault.

When I get bored with Church and worship and prayer, it’s because I have filled myself up with other things.

I remember the Avatar movie (the blue one, not the travesty of the kids show’s live action one) where the Tsuhik (not sure I spelt that right) says to Jake:

“It is hard to fill a cup that is already full.”

While that movie is far from perfect, I do think they nailed one thing about having a simple, spiritual life. Jake later says “They don’t want anything.”

Funny, when you are filled with Spirit, you really don’t want a lot from the world.

And when you are filled with the world, you don’t want a lot from the Spirit.

We can’t have both.

I think, once upon a time, God made it so we could. The world was made to be pure, and being full of our lives here, and our lives with God, would have been one and the same.

And someday, God promises, He will put it back that way.

But till then, the world has fallen to evil, and if we fill ourselves with it, we turn from God. It happened to Solomon, the Wisest man to ever live before Christ.

And if I think I’m beyond that, I’m kidding myself.

Fasting does humble a person.

I’m not saying I’m a new woman, I think that’s more for God to say. I’m saying that I just have remembered somethings I was letting slide, as you might say.

Not all change is dramatic, you know.

Man, we are so hooked on that in church though. The breakthrough, the breaking off, the strongholds, the mountains moved…

Which is all good, in its time.

But so much change is quiet, gradual, or if it sis sudden, it’s private and not something to yell about until we’ve walked it out.

All my moments of real breakthrough were alone, or silent, or quiet. I have always wondered why.

But when I saw others have big, loud moments…but remain unchanged afterward, I started to wonder if Gd maybe did it that way on purpose. Maybe when it’s big, an d shiny, we focus on that too much, and forget the actual change.

A change of heart happens in an instant, perhaps, but it happens inside. And it’s better to show that with how we act before we tell someone.

We want to hear it right away now. We ask people what they feel or think right after we pray and talk.

But, usually people need more time than that to know if something really stuck with them.

There’s a resewn God is always telling us we have to be faithful, i. e. consistent with our religion. We can’t just do it every once and a while and expect it to change us.

I’m only saying what hundreds and thousands of other people say in the church…and maybe we all say it because it’s true.

So hey, if your Christian, and you’re not liking what I’m saying…oh well.

And if you’re not Christian and you read this anyway, that’s amazing! I hope you got something out of it.

You know, I kind of hope I am making some Christians uncomfortable by saying we need to quit it with the big showy stuff so much. Good.

I know I do have a lot of readers from out of country, though, and maybe you live somewhere where what I’m saying couldn’t’ possibly apply on a cultural level.

Still I think the truth of faithfulness is something all of us need to hear, even if we’re somewhere where our faith is tested everyday. Because it’s just another kind of discouragement.

Suffering and abundance are both tests of our faithfulness. Who knows which is really harder? All I know is we have to face whatever we have, now, if we really want to please God.

I hope I will keep this going, and learn more from it. I’m only human, but God is God.

If I can end my fast, but still maintain some discipline and boundaries, that’s a net gain.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Why I hate YA novels…but still read them.

Okay, this isn’t the most serious topic, but sometimes you just gotta blow off steam.

I don’t know if the people who read this blog are really the type to read Young Adult or Teen novels, but some of you watch anime, and that’s kind of the same crowd, so…

When I was younger, I didn’t really read these books, I actually hardly read any teen novels till I was already almost an adult. My mother wouldn’t have let me, to be honest.

I barely got to read Christian Romance novels. And those were mostly horrid.

I couldn’t even tell you the first teen novel I read now, that’s how little it stuck with me, they are more my sister’s thing anyway.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the genre, it’s usually some type of romance, coupled wither with fantasy, action, or horror like plots, but they are more vanilla than the adult counterparts…but usually still pretty bad.

For whatever reasons, Twilight made vampires and werewolves a popular part of teen fiction, and so are witches, and fantasy things.

Or you have your typical high school story about popularity and being yourself.

A lot of YA novels are set around adult characters, but they still act like teenagers.

And most romance stories, even for older women, follow the exact same tropes as teen novels…but with more sex.

The whole hting disgusts me.

The only ones I generally read are fantasy ones that sound interesting plot wise until you actually read them, and it’s just more tropes and angst.

When I was still a teenager, I got a good look at how teens write because I joined this online forum called the Young Writer’s Workshop.

The stories I read there were total garbage for the most part, a few might have had potential.

What I found disappointing was that they were all exactly the same. I could understand bad writing from inexperienced writers, if it was in every genre, and had some diversity…but all the books had the same style, themes, and ideas in them.

I was shocked. My own writing had never resembled anything like this at all, even at its worst. I had more originally when I was 8 than these stories usually had.

And I’m not saying that just to brag. My early attempts at writing were not good, but I was at least trying to come up with my own story.

I’m aware that these young author probably did come up with the ideas themselves, they just executed them in the same way.

And I think I know why, most of what teens read now is either fan fiction, romance , or teen novels. They don’t read classics, or philosophy, or non fiction.

I grew up reading all of that, I was homeschooled. I knew C. S. Lewis’s writing better than I knew J. K. Rollings. And that’s not even a teen novel.

I have attempted to write some of these tee story plots in the past, I find them kind of interesting as a premise. A lot of the ideas have potential, if you don’t take them too seriously.

A lot of stories, for example, try to use fairy tale races to explore racial problems in our own world. The Hunger Games famously tried to reflect back our society’s superficial obsession with entertainment, no matter how morally bankrupt it is.

But the Hunger Games annoyed fans most when it became the most like a teen novel, and focused on a love triangle and teen drama when it could have focused on the more important elements.

There’s this assumption in teen or YA fiction that teenagers are not going to care about a story unless there’s some drama in it. That they are incapable of higher thought,, and higher aspirations, we just want to date and dress up and play games, and maybe save the world on the side.

A lot of teens buy into this.

When I was 12-13, my mom was encouraging me to read books like “Do Hard Things” by Alex and Brett Harris, and “A Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens” by Shannon Brookes. Books that told me that the teen years are a time to prepare for bigger things. That I could still take them seriously.

That had me trying to start my own ministry and teach people while I was still in high-school.

I didn’t succeed, but I learned a lot form trying and failing. I learned how hard it is to inspire people, and how hard it is to make them believe in something. And that coordination is difficult, and so is organizing something.

I also learned that people rarely take teenagers seriously when they say they want to do something serious.

I’m now in my 20s, and still getting disrespected by older people for being young. My generation is not looked highly upon…but then when are young people ever looked highly upon by older people? You’ll find accounts of older people knocking the younger generation in every part of history books.

I like what the Bible says “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,” I live by that.

Anyway, to get back to my point, books aimed at people my age or a little younger, are really, really insulting.

To be fair, a lot of teens I knew in high-school were just about as basic as these books made them out to be, a lot were angry too. And would get mad at me if I said that things should be different.

I think I wasn’t that good at delivery back then, I was young and immature too. And while I’m not old enough yet to have all the perception of old age, I’m old enough to know better than I used to. I can now present myself much more clearly and politely.

However, I don’t think my lack of social grace was the real problem back then, teens don’t really notice that as much as adults do. You have to be old enough to expect to be treated with some amount of respect, before you get offended over it (think about that for a second.)

I think it was just I was raised a different way. And they couldn’t understand me, and I couldn’t understand the pressures of their lives. Now that I’ve been to college and gotten a taste of it…I frankly still don’t see the appeal, but I do understand the social pressure to blend in more. People are vicious when you don’t agree with them, and the younger they are the less they have empathy about it.

I’m so glad I was homeschooled, to be honest. I see what my public schooled cousins go through and I’m relieved I didn’t have to deal with it till I was an adult.

But even with those problems, the stories we feed kids are not helping anything.

I mean if all we give them to think about are superficial, light stories, that is all they will think about.

You know while I’ve been fasting this month, I’ve been thinking about all the ways we distract ourselves in the West.

What makes us different from other parts of the world–though not completely different– is how many ways we can distract ourselves.

We all can afford it, subscriptions, splurges, junk food. all of it. Even the poorest people in our society still have phones, often enough. And TV.

Despite what critics of our country like to say, we don’t really have it so much better than everyone else. I mean, as a whole we do, but within that framework, a lot of us don’t have easy lives. For personal as well as community reasons. You don’t have to be poor to suffer, and wealth doesn’t get your happiness. Just makes you run out of excuses for being unhappy faster.

Teens in the West don’t have easy lives, but they do have over-saturated ones. Over saturated with corruption, propaganda and lust, and vanity.

Every prosperous nation has turned into a corrupted one, in history. People get cocky whey they don’t have to live day by day to survive.

I know that I’m a part of all this, but at least I’m aware of it.

And the books we write, and read, and make movies out of, they feed this.

Our entertainment quality is plunging every year. “Representation” has replaced original, deep plots and the message of personal fulfillment has replaced any other message of meaning in life.

There are a few gems here and there that defy this, but they are getting fewer all the time. When I find them I want to re-watch and reread them over and over.

One thing I thought while I was viewing the 90s X-Men show was just how different they wrote heroes back then. It’s only been about 30 years since the first season dropped.

In 30 years, most of these characters would have just been angsty, morally grey individuals. Who would all question if what they were dong was worth it, and be mildly or heavily depressed. Even the live action movies veered more that way, and most of them weren’t made that much later than the show, until the reboots, which are somehow less depressing than the old ones, but also less well acted, so…

( I still like them better, but I like happy stuff.)

Watching that show was like going back in time, I can just barely remember from when I was a kid, shows and movies that used to try to make character real. They had emotions that weren’t all angst and sadness and anger and doubt. They had diversity of worldview’s, and unlike now, they could explain why they did.

I’ve written before about the lack of strong ideology in movies now, how good characters can’t defend goodness as well as evil characters defend evil.

I may be nuts, but I think it’s deliberate, it happens too often to not be on purpose. I think that Hollywood wants us to see goodness and hope as emotional, weak position that people hold just because they refuse to give up. And all of us root for because we prefer it to the alternative.

But the evil position is what really makes sense, and has factual evidence to back it up, and we just prefer no to face reality.

Movies and anime tell you that you don’t want reality, you want entertainment. You want sexualized content, and fluffy feelings, and drama. You don’t want something real.

You’re weird, in fact, if you don’t like that.

Funny, all the Youtubers I watch express disgust with this very aspect of media when they review movies and shows. They yearn for meaning. Even the ones who make fun of it the most.

Even Nux Taku, a rather famous anime YouTuber who likes hentai, openly, will get into the deeper themes of something, even when, in my opinion, they aren’t really there.

We like to find meaning.

Hollywood knows how to get people to watch things that are garbage just because it checks the right boxes for them, and book novelists know how to get teens and young adults to read their material by luring them in with superficial appeal.

But I for one get tried of the lack of depth. What’s the point of this stuff?

I know, someone is going to say “But it’s just for fun, to relax.”

And, I get it. I want that sometimes too, just a dumb movie or book to read.

That’s okay once in a whle.

But I’m talking about all the time, like, kids who never read anything else, or watch anythig else.

I was surprised entering highschool not only by what people did watch or read, but what they didn’t.

I had a huge library of books and movies I liked that no one else had ever heard of except other homeschoolers. And I was flabbergasted. Why would you only read one kind of thing?

But that’s how it was. The brainwashing worked.

I don’t think it worlds completely though. Some people still want depth, and if introduced to better things, will learn to like them. I have hope.

My concern is those people are fewer and fewer the more saturated we are in the bad stuff. We don’t foster that trait in people, it makes them harder to please, and for such a commercialized culture, we need people to be convinced to buy things, not think about them.

Because of how I was raised, I actually avoid products I see advertised. I have an aversion to commercials and ads, they make me not want to buy something. I prefer to read reviews by real people. The few times I’ve broken that streak, I didn’t like the result.

I won’t say it’s wrong to listen to ads, a few are probably true, I’m saying it’s unwise to be so pliable.

Once you learn how to see when people are buying and selling you something, you become a lot harder to fool.

I think I got off topic.

But all this is really on topic. Teen novels are just a product of what I’m describing. Buying and selling a lifestyle and moral standard to teens that is so much less than what they are capable of.

Teens have shaped history many times, most important historical figures started what they did in their teens. There are exceptions, but it’s not the rule.

We are capable of high thought, and high achievements…and yet we soak up this superficiality, like as sponge, and we thing that’s what we re.

It makes me sad.

I take every chance I get to introduce people younger than me, or my age, to deeper ideas. Sometimes I think I’m getting somewhere, other times I think I’m not.

But we have to try, adults. It’s a worse sin not to try, than to try and fail. Some of them are bound to get it, they are still human.

That one thing to remember too, teens and young adults may be exposed to a lot of crap, and dumbed down by society, but they are still human beings. Humans can change, grow, and adapt, that’s what makes us human.

You can be brought down to the level of a slug, but the same person can be elevated to a prince or princess. Our state of mind is not set in stone at any point in our lives.

Some people may just be dumb, but I think most of us are just untrained. I’ve seen little glimpses of depth even in the people I thought were mostly shallow in my social circles.

I think it’s getting people to believe that about themselves that’s the trick, and to care about it. WE all want meaning, deep down, but most of us hide from that desire and pretend it’s not there.

I’m not writing this to put down teens or young people, by any means, I still am a young person. I just know I’ve been blessed to have the chance to see all this at an early age. I started this blog for that exact reason, to inspire younger people to look for depth and truth in whatever areas we can.

You see embracing that is the key to wisdom in life. A wise person learns from everything around them, whatever is available, they can even learn form total trash, if they try. A foolish person avoids learning as much as they can. And they accomplish very little in life.

I know I am fighting an uphill battle, that people often don’t really want to be wise…but this is what I’ve got. This is what I do. I pray it resonates with someone out there.

Maybe that’s why I keep reading these books, I’m looking for signs of hope. That other people are trying, and looking, and succeeding.

One author I could recommend is Megan Morrison. She’s modern, but I have found all her books to have depth that shocks me, considering what I usually see in that genre. They hold up. The best one is “Grounded” which is just a better version of Tangled, if you ask me. (I like Tangled too, but this book is so full of imagination and depth that a short movie just can’t capture.)

I guess all this sounds a bit sentimental, but I don’t know, why do any of us teach or inspire if not to try to raise people up to a higher level? It’s frustrating, but the most rewarding when you succeed.

They say being an artist is hard, but being a teacher has to be the hardest job in the world just about for high risks and low rewards. Along with being a pastor, probably.

So in summary:

  1. I hate these books because they are shallow
  2. I read them to find hidden gems
  3. I think we need to expect more of young people
  4. I think we need to expect more of ourselves

I guess that wraps it up, until next time, stay honest–Natasha

Lyrics
Well I was young
Well I was young and naive
Because I was told
Because I was told, so I believed
I was told there’s only one road that leads me home
And the truth was a cave, on the mountain side
And I’d seek it out ’til the day I die
I was bound
I was bound and determined
To be the child
To be the child that you wanted
And I was blind to every sign that you left for me to find
And the truth became a tool, that I held in my hand
And I wielded it but did not understand
I was tired of giving more than you gave to me
And I desired a truth I wouldn’t have to seek
But in the silence I heard you calling out to me

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A gamble–analysis of Gambit’s character in X-Men

Someone actually requested I write this, that’s a first.

And I’m happy to oblige.

Like I said in my post about Rogue, check it out here if you haven’t: When you know you’ll hurt people who love you…, I hadn’t heard of Gambit before watching this show.

At first I didn’t think I’d like him, I’ve seen the flirty, player boy character one too many times on shows and movies to really be into it anymore.

But as with the other characters, this show surprised me by making him seem real, and likable, and he’s actually my second favorite male character.

I’d have to rank the characters as:

Rogue

Wolverine

Gambit

Storm

Beast

And of course, Nightcrawler holds a special place in my heart as the two time side character. It’s impressive how characters that show up only twice in the whole show were still iconic to fans, that’s some good writing.

Suck it Avatar. We don’t need to make them almost die to be relevant.

(Kidding, I like Avatar too, guys. I just don’t like Jet…)

Anyway, so about Gambit.

Full disclose, I’ve never read any X-men comics, I honestly probably won’t just because there’s so many comics, I wouldn’t know where to start to get the really good versions of them and I can’t spend that kind of money hunting through it all. Spiderman was my peak comic book experience. Nothing else has really felt as cool since.

So I have only the show’s limited focus on Gambit to go by.

But the show does a good job with the other characters, so I’m going to assume he’s depicted pretty accurately and analyze him.

I was asked specifically to talk about his hang ups.

Now that be a tricky question, no?

Forgive my poor Cajun accent in writing.

The fact is, like many characters, Gambit is not much for talking about his issues. I think he thinks he’s the strong, silent type.

I actually like that it’s not exactly true, and his idea of himself is probably not actually his character.

Gambit turned out to have a surprisingly soft, compassionate side, even from episode one where he takes it upon himself to protect Jubilee after only just meeting her. He can be a bit too flirty and rude at times to Logan and the others, but he’s always there when they need him.

Ironically, Logan complains about Gambit’s attitude, but acts the same way, must be one of those like forces repel things.

The show doesn’t hint at any thing between Gambit and Rogue until the episode “The Cure” where Logan drops the bomb that Rogue kind of likes him.

Could have fooled me up till then…the show kind of just threw ships at us, but luckily, they were usually likable…usually *cough, JeanxScott is the worst ship *cough.

Well, naturally, Gambit takes that as an invitation to start flirting with Rogue every single scene they’re in together.

Of course she finds it annoying, but secretly charming, because he’s not afraid of her.

I mean, sure, she wants to slap him in that over-confident face sometimes, but, it’s refreshing.

And of course, it leaves us more mature audience members asking ourselves “But why isn’t he afraid?”

It’s not even that Gambit is impervious to the dangers of Rogue’s power, he gets zapped one episode and is kind of mad about it, but it doesn’t stop him from hitting on her afterward.

Oddly enough, he seems to drop the whole issue of being able to touch her at all, and just keeps pushing for a relationship of some sort.

I don’t know if this was stupid or genius on the show’s part, sticking the flirty ladie’s man with the untouchable woman, and saying “hey, this is a great idea!”

My sister says they are kind of a thing in the comics too…I’d say the same irony is there.

I think that some of the appeal to Gambit, might very well be the danger. He seems like that type of guy. Other girls are too easy for him to get, Rogue’s a challenge, both with her power, and with her constant rebuttal, but not quite refusal.

And some men like a challenge, right?

(Wish I could find one)

I think I said this before, but how funny is it that his name is Gambit, and it’s a gambit to try to be close to someone like Rogue.

She’s got a lot of baggage, even if her power wasn’t an issue.

They do get one kiss one time when her power has been neutralized by some device, (it doesn’t last), and Gambit says he loves her, something he never told anyone before, according to him.

This is an interesting detail.

In his backstory episode, some blond b-word claims that Gambit has been with a lot of women

(To which we all say “we know!”)

But “loves only her”…which is not true, but okay, they were engaged once…given that Gambit left her at the alter and ran away, I guess it wasn’t that real.

Maybe he did lover her in a way, but in his words, they were both young, and he was scared.

Well, he sure stepped it up, huh? Went form crazy blond woman to country girl who’s not able to touch people…don’t know if that’s brave or delusional.

I do ship it, for the record, but I mean, anyone ever wonder how in real life this stuff would work?

Gambit at least seems to think that whatever he’s got with Rogue is special.

Rogue however, doesn’t really seem to trust his words. As she continually rebuffs any attempt to get closer to her. She’s willing to sort of date at a distance, but not to commit.

You’d think Gambit would be the one who could commit, but honestly, he seems pretty devoted, all things considered, she’s the one who can’t settle down with the idea.

Gambit lets Rogue have her space, because being a stalker wasn’t cool in the 90s, I take it. But he’s still persistent.

So the question for all of us is, how serious is this guy?

That’ the question about Gambit at all times though. No one in the X-Men really seems to trust his intentions. They all turn on him as soon as Bishop accuse him of assassinating someone. Though Gambit clearly had no plans to do so, and was framed. But the others seem to feel their suspicion was justified, even so, since he never tells them anything about himself.

I mean, if my life history was being part of a gang war/cult that worshiped some forest goddess and paid a weird tithe to her, and almost married the opposition gang’s nut job…I might hesitate to explain that to the X-Men, too.

Though Storm would probably get it, she was worshiped once. Actually, she says she knows Gambit the best, maybe that’s the reason. She feels normal to him.

Rogue stands up for Gambit, but is not especially confident in him.

Gambit is kind of hurt by this, but doesn’t seem to hold it against her so much as he just accepts no one will trust him and he’s on his own.

Actually, Gambit believes in no one and nothing, and doesn’t trust people, as Logan says, or Scott, I forget who was being the biggest prick in that episode.

In the episode with Nightcrawler (which is by far one of the best in the series, I unbiasedly think), Gambit professes that there’s no God and nothing out there for anyone.

I find that funny since he used to pay tribute to a goddess, but then again, maybe he thinks God is indifferent because of that weirdness. That spirit kept them warring against each other, and hurting each other, maybe they’re better off on their own, in his mind.

It’s kind of sad really. Gambit has been burned by his family, as his brother betrayed him and jumped him into the gang. His ex was nuts and tried to off his friends and his brother, and their deity was kind of vindictive…

And then the X-men are suspicious of him too.

Maybe his perspective that he’s a loner makes sense.

So why does he pursue Rogue? Is it because he knows it won’t happen, so he’s essentially alone still?

My theory is that at first, yeah, that probably was it. It was exciting, and there was low emotional risk in his mind because of her “issues” with being close to someone.

I’m trying to think of a PG way to say that they can’t have sex…and I can’t, because I know everyone is thinking it even if I don’t say it.

It is kind of a roadblock though, what is marriage without sex right? And romance for most people has to involve it at some point.

However…

I think Gambit actually fell for Rogue for real along the way.

She is pretty easy to love, even as a fan. I mean, she’s sweet, feisty, and caring, what’s not to like about Rogue. Her crippling insecurity is her biggest problem, but it is understandable, and she’s not what I’d called Toxic over it. Just confused and scared and sad.

I’m surprised Gambit was the only one, honestly, but I guess the show thought Jean was the one who’d have multiple men after her…because she’s got the personality of your average pick me girl in a Wattpad fic…or nay other rom-com…

Go figure.

Actually, it is harder to write a triangle around a girl who’s actually got a personality, because it’s easier to see who’d be a bad match for her, people won’t get behind a ship so easily if the chemistry is in questions. Look at Avatar. The only thing fans complain about is how that show did ships. (For good reason, not a single one has chemistry except possibly Sokka’s.)

Gambit probably just flirted with Rogue at first because, well, that’s what he does. But sometimes you pretend something long enough, you do it for real. Rogue is just easy to like…and then before he knew it, it was real.

That’s my guess as to why he didn’t get bored of it.

I mean think about it, she’s fun to tease, but any man who didn’t really like her would get tired of teasing a girl who he’s never going to be able to get in the you-know-whats of.

But no, it just goes on forever, apparently.

And one has to wonder what point Gambit sees in it, honestly.

I’m not sure he really thinks that hard about it, actually. He seems like a guy who acts more on impulse most of the time, and habit. I get the feeling that in his mind, he likes who he likes, and it don’t matter really what the obstacle or realistic expectations of it are.

But there are moments where he shows a bit more real emotion about Rogue, that indicate he’s not just kidding.

He’s quick to worry about her, quick to notice if anything is bothering her, and quick to get jealous.

Jealous of what, really, what can she do? She can’t cheat on him.

But he seems actually jealous of her affections and attention.

I think it’s interesting.

Rogue raises all kinds of issues about our own insecurity, if we pay attention to her character. And that’s cool, I really like that.

But Gambit raises the question of what really is and isn’t love. What are we really in a relationship for?

You know, the Bible doesn’t give sex as the first reason to institute marriage. That sounds kind of wrong, actually.

I mean, who gets married just so they can have sex.

I really hope no one reading this answered that in the affirmative…

Sure, sex is nice, and important…but it’d be a stupid thing to base your relationship off of.

Honestly, I think it’s great being a virgin and just not having the whole sexual compatibility thing on the table, I get to focus on what really matters, not just hormones.

I’m sure none of us believe Gambit is in that exact position.

But who knows, maybe he’s had enough of superficial relationships, and is realizing they just don’t make you happy, they aren’t real, they don’t satisfy.

Rogue is too much of a challenge to have it not be real, if your’e going to keep pursuing her. Maybe that’s the appeal.

Maybe he likes the idea that someone has his back. It’s rare to find any friends as devoted as the X-men, and Rogue in particular never would abandon a friend. Sometimes to her own detriment, but there it is.

We all like to feel special, Gambit may also find it flattering to be preferred by someone who has no reason to impress anyone. I mean, I can’t lie, it would make me feel pretty special too.

To be honest, I think what makes the ship so interesting is simply that’s it’s not that easy to figure out.

I think that it’s more real, because there’s probably so many factors that could go into it.

The thrill seeking aspect of it is balanced out by there also being a trust aspect.

One line Gambit does say to Rogue that’s interesting is early on when she reminds him, none too politely, that she put someone in a coma the last time she kissed them:

“Maybe it’s worth it, no?” He says, with a very punch-able face, I have to say.

I can’t really blame Rogue for going off in a huff after that.

Still, if you unpack it, isn’t that the question?

Rogue has no self worth whatsoever when it comes to love. She believes she’s not worth anything, no risk, nothing.

I have to wonder, even if she lost her power, would she accept herself? I think she’d still push people away. She’d find some new reason.

I did the same thing. Without my father around to bully me, I found other ways to look down on myself.

Gambit seems like the last person to take love seriously out of the team, but maybe, just maybe, he’s kind of hit on something.

Maybe it is worth it.

He might be cocky, arrogant at times, and often stubborn…but, love isn’t really about being perfect.

It’s not always the most innocent people who actually understand love the best, sometimes if you’re too nice, you can’t accept other people have flaws, and you don’t know how to love them.

Church people know this struggle.

But on the other hand, if you’ve hit the branches on the tree of poor life decisions…then maybe you’re a little easier on people.

I think the show raises the same question to the fans as Rogue has.

Can we really trust Gambit? Is he for real? Or is it just some joke.

Rogue seems convinced she’ll wake up from it one day, and will look foolish for ever trusting it.

Sure she likes him, but she doesn’t want to love him, because she gets hurt then.

But it also hurts to be strung along. Gambit is not one to complain, but…

Come on, it would bother anyone.

It’s sort of like Rogue is saying that just love is not good enough, she won’t be satisfied without the touch aspect being resolved. Though she claims to be okay wither herself, we all know it’s not true.

Like I said in her post, how important is touch to a romantic relationship?

After I wrote it, I was reminded of the stories I know about people who are paraplegic, some all over their body, and who are still married.

People who have cerebral palsy, or some other disease, often can’t move normally.

There was that famous guy who had no legs and no arms, but got married and had a kid.

I’ve heard that Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife weren’t able to be intimate after a point because of his disease, and Eleanor said that there was still love even without that.

Hormone driven fans are often obsessed with sex and kissing and touching in shipping. Rogues’ a real challenge, most people probably just prefer to fix her problem, in fan fiction, and not deal with it.

I think that her problem is probably fixable, based on the show’s logistics.

But I think that’s not really the point.

Rogue is not going to get love just because she can be touched. If someone can’t love you without that, they don’t really love you. That’s the hard truth.

Sure, they might like you and want to get with you, but that’s not love.

In our over-sexualized, lonely culture, it’s hard to imagine any love without sex.

Or some form of touch.

Anime kind of has this stigma both about kissing and being intimate until the relationship is further along, and also about even using the words “love” and showing care for someone.

We’re left starved both emotionally and physically from watching it. I think that’s why fans rush to the perverted side of it so quickly.

Where you have no emotional connection, the sexual seems like an appealing substitute…but it’s empty too.

Love is not about sex, and it’s not about giddy feelings. That’s a nice part of it, sure.

But I kind of like that with Gambit and Rogue, it really can’t be about that. Even if, someday, her problem was resolved, it still couldn’t have been about that.

If Gambit showed hesitancy, we’d all have to hate him, even if we understood it. Not many men, or women, would want a part of that.

And it is sad…but, as I said, real life couples have to forego physical intimacy sometimes.

It’s almost a crime in people’s eyes now to suggest that maybe, just maybe, it’d be okay not to have that.

I mean, if you met the love of your life, they suited your personality, they were loyal, caring, and funny…but they just couldn’t have sex…or touch you…would you abandon them?

I remember story I heard on reddit of a guy who married a woman who was asexual…that is, she could have sex, but didn’t enjoy it the way other people do.

He said it was almost a deal-breaker, but he was glad he stuck with her. They had a great relationship, and she’s a loving wife…that aspect is just not as prevalent, but he’s learned to live with it. She has to make sacrifices too.

I’m not saying I’d choose it on purpose, but you know, maybe it’s is worth it.

It would be weird to want that, upfront, but it’s not weird to accept it, if you love them.

I’m not sure I can say for sure if Gambit is deep enough to think that out, but he does hint at it.

The guy who does’t trust anyone is still willing to gamble with love.

I feel like he’d be the most shocked if it ever worked out.

In the end, Gambit and Rogue are too similar. They are drawn to each other because they both think no one will love them.

What keeps them hooked is that the other person never quite ruins it. They rebuff, and argue, but they stick together, and drop hints, and there’s something deeper there.

It’s not really the tease of romance so much as it’s the draw of being loved itself that has these two caught.

It’s like “what if they did love me?”

It seems like a 10 to 1 chance against it, that it would end well.

But Gambit is willing to roll those dice, because really, what does he have to lose? The X-men only get a few chances in life for some things, you’d better take them.

Rogue maybe doesn’t see it that clearly, but she’s still pulled in by it.

They are also opposites, Gambit is willing to risk it all because he sets little value in his own safety, Rogue is not wiling to risk anything because she exaggerates the importance of her own danger to others, and thinks she’s worse than other people.

Sticking them together was a crazy idea because they repel with their hangups, but they also attract.

And, it’s a gamble, really, trying to see how it would end.

I tend to always think erring on the side of love is better. If we don’t have love, our lives are empty anyway. Love is risk, but it’s more of risk not to have it.

But some people don’t feel that way.

I think the show itself couldn’t commit for that reason, and I don’t know if the comics ever did.

Superhero fiction tends to be afraid of committed love, something about it seems alien to superheroes, their lives are dual, masked in deception, usually.

The X-Men were always an oddity in Marvel, because they didn’t hide their identities, and live regular lives managing their powers. I don’t think there’s a DC parallel to it.

The X-Men could have relationships because they acted more human. Superman needs no one, Batman refuses to need anyone, and many others just have too many issues and bad luck.

X-men can have diversity in how tragic their stories are and how hopeless they seem, so you can root for them with more hope.

But in the end, it’s still a superhero show.

The main thing is how we’d answer the question ourselves.

What part of love do we value the most? Why do we want companionship?

How we answer that is what makes for a good foundation for romance.

Less of a buzz maybe, if you pick true companionship, but it lasts longer. And it helps more.

And with that thought, I think I’ll end this, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

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What I learned from Fasting

It’s the new year everybody!

Yay!

I haven’t made my list yet, not sure what I want to happen this year.

But my church always does a 21 day fast at the start of the year.

I don’t really fast food, I think I might be hypoglycemic, not eating makes me feel really sick, really fast, and no sugar will have a weird effect on me too.

I’ve tried food fasting in the past and never got beyond 1 day at most, and that was torture.

Sometimes I fast a particular food instead.

But after my scare last year of dropping 15 lbs, and thankfully, gaining them all back, I have decided to just be happy to eat normally.

So, I tend to fast things like movies, TV shows, or writing too much.

Fasting could really just be called abstaining since it’s not always about food and water.

While it’s gotten a bad rap thanks to the rise of bulimia and Eating Disorders, fasting isn’t unhealthy when it’s done in the right proportions. It cleanses your system, uses up excess sugars, and for most people, won’t make you feel all that bad. (I’m an unfortunate exception.)

While fasting is not commanded per sec to Christians, Jesus said that his followers would fast when he was no longer with them. Which would be now.

Not every godly character in the Bible fasted, but many prophets, kings and judges did.

While I have no fasted food that often, I have learned somethig just from what I do fast.

And I thought it might be worht writing about.

True Confession:

I’ve alwas been terrible at the prayer and worship part of fasting. I’m told that’s why I haven’t had better success with it.

I used to try it and felt no different, so I didn’t bother.

I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to be demanded to do things. So my relationship with Spiritual Discipline has always been tempestuous. Either I got carried way denying myself because it was so counter-intuitive, or I didn’t do it at all.

I still struggle with that.

Spiritual Discipline has been neglected a lot in the Western Church. My church does practice it and encourage a handful of them, but there’s a bunch we don’t really address either.

I hear Catholics do some, but most Catholics I’ve met weren’t serious enough about the faith for me to ask them about it.

I know that one discipline is silence and another is solitude. That’s hard now. We almost never have to be alone with our thoughts.

Actually that’s where I found fasting things like TV and movies to be helpful.

I have images and sounds playing through my memory all day, every day.

I had that before I had TV, honestly. The same things used to happen with books. We have to have something to fill up our thoughts.

Better that then anxiety. I suffered from anxiety so much in the past, even as a kid, I used to use books to escape, then I used TV. Now I use writing as well.

None of those things are bad, but you get to rely on them too much. They aren’t perfect substitutes for God. But they do distract you.

When you give that up, even for three days, the difference is immense.

24 hours without TV and I feel like a different person usually. A whole week, and it’s like I’m more clear.

Already, in the last three days, I’ve been bored, listless, and blue ( not fasting TV, but I don’t think yo all need to know what I’m giving up. It’s a private matter, I’m just using TV as an easy example.)

I fill up my days so much with this thing, I don’t know what to do without it. I push aside prayer, worship, and even physical exercise because I do it so much.

It’s too much and I know that, but I don’t want to stop.

Fasting can be like a self chosen intervention.

It’s never easy, but because I have been doing it for years, I do escape the lie many people believe, which is that it’s not possible.

I learned at a young age to use self control because of fasting. Not perfectly, but at a level most kids don’t reach. Most adults don’t either. How many of us really try to control ourselves from giving into urges.

Heck, they tell us that’s unhealthy now.

It’s really not. Most doctors would probably tell you you should not give in to every urge you have all the time. Especially if you’re an addict.

I was watching a YT video last week “Why you’ll marry the wrong person” and this man was saying that we’re all addicts to something, whatever we use to keep from being alone with ourselves.

I felt a little called out, to be honest.

I used to be okay with being alone with myself, but it got to where I had anxiety every time I was alone with my thoughts.

But then again, that could be just a result of overstimulating myself so much to begin with.

Our brains get addicted to screens, and if we get off them for a brief time, we can feel withdrawal. We’re not necessarily depressed, so much as we’re empty.

You can tell because the depresison goe waway while you’re on the screen, but ocmes back once you’ve been off for five minutes. That’s addiction.

Some addiction to screens is inevitable for us, like some dependence on sugar is.

But there is a way to cut down on your absolute dependence it, and for that, fasting is ideal.

Also turn on the blue light filter on your screen if you have one, that helps, the blue light is addictive and stressfull.

I used to be very judgmental of people who were on their phones all the time, till I got a smartphone. Then I understood.

I don’t play games on mine, in an effort to stay on it less. But I do edit, and read web comics on it. I do use it to play music. And I’m not even as bad as I used to be.

Cutting back on it is hard. And if I’m not on my phone, I’m on my laptop, like I am right now.

I still read real books, though, and it’s amazinghow revitalized your brain feels after a few chapters if you stick it out.

Since I started this fast, I’m both more tired at night, and more ready to go to bed on time. Less stimulation to keep me up. My sisters too. We’ve gone to bed at 1 AM for months, but since I started this, we’ve been going to bed by 12 am or even before 11 pm. Go figure.

I’m not anti-screen. I do like moives, and I like being able to write faster and edit faster on a screen. It’s a nice thing.

But I am against being mastered by anything, as Paul or Peter wrote in the bible. All things are lawful for us, but not all things are helpful.

My family has always been against a lot of technology in our lives, my mom didn’t all of us to have a TV. And she was against having a computer that played movies for years.

I can see why, my Dad got addicted to it as soon as we got it, and to video games.

I almost ended up that way too.

But when I was 13-14, I started fasting. Actually I think I started at 12.

I didn’t know what I was doing at the time, and some stuff makes me cringe now, but the effort was there. And when I did that, I learned to control myself and my urges to play on that computer.

Also seeing my dad’s addictive behavior scared the crap out of me.

Years later, it’s still a temptation, but it’s not as big of one. I can abstain if I want to. It’s good to refresh that every once in a while.

I worked it out.

I think God put me on the path just for that reason.

And while my mental health is not always as good as I wish, it’s much better than most of the people I know, and they don’t all have that practice. My critical thinking ability is also far better, as is my reading comprehension.

I don’t believe this would be so rare, if we had more limits to our screen time. The kids I know whose parents limit their screen intake a lot are much smarter and usually better behaved. I know my sisters and I were better behaved for our babysitters as kids.

It is what it is.

Fasting taught me to set rules for myself even if my parents no longer did it for me. I think my mom taught me restraint, having limits to desserts, TV, and game time. And in turn I learned to employ it on myself.

With lots of prayer also.

It’s now been almost 2 weeks of my fast, (this post is late because I got sick), and so far, it’s not yielded miraculous results.

But you know, I don’t really think it needs to. I used to think that fasting would always be like the big ones in the Bible. Spiritual awakening, breakthrough, seeing visions, or whatever.

It’s easy to forget that fasting was regularly practiced as a reminder to focus on God, and things that are more important than our physical comfort.

For me, sacrificing just one of the many distractions I fill up my time with, reminds me that I can live without that thing.

We have a very desperate culture now. People often “jokingly” say that they won’t kill themselves just so they can find out what happens next in their favorite anime, TV show, or web-series.

I knew MHA was becoming a little too important to me when the news that season 5 would be delayed made me feel suicidal for a second. I hadn’t realized how contagious that way of thinking is.

And we should call it what it is, idolatry. We’re worshiping these shows.

Some people aren’t even subtle about it, they call the creators their “lord and savior.”

Is it supposed to be a joke? Maybe.

Ever notice that some things can be a joke, but still totally serious also.

See, worship isn’t always about thinking something is worth devoting your life and purpose too.

The Bible mocks and reproaches people who bow to wood, and stone, and gold gods. Saying that they will use half a block of wood to burn, but the other half to make a god, and will bow to it.

God apparently finds this ridiculous. And so do we, on paper.

But we’ll devote endless hours of time to 2D characters and mediocre story writing, just because it’s our crap, you know…and we know it’s crap, or it’s not real, but we don’t care. How is that really different from burning half the material we made our god from?

You can use firewood and not worship it, and you can watch shows and not worship them–but, if you’re surrounding yourself with people who do, it’s so easy to become twisted by that. I know plenty of Christians who compromise their morals for shows.

And maybe I have t oo, much to my shame.

I’ve cut way back on my anime viewing, I think my craze is dying down. I still enjoy a few, like any other medium. I did the same with Webtoon. I read it like crazy at first, but inevitably, it didn’t satisfy me, and now I just read a few episodes on an average day, sometimes none at all. Take me maybe 10-20 minutes. That’s probably harmless.

I confess, I make the same mistakes as everyone else. I think that my need for emotional fulfillment can be met by fiction. Even in creating my own.

And what is an idol, but fiction? It’s a fictional god, isn’t it? Back before we had common forms of entertainment, worshiping an idol was a nice distraction…people used to worship idols by having sex, did you know that? Not too different from anime and it’s fan service, and husbands and waifus, now is it?

Except you can’t actually have sex with an anime character, so we’ve traded something that was at least partially real, for an even more twisted version of it.

I mean, having a crush on a fictional character is normal, but…the kind of stuff people do to fetish-ize it…that’s not normal (and I don’t crush on fictional characters as it is.)

What I’m saying is that, when you get caught up in this temptation to worship and go after other things, a fast may be the best way to recenter yourself.

Mine hasn’t changed my whole life, but it changes a small part of it. I have to think about God a little more, and remember that what I’m fasting was not enough for me anyway.

And while I may not feel high off of God’s spirit right now, and fasting doesn’t always make me feel closer to God, I have learned that it’s not necessarily the purpose of fasting to do that. It can, and I have seen a slight improvement from it…but fasting is to re-evaluate priorities, and realize your mistakes.

I realize, I have mistakenly made certain things too important in my life. I realize that I need to think more about how I spread God’s word, and His message.

I realize that the ways I do it, like through writing this blog, may not be how I wish I could (I love writing, but I love interacting with people in person also) but it is available to me.

I may never know if it really helped anyone or not, but I can put it out there, that’s all we can do.

I am reminded that whatever else changes in my life, God is my constant.

And, I am reminded that all the things of this world are temporary.

Time was that the thought of losing one of my distractions would give me a panic attack.

And I own’t say I wouldn’t be upset now, but now I do stop myself and think “But if that happens, I still have other interests, and God can still use me in other ways, and I’ll get through it. It won’t be the end of me.”

I realize I am unique in having this understanding, not because I am especially good or free of temptation, but because I made it a practice to go without things for years, and to learn that I could bear not having them. You can live without anything, just about.

And I guess that is what I learned from fasting, to sum it up.

I hope this was interesting or even helpful to you.

If you now feel like you may want to try fasting yourself, I am no authority on it, but I do suggest starting small. Try 1-3 days of fasting a food or item or hobby.

If you think you can, try a week or even two weeks of no TV or whatever your addiction is.

You can also set aside one day to not watch TV or be on your phone, I’ve done this, with pretty good results. Brain break, right?

Another thing to try is setting aside an hour or half an hour each day to just not be on your phone, and to have fewer distractions, quiet time.

If you can get up to a month or even more than that, that’s about the Bible’s usual limit, 40 days. Anything longer than that is more of a lifestyle change than a fast, but a fast is a great time to ask yourself if you do need to make this a permanent change in your life.

And don’t brag about fasting, Jesus warned us not to do that. Only tell people who will need to know just so they know not to tempt you. Like I may refrain form making cookies while my sister or mom is fasting sugar, or I may not talk about shows or YouTube vids if they are fasting that. It’s different for everyone.

If you can, fast with your family, makes it easier to stick to it.

Remember also, something doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you fast it, it just has to be a problem for you. Don’t preach at other people that they shouldn’t partake of the thing you’re fasting from, unless they are rubbing it in your face, it’s really none of your business what they do.

Other than that, the rules are up to you and God. I’m just laying out the groundwork for how the Bible says to treat fasting. Not to be depressed about it.

Really, God would rather us not fast at all it would seem if we can’t do it with a good attitude. Repenting during a fast is okay, normal and expected. But whining about it is just annoying.

(And I need to watch myself for that too, I’m realizing. Wry comments can so easily become complaints.)

With that, I think I’ll leave you to decide, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

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When you know you’ll hurt people who love you…

Hello peeps,

I was going to post sooner and I got sidetracked by getting the new Covid variant.

Frist time I got one, and I get the one with mild cold symptoms, go figure.

I felt worse honestly for not eating a few days afterward than I did while I had a fever, the fatigue and aches were the worst of it.

But I’m recovered now.

Anyway, to fill up my time while I’m fasting certain things, and taking a break from anime, my sisters and I have been binging the old X-Men animated show.

If you’ve never seen it, you should watch it, it’s really good. It’s on Amazon Prime.

It was a different time, man.

It’s not a perfect show, but it’s so much better than the movies. And the dialogue is refreshingly not boring for an old show. Superhero shows can be disappointing in the long run because they just don’t ever go anywhere.

X- Men does suffer from that, but the continuity is good for the most part, the characters get well flushed out, and I like at least some of them. I can’t stand Scott…there is no version of Cyclops I’ve ever liked, old movies, new movies, or this how. Jean always bored me too. Though the Dark Phoenix movie was better than people gave it credit for, acting-wise anyway.

But anyway, this isn’t a review of the show.

As always, the shipping caught my eye. It’s not the best I’ve seen, the older shows usually are very non-committal about shipping, you were lucky if they even kissed.

This show handles it way better than most of its genre, so I got interested, even thought they don’t put a lot of effort into chemistry.

But what they do well is show people’s hang ups about getting into relationships.

The one they spend the most time on, with that, is Rogue x Gambit.

Being only a fan of the X-Men movies until now, and a distant fan at that, not die hard, I had not idea who Gambit even was, and Rogue was always just kind of a sad, scared little girl.

Well, I don’t know what those directors were thinking. Rogue’s character on tis show is the best part of it, along with Wolverine.

Gambit wasn’t as funny, in my opinion, at first, but he grew on me, and mellowed over the course of the show too, like Wolverine.

Anyway, the ship is not the best ship I’ve ever seen, but compared to the level I expected on an old 80s cartoon, it far surpassed it.

I mean, the shows of my generation were Kim Possilbe, the Animated Justice League, and old Spiderman and Batman and Superman. And while I liked all of those, and they have a few good ships in them, most of them don’t commit.

Gambit and Rogue, so far at least, don’t either. But no other show outside Justice League (once) really bothered to explore why, but this show does, and I think it’s interesting.

The romance is old fashioned for our time now, but Rogues’s character is well done, and her hang ups ring pretty true even today with what a lot of people express, so I thought it was worth using as an example.

Man, back then, characters could be interested in each other without shacking up, and it was just normal. Maybe not on every show, but one like this, made for kids, it was.

And unlike anime, which is so sexually repressed, yet bloated at the same time that they will devote multiple shots to grotesque fan service in every season yet act gun shy of having two healthy, normal characters kiss–these old American shows aren’t afraid to show kissing, and other physical forms of affection, without crossing over into the sexual.

I think it was more balance back then. Because they had standards to uphold they didn’t do stripping and naked women, and men showing their abs all the time, but because of that, they had no inherent shame implied if they kissed. They knew what we, the audience, would expect.

The pervy side of comics is a more recent evolution from the old stuff. There’s always been some pervs who would enjoy comic books (or any illustrated book) for the wrong reason, but the old art wasn’t that oversexualized, I’ve seen it. the new stuff is so gross. Ugly too, in my opinion.

Anime may not be ugly, but it has the same disproportionate, overdone factor to it, sorry, to sorry.

So it’s been nice to watch a romance that doesn’t shove fan service in my face. And is mature enough to at least acknowledge the problems.

Rogue’s obvious problem, if you know her power set and story, is that she can’t touch anyone.

There’s a few loopholes to this that the show ignores, like most superhero shows do. Such as the myriad of appearance of mutation blocking technology, which had the X-men chosen to keep any of it, Rogue could have used to manage her power when necessary.

So while the problem would easily be resolved if the rules of superhero shows didn’t dictate the heroes can’t be pragmatic (because there goes the drama then, right?) it isn’t so prevalent that her struggle doesn’t seem real.

Rogue does not wallow in angsty self pity, which I really appreciate. Anime emos get old after a while, they’re okay in moderation, but after a while you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. We get it, you’re sad…get a life.

Instead the writer made Rogue a strong person, who more takes a wry sense of humor about her inhibitions, though at some moments she shows how deeply it bothers her. It’s far more realistic, most of us don’t go through life pitying ourselves every minute of the day, and acting sad all the time, we take that wry point of view about our problems.

I think it’s healthier to do that than to purposefully be depressed. Enough sadness in life without dwelling on even more of it on purpose.

But it may be a better option still to try to heal.

The show does stop short of that. I think maybe they just didn’t know how to write it.

Rogue and Gambit’s ship actually serves to show Rogues’ issues more, which is how I think a ship should be used if it’s gong to be reoccurring, nothing like a romance to drive your true nature out.

The interesting ting about Rogue, and what makes her so much like us, is that she yearns for normal things, enjoys normal things, and want the kind of love she sees other people have–but she believes she can never have it.

So far it’s not been said, though i think it might be eventually, but her logic, we see, has to be no man is ever gong to commit to a girl he can’t touch. It’s just not gonna happen.

I find that intriguing.

I mean, the cynical person in me does kind of want to agree.

This is a world where we value sex above all else often enough in relationships. At least we do now. People will ship characters in fiction and in real life just because they want to see them have sex.

I do enjoy a good kiss scene myself in fiction.

And sex is a good thing, between married people. I’m 100% for that. I actually hate stories where married couples never have sex, for some stupid, contrived reason, to create drama. It’s a necessary part of marriage, if both people are capable of having sex, and don’t have sexual traumatic that might prevent them from engaging in it with ease. It’s selfish to deny your partner sex because you don’t feel like it, I think. We don’t not cook because we don’t feel like it, someone has to cook, even if you buy food. But that’s another story.

However, the idea that sex is the most important thing about marriage has been disputed.

Many couples, for health reasons, can’t have sex for many years of their marriage. Age can be one reason. But they can still feel fulfilled. It’s probably like eating sweets, sure you’d like to, but if you can’t, that’s not the end of your life. You can live without it.

Personally, I’m a 23 year old virgin. I’d like to have sex at some point in my life, I believe it’s a God given gift. BUT, I would, at least now, prefer a man who’d be the right emotional match for me more.

I mean, if you gave me the choice, great sex for the rest of my life, or, being with someone who would day in and day out try their hardest to make me happy, and would let me make them happy…someone I could always turn to, who would not lie to me, and who would make the best of whatever situation we fell into…I think I could abstain from sex for that. I hear the older you get, the less sex seems like it’s so important. C. S. Lewis said that he’d choose affection and loyalty over sexual excitement, now that he was older.

I might be young but I’m not stupid, guys. Trust is more important. Sex is icing on the cake of love, not the main ingredient.

Of course, Rogue can’t even hold hands or kiss. She can embrace a bit with gloves and clothes on, but not as much as she wants to.

I imagine, if the show were allowed to discuss this, she’d probably verbalize the thought that it’s just not fair to ask any man to put up with that kind of restriction.

What’s funny is that, for all her longing, she is the one who shoves Gambit away in their quasi, flirtatious relationship. Gambit never seems bothered by her mutant power, and is very outgoing about how he flirts, he even is the one to say “I love you” first–and so far, the only one.

Rogue is very insecure.

Funny how she’s confident most of the time, but anytime he’s open about it, she pushes him away, sometime literally. And walks away herself, and acts irritated.

But also gets jealous and begs for attention.

None of it is to the extent where she’s Toxic, I can’t imagine Rogue being toxic, she’s too sweet, but she’s so clearly at war with herself, and it’s shown really well.

The heartbreaking thing to think about is that Rogue is really just a dramatization of a very real feeling many of us have.

Rogue was rejected by her Daddy, as she tells us, and then abused by her surrogate mother, in a way, mystique.

After such experiences, it makes sense she has trust issues. But really, she has self worth issues.

It’s all too familiar to me.

I’m taken back to my emotional abusive household as a kid.

Both my parents, though more my father, would use me being upset as a reason to act like I was attacking them.

I loved my parents, even in my most angsty years, and I don’t recall ever saying I hated them, or saying anything particularly cruel, though I maybe have just forgotten. But I always knew words had power, that’s what they taught me.

The message my father gave me, sometimes to my face, was that he had enough stress in his life without dealing with me also.

This led to me feeling like I was just a bad reminder to him of this gaping issues, which was our relationship. A relationship he sabotaged himself from the time I was born, and all through my formative years. Then he destroyed it openly when I was a teenager. Always it was he who would reject, he who would say the most hurtful things, he who would judge me.

If I fought back, or tried to complain, I was told I was the problem, and it wasn’t my place to correct him. Then he would tell us to correct him, and that we were right, and the next time we did, it was the same thing, it wasn’t our place. He’d even threaten me if I tried.

I learned to just keep my mouth shut, and when I learned that, he began picking fights with me on purpose. He couldn’t go more than a few days without some toxic outburst, I think he was addicted to it, personally.

All this lined up with what I learned about abusive behavior once he was gone.

But what it stamped on me, perhaps permanently, is that the people closest to you are the ones you will hurt the most.

I knew I had hurt my parents even if it was mostly their own fault, and I knew I hurt my sisters too, the people who I later came to rely on more for support.

And the fact is, if you love someone, you will still hurt them, because you are a flawed, imperfect human.

I’ve said things to friends, not thinking how they sounded, and meaning it to be funny that hurt them badly, and I never knew till later. Some people realized that and brushed it off, others never forget.

I’ve found that people from emotionally abusive homes often share this belief that I have, which is that when you love someone, you hurt them.

Oddly, I don’t find that attitude in accounts by people with happy families, who kept their trust.

People who rebel against their good parents may come to think that way, but that’s not everyone.

And those of us who’ve been let down the most by people we love, believe it the most.

To us, love is associated with pain.

A lot of us abused kids don’t want to give up on love, we know we’re meant to love, so we accept the pain of it, but we have a harder time accepting that we will cause people pain.

In our minds, since the love we were shown was conditional, and we took on the brunt of forgiving the other person, but never get their forgiveness in return, then every wound we cause is far worse than the ones they give us.

You see, we normally don’t struggle with our half of it. They hurt us, we shake it off, we don’t think it’s that important.

But we hurt them at all, and we feel horrible. We feel unworthy of love, and we think it’d be better if we just stayed away from them–but we know that will hurt too, and we feel stuck.

Rogue is such a perfect type of this kind of person. I think it’s fitting she was written to have abusive parental figures.

Though the show frames it as being about her mutation, it could have been about anything. That was the genius of the X-men, they used mutation as a metaphor for anything that makes people seem a little different.

And Rogue is like if that attitude was to take physical form in your body. If the fact that you can’t get close to someone without hurting them sometimes was made a trait in your DNA.

Because, in a way, it is.

Since the fall of man, we humans have turned on each other.

We make such a big deal out of racism and bigotry now, like it’s the worst sin of all, but, if you’re not hurting someone one way, you’d just do it another way. Racism can be less giant int he long run than many other human evils, depends on the kind of racism.

I just think it’s like we expect perfection out of humans. Looking down on each other for stupid reason has been a part of us for millennium, it’s not any one group of people’s exclusive fault, we just hate each other, because we fear each other.

We fear what’s different, because we know we’re not prepared for it. We cannot understand, so we don’t try. That’s what we think.

If it doesn’t lead to racism, it leads to something else, like the fear of intimacy.

When we damaged people hit this flaw in ourselves, it’s easy to get depressed.

It has depressed me many times to realize I can’t get away from not being perfect.

As a Christian, I am promised that one day I will be perfect as Christ it perfect.

But Jesus was still hurt by people, probably more than anyone else ever has been, because he truly was innocent. but no doubt his followers took his honesty the wrong way at times, and were hurt. Jesus must have known people will be hurt, even if you are in the right. Sometimes that hurts worse than being wrong. You ever had your parents say they hate punishing you?

My dad used to say that, I wish it extended to his abuse. He never liked to spank us much when we deserved it, but would be forceful over minor, stupid stuff that wasn’t even bad. I never understood that.

I doubt it would make Rogue feel better to hear that it’s not her fault. She’s in our position, she can’t help it, and she knows it, and that’s what hurts. We’re most ashamed of what we can’t help, as C. S. Lewis observed.

She’s kind of like Shigaraki from MHA, in a way. Though he can control his quirk now, he seems to shy away form touching people because, subconsciously, he remembers what happened when he did and lost control.

Rogue hasn’t killed anyone, but she’s hurt them pretty badly.

There’s a lot of characters like that in superhero fiction, I think it’s because people play out their insecurities in superhero writing. It’s when we most want to portray ourselves as heroes that we find ourselves seeing weaknesses and reasons why we can’t be. We tend to project that onto some characters, and then project our fantasy of a savoir onto others. Hence MHA has Deku and All Might, and the X- Men have professor X.

But the X-Men is a bit more honest about it than MHA, they know that Prof X can’t really fix these problems.

While there may be a solution, people often accept their circumstances. Don’t I know that feeling?

I’ve never been able to fully accept suffering as normal, but I have been tempted. Who hasn’t?

Like Rogue, and so many other victims, I yearn for more, but when I get it, I push it away.

I’m at least catching onto to this habit, and learning to stop doing it, but Rogue probably hasn’t noticed it, because like so many real people, she has no one around her to reflect it back at her. Al lot of us never realize this on our own, that’s they therapy can be beneficial. If it’s good therapy.

When we feel like we’re wrong, deeply, something inside us is, it’s hard to open up.

And what’s sad is that some of us, like Rogue, do have people around us who accept us.

Gambit never shows any fear of Rogue, as I said. And pushes more for the relationship than she does, but Rogue seldom acknowledges it. She’s scared, he’s not.

Gambit of course has to be well aware of the reasons, she’s quite vocal about it.

But while he says he doesn’t care, Rogue isn’t willing to risk it, even if he is.

And of course, realistically, Gambit knows that there’s only so far they could go. How could they ever have kids?

Metaphorically, one could see it as one realizing that all human intimacy is never going to be enough to satisfy us. Not fully.

Of course, we Christians say that’s because we need God. When you have God, you can let man be man.

Rogue does actually express the wish to know more about God on the old show, because you could do that back then and not get cancelled by social media, but the show didn’t take it farther than that.

I wonder if she would find peace in believing that God loves her, and is the One person she can’t hurt.

That was one thought that kept me sane in some of my more self hating moments, knowing I can’t hurt God. Sometimes I want to, it’s horrible, but I want to take out my anger on someone, and I know He will not hurt me, not like my dad would. It’s a sad truth.

God usually doesn’t answer when I do that, and then I feel alone, but I’ve started to realize it is me who’s pulling away, not him.

So yeah, Rogue’s actions hit home in that way too.

I know that God values me, I just don’t accept it when I should. I find it hard to believe.

I think Rogue reflects the way victims feel that even if others are willing to be hurt by them, they don’t deserve that kind of grace.

It’s hard to hear, but it’s not like Rogue is the only one with this problem. Scott can never look anyone in the eyes without glasses on, Beast is…a beast. There are other mutants who can hurt people easily with their powers. Rogue can at least cover hers up.

And she sees no issues without other people getting their happiness, but can’t see it for herself.

I think she believes Gambit would never commit anyway, though he seems more than wiling to do so, though he can also be a bit of a flirt, but then so can she…the real issue both of them have is they won’t be honest about what they want.

Many victims just don’t know. I don’t know what I want, often.

I know it a little better now. Other than I don’t want someone like my dad, I have begun to learn what positive traits I want.

But we can swing the other way and look for perfection. We are drawn to the familiar, but repulsed by it when it lets us down.

I think I am at least not drawn to my dad’s cruelty anymore.

I may always like banter, as a permanent mark of growing up with him, but banter doesn’t have to be cruel.

I recently had an annoying time with a guy at my school who liked to say snide things to me, not sure he really knew they were snide, I could never tell if he was rude on purpose, or just stupid, but either way, it reminded me to much of how my dad would mock me.

This guy was hot, not gonna lie, but I couldn’t be attracted to his personality enough for that to be a plus. It’s like gilding a bitter pill, really.

I don’t hate this guy, I don’t even think he’s the worse sort of person, but he’s not my type. Maybe some women could put up with him, I don’t know I they should, I think it’s up to them, but for me, it’s not a good idea to get close to someone like that. I’m already on the defensive, and I barely know him, that’s never a good sign.

But victim flock to it, to people who put them on the defensive, because we think that’s showing interest.

And perpetrators flock to people like that because they think that’s the kind of person who will support them.

But the trouble is, even if you take steps to become better, you could still miss what’s right in front of you.

To go back to Rogue and Gambit’s example, let’s look at it more seriously.

So, Rogue is right, it would never be easy or simple for her to be with someone. And Gambit might need to acknowledge that a bit more.

I mean, if the love each other, they may still never be together, just because she thinks it’s not fair.

The question is, is that a valid reason?

I’ve read of people deciding not to marry because of health reasons, just because it wouldn’t be possible for them to have children. In Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist, there’s a woman who won’t marry a man because she has a stain on her ancestry and doesn’t want to drag him down with her, it’s no fault of her own, but she feels like it would be irresponsible.

Heck, even goofy movies like Mad Monster Party hold out the idea that you can refuse to marry someone because you think you’re no good for them.

And many people in real life self foil because they think they are the wrong person emotionally for someone else. And they feel selfish if they do get involved with someone.

I hope one day I will stop feeling guilty for asking for help. And for people making sacrifices for me. I wish I didn’t have to ask. But I have to tell myself now that it’s okay for me to have my needs met. Not to the exclusive of everyone else’s, but that it won’t hurt them if I do. And even if someone does get hurt, it can be mended.

The magic thing about love is that it makes pain seem unimportant compared to the love.

There are difficulties to any relationship. Some people decide to be together despite that, because they figure the love is more important. That was the story of many interracial couples, and still is, interracial marriage is still looked down on even in America…and it’s not always the white side of it, either. I heard a comedian who was black talking about how black men asked her why she married a white guy. Couldn’t a black brother lover her better?

I can’t even begin to explain how disgusting that is, and yet it’s seen as normal to have that reaction.

But there are difficulties, we can’t pretend there aren’t.

While it’s minimal now, there were health risks in the past when interracial couples had children, the blood type could be a problem.

So in that case, a situation like Rogue’s becomes a reality. A mother can hurt her own child by having different blood from them. They can fix it now, but back when they couldn’t, it was a gamble.

I thought it was poetic they made Gambit the other half of this ship. What is love but a gambit? Even if you marry someone who you know is good and honorable, you risk them hurting you by accident, even physically, accidents happen. Things you don’t expect happen. There are other problems that arise.

One of you can get sick, or die. There is always risk.

But the way couples have answered this since Eden, has always been the same.

It’s better to have love, while you can, and to cherish it, then to live without it. Love is worth the risk. Love is, or nothing is.

And it seems to me that’s how God meant it to be. He chose to create us, knowing full well we’d break His heart a million times a year with our problems, but He is Love. He cannot be anything else, and to Him, Love is what matters, pain is not what He’s afraid of. God is never afraid, that’s His advantage over us.

But what God values form us, is that even though we are human, and cannot help feeling fear, we still choose to love. Our faith is precious to Him because we can do it in spite of being imperfect, something He could not do, as God, except through becoming a man.

That’s why I still want to marry, and have children.

I’ve seen it go wrong, I know how much it hurts. It has hurt me more than anything else in my life.

I can think my parents for many of my emotional problems, and health problems too. That hurts.

And I know I will likely repeat at least some of their mistakes until I learn better.

But, I still want love. Because I think Love matters more than pain. I am afraid to love, of course, it’s a risk. But I still want to try. God help me to do it right.

Some have said that if love doesn’t hurt, it’s not real.

I don’t think love has to hurt all the time, but if it doesn’t sometimes, I think you’re delusional, even God suffers for love. It’s normal.

It’s not easy but it’s normal.

And I pray I find a man who shares my view of it. They are rare, but there’s a few out there. Heck, I don’t want a perfect man, that would be freaky, I just want one who shares my idea of love.

It’s easier to find a perfectionist than a real Lover in the old sense of the word, but one has to try.

I doubt the X-Men show ever went that far, but it’s interesting that the set up at least was there. If people would just be honest with themselves and each other about what they are willing to risk.

Well, this ran long, I do get on a roll about love.

Until Next time, stay honest–Natasha.