A Narcissistic Culture

I’m back!

Sorry for the absence.

I do have a lot of subjects to write about right now.

I tend to avoid politics on this blog unless something catches my attention, but I’m always thinking about culture.

Something I’ve been thinking about it lately is how in Church, we often go with the flow. We address issues that the world thinks are important, but we neglect the ones they don’t think about.

Not that it’s wrong to address things the world thinks about, I think we have to, in a way.

But also, looking at The Gospels, I find it odd that Jesus didn’t spend all that much time talking about what the world thought was important.

Under Roman Occupation, he didn’t talk much about the Romans. He addressed it from time to time as people asked him, but His long sermons are not about that.

He didn’t talk about te libeiton of the Jews from Romans, but from sin.

And looking around nowadays, I wonder if he’d be any different.

It’s so easy to get distracted by what’s gong on around us.

Things about race, gender, and nationality, it’s all anyone wants to talk about now.

And people are demanding respect and taking pride in these things.

Even christians, too many Christians.

My church, which is one of the better ones I think, still has a little group of LGBT people who attend. I don’t care if they attend, but their attitude about it makes me wonder if they come only because the church does not call out the world on that not being biblical.

I was talking to my cousin and his friend about the Bible’s stance on homosexuality, and why it’s consider wrong, just an open conversion, no hate, and explain it well,

And they didn’t really disagree with my points, or that I don’t like how kids are encouraged to vote on sexual topics they do not really understand yet.

But they admitted that they are afraid to express and negative views of it because the have friends or family who subscribes to it all, and are going to be livid if they disagree.

I acknowledged it’s hard in this culture to think for yourself…it’s always is hard in any culture to go against the flow.

But I told them as a Christian, I can’ just ignore it. I can’t blend in. It’s not allowed.

And that’s how I see it.

Sure, it’d be easier to walk around my liberal campus wearing some pro LGBTQ badge, and deck out my car and say that God loves gay people (which He does, but people use that phrase to mean something totally different, that God loves their lifestyle, and that is just no biblical), and play that game.

People claim it’s so hard to support the community. Are you kidding me? It’s so flipping easy. It’s easier to do that than to have an original thought, that’s for sure.

Instant approval, instant clicks, people commending you for sticking up for it. As well as BLM, and Feminism, and everything else.

Sheesh, to get approval just for saying words, whether you ever act on it or not, is so stupid.

26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1)

I find it disgusting to cater to this. I’d like to get the clicks, view, and likes that the people who do this get, but I’m not willing to bend myself in order to get it. There’s more important things than likes out there, people.

Someday no doubt that’s going to get me cancelled if I’m every popular enough for anyone to care what I think…but oh well, they cancelled all the Apostles too…to the extreme.

It’s getting extreme here too. People are attacking churches more and more. What’s funny is the church’es stance isn’t even that strongly put in the West, but they attack us anyway.

Sheesh.

Islam is actually harsher on homosexuality than Christian is, but I never hear of the LGBTQ community attacking mosques…you know, because Muslims actually might fight back…at least, I assume that’s the reason.

Yeah, so brave. Attack the people who won’t retaliate. But that’s always the way isn’t it.

I’m not here to hate on gay people, I’m just trying to be honest about it all.

And it’s not just gay people, it’s all groups now.

I don’t voice my opinions too loudly at my college because I’m pretty sure I’d lose my grades over it, so I mostly only discuss it out of class. And starting a fight in the middle of a lecture does seem rude.

But I don’t cater to it either.

And it’s all good to preach and teach about how we need to love ourselves and respect ourselves, and not be too harsh…

But when is it time to talk about going against the flow? When do we talk about what no one wants to hear?

Cause I can tell you, the problem with our culture isn’t really all the Pride stuff, that’s just a symptom.

It’s how prideful we are in our personal lives, self seeking, comfort seeking.

We do give lipservice to this in church, but we don’t actually enforce it. We don’t ask people to do more than they feel like doing. We don’t reward people for being strong in their convictions. Instead we think they are too worked up.

Even I think that.

Of course, it is true sometimes. But I’ve gotten reprimanded for protesting that a Youth Leader played songs that talked about sex and making out with the same gender on the way home from a mission trip…yeah….

Am I really the problem in this scenario?

Her excuse? “This is what those kids listen to.”

My thoughts? “This is what you listen to. What’s your point? It was still wrong.”

I can’t tell people what to listen to at home, but on a public trip? With the church?

That was yeas ago now, I don’t think i would happen with our current youth leaders, but that it happened at all was boring, because I knew it wasn’t just this one person, I’ve met so many people like his.

I’ve always gotten a rep for being more vigilant about this stuff, and I’ve had people tell me they were sorry for no having a better attitude about it, but they have never acted like my friends.

And, I’m not a super conservative person. I mean, I watch anime, I read fan fiction, and I listen to songs with cuss words in them…now.

And I don’t like that part, but I decided that I’m not going to be able to avoid cuss words in life, and it doesn’t make the whole song bad if the song is about a good thing, and they use saltier language. But I don’t listen to songs about sex, drugs, and hooking up. I want the message to be good.

I won’t throw out Evanescence because of a few swears, but I won’t listen to “shape of you” just because it has no swearing, sine it’s just about hooking up for a night. You get my point?

And I can’t force that standard on anyone, but I do have it for a reason, and I don’t have an issue telling people that.

This is not even the biggest problem, but my thought is that people would not give up anything they happen to like in the world, even if it was the right thing to do. God may tell me to stop listening to and reading and watching his fault I have prayed about it, and I am careful, though I do need to reevaluate somethings from time to time.

But I do think about it, I don’t get the feeling other people often do, I’ve talked to a few who mentioned it, but don’t mention every dropping something because of it.

I’m trying to be less judgmental than I used to be.

Like when it comes to smut, I believe it’s wrong to read it, but I dont think someone is horrible if they are tempted to. I’m not immune to this stuff either, I have hormones, I’m not dead.

But I have to seriously think about what I want my idea of sex and love to be when I do get married. Do I want to think it’s all about the body? Or do I want it to be about what’s inside, the soul, the mind, the heart?

And I’ll admit, sex can be more than just a physical experience, the Bible is clear about that, but I think smut (porn, you now) kind of makes that worse, not better. People with a porn addiction usually admit that real life sex gets less satisfying if you’ve fed yourself this fake image of it.

Porn and smut are all about making something so flawless it’s no longer real.

And in real life, emotional moment can be awkward even at their most heartfelt, people are damaged, and that gets in the way.

And our bodies are not flawless, even a model has blemishes somewhere.

And we have hygiene and weight issues at different times, or we can get sick. Women have periods, you get my drift? No one is sexy all the time.

If you grow up expecting that, then you aren’t going to be disappointed by sex, because you’ll expect it to be like everything else in life, a thing you do that improve with time, but is not perfect.

But if you grow with the porn version of this, you think sex is somehow unlike other human experiences, it can be flawless.

In the end it sets you up for less, not more pleasure. And that is one reason the Church has never endorsed it.

People think the church discourages sex, and while some churches do, the faith itself doesn’t.

In fact, it encourages it. A lot. Sex with responsibility.

And on that note, I don’t see how recreational sex is a great foundation for a really mature relationship. You treat sex cavalierly, and it’s the only thing that makes marriage different from other relationships. So what make it special to be married then? Might as well just be friends with benefits.

And that about all marriage amounts to now with a lot of couples. I think they are puzzled as to why it’s so unfulfilling.

I’m not saying it never woks out, some people just know how to make it work, but the thing is, marriage used to be something people were expected to figure out, whether it came naturally to them or not, and not it’s seen as a matter of finding the right match to perfectly balance you out.

I think you should date with that in mind, but if you end up marrying someone who doesn’t suit you perfectly, that’ s no reason to throw it out. If you’re not married to a psycho or a pig, you can probably find a way to work stuff out. People just don’t want to be inconvenienced.

And I say that because I’ve had the same experience in friendship. People cannot handle the smallest bit of friction and they bail as soon as conflict happens. I’ve had that happen to me so many times. Because, I’m replaceable, in a world of shallow friendships, and online friendships, if someone annoys you or disagrees with you, why not just dump them?

And if I’m not replaceable, you would never know, because you didn’t get that close to me.

I get it though, I’ve felt the pain for being ditched so many times because I don’t view people that way, and it stings to lose them. I’m working on being okay with that.

But therapy wasn’t the most helpful here because the attitude in therapy is that people are not worth your time if they piss you off.

And that’s kind of a shallow way to look at it.

Someone may piss me off because I have a problem, not them. Or we both do.

Maybe people are worth keeping around.

But you won’t hear that idea anymore in mainstream culture.

It’s not wonder we’re all dying of loneliness, we’re okay with supporting people as long as they are needy, lost lambs, with a victim mentality.

But if someone has a really different perspective, and is just hard to deal with, ditch them.

Perhaps I am annoyed because it doesn’t end well for me, and okay, that’s a fair point.

But I also don’t shut people out of my life just for disagreeing with me, so….

The double standard annoys me, if I was to do that as a Christian I’d be judgmental. But if they are just not “comfortable” round me, that’s their right, they don’t need to get over it.

I have gotten more attention from people when I was upset in front of them, and treated more nicely, than when I’m just my regular, more confident self.

I don’t mind if they comfort me, I just wonder why it goes away after that. I kind of learned the hard way that sympathy doesn’t equal a real bond.

(Something Naruto really needed to learn in Shippunden.)

This is why I think we really have too much attention on ourselves now.

We are narcissistic.

I can be too, but I am aware of it and trying to get better. The point is, the culture encourages me to be self centered, and often the church does too.

We have to be aware of these influences, if we’re going to be better, and set apart.

Or we’ll be like ships on the ocean, “infants tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.” (Ephesians 4:14)

Doctrine could just mean any popular teaching now.

I think a good question to ask ourselves right now is: How far am I wiling to go to have self-actualization (or whatever you call it)

Am I?…

Willing to sacrifice the happiness of other people?

Willing to cut people out of my life who do not agree with my plan and decision making

Willing to promote it with violence, anger, and verbal attacks?

Willing to make others suffer if it gets me what I “need”

Willing to enforce laws about these things.

Willing to teach others to do the same, and support them even if their lifestyle is no good in other ways.

Willing to listen only to people who support me in this, and never fact check what they are saying.

If you answered yes to any of the above about anything, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, etc.

Then you are elevating that thing not only to your primary focus, (and that thing is yourself, in some form or another)

Also going to an extremist extent that many Believers would not even go to. I question sources within my religion, and I don’t condone violence done in the name of Jesus. My faith has checks and balances.

But the faith of Self Identity has no checks and balances, because you (Or I) are/am the final word on everything.

But if we all are, then none of us are, you see how that works?

Anyway, most people won’t admit that they are worshiping themselves?

How can I be a narcissist? I’m too smart for that. I’m too self aware. All my complaints are valid, all my actions are justified, all I want is reasonable, all I am is perfect. So I can not be a narcissistic.

And the scary thing is that sound like the lyrics to a popular song or a TED Talk.

Ugh.

Well, anyway, the first step is admitting you have a problem. literally. To stop being a narcissist, you have t admit you’re a narcissist, that’s when you begin to stop being one.

That said, I think I’ll end this for now. more posts coming soon.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha

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How it feels to be white in America.

So ready for some controversy? Good.

I am feeling a little discriminated against by…the system!

Nah, too dramatic.

Still, for all I read and hear about what it’s like to be in a minority group, I wonder.

Okay, it’s not like this bothers me every single day of my life or anything…it just occurred to me at school today when I did something mildly nice for an Asian student. I had the thought “What would my actions be construed as by the wrong person?” Any number of things i suppose, but with the blatant hostility I read about sometimes, I had to wonder. Would my help be seen as some psychological need on my part to absolve myself from the charge of prejudice? To show that i don’t see myself as a cut above non white students? Or above foreign ones.

Anyway, what really bugs me is tokenism. Which targets minority groups. It works like this, by stressing how excluded a minority is, and then including one or two members of that minority in your project, you make it seem like you’re on their side.

However, it’s kind of bizarre to make a point out of including someone just for their race or gender. Isn’t that basically the same as saying they are different? That different rules apply?

And if you should choose not to work with those people, you get accused of being bigoted. Though you could have legitimate reasons not too. I don’t choose that myself, but I know business owners who’ve been burned plenty of times by minority group members. Just because you’ve been discriminated against doesn’t make you a good employee.

That’s kind of the problem. Just as someone can’t lack worth because of a their race, neither can they gain worth. Black lives don’t matter more than anyone elses. All lives matter.

Being born one color doesn’t grant superiority, inferiority, amnesty, or guilt.

I think most of us would be surprised how many people got turned into racists simply because they were accused of being so. Maybe our idea of what racism is changed, or maybe our idea of ourselves changes if enough people say bad things about us. White people have been as much a victim of that as anyone else.

How it feels to be white living in America now is something that people don’t talk about very often. Even saying white can be a trigger word. Now, I’m sure, I’d make some eyes roll if I said being white can be hard now. Well sue me. (Not literally.) It can be kind of rough.

I hate  having to ask the question if I do things because I am kind, or because I feel guilty. Now, I don’t really entertain that thought, but the fact that it’s even come to mind is kind of sad.

I remember as a kid I used to be kind of uncomfortable around black people. I didn’t know any personally for years. I guess there weren’t that many where I lived. (There still aren’t come to think of it.) But I never considered them as inferior. Just different. On the outside.

You know, the madness has gotten to the point where my even feeling that way would be twisted by some people into saying that racism is just part of being human and I couldn’t help myself. And white supremacy, blah, blah, blah.

You now the black people I do know now are all more well off than my family is, so much for white middle class pride.

I’d be glad enough to think that when I pass a black person at school they don’t look at me and think “racist” or assume I’m privileged. Or that somehow I have advantages they don’t.

If you took race out of it, just assumed race has nothing to do with success, then the difference between me and them is…not outward.

It’d be a fair guess that most of them weren’t homeschooled, based on what I know of young people, a lot of them don’t like to read, they probably don’t really like school most of them.

That’s what I’ve seen from all students, race isn’t important. Even the Asians who are reputed to be the brainy, honor roll, geniuses complain about classwork. The few white students in my classes actually yap the least in general about the teacher. They tend to be quieter too. I can’t say if that’s race, environment, temperament, or all three.

But, here’s the thing. If I succeed academically and then at a career, it’ll be assumed by a large amount of the population that I was given preference over these other students. “Of course she did well,” they might think, “the system was rigged for her.”

It’s slippery when you can convince everyone that the system is rigged against one group, and secretly rig it against another.

Here’s a little trivia for you. Guess how many groups I can be a part of just because of my race? Guess what scholarship opportunities and clubs I get to join because of it? Guess what kind of discrimination claims I can file if I don’t get selected for something?

If you answered none to all of those, then you’d be right. Can you imagine, even in the midwestern part of this country, someone starting a white pride club?

It’s laughable isn’t it. Now this will be hard for some people to understand but bear with me…If you can’t start a club about how proud you are to be your race because that in itself would be considered racist…that’s a double standard.

“I’m painfully white,” “I’m too white,” “I’m so white, people need shades when I’m at the beach.” What kind of talk is this? And who made it okay for white people to disparage their skin color, but shameful for black people or Latinos to. (Not that they don’t still. Anyone can have this problem, it’s just how its viewed by society.)

I am not saying white people can’t make jokes at our own expense, I just don’t like the underlying shame in the tone of these jokes. We aren’t proud to be this way…we feel unable to change it.

What saddens me is that some very bitter people (not all by a long shot) in minority groups would say this is what we deserve after years of doing it to them. How does it feel?

Well, how does it feel? Guess what, my roots aren’t all in the oppressor. My grandfather’s family was the oppressed. They had to leave Europe. Now, who’s had it worse? I’m sure either side could make an argument.

But because I look white and american, no one will ever think just be seeing me “her grandpa got persecuted for his race. Her great grandparents got forced out of their homes by a corrupt government.” Just like African Americans. What is the blooming difference?

That I’m white.

What stings is not that I want payback for it all. I don’t. I don’t even want to talk about it. It’s in the past. Things change. We change with them. And maybe, dare I say, Jews understand this a little better because we are so universally despised. We adapt though we hold on to tradition.

No, what stings is the assumptions. Again, some Africans I know have a less brutal history than my family does, even if you go back a few generations. Not all of them, and probably not most of them if I’m honest. But what will be assumed?

To restate the old adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Why do we keep on focusing on what divides us? I’m not the first to ask, and I won’t be the last. If they don’t care, I won’t either. But I’m not living my life feeling guilty for something I didn’t do.

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

RAGE!

Okay, I normally stay away from two things when I blog: Politics and outright reprimands.

But I’ve had it!

This is not about Judge Kavnaugh, though that whole mess is partly what got me to thinking about this, but also what I’ve been reading about in my Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric book. It has a whole chapter devoted to how we justify our own bad ways of thinking.

The whole book has a liberal slant, but its not wrong.

But  my problem is not just with politics, but with how we as a culture and as a people are handling conflict. And I mean this is extremely personal, because I find it in myself. I see it in the people around me. Slapped on slogans, broadcasted over talk radio, and good gracious the  news network! For crying out loud, it’s even in our superhero movies and teen dramas.

That thing can be put into one word: Rage.

“Oh, it’s well beyond rage”–William Wallace, Braveheart.

Just take a minute and think about it, what word would you use to describe the way people talk about each other? The way they talk about policies?

What I hear and feel when I see the news is rage.

It’s mindless too. And I’ll admit my own political party is nearly as bad as the Left (clearly we’re not rioting and sending death threats.) I am disgusted by Conservatives who spend all their time blasting the left. While I wholeheartedly believe the left is wrong, and I can’t help but think they act abominably as a whole, even if as individuals I know plenty of decent liberals, but I have never felt the appropriate response was to return in kind.

Pointing fingers is not helpful, maybe we’re right, maybe we’re not, but playing the  blame game will not leave anyone innocent. In fact, it’s stupid for human beings to play this with each other.

It’s like how Adam and Eve pointed fingers in the Garden, both of them did wrong, did it help to blame others? We can argue for hours on who was more guilty, but it won’t change the past.

We can’t change the past.

I’ll tell you one thing, if tomorrow every democrat I knew of had a change of heart and started doing the right thing and standing up for the truth, then it wouldn’t matter to me what the party had done in the past. I don’t freaking care what the Clintons did, or Obama, because it’s in the past. What I care about is the future, if democrats were doing what I honestly thought was best, then I would vote for them.

My identity is not in my political party name, it’s in my morals. Conservatism lines up with what I believe in, that doesn’t mean conservatives always do things I like. I don’t support the party because I like all the people in it, but because I think the bad ones do less damage, and the good ones do more good overall.

Fixing the politics in this country would take a number of miracles, and both the left and the right are holding us back. I’m not ashamed for my party’s ideals, but I’m ashamed of the way we uphold them,

Rage is a virus. It’s contagious. And it’s all about returning in kind. The Left has been awful to the Right, no mistake, but being awful back…this bickering, name calling, mocking, and whining…I consider it beneath us.

Look, I’ll get frustrated with liberals just as much as the next conservative, but I do not hate them. I don’t consider them all to be the worst of humanity. (Some yes, but you’ll find those in every party.) I may get mad at what they do, but I do not want to let myself be consumed by rage every day. It has to be exhausting to do a talk show on politics.

Now, I know there would be protests here. Some would argue that conservatives have to be more aggressive because we own so little of the networks. True enough. I’m not against showing initiative. But, if we’re really as better at politics and morals as we claim, then we shouldn’t have to stoop to yelling and verbal jabs. Or generalizations.

What are we so mad about anyway? That evil exists? That in our mind it’s represented by the opposition? That people can be liars, thieves, abusers, backstabbers, accept bribes, and be unbelievably biased (the ironic thing here is that for some of you I just described my own party.) Did it surprise anyone? Why is that making us angry?

The Bible says not to fret over evildoers, and to not give way to wrath or let anger consume us because it only leads to harm.

I challenge you, whether you’re right or left, to take a long hard look at how your party acts toward the opposition. Ask yourself, is that how I believe people should be treated?

I admit, no. There, I said it.

I especially implore you college students and teens, many of you are liberal, and it’s easy for young people to feel anger over causes (I ought to know, I am one.) But, is this the legacy you want to leave? Rage? Ten years from now, will you be glad of what you did out of rage, or what you did out of mercy?

I’m not letting conservative young people off the hook, how cruel can we be to the others? What kinds of things do we call them on social media.

If there’s one thing I do agree with liberals on, it’s that human rights include not being disrespected and then having it justified because of prejudice. But that goes for them too. If you believe racism is wrong, stop labeling everyone who disagrees with you a racist…because that’s still being bigoted. Does that make you better than us?

Conservatives, stop accusing liberals of destroying the country. We’re all doing it. It’s not just them. And it’s not really the wisest way to change their minds either.

Lastly, everyone for your own sanity and relationship’s sake, please, for the love of all things holy, let go of your rage. It’s blinding us all to the truth. Blame is a waste of time. It doesn’t matter. At the very least, Christians should be comforted by the thought that God will judge in the end who is to blame. He won’t play favorites.

Until next time–Natasha.

The Incredibles 2

Whew! I’m sorry I haven’t posted, I’ve been working on a different project and there’s only so much screen time my eyes can take per day.

But I had to get this out, late as it is, but I have finally gotten to see The Incredibles 2!

I know I’m tardy, but hey, I can’t afford movie tickets, my dad took us. I know that some people may still have not seen it, so I’ll warn you there will be spoilers in this review.

But my overall impression was that the movie surprised me. Given the kind of sub-par Disney and Dreamworks sequels we’ve gotten over the past five years or so, (with how to Train your Dragon being an exception) and the reboots of old Disney Classics that did not go over well, it would have been hard not to be skeptical, add that to the fact that The Incredibles is one of the most brilliant superhero movies or kids movies ever made, and who was not cynical about it’s prospects. Everyone I heard was.

And we were partly right, the movie is not as good as the original, but strangely enough, it’s not a bad movie either. It’s actually above what’s come to be average.

What did I not like?

There’s plenty to not like in the film, mostly int he first 40 minutes or so. The movie had a bad case of the 15 year later addition loss of personality syndrome. Even Toy Story 3 lost a little, though I still think that movie is freaking amazing and it makes me cry, and the characters didn’t change much in it. But you can’t say that in this case, Mr. Incredible,or Bob, is the most notable example. On the surface he has the same issues of wanting to be superhero as he did before, but they really ignored all his vies on mediocrity and his concern about helping people. The mediocrity stint comes in a little bit but the focus was more on how unfair the law was. More on that later.

Dash also got hit hard, it wasn’t so much that he lost his personality as that he was barely in the movie at all except as a background character. Somehow the first one managed to give even the characters with no lines, like Jack-Jack, or minimal lines, like Violet, a lot of personality. And Dash just seems…out of it. He was still fun for what he did do, but I miss the kid who just loved using his powers.

The biggest thing not to like however was how they dumped on poor Tony Ryanger. What happened to him was completely unnecessary. The movie opens up with his perspective, which is an interesting idea that I would normally like. What does it look like to a normal kid to see a super villain shoot up out of the ground near his school? Him seeing Violet without her mask might have been interesting too. But then he gets his memory of her erased…and never gets it back. If you knew me and how many times I’ve ranted about this very thing in shows, and I watch so much super-related stuff that you can guess I’ve seen it quite a few times. It’s a common action theme also. Suffice to say, I didn’t like it in X-Men first class, I didn’t like it in Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension, I don’t like it any other time it pops up. Even Barbie has done it. My reasons are: First of all, memory erasing is unethical, and it’s always good guys who are doing it, usually the government. Which is disturbing on so may levels. Second of all: It’s unfair. Often the character never even gets a chance to be found trustworthy or mature, which happened in this case, they get their free will removed by the event. Third: This is the least wrong thing, but it is just lazy writing. You get someone to forget and you don’t have to deal with the far reaching effects of the dumb idea. Like, it was dumb to do it in the first place if it couldn’t be resolved any other way…which it could have!

I really was almost ready to cry for poor Violet, she’s always been my favorite character and I completely felt her pain. What teenager doesn’t know the frustration of your crush not even knowing you exist!…this time literally.

And Tony, who I also liked as much as he was in it, never gets his memory back, which seems just too unfair. Why should someone’s mind be able to be messed with that much?

Anyway, that was the bad, and it did leave a sour taste in my mouth even at the end of the movie, so that’s a big problem. But now for the not bad.

Though this will depend on your point of view, because the villain in this movie was full on Scary. And I mean that I started getting a Matrix/horror film vibes during one part. It was like a much more mature movie. Now I know a lot of my shortsighted peers are gong to think that’s a good thing, but as someone who works with kids and still remembers what it was like a thing movies like that when I was younger, I cans ya I’m not sure I would show this to my seven year old. Maybe it would go over their heads, but it’s pretty interest. The hypnotism, seeing the heroes you loved being mind controlled into doing evil, and it was scary. They were more terrifying then Baymax going all hulk like for a few seconds in Big Hero 6. No one would have a hard time empathizing with Violet and Dash when first their parents and then their Uncle Lucius end up controlled by the Screen Slaver.

However, because the movie does turn serious rather suddenly, it did have a compelling message. Unfortunately, the compelling one was the villain’s. The Screenslaver calls out our society for being very much like the one in Farenheit 451 (which I just recently read) how we like everything packaged to us, deliver to us in a safe format that we can process. Our danger come s via screens, our talks shows substitute for talking to each other, and we prefer to let superhero take care of a our problem while we watch form a distance, safe. Which is exactly what happens in Farenheit 451, only the problem the police are taking care of is actually the worlds’ salvation. It would be easy enough to see how the Screenslaver would put themself in that position Especially since that protagonist murdered and framed people also to ensure his escape. It’s not the happiest book.

The things is, as the villain points out at the end of the movie to Mrs Incredible. “Just because you saved me doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” And it doesn’t. However well-intentioned Mrs. Incredible might be, she cannot really disprove the villain’s points because by nature she is outside regular society. She has to be. Supers can’t afford to be lazy and indolent.

I love good characters, and I hate it when people say the villain was them more interesting one. And I won’t say she was more interesting, but in a very Marvel like fashion, this movie makes the villain’s case and fails to make the heroes.

My family and I discussed how in real life when disaster strikes, you do see ordinary people coming to the rescue. My dad pointed out that it happen during 911 on the planes, where passengers stopped the terrorist. It happened at the shooting at Columbine high school. It’s happened recently. In fact disaster brings out the best and worst in people. Humans who have some mettle in them rise to the occasion. It is because we have such boring lives that most of us are neither bad nor good. And it is also why Moral Relativism can be so popular. Frankly, only a bored and lazy society could even buy into it. Disaster forces you to pick a right or wrong, you have no choice.

That said, the villain’s professed intent is to scare people into waking up to how fake their society is by using that against them. However the movie show no ordinary people coming to help the Incredibles. In fact the ordinary people are either fired, taken out, or have their freaking memory erased. Anyone who might’ve disproved her point is removed from the equation and no one else is provided. Unlike in Spiderman where the New Yorkers were inspired by his heroism to stand up to the Goblin and Doctor Octopus.

It may be true that many of us here in the real world prefer to watch superhero movies because of escapism. But some of us, like me, are looking for inspiration. Looking for an example to be held up somewhere for us to follow. Oddly enough, in the first movie, Buddy gets this. Though he gets it in an obsessive way.

I call it Marvel Syndrome, the disappointing fact that a movie can explain the villains perspective and even back it up with its own fictitious events, but not do the same for the hero. And that’ a problem. because words have power, and people will remember them. I see the disrespect for human beings spreading in these movies. And though we give lip service to the heroes, we are are sympathizing a lot more with the villains because it seems like they are right. I have endless examples of this just form Marvel. Thankfully at leas Wonder Woman did not fall into this trap. She rocks.

Anyway, despite all the time I jsut spent on what eas wiehter bad or problematice, there is a lot of good in this movie.

I loved having Violet being the smart, take charge character that she became in the fist movie. She didn’t lose that, and that was huge since a lot of the other characters suffered set backs in their personalities. Even though Violet gets burned by being different more than anyone except her dad, she was still willing to don her suit and jump in as soon as she realized what was going on. and she’s definitely the one who can think, she figured out the villain’s plan, how to save the ship, and creative ways to fight the bad guys. She and Dash still have their funny brother-sister exchange.

Dash’es one real charcter moment was usning the incrdibile. Taht was funny. And a good chekovs’s ugn pay off.

And I’ll give Helen this much, she does get fleshed out more. We come to see why she loved being a super hero. And we know she gave that up more willingly then Bob, but she gets to rediscover why she was all “Hey, we’re not letting the men do all the saving. I’m at the top of my game!” And though Bob of course originally was the one who wanted to settle down she was the one who made it work, and she still keeps her family at the top of her priority list even in the midst of chasing down a train. It was great to Helen have her time to shine, yet to be honest, I came to the movie for the family. And we do get it for the last 20 minutes, similarly to the first one.

Now the final battle was not quite as climatic. A ship crashing into a city jsut doens’ thave the smae irng to it as a giant Robot wrecking havoc. But it was dramitc enough to give everyoen time to shine. wE get to see FRozone do a lto more and be a lot mro powerful, which was cool. No pun intended. Mrs. Incrdibles’ fake out to get eh villains’ guard down was clever, had me going almost. I kind of missed Bob having a more cirtical role, but fair enough, he got the winning shot int he last movie. It’s not all about him.

Now to talk about the other message of this movie. There’s a few different one.s One is that people who are true heroes will rise both the family and to hero work equally. Both Bob and Helen have to do this. And so do Vi and Dash, by keeping an eye on Jack-Jack even while rescuing their parents.

But I think there’s a more interesting message. No counter point is ever made to the villain, except just once, when Helen points out that she at least has core values, even if the villain thinks they are stupid.

And that is the hypocrisy of the villain’s plan, claiming you are trying to help, but being wiling to sacrifice other people to get your way and ave your own skin. That’s not heroism.

But even more than that the overall attitude that the law has in this movie, that supers are too dangerous to have around. And yeah, that’ about as original as capes and cowls by now, but the movie approaches it a little differently. The idea being that people are afraid of people who are special. That’s in the fist movie more, but if you take that foundation, then this movie makes more sense. It’s kind of like the whole anti-gun movement. Something is powerful, it’s dangerous, so that automatically makes it bad unless the government controls it. (Ri-ight.)

It’s too risky. But the movie shows that when we remove something good just because it has dangerous potential, we shoot ourselves in the foot. Because danger is what protects us as well as threatens us. Just like we need germs to have a strong immune system, we need danger in order to not be taken out by it.

Superheroes are like that. It’s not only unfair to outlaw them, but it is  unwise. Threats arise, and accidents happen because of them. But how much more could and would happen if they weren’t there? The villain could have hated people just as much without the added motivation of hating supers. And then who would have stopped her?

Eden if supers are not strictly necessary, they have gifts and they should use them for good. It goes back to being special. The question might be do we need exceptional people to keep moving us froward in order to survive? Maybe not, but we need them for other reasons. We have to have leaders, we have to have heroes. They remind us to not just subsist, but to do good.

And that’s what I’m leaving you with. Until next time–Natasha.

Hello again

I’m back!

My vacation was exhausting. I don’t think we go on vacations to rest, we do it to get away from our routine. that’s why it’s so tiring, New things make us tired.

Human beings are adaptable, but it’s not easy. After a week or so your body just wants to go home and sleep in your own bed.

My vacation was not one of those eye opening soul discovery ones. I was surrounded by various members of my family almost he entire time, jammed into a small car not meant to carry so much stuff, and on the road for 2 hours on a short day and 5-8 hours on a regular day.

But it did surprise me how, when I finally had a few hours to myself, and I settled down, I felt much clearer about what I needed to do.

In my life there’s so much noise, but what getting away from it made me realize that noise isn’t something that you ecape by switching location.

I went from a Suburban  area in a west coast state to the empty wilderness of Wyoming, Montana, and Utah. Hiking over mountains, driving through Yellowstone, and staying in towns of less than 2,000 people, which is unheard of where I live. As someone aware of how hard it can be to support a small business when you advertise to thousands of people, I wonder how motels in these tiny towns stay afloat, I guess the cost of living is less. Plus people might work a few different jobs.

Anyway, I always thought of myself as someone who liked quieter areas, but I realized I don’t. I like nature, but I feel out of place in rural country. It reminds me of one of the essays I read for English class “The Trouble with Wilderness.” The real wilderness left in this country is between the cities, it’s not even really our national parks. It’s the places no one goes to except wild horses. It’s the undergrowth that keeps animals out of sight form the road.

The truth is, wilderness is only something you find off the beaten (or paved) path. My sister and I got close to it driving a quad over a desert area. But even so, that’s not quite it. And I got to visit some dinosaur tracks, which I’m a big fan of, there were some paw prints there too, probably from a more recent animal. Still, that’s not really wilderness.

Wilderness is something you find when it’s just you alone with God and with nature.

Civilization is really just what you call it when two people meet and settle down. Why else does marriage represent civilization not just in the Bible, but in many religions and stories?

I don’t think it’s impossible for a couple to experience wilderness together, but when it comes to being in it even when you’re not out in nature, you need to be alone.

Capturing that feeling of wildness is something we can only do when we’re either by ourselves, or with someone else who has felt it and understands it.

The feeling you get when you’re out in the wind, or when you gaze at a sunset, or look at the mountains. When you feel really alone, but not lonely. That’s being wild. Because in those moments you dare to dream anything and you believe in anything.

It’s no surprise really that folks who live surrounded by nature used to come up with stories about fairies and elves and sprites, something about it makes you believe in what you can’t see.

After all Romans does say that the invisible attributes of God are plain to us because of nature.

The real reason science isn’t enough to produce faith isn’t that science disproves God, but that sciences deals with what our eyes see, while faith deals with the unseen world, because that’s where the spiritual, the most important part of life, takes place.

I realized that finding peace and quiet in my life isn’t something I can do by eliminating city noises till all I hear are crickets and grasshoppers. (Some of them in Wyoming make this weird popping sound that you wouldn’t think a bug that size could so without snapping itself in half.) It’s something I have to be willing to seek out.

Peace is about letting stuff go and focusing on God, or even just on another person in your life. Without the TV and the radio in the background.

And being willing to be by yourself for awhile. I actually had gotten out of practice, but when I chose to keep being alone, I felt it cleared my head.

So my exhortation to all of you is to take some time today and find that.

Until next time–Natasha.

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Shell Waterfall in Wyoming.

Non-stop.

I can’t believe that 250 years after American was founded, saying it is great is actually controversial even among its own people.

This isn’t about Yankee pride or anything like that. actually my ancestors were confederates. (That’s a joke.)

Anyway, I digress. I doubt my lineage has anything to do with how I feel about America. But as I’ve said before I used to not really like my country. Not because of slavery, or racism, which has been everywhere and only has changed drastically in a few select nations; but because people didn’t seem to care about our ideals anymore. If anything the Liberal Left seems to hate everything we were built on.

Slavery was wrong, yes. Though I might point out, that’s still not universally accepted around the world. It’s only a given here because it became the popular opinion.

The world at large never changes, it just morphs into different shades of the same thing.

But once I began reading up on America’s history I found that America has always been a place that cannot be judged by its government but by its people. It was founded fort hat reason.

If you look through what the founding fathers wrote after the county was started, you’ll find an underlying theme of respect for people. For farmers, for blacksmiths, for the common person.

And believe it or not, many of them were quite progressive for their time. Jefferson argued that Native Americans had rights. He still regarded them as not quite bright, but he thought they could be taught, though how to do that without ruining their culture remained a puzzle to him.

Sure, it’s easy to say now that he was still racist, but in a time when a lot of people regared the natives as trash and savages, he would have been quite controversial.

I also find the attitude of tearing down our founders because they did wrong things to be incredibly hypocritical.

We act surprised and shocked that they were still human beings who made mistakes. And we blame them for their wrong ideas about race and social Justice. Even though we have paved our way to social justice because of what they wrote and what they did.

Do we really think our beliefs now are so inscrutable as to be more correct in every way then theirs were.

In my opinion for every problem of theirs we’ve corrected, we have added one or two more of our own, because we have forgotten what enabled them to succeed at making a better country even with their flaws.

I just finished rereading “Carry on, Mr. Bowditch.” The story of America’s first great navigator who revolutionized navigation in a time when America really need to get its feet wet in the world of sea trade. (Pardon my pun.)

Perhaps some of you have seen or listened to Hamilton. The rap/light opera based on Alexander Hamilton’s life.

If you have heard it, you know his childhood was tough. But as the songs expressed, he was determined to “not throw away his shot.”

Back then, (and in Carry On, Mr. Bowditch I found the same theme) these exceptional founders and the geniuses who came after them, felt it was not unusual to want to make something of their lives. To live well, and add something to the world.

It was the American dream. Not that everything would be easy, but that success and meaning is possible.

If you listen to the last song in Hamilton, you’ll know his wife lived 50 more years after he was killed, and accomplished what women were not supposed to be able to accomplish in her time. Yet I had never heard of her before I listen to that. Afterward I looked it up, apparently it was all true. She started an orphanage, she recorded Hamilton’s life, which is why we know so much. She wanted his story to be told, and int he rap opera, they have fulfilled her wish, hundreds and thousands of people who would never read a book about it are still learning about him.

Both Hamilton and Bowditch had rough lives. And all the founders I read about had the same. People died, they got sick, they were poor. yet all of them save for a sad few, they bounced back.

American ideals were made possible by American grit. The attitude that if life knocks you down, you don’t just lie there, you get back up.

Now, if we lose our wife and almost die of a terrible disease and live through a war, we go to therapy. If our life sucks, so many of use choose to end it. We see no reason to keep living, we throw it away.

And reading their stories, I wonder what made them decide not to commit suicide, this kind pf pain seems unbearable. One terrible thing happened after another. Life was so fragile. Nothing was certain.

but as Hamilton has simply put it “I’m not throwing away my shot” and as the musical said “That man was nonstop.” And that’s the answer.

They were non-stop. If they lost a wife, eventually they remarried. If they lost a child, they still dared to have more. If they lost heir land, ended up flat broke, they got a job and climbed back up the ladder. They dared to go to sea even when every man in their family has died at sea. And their women either helped them int heir work, or let them do it without whining about it.

Non-stop. You never stop to let hardship turn into despair. That was their secret. You keep at it.

It’s like they say about riding a horse, surfing, or any sports you can get hurt in. Once you go down, you get back in the minute you can, or you never will.

Life is like that.

That spirit is the American spirit at its best. And while we aren’t perfect, that has always been the key to our changing and improving ourselves. If we lose that now, we lose our identity.

I don’t think, mind you, that you have to be American to have that kind of grit, my point it simply that our country was built by it and because of it.

Because we had the guts to say we can be responsible for own success and we don’t need a dictator to control our lives.

It seems like now that’s what we want. And make no mistake, we’ll get it if we continue to want it.

But I’m not going down yet. I have a legacy to live up to.

Until next time–Natasha.