Why lions are awesome!

Lions and tigers, and leopards, oh my!

I had to get that terrible joke out of the way.

I’ve been watching NatGeoWild a lot lately. I may not be a huge animal person, but I have my level of interest. Which has certainly been expanded by the things I’ve been watching.

The channel just had a Big Cats week, so I recorded about ten different programs, which I still haven’t finished watching.

My favorite big cats by far are the lions. Cheetahs and leopards and jaguars are cool. But lions take the grand prize.

I am no professional, but my astute observation after so much research is that lions are unpredictable.

If you have cats of your own (I have three) you probably would agree that cats are often predictable to a retain extent, but constantly do things that puzzle you. Like one of my cats likes being petted only every so often, and only on her head. But sometimes she lets you do more. There’s really no way to know.

Lions are like that times ten. Traditionally we all know them as the king of beasts, but not everyone knows that they are good mothers, protective fathers, and surprisingly affectionate pride members.

Watching the lions and lionesses with each other reminds you of watching a pair of highschoolers with innocent school level crushes, or a new married couple perhaps.

Lions date, did you know that? It’s not exactly how we do it, but when an aspiring male wants to mate with his female of choice, he has to prove himself, usually by bringing her dinner or helping with a catch.

Lions risk their lives to get food, so the lion has to be committed to this idea before he goes for it.

But lions are no easy pickups. Some swatting and growling can be involved before they agree to be mates.

I also think that those who represent lions as only bloodthirsty killers have never actually watched lions alone.

Lions are very territorial, but they still can surprise you.

9 out of 10 times, a lion will chase another lion off, or look out for number one.

But I was watching one story about three different lion prides. One of which was decidedly more fierce and merciless. These lions had some excuse to be, since they had to guard a whole herd of buffalo, whereas most prides don’t rely on just one herd for food. But there was one horrible part where they tortured one unlucky member of a rival pride to death.

It was so sad, the pride the victim was from had to surrender to save her life but in the end they got too dehydrated and had to move on, thought hey waited as long as possible. The mother of the lioness waited the longest.

I started feeling bad at this point, even though it was a lion, and it wasn’t like I knew her or anything.

But it turns out I must not have been the only one. The next day the three prides (one of which stayed out of he fight,) all stared trying to eat the same giraffe, and the merciless lions tried to take another lioness form the competition. This time the lionesses pride didn’t do anything, probably because they had surrendered and figured they were licked.

But then something even the commentator couldn’t explain happened. the other rival pride, the owners of the turf, stepped in and drove the angry lions off. Saving the lionesses life, though she was hurt. The angry pride didn’t dare mess with the actual owneres of the turf. (Kind of like a kid int he cookie jar doesn’t throw a temper tantrum.)

you have to understand, these lions had no real reason to help out. They just wanted these intruders off their land.

My personal thought was they’d seen the killing the day before, and sometimes I think lions just get tired of it. They didn’t want to settle things that way.

And that’s a really human emotion to witness from wild animals.

IT put me in mind of all those cute stories of how animals save lives. Which my sister reminded me of after I shared this story with her. Whatever you might think of cats and dogs, both creatures have been unknown to rescue both each other and humans.

Even wild animals have been known to save humans, for whatever reason. Lions included.

If you have read this far, first thank you; second, you might be wondering why I told all this. It’s not exactly my normal subject matter.

Well, hey, I have other interests. This is my blog , I can do what I want.

But also, I found these lions inspiring, in the way only animals can be. Sometimes it takes an animal to remind us of what it means to be human,

Mercy, compassion, these are the exceptions int he animal kingdom. And animals aren’t evil for that, they do have to survive in am roe basic way than we do.

But that’s exactly why we should realize that if even wild beasts can find some compassion in themselves, it must be an important part of life.

Some lionesses take care of cubs that aren’t there’s even when it’s at risk to themselves. Sometimes the males, classically portrayed as eating off what the girls hunt, actually allow struggling mothers and cubs to share with them.

Lions are a lot of things but they aren’t selfish.

And I think that’s a lesson for us.

For me, watching this was amazing for another reason, because I thought that God made lions, and God is compassionate. If even his wild creations can show mercy, then how much more his intelligent, spiritual ones?

And those are my thoughts for now. Until next time–Natasha.

Expectations (for the new Justice League.)

I’ve finally seen a trailer for the Justice League movie, and I am still skeptical at best. It’d be hard to beat the show.

The key to superheroes as a tool in the creative world, is, as my sister and I have narrowed down, to put a person in a normal human situation, magnified by super abilities and super villains and over the top circumstances.

All this makes it clearer to the audience what the stakes are, what the choice is, and what the difference between the good and the evil character is.

So what I think the new film needs is not to progress further into the dark, gritty and melodramatic world that the genre has become, but to regress into more human terms.

I have nothing against climatic events and galaxy sized stakes, but it should never be about that. Making the problem with the world the main focus of any movie risks making it too vague. What the film needs to be about is what problems humans deal with on a human level. With something like the Justice League, there’s a wide range of subjects that could be covered, that’s why it worked so well as a show. Narrowing down each member’s own personal struggles in the span of one film is a difficult and almost impossible task

But my concern is that none of them will be followed through in a satisfying way.

Many super movies (and other movies and also modern literature) end with what I call a question. Ending with a question means the narrative of the film (usually the unspoken one) does not completely side with any perspective presented in it. It may lean one way, but it refuses to admit it. Leaving you, the audience, to try to figure it out by debate.

Sometimes that is okay. But I have never liked it.

I know many people are totally fine with movies ending with a question. They think it’s more respectful and more thought provoking that it does so. They think they will discuss it more and understand better because of it.

There may be times that happens, but I have yet to see that actually be the fruit of Question Films.

What I typically see is that people will take whichever side of the argument they were already on walking into the film (or reading the book) and continue to use the piece in question to defend their point of view. They claim to be getting a better understanding of it, but all they really are doing is getting deeper into their own beliefs. The film did not challenge them by presenting any belief as wrong based on evidence or results, it just fed into the desire they had to remain perfectly secure in what they already thought.

Take Zootopia, I liked that film okay, not because I agree with its supposed portrayal of society, but because I thought the characters still exhibited real world flaws that could apply to a lot more than racism or class bigotry. Judy being guilty of the crime she hated is a thing that happens to all of us at some point, and she handled it the right way.

However, I do not think it is pushing us forward if you take it only as a class and racial  (or a have and have nots) commentary because all the people that already believe that just nodded along with the film, it presented no new information or ideas to them. The people who didn’t agree either disliked the film or got a different message from it, like me.

The fact is, Zootopia was too vague to really be an effective eye opener to anyone. There are no cold hard facts in it.

The shift in super hero movies since the Avengers and Captain America franchise started is that they go from being about personal struggles to being about world wide threats. Which is not bad exactly, but in a way it renders the drama both too real for people to want to dwell on, and not real enough. Because we know similar organizations exist or have existed, and that this is just a more dramatized version of it, making it less serious and not more.

People always complain about characters not being relatable. But I think the real reason is not the struggles of the character are less terrible, but that the characters themselves are less moral.

I could relate to any character who is struggling with the right and wrong thing to do, especially if the choice is not really obvious (and I don’t mean that it’s morally ambiguous, but that it is a difficult choice to make for them because of the circumstances,) the reason is that the moral struggle is one we all go through. We are all equal under that struggle and no one is exempt from it.

Films that confuse that struggle are not being honest with us. In real life, we almost always have at least a dim idea of what the right choice is. What would be best for us to do, what we should do, and often what we know we won’t do but wish we would. In real life, we can repent of our mistakes and actually turn away from making them before we destroy our lives.

Like the Black Panther did, frankly, that was probably my favorite moment of Age of Ultron.

In real life, villains are often afraid of heroes because heroes are stronger than them in that one dangerous way: in their heart.

It’s the Dark Side in Star Wars that must be threatened by the Light. Why does the Emperor decide to kill Luke after he refuses to be corrupted? He fears and hates him for being stronger than himself.

So, to wrap all this up, the more dark these films become the more impossible to please the fans will be. Once people start to hunger for drama and gore and unbelievable violence, it will only grow. It’s happened many times. By pandering to this wish, Hollywood is dooming itself.

And it is only by being a little less picky about our special effects, our complex characters, and our high stakes; and a little more concerned with what affect our entertainment is actually having on us, that we will learn to really enjoy it.

That’s my thought anyway. I’d forgive the new Justice League for a lot if Batman would just take a knee at some point and deeply regret his actions in the previous film(s.) (I’d forgive even more if Wonder Woman straight up tells him what he did was reprehensible and doesn’t want to join the league till she’s convinced he’s really changed.)

As unlikely as I find both those things, I hope that there’s someone on the writing team who still knows how to use the genre.

Anyway, there’s still Infinity Wars coming.

Until next time–Natasha.

The Lion King.

The Lion King. One of the best Disney films ever made. In my opinion.

 

I can’t add much to this film by reviewing it. It’s themes are clear. And everyone knows the story.

But I want to look at the ideology of it, if you will.

I have heard multiple Christians use this film as an illustration of spiritual truths. What interests me is how deliberately the film itself seems to raise that sort of impression.

No one really would argue that it supports some kind of belief in the after life.

And it seems to go out of its way to establish that Mufasa’s reappearance is not just in Simba’s head. Rafiki sees him, and also communicates with him when Simba is not there. WE also see Mufasa as the sun, as well as the stars.

I don’t think anyone would debate that Mufasa is a God-character.

If you’ve never heard that term, or never int his context, it means a character who inspires other characters in the ways we would attribute to God. Typically meaning they give them instructions, seem to know things no one else knows, and give them hope in their darkest hour.

Mufasa fits the bill on all accounts.

Yet he’s totally believable as just a lion trying to be the best king and father he can be. Ultimately laying down his life for his son in an effort to protect him.

What just about killed me was that he never found out that it was Scar who put Simba up to doing those stupid things. (I guess he did once he was up in the sky, but still, closure!)

I don’t know what Simba means, or Mufasa, but Scar’s name, notably one of the only English names in the whole thing (except for Ed) is a giveaway to his character, both his personal issues, and the issues he creates for Simba.

Scar holds a grudge for being put out of succession. He holds a grudge against Mufasa because Mufasa is so much better than him. AT first we think he’s just sour over  being a nobody, but later when Sarabi taunts him, we realize he is secretly aware of how inferior he is to Mufasa and Simba both. Which comes up again when Simba has defeated him.

Scar’s name also relates to who he emotionally scars Simba by his treacherous acts and leaves him crippled for his whole adolescent phase, without a father except for two well meaning but ignoble beasts who just want to relax their life away.

Interestingly enough, Simba’s emotional scars only fade when Scar himself does.

Scar, as the betrayer and the deceiver and the false king, who accuse Simba of his own crimes, makes a fitting devil character. And a formidable villain.

The best lines of the film are all Mufasa’s, I love his speech to Simba when he is a spirit. I also love how in that scene Mufasa becomes more fully realized the longer he is speaking, going from clouds, to a starry shape, to full on color. Symbolic.

He tells Simba “You are more than what you have become.”

It seems odd that Mufasa doesn’t tell him “I love you.” Or something like that. But not when we consider that Simba is laboring under a delusion that he killed him. When he knows, deep down, that Scar is the one to blame. Simba also has just been confronted by Nala about what he needs to do. So this kick in the rear is exactly w at he needs.

He tells Simba further “You have forgotten me.” Simba denies it. “You have forgotten who you are, and so forgotten me…You must take your place as the one true king. Remember who you are.”

Who did not share Rafikis’ sentiment after the end of that. “Wow! What was that!”

Simba returns home and kicks Scar’s tail, but not without some pitfalls along the way.

But the scenery of the last part of the film is a huge part of the story.

Under an evil ruler , the land has faded. The herds are leaving t o find food, but Scar, like the coward he is, refuses to leave.

I never understood stood this when I was younger, but now I think he was afraid of other lion challengers on the Savannah. He knew he was no match for any healthy young or middle aged lion that wanted a pride. Also that the pride wouldn’t do jack squat to help him if he was challenged. (As they will for a lion they like.)

Scar just want to stay away from any competition that will expose him. So imagine how scared he is when Simba returns.

At first everyone thinks Simba is Mufasa. A resemblance the writer didn’t pretend wasn’t there. Because it’s more potent that it is. Yet when Scar knows it’s him, he think he can manipulate him because he always has before. Otherwise he would have slunk away while he could.

In the end Scar thinks his greater numbers may give him the advantage, and then fights Simba more in desperation than in courage. Then he begs for mercy when he is defeated, Simba gives it, but Scar pulls one more nasty back stabbing trick and then falls as a result. The hyenas, having heard him throw them under the bus, decide they’ve had enough of Scar. All four of them presumably burn to death.

There’s so much biblical resemblance here, it would be hard to deny it if I wanted to.

There’s a little thing I want to explain about what follows:

Simba’s roar is both symbolic as assuming his place as king; and literal, as Male lions do roar to declare their territory. Female lion actually do roar in response to males, so if that part always felt real to you, that’s because it is.

But it is not a magic roar.

I have hard theories on this, but they are ridiculous and here’s why.

When the land goes from desolate to healthy, we see Simba and Nala have a cub. (Everything came full circle.) Lionesses are pregnant for a year. It’s been a whole year. So the land has had time to recover, and the rain had time to work.

You can say the rain was magic and I won’t argue. But the rest is nature.

So, in defiance of modern values, this movie supports living up to you responsibilities. taking someone else;s place, following in someone else’s footsteps, and being what people need  you to be.

And all that could also be your destiny.

I don’t favor the very selfish viewpoint on finding your dream nowadays. Your dream can be what would help other people. And sometimes we have to adjust our priorities.

Even Timon and Pumba take a more noble place beside Simba and prove they are not the cowards they thought themselves.

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

Mary Poppins

If I may wax nostalgic without ripping off some popular you-tubers, I’d like to look back on this classic.

I just watched it today, and it seems, like all classics, to have more in it than I realized as a child.

Since I grew up right as Disney was transitioning more and more to 3D and coming to the end of it’s Renaissance phase (that’s all the 2D princesses and princes after Sleeping Beauty,) I never found the really old films quite as interesting to re-watch, but I felt their charm and I think it’s shame a lot of kids now haven’t even watched these classics.

Mary Poppins is at least a perennial favorite movie of mine. I always wanted to ride those merry-go-round horses (it used to really frustrate me that I knew they weren’t real) hop into pictures, laugh on the ceiling and dance on rooftops.

I also have seen Saving Mr. Banks, so that lent the movie even more meaning. I remember asking my mom once during Mary Poppins, while Bert was talking/singing to Mr. Banks, why he was doing so. She told me he was trying to help him learn the lesson Mary Poppins was trying to teach him. I wasn’t entirely clear on what that lesson was. I’d often ask my mom questions about stuff I had already figured out just to hear what she would say, and often she’d say something I hadn’t thought of though basically agreeing with me.

So, that said. What do I think about the movie now that I’m older?

I think that in the end there are two basic messages of the film, and they are expressed in different ways through the whimsical things that happen.

The secondary message is that life needs a little wonder in it and a little fun in everything, or it isn’t worthwhile. I know that this movie influenced my attitude about chores and other tasks. I play music and sing when I clean just because it’s more fun  hat way and I’m more likely to finish the task. Oh the tedious hours of cleaning before I clued in to this trick. Ugh.

Now my mom might just listen to a radio talk show, or nothing at all, not everyone needs to use this method; but the point is, especially if you’re young, you don’t like grueling work.

And who doesn’t want a merry-go-round horse that can go off the carousal? I wish.

The funny thing is, though I didn’t like Mr. Banks, I knew he was right that those things weren’t real. Even Mary Poppins never admits that they were and seems affronted at even doing them half the time. I was that kid who grows up knowing Santa Claus isn’t real, and frankly the Easter Bunny was never appealing to me. And fairies aren’t real, and so on.

Yet I never ceased to enjoy stories aobut those things, or to wish in a way that they were real. And now I believe in them in a different sort of way.

I don’t believe that Santa Claus is real, but I believe in the possibility of things like Santa Claus. I don’t believe Mary Poppins is real, but I do believe that there are people just as wondrous as her who don’ get have the recognition. Remember that real life is stranger than fiction and their are weirder things than tea parties on the ceiling.

Heck, in the very same movie Mr. Banks references the Boston Tea Party, and that story is almost as odd as an actual tea part defying gravity.  I mean, colonists dressed as Native Americans? Seriously? Why would the Natives have thrown tea overboard? It was almost comical…funny. Like the tea party on the ceiling…hmm.

Anyway, the Primary message of Mary Poppins hits even closer to home. It’s about how adults can get to where they miss the little things that are so important.

You see, fixing the children’s kite, the tuppence, the feeding the birds, they are all of a piece. They are all little things. Things that seem to a busy man like a waste of time. He is focused on railroads, bridges, tea plantation, etc. All noble things perhaps (it’s debatable) but are they necessarily more important?

It’s an age old dilemma that adults have been trying to answer forever. Is it more important to be contributing the world in general and helping humanity or is it more important to be at home with your family making real memories. And people have answered it different ways. There’s a big movement now, especially among feminists and Hollywood, that we can have both.

But the fact is, that is almost impossible. Some few people can make it work, but most can’t prioritize family and work equally.

Which is more important? Mr. Banks comes to think that it is his family. Time goes by so fast, and kids will grow up, perhaps not hating their parents who neglected them, but never having that kind of bond with them that kids who felt valued did.

I can personally attestify to this. Once childhood is gone, it’s gone. Adult children can become close to their parents even after years of estrangement, but it’s a different kind o close. It can be just as good but never just as innocent as the first.

That’s why we need to treasure childhood instead of trying to rid ourselves of it, as Mr. Banks does at first.

The spoon full of sugar metaphor is pretty clear, a little sweetness is not hard to give, and it pays dividends in relationships.

The fixing of the kite ties all three metaphors together. The tuppence for paper and string, the kite, and the sweetness even after the medicine of being fired and disgraced.

Little things are important.

As an author and a reader I notice how often in stories little events end up being what the whole ending is hinged on. Often our Salvation turns on the smallest thing.

Big things are important of course, but the secret may actually be that big things are composed of many small things suddenly coming together. That’s my experience.

Those are my thoughts, until next time–Natasha.

How to recognize a weasel–part two.

This is not really a continuation of my Beauty and the Beast review, it’s more a commentary on films in general.

I said when I reviewed The Hunger Games that the movie was trying to make you think it was good, but it really had no strong message.

It turns out there’s a lot of that going around. I just saw La La Land and it was the same thing. It seemed good because it was trying to be like an old fashioned romance, but it totally lacked morals. I’m actually surprised that many good people thought it was great.

I get why, I wanted to like it. But I kept waiting for a moment where the characters did something I could really admire, but they didn’t.

I think my Grandmother thinks I’m just predisposed to dislike every movie that recently (in the last five years) came out.

But I liked “Hidden Figures” and “The Intern.” And heck, I like “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I liked the new Cinderella movie.

I’m not impossible to please.

I am hard to please. I missed the memo when pleasing the more difficult audience suddenly became not what movie writers were supposed to go for.

Which is not to say I should just get to say any movie is bad because I personally didn’t like it. I didn’t like Hacksaw Ridge over much, but it’s not a bad movie. Some things are just taste.

But some aren’t. Like caring what a movie is actually trying to say. And if it’s not trying to say anything, then it’s smoke and mirrors, because no one can come up with a decent creation if they don’t have a goal in mind.

My sister is a painter and drawer, she never paints a picture of nothing in particular. I know some artists do to express freedom, but even they are trying to express something. I write, I never write a story or  post about nothing. My other sibling crafts, she never makes nothing in particular.

Whether you’re a good or bad artist, you can’t be an artist without a goal or a point in mind.

And a film without a real point is just trimmings and trappings over a bare framework.

But we’ve gotten really good at those trimmings.

We have realistic looking CGI to the point where most of us have seen more vibrant landscapes on TV than we have in real life.

We have actors who can be airbrushed to perfection.

We have locations to die for, almost.

We have surroud sound. We have cool scores. We have promotional ads!

What we don’t seem to have is stories. Everyone is talking about how unoriginal Hollywood is getting. I guess the directors figure if you can’t make up a new idea, you have to dress up an old one.

But lest we be too copycat-ish, we’ll throw out all the old morals the plot used to entail. Let’s have more sex, shooting, explosions, and dumb throwaway lines that will become t-shirts and memes and be forgotten a few years hence. That’s what people want to see.

Well, unfortunately, I’m starting to wonder if that is what people want to see.

I can still remember the feeling I used to get when I finished watching a really good movie. I felt braver, better, and like life was more beautiful because of that film’s ideas. I felt like I had a glimpse into something I wouldn’t normally see or think about. Every now and then I get that feeling again.

But not form these big hits that have recently come out. They just don’t do it for me. I could look every recent superhero film I’ve seen in the eyes and tell it “The Incredibles was still better than you.” And forget the romantic comedies.

Well, I digress.

I read in one book that since the Fall we’ve gotten really good at covering up our shame with fig leaves Whether they be ordinary fig leaves or designer fig leaves.

Or as Shakespeare put it “All that glitters is not gold.”

Shakespeare tells us that if we are “young in limb, in judgement old,” we will not stake our happiness on things that are shiny and seem valuable on the surface, but inside contain dead men’s bones. (Merchant of Venice.)

The fig leaves represent the way we try to cover up our shame. And our current shame as a culture is how little we understand right and wrong. A lot of us feel confused about a lot of things, so we cover it up by making movies and other things that sound good, and sound profound, but if we were to really examine them they would be as fragile as leaves and one yank would destroy the facade.

The words of Shakespeare warn us not to value things that are dead inside just because they satisfy our senses.

I look for life in a movie. Some movies are just too foolish, others are deliberate garbage, others are the result of poor writing.

We need to be able to tell, because if we can’t, we’ll admire all the wrong things. And you can’t admire garbage on a screen, and then appreciate gold in real life.

Let’s just say that anyone who takes fool’s gold for the real thing will never recognize actual gold when they see it. They don’t look the same when you’ve seen both.

And can I just point out that the people who are telling us it doesn’t matter and to just enjoy the garbage are usually the ones making it… don’t you think they have a slight agenda?

I’m basically giving you all permission to dislike popular films for good reasons. And to like good films with all the enthusiasm the youth are showing for the bad ones. That’s where the “young in limb” part comes in.

Wisdom and Passion are the two great helpers of life, and they have to be forged the right way.

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

In defense of friendship.

So, I’ve been reading The Lord of the Rings, finally, I’m almost done with “The Fellowship of the Ring.”

And so far my favorite character is without a doubt, Samwise Gamgee.

Though Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli would all be close behind.

They were my favorites in the movie, along with Eowyn, but I’m definitely not alone in that.

But Sam is the best, he’s the comic relief as well as the heat of the group. Kind of like The Flash. you ever notice how often those heart characters are also the funny ones, it’s like the heart has to make sure people don’t get too sad or discouraged along the way. This is another reason I like Spiderman.

Anyway, there’s some controversy with Sam and Frodo that’s pretty messed up.

I’ m bringing this up not to have a political axe to grind, but to address another problem with this mindset of our culture.

People interpret certain words and actions as pertaining to certain feelings. You know what I mean. A kiss means one thing, holding hands means another.

To my astonishment, I’ve discovered that something as simple as expressing a great wish for your friend to come back alive, or to survive, can be perceived as sexual.

First of all, even if this is between a man and a woman, I’d still say it was messed up to look at it that way.

Things are pretty desperate when a man can’t want a woman to come back alive without being in love with her. I. e. Sexually attracted to her.

Is that all we’re good for to each other? Meeting some sexual need? Is that the only goo reason to care about each other’s well being. Because it seems thoroughly selfish to me.

I know some kinds of love can be selfish like that. No doubt you’ve experienced that kind of love, either in yourself, or in someone else, and it’s not always the romantic kind anyway. Familial love can be just as selfish. And so can friendship love.

My concern is that we don’t know what friendship is anymore.

I’ve had friends of both genders whom I’d be very upset about if something happened to them. I’d take steps to prevent that too. That doesn’t mean I want to be with either of them. It just means that I (shock) happen to care about other human beings besides myself.

And my guess is I don’t need to explain this to you folks who are reading this, but it sure as heck seems like it needs to be explained to a lot of folks who are spouting off their opinions every where I turn.

There’s nothing wrong with having an opinion of course, just so long as it’s a healthy one.

But if you can’t even believe in affectionate relationships out side of romantic ones, that’s not healthy.

Because the amount of people any one person can have romantic feelings for is limited, but the amount of people they can have affection for is almost limitless. You can get fond of almost anyone if you know them long enough and they don’t drive you crazy, in some cases even if they do drive you crazy.

And there’s a big difference between Sam wanting to protect Frodo and save his life, and Sam not being able to go on without Frodo. (I do think Frodo could not have gone on without Sam, but for a very different reason, the Ring would certainly have possessed him if he had been left alone with it.)

It’s a very natural thing to protect your friends. If you don’t, you aren’t much of a friend, that’s why gossiping about your friends is the best way to lose them. You exposed them instead of defending them.

In fact, friendship starts from a willingness to help another person not be lonely, a lot of the best friendships come from two people who had only each other, and were hated by everyone else, or just ignored. My own parents started out in such a relationship.

And between a man and woman, that often turns into love. But it’s not because friendship is inherently romantic, just immaturely so; it’s because companionship is the best foundation for a romantic relationship to grow on. But it doesn’t happen that way every time. And it doesn’t have to happen that way for it to be a healthy relationship. I think men and women can be lifelong friends and never need to take it further than that.

In a perfect world, we could all be like that and no one would be suspicious of it.

In the Bible, King David, a man with over seven wives if I remember right, had a friend named Jonathan, and they had a bond of souls.

David said at a later time that Johnathan’s love to him was better than women’s love.

This does not mean it was homosexual at all. There’s actually a distinction David is making between friendship and sexual love. He found the one with women, but he never seemed to have a wife he really was friends with.

David is simply recognizing here that friendship love is more sweet and loyal than romantic love often is, romantic love is famously fickle and inconsistent. And a guy with seven or more wives would certainly know that.

C. S. Lewis wrote that he’d rather have friendship with his wife, forever, than be romantically attracted to her forever. Because friendship was a better thing to have.

Now, just to be clear, friendship does not mean a feeling in this case. It means a certain unselfish way of acting, putting your friend first before you. Like Johnathan did for David. It also means having someone else who is passionate about the same things as you are. As Lewis says in “The Four Loves.” IT also means willingness even to lay down your life for someone else, as Jesus himself says is the greatest love of all.

All this can be in a romantic relationship, but it does not make it one.

In fact, this kind of friendship is really the kind of love we should have toward all people.

I think stigmatizing it is a huge mistake, and part of the reason people find it difficult now to make connections with each other in any way that’s not over a screen, where misinterpretation is a lot harder.

And until we let go of this stereotype, we can’t really be inspired by characters like Sam to be noble, loyal, and self-sacrificing; which is certainly what Tolkien intended when he wrote the story.

That’s my food for thought, until next time–Natasha.