Free Wheels.

💕Well, it’s that time of year. Happy Blogaversary followers! 😄

I think this makes it 4 years, dang, it’s been a ride. HappyColor_18012

Speaking of rides, I have some exciting news. I now have a car.

I suppose you all probably weren’t aware I’ve been off the road for a year almost, due to insurance expenses, and until I could get a car and get my own insurance, the price just seemed astronomic. The trouble was, it’s hard to get a job when you can only apply to things within a walking distance of your house.

I managed to do it once, but it was seasonal, and no luck since that time.

So, I need a car to get a job, but I need a job to get a car, pretty impossible cycle right?

Of course I had prayed about it, and just last week, I was talking about it to God, (complaining more than anything), that it was so impossible. Yet, I knew for Him it was easy. That He could just give me a car, or any of the other things I need to become independent.

You see, I don’t usually get those big miracles people tell stories about, but since I was a child, I’ve always believed in them, and growing up I heard enough stories of God’s favor to know that what looks hopeless to me is just an illusion.

We see no rational way something is possible unless we follow certain steps. We treat life like an equation.

Education+ good career options = financial success

Love + commitment = good marriage

Structure + affection = good child rearing.

You know the drill, pick any subject in life, and you’ll find a formula for it, from sex to sleep.

And if you’re like me, you’ve also studied enough to know that real life is not formulaic. Formula works in math, and maybe science, but never in anything outside a controlled environment.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say anyone who implements formula with their children or marriage is a fool, let alone anything less important like business.

Yet, when we plan our lives, we think in formula, if I don’t follow steps A, B, and C, then there’s just no way it can work.

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And for me, that was the car thing. If I don’t find some way to work from home or close to home, I can’t make enough money to save up for a car, and I can’t get a better job without a car, and… ugh, it’s exhausting just thinking about it.

But a part of me knew that for God, this mess was not a mess at all. And I’d had someone at my church pray for me to get a car and say they saw one in my future (not like fortune telling, jsut to clarify, just a feeling that God intended that. It’s like a blessing.)

Well, amen to that, I thought.

This same person is actually the source of my newfound fortune. They needed a new car for a new job, and decided to give away the old one, and they knew I had need of a vehicle.

Well, I was quite blown away.

But it gets better.

As a new driver, I’d only driven one kind of car, my family car. So, I don’t have much experience. I figured a new car would mean learning some new stuff.

And it will, but not nearly as much as it could have because this car has a driving system very similar to our family car. Is almost the same size, and is comfy and spacious, in impeccable condition for a 10 year old car.

It’s also a Honda, so… yeah, it’ll last ages.

For free.

I’d be hard put to find a used car at that kind of deal even for a few thousand dollars.

Icing on the cake is it’s a bluish color, which is what I wanted, though it’s not a color I imagined, but, it’s pretty.

You know, one has to really think God must have us in mind specifically when He gives us stuff. All those others things weren’t necessary, I could have put up with a few dents and quirks for a free car that still runs, I’m not in a position to be picky about color or style…but I get it anyway.

This all happened after my prayer. And to be honest, I didn’t expect Him to take me seriously.

I mean, I knew He could, but I supposed there was some lesson in all this that I needed to learn (we love that explanation, don’t we?)

Well, I did have to wait a while, but now it becomes much easier. I can afford insurance on this car, and my mom was able to put me on her towing/assitance coverage too, since my dad had, unbeknownst to her, gotten his own.

Well, good riddance I say, means I can be on it with no extra cost.

You know… a little part of me is a bit smug about this. Which isn’t very Christian, but… well let me explain.

Driving was one thing my Dad used to control me with. And I only drove for a year while he was living here, yet he managed to make it a big point of contention constantly.

I made some errors, nothing huge, but one did cost money, and though I paid for it myself, my Dad always expressed doubt over my abilities. He would also make my nervous while he was in the car, and say things like “you could have gotten us into an accident.” If I made a mistake. Idiots do worse things on purpose than I did by accident, but hey, my dad is not logical nor one to cut you some slack.

My dad also tried to make me run errands for him and grounded me from using the car as leverage, though it only made more work for my mom (of course he wouldn’t pick up the slack on driving me around unless he absolutely had to).

And finally he refused to keep me on the insurance because I hadn’t gotten a job, despite my efforts to do so. My dad makes good money too, at least for a single job person.

It was always one thing or another with the car, I got so frustrated that I hated the idea of succeeding just to suit him more than not driving, so I gave up.

Of course, I am not adverse to earning things.

But… if we face facts, no one is born able to earn their keep. We have to be taught, and some people are not able to ever, they get paralyzed, they have mental disabilities. They experience a series of misfortunes.

Or some are driven out of their homes by evil people with a vendetta.

It’s not their fault, they just aren’t as lucky as the rest of us.

While I believe you need to work in life, I recognize that even the ability to work is a gift. And the tools to work are usually also gifts, initially. We call it investing.

But the principal of investing, even from a company, is having faith in a person that they can pull off success. Parents give their children benefits because they hope they will use them wisely.

My dad’s approach was a bit like tossing me in a row boat and removing the paddle. How am I supposed to get anywhere? The boat is a gift (think of it like life) but the tools to make it work are also gifts, at least at first.

It might be “fair” but…does it work?

I don’t know, for some people it might.

But if my Heavenly Father has taken a different approach, I cannot complain.

God’s way is always to give us the tools to succeed, and in the perfect timing to do it in. There is no ability in us to repay God, or to prove ourselves to Him. He knows we can’t do anything for ourselves, not even make our own heart beat (try to stop it for a second, see how well you do.)

Anyway, that’s a wrap for today, until next time, stay honest–Natasha

 

 

 

Ministering and the Mobile Home Park.

Okay, okay, I won’t write about the Virus anymore. I hope.

I haven’t looked (because I don’t care) but I bet that’s the main subject of a ton of the blogs on this domain right now.

I like that a lot of the YouTubers I follow are choosing to still try to make their videos and keep it regular. Trying to brighten people’s day a little. I will say my blog traffic is increasing.

I’d rather not get traffic because of an epidemic, but maybe people will find it uplifting.

I have another story for you today.

My church is continuing with their efforts at helping. My pastor keeps saying he wants it to be like the book of Acts, getting out there and ministering to people on the street, at their homes, the old fashioned way. Thinking of creative ways to have service and stay connected.

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So, today we went to the mobile home park behind our church to take people emergency food and give them a flier to call us if they needed anything else. Also writing down their needs and offering to pray for them. They were seniors, the high risk people, so we wore gloves, and someone had graciously donated masks.

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I cant help but feel being part of a big church at a time like this has its perks. My church has a network of people who communicate to supply things. I kind of took that for granted before, but we’re probably still functioning because of that. Many churches are just shut down entirely.

I wonder how other religious institutions are doing. I wouldn’t have any way to know except Googling it.

Some people were scared to come outside and take stuff from us. Others came right out and smiled. Some told us they didn’t need it, they had enough. Others that they did need it and other stuff. Some said they’d just been praying and doing devotionals themselves this morning. There were a lot of Christians… I mean, I guess if you live behind a church, might as well be christian. (I don’t think that has anything to do with it really, but it must make it more encouraging to drive by that every day when you leave the unit.)

We still had boxes left over because so may people said they didn’t need it and to just go on and give it to someone who did. Some were crying because they were so touched that we thought of them to do this.

It did not seem remarkable to me at the time, but I guess these are the cute stories newspapers like to cover and people like to share on social media. (Hey, go ahead if you want. I don’t mind. You don’t have to though.) I don’t really feel like my life is that unusual, but I do get to be part of things that people think sound really special.

(I wonder how the homeless people in Skid Row are doing, my previous Church takes food there every so often, I’m sure they must be at risk, hopefully the church will find a way to still help them. It’s a bit far for my current church to travel.)

People have suggested that Christians only do stuff like this to feel good about themselves for helping the less fortune, the looked down in society. At a time like this, people’s pride goes into their pocket. I bet people who wouldn’t normally accept help from strangers would take a medical mask from one now, if they could be sure it wasn’t used.

Some people may do charity and volunteer acts in order to feel righteous. I doubt it matters that much to the most desperate people, as long as their needs are getting met, why should they care? It makes a difference to your own soul, and to your coworkers, what your attitude is, but the nice thing about Charity, is if it’s a good charity, it won’t make much difference to the people receiving it. (Not that that applies to everything, prayer without true compassion is both useless and discouraging to the one who receives it.)

Honestly, I think it scares people more that they might be received well. Because then they might have to do it again, and get involved. We humans are afraid of commitment to new things, especially ones we don’t get paid for. Its like money justifies the risk in our minds, but success and changing someone’s life don’t.

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? Goals?

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Or is it really…

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More about this.

Some people think that is because we are selfish, and while we are, many people are willing to be unselfish if it’s within their comfort zone of talents and time. We are more likely to hold back out of fear than straight up selfishness. Fear is selfishness more cleverly disguised.

I am not sure why we are so afraid to do good. For me, it’s the fear that I am not good myself, that I will be shown to be a fake, and will not be able to really help. It took me a long time to become self aware of that, and even longer to really start to overcome it. Now it haunts me, even though it does not necessarily stop me from acting. My sister says “I think it’s called the Flesh.”

Call it that, or the Inner Bully, or Internal Critic, whatever name you have for it. It works the same way.

Human beings feel we have some kind of price to pay in life, that we cannot be Good, or Brave, or Noble, or Heroic. We have lost that right somewhere, and living a small, cowardly life is our just desert for it.

Original Sin can explain that pretty cleanly, though it’s not a popular explanation anymore.

Maybe we no longer have the right to be Great, but the world still has a need for us to be so. It amazes me when I hear the little known stories that get passed around in books, and blogs, and articles, that not a lot pf people read, but they’re so inspiring. The best deeds may be the ones hardly anyone knows about.

What did it mean to someone? That someone cared even enough to knock on their door and give them food? Who knows? Only God.

The Bible says at the end of time, we’ll all give an account for our lives, and our works will be tested with fire. For Christians, the fire will not destroy us, even if our works burn up, because works are not why we are saved. Others will be judged according to their deeds, as well as their lack of faith. Jesus said “He who does not believe is condemned already.”

We are told we’ll be judged for something as personal as “every idle word we speak.” God looks at the heart after all.

The point is, our works may be the most important where we thought they were the least.

There is nothing wrong with famous good deeds. We need to be inspired. Sometimes whole nations need to be changed, people need to be liberated.

But the thing about small deeds, it’s hard for history to pick them apart, and try to read ulterior motives into it. Someone might assign dark motives to helping someone carry their groceries, but it’s far less likely anyone would bother to try.

Social Media has made even little deeds bigger, but the ones we still do with out cameras off and and between our vlogs, are the ones that people will remember the most, the people we did them for anyway. I can’t be the only one who immediately feels I’ve sunk in important whenever I see someone filming.

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This has been longer than I expected…well, in conclusion, I am still encouraging people to think about what they can be doing to help, even if it’s just calling someone, or mailing them food or supplies. Or checking in on elderly neighbors, form a healthy distance of course.

This should be our all the time, but still, times like these are when people really appreciate someone being brave enough to reach out. I tip my metaphorical hat to all of you who are already doing that.

Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.” (Proverbs 21:13)

Until next time, stay honest and healthy–Natasha.

White Guilt

Whoo, let’s just start the flame wars now.

JK, my followers aren’t like that…so far.

Actually, given how many international followers I have, I wonder if everyone even is familiar with the term White Guilt.

This is a term those of us in the USA who are white have for the feeling of shame associated with the actions of our ancestors, and with our many privileges we have allegedly because of our race.

While people of any other ethnicity claim that they really are worse off and we just don’t understand.

Now I’m taking a World History Class at my public college, and its predictably anti-European.

Not that anyone calls it that, they cal it “Fair and Balanced” “Telling the Real Story” “Coming at it from a different perspective” and not using “The European Narrative.”

Now, there are no really honest generalizations if you’re talking about individual views. The Narrative of history from a European perspective is no more biased than from any other, if you mean in general. If you want to talk about the individuals, than it becomes a matter of each person’s story. Our judgment shifts from national and global to biographical. That’s fine. It’s human nature to be more interested in personal stories than vague histories.

If you want to look at the spirit of the age, that’s another matter. Certainly some ages had a general cruelty to them, others a more general sense of justice. I’m not sure any country has even been overwhelmingly kind, as kindness is always an individual sort of virtue, but some have been more fair, less likely to condone horrible things.

What my point is is that the claim of the public schools, at least in my country, that our older history is slanted toward the Europeans, and therefore it’s inaccurate, is bogus.

Of course it is, and our modern way of telling it slants it against the Europeans and if favor of literally anyone else, no matter how corrupt they are.

For example, a real instance that happened last week in my class discussion. We talked about the Aztecs, an ancient Mesoamerican civilizations (meaning they lived in the general area that is now Mexico or Central America). During the discussion, my professor and classmates criticized the Spaniards for disrespecting the Aztec’s religion by saying its gods were evil for requiring human sacrifice.

A little more history about the Aztecs: They were conquerors in much the same way the Spanish were. They took over and absorbed other cultures around them, took slaves (something that the Spanish did not do at the time) and sacrificed them to their gods as part of their blood ritual religion. Regularly.

My professor and classmates showed no sign of horror at this abominable practice, and when I suggested it was wrong, and the Spanish were right to criticize it, my professor decided to bring up some troubling beliefs in Christianity, the religion of the Spanish at the time (and, I’m certain she had guessed, my own religion, as I wore a cross to make it obvious.)

It’s only fair to share her points. She said that part of Christianity is symbolically eating the body and blood of Christ (which is not human sacrifice, even if it sounds gross) and that Abraham was even willing to sacrifice his son Isaac.

She should have brought up the time Japhthah sacrificed his daughter. That would have been a much stronger case than the time when God stopped Abraham form doing it.

Now, even among the people Jesus said it to, the Sacrament was a pretty weird idea and a lot of his followers left over it. Peter said they would stay because Jesus had the Words of Life. Jesus later established that eating his body and blood was to be symbolic thing, using bread and wine. Common foods that rich and poor alike would be able to eat.

While I agree it’s a strange practice, you won’t find any real religion that doesn’t have bizarre practices. And most are real, not symbolic. In the Bible God forbids cannibalism and human sacrifice (not self sacrifice, however).  God does not contradict Himself. Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac was before God had commanded against it, and God prevented it from actually happening, then later forbids it to make ti clear that it was a test and not something to actually do as an act of worship.

The Holy Communion is one of many parts of Christianity that use symbolism to show spiritual truths. When you eat something it becomes part of you, Jesus is a part of all of us. We are his body, and his blood is for our healing, when we eat and drink the symbolism of it, it is showing our oneness with Christ. IT has nothing to do with cannibalism.

Much the same way the Bible refers to suffering and judgment as a cup, it uses eating and drinking to symbolize the nearness and intensity of an experience or connection, but the followers of Christ understood that it was a symbol. And anyone who confuses a symbol for a real thing is generally starting a cult.

Which brings me back to the Aztecs. They were not symbolically shedding blood, they were actually doing it. The Christians’ own religion is not one that condones this or anything like it, and my Professors using it as such displays her ignorance of it, not my or the Spaniard’s ignorance of history or our own religion.

Why would an intelligent woman, who does not seem unkind, and a class of the brightest students at the college (if Honor Roll means anything) not see that they are defending murder sanctioned by a corrupt religion?

Because in their own words, no one is really right or wrong, there is no black and white.

But just to be clear, it was the Europeans who were in the wrong. They make sure we know that.

White Guilt. This is where is starts. Actually, it starts in Elementary School, with the view of history that justifies everyone but the ancestors of  many of the kids learning it, not to mention our Founders who gave us the country where we have the freedom to question them and our current leaders alike.

No race or ethnicity is perfect. No nation is perfect. Most are not fair. Most have been or are currently cruel.

Human Government as a rule has to be harsher than the individuals in it, because human justice is damage control. Unlike the justice of God, it cannot fix anything permanently, it is simply trying to assuage some of the evils that every society has.

No matter where you live and at what time, some class or race of people is being treated unfairly. Oppressed, perhaps. Though oppression is a tricky word. If the person really has no choice, than sure, they are oppressed. But in the Western world and some of the Eastern wold too, people can choose to quit a job and look elsewhere, or get a divorce, or not marry at all, or move. Then oppression becomes more of a mentality.

We in the USA are taught to feel ashamed of our past, and to strive for a vague idea of equality that the people who promote it do not even understand how to achieve, except by calling the rest of us who dare to have a spine out for being bigots.

I try to stay away from politics in my posts, but this goes beyond politics. It affects relegation, people’s sense of culture, and self respect.

I find it revolting to apologize for being an American and being White. While I do have ancestry that dates back to the colonies, I also have ancestry that dates back only 3 generations in America. And my people are some of the most hated and oppressed worldwide that exist, maybe the most.

I went to a Black Church for 6 years of my life (they were mostly 1st or 2nd generation Americans, so they didn’t feel as awkward about the race thing). There’s people at my current church from Sri Lanka, Africa, China, and Latino America, plus white people.

So I hardly think it’s really a matter of skin color or background. It’s an attitude to feel guilty for something you didn’t do, and to feel like a victim for something that never happened to you.

White Guilt is ridiculous in more ways than one, because it puts all White people into a box. I’m technically white, I look White, but I’m Slavic, with some Scottish, people who were not really a huge part of the European Slave trade. I’ve got Irish too, they were shipped around as indentured servants right along with the Africans, treated badly also.

My point is, you can’t look at me and assume I or my ancestors had any part of slavery or racism. You can’t assume that we were privileged, as Irish and Scottish people were looked down on in America, and still are in Britain, had the worst jobs just like the Africans did, and on my other family side, my people were hated even more.

So White Guilt, as an idea, is just as racist as Racism against anyone else. It’s saying that because you’re white, you’re a perpetrator of these ideas, or you come from people who perpetrated them, and now you need to make it better.

In the end, if you look at history honestly, everyone sucks. Humanity is a mess.

“There is none righteous, no not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.” (Romans 3:10-11)

There’s Human Guilt, that’s all there is. No sense blaming it one any one group of people.

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

A tree by its fruit: My reflection on past experiences with a church.

Well it’s been too long.

I got busy with finals and then I hit writer’s block.

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To be honest, I just didn’t feel like blogging about my thoughts and life because it’s been kind of rough lately.

Now I’ve started my new classes and things are a little better.

I was thinking about something today.

How the bible measures being Christlike.

Story time:

So, way back when my dad started making us all go to his church, which I hated, as part of his insistence on control of the household, he would always praise the pastor of said church because he had over 20 attempts on his life, and he’d been delivered from them all by the Lord.

This pastor had some amazing stories. It was impressive.

As a young teen, I supposed that this pastor must be a very godly man if he had continued on through all that and been protected miraculously.

And I am not one to judge how close someone really is to God. All I can say is that God sounds very different from a traditional African perspective (as that’s what the church was.) They are all about God’s judgment and hatred of sin, and his power and majesty in our lives.

I do appreciate a focus on the sovereignty of God, but I kept noticing, year after year, a  discrepancy between what they talked about, and what went on at the church.

The people were generous, and seemingly well off based on their clothes and cars, but there was always talk from the pastors about God showing them that gossip and dishonor was going on among the congregation. I never heard any of it, but I did witness a lot of inconsiderateness from the Sunday School, which I helped with. And I got in trouble for being disrespectful to the teachers. (Though I was mostly just exchanging looks with my sister that the teacher didn’t like, and they claimed I encouraged the kids to misbehave. Instead of it being their disorganized teaching style.)

The pastors claimed to hear the voice of God, and there were healings and spiritual manifestations on a regular basis, seemed like a great church in that way.

Yet I never felt at home, or really comfortable around the people. As a younger person I was expected to sit quietly and do whatever I was told. I didn’t appreciate being bossed around at the age of 15-17 by people who were not my parents, or teachers, and who I did not really know.

Finally it came to a head after I and my sisters had left the church officially, and the whole abusive situation with our dad has blown up into something too big to ignore. We went to his pastor, who we were angry at for telling him to come home when he has been going to leave it for a few days. Much needed solitude, we thought. Let him feel some consequences for his actions.

For some context, this had happened years before in one of m dad’s childish tantrums and in his desire to punish my mom, he had been going to move out of the house for a brief periods of time. He also told us girls that he was tired of getting no respect in our house. Our pastor came to the house to talk him out of it, and my mom into thinking she was partially at fault.

I remember she told me that my dad was upset that she didn’t try to stop him, but she hadn’t because she didn’t know “what else to give.” She had done he’d asked.

But of course, with both of them saying she was partly at fault, she went long with it.

Now,several years later, when we’d thought we were past this, Dad pulled it again, because it worked so beautifully last time.

Now that I have delved more into this, I realize my pastor should have seen a red flag in the fact that this same thing was happening, and my dad had no sense of irony about it.

Instead he did the same thing as before.

So, us girls took initiative and had a meeting with him. During which my sister said he’s handled it the wrong way, and we said he should not have given such advice without more information.

The pastor got angry when we said that. He felt he should be blameless in the matter and it was very serious for us to say he was in the wrong.

What got more alarming was we also told him about the physical abuse  and he said Dad had told him about it and repented… he told us with a smile on his face.

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I told him that dad had threatened me with violence since that time, (implying I doubted he had really seen the error of his ways), and he seemed unbothered by it. He asked what we wanted him to do to help.

It became clear, after a certain point, that he was not really getting it, and that he wasn’t going to. We settled for telling him not to counsel Dad to come home again if the situation repeated itself, but beyond that, we saw that we couldn’t rely on Pastor for back up.

I really hope reading this story you were shaking your head in disbelief and not thinking that this sounded about normal from your experience.

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But it was normal in my experience. My dad picked friends and a church that encouraged all his ideas of himself. The emotional manipulation he used on us was doubled down on by family friends, fellow believers, and we ourselves in our blindness to it.

I had one lady from the same church come up to me with no prelude, and start telling me to stop pulling the princess act with my father, and to respect him more, while he stood there smiling and nodding in a satisfied way. I stared at her in disbelief.

No one ever asked me my side of it. They assumed there wasn’t one. I don’t know why adults assume kids who are difficult to their parents are always just brats, I was not a rebellious kid in other ways. I was well behaved, polite, and there was no uncontrolled behavior.

Everyone judged me based on how I treated my dad, coldly. My dad had made it impossible for me to show him affection. If I ever tried, he turned it into a guilt trip. He was so unpleasant to me, I didn’t often feel like it, it was all I could do to hold back my biting words at his cruelty.

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My dad, even now, has tried to manipulate me again about the situation. But now, I have words for it. I tell people what was really going on. Not in great detail, but I tell them. It wasn’t my fault.

I haven’t spoken to anyone from that church since my dad moved out. I haven’t spoken to him either.

I now know kids at my current church who are kind of like me with their parents. In the past, I judged kids like that as having bad attitudes, because that’s what I was told, but now, I am starting to think twice about making assumptions.

Kids often know whether they are really, truly loved or not. The people who buy books trying to figure out how to love their kids or spouses either already do, or are doing it because they see they have an all around problem with relationships and want to figure out what it is.

I couldn’t get my dad to read a book like that, because he didn’t really love me.

I begin to think we just don’t give children enough credit. I saw the problems between my parents a decade before they did. I still see it more clearly.

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What the point of this was is that my pastor would have done well to be more humble. He was so concerned with being spiritual, he was not even really hearing us. In their culture, it seemed that situations like what happened to use were just assumed to be normal, and if the man just apologized we could move on.

Broken trust was not really understood.

But Jesus said, whoever wants to lead and be great among you must first be a servant. While 1 Corinthians 13 says that even if we can do miracles, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and can prophecy, if we have not love, we are nothing, we gain nothing, and nothing comes of it.

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It’s so crucial, yet it is so easy to forget. Love is what God measures our works by, not how many times we survive an attempt on our life, or how much we know about each other.

If we cannot have compassion on people who are suffering, and humility enough to know when we are wrong and need to change our opinion, than what good is our advice? Our knowledge.

I know people who can give you a textbook diagnosis of your problem but can’t hear  you out patiently to save their lives. Maybe you know someone like that too. Or maybe you are the person.

Hey, I’m argumentative, I know the acceptation to just talk about your perspective, but I am at least becoming aware of when i tend to do that, and how I can stop myself. So, I’m not judging, I’m just warning.

I also know now that people can think they are hearing God, and only be hearing what they expect to hear.

I am no expert on the voice of God, and that’s a topic for another time,  for now suffice it to say that it’s dangerous to assume someone knows what God wants, if they are not full of his kindness or care for other people.

You know a tree by its fruit. Jesus said that too.

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With that, I will conclude this post. Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

 

The Element of Kindness.

Happy Day-After-Christmas, peeps.

Hope you had a good one, I spent most of mine bingeing The Dragon Prince first 2 1/2 seasons. (Not a recommendation, though it’s okay.) I was with family, my siblings and I had been wanting to watch it.

I was checking my stats today, and I have one post that’s had a total of 130+ views, including my own. (Why do blogs count your own views on your post?)

It’s A Strong Mind and a Soft Heart. (Link here: https://drybonestruth.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/a-strong-mind-and-a-soft-heart/)

I never expected it to be so popular, I based the title on a song by Steffany Gretzinger and Amanda Cook.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-cVRxhnrY0)

It’s a bit rough, but the post is mainly about kindness and reason being blended together in our actions. The heart and the head not being separated, and how it is bad when they are.

I also said that even someone with a mental handicap might understand this better than a genius, and be wiser.

I still think that its true, in fact, I think it is more true now. Intelligence might be measured by IQ, but thank the Lord, Wisdom is not.

There is something I thought of after writing my Naruto review, it actually hit my before I finished the OG show, I talked about it with my sisters and they agreed. It’s kindness.

If you’ve seen the show, or a similar one, you’d probably agree. The characters themselves begin pointing it out after a certain season.

The Ninja world is highly cruel, and according to my mom, that’s a pretty accurate depiction of what real ninjas were like. In fact, the show’s portrayal is almost too real. One of the things that makes Naruto more than just an average Shonen anime is that it’s based on something that existed. Ninja and Samurai were both tools of the empire in Japan, used differently, and against each other. Ninjas used dark arts; secret ways;  things like that.

Of course it gets ridiculous on the show, but the disturbing element is that some of it, or most of it, isn’t all that much of an exaggeration.

It would be nice if I could say Japan was the only country that was like this (though not to Japan) but I can’t.

Every country is like this. Cruelty, if you look at human history, is not the exception but the rule of human dynasties, small societies, and everything in between.

No matter how you slice it, cruelty is nonsensical. People often speak and write of senseless cruelty, as if there was a cruelty that made sense; but if it makes sense, we’ll always find in the end, it was not cruelty.

It makes sense to use triage in a war or crisis, some people think of this as cruel, but in the end, it can save more lives than trying to treat everyone would. (Triage is a rating system that determines who gets treated first when there’s limited medical supplies and staff, which there always are, even in hospitals.)

It seems cruel to the addict to deny them their substance, but that is kinder than enabling them is.

What’s astonishing about Naruto’s version of it is how blatantly stupid the cruelty was. Yet, there are times and places where even what was shown there would be less than what was really happening in real life in history.

The cruelty shown on anime tends to be either neglect, direct abuse, emotional abuse, molesting (usually implied, not shown or said outright), mass killing, and torture for the fun of it. Also bullying is common, as well as people being ostracized for being different, sometimes in almost non-existant ways.

It’s awful how most of the time that cruelty is directed toward children.

Naruto‘s reached the point of being a sickness with the whole show, and it became a major talking point of all the villains on it, in the end the main villains all wanted to remake the world into their image of a kinder, softer place where everyone would be happy.

I’ve run into that idea countless times, from The Left Behind series to YA dystopian fiction (movies, I don’t read them.) Heck, if it’s not the big finale of whatever super hero/special abilities show or movies series you’re watching… I doubt you’re watching them(*cough Endgame *cough.)

I began to wonder what could have possessed Kishimoto to write such a dark show that aired, I may remind you, on Nickelodeon (I think, or Cartoon Network, or both.)

I always wonder that about these writers, even in more Americanized anime.

Perhaps there’s a hint to their thinking in what Torchwick from RWBY tells Ruby before he gets eaten by a monster “The real world is cold, the real world doesn’t care about spirit.”

Why are ninja so cruel? They are taught to be, because they are taught with the assumption that enemies are everywhere, that no one can be trusted, that even your closest friend may be ordered to kill you if you go against the village, and therefore, it is better to not have many friends.

This is, ostensibly, the idea Naruto himself rebels against and changes, however it does not work, because Sasuke’s crimes were not against a village’s martial law, but against the Laws of Life itself and what is Good in general.

What I hated most about this show was how little it bothered to be honest about human beings. The world was portrayed in the worst possible light, everywhere you turn there’s a massacre, a genocide, a child being abused into being a monster, a friend stabbing another in the back… but nowhere were there ordinary people just living their lives, doing small acts of kindness, camaraderie, and unselfishness. If we got perhaps a minute or two of it, the focus never lasted long enough for it to make a point.

I do not exaggerate when I say the only times the show highlighted people living ordinary, happy lives was right before a disaster so that we’d feel like it meant something, the rest of the time ordinary people were portrayed as jerks to the main characters.

It was so exhausting and unfair. I discovered that besides Wisdom, there is another element a story must be written with in order for it to work properly: Kindness.

Kindness is so basic to older literature and shows, to the point of being overly cheesy, that I took it for granted. I never thought of it as necessary writing element, and you won’t find it in a trope discussion, or writing class. I daresay, next to myself, only fiction writers of the old fashioned happy story brand will even mention it. (Check out J. R. R. Tolkien’s views on the Happy Ending sometime.)

But even if a story is not happy, it needs to have kindness in it somewhere, or it will only depress people. Romeo and Juliet is an infamous tragedy, but it’s built around the kindness of two young people who are able to look past their family’s feud and really see each other. Juliet more so. (I never like Romeo.) Without that element, the tragedy would mean absolutely nothing.

Sadness has this particular quality, it really can only exist where there has been kindness. Who really mourns the death of a tyrant or miser or witch?

I commented to my sisters in the middle of one important Naruto arc that the darkness on the show didn’t really stick with me after watching, because it was innocuous. We wonder why, eventually we concluded it was because there was just so much, and it was just so over the top, that it was impossible to believe it. There’s always the insane cases, but they are not every case, and not nearly as frequent as this show made out.

But even more so, there wasn’t enough kindness to make us regret the destruction of the characters that much. None of the places that got wiped out had good or happy people in them, usually. We never got to see the simplicity of everyday life being played out. Heck, Fairy Tail showed more in its Edolas arc with the talking cat society than this show ever did with human beings.

You may find it morbid of me to say Sadness only exists because of Kindness; but nowhere in the Bible, or in the study of human psychology, does it say that Sadness is a bad emotion. Women make themselves sad on purpose to relieve stress. Depression is bad, but depression and sadness are not the same thing. (Inside Out, anyone?)

Naruto ultimately lessened the impact of its own point about cruelty by never showing any other options in the main plot. By the end of the show no one has the faintest idea how to rebuild the world except the Sand Siblings, Gaara, Temari, and Kankuro, who have spent 3 years working on spreading kinder customs in their own village. Only they seem in the least prepared to take on the revamping of Ninja society. They begin new customs between the villages and hold them accountable to it. Once, Temari purposely reminded the Leaf that they need their allies and they can’t go back to the old ways of mistrust, turning her natural fierceness into a protective thing instead of an intimidating one.

However, the Sand gets zero credit for basically being the only reason the world didn’t end, and it all goes to Naruto, who has no clue what he needs to do. As he himself admits.

In the end the whole point falls flat. The viewer doesn’t really know how they will do it, we are just told to believe they will…even though we have no concrete proof to believe in.

I need to see you be kind if I’m to believe you can make a difference.

It was the simplest thing, a child could have pointed it out, heck, some of them did…yet it was like the show was allergic to it.

But, what scares me is not that Naruto was so bad at it, for that’s just one author, but that it;s not all the a different from at least 90% of the adult and kids shows that air on our TV networks here.

From Soap Operas, to Sitcoms, to whatever the heck the Disney channel and Cartoon Network are, there’s a theme that’s been going on since the 80s at least… no kindness.

I like sarcasm fine, but when that’s all your show is, (and stupidity,) then there’s just not much about the human beings to like.

I remember watching The Cosby Show and thinking it was way different in that way (I know what happened, but the show itself was really cute.)

I was lucky to grow up on The Chronicles of Narnia, and similar stories, which are full of wonder, quirkiness, wisdom…and kindness, it was everywhere, hiding in the corners or out in the open. Kindness that needed no explanation, no motivation, beyond that kindness was natural and right, and it was the people who lack it who are unusual.

I said cruelty is senseless, without exception, and that is because it never benefits anyone to be cruel. C. S. Lewis observes in The Screwtape Letters that some men have been twisted to enjoy cruelty, it is true. But enjoyment of the wrong thing cannot be said to be a benefit, unless you’re crazy enough to defend drugs on that account…oh yeah, pot got legalized with that as an excuse…my country is crazy…Well, oh well.

Kindness is defended even by skeptics as a necessary evolutionary instinct. That theory doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny, but if even godless men feel the need to defend kindness, it is because kindness is reasonable.

I find what’s godly is always reasonable.

That said, cruel stories are never rational. Naruto proved it to me, if I was ever in doubt, but I’ve seen many movies and shows, and a handful of books, that would confirm the theory. the worst was Ender’s Shadow, please never read that.

And that is where I am going to conclude for today, whew, I could get material out of this show for months…until next time–Natasha.