An existential crisis and other things.

 I might like Evanescence…who knew?

Well, I got a job at last. Yay!

My performance anxiety is still kicking in over whether I can maintain this one, it’s pretty hard to mess it up, the first day went mostly smoothly, but I lost my last job because I dusted a bookcase wrong, so I realized anew how temperamental people can be. That’s unusually picky, but still…

Especially in childcare, it’s hard.

Oh yeah, so I am working as a Nanny. I prefer that word to babysitter, since technically, the parents are still at home (mostly the case right now) but a lot of people need extra help.

It’s funny to me because I was homeschooled by a stay-at-home Mom, and we rarely got a babysitter. My dad never taught us, and rarely was home with us alone, so My mom didn’t get a break very often, somehow she stayed sane and manged to cook us dinner.

Now, some things got let slide, I can’t say we were very neat kids, and we’d go through phases of fighting a lot. There’s three of us girls.

But even so, it wasn’t bad. We were always well behaved kids, usually, in public. Of course, our parents believed in spanking.

Now, it’s weird for me to go to work for other families, and no one spanks, many people have only one child, and don’t leave their kids alone ever. My mom used to let us play for hours outside or in our room unsupervised, she knew we wouldn’t try to do anything stupid.

Now even if parents are in the house, they want someone to watch their kids while they work. I guess I can understand that, my mom didn’t work, and now she works out of home, not the same thing. Though she did lots of volunteer stuff with us there, and she never found us distracting. Heck, she taught me to help out the adults and she didn’t mind if other people were watching us more than her. I never supposed that was unusual until I got older and found out it’s rare. Rare in my culture anyway, in some parts of the country that might be fairly standard.

I admit in the American West, it’s seen as good parenting to be constantly around your child, involved, attentive to their emotions, etc. In the Midwest or East, it can be more about the child becoming independent and sensible early on, not needing to be carried through life.

There’s something to be said for both, I’ve heard that in cultures where kids are coddled and held more, stress levels are lower later in life; but what comes with that is also a lack of independence from other people, free thinking, or willingness to break from your community even when it’s going the wrong way.

America’s emphasis on independence drove its citizens to become stronger on their own, if the community is less strong than in other countries, we always felt it was wroth it to be free and preserve our Moral Integrity. That’s going away, but it’s not bringing unity. We now have a belief in independence without the reasons independence was ever important.

In the end, the American Dream was originally that if you had to leave your family to follow your beliefs, you could, and the early Pilgrims recognized that Religion has to come over all else, if it’s going to be real. It’s part of Christian Doctrine not to love anything more than God.

I won’t say that’s a less stressful life, but God has never promised us a less stressful life, and stress is not always bad. It can be, but the right kind of pressure makes us into better people, more than anything else can.

I was thinking today how lately it’s hard for me to know what to say when someone asks me “How are you?”

How can I put “I think I’m good, but I don’t really know how I am one day to another, and I’m confused, and I’m up and down, and I’m great, and I’ve never been so strange to myself” into a glib response that someone will accept? 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-25-e1596061778447.png

I feel like I’m having an existential crisis… and yet I’m not.

It’s funny, I’ve been questioning what does make my life worth it. I guess when you have intrusive thoughts about suicide, and you choose not to follow them, to reject that as being what you are, then the next logical step is to wonder why. What’s driving you? What’s making you different from thousands of people worldwide? What do you have that they don’t? Is it arrogant to think you can conquer a problem so many people fail to beat?

I know I can’t be the only one who feels that way. I remember when I read “Soul Surfer” Bethany Hamilton described wondering why it was her, but not in an angry way, just like she wanted to know the grander purpose of what happened to her. And it was weird to many people that she wasn’t more devastated.

What if your feelings just don’t make any sense?

Even my therapist can’t figure me out every time.

I remember one of the recent episodes of Fruits Basket (I will probably review that show once season 2 ends) had a moment where two characters met each other, and the curse of their family took hold. They felt “Beloved, Hated, Drawn, Repulsed” at the same time.

That’s so accurate to the life of a victim of abuse. Both toward your abuser and to the rest of life, you feel drawn and repelled at the same time. You love them, you hate them. You want more, you want nothing.

Abuse is perhaps the most contradictory kind of brokenness in the human experience, because the nature of it is to be contradictory, to combine love and hate in an unholy way that never should exist.

I love my Dad still, a lot, and don’t want him to suffer, yet I want him to feel the weight of what he did to me, even if it hurts him, and I don’t want to see him, or talk to him. What do you make of those feelings?

I want to live, but I don’t want to live the same way I always have. I do many things, but I don’t know why I’m really doing them anymore, I don’t know if I believe they matter to anyone in the long run. 

“Vanity, vanity, all is vanity” Ecclesiastes says.

I am a student, I am a blogger. I have a YouTube channel. I read, I write on average 10 pages a day by hand, I knit, I watch kids, I go to Church. I dance. I sing.

I have goals and dreams and things I want to do, and I wonder why I want to do them. Won’t the end be I’ll feel the same as I did before? Are they just escapes? Isn’t everyday life the only real experience I will ever have.

One of my favorite things about the Bible is how much it lacks false sentimentality. You won’t read the fairytale , wishful thinking mindset in the Bible. None of this “escape” stuff.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is happycolor_19123-1-e1595360626573.png

When the Bible has heights, it claims those as fully real, as normal as the lows. When things are dull, the Bible records them as faithfully as when things are exciting. We have whole books of Laws, Numbers, and History. We have books of Spiritual Revelation. We have a book about sex that beats any porn crap, both pure and passionate. (Did you know the Bible had a book about sex? A lot of people don’t know that.)

The Bible sees everything as important, it treats life as a journey, I picked up that attitude and I’ve always been less discouraged in my life because of that.

I guess right now, I’ve just had doubts about whether the Bible is right. Is my life a journey? Or it is dull. Don’t thousands lives never go anywhere? (At least in our eyes).

You have to really learn that you can’t know everything, if you want to make it through life sane.

I recently reread Ecclesiastes all the way through, I noticed that what that book is about is how the World’s pleasures, and man’s own pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, do not satisfy us. They don’t make us happy. Indeed, the end sum of wisdom is realizing everything is empty. That’s why Eastern religions have their goal as to be removed from the world and other people, they have reached the pinnacle of man’s wisdom.

Yet it’s strange that the Preacher in Ecclesiastes says to still do our work, because it is what God has given us to do, even if there is no point in it, because good things happen to both the good and the wicked person, and so do bad things, and we can take nothing with us.

It wasn’t until Jesus, the only man wiser than Solomon, that we got the answer s to why God would have us still spend time on earthly things. Jesus told us that we could lay up treasure in heaven for ourselves by our faith and works here.

The Bible does not teach that we are saved by works, but that we are rewarded for them. We can be saved even if our works are empty, but it shows our faithfulness to God is they were of value. 

And of course, human beings are not earthly things, strictly speaking, and we need to be concerned about each other.

Still, there are times I feel I am failing even at that, that I’ve hit a dry place in my life where I have nothing to give, and no one would appreciate anything I have to say. Like I’m just using other people for life support, but am myself a vegetable, emotionally or spiritually speaking.

I don’t know how true that is, but I suppose even if it was, everyone has seasons like that.

What I think God wants of me is to decide that even if I see no point in anything I’m doing, I will trust him, because I know He does have a plan. And that’s all I need to know, I don’t need to know what it is.

And even if I am not doing any other thing worth doing, if I Love God, and He Loves Me, then life is still worthwhile. Like the end of “Groundhog Day” when every day is the same, he realizes, the only thing with lasting meaning is Love. Love isn’t bound by time, or repetition, or memory.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is groundhog_day.jpg

Like with Mary of Bethany, it is better to sit at God’s feet and worship, then to be busy doing everything for Him, but nothing with Him.

It’s easy to write that, easy to tell people to do that, it is not easy at all to do it.

It is amazing how it can take the most strength to be still.

Again, all the most true things are the ones we’ve heard so many times and just never understood the meaning of.

Maybe it was good for me to realize all this now. Rather than chase these things for decades of my life only to understand at the very end why they didn’t matter without God’s purpose.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Killing God With the Power of Friendship: an anime conundrum.

Okay weeboos, let’s do this.                              image (27)

If you’re not into anime, stick around, this should still be interesting.

You know the famous (and depressing) philosopher Nietzsche? The guy who reputedly said “God is Dead.” Or, that God never existed and the idea of Him is what is in fact dead.

I am starting to think almost every single writer in Japan is with Nietzsche on this one.

Since I got into anime about a year or two maybe ago, I’ve seen maybe 20, not nearly as many as die hard fans, but a fair amount, and I’ve heard the plot of other ones from reviewers and my sisters.

And I started noticing a really weird common thread in Shonen or sometimes Isekai anime.

Shonen anime is basically superhero/special power adventure type shows.                                                                   katsuki-bakugou-my-hero-academic-4k-3o

Isekai is AU, or other world based shows, where the premise usually starts with an ordinary guy or girl somehow being transported to another world, sometimes through reincarnation, sometimes a summoning, etc.                                                          HappyColor_19332

There’s a few anime that are kind of a combination of genres that also would fit what I’m about to describe.

Nearly every anime of this sort that I’ve seen ends in, or has some plot at some point, that involves defeating a character that is said to be either a god, or basically the equivalent of a god, or maybe even The God.

The character is typically a villain, of course, and usually cruel and power mad and ready to wipe out or enslave the human race.

An then the protagonist will either use paragon powers, or the power of friendship to do what everyone swore was impossible for the whole show, and kill this god character.

If you think I’m wrong…well…

Naruto, easily one of the most popular anime of all time, ends (SPOILER ALERT) with Naruto and his team effectively killing or defeating at least, a god and…maybe another god? It was unclear (honestly most of the fans agree it was bizarre).

Fairy Tail, another really popular and really lengthy anime, also ends with a character who had basically become a god (or was cursed by the gods) being killed. Two characters, actually. Along with a host of other very powerful, god like people. There were even “godslayers” in the show.

I recently started Katana Maidens, it ended the first half with defeating an evil goddess.

What’s funny is if the show doesn’t kill the god, they end up subduing it to the hero’es side. Like, the heroes will still beat it, it’ll just become their friend then.

Examples include Dragon Ball when it got to Beerus (weird but funny)

Probably Fruits Basket, so far it hasn’t concluded.

Freaking Boruto advertised the killing god ending in the first episode

Full Metal Alchemist, from what I hear.

Not to mention a crap ton of video games made in Japan also have you fight gods or fate, and defeat it.

Speaking of Fate, if we counted the amount of anime that have people declaring they’ll change or resist Fate, we could count a lot of  Rom Com or slice of life or sci-fi anime also.

And it’s starting to trickle into American Media influenced by anime.

 

she-ra-season-5-netflix     NetFlix’es She-Ra ends with a character who claimed to be like God dying.

The freaking Guardians of the Galaxy kill a god in their 2nd movie. Thanos gets killed in Endgame.

But those examples are a bit more shaky, Anime is what has the gods actually have followers, and a lot of power and they are almost always evil, or else stupid or lazy like Konosuba’s (I suppose that beats evil.)

Personally, I prefer anime that just stay off the subject, because once they introduce a god, the show always gets much, much darker.

Oh, yeah, that new BNA Netflix show also has a god battle in the end… I guess I won’t spoil what happens (I think the show really wasn’t that good but some people like it.)

I’m sure a hardcore weeaboo could name a bunch of stuff I’ve missed too. But I think you get the idea.

What the heck is with this trope? No one ever talks about it, but it’s everywhere.

And if we extend it to how many anime have a weird Catholic-garbed religious sect as the evil villains in at least one arc, then pretty much every shonen and isekai would now be on the list.

As a Christian, I find it pretty creepy when elements related to my religion are turned into some weird cult thing on a show. I hear that most people in Japan don’t even know much about the Church, they just think the outfits look cool, and the symbolism. Ever wonder why so many anime villains wear crosses? Yeah… I don’t get it.

Personally, I really think the writers could bother to look it up before using it, a lot of Christians watch this stuff. Why be insensitive?

Not that Christianity being villainized is anything to be surprised at.

As I noticed this trope, I began to wonder why it was so prevalent. My sister told me that in a video about Christianity in Japan, people admitted that it was rare, and that people there are often afraid of religion. They might acknowledge Buddhism a little, but they don’t have deep beliefs in it.

Kind of how many people treat yoga and other Eastern teachings and practices. Like a buffet you can pick and choose from.

I think that it’s interesting that anime comes from a culture of not very serious religion, and it itself often treats God as the problem, an obstacle in the way of harmony, peace, and our own human happiness.

It makes me kind of sad actually. God is so different to me.

Many people, even Christians, think of God as distant, angry, or cruel. Unwilling to help us. Thwarting our plans, etc.

God does do that.

But I don’t think most people stay away from God because they think He’s cruel.

I don’t think, at the heart of anime and possible Japan, if one could know that from its media, is truly the fear of a cruel God.

What the real fear seems to be is of the all consuming nature of God.

We, in general, are okay with dipping our toes into religion. Maybe trying church once in a while, maybe reading a little about it, maybe praying to God, maybe not any specific god.

Even Christians live distant from God. Many religions teach that God or the gods are distant on purpose, only a few enlightened people can get close to them, only a few should. The rest of us should just live ordinary, good lives.

Generally, only the best and brightest of us humans can approach the gods. See Greek Mythology, Egyptian Mythology, any mythology…

Christianity shocks people, and scares them, by bringing God too close. It slaps you in the face with it, and pins you down till you squirm.

We’re told that God searches the hearts of men.

David even prays for God to strike his enemies in the face, a very personal kind of blow compared to just “smite them”.

And the story of the Israelites at Mount Sinai, when they begged Moses to go speak to God for them, and they wouldn’t themselves, they were afraid they would die.

God’s might and power and holiness are what scare us the most about Him.

In my own life, I grew up knowing God was good, but the sheer greatness of Him frightened me. I thought God would control me in a way I would hate, and I could never escape it, so I hid from Him. (Sounds like an anime to me.)

Later I found out God doesn’t force us to do things in that way. Not when it comes to accepting Him.

God can be puzzling to people. Eastern religion tries to reconcile the good and evil in the world by saying there must be an equal amount for balance.

The God of the Bible can seem like a collection of contradictions. He is Just, He is Merciful. He is a still small voice, he is in a whirlwind. The list goes on. But always, He is Good.

It’s overwhelming all right.

I understand fearing God. But I don’t know how anyone could believe God was defeatable.

The arrogance of anime is astounding. Especially since it comes with a lot of very wimpy messages.

They go to great lengths to kill the god characters…and ironically, they kill their own moral standing.

If you think about it, if God is real, or the gods are real, and they are in control of the world…then if you kill them, you’ve kind of doomed us all.

I find many endings to promising animes unsatisfying. They can’t commit to a message. Naruto most infuriatingly ended the show still never answering Pain’s excellent question about how he intended to heal the world.

s3uddaqxa6001

I think the writers must know deep down it’d be ludicrous to say one human could do all that, but they have cut off their only viable option, a Divine Being… so they are forced to just leave the question open ended.

Think about how many anime end with “basically everything went on the same way it always had” That’s not an ending. That’s… stalling.

Characters usually talk like this “I think maybe this…” or “I have hope that somehow…” Like, they never know anything. They never have logic, or an argument, or proof. Just blind hope in… nothing. They hope for hope’s sake.

It just doesn’t work for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy many shows, and I like the more pure characters and romances. Those can be done decently well.

But the moment any major statement about the world is made, it’s weak.

The reason is obvious. Without God, there is just no moral standard anyone can possible be made to conform to. Maybe you can just pick one out of thin air (I doubt it) but you have no right to complain if other people disagree with you. Meaning Unity is virtually impossible.

People complain about organized religion without realizing it is the only reason society can even exist. Religion decides morals, morals decide the justice system, and no society of 5 people, let alone 5 million, can survive without a justice system.

Without God, what gives our lives meaning? There’s a sadly high suicide rate in Asia, Japan is no exception.

A lot of anime try to encourage kids not to kill themselves over failed work or grades or goals, to keep trying.

As if trying ever cured depression.

I appreciate the effort, but it’s hopeless. It’ll never work.

The ones that say love is the reason to hang in there are much closer to the truth.

I’ve mentioned that I deal with depression, sometimes suicidal thoughts. Though, I more of mean, I wonder why I don’t give up. I wonder what keeps me going. When so many people take that way out, what gives me any reason to believe I won’t or can’t?

It’s weird, but my dad often got depressed over work and feeling useless, so anime can be very familiar to me. And it make me sad the same way my dad would make me sad. It causes me to wonder, what will my answer be to the same failures and disappointments? Will it be his, or will I have a better one.

Slowly, God is helping me answer that question.

The more I learn, the less I think the “Try harder” message will work.

And the less the “killing God” message seems like anything but emotional suicide to me.

I know I can’t assume Japanese people really think that way.

But, if they did, I would feel very sorry for them. It’s all about being strong enough yourself to face life, not needing anyone, not needing help. Definitely not needing God.

(The implied message often is, no one will be there to help you anyway.)

But what other foundation could someone find their worth in? God made you, God put you here for a reason.

In the end, trying to protect yourself from God is like trying not to breathe. It’s the very thing you need to live, and you can’t get away from it.

God can be like water. Try to block him out and the pressure will build up until something explodes. But accept Him, and it’s like going into a pool. At first it’s a shock, but then it’s a relief.

Anyway, that’s enough for now, maybe I’ll explore this more in the future. Until then, stay honest–Natasha.

 

Weaknesses (READ: Strengths).

As you probably know, I love kids shows.

I mean, you get the same themes as adult shows, without the stupid, needless drama of sex and profanity and angst (not that those are never good, but overused.)

And I’ve talked about the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic show before and how much I like it.

Today I thought I’d talk about something this show did well that I don’t see often in any form of writing, books or shows.

The show, for anyone who doesn’t know, relies heavily on the symbolism of the 6 elements of Harmony. The elements are embodied in the Mane 6 (pun intentional) characters. Here’s a run down for the novice to the MLP universe (skip if you already know)

MLP Wallpaper- Elements of Harmony by jhayarr23 on DeviantArt

  1. Magic (Twilight Sparkle, the main, main character.)
  2. Honesty (Apple Jack)
  3. Generosity (Rarity)
  4. Kindness (Fluttershy)
  5. Laughter (Pinkie Pie)
  6. Loyalty (Rainbow Dash)

Elements of Harmony | My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Wiki | Fandom

Much later we find out all these elements are reflections or expansions of 6 original elements of older ponies. Which were

  1. Sorcery
  2. Strength
  3. Beauty
  4. Healing
  5. Hope
  6. Bravery

I thought this was really cool, they are all similar, but just different enough to make you think about it (take notes Miraculous Ladybug, this is how you do lore).

Overtime the show does a lot with exploring what each element means.

One of the criticisms of the show by some fans is that each of the Mane 6 characters sometimes demonstrate the opposite of their elements, meaning that it seems like it doesn’t really fit them.

The most common complaint is that Apple Jack, the element of Honesty, lies a lot, in fact, I’d say in most of the episodes about her specifically she lies or struggles with honesty and fair play.

Applejack | My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Wiki | Fandom

Rarity also can be a bit selfish and ungenerous, despite being the element of generosity.

Rarity | My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Wiki | Fandom

But I gave it some more thought and I realized it wasn’t just them.

Fluttershy, the Kindest pony has a lot of episodes where she is not kind. She gets a dark side, gets too absorbed in trying to be less shy, to the point where she bullies other ponies.

Fluttershy_Trotting,_Staring_at_You

Pinkie Pie actually gets depressed more easily than any other of the mane 6, and it’s visually shown.

Pinkie Pie | My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Wiki | Fandom

Rainbow Dash often lets ego get in the way of being loyal to her friends. Or, she goes overboard.

Rainbow Dash My Little Pony Pinkie Pie Applejack, rainbow ...

Twilight, the Magic element, struggles with magic constantly, making mistakes, having to work on control, and meeting other ponies more powerful than her.

Twilight Sparkle | My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Wiki | Fandom

(One might wonder what magic represents in the real life application of the show, and I think the best answer is it represents wisdom and understanding of how to use the other elements. Twilight most often figures out the best application of the other elements, and how to make them work together. Magic is mostly knowledge on the show. It’s studies by scholars, so it makes sense.)

Twilight also often lacks understanding of friendship situations, especially when they involve her, and has to learn the hard way.

What’s interesting is that she begins the show by not valuing friendship at all, and then becomes the princess of friendship halfway through. Making her the alleged expert on it.

If her element is understanding, however, that’s a bit ironic isn’t it?

But it’s this aspect of the show that I think gets overlooked by many fans. Twilight’s journey is the same as her friends.

They all begin with some innate talent in understanding their elements, but the show is about how all of them grow into being better examples of those elements.

You could say that becoming the elements at the beginning of the show was like being chosen for their potential, and the show is how they grow into that potential.

In this way, their constant struggles with fulfilling those roles makes perfect sense, and is much more compelling to watch, otherwise we’d be getting what a lot of shows do, having the specified characters just preaching at others constantly. Which is okay, but usually means they’ll be stolen, corrupted, or killed off to create drama because there’s no learning curb, they are already experts.

In another way, it was a smart writing choice, because I know from my own efforts that if you set yourself up as an expert in any field to begin with, you’ll come off as a fool, since we humans are always learning, and writing about something is a great way to learn about it more.

The writers didn’t put the pressure on themselves to fully understand all 6 elements at the beginning of the show, instead they gave one example in the pilot, then built on it season after season till by the end they do have a very in depth take on each, but they didn’t start out that way. Which is fine.

I write about the steps to overcoming abuse, obht in fiction and in nonfiction, and I’m still learning about it. If I tried to sa I already had it down, I’d be ridiculously arrogant, by saying I am still learning, I give myself the freedom to revise and build on it.

But this is something a lot of young writers gt wrong. The Bible actually warns the Church not to let new believers become teachers because they are too green and might become prideful.

It’s very true.

The principle of maturity has nothing to do with talent. It’s entirely possible a brand new christian may have a strong gift of teaching, I always have had that gift myself, and it got even stronger once I committed to Christ, because I had more inspiration and less fear.

And I probably have more of a natural talent than many of the pastors I’ve known, but that has very little to do with being able to actually teach.

A good teacher needs to be humble, open to learning from their mistakes, and able to not take all criticism seriously, since people will criticize you more for what you do right than what you do wrong, 9 times out of 10.

A young christian has too much enthusiasm and not enough experience, They may believe, they may even have more raw faith than a 10 year old christian who has hit a rough patch in their life, but what they don’t have is experience of temptations and weaknesses to give them empathy and humility.

And a teacher with neither of those qualities is going to do more harm than good.

The Bible is always practical, if you just know human nature.

The same principal applies to any field. Newbs don’t make good instructors. They may be better than the teacher at doing the thing, but that doesn’t mean they know how to teach it.

I once let one of my Sunday school students who knew the lesson already try to teach it for a single minute. Then I encouraged the others to interrupt the same way they do with me, and get distracted. (I didn’t even have to help that much, they did it on their own.) My student gave up before the minute was even over. They realized quickly that getting the class to listen to requires more than a good memory of the lesson.

I had to smile because I had the same experience when I tried teaching for the first time.

So, I think MLP is actually very right to show that an affinity for something is not the same as being an expert. The reason MLP stayed good for 9 seasons is because the progress makes sense. The students become mentors, then eventually teachers, as they learn their own trade better, but they start off making all the mistakes we would all make.

The Bible talks about the principle of turning strength into weakness and weakness into strength. (Joel 3:10, 1 Corinthians 1:25)

One of my favorite books, Hinds Feet on High Places (Hannah Hurnard) explores this principle much more fully, showing how all our weaknesses and flaws become our greatest strengths, because we allow God to help us more in the weakness we can’t deny, then in the ones we think are not so bad, and so those become our strengths.

The good thing is, that all grows with time. My fear was something I knew was a weakness, but later I began to notice problems with being too vindictive and willful. My willfulness is something I see as both a strength and weakness, and I’ve treated it as both over time, and God has brought to light how sometimes I need to strengthen it, and other times I need to bend.

My natural inclination is to be willful, so it’s harder to refine it then to encourage it, yet I need to do both.

I think MLP shows this best with Apple Jack, who can take honesty too far more often than the others misuse their elements, (except maybe Twilight who often gets too caught up in trying to understand magic to actually be a friend,) but Apple Jack’s is easier to recognize.

But Apple Jack also has a hard time telling the hard truth. So sometimes she has to encourage the blunt side of herself. It’s a great way to show the two sides of the same coin.

I think that’s about all for now, in conclusions, MLP is a really good show, and we don’t get many like it anymore.

And weaknesses become strengths. If you want more proof, look up how many great speakers once had speech problems or stage fright, and you’ll start to see how often this is true in real life. Until next time–Natasha.

HappyColor_16479

Anime won’t Fix-it!

Let’s talk about anime again. That’s a cheerful subject.

I’ve watched quite a few since last year, when I really started to get into it. I started with RWBY, which is no exactly anime, but it modeled after it, then I moved to MHA.

I got spoiled on MHA because it’s so much better than most of the other ones I’ve seen. I  think the two best ones next to it were Love is War, and Lovely Complex.

I’d have to give some honorable mentions to the SOL Animes “The Great Passage” “Kabukibu”, “Library War” (more of a futuristic one), which were fun even if they were not as involved. They are also trope exceptions often enough to the foibles of Shonen and Romance anime.

Shonen anime really has a problem, I notice, with how it tends to end. I think too many of them go on for too long, and strangely have a habit of ending without resolving all the threads like the relationships, or even some major plot points. Or they will build something up for 3 seasons, and then make it really anticlimactic when they reveal it. Err.

But aside from more petty complaints, I’ve been noticing a fundamental difference between anime and American Medias approach to difficulties within story.

In America, problems are usually introduced in a story with the intention to deal with them. Remove the sources of the problem, find a way to overcome it, or fix yourself. It’s in the cheesiest tropes like the make-over montage.

I’m so used to that, I never considered someone might write a story where that wasn’t the goal.

But I began to notice anime are not written that way.

If a problem is introduced in an anime that is not simple an tough opponent needing to go down (which is so basic a kid could figure it out in 2 seconds) the problem is generally not resolved.

If it is resolved, it is almost never by removing the cause of it.

Case in point:

In the hot mess that is Naruto, the main problem of the show is getting Sasuke back, and convincing him not to be evil anymore. Though it often feels like no one on his team cares that much whether he’s evil so long as he’s with them (Sakura literally offers to go join a psychopath’s weird cult if it means she can go with Sasuke.)

In the end the problem is “resolved” by Sasuke deciding not to kill every leader of the villages, and Naruto himself, you know, like any generous person would. Sasuke then accepts Naruto’s friendship, allegedly, but leaves the village anyway. Naruto does not stop him, despite this being the very thing he was trying to avoid all this time. Sasuke’s many flaws are never called out, nor is his selfishness. Sasuke himself seems to conclude there is just nothing for him in Leaf Village, and he’s probably right.

At no point was Sasuke confronted on why his choices were evil, why he was a fool for making them, and how he needed to choose to accept love because it was the only way for him to truly find peace. Instead, that last one is implied, the other two are never, ever even suggested by the other characters, or any character.

It was the same with other villains on the show too. The show acted like nothing was wrong with what they did, except they didn’t have the right goal…not that they were evil or anything…yeah…

Sai, my boy, was about the only one who ever bothered to try to point out the many irrational ideas of the characters, and Temari, best girl, was the only one who confronted people on their crap. They both get ignored most of the time.

But Naruto was not the only show that did this:

I just got done with an anime called “Say I love You.” It had enjoyable characters, plenty of cute moments, and nice animation.

It started out pretty good. Shy, isolated girl meets popular but kind boy, they connect. She has to learn to trust, etc.

But, this anime (realistically) portrayed a lot of immaturity in the relationships. I was okay with that, that’s highschool right? But I thought, they’ll grow, right? They’ll realize why they should not act this way.

Wrong.

While some stuff was called out, it was the minor stuff. The real problem was that the male character was a pushover, a terrible judge of character, and a Classic White Knight to the point where he would do the stupidest stuff because he wanted to rescue the person, even when it hurt him and his girlfriend to do it. He was also kind of possessive.

The girl, on the other hand, would never tell him he was being a jackass. Or call him out on his crap excuses, and demand more respect. She didn’t learn much from episode 1-13.

It was real stuff, and stuff people need to work through if they want to be in a committed relationship. Otherwise you bet it would lead to affairs and miscommunication.

On any number of other anime I’ve seen, if a character has an issue, they resolve to try harder, to become stronger to overcome it. It’s never that they just need to get rid of the problem. That if they removed that poisonous, cursed power they got, they might not *gasp* be corrupted by it. (Duh!)

Or if they just told this toxic person to stay the flip away from them, they might not have to deal with their crap anymore.

It’s like anime can’t say someone is just bad, that an idea or power is just evil, they have to give a reason for it so that the person can be redeemed.

I love redeemed villains, but anime has made me develop a distaste for it, because very often they do not actually redeem the villains by calling them out on their evil, and having them repent. They just sort of decide to accept friendship, and that’s it. No one ever has PTSD from all the terrible things they did. Heck, you can even ship one of the characters they beat the crap out of with them (I’ve seen this more than once.)

Forgiveness is beautiful, but it should not be cheap. I’d like to see some characters struggle with it (points MHA for Todoroki being more realistic about that. Please don’t ruin it.)

Why does anime do this? Why not just resolve things?

I have to wonder, if it’s a Cultural thing.

Not to profile. But I could see a reason for it. I live in America, my country got foudned by the attitude if something is wrong, you get rid of it, or you change it. Throw the tea in the harbor, kick the British out, make slavery illegal. That’s also a European attitude.

Unsurprisingly, Christiantiy has been the dominant religion of Europe and American, and Christianity clearly teaches if there’s an evil, get rid of it. Or make it better. But don’t accept it and try to conform to a corrupt society.

In Asia, on the other hand, you have Buddhism and Hinduism. The point of those religions is to get above your circumstances mentally, by choosing to think of higher things…but not to actually do anything about it, because things proceed as they should. I do not think that means that Asians do not change things, I think they do, but the attitude is in their art, and ideology, whether they realize it or not.

Actually, anime would suggest they struggle with it, as it is usually hard for the main characters to accept that things will  not change, and they must just keep doing their best no matter what.

It’s common for Chinese and Japanese students to commit suicide if they fail academically, if you cannot rise above your circumstances by meeting government exceptions, why even bother? (Sorry, not to be insensitive, I just think grades are a stupid thing to base your value on.)

Anime present highly corrupt worlds for our consideration, but often it does not change them, it just tells us to keep striving for excellence…even if excellence in such a system could not really be said to be a success.

To go back to Naruto, he tries to get the village’s recognition and become Hokage, because that’s how you show you are worth something in that world. But the village is increasingly shown to be ignorant, cruel, and stubborn to a fault. They don’t value people based on character, but on flashy abilities, and then they try to kill those same people when they become too dangerous. Why on earth would you want the approval of such hacks? Also, what is being Hokage worth when all the previous Hokages created this mess?

Why do you need to be recognized by others in order to be content?

All very good questions you won’t see the show even attempt to answer. Let alone Naruto.

It would take me a whole study paper’s worth to talk about every example I’ve seen, if you watch anime, you probably get it.

It’s no wonder the industry has so many fan fiction writers, people want proper endings.

I still enjoy the shows, but expecting them to be profound is starting to feel like a vain hope.

My point obviously is we need answers. I know some would argue that, that anime is more realistic, to them I would say, your attitude contradicts every major historical movement of the world ever. If you think we don’t need real solutions, you think we don’t need freedom, also. Freedom is a solution.

If you think you cannot change your life, I feel sorry for you, please believe me, you can. I have.

Until next time–Natasha.

Antisophy–My tale of woe.

Phew! Here we go.

I am taking a Philosophy Critical Thinking Class for the Winter. Which means I have it for three hours a day for three days, 9 hrs a week. For 6 weeks.

That’s around 36 hours.

groundhog_day

It’s been one week, and I’m already so freaking done with this curriculum.

The class itself is fun, I’m in Honors, so the smart people are in this class, the ones who can follow what I’m saying half the time in discussion.

But the textbook–ergh! I’m in chapter one and its already so, so dumb.

Plus, the reading materials we’re given. Is it too much to ask that they not all be leftist, liberal, progressive, and invariably biased.

I know, I know, Public College has to push the liberal agenda, but why not just pick subjects where there’s not as much of a clear bias to have us read about, this is social conditioning, not critical thinking.

(I wonder how many people would go to that class, if they offered it, because they don’t know what Social Conditioning is and think it’s a real subject.–I mean it is, if you’re part of a regime…or the school system.)

On top of that, Philosophy is taught a certain way now that is just ludicrous.

You’ve no doubt hear it before. The Relativistic approach.

I’m supposed to be practicing defining terms for my papers, so I’ll go ahead a define a few here:

Relativism: any theory holding that criteria of judgment are relative, varying with individuals and their environments. (Webster’s.)

Philosophy: the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.
the critical study of the basic principles and concepts of a particular branch of knowledge, especially with a view to improving or reconstituting them:the philosophy of science.
a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs.

The Greek words that the word Philosophy comes from are Philo and Soph, that is, Love and Wisdom. Philosophy initially meant the “love of wisdom.”

img_1549-4

When you read the older philosophers, like Socrates and Plato, you’ll notice they really enjoyed what they were talking about, they enjoyed seeking the wisest, most right course of action.

In modern times, people are trying to redefine Philosophy to mean its inverse, Not seeking Wisdom, not seeking truth, but treating all ideas as equally valid. Antisophy, if you will.

It should be obvious that Relativism and Philosophy are actually polar opposites. Who can love anything relatively? Certainly not wisdom. Love is passion, not a mediocre feeling of approval.

Yet, in my philosophy class about critical thinking, I am told that certainty in our knowledge is a “potentially dangerous mental bias”, and that the goal of critical thinking is to be relativistic. To commit to the pursuit of knowledge, for its own sake, and not to any one way of looking at truth.

Why the heck I should care about truth, if knowledge is impossible to be certain about, is not explained.

4a1e449df46a99931d3d0da195b825d4062101c6

Think about it: If we cannot be certain of knowledge, i. e. Truth, then Truth is not real. Therefore, what is the aim, the end goal, of critical thinking?

To discover that one non-truth is preferable to another non-truth?

As long as I don’t believe in Theism and Right and Wrong, by any chance, the Philosophy Course doesn’t really care to answer that question.

I am not kidding when I say the chart we were given to evaluate our level of critical thinking was intentionally trying to shame religious people be putting the belief in a religion and good and evil as the lowest form of thinking a college student can begin from.

(If you don’t believe me, look up Perry’s Scheme, and see for yourself. Here’s a chart of the basic ideas.)Image result for perry's scheme'
The book we’re reading is going a bit further, even, down this Rabbit Hole. Here’s a direct quote from chapter one, the chapter that sets the tone for the whole book:

“But once we acknowledge that our commitments are based on probability and not certainty, we will be much more open to the reasoning of those who are trying to persuade us to change our minds. After all we may well be wrong about some of our beliefs. We have to listen respectfully to those with whom we may disagree. They just may be right.” (emphasis mine)

In literally the next paragraph this enlightened author then says:

“There will seldom be a position on a social controversy about you will be able to say ‘this is clearly the right position on the issue.’ If such certainty were possible, reasonable people would not be debating the issue.” (Emphasis still mine.)

(If you want to see for yourself, the book is “Asking the Right Questions: A guide to critical thinking” by M. Neil Browne and Stuart M. Keeley.)

Yes, students, your opponent maybe be right, but there is no clearly right position for them to be right about…cause that makes sense, in this critical thinking book.

I pointed out to my professor the hypocrisy of someone stating that certainty is a dangerous state of mind with such certainty… She wasn’t amused.😐😐😑

She also said that there is no such thing as “Moral Objectivity”, to which I asked “Are you certain about that?” She looked at me for a split second like “so…we’re doing this” and then said “No, all things change.”

Well, okay, glad we’re clear on that.👍

To do her justice, I do not think my professor is trying to indoctrinate us on purpose. She seems like a nice lady who didn’t even get too irritated at me for calling her out. But she’s still teaching irresponsibly if she does not acknowledge what are clear and oblivious hypocrisies in the philosophy of the people we’re reading.

And this book is full of it just in the first chapter, which she also does not acknowledge.

What’s disturbing about this book is that on the next page, it states that critical thinking can be humane and progressive, if it is not used as a weapon.

Critical thinking is a weapons, no matter how you use it, you are trying to clear certain fallacies and ideas out of your way to make room for the good stuff.

Also, no form of reasoning is inherently humane, Reason is Reason. It’s measuring, assessing, analyzing, it’s neither kind nor cruel.

One might reason that it is better to stick to the old thing than to a new thing. Reason is not inherently progressive. Whatever these guys even mean by that, they don’t specify.

All this tells me is that this is intentional.

It’s silly to pretend it could not be intentional.

Browne and Keeley are deliberately trying to shame students who they suspect hold different values from them into feeling stupid, and accepting their beliefs.

The student is told in a polite, concerned tone that we should listen to other beliefs, but this is not demonstrated, because they authors do not bother to consider the notion that there may actually be a higher truth, they just throw that out immediately. Therefore making an assumption that they do not test their own form of critical thinking on.

It’s condescending as heck, and it’s brainwashing. I normally hesitate to accuse people of doing this deliberately, but there’s just no way so many blatant instances could occur withing two pages, if it was not intentional.

That being said, the inconsistency within their own thinking is rather impressive, as within my professor’s, and the other articles we’ve been reading.

I know what it is, they are muddled, because that is easier.

If you treat truth as real, and clear, and teach people how to pursue it, you run into the uncomfortable fact that truth has to be true for a reason.  There has to be something behind it, or it would not be true. Like a prize on a show where you have to choose between different doors.

That Something behind Truth might just be something more powerful than us, something we might have to take into consideration when we make decisions.

What’s funny is that not everyone who rejects the idea of a Divine standard is living an immoral life, it’s simply that they don’t want to be controlled, even if being controlled would only mean they had to do the right thing, which they claim to care about.

Some people say they don’t need God to lead a moral life, they can just decided to themselves without some Great Power telling them what to do.

These people do not understand what God is, if they believe that they could even have an idea of what is right, without Him. What standard would they go by? What else could make sense bu that God put certain rules in place in the universe.

star_formation_m_cloud

Personally, I do not find believing in God to be limiting. Believing in a God who has no limits means that I have far fewer limits than I would otherwise have. The person who does not believe in God thinks flying is impossible without technology, the person who believes in God only thinks flying is improbable, it is not impossible. (Some mystics were said to have floated.)

Believing in God allows me to see good in almost everything, even if I mostly disagree with it, and allows me to judge anything as having flaws, if it does. I do not have to pretend.

While I can allow for some good in this stupid Philosophy Course, it cannot got the other way, The Philosophy Course can not allow for any validity in my perspective.

Those who believe God is truth can love truth, and love pursuing it, even if the path to it is through cold logic and not directly acknowledging God.

But those who believe truth is not certain cannot allow for anyone or anything that would make it certain, therefore they exclude any valid reasoning on a Christian’s part.

If it is not so, then why do they not include religious based arguments int hes classes, what are they do afraid of? If all views are equal, why is a religious view also not equal?

These are questions you won’t see addressed in college.
Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

The Restoration Principle.

Hi, Followers, it’s the end of the year. What better time to talk about fixing problems?

Specifically how fiction chooses to do it, and how it just might be a key to real life.

I wrote a post a few months back about The Resurrection Arc, in fiction, and how it works and how it can be used well.  (link here: https://wordpress.com/post/drybonestruth.wordpress.com/16361)

One thing I said in that post was that: “Resurrection means restoration.”

I’ve been thinking since finishing that too-oft-named Anime, Naruto, that Restoration is actually a big part of anime, and other shows too.

Also, it’s not just fiction, G. K. Chesterton said that:

In history there is no Revolution that is not a Restoration... all the men in history who have really done anything with the future have had their eyes fixed upon the past.”

                                         groundhog_day

Restoration, it’s used a lot in Church, many people might just associate the word with what you do to an old building, or an original version of a movie. (My mom wishes they’d restore the original Star Wars movies to the pre-CGI versions.)

Here’s a dictionary.com definition of Restoration:

noun

Renewal, revival, reestablishing.

If you go by what Christianity, and a myriad of other religions, teaches, then anything Mankind does right would have to be a return to its original state.

Deep down, human beings feel this longing to return to former glory, sometimes we call it Nostalgia. A wish to return to innocence. Innocence is glory.

We also feel a desire for new things, but new things tend to be just old things in a different form.

All Revolution calls for a new thing, but an honest look at the past would reveal that the new thing is something people did long ago.

The American Government was supposedly new, but it was based on both Roman and Hebrew systems, one found in the Bible quite clearly. The Biblical Law was one of the earliest known to not have a king or ruler in charge of the people. Until they demanded it later. (A tale as old as the hills, historically speaking.)

Chesterton also had the thought that Human Beings, have grown older than God our Father, we grow tired of doing the same things, and that is why we have to package Goodness into so many new forms. We don’t like to play the same game, hear the same song, over and over again without a new change of pace.

But it is possible God does not get tired of Good Things. And those things are, in the end, what we keep coming back to.

20160625_123317_001

In the Bible, when someone strays from the path then turns from their wicked ways, it is always called a Return.

Notably, in fiction there’s a common thread that the way to fix things is to go back to a state of being. In Modern Fiction, the Ideal tends to be a normal human society, not a robot, or communist, or barbaric society. While in older fiction, the ideal was more likely to be a heavenly society of some sort, something higher and purer than just ordinary people’s interactions.

We’ve all seen the story-lines where the MC has to return some special item to some spot, and that will restore the land, the proper power, the true heir to the throne, etc. Sometimes the item has to be destroyed to restore because it is cursed.

Whether the answer is destroying or returning, the end result is always a restoration.

008Dragon fury2

Can you think of happy ending that did not include a Restoration? Go ahead, try, I’ll wait…

Anime is rife with this theme of Restoration. Usually it is through defeating the Big Bad at the end of the arc, and the land will magically heal. I watched the Naruto Movie: The Stone of Gelel today (It had the best boys in it, so I thought why not?), and it had the same thing, the trope where the land is healed all at once.

The Lion King has it too, though its over several months in that one.

I know I have readers from outside America, I may not know them, but you’ve definitely already got stories in mind that end this way. Every culture does.

In fact, it’s been noted that there is really only one basic plot in writing, even in nonfiction writing.

A problem is introduced, and a way to fix it, to restore us back to some ideal.

C. S. Lewis’s Pilgrim’s Regress is actually based entirely on the idea that any going forward, morally, is a going back. In it John, the Pilgrim, travels his land in search of an Island that ends up being the back of a mountain by his home. He comes full circle.

That is what the Eastern idea of Cyclical time is really about, that everything returns to its initial state, (we just disagree about what that state is.)

The important thing to understanding what the Restoration was is to keep in mind it can be either a symbolic physical act in the story, or it can be an emotional restoration, even a spiritual one.

Some stories will have a healing, where someone will have a physical problem fixed. Breaking Curses, undoing creepy science experiments, remedying a plague, all that falls under this category.

Other times the restoration will com in the form of finding a family member, finding a homeland, finding a title or position.

It’s more widespread for it to be an emotional restoration. From romances to kids shows, that restoration has to happen. Someone finds true love, remembers what’s important, learns what it is like to be human, learns the power of a certain virtue. And it restores them to who they are meant to be. Often who they once were, at the beginning of the tale, before the bad events took it from them.

Isn’t that what we all want in our lives, some of us want to be able to want it again.

All of us have an idea of a good life that we once had, or could have had, and we feel we missed it.

We’ve been told that the good life is in the present, yet we want to go back still. Be young again, be married again, have kids again, have that job again, like that thing again.

Like constellations imploding in the night; everything is turning, everything is turning, And the shapes that you drew may change beneath a different light, and everything you thought you knew will fall apart, but you’ll be all right“–The OH HELLOS, Constellations.

galaxy-sky-stars-Favim.com-192527

Today is the last day of 2019, how often have we thought that this year? Or in previous year’s. Maybe we had a good year, but even in happiness there is often a nostalgic feeling, at least for me. Like “Ah yes, this is how I used to feel.”

But when I was a kid, I wasn’t often happy. The nostalgia is an illusion. I am really wanting to go back even further. To a different time, one before I was even born.

20160211_083516

But those ages had trouble too. I’ve read enough to know they felt the same.

We have to go back further still, before the Fall.

Stories communicate that in their own way, by settling on one disaster that really changed it all for the worse, and must be undone. On Naruto, it was the battle of two friends, and two brothers, that begun the whole freaking mess. Supposedly it is undone by Naruto and Sasuke coming to peace. Rather like Cain and Abel.

In real life, people rarely narrow it down to one thing that’s wrong with the world–or their lives. You could list a half a dozen right now, if I asked.

As Rich Mullins sang “Everybody’s always saying they need just one thing, but what they really mean is they need just one thing more.”

In stories, a value like love, friendship, courage, or honor, tends to be the One Thing we MUST NOT LOSE EVER, AT ALL COSTS.

I’d like more things to be good in the world, and my life, sure. But I’m with Mullins. God is my One Thing.

To wrap this up, I guess my final point is that at the end of the year, the end of the story, the real question is: What is that One thing you need restored to you? Or maybe you need to be restored to it.

images (2)

To find a new thing is to find an old thing.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this send-off post, it’s been an interesting year for me, and I wish you the best in 2020. Happy New Year everyone⌚⌛☺–until then, Natasha.