What we choose to believe in?

There are all sorts of things you can choose to believe in or choose to not believe in.  Everything from unicorns and dragons to God and gravity can be believed in or have their existence denied, sometimes with major consequences.  But I was thinking specifically how as flawed and fallen creatures us humans would rather believe in the bogey man, the monster from under our beds, the ghosts and ghouls of Halloween and all sorts of dark and malevolent things than in a good and loving heavenly father.

I was brought to think about this because of a Doctor Who episode, ‘Listen’, was it’s title and it focused on how the monster under our bed and childish nightmare could be a real thing, or could not be.  It left it very open for you to decide whether it was real or just a bunch of coincidences and the monster was never really there.  I concluded that the creature was real, at least in the Whoniverse, and that made me think for a minute.  How in our real and actual non-television show world how many times God’s divine providence is written off as good luck and coincidence.  Even when we pray for something and we receive it how often do we thank our Creator for the gift, usually we just write it off, well it would have happened eventually anyways is what we seem to say.  And in the world of non-believers how often do they deny His existence by saying, well it’s all an accident.  We’re just here by chance, that time I survived a deadly car crash as a child was just good luck.  We daily slap our Creator and Saviour in the face with each time we write off his daily miracles as coincidence, yet you’ll find more people likely to believe that vampires and zombies could be real things than that a loving father made them in His own likeness.

Why is this?

One potential reason is that we don’t have a free and generous gift waiting for us in the hands of the bogey man.  We are offered terror and our primal fears with the Frankenstein monsters coming out from the closet, there is no gift of love and grace that calls us to turn away from our weak and fallen human nature and become something stronger than we could if we continued with the basic package.  It’s like the most amazing upgrade package, members only perks, eternal season pass, and best promotion ever, and people don’t want to believe it’s real and it’s really there because if they do it means they have to accept a gift that calls us to change.  A gift so extravagant that our hearts can’t help but change because we’ve received such lavish grace that our gratitude pours out in a changed life proclaiming Christ’s glory for the world.  A response to this magnificent free gift that calls us to turn away from our sins and live in Him.  A super awesome power that comes on us that allows us to face something far more frightening than the monster from under our beds or the nightmares of childhood, it allows us to face our old self in the light of the truth and to move on from our crippling falleness to live in His grace daily, and live for something eternal, not simply be driven by our primal fears and animal instincts.

Cinder Inspiration: A simple country girl not a warrior-princess

There always seems to be someone who takes something the wrong way, and some people did that with the new live action Cinderella, for once this is not a rant against whining people.  But I do imagine people trying to say ‘have courage and be kind’ isn’t strong enough when people are mean to you are something of the disposition of the step-sisters.  They fail to see that true strength isn’t complaining that people are mean to you and demanding they change, it’s pitying them for how sad their lives must be to live in such a way.  It’s not promoting abuse, or saying that what the step-mother did was right, it’s saying sometimes in life you’ll have to deal with shitty people and the best thing for you to do is be you and not let them bring you down no matter what they do.  Cinderella had a choice, she could have left (see conversation she has with ex-servant where the serving girl asks ‘why do you stay when they treat you so?’ she had reasons to stay and so she did, she wanted to keep her word and be where she had memories of her mother and father.  She could have ‘got out’)  That said I’m going to move on to the main purpose of this post, which for once isn’t about pointing out the idiocy and overreaction of some people in the world.

I’m typing this up to say that Cinderella is a rare movie for our time.  Normally when someone says a movie was ‘inspiring’ we tend to think of movies with athletes overcoming the odds, or of warriors recovering from pain and loss to be brave.  Uplifting and inspiring tend to come with ideas of glorious feats and defeating all odds, not with quiet humility and kindness.  Inspiring films tend to focus on fighting back, standing up for ourselves, and taking what we deserve.  Not often are they about being sweet even when we want to lash out.  This is why I love Cinderella so much.  He fleshed out her character and made her real, you can see she’s biting her tongue when she’s dismissed to the attic or called Cinderella and sent from the breakfast table, you know she has the spirit, she could even pursue legal action probably to claim the house as hers, as it was probably set to pass to her, and kick her step-family out, she could have taken back her own instead she patiently perseveres in kindness, but is still human enough to need to get out and go on a gallop to escape her wretched life.  She needs to go get centered so she can continue to be sweet and caring.  Even when locked up and separated from any chance of seeing her beloved again she has the resiliency to still sing and dance, even when she’s suffering.  She can find happiness in the most unfortunate changes in circumstances, she has the fortitude to find things to appreciate in her changes in fortunes, like when she’s sent up to the attic, she is happy she is a little further from the rest of the house and free to be herself.

And what struck me most was how indomitable they made her.  She could have gotten everything she wanted on her own.  She easily could have said yes to her stepmother’s offer and been presented as the lost princess at court and been married while her stepmother managed the prince, thus getting free of her humble situation.  She could have even said yes and then turned around and told Kit every wicked thing her stepmother had done and had her exiled after getting what she wanted, that would have been the ‘modern woman’s’ approach to it.  Get what you want even if it means a little blurring of the lines of honesty.  Instead she stands firm to her word, just like she had been to the promises she made her mother and father.

Cinderella is everything that’s good and to be encouraged in people, both small and grown, boy and girl.  It’s a sense of honor and honesty, a kindness and a courageousness, strength and sensitivity.  She teaches us to have an open heart even when others are trying to crush it.  To not become bitter and callous when life is unpleasant or when people are cruel.  She’s beauty inside and out and grace, but the best thing about the live-action version is she’s all that and still very human too.  She has her sassy side and her temper that she tries to hide and is capable of all the things her stepmother came to be, but chose to take the more difficult path and let her pain make her kinder instead of crueler.

Women are NOT minorities.

Let me just repeat that women are NOT minorities.

So often you hear women just being lumped in with minority groups or just presumed as one, which is ridiculous.  There are more women on this planet than men and we obviously come in every size, shape, color, social class, and from all regions of the earth, we’re kind of necessary for life like that.  So when someone refers to women and minorities as if they’re the same thing it kind of bothers me.  Like we’re some oppressed, deprived, under privileged waifs in need of legislation to make the world all rosy and peaches for us.  Excuse you we are the most dominant people group on the planet.  And with every first world country now having equal rights we really hold a lot of power, we just tend to use it wrong.

We don’t use our massive majority to effect change as much as we do to just bitch about stuff and how about our lot in life is so unfair, replacing the idea of the knight in shining armor (because that’s SO sexist and unfair) with the great and glorious government, who will solve all our woes and trials if they just pass this or that law or legislation.  Rather than getting off our can and forging the way despite adversity we sit and whine about what we don’t like.  Hate to break it to my fellow females but maybe the reason you’re not getting that promotion isn’t because you’re a woman it might be because you’re a sniveling brat with entitlement issues who doesn’t want to work and wants things handed to her.  Just saying that could be the case.

I’m not saying sexism doesn’t exist, but it exists on both sides.  Women sit around and gossip about how terrible men are or have been to them, we drag a whole group of people down because of a few bad apples that we’ve picked.  But the men aren’t up in arms about how we limit them to a few shallow stereotypes.

We complain about the objectification of our sex and how womanhood is being degraded.  But think how much would be done for the reduction of objectification if women stopped buying Vogue and Cosmopolitan until they started writing about more than just diets, fashion and sex.  As not only the predominant people group on the planet but also the chief spenders, especially in areas of clothing and cosmetics, we wield a lot of power.  If women helped each other rather than sitting in judgement on one another then how much more change could we effect.

We complain that we’re only noticed for our bodies but still bind ourselves in chains as willing slaves to fashion, when we, to quote Shakespeare “we are the makers of fashion”.  If we didn’t buy skin-tight clothes or super short skirts then the companies would stop selling them and the designers would go looking for a trend that would sell.  And before anyone gets on their high horse about how it shouldn’t matter what a woman is wearing or not wearing she should always be respected.  That is true, to a point.  Respect yes.  But don’t expect a guy to take you too seriously when your tatas are hanging out to here! It’s life, you’re trying to deny the existence of hormones.  Guys are gonna look and they might not listen to what you have to say, no matter how clever, when your cleavage is staggering.  And I’m not saying guys can’t think while in the presence of an attractive woman, not true.  What I am saying is that wearing revealing clothes detracts from the amount of serious consideration a woman will receive.  It’s life, it’s the birds and the bees, it’s how things work.  Women aren’t guiltless in the reverse either.  I mean how closely are you going to be listening to what Mr. Chiseled-Chest is saying as he walks around shirtless?  You’ll listen but you’ll also be distracted by what you see.  I mean I’ve experienced this, one of my good guy pals wasn’t even shirtless, it was just the top two or three buttons on his shirt that were undone and I literally spaced out for a half minute on what he was saying because I was admiring the proper and perfectly adequate amount of chest hair that God had endowed him with while standing across from him.  Was I “objectifying” him, not really, distraction because of attraction happens.  I mean seriously, if our brains didn’t get fuzzy because of hormones I doubt as many people would be getting busy.  I mean seriously? take out attraction and the brainfuzz it causes and sex is just a little less appealing.

So in conclusion, we women should stop trying to pin the blame on men, stop whining about everything, actually embrace the fact that we hold a great deal of power and with great power comes great responsibility and most importantly, we should stop judging each other and instead try to help each other out.  Don’t silently stand in judgement of the girl who poses for dirty magazines that you went to high school with, reach out and try to help her out.  Just stop judging each other on shallow things and stop gossiping and try to help one another.  I mean we’re the largest people group on the planet, if we just did that, if women just stopped bickering and backstabbing and judging and gossiping just imagine how much the world would change.  Let’s stop asking the government to solve every problem and whining about CEOs and focus on a little tranquility between each other first.

Insight on Extroversion: When Tigger loses his bounce

Okay, the general consensus on extroverts is that we’re all bouncy bouncy fun fun fun 100% of the time.  This is false.  We can have black moods, very black ones.  And usually brought on for the same reason that Tigger the super extroverted Tiger of Pooh fame lost his bounce for a while.  Because we feel people don’t like us as we are, and as extroverts, not to say introverts don’t like being liked, but our happiness hinges on having others being happy around us.  We love hogging the show and stealing the spotlight but most of us really just want everyone around us to be having a grand time and to love us as much as we love them and love ourselves.  But when we feel they don’t love us as much as we love them, loving ourselves becomes harder which means being ourselves becomes harder.  Because we’re not sure if people actually like having a walking talking bouncehouse bounding alongside them, and that maybe we’re supposed to tone it down so more people will like us.  Everyone wants to be loved, but extroverts especially, we have to know that we’re wanted, that we’d be missed, or otherwise it’s all doom and gloom and we change from Tigger into Eyeore trying to put on a brave face for the world, and pretending to be bouncy fun fun fun when we really feel glum.  Or sometimes much deeper than just glum.  We wonder if the world would miss us?  If anyone actually cares?  Yes.  Extroverts can get depressed, can have suicidal thoughts, and don’t for a minute think that because they’re good at pouring out love means that we don’t need to be poured into too!

Will and Jane: the epic and the domestic of English literature – focusing on Emma

Jane Austen’s titular character in her novel Emma is an enigma in the sense that hardly anyone fully likes her, she doesn’t have hoards of devotees like Lizzie Bennet (I am one of these girls, Elizabeth is my homegirl!)  nor is she disliked as Fanny tends to be.  She is the character most people will admit to a love-hate relationship with.  She’s arrogant and dissuades poor Harriet from her sweet farmer romance, but on the other hand her dearest friend is her governess, not exactly her social equal.  Her rural setting gives her a limited range of acquaintances and so she makes the best of what she has.  She’s thoughtless but not cruel.  She’s possibly the most human of all of Jane’s characters.  She has all the fault’s of Darcy but with the well-meaning and social nature of Catherine Morland.  She goes about to do well and makes a mess of everything, but she’s selfish in many ways.  We’re happy that she gets her man in the end, but annoyed that she doesn’t realize what a gem Knightley is until she’s in danger of losing him to her socially inferior friend.

The entire novel of ‘Emma’ is for Jane Austen what Hamlet is for Shakespeare.  It’s her crowning work, not necessarily everyone’s favorite but everyone admires it’s quality.  In a sense Jane explores many of the same themes Shakespeare does just on a much less imposing and dramatic scale.  Hers is not the battles for countries and the intrigues of court but the battle of the sexes and the intrigues of courtship.  The mistaken deaths leading to tragedy is not her place, but the mistaken impressions leading to comedy is.  Benedict and Beatrice are very much the kinds of characters you could meet in Austen’s world.  The arrogant bachelor who falls in love in spite of himself and the sassy spitfire who finds out how mistaken she’s been about herself and others.  Jane is the domestic to Shakespeare’s epic, which is why, her works like his, never go out of style.  They’re timeless because whether it’s Lizzie and Darcy or Emma and Knightley, Beatrice and Benedict or Portia and Bassanio, they never stop entertaining us with their display of human nature in all it’s irony and hilarity, and we’ve all made mistakes when judging the character of others or been outwitted and had to laugh at ourselves.  Because that’s what true and good comedy does, it makes us laugh at ourselves.

And Emma is probably the best of Jane’s novels for that, we laugh at the little dramas of Highbury and Emma’s pride and it’s fall, because we’ve done the same.