Friday, September 30, 2011

SPN: Hello Cruel World

Sammy's losing his shit...

Also, once again, I adore Mark Pellegrino.

Miiiiiiiiissssssssshhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaa...*pinches his cheeks*

I'm still afraid for Cas. FYI.

How're the Leviathan's going to keep Cas-Jimmy-vessel from exploding?

See, Michael and Lucifer were totally making happy fun times with Sam all the time.

Cas has the zombie shuffle going on. Oooohhh...water. Leviathan, water. Makes sense. Did they just leave Cas? Does that mean he's safe or dead? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

*glares at trenchcoat* NO.

Dean is weeping!

Um, no. That better not be it for Cas. I will find you!

Oh, look. Kids are Creepy trope.

I was totally going to write threesome fic while I watched, but that's not happening.

Why is Sam's hand still so hurt? Hasn't it been a couple of weeks since he cut it on the evil blood glass?

Oh, hey. Sam is talking about what's going on. That's new.

Bobby - I am not paid enough for this shit.

You know, the boys should just have tracking chips implanted and save themselves the trouble.

Heh. I am considering writing a 'paper' comparing Hendricks from the DF and Bobby from SPN. Only sane men in the room.

Teenage boys eating other teenage boys in the locker room. I'm not even going to have to touch that one.

'Annie knew where babies come from. Disgusting by the way.'

Oh. So they take over a doctor to feed them. Got it.

Huh. Shapeshifting creepy girl into a doctor. Interesting.

Not the good kind of orgy in the locker room.

Dear woman: stay in the freaking bed. Never follow the weird people down the hall. Never.

What does this woman think she's doing? Does she think she's some sort of hospital ninja?



Ack! Run away hospital ninja lady! Why on earth would you stop to take your purse?

Who is this lady? Really? SHERIFF MILLS! I didn't recognize her! That explains it!

I'm guessing that 'the Boss' is the head Leviathan that is still inside Cas.

Yes, let's leave the hallucinating guy alone with all sorts of weapons. This will end well.

This is a Dean hallucination.

Uhm...I'm shipping Bobby/Sheriff Mills. FYI.


Sam's hallucinations are pretty crazy alive and detailed. So Dean's a hallucination, how did they drive where they drove? Was Sam driving hallucinating being in the passenger seat?

'I am the only one who can legitimately kick your ass in real time.'

So Sam's going to base reality on Dean. Who doesn't always have such a firm grasp of it himself.

Did anyone else think that the 'blood' that welled up when Sam was squeezing so hard looked awful black?

*blink**STARE* WHAT?

PA3 commercial! Eh. I've seen that one. I was hoping it was the longer one. Whatever. I wants it.

Nope. Didn't think the car would work.

I am going to find those writers, and shake them until they give me the entire season.

Is Cas fucking dead or not?!?!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

TV Update + bb!Loki

Dropped Ringer because it bores me. Which is sad.

Dropped Secret Circle because I can only take so much teen angst and I want to keep watching Vampire Diaries.

I just don't care about Person of Interest even though it was well done, so I'm dropping that.

I'm loving Playboy Club and Pan Am. Okay, that may have a *lot* to do with the women and the clothes. I'm shallow.

In absolutely more important news: I'm getting excited for the steampunk!Three Musketeers movie.

And in yet MORE important news:

Why did no one ever tell me that Marvel had made Loki into a kid?

wee!Loki is the bestest thing ever. And...yeah. I'm obsessed. Damn you Hiddleston for being so awesome that I had to go looking at the comics and now I'm doomed. DOOMED!

Looking for Book Recommendations for someone else

The daughter of a friend of mine is looking to start reading again. She's an adult and she doesn't like mysteries.

I'm thinking of recommending anything by Jodi Picoult or Nicholas Sparks. My friend told me she thinks her daughter would like romantic dramas or just dramatic fiction. I know, I know. All fiction is dramatic. Moving on.

Apart from those two authors I was thinking:

The Red Tent
The 19th Wife
The Help

Any other ideas?

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Practical Conclusion

"The perfect surrender and humiliation were undergone by Christ: perfect because He was God, surrender and humiliation because He was man. Now the Christian belief is that if we somehow share the humility and suffering of Christ we shall also share in His conquest of death and find a new life after we have died and in it become perfect, and perfectly happy, creatures. This means something much more than our trying to follow His teaching. People often ask when the next step in evolution—the step to something beyond man—will happen. But in the Christian view, it has happened already. In Christ a new kind of man appeared: and the new kind of life which began in Him is to be put into us."

I've been trying to write this post for a couple of weeks now. Sort of circling it and then walking away to do something else because I'm not really sure what to say. The above paragraph is the opening paragraph of this chapter and it proves that Lewis is using humiliation and humility as related words. It doesn't sit well with me, but that's probably just a personal thing.

Lewis seems to think that sex and conception, birth are 'odd': "We derived it from others...and by a very curious process, involving pleasure, pain, and danger. A process you would never have guessed. Most of us spend a good many years in childhood trying to guess it: and some children, when they are first told, do not believe it—and I am not sure that I blame them, for it is very odd."

I don't know why it seems so 'odd'. Maybe to a kid it seems odd because they have (or shouldn't have) any concept of sex. But to an adult it should seem perfectly normal. It is what it is, and we enjoy it when it's done right. How else should new life be conceived? If God is in charge of the design of everything then the reproductive process is exactly the way He wants it to be. And if He's not and it's all evolution, then this is the most secure and efficient version that nature has come up with to date.

Lewis believes that there are three things that spread the 'Christlife'. Baptism, belief and communion. He lists them in that order, by the way. That's not me. :) Baptism is a kind of second birth, being born into the family of Christ, the Church. Belief (depending on your age or position on the subject) can come before or after. Converts, obviously, believe before they are baptised. Children who are raised in the more traditional branches of the Christian faith are baptised long before they are capable of rational belief. Arguments for both sides are documented elsewhere. I come down on the side that if a child is born into a Christian family then they deserve to be baptised as soon as possible so that they can take as full a part as is possible in the life of the Church. The same goes for Communion. I don't understand the reasoning behind making children wait to receive Communion until some fairly arbitrary age. Well, I understand it but I don't agree with it. I think it's more important to feed the child the spiritual food that they need which goes hand in hand with being raised in a Christian household.

"I cannot myself see why these things should be the conductors of the new kind of life. But then, if one did not happen to know, I should never have seen any connection between a particular physical pleasure and the appearance of a new human being in the world. We have to take reality as it comes to us: there is no good jabbering about what it ought to be like or what we should have expected it to be like."

I think this is one of those things where everyone has their thoughts on why such and such is required or conducts Grace, but it all boils down to this. We don't know why God chose this method over that, but He did. It's sort of a, 'God says so' thing. Which is not particularly satisfying to the intellect, but if you choose to believe in a divine being who runs the world then there are some things that cannot be answered any other way.

Lewis goes on to say that of course baptism, belief and Holy Communion are not everything. That people must strive to imitate the spirit in which Christ lived their entire lives.

"A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can to some extent repair itself. In the same way a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble—because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out."

I think that's about all I've got to say on this chapter. Now that I've done with it, I can finally pick up the book and read the next chapter.


The trailer for One for the Money is made of win!

I cannot wait for this movie. I love these books so freaking much and the movie! *high pitched dolphin noises* I'm not sure about the guy playing Ranger, but then again, no man alive could live up to the description of Ranger in the books.

Go here: One for the Money trailer and watch. And squee. SQUEE.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tonight's Dinner

The 'breading' for the chicken. Special K cinnamon & pecan cereal.

In it's ground up form.

On the chicken before going into the oven.

1/2 hour in the oven at 350 and it comes out fully cooked and still juicy.

I also made a sweet potato casserole to go with it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

SPN Season 7: Meet the New Boss


God, I love the music on this show!


DEATH! Hi Death!

Crowley...I love you all so much! *crosses all limbs that can be crossed* Don't die!

Wait, wait. You know what would be really funny? Cas' first line of the season is: PSYCHE!

Yes Dean, bow down before the shiny deity.

Wow...psycho Cas is a bastard.

Someone hug Cas! Hug the crazy out of him!

Yay flashbacks of Sammy in hell. It's about damned time. Stupid wall's been breaking down for ages and nothing.

Cas is totally talking to corpses, isn't he?

Or just rehearsing?


Dean, I don't think that's gonna work. I mean I'm not a car person or anything, but isn's steel tougher than human legs? I think so.

Hey....Mark Pellegrino's listed as a guest star. I am intrigued.

ps: I would totally date Bobby.

And I don't like Dean's hair right now.

Hallucinations. Right. Which explains Mark Pellegrino being listed as a guest star.

Dear preacher man: die. Messy.

'You're wrong, I am utterly indifferent to sexual orientation. On the other hand, I cannot abide hypocrites like you reverend. Tell your flock where your genitals have been before you speak for me.'

Kinda loving god!Cas atm.

And whose voice was that? What was with the burning the bench thing?

Clearly the writers for SPN have watched Hellraiser one too many times.

Cas is on the move!

She- was that Lucy Lawless? If not, she sure looked like her.


Oh, how the mighty have fallen. A mobile home. And all the anti-angel things aren't going to work. He's GOD.

Don't die Crowley!

Hee. I love Crowley so much.

Ohh....oh oh oh! Jimmy! Jimmy wasn't even a super special vessel. He was just a normal angel vessel. (Sam is totally nightmaring getting choked right now and I'm too busy to care.) god!Cas is burning through the vessel. So if Lucifer had to drink demon blood to keep Nick-vessel going and Sam too, what does Cas need to be drinking?

'Unfortunately I lost my god guns.' And that is part of why I would date Bobby.

Poor Crowley. :( He's always getting jerked hither and yon.

'You do want to conspire, don't you?'

Oh boys. You're going to piss off Death so very, very much.

Okay, I like that one.

They're going to kill Cas. I'm sure of it. And I don't like it. Not this ep, but in the season. And it's going to piss me off. I'm...trying to prepare for it.

Dean is totally Batman.

I do like how Dean brought Death a snack.

Seriously, Death is going to kick all your asses.

'Kill god. You heard right. Your. Honor.' Bobby.

'Because we said so. And we're the Boss of you. I mean. Respectfully.' DEAN.

Leviathons = cthulu. Tell me I'm wrong.

'Please Cas. I know God. And you, sir, are no God.'

'Should we kick box now?' Seriously, this show.

CAS! OH NOES! He's snapping. *weeps*


And Cas just went and killed all the peoples. Yeah. The monsters are running god!Cas from the inside.

Sam feels for Cas and Dean's just...he's been down this road before and had it fuck him in the ass.

Sammy, right now, I love you. It's not going to work, but I love you for trying.



Really? It can't be that simple. It's Supernatural.

And Cas appears to be dead, and I will not abide that bitches.

Hot damn!

Hello baby...

'I'm ashamed. I really over reached.'

I knew it. Son of a bitch.

Okay, seriously, Misha is going to have so much fun with this.

And yet:


I'm happy to see Mark Pellegrino again. That is all.

Fucking writers.

Once Again, I Never Said I Was A Nice Person

I know we're supposed to think that all lives are equal, yadda, yadda. Assuming, of course, that the other person is not trying to kill us. Or maybe some people think that life is equal just the same. I'm not one of them. I mean, if you're trying to kill me, I'm going to try and kill you first. Because I like my life more than I like yours. It's really that simple in that respect.

So there was this article in the paper yesterday/today about a pair of brothers who were driving their motorcycles way too fast (estimated at about 100 mph), without helmets. One tried to pass the other one, hit him, and he (the brother who tried to pass) was killed on impact. The other brother is still alive but it critical condition and consensus is that he's not likely to make it. And the article mentioned that both brothers had extensive criminal records. We're talking, drugs, robberies, assaults (one on a 13 year old girl!) and a long, long list of others. The family is pissed off that this was listed in the article, saying that they're in mourning and what difference does it make about their histories? Well, given that they both had several drugs charges on them it makes it clear that drugs and/or alcohol were probably involved in the accident.

We were arguing about this at work this morning. Most of the people were agreeing with the family, saying that it shouldn't make any difference. At least, until they read what these men had been up to. Some of them maintained position, others not so much.

Me? Well, in the first place, my sympathy for them was pretty small in the first place since their injuries/death were caused by their own flagrant stupidity. Accidents mean no one's guilty. But these two were. Even if they'd been shining, upstanding citizens in the first place, they were being idiots and that's what got them killed. Not a fluke of nature, something out of their control. No. They made choices, and those choices killed them. Secondly, they were bad people. And so, you know, I've got nothing. As soon as I read the 'criminal background' and the charges listed? What little human emotion I had for them vanished.

I think I actually horrified one of my co-worker's when I said that I didn't care that they were dead/critically wounded because they'd been criminals. I get that we're supposed to think everyone is equal, and I do in the beginning. No one's life is inherently worth more or less than anyone elses' because of gender, race, religion, etc. But when you do things that endanger the lives of others (let alone yourself) and do it again and again...I clearly do judge your life to be worth less than the lives of people who don't make such choices. And so when the consequences of your life choices catch up to you, I'm not going to spare a thought or a feeling for you. I don't feel happy or anything that these men are dead. I don't feel anything at all about it. I just don't care.

*blows dust off*

Okay, Supernatural Friday is here!

I really meant to keep this blog up during the hiatus, but to be honest, I got distracted by the DF kinkmeme. I've got one AU series going (I'm on the fourth story which is unfinished at over 100 pages, with the fifth story in the planning stages), a sequel to another AU (which is dark and...and...slavefic people, slavefic. I have my weaknesses okay?) going, and I'm working on yet another AU series with a cowriter though none of those stories have been written or posted yet. We're still in the plotting/dividing up the stories stage. Plus all the other one shots I've written for the meme. I am an addict! No will power, none.

There's also the XMFC kinkmeme which I read, the Suits kinkmeme and the Thor kinkmeme.

Um. So I've been busy.


I've been neglecting my tv! I got my XMFC discs and my Thor discs like right in a row so I watched XMFC again (OMG, the deleted scene with Erik in drag is too funny, they should have left that in!) and cooed over how married Erik and Charles are. Then I watched Thor and wanted to cuddle Loki. I never even got into Thor in the comics, but now I'm fighting the urge to track down good Loki-centric stories. I *know* they won't be like the movie, but come on. It's LOKI. It has to be awesome by definition. And the Thor watching led me to rewatch both Iron Man movies and then watch Thor again. I don't have the Ed Norton The Hulk movie, so I couldn't watch that one.

My dvr is full of new shows to watch! Which is nice, since I'll be on vacation next week so I'll have new things to watch when I'm at home.

I did watch a couple things last night.

1. Necessary Roughness season finale (I told you I was behind!) - I don't care about sports so I didn't start watching this one from the beginning. I only picked it up for the last three eps because someone told me how good it was. And it is USA, which produces some really good shows. So I watched it, and I enjoyed. There was also the bonus of having Riley Finn (from Buffy), whose real name is Marc Blucas by the way. The season finale cliffhanger thing, meh. Saw it coming. It was obvious, though I do hope that T.K. will be okay because his character did grown on me. And Nico, bless his paranoid little heart. I loved the way he dealt with the whole divided loyalties, the fact that the woman he loves has been manipulating him and the question of 'who gets Nico in the divorce' thing.

2. Ringer - I've only watched the first ep so far. SMG, I still love you. I think they dumped too much into the first ep, honestly. We already knew the basic idea from the articles and commercials, so I get that they didn't feel the need to draw it out in the reveal of the big surprise (Siobhan's alive!), but I think they'd have been better served with a slightly slower pace in having all the reveals for how Siobhan's a rotten bitch. I'm going to keep watching because I did enjoy it, but we'll see. Also, Ioan Gruffold. I <3 you. So much.

3. The Playboy Club - I gave up Hawaii 5-0 for this. Well, to be able to watch this *and* Castle. I'll catch H50 in reruns over the summer. I'm pretty much loving this show. The killing was well done, the interference from the mob is interesting, as is David Krumholtz as the manager for the Playboy Club. So very different from his adorable Charlie character from Numb3rs. The side story that they introduced is fascinating me even with the little bit that we've been given. One of the Bunnies (whose name I cannot recall) is 'married' to a homosexual man. She herself, it is hinted, is a lesbian. They're living this way (with his lover? I'm not sure if he's living there or was just visiting) since homosexuality is still illegal at the time. And running a secret meeting of other lesbian and gay (I doubt they'll go into bi, transgender or anything else due to the time period, but I could be wrong!) people for support/lobbying for change? We don't know details yet, but I am fascinated. Tell me more...

4. Castle - I'll be honest. I can't tell you who killed the victim on this show because I wasn't paying that much attention. I was reading a really good fill on the Thor kinkmeme about a Loki who's been playing both sides for years (he's just a villain because, well, he's Loki, but he really doesn't want to kill his brother or his brother's friends. So he helps them by playing with the other villains and not telling the heroes because where would the fun be in that?), but then a robot built by one of his little proteges sucks out all of his magic and it's working (sort of) with the Avengers and SHIELD to stop the robot!Loki who is really trying to kill the Avengers to prove his superiority to the original Loki and it's really good people! And I'm just really watching for the Castle/Beckitt interaction. I watch for the characters, not so much the story. And I am unsurprised by anything that happened in the first ep of the season.

And that's about it. Tonight will be Supernatural night! *pumps fist in the air*

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Guess Where I Went Today

In clearly unrelated news, sales tables in the book store are bad for me.

Monday, September 19, 2011


What is it that's so appealing about gossip?

It's so attractive somehow, to get together in little groups and talk about people behind their backs. Spread information that is private or that they would rather not have spread about. Why do we do it? Is it to make ourselves seem/feel important, as though we're in on something that no one else knows?

I don't know and I've certainly done my share of gossiping.

We've had an incident here in the office recently where someone started sharing some information that the original person would very much like to have kept private. It was a matter of an overheard private telephone conversation that was then disseminated to one of the biggest gossips in the office and now the personal issue is all over the office.

And that's terrible. The people involved are friends. I can't imagine spreading information like that about a friend until they wanted it spread. What makes it worse is that the person who shared the information in the first place wasn't even being confided in. They overheard something that wasn't meant for them.

I've always liked the Islamic imagery of gossiping/backbiting being like taking bites out of the other person. The more mature I get the more it makes perfect sense.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wait, Wait, What?

On today's edition of 'Wait, Wait, What?' we have the recent comment by one Mr. Pat Robertson. You may have heard the name before. He was some little following among a certain portion of Christians. And a television show. So, well, we know how I feel about him automatically.

Recently a caller apparently asked Mr. Robertson what advice he should give to a friend who had started seeing another woman after his wife began to degenerate due to Alzheimer's. The response was to say that, "I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her."

And...yeah. It doesn't just *sound* cruel, it *is* cruel.

Not having watched the show (I would sooner carve out my own eyes with a spoon), I'm going to make a guess at the 'well-meaning' interpretation of what was said. It's all in the question that was asked. One could argue that Robertson was saying; if the man is going to run around on his wife it is better for him to divorce her and start dating again rather than commit adultery.

Okay. I can, assuming that this is what was meant, sort of see where he's coming from. Guess what. It's still shitty advice.

Even his co-host apparently brought up the marriage vows. You know, the traditional ones. The ones that end with, 'In sickness and in health, til death do us part'. Those. Which, as an Evangelical Christian (I'm pretty sure. Like I said; spoon, eyes before I watch this man.) is what he ascribes to with the force of rabid faith. One man, one woman, no divorce, til death do they part. His response was, "If you respect that vow, you say 'til death do us part. This is a kind of death."

No, death is a kind of death. This is a degenerative, fatal illness that is affecting someone that you love. It's a hellish thing even watching it from the outside. I can't imagine being *in* that marriage. It's stressful in the extreme. But does that mean that you stop loving the person? That you should abandon them for something easier? No. It's a shitty, shitty thing to do. It's even worse for someone who is supposed to be some moral leader to go around telling people that it's okay. He does say to 'check with an ethicist' who is not him, so he gets points for that. But he's supposedly some really Christian man. And this does not hit the 'good man' vibe with me, let alone Christ-like.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Perfect Penitent

Lewis opens up this chapter restating the 'frightening alternative'. Alliteratively boiled down it goes: liar, lunatic or Lord. Those are your only choices. Either Christ was who he said he was (Lord), he was a con-artist or some sort of demon/spirit (liar), or he was a nutjob who thought he was God (lunatic). We've actually got plenty of the last around nowadays! Lewis leaves off, as sanil pointed out, the fourth possibility which is that Christ never said any of the things that are attributed to him, or maybe just not the ones that claim divinity or hint at it. That those are later insertions/inventions/misunderstandings by his followers that have been passed down to us as faith. Which I'm having a hard time fitting in alliteratively. Liar, lunatic, lord or...innocent of all charges? I don't know. :) 

"Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, how-ever strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form." - this is Lewis, of course.

The question Lewis seeks to address here is why. What was the point? The answer that comes to mind for me is to save humanity. Lewis says it's clear he came to teach but that the New Testament and all Christians constantly talk about his death and his coming again. So Lewis believes that it is obvious that to most Christians the point of Christ's coming was his suffering and death.

Lewis was under the impression, before he became a Christian that the first point of belief a Christian had to subscribe to was the theory of what the point of Christ's death was. The theory was that God wanted to punish mankind for leaving him and joining the Dark Side, but Christ volunteered to be punished instead. So God took the bargain and punished Christ in our places. He says that he found this concept silly and immoral, though now that he is a Christian he does not find it as silly and immoral as he used to, but that that is not the point.

"What I came to see later on was that neither this theory nor any other is Christianity. The central Christian belief is that Christ's death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. Theories as to how it did this are another matter. A good many different theories have been held as to how it works; what all Christians are agreed on is that it does work...Theories about Christ's death are not Christianity: they are explanations about how it works. Christians would not all agree as to how important those theories are."

I'm really not sure what to say about the above. Do you guys have any thoughts? How important is it that we understand how Christ's life and death save us? Is it important, or is it enough that it occurred and that he left us instructions on how to take advantage of it? Or are even those suspect? What are we meant to take away from the life of Christ and what has been recorded about it?

"A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it. We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed. Any theories we build up as to how Christ's death did all this are, in my view, quite secondary: mere plans or diagrams to be left alone if they do not help us, and, even if they do help us, not to be confused with the thing itself."

Lewis goes on to discuss the idea that Christ died to pay the price for our sins. He questions what the point of punishing an innocent person for the crimes of others could possibly be? Lewis says that it doesn't make any sense if one is thinking about punishment in the 'police-court' sense. It begins to make sense if you look at it from the perspective of paying a fine. That it is commonly accepted practice for one person to pay off anothers' debt (for whatever reason they may choose to do so).

So what's the 'debt' that man had that Christ was paying for (under this theory)? 

"He had tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself. In other words, fallen man is not simply an imper­fect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realising that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor—that is the only way out of our `hole'. This process of surrender—this movement full speed astern—is what Chris­tians call repentance."

Repentance, according to Lewis, "means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact, it needs a good man to repent. And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person—and he would not need it."

So that, according to Lewis' understanding of this theory, is why we needed Christ. We're unable to pay back the debt because we're in debt. He says that "this willing submission to humiliation and a kind of death" is not something that God demands before he will take a person back, but that it is a description of what going back to Him is like.

My question/issue is this. Shouldn't going back to God feel good? I get that he's saying we're fallen, we've messed up and separating ourselves from the pride and whatever other sins we're attached to is going to fell bad. We're denying ourselves and telling ourselves that we were wrong for maybe the first time in our lives. But shouldn't it also feel good to do the right thing? You know, I'm just not really behind the whole idea that I have to feel humiliated in order to get back to God. I'm down with feeling humble, with feeling grateful. But humiliated? Or is this just me?

Anyway. So we can only experience repentance if God helps us. If he walks us through it, guides us. However, nothing in God's nature corresponds to what we need to do. Surrender, suffer, submit and die. And wow, that is actually really depressing when you see it like that. It's...very cultish in the bad way. Lewis' point here is not about the creepy factor I'm getting. It's that none of those things are things that have a corresponding nature in God. 

So in order to show us what we need to do, to lead us, God had to take those things and make them a part of his nature. Hence, the Incarnation.
"But supposing God became a man—suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God's nature in one person—then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God. You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us; but God can do it only if He becomes man. Our attempts at this dying will succeed only if we men share in God's dying, just as our thinking can succeed only because it is a drop out of the ocean of His intelligence: but we cannot share God's dying unless God dies; and He cannot die except by being a man. That is the sense in which He pays our debt, and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all."

But...but- but- but- this is not a problem with Lewis, but rather with the entire thing. Did Christ die? Yes. And I'm not about to say that it was easier for him than it would be for anyone else because he was God. If it is to be healed and perfected, it must be assumed. So Christ's suffering had to be the same as any other person's suffering. Or that's how I understand it. My 'but' comes in with the fact that while Christ's physical form died, *God* did not die. A God that dies is not eternal. So maybe it is a problem with Lewis' phrasing. Of course, all metaphor ultimately fails when trying to be applied to God because He is too big to be encompassed by human intelligence.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Book: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I actually finished this book four days ago and have read another book since and am on to yet another book. What can I say, I'm lazy!

First of all, I really enjoyed the book and since I'm more of a horror/sci-fi/fantasy fan that's kind of saying something.

I'm not going to go over the plot too much because I'm fairly certain that everyone knows it in the broad strokes by now.

Skeeter Phelan is a Southern girl who comes back home from college with a degree rather than a husband. She wants to get into writing but is rejected from the first job she applies for (an editors position) due to lack of experience. Blah blah, she winds up deciding to write a book about the black maids in her town and what it's like to be working for white families who mostly look down on them and think of them as 'less than'.

That's the vehicle for the story, and I've head people complain that the book makes it seem like the women who speak to Skeeter were unable to help themselves until she came along. That is not the impression that I got at all. Skeeter comes up with the idea in order to further her own career, a fairly selfish motive. She doesn't think of the consequences until they're pointed out to her repeatedly. If it came out that these women were speaking to her they would be murdered and she'd be driven out of town at the best and killed herself at the worst. The fact that Skeeter wouldn't get an automatic death sentence from the local 'justice' just points out the difference between blacks and whites in that time and place.

But the book isn't about Skeeter except in the periphery. Her learning that the easy, fluffy and priviledged world she lives on is built on top of the remnants of slavery and cruelty toward other human beings. The story of the book is built on two maids, Aibileen and Minnie. They're the true driving force of the stories and the gathering of the other maids to tell their tales and they're the driving force of the book.

It's a fact that I think gets lost in the movie. The movie, for all that I enjoyed it *does* fall victim to the slant that Skeeter is the driving force. It comes across far more clearly in the novel that she is a side note to the lives and the stories of these women. She is a tool that they use to try and make a change, to make people aware of the reality that they all seem to want to ignore.

To give an example of the major changes from book to movie: Minnie leaves her abusive husband toward the end. In the movie, she is given the strength to do so because the woman that she is working for treats her just like any other human being and they become friends. The impetus to leave is seemingly provided by the act of Celia cooking Minnie a huge meal and Johnny (Celia's husband), Celia and Minnie all sitting down to dinner together. In the book, it is not an act of Celia or anyone else, but the fact that Minnie (due to her own actions and care for others) has made it possible for her to live independent of her husband and take care of her children. Were Celia, Johnny and Skeeter involved in the events that led to that? Yes. But they were the acted upon, in many ways, rather than the actors.

And that's that. It's a good book. Read it. End of story.

For those interested, the next book I read the The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (very good!). And now I'm reading The Eagle by Rosemary Sutcliff.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Death Penalty III

Part I
Part II

While the Church as the State is an unscriptural and unworkable concept, the Church influencing the State is, of course, another matter entirely. The Christian influence on anyone is a matter of persuasion, not coercion. But what if the State actually governed an unbelieving society based on that one, singular Christian ethic of forgiveness? Let's say, theoretically, that the justice system operates on this basis: if the victim (or family of the victim in cases where the victim is dead) forgives the criminal, then the criminal goes free. No consequences for their actions. What happens when a murdering pedophile is set free because the parents of his victim forgive him. He's still a pedophile. He will rape and murder another child. People like that cannot change. They cannot stop. There is no 'rehabilitation' no 'fix'. I was talking to a friend the other day, whose uncle works in law enforcement. He's getting near to retirement, and works in a jail now, as a guard. He said that where they used to only need one bloc for the pedophiles, now they need two whole wings. And the men sit there, for the duration of their sentences, watching kids' shows. You know why? So they can be up on the current trends when they get out. So they can go right back to preying on children. But in this fictional world where mercy and forgiveness are given more weight than justice, these men would be free to perpetuate their horrors. Because their enemies forgave them. And that next child who's raped or murdered? Whose fault is that? Who shoulders the responsibility of knowing that they had him, and they let him go? My beta actually brought up chemical castration, but it's my understanding that even this is not a fool proof method. It does appear to reduce the sexual fantasies and drives, and give the patients greater control over their sexual urges in about 80% of the offenders while they're on the drugs. There are, of course, side effects, which I'm less concerned about than the fact that there's still that 20% on whom it doesn't appear to work. I'm not, however, throwing it out entirely. While I'd really, really like to have all pedophiles executed, whether they kill their victims or not, that's a personal bit of viciousness.

Forgiveness cannot mean removal of the consequences or removal of the State's responsibility to protect the innocent from the criminal. All Christians, when it comes down to it, do not hold that forgiveness means removal of all consequences for sin or evil, and, I think, most will acknowledge that fact. A church may forgive the embezzlement of funds by one of its members, but it cannot commute the restitution required by law. The Church can forgive the sin of adultery, but it will neither pay the child support of the adulterer or tell them they don't have to pay it. The Church can forgive the sin, but the consequence of that sin, in the world, remains. Consequences are not always abrogated by forgiveness. The Church cam affirm life, repentance and forgiveness, and at the same time permit the State to deal with the good order of the society within which the Church functions. The State might be influenced by the Church, but it is not the Church. It is only the Church, and it's members, that is held to the Gospel. No Christian who supports capital punishment believes the Church should execute the evildoer, or even its own sinners, heretics or apostates. (Though that has been the case in the past.) The Church exists for the redemption of the human being and as an agent of the Gospel of forgiveness, the giver of the sacraments, and the bearer of grace to the fallen race.

But we still have the question of the boundaries and relationships of the Church and the State when it comes to the death penalty?

The historic consensus of the great theologians (East and West) affirms the existence of the State as a God ordained power separate from the Church and its authority to exact capital punishment as an option for the good of society.

A quote I came across quite a few times in my search, from the anti-death penalty camp is from St. John Chrysostom is this: “in our case (as Christians) the wrong-doer must be made better, not by force, but by persuasion”. However, the entire quote is actually as follows:

“Christians above all men are not permitted forcibly to correct the failings of those who sin. Secular judges indeed, when they have captured malefactors under the law, show their authority to be great, and prevent them even against their will from following their own devices; but in our case the wrong-doer must be made better, not by force, but by persuasion.”

St. John Chrysostom is not denying the authority of the State or its responsibility to punish and restrain the criminal. He is instead saying that the Church does not use force to convert souls. St. Thomas Aquinas, in his commentary on 1 Corinthians 5 sums up the thoughts of the West: “if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since 'a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump'” (1 Corinthians 5:6).

“The state does not bear the sword for naught” St. Paul says, in Romans 13, and St. John Chrysostom comments, “For he bears not the sword in vain. You see how (God) has furnished him with arms, and set him on guard like a soldier for a terror to those that commit sin. For he is the minister of God to execute wrath, a revenger upon him that does evil.”

The State has its own realm of authority and does not need the Church to validate or direct its operations in order for it to be an agent of God's will for humanity. (However much we may look at it and doubt it at any given moment). However, it's also clear that the Church is called to be leaven and that there is no prohibition to the Church influencing the State's decisions in matters moral and ethical.

Part of the problem is that we've muddied our personal convictions, what we feel we need to do in personal relationships, and our understanding of how the State should function for the good of society. If we accept the essential separation of the Gospel's demands on the Church and the State, the issue becomes: 'Can I, as a Christian, personally participate in killing a human being?'

On another level, if we accept that civil authority is God ordained and human beings are invested with the powers of life and death, we have to ask: 'How does an individual who is finite and imperfect whether Christian or not, perfectly join justice and mercy within civil order?' And, extended from that, how can a justice system work when all of the offices, the points along the way, are occupied by these same imperfect beings?

It is undeniable that human beings are neither personally nor collectively omniscient, but does that mean that we cannot act, merely because we don't possess all of the knowledge that God does? If we take that as a legitimate boundary, then we have to ask, if God knew we could not know what only He knows, then why did He ordain civil authority for both believers and the unbelieving pagan societies and give those societies the power to judge and punish evil doers even unto death? If a person dies unjustly under the auspices of a flawed legal system (which is a main argument against the death penalty), is that an eternal issue?

The groundswell of anti-death penalty activism began in Europe on the heels of WWII and the horrors of the Nazi regime, and within the context of post Enlightenment Europe's decline of faith. Without a belief in the afterlife, humanistic and utilitarian philosophy has defined physical death as the ultimate evil and insult to human worth and dignity. The decline of Christianity and a belief in eternal life went hand in hand with the rise of opposition to the death penalty in Europe. Cardinal Dulles, a Jesuit theologian noted in a 2001 article, “many governments in Europe and elsewhere have eliminated the death penalty in the twentieth century, often against the protests of religious believers. While this change may be viewed as moral progress, it is probably due, in part, to the evaporation of the sense of sin, guilt, and retributive justice, all of which are essential to biblical religion and Catholic faith. The abolition of the death penalty in formerly Christian countries may owe more to secular humanism than to deeper penetration into the Gospel.” Christians have accepted the Godless categories of secular humanists and their re-framing of the death penalty as unjust, contrary to the dignity of the human being, and cruel and inhuman in the face of the biblical rationales for the validity of the use of the death penalty. It is clear from the Biblical witness that it can and should be applied even in the fallen order, it is applied precisely because of the dignity of human life, and cannot be defined as 'inhuman' because the creator of humanity not only commanded it but exacted it Himself.

If death is the end of the human being, then yes, it is to be avoided at any cost. However, for the Christian, death, in the end, is not the final affront to the dignity of our humanity, it is the loss of our humanity in eternity separated from its true source and definition in God. We cannot let the humanists define the categories of life and death for us.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Shocking Alternative

I have no idea what's so shocking about anything in this chapter. But maybe it shocked some people when it was first posited? IDK.

I've already mentioned that Lewis seems to view or at least lay out Christianity as though it is 'corrected' Dualism. There's a Good and an Evil entity in the universe, but rather than them being equal opposites, the Good (God) created everything. Including the Evil entity. Of course, he wasn't Evil when he was created. He chose to become that way. Which I still have issues with, by the way. If, as I have been informed, angels do have the ability to make choices it's just that they can't or don't ever change their minds after the choice has been made. So, presumably Lucifer *chose*, at one point to serve God. Then later on he changed his mind. Which shouldn't have been possible according to that theory. Not only that, he convinced a third of all the other angels in heaven to change their minds too. But now that he's made *that* choice, there's the assumption that he'll never change his mind again. I doesn't make sense to me on some level. I keep reminding myself that Orthodox thought tells me it's not something I should worry about, the ultimate fate of the Devil. That there is the possibility that he could change his mind again and ask for forgiveness. One of those things we just don't know.

Now, my personal theory that 'Satan' is a job. *That* makes sense. Of course it does, it's *my* theory so it will obviously make sense to me. :D

Anyway. Moving on...

Lewis opens the chapter with the question: If, as Christians believe, an evil power has set up shop on the earth and basically taken over, is this in accordance with God's will? If it is, that seems perverse and cruel. If it's not, then He can't be an absolutely powerful being because something is happening that goes against His will and He's not doing anything to stop it. Though you have to ask, if a being is powerful enough to be all powerful, would anything be able to go against it in the first place? That sort of overwhelming force...would anything be able to actually choose to go against it? It'd be like making the decision to operate without oxygen. Anyway.

Lewis compares it to a mother who tells her children that she is not going to make them clean their rooms every night. That they have to learn to do it on their own. And, of course, she goes in one day to find the rooms are a mess. This is not what she would want (not her will) but she has allowed it to happen by giving the children a choice.

In other words - free will's a bugger. God has, according to this thought process, abdicated part of His power. He's saying, I gave you guys directions, then I gave you the ability to choose. I'm not going to force you to do what's right/best/what I want. I could, but I won't. And then we run off and do whatever we want to do.

So why free will? According to Lewis:

"Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata—of creatures that worked like machines—would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free."

Okay. I get that. I even agree with that. Everyone, mark it down on the calendar! For any choice to have real emotional meaning it has to be made freely. Yes, there is an emotional impact from forced choices. There's no denying that. What I mean is that being manipulated or forced into 'love' is not the same thing as choosing love. Or any other choice. I'm probably not making sense here but I can't think of how else to say it. Doing or feeling something because some outside entity has forced that to be your only option does not give it the depth of meaning that you making that choice freely does.

Maybe that is only our perspective though. I mean, we tout free will because we have it and we think that it's the best way to do things. But would we long for free will if we'd never had it? No. My point there? I have none. Just that just because we think the way we do things is best and the 'right' way doesn't necessarily make it true.

Lewis goes on to discuss what the sin of Lucifer was. Pride, putting himself first. Wanting to be God. And that, Lewis says, is the sin that he taught mankind.

"That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. (The story in the Book of Genesis rather suggests that some corruption in our sexual nature followed the fall and was its result, not its cause.)"

This is another one of those, I get where he's coming from, I just don't agree. Not about the sin that Lucifer first tempted with. I'd agree that that is likely hubris. But about the 'corruption in our sexual nature'. I don't think that human sexuality is corrupt any more than any other human action or feeling is corrupt by nature. Can any aspect of reality be *used* in a corrupt manner? Yes. But if God created it, then it is good by nature. So as long as there is no force, no manipulation, nothing that takes the sexual act and makes it something other than the joining of people in loving fashion then I say it's not corrupt.

"The reason why it can never succeed is this. God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else."

I'm just including the above quote for the lulz. Time and place. Eventually we will go beyond even what we have now and cars won't run on gas. And then this quote will make no sense whatsoever out of context.

The point Lewis is trying to make here is that God designed humanity to use Him as 'fuel'. Therefore, without God people do not function properly. That's why people without religion are unhappy. Because they are, of course. All of them. Unhappy and living terrible, awful lives. *straight face* That, according to Lewis, is Satan's work. He's convinced us that we can run on different fuel. So what did God do about it?

According to Lewis He left us our conscience, our sense of right and wrong. Which would ping back to the universal Law of Nature. Ultimate Good that we all know. And not, as I rather think, social constructs of morality. He also left us 'good dreams'. Lewis defines these 'good dreams' as "those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men." It is interesting that many, if not all, ancient religions contain a variation on this theme. But is it surprising? Not really. There's a saying, somewhere, that every story has already been told. Humans imagine variations on the core tales and call them new, but you can boil pretty much anything down to the same couple of stories. And we've been telling them since we learned how. Does that mean that they were hints at the coming of Christ, preparing the world and humanity to accept the idea that a man could be God/part god, die, resurrect and save/do something good for humanity? Sure. If you look at it from that angle. From other angles it just shows that the resurrection story of Jesus is not unique and could well just be an adoption and retelling of any of a million other myths. Sanil covered some of the similarities between Dionysus (I thought it was Mithras, but now that sanil's pointed me in the right direction, it's Dionysus, my bad!) and Jesus on her blog, but those posts are gone now. *frowns at sanil* Moved. So here's a link to them now. WATP- Dionysus posts. And one more.

And, according to Lewis, He gave us the Jewish people, through whom He laid down two basic concepts - there is only one of Him and He cares about right conduct. Then, He sent us Jesus.

He talks about how unusual/insane it was for someone who came from the Jewish people, the Jewish faith to start claiming he was god. After all, they were monotheists. If we were looking at pantheists, not a problem. Gods mated with humans and had demigod babies all the time. But in Judaism? No. Lewis is trying to show that Jesus must either be who he claimed to be, with pressing reason and authority to make such claims, or he's a mad man. Lewis does not like the fact that some people say they will accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but not as who he claimed to be. Because if he was a mad man then he can't have been a great moral teacher, since he was nutter. And if he wasn't mad, but lying, then he can't be a moral teacher. What with the lying and all. And if he was who he said he was then why can't they take him at his word?

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Invasion

I was going to go to sleep, but now I'm not quite sleepy enough to sleep. So let's see if this is coherent.

Lewis opens by reiterating that atheism is too simple. So is, he says, a version of Christianity he calls 'Christianity-and-water' - a view that says that there is a good God in Heaven and everything is all right. Ignoring all of the difficult doctrines. He calls both of these views 'boys' philosophies'.

He goes on to say that asking for a 'simple' religion is ridiculous. The world, after all, is not simple. So how could a religion be simple and have anything to do with the world we live in?

Don't most religions claim to be simple, at least at their core? Certainly the actual living out of the faith is never simple, but I think most of them view themselves as based on simple principles. Similar to the way the world and the universe, all of reality even, can be said to be based on simple principles, the laws of nature. Physics. 'Simple' can be a very relative term. That being said, I can see Lewis' point. If a religion or a philosophy is too simplistic it has no weight, no depth or flavor. It is useless in real life because it tends not to be flexible enough. Then again, overly detailed philosophies have the same problem.

Lewis also says that reality is odd. Which is why he finds Christianity believable. It mirrors reality. It is both complex and odd.

Well, yeah. But that doesn't mean that it's divinely inspired or anything. If reality is complex and odd, then wouldn't people, left to their own devices, project those same characteristics onto their religion and gods?

He then goes on to contrast Christianity's view of the world with Dualism. Christianity, according to Lewis, views the world as something good that has gone wrong but still retains a memory of its goodness. Dualism, on the other hand, says that there are two equal beings/forces. One Good, one Evil. They are both eternal and separate, depending on nothing for their existence, but forver opposing the other.

Lewis says that this is problematic because one can be good merely for the sake of goodness, but not bad for the sake of badness. People love good and will do things only because they are good. He does not believe that people ever do bad simply because it is bad. There are always other reasons, greed, pain, sorrow, anger, etc.

And in another bid to lose me, he says in the middle of this: 'The nearest we can get to it is in cruelty. But in real life people are cruel for two reasons - either because they are sadists, that is, because they have a sexual perversion which makes cruelty a cause of sensual pleasure to them' - I'll just be over here, hitting my head into my desk. I know, I know, time and context. Lewis did not have the understanding that we do now. It still gripes me.

Lewis' point is that the Evil force cannot be wholly independent of the Good force because the Evil force is predicated on the rejection of the Good. We're judging one better than the other because it adheres to a standard of goodness. But where did the universe get that standard of goodness for the Good force to adhere to? So there must be a third being, one who generated the other two. Otherwise, the Good generated the Evil as a contrast to itself and that still knocks the power balance out of whack.

He seems to be saying, almost, that Christianity is 'corrected' Dualism. Because it's put the Evil power into the proper context of having been a created being who chose to be Evil in opposition to the Good.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The cake is a lie! & The 'Barrier Method'

In other words, I didn't get the post done last night like I was planning. Please try to control your shock. :D

Has anyone else switched their dashboard over to the 'new' version? It reminds me of the WordPress dashboard. I haven't used it enough to say whether I like it or not. Change is life...

I've been reading the backposts on the blog of a woman who converted/is converting (I haven't finished the blog, so I don't know if she's actually finished the conversion process or not!) to Orthodox Judaism. And there was a post about the barrier (mechitzah) used in Orthodox and some Conservative synagogues, according to her. (I've never been in a synagogue, so I can't speak to it's use from personal experience.) Her experience was that having the separation between men and women did two things. It helped focus her attention on God, where it should be in worship, and it enabled her to meet the members of the synagogue as individuals rather than as family groups. She felt that this last enabled her to know the other members of the congregation better than if she had met them all as family units.

Have any of you regularly attended a place where there's a similar separation between the genders? Do you find that it has any benefits?

I've only been to a place that had the genders separated for worship twice. Once was at the Serbian Orthodox church and that was just; women on one side of the room, men on the other side. The other was at the local mosque. I didn't find either experience particularly extra conducive to focus on worship, but then again I was only at each place once and was more interested in observing the people around me than worshiping!
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