Worse Games to Play: Katniss’s Gratitude and Depression Jul31

Worse Games to Play: Katniss’s Gratitude and Depression...

When you go through a deeply painful and life changing experience, how do you move on? The stories I love answer this question again and again through characters like Frodo from The Lord of the Rings and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games—protagonists who go through traumatic experiences. They lost people they loved. They sustained mental and physical injuries that will never fully heal. Frodo could never completely move on, so he had to leave his world for the Gray Havens to find peace. However, Katniss didn’t have that option of escape and had to find a way to be at peace in her own world. After Panem’s revolution had been won, Katniss married Peeta Mellark and together they had two children, something Katniss swore she would never do at the beginning of The Hunger Games. The Girl on Fire has watched countless people die and even caused death by her own hands. She’s seen her friends tortured and severely injured. Katniss has gone through so much, yet somehow she finds peace. At the end of Mockingjay Part 2, when her son cries as he awakens, she explains to him and the audience what has changed in her heart: Even if I can find one thing to be thankful for that day while everything else seems dark, I count that as a win. “Did you have a nightmare? I have nightmares too. Someday I’ll explain it to you. Why they came. Why they won’t ever go away. But I’ll tell you how I survive it. I make a list in my head of all the good things I’ve seen someone do. Every little thing I can remember. It’s like a game. I do it over and over. It gets a little tedious after all...

Accepting Weakness in Thor Jul26

Accepting Weakness in Thor...

I’ve heard it said that your greatest weakness is your greatest strength pushed too far. There’s some truth to this, because it’s easy to become so reliant on the things we’re good at that we don’t notice when exercising those traits has become counterproductive. In the first Thor movie, we see the titular hero fall victim to this exact phenomenon. A small squadron of Frost Giants have infiltrated his home world, and despite their quick and trivial defeat, Thor prepares a counterassault to try and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Despite being the most foolish thing he does in the movie, this process clearly shows Thor’s strengths; his charisma, his passion, and his courage enable him to rally his friends and reach Jotunheim to confront the Frost King. Superhero stories are not about demonstrations of power; they’re about learning to confront weakness. Once he achieves his desired battle with the Frost Giants, of course, his plan falls apart. Rather than subduing them, as Thor had hoped, his attack only encourages them to begin a new war. While Thor’s abilities allow him to accomplish as much as he does, his over-reliance on them also leads to his fundamental flaws. He can’t see past his own sense of power to realize that brute force is useless in controlling the Giants. On top of that, he even becomes judgmental, rebuking Odin for taking a calmer, more rational approach to dealing with the situation. While I’m the polar opposite of Thor personality-wise, I’ve recently become aware of that same type of judgmental attitude in my own life. For example, I tend to be an extremely cautious person. I like to gather as much information as possible and plan ahead before I say or do anything, and this...

No More Jurassic World Domination Aug29

No More Jurassic World Domination...

I like being in control. This doesn’t necessarily mean I want world domination (that’s only every other day), but I do desire to control my future, my schedule, and sometimes even other people. I feel like life would be easier if I could dictate everything that happens in it. I’m not sure if this is just because I’m a detail-oriented person, or if everyone feels this way. I tend to make goals every New Year’s Day, plan out each week on the weekend, make lists and schedules. I even make contingency plans in case something goes wrong. Unexpected events that come my way, such as sickness or other emergencies, can throw me off balance. It’s hard to accept that I can’t control unforeseen circumstances. The staff of Jurassic World also have this desire for control, especially Claire Dearing. She likes to predict future events, schedule her life, and do everything she can to steer the company into a profitable direction. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, however, her endeavors often cost spending time with the people she cares about, hurting her family life and her love life. Owen: It’s all about control with you. I don’t control the Raptors. It’s a relationship. It’s based on mutual respect. That’s why you and I never had a second date. I feel like life would be easier if I could dictate everything that happens in it. Because of Claire’s obsession with control, she loses respect for the people around her and even for the animals in the park. She treats everyone like the means to an end and not like they have lives and feelings. And does her success in making other people do what she wants make her happy? No, she is always...

The Doctor’s Eternal Perseverance Jul27

The Doctor’s Eternal Perseverance...

“This traffic is taking forever.” “I’m never going to find the right woman.” “Waiting for the DMV took an eternity.” I recognize these statements, of course, as the hyperbole that they are, even as I speak them. But such a blasé attitude towards the concept of eternity and infinity cheapens it. I have never experienced more than a lifetime and my exaggerations do not come close to expressing what eternity must feel like. Therefore, to be patient or persevere in the face of eternity is an ideal that escapes me completely. I know there is either a finite time that I will have to wait or I recognize that death will claim me before I ever see the consummation of my hope, whatever it may be. What would happen, though, if somehow I could comprehend eternity to the point that, no matter what happens, I can push through? In the penultimate episode of the ninth season of the “new” Doctor Who (titled “Heaven Sent”), Peter Capaldi’s Doctor explores this concept of forever. He finds himself in some sort of elaborate trap with a mysterious stalker who elicits something we’re not familiar with the Doctor experiencing: fear. The Doctor is afraid of this… thing. We know it’s called “The Veil” only by the end credits, but, beyond that, we don’t know anything other than it was specifically designed from the Doctor’s worst nightmares to evoke a reaction of fear from the rogue Time Lord. The intense grief of losing Clara and the darkness of being alone can only be overcome by his memory of Clara and his love for her. The Doctor reasons that fear is being used as a motivation to coerce him to reveal his deepest, darkest secrets. As fear does its work,...

Restoring Relationships (and the Force) May04

Restoring Relationships (and the Force)...

Like all relationships, the ones in Star Wars have their challenges. In A New Hope, the first meeting between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader in almost twenty years isn’t as emotional as I imagine it should be. After all, Obi-Wan basically raised Anakin before eventually slicing his legs off. Emotional stuff. Instead, they simply speak a few short utterances to each other in cold tones. There’s no love between the two; their cords have been completely cut, and as such, they no longer see each other as human. For Obi-Wan, Darth Vader is “more machine now than man,” and for Vader, Obi-Wan is just another obstacle to tear through. In this bond built a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I see a challenge being forced upon me, to look at the broken relationships in my own life and think about how they became that way, and what I might do to repair them. In an imperfect world, we’re all bound to have broken relationships. I’ve said many things that have hurt others, and people have driven me away, too, either by cruelty or by simple indifference. The thing is, the longer I let time pass without reconciliation, the more bitterness will take root, and the harder it becomes to heal the damage. The task of pulling it up becomes too daunting to even try. And soon, the person I’m split from has become a memory to me. Any relationship we had dies, wasted and transformed into a nothingness, like the emotional space between Vader and Obi-Wan. Luke makes the sacrifice that restoration costs. Of course, it doesn’t just take realization to reconcile; it takes action. And action requires selflessness. I find that whatever reserve of that characteristic I have in storage...

The Heart of a Girl on Fire Apr25

The Heart of a Girl on Fire...

Katniss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire, is a symbol in her dystopian world of Panem. In the story, she touches the hearts of the districts, yet I’ve often heard people who’ve seen the movies describe her as calloused, mean, and even heartless. How can someone with those descriptors be a positive emblem of hope for a fictional nation and millions of viewers across our globe? I believe that despite Katniss’s harsh exterior cultivated by her background, she has a compassionate heart that surpasses even Peeta Mellark’s. Self-Sacrifice in The Hunger Games Katniss volunteers to take the place of her younger sister, Prim, in the Hunger Games. This is the catalyst of the entire story, but she furthers this sacrificial nature in her protection of Rue during the Games. Katniss doesn’t even know Rue well, but the District 11 girl’s innocence and similarities to Prim spur Katniss to fight for her. This movie brings out Katniss’s sacrificial nature the most. The scene where she decorates Rue with wildflowers after her death is her way of showing her love for a girl she barely knew and rebelling against the Capitol. Compassion in Catching Fire When the Peacekeepers raid District 12, Katniss notices the elderly Greasy Sae is injured. Katniss takes the old woman aside and gently uses a cold cloth to help her eye. During tribute training in the Capitol, Haymitch and Peeta urge Katniss to ally herself with the bigger, stronger victors. Who does Katniss choose? The rejects and the elderly. She connects with these “lesser” individuals—namely, Mags, Beetee, and Wiress. She sees past their seemingly weak exteriors and recognizes their skills. More importantly, she values them as human beings. Amidst the 75th Hunger Games, Wiress is in shock after enduring a trap that coated...

Cheat Taxes, Not Death Apr15

Cheat Taxes, Not Death...

When I was young, I wanted to live forever. That would be so cool, I thought. I could use all that time to learn languages, read all the books I ever wanted to read, see all the movies I wanted to see. Let me be clear here. When I talk of immortality, I mean physical immortality. As in NOT dying. I’m not talking about an afterlife or heaven. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to hang around on earth and continue living this life. Now, obviously my definition of “cool” left much to be desired, but I think there is something quite profound about my childish wish to live forever. Though I didn’t realize it at the time (I hadn’t gotten around to reading all those books), the desire for immortality is at the heart of various myths, legends, and stories: from the Gilgamesh’s question for immortality in the epic that bears his name, to the quest for the Holy Grail, to the stories of alchemy and the mythical fountain of youth. Many people have told stories about the search for a method to cheat that most mysterious of all human experiences, death. And I think that it’s that very thing that makes death so important: it’s something we all go through. They say the only two certainties are death and taxes. Well, some people have been able to cheat on their taxes. No one I know has cheated death. In an attempt to live forever, Voldemort loses his human life. And I don’t think my younger self was out to cheat death. I can’t remember thinking that. Certainly I am not aware of an experience of death that would have triggered that kind of response. I just felt there was so much...

Always: The Immortal Love of Severus Snape Apr08

Always: The Immortal Love of Severus Snape...

“Always.” It’s a word that we overuse. (“I always say ‘thank you.'” “You always eat all of the cheese sticks.”) Most people, in reality, don’t do things so consistently. But when Professor Severus Snape said “always,” not only did he use it correctly, truthfully, and lovingly, he used it in the most perfect way possible. It was a most profound statement that I believe resonated with readers everywhere. For Harry Potter fans, this word has become something of a mantra—particularly when the man who so amazingly portrayed Snape in the movie series, Alan Rickman, passed away. For me, finding out that the actor had passed was like experiencing Snape’s death all over again. He was a great actor and his roles meant a lot to many people, but he will especially be Severus Snape to me for all time. The “always” that Snape says is a testimony to his unending love for Harry Potter’s mother, Lily—but the word only has meaning because of how he chose to live after her death. Snape loved Lily from the moment he met her, loved her through the years that she dated the man that bullied and tortured him, loved her through her marrying that man, and loved her through her death and beyond. She had not chosen him and, in her death, the certainty of her never being able to choose him became a reality. “But this is touching, Severus,” said Dumbledore seriously. “Have you grown to care for the boy after all?” “For him?” shouted Snape. “Expecto patronum!” From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe: she landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded...

Lessons of the Emotionless Jan13

Lessons of the Emotionless...

In “Chuck Versus the Three Words,” when Sarah is trying to train Chuck to be a spy, she tells him, “You need to learn to ignore your emotions. Spies do not have feelings. Feelings get you killed. You need to learn to bury them in a place deep inside.” I know exactly how Sarah feels. Well, maybe not exactly since I’ve never been a spy (or if I have, I certainly wouldn’t admit it here. Shhh.). But I understand. I experienced both ends of the emotional spectrum growing up via members of my family. I had a couple extremely unemotional family members, who kept their feelings buried deep inside, and a couple extremely emotional ones, who let out their pent-up feelings in outbursts of anger and shouting matches. As a quiet introvert myself, I decided the latter didn’t look healthy or fun, and I would join the ranks of the stoic flag holders in my family. I came to believe that letting people know how I felt was a weakness; it made me feel vulnerable and I didn’t like that feeling. Crying in front of someone was an absolute no-no. If you loved someone, you didn’t tell them that; and you especially didn’t tell a guy you had feelings for him. That was just giving them the opportunity to hurt you…   Read the whole article from Christ and Pop...

I Must Not Tell Lies Jan11

I Must Not Tell Lies

The first time I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I found Harry’s constant anger, especially at Ron and Hermione, annoying. I wanted to tell him to chill out: didn’t he understand that there were bigger things going on? At the time, I didn’t recognize his trauma for what it was. Marcelle Kosman and Hannah McGregor, hosts of the most delightful podcast Witch, Please, have a fantastic discussion about this in “Episode 9: The Cleansing Fire.” Their answer to Harry’s anger is that he is suffering from PTSD, and it totally makes sense. Harry has just gone through the traumatic experience of watching Voldemort come back to life and kill Cedric, and is then made to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle, who barely acknowledge his existence. To make matters worse, he doesn’t receive any news from his friends, who are under orders from Dumbledore not to share anything lest their owls are intercepted. Add to this the mysterious Dementor attack and the subsequent hearing to prove his innocence so he will not be expelled from Hogwarts, and it quickly becomes clear that Harry’s anger is justifiable. Just when we think things are going to get better for him—he’ll be back at Hogwarts and all he’ll have to worry about is Quidditch and OWLs—he discovers that, all summer, the Daily Prophet has been printing lies about him, under order of the Ministry for Magic, in an effort to discredit his story about Voldemort’s return. Do not dismiss the powerless when they come to you with hurt. There’s a term for this: gaslighting. Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which victims of trauma are made to doubt their own stories through others (often the perpetrator of the abuse) twisting...

Darth Vader, Baby, and Me Dec16

Darth Vader, Baby, and Me...

As I wait impatiently for The Force Awakens to be released, I find myself looking at myself and the way I attend church. I start to wonder: why can’t I be this impatient and excited about Sunday mornings? It’s been a very long time since I have found myself filled with the kind of excitement at church as I find when watching the newest trailers from Disney. And that’s starting to make me nervous. You see, I’m a new dad. Three months ago I was introduced to the most amazing human being I’ve ever met. She drools on me, pukes and poops all over me and I’m in love. She wakes me up at three in the morning, every morning, and yet I can’t wait to spend another day with her. Getting up and leaving the house to go to work has never been this difficult before because it means I might miss the next big step in her growth. And I’ve almost never before been this excited to show my favorite things to someone new. I can’t wait until she’s old enough for me to introduce her to Star Wars. I want to watch her amazement as she sees Luke trust the Force for the first time and turn the Death Star into rubble. I hope to see her shock and awe when she discovers that Vader didn’t actually kill Anakin Skywalker. (Spoil it for her and I will find you.) And I want to relearn through her what it’s like to fear for someone else’s safety when she sees Palpatine turn his power onto Luke. As an adult I’ve never once held the same attention to a pastor as I have to Lucas’s imaginary world. And this bothers me. Yet I’m not...