One-Punch in the Face of Jealousy Sep03

One-Punch in the Face of Jealousy...

Not everyone can just decide they want to be a hero and make it happen. But One-Punch Man, or Saitama, does just that. He’s a hero for fun, not in it for the glory. Becoming so strong wasn’t easy—he kept up a rigorous physical routine that put such stress on his body that he lost all of his hair. Imagine, if you can, doing 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and then a 10K run EVERY DAY for three years, without air conditioning or heat. Actually, I can easily imagine it because I have to do that many squats and push-ups every day as part of my black belt training, and we do at least 100 sit-ups in every karate class. I also don’t have air conditioning in my house. So what he does is do-able, and certainly shouldn’t make your hair fall out. But, for Saitama, this training and an unbreakable will makes him the most powerful superhero in the world. Saitama isn’t just facing villains; he’s also battling a painful rumour. I don’t know if it’s the ease with which Saitama became a hero, his genuine humility, or the fact that he tears through the hero ranking system like gangbusters is what upsets the other heroes, but his presence inspires big feelings in the people who meet him. Some are happy to work with him and see his value, and one, a cyborg named Genos, even becomes his disciple. Others are determined to take him down a peg. Right off the bat, as they’re wrapping up Saitama and Genos’ orientation to the Hero Association, Snakebite Snek wants to put Saitama in his place. It backfires, of course, because Saitama is ridiculously strong, but Snek makes it his business to cause him trouble....

The Wonder Twins and Undervaluing Our Children...

It’s not easy feeling small and undervalued; not in real life, and not in heroic stories. Being overlooked is the constant lot of sidekicks, a reality they probably expect—they’re still in training, after all. The Wonder Twins have to deal with this underwhelming attitude in the 70’s cartoon, Super Friends, and other DC shows they appear in. Most of the time, it seems like they are tagging along with the real heroes, even though they are part of the team. They’re kids, they’re only effective if they’re within physical reach of one another, and by most accounts in the fandom world, they’re fairly lame. I’ll be honest; if I was in need of a hero and the Wonder Twins showed up, I’d try to be polite, but I’d be super disappointed. And worried. If Children Believe in the Impossible, We Can Too Like the Wonder Twins, kids in general are sometimes overlooked or undervalued. They are small, weak, and needy. They can’t do a lot on their own and need almost constant supervision. They’re not the kind of people you’d send out on big missions, much less to the grocery store on their own. But, kids also have a lot to offer—even when they’re little. Just by being themselves, they have value. Their parents love them because they are theirs. They reflect truth on such a pure, unfiltered basis, that if they were listened to more frequently, they could teach adults a ton. Their imaginations make them as super as the Wonder Twins. As shapeshifters, the Twins can become anything from an elephant to a bucket of water, and if you ask a little kid, so can she. Nothing is impossible for little ones. Children inform my faith, too. God says that nothing is...

Eowyn Defines the Church’s Restrictions for Women Jul27

Eowyn Defines the Church’s Restrictions for Women...

As the niece of Rohan’s king, Eowyn is a leader of her people, one who is loved and respected. When their city is under attack, it is her responsibility to lead the people to Helm’s Deep for safety. Shouldn’t this be enough responsibility for her? Shouldn’t she realize how much her uncle and brother value her leadership by putting her in charge of the people, and how much they value her life by forbidding her to ride into war with them? But Eowyn was born for battle. She is destined, through an ancient prophecy, to defeat the Witch King in defense of Middle-earth. Sheildmaidens are an actual thing in Rohan; they are a part of the culture and history of war in this kingdom. Her entire society is centered on defending their kingdom from the ever-nearing enemy that looms over their land. Everything in Eowyn’s life points to her taking her place as a Shieldmaiden, except for one thing: the men in her life. Her brother and uncle don’t want to risk her death, taking the decision out of her hands. But, their loving care—though they didn’t know it—would have prevented her from turning the tides of battle in the war against Sauron. They would have kept her “safely” in a cage, where she couldn’t live out her passions and strengths. When many people are invited to question what they believe, they may reconsider their actions. I work for the Catholic Church, an institution that loves and respects women. We seek to protect the dignity of women, recognizing both genders as equally made in the image and likeness of God. We believe women are uniquely able to participate in God’s creative action on earth and celebrate that gift. I love the Church, and feel...

Words of Encouragement for You Incredible Parents...

When Elastigirl says she has to “save the family by leaving it,” her words hit me right in the feels—my heart broke every time I left my kids to go to work when they were small. Of course, that was mostly because they would stand at the window screaming and crying. I later found out that as soon as I was out of sight, they would go about their business like I never existed. Little monsters. But, that’s what kids do. Elastigirl knew that in order to make a path for herself, her husband, her children, and all supers to have the option of a super future, she needed to be away from her kids for a time. And that’s where Mr. Incredible comes in. Mr. Incredible and the Stay-At-Home Parent When my family and I were discussing Incredibles 2 after seeing it in theaters recently, my boys felt that it was the “Elastigirl Movie” because she did all the heroic stuff. They saw Mr. Incredible as having a very minor role in the whole thing. I couldn’t believe it. Yes, Elastigirl was shown in superhero garb fighting bad guys more than the rest of the family, but to me, what Mr. Incredible did was far more heroic. Parenting is heroic, even if our children don’t see it that way. My kids don’t have an appreciation for the challenge that being a stay-at-home parent brings. And I know why—they think they’re an absolute dream to be with. Of course, I think they’re right; there’s nowhere I’d rather be than hanging out with them (most of the time). But, they only remember the nice times from the children’s perspective. They have no sense of parental angst, the terror of not knowing what you’re doing—most of...

Unwilling to Take Responsibility: Doctor Smith and Manipulation May30

Unwilling to Take Responsibility: Doctor Smith and Manipulation...

In the reboot of Lost In Space that premiered on Netflix last month, June Harris is a survivor at all costs. She doesn’t care who she has to take down to preserve her own life. When her sister prepares to leave on an expedition to colonize another planet on the interstellar spacecraft Resolute, she offers June her beautiful house, car, and clothes—basically, all her possessions. Accepting her sister’s gifts could have been a fresh start for June, a chance to redefine herself honestly. But, June is a jerk. She drugs her sister, stealing her identity and taking her place on the expedition. And when it’s discovered that she isn’t who she claims to be, June kills a guy to keep him quiet, leaves people in distress who she could have helped, and puts countless others in danger during her continued quest to save her own butt. When the Resolute is attacked by killer robots, several of the expedition’s ships crash on an earth-like planet, including the ship of the Robinson family. One of the robots also crashes there, and befriends (and becomes fiercely loyal to) the child, Will. June also finds herself stranded and in need of a new plan to ensure her survival and freedom. She takes the identity of a psychologist named Smith. By pretending to be a doctor and a trained member of the expedition, she puts everyone’s lives at risk because she has none of the survival or technical training that members are expected to have. June preys on people’s unwillingness to communicate or be vulnerable with each other. When someone lies, the freedom of everyone interacting with them is threatened. In a Catholic marriage, misrepresentation is clear ground for an annulment. The reason is that misrepresentation removes freedom; and...

Samurai Jack and Being Valued in Another’s Eyes Mar05

Samurai Jack and Being Valued in Another’s Eyes...

Though it’s not his preference, it’s Jack’s job to live by the sword. He’s a Samurai, but he tries to complete his mission with as little violence as possible. Jack’s goal: to prevent Aku from destroying everything good in the world and save his family’s empire. However, he gives every monster and villain he faces an opportunity to repent, even letting them walk away unharmed if they do so. It’s with this attitude that he faces Ashi, one of the Daughters of Aku who are trained as assassins to kill Jack. He treats her with compassion when she is used to a life devoid of love or kindness. She has been treated as an indistinguishable cog in a fighting machine; not cared for, not recognized for her gifts, just an agent of death used to accomplish her father’s evil plan. During her training, little glimpses of beauty in the midst of cruelty distracted her (which she was severely punished for). What was being beat into her didn’t sit right in her heart. But it was all she knew, so she tried to be the best assassin she could be, and excelled at it. When Jack goes out of his way to avoid killing her, even saving her life, she is surprised. As she continually tries to kill him, Jack offers her mercy, opening her eyes to a truth she had only caught glimpses of throughout her life. Because of Jack’s kindness toward her, and having observed his care for strangers, Ashi begins to see her own value in his eyes. Ashi can’t help but see the difference between Aku’s evil and Jack’s selfless service to the vulnerable. Truth assaults her heart, turning it away from her murderous plans and toward Jack. Because of Jack’s...

We’ve Created a Monster Feb07

We’ve Created a Monster...

Thankfully, most of us don’t literally mean it when we shout, “Oh, no! I’ve created a monster!” In the Toho movie franchises, however, when the Japanese say it, they mean it. The world of Kaiju, the “strange beasts” of Japanese cinema, include attacks on the world and are often the result of humanity making a very poor choice or unfortunate mistake. Godzilla: King of the Monsters introduces us to a highbred dinosaur born from the radiation of atomic weapons testing. Godzilla ravages Japan, bringing further devastation to the nation after the horror of what spawned him in the first place. The writers and producers of the Godzilla films knew firsthand the destruction of nuclear weapons. They had seen two of their cities leveled, their people burned and poisoned by the radiation, their land scarred and torn, and their country defeated and shamed by this unnatural power. When they started making Godzilla movies, their nation was still feeling the effects of the war. Godzilla is a physical representation of their experiences. Depending on the movie, Godzilla has been portrayed as a good guy saving the world from other monsters or aliens, or as a bad guy wreaking havoc on unsuspecting citizens. Regardless of his current relationship with humanity, his presence is a reminder of the nightmare, the monster, that we create when we assault and abuse the earth. Humankind’s Godzilla-sized carbon footprint should be enough to shake some sense into us. In the newly released anime movie, Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, Godzilla is such a threat to humanity that they have to leave the planet and look for a safe place to live. Even as they make their escape, he blows many of them out of the sky with his atomic ray. They come...

Why We Need Adversity to Reboot Jan17

Why We Need Adversity to Reboot...

Every now and then, an event so personally significant comes along that redefines you. Not that you completely lose who you already are, but it may give you a new lens to look at the world through—and it might even be a new lens from which the world looks at you. I’ve found this to be true several times throughout my life—when I got married, had children, and changed jobs. Even my children experiencing a trauma redefines me. Those events require a new set of skills and new strength to make me useful. Each new challenge broadens and shapes me. Each challenge is an opportunity to reboot—to keep what’s useful, and to let go of things that no longer serve me. Adventure starts with adversity, and growth often takes root in discomfort. In the first episodes of Voltron: Legendary Defender, we meet a young cadet name Pidge; but Pidge isn’t what he seems. In episode six, “Taking Flight,” we learn that Pidge is, in fact, a girl. When her brother and father were lost on a Galaxy Garrison mission, she went in search of them. Having been caught hacking the Garrison computer as her true identity, Katie Holt, she needed to redefine herself in order to gain access to the computer without being discovered. Katie cut her hair, dressed like a boy and presented herself as Pidge Gunderson; a cadet in the Galaxy Garrison. Fate assigned her to a team with Hunk and Lance, and she ultimately becomes the Paladin of the Green Lion. Not long after the Voltron crew members begin to trust each other, Pidge reveals to her new friends that she is a girl. All but one of them respond with little or no surprise. Lance, who is always slow on...

Grief’s Paralyzing Effect on the Justice League Nov27

Grief’s Paralyzing Effect on the Justice League...

When a parental nightmare came true, I was frozen with fear. My son’s seizure medication had failed him catastrophically, and for a few days we weren’t sure what was going to happen. He was in the hospital for two weeks, and even since he’s been home, the dread of what could have been, and what someday might be, still clings to me. For the days he was in the hospital, I couldn’t move—family tried to get me to go for a walk, for coffee—for anything—but I couldn’t leave his side, not even for a moment. Grief can be paralyzing. It makes us stop, take notice of the pain, and sit with it. When dealt with healthily, it can move us into a new depth of human experience, making us stronger, more empathetic, and ready to reach out and help others. Or, it can hold us in place and prevent us from acting, stopping us from living fully. In the Justice League movie, each member experiences a form of grief that keeps them stuck in place until they find community, a common mission, and healing. Steppenwolf, an alien who has his sights set on conquering Earth after a failed attempt hundreds of years ago, is back. He plans to retrieve the three power cubes that are hidden from him by the Amazons, Atalantians, and humans who guard them. Apparently, humanity isn’t making Earth a hellscape fast enough for his taste, so he decides to put those cubes together and let them do their job, which is recreating the face of the Earth in a semi-molten state. Keeping busy isn’t the same thing as dealing with our feelings. Since Batman can barely fight a few of Steppenwolf’s minions on his own, he realizes it’s going to...

Why Destiny Matters and The Tick Oct04

Why Destiny Matters and The Tick...

The Tick doesn’t do a lot of thinking. He’s not a smart guy; but he knows evil when he sees it, and he’ll spring into action because he knows that fighting evil is his destiny. The Tick’s origin is something of a mystery; he has no idea where he came from and knows very little about himself. The only thing he’s certain of is his destiny, and it drives everything that he does. The rest of the rational world spends their time asking the question “Who am I?” as they search for meaning. Not The Tick. He’s defined entirely by his drive to conquer evil, and as far as he’s concerned, this destiny has no connection to his past, and requires no other pertinent details—only that he should embrace what he was made for and live it out every day. So, what is this force he calls destiny? If you ask him, he’ll tell you, “Destiny’s powerful hand has made the bed of my future, and it’s up to me to lie in it. I am destined to be a superhero. To right wrongs, and to pound two-fisted justice into the hearts of evildoers everywhere. And you don’t fight destiny. No sir. And, you don’t eat crackers in the bed of your future, or you get all… scratchy.” Again, The Tick’s no genius, but he gives good advice—you should never eat crackers in bed. It’s folly. And you don’t fight destiny… unless, of course, you enjoy being sad and unfulfilled. Like The Tick, it’s up to me to live out what’s in my heart, or not. I’m not a puppet. As a Catholic Christian, I too, have a sense of destiny. I believe that I was made by God for some very specific things—some...

Living in the Fire Nation Aug09

Living in the Fire Nation...

Imagine that you lived in a world where all nations got along. Then, your nation suddenly attacked the rest of the nations, attempting world domination. According to the opening of Avatar: The Last Airbender, that was what happened in their world. The Air, Water, Earth and Fire Nations lived in harmony, “then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.” Now, a world that didn’t know strife was in need of a saviour—an Avatar, a master of all four elements. It takes a special kind of person to think that world domination is a good idea; and I don’t mean special in a good way. It’s an expensive proposition—it costs lives, money, comfort, safety, and identity. More importantly, it costs your soul. Because, if you are so full of hubris that you believe your way is the only right way, that you are so much better than everyone else, that you should rule all, that other people’s rights and dignities are negotiable according to what suits you… if you have placed yourself in the position to judge others, then you have set yourself up as God and that’s always a losing proposition. We are emperors of our own little worlds, oppressing others not by force, but by indifference. When Firelord Ozai gathered up an army and sent them to take over the world, there must have been some confusion among the people. I have often wondered how the average citizen in such a regime would feel about what was being done in their name. What did the average Roman feel during the rise of the Empire, or the Canadian and American settlers as indigenous people were being relocated or wiped out? Did they believe the Manifest Destiny (or whatever that particular group called it) rhetoric,...

Battlestar Galactica and the Virtue of Waiting Jun26

Battlestar Galactica and the Virtue of Waiting...

Breaking News! The original Battlestar Galactica series is going to be on a local TV station near me this summer! Whoop-dee-do, you say? It’s been on Netflix for years, you say? Well, pardon me, but I’m somewhat elderly (42!) and don’t remember things like Netflix when I’m wishing to see my old TV shows. I still “tape” the shows I want to watch on my DVR. As much as I try to live in the brave new world of technology—with some small successes—my brain is wired for the 1980s. So, when I heard that BSG was going to be on, I was very excited. I bought the theme song on iTunes and have been listening to it frequently in my hype. There are three main reasons that this is excellent news: 1) Dirk Benedict, 2) the fabulous theme song, and 3) now the kids today will see what Cylons are supposed to look like—stocky, chrome dudes with Knight Rider helmets that speak a robotic, “By your command.” They aren’t skinny blondes in slinky, red dresses, or your best friend, or you and you don’t know it! In the 80s, we knew who our enemies were; and they were stocky, evil robots. “Binge watching” wasn’t a thing during my childhood. You had to wait, probably a week at a time, to see a show you wanted. And if you missed it? Too bad. You’d have to wait until it was in syndication—if it ever even made it! And, if seasons ended on a “to be continued” cliffhanger, may God have mercy on your soul! You could bust a gut waiting for that next episode! My husband was grounded when the first episode aired, and I don’t mind telling you that I have listened to that...

The Mothers Grimm May26

The Mothers Grimm

I have heard it said many times that, until you become a mother, you can’t imagine the love that you are capable of for your child. Sure, you love your spouse a ton—obviously enough to decide to spend the rest of your lives together, but the love a mother has for her child is fierce. Fierce because of the intensity, fierce because it changes who you are and the way you experience the world, and fierce because you would do anything to protect that little thing even if you had to face the very gates of hell to do it. And speaking of the very gates of hell… the TV series, Grimm, just had its finale a few weeks ago. True to what the name suggests, the show’s faerie tales are dark, gruesome, and highly entertaining. The premise of Grimm is that the creatures from the faerie stories we all love are real—and they live among us. We’re talking werewolves, talking foxes, mice, lizard creatures, the Krampus—all manner of “monsters.” They’re called Wesen. Most of the time, they look like us, but when they become frightened, or angry, or want to be in their natural element they “woge,” and take on their animalistic appearance. The Grimm family has, for centuries, been hunting, killing and recording the stories of these creatures. From the moment pregnancy takes hold, our bodies become something of a living sacrifice. The finale revolves around a Portland police detective named Nick Burkhardt and he only discovered that he was a Grimm in his adulthood. It had been hidden from him for his own protection. Unlike many others, Nick’s more open to judging Wesen by their actions rather than by their genetics. He befriends several Wesen, and seeks justice for and protects good ones....

Adulting After Narnia Apr03

Adulting After Narnia...

When I was a kid, all I ever wanted to do was grow up so I could make my own decisions and start having some fun, already… geez. Adults had it all. They had money and cars, got to choose what they would be, where they lived, and how they were going to spend their time. Of course, if I had paid even a little bit of attention, I would have seen that my dad’s sometimes two and a half hour commute to and from New York, the work phone calls he got during dinner, and my mom’s exhaustion from dealing with five unruly and needy (and sometimes ungrateful) children, I might have noticed that the adults in my life weren’t really choosing very much in their lives at all. They did what they had to do to make life safe and comfortable for us children, catching only moments where they could actually do what they wanted; and even then, what they “wanted” was limited by what was best for the family. As the millennials would say, adulting is hard. And they’re right. The first inkling I had of this (remember, I completely ignored what my parents were experiencing) was the time that Peter and Susan had aged outside of Narnia. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing—they were the High King and Queen of Narnia—how do you age out of that? And yet, Aslan said that they couldn’t come back. They were too old. When you’re an adult, certain things that are available to you as a kid are no longer available. Now, the Toys “R” Us commercial whose jingle included, “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toy’s R Us kid…” and a song by The Ramones called, “I Don’t Wanna...

Out for Blood in Kong: Skull Island Mar17

Out for Blood in Kong: Skull Island...

Be ye warned: spoilers ahead. Fear is an effective motivator. The problem is that it doesn’t always motivate us toward what is right. In Kong: Skull Island, a very fearful man, Bill Randa, leads a federally funded “mapping expedition” just as the Vietnam War is wrapping up to a previously unknown island that he claims the Russians are about to get to. He’s granted a science team, military escort, and photographer, and hires an ex-British Special Forces tracker as well. Almost everyone on the expedition believes that they’re there to map and explore the island for the benefit of humanity. But, it’s later revealed that Randa’s true purpose is to hunt down and kill a monster, one that he suspected was living on the island. I openly defy anyone who would dare call King Kong a monster—he is a good, kind, very large ape who has made it his life’s work to protect the people of his island. Naturally, he’s feared because he’s big—but anyone who would take the time to observe his behaviour would see immediately that he’s all about protecting the weak. The first time we see Kong, he appears in front of two World War II pilots, born into nations at war with each other, who have crash landed on Skull Island and are facing off on a precipice. They are each trying to kill the other when Kong suddenly appears, towering over them. We don’t know exactly what happened next, but their encounter with Kong, who had no intention of harming them, made them brothers, and afterwards they found a new community to care for them in the native inhabitants of the island. They were placed in safety, while Kong kept every danger, in the form of vicious monsters who...

No Batman is an Island Feb27

No Batman is an Island...

Be ye warned: this article contains spoilers for The LEGO Batman Movie. Batman is a loner. He’s the Dark Knight, moving through the shadows and being a vigilante all over the place. Even when the Justice League was formed (partly by his design), he didn’t want to be tied down by the responsibility of belonging. The LEGO Batman Movie is a hilarious and exciting exploration of Batman’s desire for solitude and his need for companionship. In his famous poem, John Donne said, “No man is an island.” Batman, as Alfred points out, not only lives on an island, but has formed himself into an island by pushing everyone away. But, human beings need relationship, were even specifically created for it, and so in his attempt to be entirely self-sufficient, he makes his Siri-like supercomputer into somewhat of a friend. He chats with it as he’s fighting crime—mostly giving directions—and then it chats with him upon his return to the Bat Cave. The computer is sort of like his “Wilson” from the movie Castaway—Batman doesn’t realize it, of course, but he built himself a companion that cannot die and that he can control to suit his desired level of intimacy. Batman built himself a companion that cannot die and that he can control to suit his desired level of intimacy. Any Batman fan knows that the root of his desire to be alone is the tragic loss of his parents; they were murdered in front of him as he helplessly stood by. That’s the root of all that he does and all that he is. When he saves the city from pretty much every single member of the Rogues Gallery in an opening scene, he retreats to his island and ponders the last family photo...

Seeing with the Heart in The Little Prince Jan06

Seeing with the Heart in The Little Prince...

Netflix recently released a film version of The Little Prince, one of my favourite books. They placed the story in the context of a meeting between the author and a little girl who really needed to hear the tale. This little girl was being forced to grow up way before her time; she had loss upon loss heaped upon her without any acknowledgment or assistance in processing it. She lost her father’s presence in her life through divorce, with snow globes he would send from his travels as a poor substitute. Her decisions for her life were replaced by her mother’s vision of life—a barren calendar packed with busy tasks but perfectly empty of meaning or joy. The collapse of the mother’s hopes for her own life made her so fearful for her daughter’s future that she controlled every aspect of it that she could. At one point, the stress of future success was so burdensome that the little girl fainted. Her world had become so small and so focused that there was no room for error, no room for failure, and no time for fun, friends, or rest. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.” When a life becomes so narrow and so devoid of hope or joy, it can become something of a mini-apocalypse. Here’s a funny thing about that word apocalypse; although the current cultural meaning of it has become “a great calamity” or “disaster,” the true meaning is “revelation.” The association with disaster comes from the Book of Revelation, whose title in Greek is Apocalypse (interpreting it as a disaster is very unfair, but that’s another story for another time). What is more interesting is that when disaster strikes in our lives, it is an amazing...

A Princess to Follow Dec28

A Princess to Follow

When I was growing up, I didn’t want to be the helpless princess in a tower waiting for someone to come rescue me. I wasn’t the Maid Marion or Snow White type. You’d never catch me in the forest chillin’ with the animals and singing “someday my prince will come.” Well, actually I did do that once, but it was straight parody. I wanted to be Robin Hood—or at the very least one of the Merry Men, the knight slaying the dragon, the spy defeating the despot, the rebel saving the galaxy from the Empire. I don’t meant to say that I wanted to be a dude—that was never the case. I grew up with brothers and cousins and now I have sons, and I am more convinced than ever that boys have cooties. But, in my mind, I could be a girl and a hero. I credit this sensibility to my healthy diet of stories with strong female characters. For every helpless Disney princess, there was Eowyn, Wonder Woman, Joan of Arc, or Judith (who lobbed off Holofernes’ head in the Bible). Plus, God made man and woman equal, both in God’s image and likeness, and there were tons of kick-butt heroines in the Bible. Every little girl who has the heart of a warrior will have a place to draw inspiration from. The Star Wars franchise portrays strong women in various ways throughout their movies. I particularly appreciated the roles of the Rogue One ladies. Lyra Erso was a wife and mother who believed deeply in the Force and tried to prepare her daughter for the likely return of Imperial baddies. When Director Krennic came and threatened her family, she didn’t cower. She died trying to protect her husband and daughter. Mon...

A Cure for Fear: Scarecrow and Personal Freedom Nov30

A Cure for Fear: Scarecrow and Personal Freedom...

Sometimes I’m more interested in the development of the villains than the heroes. Watching little Bruce Wayne in Gotham is great, but then there’s Scarecrow. I remember the first episode Dr. Jonathan Crane, a.k.a. Scarecrow, showed up. He’s super creepy. And on that night, while I was watching the show, I unintentionally did something super creepy myself. I frequently text myself ideas that I might use at a later date. That night, I typed on my phone these lines from the show, “Imagine the thing you fear most in the world.  Imagine that’s all you see.  Every waking hour.”  The text was sent, but it did not go to me.  It went to the grandfather of one of my kid’s friends—whom I had only met once. When I realized what I had done—a full day later!—I texted a frantic apology. He was very nice about it, but I suspect he thought there was something seriously wrong with me. The reason I wrote down that quote was because Scarecrow illustrates (on an exaggerated, supervillain-sized scale) what sort of evil can happen when one has little to no personal freedom. Being free to make choices is part of what makes us human. Personal freedom is vital on a lot of levels. It’s also an important idea to me because of my belief that human beings are made in the likeness of God. I have lots of personal freedom because my needs have always been met; I have been well-educated, I live in a pretty safe place, and I have opportunities to succeed. I am very aware of the difference between right and wrong and have been brought up with the ability to discern and make choices that are life-giving and wholesome—or not.  And yet, I can...

One Lantern, Two Lantern, Green Lantern, Blue Lantern Nov02

One Lantern, Two Lantern, Green Lantern, Blue Lantern...

I’m a big fan of the Green Lantern. If I was going to be a superhero, that’s who I’d want to be. Also, the Lanterns remind me of the Catholic Church—they choose people from among the community and assign them to care for the people in that place, they have councils and a hierarchy, they make fabulously horrible mistakes with galactic repercussions and, ultimately, their objective is to bring justice and peace. I like the Green Lanterns in particular because their thing is Will. The Will is one of the most amazing attributes of humanity. We are each given our own, we’re free to use it as we like, and when we use it the right way, it makes us more divine. Will is the strongest aspect of my faith. I’m not a real “feely” person, so for me, faith isn’t about warm fuzzies. I don’t spend a lot of time feeling God’s presence. Instead, I do a lot of being bossy in my prayer time; telling God what I need, what my friends need, and asking Him to help me make good choices. Feelings can be misleading and sometimes misplaced. I prefer what I can see, comprehend and manipulate (not in a bad way). I try to be attentive to other people’s feelings by listening carefully, but my approach has a tendency to be a little clinical. So, my faith is mostly an act of the will. For me, faith isn’t about warm fuzzies. At my new parish, I met a guy who was telling me about the Blue Lanterns; they are all about Hope. Hope is great, if you have it. I think of it (maybe wrongly) as being in the realm of feelings—because you feel hope, right? I believe in God. I believe...