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May 21st, 2017

07:29 pm: Morality and the Tenth Commandment, Part Two-B

First part of this essay is here.

As I mentioned in the first Tenth Commandment essay, I originally thought that I would find nothing for this commandment. But when I prayed to know if there was anything I should cover, two ideas came to me suddenly. 

This is the second.

When I was five years old, we lived by a lake. In the middle of the lake was a raft. Many happy childhood hours were spent climbing onto or diving off of this raft. But this particular day, I remember standing on the raft with a friend and discussing what we would do if we were king of the world.

“Wouldn’t you be queen of the world?” asked my friend.

Even at five, I knew that queens were weak. No, I insisted, I would be a king.

As I grew older, my distain for things feminine only got stronger. Some of it might have had to do with being forced to wear boys skates. My father wanted me to hand my skates down to my brother when I outgrew them. I was told that a girl could wear boys skates, but a boy could not be seen wearing girls skates. So I had to forgo lovely white skates like my mothers. My skates would have to be black.

Very soon, I was quite proud of my superior black skates. I still own black skates today.

When my brother entered Cub Scouts, I desperately wanted to be a Cub Scout, too. Brownies was boring. I would dress in blue and go along to the meetings and hope that I would be allowed to do what the boys did.

If someone had told me that I could actually be a boy, I would have jumped on it in a second. I would have thought Heaven had come to earth.

I could tell similar stories about how I stopped liking make-up, wearing dresses, and many other things that were related to being feminine. I looked down on everything feminine. I liked boys, but I also wanted to be a boy.

I completely and utterly believed that masculine and feminine were social constructs, only brought about by environment. So I was going to raise my children to be independent of such things.

It was a three year old boy who changed my mind.

I grew up as a dancer, raised by a dancer. I loved the joy of dancing, but, like most Liberal gals, I hated war. I hated fighting. I wanted to do everything I could to stop all violence. I tried to give my son less violent toys, but that didn’t stop him from using them as weapons. But it wasn’t that that cracked my worldview.

One day, as we were watching something downstairs, he cried out in joy, “They’re hopping and dancing and fighting!”

I stood there with my mouth open. This little boy, so cute, so sweet, equated dancing with fighting. He thought fighting was fun.

This floored me. Fighting? Fun?

I began talking to other young mothers with boys. They had had the same experience. They gave their boy a Barbie; he used it as a gun. Then there was the experience of a woman who went on to write a book about the differences between men and women. She refused to give her daughter any feminine toys…and walked in one day to find her cuddling a baby doll. Surprised, the mother moved closer to find that the doll was a blanket her daughter had wrapped around…a fire truck.

A few other things happened during the same period. I had always been an independent gal. No man was allowed to hold a door for me. And if they tried? I objected! I spoke out!

Until, one day, I was pregnant and carrying a baby in a carrier. The baby was heavy. I was tired. A man stepped forward to open the door for me, and, this time, I felt…

Grateful.

A similar thing happened with carrying things. I was strong! I could carry my own bags, boxes, trunks! I didn’t need any man’s help!

Until I was trying to lug groceries and two little boys, and I stood there, looking at the family gentlemen talking while I worked and noticed how much stronger their arms were than mine. So, I asked them to carry the bags, and I never looked back.

I began to be very grateful that, back when I had wanted to be a Cub Scout, no one had told me that it was okay, I could be a boy.

I always wanted to be a mom, even when I was little, but I also wanted to have a career. We all thought women should work. We gaped in astonishment at the one girl in high school who wanted to be a housewife.

Really? Are you crazy?

I was determined to have a career and earn my own way. The idea of staying home and letting my husband earn our keep was both offensive and shameful to me.

Eventually, I ended up at home, though, because it was a better deal than me working when the kids were young. Still, I felt embarrassed and unhappy about it.

I was at a party one day, and someone asked me, “What do you do?” I said, “Writer,” even though I hadn’t published anything yet—because NO ONE wants to say, “Stay-At-Home Mom.”

People sneer when you say that. Everyone knows this.

Later that week, I was thinking about this incident, and I suddenly realized: I had HATED working. Yeah, I had a job that was interesting and kind of fun, but getting up, going every day, sitting there whether I was busy or not, the whole experience was really painful.

And now? I got to spend the whole day with my kids. True, it was really, really hard. The kids had all sorts of struggles. Some days, I was in tears. But other days…we went to the park, or Mom’s Club, or read books or played in the grass.

It was truly wonderful.

I had it good!

So, the next time I was asked, “What do you do?” I said, with pride: “I’m a stay-at-home mom!”

But I got to wondering: Why had I had to go through all this? Why had the world told me that I would be happier as a man, acting like a man, doing man’s things, than as a woman?

Why had I been taught to look down on all things feminine? Why had I thought that men and women were the same, except for what experience and nurture taught us?

So, I looked into it.

I found out that this idea: that all other species the males and females act differently by nature, but in humans, it was all nurture had been invented by one guy. In the 1960s, a psychiatrist named Dr. Money came up with this theory. He began telling people this was the case and popularizing it.

His work went terribly, terribly wrong. The boy he helped turn into a girl at a young age lived a miserable life that ended in suicide.

The guy came up with his idea with no research and no evidence, He made it up out of his head, and yet, he managed to convince the rest of us of his crazy, crazy theory.

Now our whole society believes it.

Now, about now, you must be wondering, what in the world does this have to do with the Tenth Commandment

I have known for some time that in the Goetia, a 16th Century book on demons, one of the main powers the demons are said to have—other than teaching liberal arts—is conveying dignities and honors. It isn’t a thing we think about much today, but apparently, they were much in demand back then. Enough that someone would endanger their soul to get one.

Because people don’t just covet things, like donkeys and maidservants. They also covet ideas, like honors and dignities.

And yet, it was not until I sat down to pray about what to write in this series of articles that I suddenly realized the sad truth, that for most of my life, without even knowing it:

I had been coveting the dignities and honors of men.

Sadly, I fear I am not the only person in our modern world to have made this mistake.

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

07:19 pm: Morality and the Tenth Commandment, Part Two-A

I have decided to separate my Last Crusade articles from my spiritual articles and have divided my previous articles accordingly.

This is a Last Crusade article. If you are not familiar with the Last Crusade, you can find the articles here and here. It is a new movement devoted to Christ, Constitution, Chivalry.

The Last Crusade portion are here:
Intro
Tenth Commandment, Part One

The spiritual portion are here:
CS
Healing of the singer

The premise of these articles is: The Ten Commandments is a fundamental part of Christian and Jewish believe and of Western Civilization. In the last hundred years, ideas have been introduced which make breaking these Commandments seem not only excusable but virtuous.

In the past, there were always men who preferred vice to virtue, but they usually said so. If a man drank absinthe or smoked opium, he knew that this act was disapproved of and might eventually cause him harm, but he didn’t care.

He might think himself justified; however, he didn’t believe that he was committing a virtuous act when he did these things.

But imagine that someone mixed absinthe with juice and told children that it was good for them and would help them grow. Or that they put laudanum in gummy candies and told children it was vitamins. So that the next generation would drink absinthe and consume liquid morpheme—and suffer the bad side effects—without even knowing that it was harmful.

That is the state that we have come to be in morally…where the arguments in favor of breaking the Ten Commandments are so well-crafted that we now believe that doing so is a virtue.

Last week, we examined the Tenth Commandment and the common modern argument:

Nobody needs more than a certain amount to live.  Over that amount is excess and should be taken away to give to the needy.

This argument, in many different forms, fuels much of todays politics. And yet, no one points out that to want to take your neighbors cars or tvs or vacations…is coveting. Even good people, who would never covet their neighbors good fortune often fall for this sugary lie: that it is okay to take the wealth of the rich.

Before I go on to part two, I want to stress that this not a political issue. This is purely a moral issue.

A moral person can believe, “We all need to do our fair share, rich and poor alike, so I believe in high taxes and many government benefits.”

But no one can believe, “The rich don’t deserve all that they have” and not be violating the Tenth Commandment.

On to Tenth Commandment, Part Two

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

May 14th, 2017

03:10 pm: Christian Science in Germany

This excerpt from Christian Science In Germany by Frances Thurber Seal was originally part of another post. But I thought it might be nice to give it its own spot. It is one of my favorite healings and always serves to uplift my thoughts and remind me of what is truly possible with God.

 

A young American lady who was studying singing in Dresden and who took her meals at this pension, had a copy of Science and Health, and was most interested to meet someone who could tell her more about Christian Science. On Sunday morning after my arrival I went to her room and we read the Lesson together.

When we had finished, we sat talking, and presently there was a rap at the door and another American lady entered, saying that she was looking 12 13 for a Christian Scientist. She stated that she was a cousin of Mark Twain, and had witnessed the healing of his daughter from tuberculosis through the ministrations of Christian Science many years before. A young Russian girl who was living in the pension with her was in great trouble because of some serious illness which had come upon her. The girl was studying for the Royal Opera in Moscow, and the physicians had just informed her that she could not sing again for three-quarters of a year, and probably never. She was in despair, and this kindly American lady asked the hostess the cause of her sorrow. When told that there was no human help for the girl, this lady remembered the healing that Christian Science had brought out in her family so long before, and she went to the American church to inquire of the rector if there was a Christian Science healer in the city. He said he knew of no one, but that a young music student had told him she was interested in Christian Science, and he thought she would know if there were any Christian Scientists in the city. He gave her the address of the young woman, and she came in at the close of this, our first Sunday service. She announced that she was looking for someone to heal this sick girl, and my hostess said at once, “Here is a lady whom God has sent to heal the people.”

Arrangements were made, and early Monday morning the Russian girl came to my pension. As she spoke only Russian and I knew only English, I Christian Science in Germany called for my hostess, who talked with the girl at considerable length. Then, turning to me with a surprised look, she related just about what the American lady had told me the day before. I asked her to tell the girl to be seated, and I sat down to give my first treatment in Germany. My hostess then retired. I knew nothing of the method of a Christian Science treatment, but turned to God for wisdom, and as I saw the omnipotence of God, the error quickly vanished from my thought. I arose and said goodbye to the young girl. She came every morning for five days. On the fifth day she talked quite volubly, and I again called for my hostess to ascertain what she was saying. The young girl said she was perfectly well, and had been so since the first treatment, and had been singing as she usually did. When asked why she had not said so, she said she did not realize that she should tell me and it made her happy to come.

She then asked if she could come again at Easter. When I asked why, she said she would have her examinations at that time, and if she should pass, her father would permit her to finish her studies and prepare for her opera engagement, but if she were to fail, she must go home and give up her career. I thought I understood what she meant, but wanted her to express it, and said to our interpreter, “Ask her what I have to do with that.” With a radiant face the young girl replied: “Nothing but fear could make me fail to pass my examinations, and I have 14 Christian Science in Germany 15 had no fear since the lady first spoke to God about me; I cannot know fear if she will pray for me.” She had been told nothing of Christian Science; all that had been said to her, aside from asking her to be seated, was that she might come each day until she was entirely healed. Certainly, this was a demonstration of what our Leader means when she says that Christian Scientists should teach “by healing” (Misc. Wr. 358:4), for this girl learned that it was God who had healed her, and that “perfect love casteth out fear.”

A remarkable thing in connection with this incident was that my hostess, Miss Cotton, was born in Russia and lived there the first twenty-five years of her life. She was the only English lady I met in Europe who knew the Russian tongue. It was her native tongue, although she was an English citizen. That I should be a guest in her house when this girl came to me was positive evidence of divine guidance. The girl’s name was Felicita, which means “joy.” This was a happy augury

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

May 7th, 2017

08:42 pm: Morality and the Tenth Commandment

First post here.

This is the second in my series of Last Crusade articles. (If you are not familiar with the Last Crusade, you can find out more here and here.) 

These posts will examine the question: Are there areas in our lives where matters of morality might have been clear 150 years ago that are no longer clear today? 

The purpose of this inquiry is not to point fingers or assign blame but to examine our own conscience with an end to discovering whether there might be moral laws that we are unknowingly breaking which could interfere with our ability to heal through prayer.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am going to examine the Ten Commandments in reverse order.

 

The Tenth Commandment:

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. (Exodus 20:17)

When I first began considering this topic, I actually dismissed the Tenth Commandment. “Everyone knows envy and coveting is bad,” I thought. “That hasn’t changed in a hundred and fifty years.”

Then, I prayed, asking God if I were overlooking something that I should be aware of, and I thought about what people believed 150 years ago. Two things came to mind. After I considered those two things, and several others, I realized that there was so much to say on this topic that I will have to address it in two parts.

Here is part one:

The first thing that came to mind as I prayed on this topic was a scene from the movie Cinderella Man, which is based on a true story about a boxer in the first half of the Twentieth Century. During the depression, he could not find work to support his family. Eventually, he was forced to accept government help.

Later, when his fortune changed, and he began winning bouts, he paid back the money he had been given by the government.

This scene really struck me because, today, few would do that–pay back their "entitlements". Most people wouldn’t even hesitate to take government handouts. In fact, they demand them.

But, back in the 1800s, most people believed that accepting charity—government or otherwise—was something that you should eschew unless absolutely necessary.

The second thing that came to mind was an incident that happened last summer. A dear family member, who is known far and wide for kindness and gentleness, was discussing economics with my husband and sons. When she began speaking about the rich—and why it is justified for the government to take their money to give to others—such a look of hatred and disdain came over her face that, to this day, my husband speaks about the incident with wonder. He had never seen her, before or since, have such a nasty expression on her face.

Thinking of this incident, I recalled many others I know, including my youthful self, who are kind and loving people, but whom display antagonism toward the rich, anger at them for not sharing their weath, and I realized something that shocked me:

Coveting someone else’s things because you want to give them to another is still coveting.

If we want to take our neighbor’s donkey, we are coveting.

If our neighbor has fifty thousand donkeys, and we want to take one for ourselves, we are still coveting. We are looking to our neighbor for good instead of to God, Love, the source of all supply.

If we want to take one of those fifty thousand donkeys and give it to our other neighbor, who lives in a mud pit with only insects for companionship ( or, perhaps, food) that is still coveting.

Not only that, but here we are making two moral errors:

First, we are coveting good from our donkey-rich neighbor instead of from God

Second, we are seeing our mud-pit-dwelling neighbor as a needy mortal instead of as the image and likeness of the One Altogether Lovely—a child and heir who can expect all he needs met by Our Father.

What is more important for our particular inquiry: No normal Christian—Christian Science or otherwise—living in the 1800s would have held our modern opinion on such matters. They might have envied the rich, but they would have been aware that this was breaking the Tenth Commandment, as it would not have been couched in pleasant "help the poor" verbage.

They believed in charity and in good works, but Communism and Socialism were fringe ideas that were looked down upon. They did not believe it was right to take a rich man’s things to give to your poor neighbor.

Not only did they not generaly believe in it—it could not be easily done. There was no income tax at that time. It was still specifically outlawed by the Constitution. (This was before the Sixteenth Amendment, which altered the Constitution to allow for individuals to be taxed. There were, of course, property taxes and tariffs and such. )

Does this mean that everyone in that day and age was against the government doing good works or that we, as Christians, can never vote for such things?

No, it does not.

But, if we wish to be virtuous and just, we must examine our motives:

Are we voting for a given measure because we feel that it is okay to gouge the rich, “they can afford it,” to support the poor “who cannot fend for themselves”?

Or are we acting from a cheerful sense that we must “all chip in together” to accomplish some good?

If the first…then we are definitely breaking the Tenth Commandment.

If the second—or if we are acting under any other motive that is neither self-serving nor resentful—then we are not violating the Commandment.

Our motives are good.

(What policies we should vote for—and all other questions of what is best in politics and economics—is beyond the scope of this inquiry, which is merely an examination of personal morality.)

So, in regard to our question:

  1. Have we fallen into the error of thinking that it is okay to covet, so long as we do not want our neighbors belongings for ourselves?
     
  2. Or worse, have we forgotten that wanting to take a rich man’s things—no matter how rich he is, no matter how big the company—for ourselves?

Here ends part one. Next time, a brief look at a second, quite different, aspect of coveting  present in modern society.

I originally ended this with an example of a healing by prayer from the book Christian Science in Germany, but I felt it deserved its own post. You can read it here.
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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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April 25th, 2017

06:23 pm: The Pinching Shoe That Is Beauty and the Beast

When I wrote my Ruining Beauty post, there were folks who complained that I shouldn’t review a movie I have not seen. I felt they had a good point. Sometimes things sound bad in review, but work well in the actual story. But I also felt that I didn’t want to pay money to see a movie I suspected I might not enjoy.

A young woman I know works at a movie theater. This is her last week, as she is quitting, but she offered me one last free ticket to see the movie of my choice before she left. (Her job included a free ticket for a friend each week.) My daughter asked her for a ticket for me to see Beauty and the Beast. (She knows I love the cartoon version.) So, I decided to go.

 Incidentally, my daughter saw the live-action Beauty and the Beast. She was bored. “You like that kind of romance and music,” she said, when she came home. “I don’t like.”  Not sure what to make of that, but even she talked about how beautiful it was.

It was going to be beautiful, right?

How bad could it be?

Imagine that you had been given a really handsome shoe. It looked like one of your favorite shoes from years past, but it was even more beautiful, more finel-made…only every time you took a step, it hurt your foot.


Watching the live action Beauty and the Beast was like that.

First, it was beautiful, utterly breathtaking. Almost every scene was a feast for the eyes. And certain things were really well-done. Emma Tompson as Mrs. Potts was spot on (even while washing a spot off), though a few of her lines were given to the feather duster. Lumiere also was wonderful, though not as funny because of changes they made in the characters around him.

I am not going to go through the film scene by scene, that would be far too painful—for both of us. Rather, I want to mention briefly the categories of errors I saw over and over:


I tried to find a picture to show how angry she looked much of the time, 
but none of those shots are online.

1) Girl Power Rules—anything dainty, feminine, or gentle that Belle did, any time a male character might have been in charge, had to be removed or dealt with badly.

Belle could not handle Gaston subtly, while being amused and above the fray, as in the original. She had to be angry and bossy.

She couldn’t look lovely in a long skirt. She has to wear modern boots, which jarred me out of the picture every time I saw them—though it took me a while to realize what was wrong—and have her skirt pinned up to show off her bloomers on one leg in an outfit that the real Belle would never have worn.


Belle's weird and unattractive (from some angles) dress.
compare with–look how long these dressed are, and no hiking boots:


 

She cannot give her word to stay in her father’s place (giving her father a reason to not immediately rush back to try to rescue her.) She has to not give her word, push her father so that he stumbles out of the cell and falls down, and then try to climb out a window.

So now she’s there because she’s tougher than an old man, not because she is a girl of integrity, who keeps her word until she is truly frightened. (Which also didn’t work. Live-action Belle just looked petulant and angry and like she is leaving the castle because the Beast told her to go, so she’s going! Not because she was frightened. So when she says, “You shouldn’t have frightened me.” The line doesn’t make sense.)

She can’t be cheerful and filled with joy. She has to be angry and petulant. Funny thing though—for all their attempt to make her top dog, the Belle who got angry and seemed resentful after Gaston expressed his desire to marry her seemed much weaker, much less in charge of her life, than the cheerful girl who just laughed off the foolishness of Gaston’s pretensions.

It was as if the scriptwriters were working from a bible that said: “The female character must have agency at all times,” which doesn’t make for good storytelling, especially about a young woman in an earlier age encountering a huge, scary beast.

Worse, when plot and feminism came into conflict, the plot always lost. (This is why we object to message fiction, folks. It’s not the message that is so bad, it is when the message shoves the plot aside and knocks it down the stairs.)
 


We can't have a noble character, that would confuse the viewers!
 

2)  The Faramir Effect—Anyone here remember The Lord of the Rings movie, where they totally, utterly ruined the character of Faramir. Why? The reason given was, “To show that the ring was truly evil, everyone had to be tempted by it.”

This principle shows a lack of the subtleties of storytelling. But it was the ruling principle in the live-action Beauty and the Beast.

Belle couldn’t be odd and beloved—because the prosaic locals didn’t understand her love of books but still valued the pretty, cheerful girl. She had to be hated by villagers who sent all their boys to school in lockstep but made the girls sit in the town center doing laundry. Villagers who threw her laundry into the mud when she dare teach a girl to read! (Shocked gasp!)

Because she can be the only reader—no longer the only bookish girl—boys going to school were added, girls slaving were added, teaching another girl to read was verboten, and during LeFou’s song, he has to stop to make a crack about being illiterate because…if even a soldier like LeFou can read, it will take away from how evil the One Ring is…er, I mean how odd Belle is.

Gaston cannot be a vain man who is a little too taken with himself because everyone in town adores him. He has to be a bully, a lout. But!—ONLY when it doesn’t violate Rule #1. When he’s among other people he swaggers and bullies, but when he talks to Super Fem…er, sorry, Belle, he has to stand several steps below her and plead.

(It was the weirdest scene in the movie: Alpha male Gaston suddenly transforming into a whimpering beta wolf. Which made Belle’s petulance at his imploring seem all the more like an overreaction.)

Gaston cannot come up with a “cunning plan” to trick Belle’s father into agreeing to let him marry his daughter. He has to try to murder Maurice and then bully LeFou into lying about it.

He cannot be admired by LeFou and the bimbettes, who he treats with jovial good will. He has to pettily have his horse kick mud on the women and abandon LeFou at the end to be squashed by a piano.

Oh…and there there’s the bimbettes. They can’t be sweet, cute girls who swoon over Gaston and cry when they think he’s going to pick someone else. They have to be mean-spirited witches, like Cinderella’s stepsisters, totally unpleasant and not cute in the least.


Vs.

 

These are two cases, but there were many. Each time the plot, characters, etc. came in conflict with the Faramir Effect, the plot, etc. took a dive.

 

3) Mommy! Someone’s Mean On The Internet!—I know many people are fond of TV Tropes, but words cannot express the horror and dismay I felt when I first saw that such a thing existed, and time has only proven my fear to be well-founded.

Yes, it can be fun to glance at the website, but the first thing I thought when I saw it was: Oh, no! Now, people are going to start picking apart stories like corpses, and labeling them rather than enjoying them.

Tropes are like the tricks of the trade of a magician. If someone laid out every move every magician made, with arrows showing where to look at all times to see the trick, no one would enjoy the show any more.

When people stop and guffaw, “Oh, look! He used the Mom’s-Head’s-On-Backwards Trope!” (or whatever), they stop enjoying the magic.

But worse, far worse than anything I previously imagined, is when DISNEY starts worrying about the tropes.

The last several Disney movies I have seen have all had the same phenomena over and over—someone is so self-conscious about the tools of their trade that they have to stop and point a finger and try to be funny about it. It is as if they are ashamed at their storytelling, instead of caught in the magic.

The worst offender of this was Moana. The self-conscious pokes at their own tropes—breaking the fourth wall to do it—really took me out of the movie, (except for one—where they didn’t break the fourth wall, which I actually thought was quite funny.)

But Beauty and the Beast did this, too, though not as badly.

It’s not just tropes…one can see in these movies where they are painstakingly rushing to fill in things that they have been criticized online for not having. Instead of ignoring their critics and telling a good story, they rushed to fill in every single little thing that might not make sense.

Nobody stops in the middle of spelling their boss’s name in song to suddenly announce that they are illiterate, unless the writers are mocking the subject. That kind of mocking really draws the viewer out of the movie. (Not if it were Aladdin, where the genie did a lot of it, but when it happens out of nowhere. And so stupidly. Either have him spell the name, or leave that section out of the song. And the genie wasn’t embarrassed about what he did.)

The snow in the scene with Belle and the Beast in the original was just to show time was passing. Here it had to be explained.

The Beast was a selfish child who had temper tantrums in the original, and his servants were his loyal servants. Here, he had to be this way because of his wicked father (okay…how did the father come to be that way? Another wicked father? Is it wicked fathers all the way down?) and the servants had to be guilty of something.

Belle’s mother was dead in the original. Here this had to be explained—in a scene that did NOTHING for the movie.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful scene. Really beautiful and haunting. But it didn’t change Belle, alter her outlook or her purpose. It didn’t even help her connect with the Beast—who had also lost his mother as a young man. It had no effect because it was added in without the story being rewritten to support it.

And this, even though they did set up that she was curious about her mother—but there was no follow through, no result from this that altered her life. It was too important a thing to be touched on so lightly and was treated too lightly in the story to be worth the amount of time it took.

What it did feel like was: “People on the Internet have criticized us for not saying more about Belle’s mother…so here’s an Easter egg for them.”

But, as John said, it made the father look like a coward—fleeing rather than staying with his dying wife?

And many moments were like that…as if they were rushing to address every criticism rather than trying to write a good story. And, of course, by doing this, they opened the way for new criticisms.

If Belle can get to Paris and pick up a rose-shaped rattle with a magic book, why didn’t she use the book to instantly reach her father? (Which is kind of a bigger loophole than any in the original.)    

Nor was this scene added without a price. By adding distractions, additional plotlines, they took attention away from the secondary characters. In the original, Cogsworth was the butler and in charge, and Lumiere was always going around his back.—which made him witty and clever and a delightful rogue.

In the live-action version, Cogsworth is just some kind of hanger-on who only has a few lines and never acts very pompous…and therefore is less endearing and funny. Much more time is spent developing the servants’s lives in the live-action, but somehow at the loss of character personality and wit.

 

In conclusion:

There were many, many more things—some good, many bad—that I don’t have time to mention. As a writer, I found some of the things that seemed wrong, the pinches in the shoe, a bit frightening. I wasn’t sure how their decisions differed from the kind of decision I make in my writing…and I wondered how a writer tells when they are overdoing something vs. making it clear enough.

And yet, the result was: that so many notes just seemed to be out of place, off key.

Overall, the feeling I walked away with was: This had been a marvelous movie that had all sorts of things arbitrarily stuck into it to fill out agendas other than “tell a good story”—rather like taking a nice leather shoe and stretching it to fit a donkey instead of a human foot and then trying to wear it.

Poor Walt.

He would have been appalled.

 

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April 23rd, 2017

03:30 pm: Why I am a Christian Scientist

Originally, this was part of my Last Crusade post on morality, but it seemed as if it deserved its own place. 

In the early days of the Christian Science movement, its healing powers were indisputable. Healings came quickly and easily. When Frances Thurber Seal went to Germany, for instance, she healed every case presented to her. (see Christian Science In Germany )

Due to this tremendous healing power, Christian Science spread rapidly. Churches were booming. Scientists could be found in all walks of life, from top Hollywood stars to members of the British Parliament.

My family came to Christian Science during this period. My grandfather was suffering from a cold. He walked into the office of a Christian Scientist practitioner, which he happened to pass. By the time he walked out, not only was his cold gone, he had also been healed of the desire to smoke. He was so impressed with this experience that he brought the teachings of Christian Science home to his family and many lovely healings ensued.

Out of gratitude to this wonderful divine science which has brought so much good into my life and the life of my family, I will try to post some testimonies from time to time. I have already posted a few in the past. You can find them here:

The Six-Year-Old Behind the Column

The Return of the Six Year Old

Alone In Dreams of Sorrow: The Six-Year-Old Turns Twelve

The Conversion of John C. Wright, Esq.

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

03:21 pm: The Importance of Virtue: Introduction to an Examination of Our Modern World in Light of the Ten Com

This post has been divided into two. The other half of the original post can be found here:

This is a Last Crusade post. If you are not familiar with the Last Crusade, you can find out more here and here.

Part of the purpose of the Last Crusade is to hold up as fine and valuable again some of the things that have been abandoned by our society, including morality. Morality used to be a standard that people sought to live up to. They might stray. They might fall down, but they held up a high standard toward which they strived.

Today, however, morality is mocked and derided. It is part of the desire of the Last Crusade to pick this fallen standard out of the mud of modernity and set it upright again, clean and glorious for all to see.

Recently, I came upon the following quote. In Science and Health: with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: To cure a bodily ailment, every broken moral  law should be taken into account and the error be rebuked. (, pg. 392:4-5 ) This led me to the thought: What might I be accepting as moral that, in Mrs. Eddy’s time, would have been considered a sin?

This thought led to several conversations and these coversations led to this series of articles.

The more I thought about the question of morality today verses morality in Christiandom–as the West was once known–the more I was startled by the difference between what we accept today and what might have been acceptable in the past. Some changes are obvious and come easily to mind, but others were more subtle, changes in our general approval or disapproval of certain topics that most of us probably do not even realize has changed.

So, in a series of upcoming posts, I hope to examine the Ten Commandments and which aspects of each commandment might have been overlooked by our modern outlook.

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

April 16th, 2017

02:29 pm: The Conversion of John Charles Wright, Esquire

Recently, I was asked to write down the story of John’s conversion from my point of view. Easter seemed a nice time to do this. (For John's version, see here or here.)

In order to describe the events of John’s conversion, I need to first set the stage. Nowadays, John is known for his religious outlook. But before his conversion, it was just the opposite. He was not just an atheist. He was a vituperative atheist who attacked religion at every turn and talked people into not believing in God.

John was not an emotional or uniformed atheist. He knew more about the Bible and what Christians believed than many Christians I knew. He could argue points backward and forward and always seemed to have just the right fact on hand to make a religious person look like a fool. One of his main complaints was that religious people would not debate with him. They always backed down and said that they didn’t want to continue the conversation.

Well, except for me.

I never gave up trying to explain things in reasonable terms. It was very difficult. He would attack each point very fiercely and with much skepticism and scorn. I often felt like I was trying to stand up in the face of gale-strength winds. It was hard not to doubt what I believed in the light of all his “evidence” for his side.

But I never gave up.

When we first were dating, I read a book about the Inklings that included quite a bit about C.S. Lewis. I remember thinking that John was very much like Lewis and might come around to understanding God someday the way Lewis did. I also knew that John loved the Truth and put it first, so I figured he might find his way to the one ultimate Truth.

But I really didn’t expect that he would ever change his mind, despite all my prayers and efforts.

After a while, however, John began to be a bit less annoyed at Christians than he had been when we were younger. His love of tradition led him to value the fact that Christians upheld some traditions—including moral ones—that no one else seemed to care about. He also began spending a lot of time reading Chesterton and Lewis.

One Thanksgiving, I asked him to come to church with me and the children for our annual Thanksgiving service. He had never come to my church. I think he had walked into it once during non-service hours and joked that his feet were probably smoking, as the devil’s were said to. However, I explained that it was a tradition for the non-church-going family members to come on Thanksgiving.

John liked tradition, so he agreed to come.

Church went well. The next day, however, I was rather ill. I was lying in bed, feeling miserable, when my husband staggered into the room and announced that he thought he was having a heart attack, and I should either call an ambulances or a Christian Science practitioner.

Ambulances take time. I called a practitioner.

For those of you unfamiliar with them, a Christian Science practitioner is someone who prays for a living. Christian Science practitioners make their living giving Christian Science treatment, which is a kind of prayer, and helping others by turning to God. I called the practitioner I had been working with myself, and I pulled out our Church textbook, Science and Health: with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy and began reading John some of my favorite passages.

I had previously put together a list of some of the passages from the Bible and S&H that I had seen in testimonies of healings, so I began with some of those. I read John a favorite passage of mine from page 14.

His heart attack stopped.

A few minutes later, he felt frightened and thought it was beginning again. I read the same passage again.

It stopped again.

The passage was:  “Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, — neither in nor of matter, — and the body will then utter no complaints. If suffering from a belief in sickness, you will find yourself suddenly well.”  SH 14:12-16
John decided he wanted to go to the hospital to see what had happened to him. Before he went, however, he insisted on pausing to throw out his rather extensive pornography collection.

So, I drove him to the hospital. Once there, they determined that he had had a heart attack but that his heart had not been damaged.

He did, however, have blocked blood vessels…five of them.

During this time, John was suddenly aware of God. He was both utterly amazed and a bit afraid that he would lose this glimpse and start doubting again. I got him situated at the hospital and went home for the night to take care of the children.

When I returned in the morning, John told me that he had been a bit uncomfortable during the night. As he was praying, it had come to him that if he trusted and did not ask for help, he would not need surgery. At one point, though, he felt scared and did tell the nurse. They gave him some kind of medicine.

And, in fact, the next day, they found that he needed surgery—a quintuple bypass. I had never even heard of a quintuple bypass before.

So John spent the next few days in the hospital. We prayed a lot. I read from the Bible and other works, including Christian Science testimonies, particularly from a book called Healing Spiritually. I was still feeling sick myself,  but I was so busy praying for him, I didn’t really notice. Christian Science Practitioners don’t take patients who are under the care of a different kind of practitioner, such as a physician. But I kept talking to the practitioner, who was willing to pray for me and to support my prayers for John.

A couple of mornings later, my only-recently an atheist husband was wheeled off to surgery, he and the orderlies all singing, as they went, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

I sat in the waiting room and prayed. I was reading a bound volume of Christian Science Journals. I can’t recall the year. I do recall that I was also praying for a friend who was pregnant. She had had several miscarriages and was very worried about her pregnancy. As I was praying for John, a great sense of peace came to me about her situation. That baby is now an active thirteen year old.

I also was able to offer words of comfort to some folks whose father was in surgery and someone whose baby was in surgery. I shared with them the idea that God loved their loved one. That  “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) and the truth was: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)—that this applied to their loved ones, here and now. Both of these surgeries were successful.

John made it through surgery. When I saw him afterward, he told me about the visions he had seen. He had talked to Jesus and Paul and G.K. Chesterton, and St. Mary. He told me at the time that he had been told not to repeat any of this to anyone but me. But we both felt that I could repeat it as appropriate.

He told me that he asked Jesus and Paul about which religion/denomination was true, but they would not answer him. (Which is exactly what happens in all the Near Death Experiences I have read. No one ever answers this question.) But he asked Mary, and she told him that Christian Science was true.

One day, I was driving to and from the hospital and listening to hymns. I was praying for John, but also for our four-year-old son, whom the pediatrician felt was behind in his development. I was listening to a hymn that was based on some lines from Psalms: “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” (Psalms 37:37)

Suddenly, I heard a Voice in my thoughts, and it said: “Who told you that there was something wrong with my son?” (I say “my” here but at the time it was clear that it was both “my” God’s and ‘your” as in belonging to me, at the same time. )

I was filled with a sense of awe and joy, and when I reached home, my son—who had never shown any awareness of time or the future came running out to tell me that he wanted to be a lion tamer when he grew up. Funny thing is, he still remembers saying that, even though it was a random comment spoken many years ago.

John had a roommate in his recovery room. And older man who was sad because he wasn’t recovering well and feared he would not get to go home, at least by Christmas. I prayed for him, too, and when I returned the next day, he was filled with awe. His situation had turned around. He was doing better, and might be going home.

John came home. I recall being really sick, with flu type symptoms, and praying for him a great deal. At one point, I realized that the baby was sick, too. I prayed hard with a practitioner about that and, while it took me a while to recover, the baby was well the next day.

John had another vision at some point in here. This one had to do with questions he had about the nature of the universe—time, free will, that sort of thing. It sounded very nice.

It was somewhere around here that he dragged himself out of bed, went to the office, and wrote down an outline for an entire novel in one sitting—it had come to him from some kind of vision or dream.

The novel was called Iron Chamber of Memory.

Twelve and a half years later, John found himself out of work. It came to him that it was time to write Iron Chamber of Memory. He wrote the entire book in five weeks—an amazing record, even for the fast-writing John. Not only that, but during that period, all our bills were paid by the generosity of John’s fans and friends. (Another writer and his wife even generously paid our mortgage one month!)

Between the book’s arrival as a vision and the way our needs were provided for while John wrote it, the entire experience related to this book was miraculous!

There is one, to me, sad part of this story. John was doing well, relying only on Christian Science when he returned from the hospital There were a few issues, but they were getting better at a steady rate. Then, he went to see his doctor. His doctor was so terrified at the idea of him not taking any medicine that he really scared John. John came home scared and started getting worse. The doctor convinced him to start taking various medications, which he still takes to this day.

During this point, I assumed that he would recover and join my church. After all, his life had been saved by Christian Science. But John didn’t seem to grasp some of the concepts involved with Christian Science. He looked at things from a much more material point-of-view. He spent several years being annoyed about the Reformation and that he would have to pick between the denominations, but eventually he picked the Catholic Church, which seemed to appeal to his lawyerly training—including the idea of precedent, his love of tradition, as well as other things.

At first, I was a bit sad about this…but then I noticed that even though he had not said he was considering becoming a Catholic, many of those commenting on his blog were Catholic.  This led me to feel that, while I couldn’t see what it was, he had some kind of process of thought in common with the Catholics. Since then, I have figured that he is in his right place.

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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April 5th, 2017

12:53 am: I appear on The Author Show!

Today only, you can listen to an interview with me speaking about Prospero Lost on The Author Show. My voice sounds a bit warply, since I was talking over the phone, but it's fun!

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12:53 am: I appear on The Author Show!

Today only, you can listen to an interview with me speaking about Prospero Lost on The Author Show

My voice sounds a bit warply, since I was talking over the phone, but it's fun!

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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