An Explanation Of A Fangirl

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A fangirl, according to whatever Google uses as its default dictionary, is a female fan, especially one who is obsessive about comics, film, music, or science fiction.” It goes deeper than this, however. Psychologists would say it’s its own subculture. It also, by the way, encompasses males. Anything and everything can be fangirled about, from Doctor Who to Doctor Blake, and in a world where everything seems so disconnected, fangirling really seems to bring people together. To put it into context, you can get 300 people to turn up to a book conference, while our study seminar had to be postponed for two weeks because almost nobody had bothered paying.

 

What gets girls all riled up about a bunch of people that don’t really exist, though? There are girls who dedicate their time to writing fan fictions, boys who own all the memorabilia and middle aged people who still tune in every night to watch even just the reruns. Apparently, owning the hard cover and paperback are two different things [and you need both], and they need to come in a collectible box. You can even go so far as to get a limited edition poster- that’s titillation. I’m not mocking these people [I have to admit, I’ve been one of them at times] but why do fictional characters take up so much of our time? What makes them so special? And why, oh, why do people think they’ll marry Jace Wayland one day [I mean, after all, last I checked he was into Clary…]

 

To be completely honest, fiction is the same as it’s always been- a way to escape reality and dream of the way things could be “if”. The Magic If. However, now that almost everyone in the first world has access to the internet, it’s so much easier to find out if anyone else shares your interests, and you can usually find at least one person. People can connect over things they’ve never thought about be able to find fellow fans on, and so the fanbase grows, especially as people who have one thing in common share other things they like. Suddenly, the world of fans expands rapidly, and, as they’re fictional characters, there are so many possibilities, or unspecified things about their lives. That produces stories about them, or “fan-fic” [when the fans write something they believe or would like to happen, like two characters getting together- a ship- or an OTP –one true pairing- going further than they did in the actual book/movie/show]. The internet gives us freedom and connects us in many ways, allowing people to find fanbases half way across the world and get some sort of recognition for their loyalty.

 

It’s kind of scary, though, because the internet is starting to realise its own possibilities. There are now entire companies out there dedicated to making sure that we all get what we want, even if we don’t yet know we want it. If you like something on Facebook, Facebook will make sure that you get things similar to it. Try it- if you like anything these days, Facebook will make sure to tell you what all the other people that like that are liking, even if they’re as separate as the Vampire Diaries and Dove soap. Here I should mention that this was encompassed pretty well in an episode of Four Corners on the ABC [which, ironically, does not actually have a Facebook page- I checked]. We can all witness it ourselves, though. Is it a bad thing? Not particularly, however the question must be asked- where is the line between suggesting things we should like and telling us what we should like?

Fangirling isn’t a bad thing. Some people say obsession in general is, but if we can use something that can be used to separate us to make us closer, surely it can’t be that bad. Fangirls should reach out to their fellow human beings, though- their literal neighbours, and find out if they too like things, because the entire world isn’t confined to the internet, and all of our friends don’t exist in our following [watch “Wall-E”].
“With power, comes responsibility,” said Uncle Ben from Spiderman [the first one, for the Spidermen die-hards].tumblr_n7ursdIPev1s2f5aso1_400There were just too many beautiful fangirling examples to use… here are my three favourites at the mo.

 

Fear

For centuries, fear has been used to control others, to change their thinking and to oppress things that people don’t want said. I dare say everyone has used it in some form or other, either threatening someone or plain out lying to their faces- you can make someone fear their worst enemy, of course, but you can also make them fear their best friend. The worst type of fear, though, is when you make someone fear themselves. What is fear and how can it be used? Why is it so effective and why do we keep using it despite the consequence it can yield?

At the moment, our world is riddled with it, from the governments that use it to silence unwanted opinions to the media that tells us about it. In certain countries, admitting to being a Christian can be signing your own death sentence, both with officials and extremist groups, while in certain schools, the situation is not much different. There is a definite distinction between your life being ended by others literally and figuratively, don’t get me wrong, but in a society that claims to accept all ideas, views and faiths, saying certain things can certainly blur the lines for some. It seems that, although we’d all like to think we’re non-judgemental, there comes a time where everyone draws their line. Those that end up on the other side of that line can often be subjected to mocking, isolation and worse. What effect does this have on those people though? What does being cut off from society do a person simply because they mustered up the courage to express their beliefs?
Fear, plain and simple.

The reactions one can have to what someone says can cause them to fear you, others and themselves, because at the end of the day, no matter how many self-help books we subject ourselves to and tid bits of advice we get from Dolly Doctor, people care what others think. Sure, we probably shouldn’t. Life might be easier if we didn’t. But no one likes being an outcast, and no one wants to be alone. So, we fear. Fear saying the wrong thing and fear offending people. Avoid doing this, avoid going there. Fear that one day we’ll finally let people see who we are. We fear them and we fear us.

Fear is a funny thing, though. If someone can threaten to kill one person for saying something and the same amount of fear is conjured because someone else can cut you off for saying another, why is it so powerful? Why can a person in fear of persecution withstand it for decades while a teenager in fear of sitting alone at lunch end their own life? Why do we all react differently to what is essentially the same emotion, embedded in us perhaps from the days when it truly was do or die? Perhaps we ought to then look at who is wielding the power- who is creating the fear.
Essentially, it comes down to the same sort of person, doesn’t it? The bully. The one who feels the need to oppress for one reason or another- maybe because they truly believe theirs is the right idea and are sick of people not listening, maybe because they’re sick of listening to others themselves. Maybe because they have a need for power, maybe because they’re sick of others always being the powerful ones. What causes joy in someone when they see others flinch when they lift their hand; what makes people pleased to see others cowering in the dark? And, if that used to be them, what is so interwoven into our DNA that seems to cause short term memory problems, because if we’ve all used fear, then certainly we’ve all experienced it.

If we can accept all of that as fact, however, the question remains to be addressed- how to overcome it. We know how it feels to be on both sides, and we know that the easiest way out is to turn the tables, but is there perhaps another way out? After all, another fact of fear is that it doesn’t work. If you make someone shake or nod their head because they’re afraid, it doesn’t mean that they truly believe anything, just that they’re afraid. If they have truly changed their mind, then how strong were their convictions in the first place? “A faith based on fear is not really faith at all.” It doesn’t work, but it’s easy to use, like trying to light the ocean on fire with a small box of safety matches.
Sadly, it’s also been used in religion. How many times have we seen the preacher on the milk box shouting at people that if they don’t repent, they’ll go to hell? How many times have we seen Christians themselves persecuted because they don’t “believe the right thing”? How many times have we seen so many jeered at because there is something we don’t believe ourselves that they believe, so they must be wrong. How do we get out of the cycle?
To be honest, I think it has something to do with faith itself. “Perfect love drives out fear,” says the Bible in 1 John 4:18. If we have love, then we don’t have to fear. If we love our enemies, we needn’t fear them anymore. If we love the owner of life and death, we don’t have to fear life and death anymore. If we love God, we don’t have to fear him anymore. God drives out fear, because [1 John 4:8] he is love. It works that way. It may be helpful to remember that it works the other way, too. Perfect love drives out fear. If you love other people, you don’t have to use fear to control them. If you love your children, your friends, your country, your congregation, there should be no fear in that relationship. Fear is always going to be a problem, but I believe that love is always going to be the solution.

Food for thought,
Patty.

“Popular [Vintage Advice for a Modern Geek]” (review)

“Popular, a memoir.” Maya Van Wagen.

Popular, a memoir, [Vintage wisdom for a modern geek] is the true tale of a girl in year 8 who goes through a dramatic transformation using the words of Betty Cornell, a model who wrote a book on how to be popular in the fifties. Following the advice to a T, Van Wagen metamorphoses from a “geek” to a “popular girl” chapter by chapter, writing about her journey over the course of a year. I have to admit that I hate teen literature, but I’m writing this review because this one wasn’t so bad.

It was written by a teenage girl, and that is pretty obvious throughout the entire story. Complaining about Cornell’s advice on wearing girdles and having to shower every day, Maya seems to be stuck in a world about herself, and the little circle surrounding her. She speaks about her best friend [who doesn’t seem all that friendly to me…], her parents, her autistic sister and her little brother exactly in the light she sees them in, displaying a blunt honesty many people seem to lose with age. However, although perhaps she’s a little naïve, she has a truly unique perspective and writes with wit as well as a certain innocence, portraying everyone she writes about the way she truly sees them. I have to say, it’s kind of refreshing. The story doesn’t feel too cluttered with unnecessary things. She’s writing about her year, and the people in it, and of course her changes. Anyway, she follows the advice of a chapter nearly every month, and apart from seeing how the advice from so long ago is played out, you also get to witness a teenagers journey to discovering what popularity is and how much it’s worth. The way she writes is a little corny, but the story is a good one.

I think what was most interesting about the book is the way she encompasses everyone at one stage or another. She talks about being teased, about being praised and about losing people very close to her. She talks about the quiet kids and the loud ones- the ones she is drawn to and the ones that repulse her. I guess we all go through wondering what popularity is and whether we want a piece of it- I see Maya as just having the courage to write it down. There are many interesting bits in the book [as well as a few times when you could swear it was written by a Hollywood director- falling out of love with her crush, the hot guy with the big glasses holding the door open for her, her transformation into the geek with glasses to the blushing prom queen. Yes, there’s a prom at the end]. The best part, though, is when she gets in touch with the lady who actually wrote the book she literally based her life on, Betty Cornell. We get a little insight into Maya’s search for her, and getting in touch with the woman who inadvertently changed her life for a year [and perhaps for a lot longer to come].

Out of the entire novel, though, it was the sad parts that made me think. When she begins to wake up to the reality that not everyone is nice, no matter how they may seem to your face, and when she talks about the encouragement she got from her favourite teacher who ends up passing away. When she talks about her family, when she seems the most real and you get to see behind the veil of sarcasm and humour she uses, those are the times when you can truly feel close to Maya. It was those moments that made me want to keep reading- that made me care if her experiment worked or not, that made me like her. Yea, there’s a lot of stereotyping in it [its teen literature for goodness sake], but I’d say it’s worth reading.

“Popularity is more than looks. It’s not clothes, hair, or even possessions. When we let go of these labels, we see how flimsy and relative they actually are. Real popularity is kindness and acceptance. It is about who you are, and how you treat others.”

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Prospekt’s March (review)

This album by Coldplay is one of my favourites. It’s definitely worth listening to, filled with basically none of their classics or most popular songs. It doesn’t have anything on it that I’d ever listened to before, and I bought it on impulse off iTunes, but I have to say, it’s turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. To be honest, I think it’s a pretty sombre album. A slow song one, perhaps one to listen to while meditating on something or camping out under the stars.

An album of truly beautiful music, the lyrics seem to follow a train of thoughts. The theme to me, speaks of freedom, with song titles like “Now My Feet Won’t Touch The Ground.” There are some random compositions on it, like someone just sat down at their piano and started playing but couldn’t stop. “Postcards From Far Away” and the actual song that gave its name to the album, “Prospekt’s March” both seem slightly disjointed like a gangly teenager sitting at an instrument and suddenly letting out a cacophony of symphony. When I listened to them, I couldn’t help but close my eyes, lean back in my chair and listen. There aren’t that many songs that can do that to a person.

Mixed in with the sombre and the beauty is a little touch of fun. Songs like “Lovers in Japan [Osaka Sun Mix]” and “Glass of Water” are pretty novel songs. They carry the freedom sound to a lighter level. With lyrics like “dreaming of when the morning comes,” they kind of make you feel like you have to smile.

Perhaps it is just the way the album is compiled, but I’d say the band or the composer of the songs also had war on his mind. Apart from the obvious in the titles and lyrics [“smoke is rising from the houses, people burying their dead; I asked somebody what the time is, but time doesn’t matter to them yet.”], it seems to be interwoven into the majority of the songs- perhaps it’s not only about the aftermath but the cause. Ones like “Lost” and “Rainy Day” talk about mistakes made, or things that we wish we could do better or differently.  They don’t carry a scary sound so to speak, but especially Lost and Prospekt’s March are perhaps a little more melancholy than the others.

Have a listen, and tell me what you think.

Always Moving But Always Stationary.

My first gif :) [I made it, too. ]  BTW: it's from Pretty Little Liars, season 4, episode 18.
My first gif 🙂 [I made it, too. ]
BTW: it’s from Pretty Little Liars, season 4, episode 18.

 

Apparently the broadening of the inventions in technology was meant to half the average work load. You can walk outside at any time, however, and see business people on their phones, their faces plastered to screens. There have even been instances of people taking drugs to keep working. It’s no longer the sport stars under the largest amount of pressure to perform, but perhaps your average office block chick.

Why do we need to work so much, though? Where did all of this come from? Just because we can work faster, doesn’t mean we should. It certainly definitely doesn’t mean we should work longer. We give toddlers iPads when they won’t be quiet, and we teach grandparents how to use Facebook so they won’t be left out of the loop. When is the craze going to start getting crazy?

It would seem that at least half of society disagrees, however.

The perils of overwork are slight compared with the dangers of inactivity”- Thomas Edison

“Men do not die from overwork, they die from dissipation and worry.” Charles Evans Hughes.

Where is the line between hard work and over work? The word over implies too much, but too much work usually implies laziness.

Some people have realised it’s a problem- I’m sure we’ve all felt similarly when we realise our back has begun to ache or our eyes have begun to dry.

More men are killed by overwork than the importance of the world justifies.” Rudyard Kipling

Statistics indicate that, as a result of overwork, modern executives are dropping like flies on the nation’s golf courses.”Ira Wallach

So, in the day and age when our work is always at our fingertips- when you can access it online, and through your mobile, when you can carry it on the bus with you and have it on your lap in bed, what is overworking ourselves doing to us?

Science in Sunday school

 

Here are three experiments and little meanings I used with my Sunday school class. They really seemed to like them, so I thought I’d share.

1)Putting a candle out with a jar. If you light a candle, and then put it on a flat surface before putting a jar or a tin over it, it’ll go out almost immediately. The candle needs oxygen to keep burning, and you’re cutting off the supply. What I used it to illustrate was us, as humans. We’re all pretty plain and simple, but the Holy Spirit comes along and lets us burn. Put the jar over us, though, and not only can no one see our faith, but it dies as we suffocate it. Basically, fuel [candle] = us; heat [fire] = Holy Spirit; oxygen= being outside (so people can see and so it doesn’t get suffocated). Luke 8:16

2) Milk, detergent, food colouring and a cotton bud. Pour a little milk into a saucer and add some drops of food dye exactly in the middle [the more milk and food dye you use, the more impressive this will be]. Then dip your cotton bud into detergent and plunge it into the food dye. The food dye spreads to the ends of the milk in beautiful colours. Cotton bud= us. Once again, the plain material that can be added to and used in a special way. Detergent= the Holy Spirit, giving us power. Colours= people around the world, and the message of the gospel. The milk= the Earth. Acts 1:8

3) Oil and water. Pour some oil and water into a clear cup [this one is best viewed at eye level, either on a table or with the kids lying on their stomachs]. Slowly and carefully drop some food dye into the cup, and it’ll settle into the oil. It forms sort of little bubbles on the bottom of the oil, and the food dye collects until it’s heavy enough to break through. Oil= troubles, water= happiness, food dye= us. When we band together, we can get through troubles easier. It’s a lot nicer than facing them alone. This is why we need church, why we need Jesus- God helps us get through things, and we’re stronger with him and with others. Colossians 3:15; Ecclesiastes 4:12.

 

Hope all goes well, and the kids [or even adults] enjoy. 🙂 

My Zombie Apocalypse Team

It’s a dark and stormy afternoon. It’s 3.30 pm and the school is almost empty, apart from the drama class and Rock Eisteddfod group rehearsing for their respective performances. Above the din of Lady Gaga, however, one of the girls hears a noise outside. She alerts her friends and they go outside to investigate. What they see makes them run for the main building, leading the rest to dance until their deaths.

A girl wanders down the corridor. She has forgotten her box of tissues in her locker, and will probably need them for the bus. At the end of the hall, however, she doesn’t notice a man slowly swaggering towards her. She turns as she hears his slow shuffle. “G’day, mate,” she calls. He simply moans in reply and as he walks into the light, awful realisation hits her. She screams, grabs her tissues and runs.

In the library sits a young lady, packing up. She should have been gone half an hour ago. She picks up her textbook and slings her bag over her shoulder. At the door stands the librarian, her face hidden in shadow. “Excuse me,” she says politely.
“Grrrr,” says the librarian, turning to face her.
“It can’t be…” she says to herself. Remembering her predicament, she hits the librarian with her book and quickly heads for the staircase, not noticing as the librarian picks up the book and absentmindedly scans it.

“This room is really annoying,” said one.
“There’s more space upstairs,” agreed another.
“Let’s go,” decided a third.
As the class disappeared out the door, two students hung behind to grab their diary and sketch book respectively. As they reached the door, though, the realised everyone had gone. It was deadly silent- something was wrong.
Slowly, the pair began to make their way upstairs. “Stop! Help!” screamed Nessie, clutching her tissue box.
“What’s up, Ness?” inquired the girl with the diary.
“They’re all gone,” said Miranda, walking towards them, followed by the rest of the Rocka gang.
“Why?” asked Anna, putting her sketchbook in her bag.
“Zombies.” Britney shook her head. “They’re starting to invade the school.”
“Zombies?” asked Patty.
“It’s happening,” said Alex. “They’re coming.”

The group hurriedly began making their way towards the only classroom with bars on the windows- rumour had it they were there from the days when the school had been a prison. There was a new sense of urgency about their movements, and as the Drama kids and Rocka squad were already in black, Patty couldn’t help thinking they already looked like they were in battle mode. They were prepared.
Slowly, the gate was drawn across the door and the windows were locked. The group began to formulate a plan.

Little did they know that they annual Mufti Day was coming up and someone had been sent to put up posters for the next day. It was after school, so she was already in six inch heels and a leopard print scarf, but Reem was still made she was missing out on her afternoon. As she walked up the stairs, however, she began to hear voices. “Hello?” she called out. Slowly, the door opened to reveal eight very confused faces.
“What are you doing here?” asked Miranda.
“I could ask you the same thing. I had to put up some posters and then this guy came to the office and he sounded like he was in pain, so I came up here to find the first aid kit.”
“Reem….” But before anyone could explain, there was a terrible moan everyone was getting to know all too well.
“I thought I told you to wait in the office, man?” Reem said, turning to face the zombie with her hands on her hips.
“Arrrggghhhhh,” replied the zombie.
“Don’t you growl at me- if you’re hurt, I’ll help but ain’t nobody got time for your crap.”
“Reem, it’s a zombie,” said Anna.
“Oh, s*&%” said Reem. She pulled off a heel and plunged it into the zombie’s head, stunning him just long enough for her to get inside the room. As they watched the zombie stumble around, the door was once again closed.
“Damn, those were Manolo Blahniks.”

 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, a pastor was trying to save his son and pregnant wife from the onslaught. They’d gotten stuck in the church and all Steve had was a candlestick. He was getting swamped on all sides, despite his wife throwing everything she could get her hands on. “Not the iPad!” he yelled over his shoulder, getting distracted just long enough for a particularly scary zombie to come up behind him.
Was this the end?

 

Back at the school, there was a tap on the door.
“Zombies can’t knock,” said Mona.
“Famous last words,” said Alex.
Patty opened the door a crack to see a battered Betty pressed up against the bars swatting at zombies with her umbrella. She was quickly pulled inside and the door was closed once more.
“What happened to you?” everyone asked.
“Well,” began Betty, taking a swig of water. “I was walking home and my shoe broke, so I bent down to take it off and see what could be done. Then I looked up and there was this guy staring at me weirdly, so I started trying to walk home, but he came up to me. I wanted to ask him what was wrong, but then he grabbed me- I think he was trying to eat my brains- so I hit him with my shoe and tried to run away. I was only wearing one shoe by this point, though, so I fell over and he got up and tried to chase me again. I didn’t really have anything in my bag except for my umbrella, so I kind of shoved it in his mouth and… well, it’s really gross, but I opened it and ran towards the school.”
While everyone got over their shock at Betty’s amazing intelligence and horrible luck, Britney checked her over for injuries.
“You didn’t get bitten, did you?” she asked.
“I don’t think so… just this weird scratch.”

After much planning, the group had a plan.
“It’s go time,” said Nessie. “I’m ready.”

The group marched to the office and Alex picked up the authentic, titanium swords, engraved by chisel, that the Japanese school had given as a gift [that was the year we gave them the plastic koala magnets]. She unsheathed them and gave one to Miranda who ran downstairs with Caitlin while the rest of them went to the Science rooms.
Mona and Britney had a conversation consisting of scientific words nobody really understood- they’d figured out the beginnings of an idea, but now they had all the means to carry it out at their fingertips. As they mixed chemicals, the others cleaned beakers and Nessie made tea she’d stolen from the office, Miranda and Caitlin returned and shared their spoils. Baseball bats, hockey sticks and tennis rackets fell to the floor, all taken from the P.E. store room.

 

Steve looked up at the zombie and said his last prayers. As he waited for the fatal bite that would turn him into one of theirs, it never came. He opened his eyes to see the creature lying on the floor, Nathaniel holding the offending weapon- a drum stick. “I never told you this dad, but I’ve been learning martial arts off YouTube during naptime.”
Steve looked at his kid, stunned. “YouTube…? I’m proud of you, son.”
“Thanks Dad,” replied the two year old.
And so, father and son fought side by side as Jay hit zombies over the head with an iPad.

 

“If we can just get to the hospital, I’m sure we could find something to spray it everywhere.”
The cure was finished and the group sat around, Caitlin sharpening the ends of the hockey stick with a scalpel and Alex sharpening her sword with the fossils.
“Let’s go then,” said Patty. “We’ll figure out a plan on the way.”
“We can do this, guys!” said Nessie, in an attempt to lighten the mood. It didn’t work.
They opened the door to a writhing mass of zombies. Alex and Miranda stepped out, stopping everything in their path, closely followed by Reem with her remaining shoe and Caitlin, hitting everything in sight. Betty clung onto a hockey stick, followed by Patty and Nessie with baseball bats. They were unstoppable, but couldn’t face everywhere at all times. Alex turned to slice a zombie in half and Anna saw what was happening in slow motion. She didn’t have time to grab a weapon- she just ran out and bit the thing. It was wearing a grotesque fur vest, and as it went down, she could have sworn she heard it say “I didn’t even hear you running…”

The group continued outside. “How are we going to get across there?” asked Nessie, as she plunged her hockey stick into a nearby elderly zombie. As she pulled it out though, the group turned to see Leanne on her Vespa, Anthony clinging onto the back for dear life. “I think I can help,” said Leanne.
“I was just wondering around Bondi Junction and I saw this guy, so I thought I’d come and find you guys, see if you were still okay.” They both got off the scooter, Anthony slightly wobbly. Patty took him by the shoulder and looked him in the eye. “Anthony, get out your phone. I’ve got breaking news.”

Using the wonders of social media, he sent out a message telling all humans to come to the hospital. As he did so, Alex got on the back of the Vespa and took the sword from Miranda.
“I was born for this,” Alex said in her best American hero voice.
“I understand,” replied Miranda, taking a baseball bat.
As Leanne drove through the crowd, and Alex straddled the seat with both legs, she held out her arms like Rose in Titanic, parting the zombies like the red sea. A little too literally.

As the gang ran through the crowd, one of the zombies called out “Brain!”
Britney turned around. “Yes?”

As the gang reached the hospital, they started loading the cure into gas canisters.
“Are we all clear on the plan?” Patty asked.
“Yes,” they replied.
“Then let’s lock and load.”

They ran out, throwing the canisters into the crowd, watching them explode in the air. More humans joined them slowly from all around the country as the battle lasted for the entire night. Finally, Australia was free and completely human. Not everyone had made it, though.
Betty lay on the ground and breathed slowly in and out. She was beaten and bloodied- she had accidentally fallen down some steps. Her “scratch” had gotten worse. A lot worse. Then, out of the mist, a man came. He gently kissed her on the forehead and the group watched as her face cleared and she stood up.
“Thankyou,” she said.
“That’s okay,” he said, “I just had that little bit left of zombie power in me.” He turned around and handed a dirty high heel to Reem. “I believe this is yours,” he said.
“Why thankyou,” said Reem, just as the school bell sounded for another day.

 

The Screwtape Letters Review

 

I wonder how many blog posts start with the words “this changed my life”. All the same, the Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis, literally above and beyond changed my life. I’ve been thinking of writing a book review for quite some time and I can’t think of anything I’d rather write about.

“Before the service was over- one could wish these things came more seasonably- I was struck by an idea for a book which I think might be both useful and entertaining. It would consist of letters from an elderly, retired devil to a young devil who has just started work on his first ‘patient’. The idea would be to give all the psychology of temptation from the other point of view.” C.S. Lewis on getting the idea for the novel.

The Screwtape Letters is a very unique story. Set around the 1940s [similar to the Narnia novels], it’s centred on a young devil named Wormwood asking his Uncle Screwtape for advice. This, I must say, gives it a purely unique perspective. We follow the story of Wormwood as he tries to convert the man he’s been assigned to and get him into Hell, and a number of issues that not only every Christian but every person faces are addressed. The funny thing is that, although you know it’s written in the perspective of the devil, you find yourself empathising with the man. It may be hard to understand without actually reading it, but I found myself following the story of Wormwood’s victim and watching as he got caught in so many of the traps life can have for all of us- his annoying mother, the confusion of falling in love, joining a church and being forced to realise no one is perfect. They are all little things that tempt us to sin and cause us to stumble, and it’s extraordinary to watch them be orchestrated by who is, essentially the main character. Funnily enough, as you read on, you root for the underdog. As you hear God described as “the Enemy”, everything in you wants him to win- as you hear “love” described as something negative, something in you screams out and you end up surprising yourself. It’s wonderfully written that way- the man should be annoying, probably, but you find so many qualities of yourself in him. The best thing is that it is all presented with an air of humour. In my particular publication, the title page contains a quote by Luther- “the best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for her cannot bear scorn.” Jeer at him is certainly what Lewis has done.

In conclusion, I personally think that it’s a novel everyone should read. Every Christian especially, should be encouraged to take it up and be inspired by being audience to some of the nifty little tricks and traps that we can all be victim to.

Thoughts on Under the Dome

 

Currently there is a television series airing on Channel Ten, Tuesdays. It’s quite good actually, and has nothing to do with the Simpsons Movie, but the reason for this review is to bring out some little hidden messages I think all Christians should consider while watching it. Just so you know, some of these references are in the first season, which is also worth watching.

  • What does the church mean? The story is set in the little country town of Chester’s Mill, and there is a small chapel or church building where people gather on Sunday’s and a pastor preaches at the pulpit. It is set clearly from the very beginning that this is their place of gathering, and part of nearly everyone’s habit. Apart from the local diner, it’s their hub of community. As the show progresses, though, you begin to notice a few things that are all too prevalent in actual society. The elderly woman is a cynical gossiper, ready to condemn the newcomers; the pastor has certain less than reputable “hobbies” and the mayor of the town is simply a narcissistic, patronising father who does not have enough time for his son. The show raises some questions about how church is becoming a part of society- no longer only in the world, but perhaps of it too. It is as the town reaches their crises that they begin to turn to their spirituality and find that it has degraded into something almost unrecognisable. What happens while God’s waiting around for us to realise we need him?
  • What do people do in a crisis? We all have different reactions to crises, but the question in Under the Dome is what should we do? Of course, as soon as the dome came down, the question was raised- is this part of God’s will? Isn’t everything? It should be taken into account that the novel the show is based on was written by acclaimed atheist, Stephen King, but the show can spur thought- in any crisis, how do we deal, knowing that God has control over everything. Almost immediately, there are people creating ideas about what God wants, and yet others losing their faith as they can’t see what God’s purpose in it all is. Although it’s hopefully unlikely that a giant dome will ever come down over Sydney, what do we do when faced with things we can’t match up with what we know of God?
  • I think the last good point to take from it is family. When the dome came down, it didn’t discriminate and many people were left without any access to their outside family or friends. Similar to the question common among the church community- what would you regret not having said or having left undone if you were to die tomorrow- the show has a common theme of what people wish they had done. There is a woman who never said goodbye to her husband, and another who was pregnant when the dome came down- her husband is on the other side. A brother and a sister are left without their parents or any way to contact them and are forced to look after each other. This, however, also brings them closer as they get to know each other. During certain times in the series, the community is forced to band together and help each other lest the entire town go up in smoke [literally]. What could we be doing better in our community- what will it take to bring us together in a society where apartments are separated by 10cm thick walls? What relationships do we need to fix lest we miss the opportunity all together?

All in all, I’d say it was a show worth watching, but while you’re getting caught up in the Drama of Junior and Angie, spare a thought for some deeper meaning.C

Why Women Can Preach

There is a lot of debate out there on many things in the Bible, and things that reflect Christianity and it’s morals, and one of the main ones affecting more than half of the Christian population is the issue of women preaching. There doesn’t seem to be that much out there on the side I believe a lot of my generation follows, so I’ve compiled it into a post that I hope will encompass the views of many.

Firstly, there is a problem with the context of the verses. Written by a single man two thousand years ago, both 2 Timothy and Titus, the most commonly quoted books on this subject, could be taken in the wrong context. Paul has written a lot on his views, but many of them, for instance his views on marriage [if you’re single, stay single; if you’re married, stay married- it’s easier that way] were based on the context of his situation and that of the people he was writing to. It is extremely important to look at the context because, although we can take a lot of meaning and further understanding from his words in the 21st century, at the end of the day, they were aimed at a specific group. Those people were going through a crisis- it’s no wonder he considered the inconvenience of a wedding in the middle of it! The same, however, can be said for women. The ideal woman of that society was quiet and a child bearer. The Athenians in particular would not allow the women outside the house, and it was uncommon for them to have any friends outside their family. There is many a quote by male history writers on how they wished their wife would be silent and look pretty. Paul may not have had the same motive for writing that he thought women should be quiet in church, but he certainly had the same upbringing and audience. When looking at any historical document, one must consider the origin, motive, context and audience and in this case the last two are very specific.
What can women take from this? Certainly that they shouldn’t be boisterous or proud, however in a society where women are starting to take a stronger role in society- where they can vote, work and own companies- surely we are no longer the women of two thousand years ago? Surely, therefore, we have changed enough- our culture has changed enough- to allow us to have the wisdom to preach?

This leads me to my second point. Many things have changed since Paul’s time, and arguably for the better. Since then, slavery has been abolished and the class system has been drastically altered. Animals have more rights and so do children- surely, however, the group that has progressed the furthest are women. As mentioned, women now have the right to vote in most if not all countries [officially] and they no longer have the main priority of being mothers. Fortunately, men are now encouraged to spend more time with their children, showing up in the new rights given, including paternity leave, but it is certainly clear that the roles everyone has, and the norms of society as we know it have progressed. Tacked on to this is the point that women preaching should not emasculate men in any way- it just so happens that if a man can’t preach or doesn’t want to lead, he is still a great man, and if a woman can preach and can lead, she is still within the boundaries of being a great woman. How can one say that rules or ideas had thousands of years ago apply to today? I’m not saying we should disregard everything the Bible says, and I would certainly never dispute anything Jesus said [I call myself a Christian for a reason]- we have rules for a reason. But those rules are there to protect us. The homosexuality issue, like the incest issue, like the eating raw meat issue all have reasons that God put there to protect us, but where is the harm in women preaching? Can it not be argued that in fact there are certain benefits? A man who has never heard the gospel preached a certain way- there is every chance that a woman can achieve that as there is a man. A man who has never heard the emotion or the different perspective a woman can bring, has never been exposed to it, can surely be brought to Christ through her words. It must also be noted that Paul was the one who wrote them, specifying that he was writing because God had given him wisdom. God gifts people with wisdom, and as I said, hundreds of things can be taken from what Paul had to say, but is one of them definitely that women should not preach in church? I don’t believe so.

My last argument is one particularly close to home. There are certain things a woman can put across that a man can’t. Most seasoned Christians have heard a man talk about being a father, and the joy it is that they can share some of those qualities with God, but to hear a woman speak of being a mother is a particularly special thing. Consider that, while many people miss a father figure and seek one in not only Jesus but their pastor, many also seek a mother figure, one that can comfort them and listen to them, and that can be found in a woman. “They can talk to them after church,” you say, “why need they get up on the podium?” My answer to that is simple- you know your pastor because you’ve heard him. You listen to him because you’ve already listened to him. You know what he thinks, if he’s kind, if he’s actually full of the Holy Spirit and worth talking to because you’ve already heard him speak. The women are sometimes overlooked in the congregation- perhaps as the pretty face that sings, or the one in the kitchen who brings out afternoon tea, and although I am in no way saying that they should be up the front because they’re seeking glory, you have a certain trust for someone once you’ve listened to their opinion, and women often bring a unique one. I have heard many a man come out of church after hearing a woman speak and say “wow, that was interesting, that pastor had some things to say I’d never heard before.” It should not and often does not matter if a speaker is male or female, but if it does, let it be simply for the reason that we are all unique, and allowing women to get up there is literally allowing another 3.5 billion opinions to make their way to the front to share.

The important thing to remember is that this is called Why Women Can Preach, not All Women Should Preach. Preaching is important and it’s been entrusted to Christians to help others understand bits of the Bible, to glorify God and, at the end of the day, to show people to him. Not all women should preach, just as not all men should preach, but if you’ve got the gift [that God has given you, as he gives everyone gifts], then I believe you should get up there and use it.