Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Acrobats

 Two long, sturdy strips of cloth hung from a fixed point above the stage. A broad-shouldered man and a lithe woman climbed these pieces of cloth with creative tricks and soon they were both high in the air while the polished wood floor of the stage was dangerously far below. Already, we were impressed, they did a few tricks and arranged themselves, and then…

They swung gracefully out over our heads, the long strands of cloth trailing. They flew, his larger frame behind hers, she leaning against him. They walked in the invisible air, side by side, stepping lightly and in synchronization, delicately pointing their toes. He took her in his arms, crossed her quickly over his body and in various dramatic skater’s poses, they continued to fly around and around above our heads. He let her go and caught her with his feet as our hearts jumped into our mouths.

I was struck with the thought, “I want to get married.”

To me, it was a beautiful picture of marriage, one that I wanted to imitate. 

It was beautiful, it was romantic. Yet, it was so dangerous. If he dropped her, if she fell…the results were unthinkable. 

If they fell, they would likely be killed, and if not, then grievously injured. Yet not only they were in danger, but those watching. The audience too could be injured: physically if they fell onto the audience, emotionally if they fell on the stage. Just like a failed marriage, not only would it hurt the couple, but all those near too. And think of the emotional guilt he would feel for having dropped his partner.

To fly like this required strength and trust. Both must possess these qualities, but the man especially the strength as he bore her weight and his own, and she the trust as he at times lifted or caught her as they swung through the air, almost touching the ceiling. 

In Ephesians 5:22-27, we learn, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless,” (Ephesians 5:22-27). The wife is to submit to her husband. If I’m to submit to someone, I want a man I can trust with my life, just as this woman trusted him to catch her. The husband is to help his wife heavenward, just as the male acrobat lifted her, and helped her stay high on the cloths. 

~August 2014. Beijing, China.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bills are Blessings

Lately I've realized that I have had an abundance of blessings poured into my lap.  I finally have a full-time office job with fun co-workers who "get" my weird sense of humor. I bought my own car. I started Krav Maga where I am learning to fight and it's great to have a safe place to channel one's anger. The first day I went, the instructor told us to get angry and hit the pads as hard as we could. I was hooked and signed up for the membership after the class. Back in the fall of last year, I purchased a smartphone. Now, with monthly payments needing to made for all these blessings, (which I would not have if I was not blessed to have a job to be able to afford these things), I realized that I love bills. Wow! All these bills! I'm so excited about having bills, it's like my proof of adulthood. "Look at me, I'm being a grown-up!"

Yes, I am thankful for these bills. They are a blessing, I might not always be able to have these things, but while I do, I am so thankful to God for providing them, and even if they are taken away I know He will provide for me and I am thankful for that as well.

Through my storm He reached out to me

I was reading some of my journal entries from this past year. It's interesting to look back and remember where I was and how I've grown.

I found an entry from a little while ago that I want to share. A few months ago I was feeling restless, unsettled, useless. With a need to do SOMETHING to fight it and fight my fears of growing into a boring old adult, I ran out into the warm, dark, night air and swung myself up into the maple. I enjoyed the feeling of pain as the sawn-off branch jabbed me hard in the torso and the rough bark scraped my wrists. I climbed higher into the tree and then stood still, leaning against the slender forked branches. I looked straight ahead and I saw a full white moon through a square frame of leaves and a lattice of trees in the distance. This little square was the perfect size for the snowy moon and it's white aura. The lovely shape of the leaves, black against the deep dark royal blue of night. Behind the leafy frame of pointed maple leaves, flat against the night sky like a delicate Chinese papercut rose the crisscrossing arches of tall trees beyond in other yards and behind the moon according to my depth perception. I took in this little picture and silently was thankful to God that in the middle of my restless, caged-up feelings, He gave me this picture. It was as if it was saying to me,"I'm here. I made this picture for you. Just you. It's tiny and personal. Just the way I often remind you I am here."

You see, for a detail-oriented person, the details mean so much.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Artwork of The Tale of Princess Kaguya

The film seems to be set in the Heian period of Japan. A quick glance at the emaki (scrolls with artwork on them) show the fashion and interior design of the period which is clearly transcribed in the film. The animators did not, however, put the main action off in the corner and split the scene diagonally with a birds-eye view over walls, as typical of of these illustrations.
 The governess in particular looked like she stepped right out of The Tale of Genji Scrolls, from her clothing, face shape, long black hair, and the shape of her skull when her head is bent.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

The Tale of Genji

In one scene, Princess painted some animals that are reminiscent of the whimsical black and white animals of Choju Jinbutu Giga scrolls.

Then we've got this lovely brush work which is also reminiscent of traditional styles:
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

The end of the film depicted a raigo of Amida Buddha and in particular it reminded me of one picture called Raigo of Amida and Twenty-Five Attendants. This picture depicts the cloud at an angle coming down to a house, just like some shots in the movie. Little beings fly on ahead, like the little "fairies" in the film, although the ones in the picture aren't wearing pink skirts. A raigo is a descent of Amida Buddha to receive people after they die.
The Raigo of Amida and Twenty-Five Attendants

Click here to view close-ups of the raigo painting: Kyoto National Museum: Raigo of Amida

This film released by Studio Ghibli in 2013 is a melancholy film and not a fun family film. The film does contain the nudity of small children and breasts of nursing mothers.

Facts are from the wikipedia, my memory from The Arts of Japan class I took at university, and also History of Japanese Art, by Penelope Mason.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The End...But Not

~This post is written to my fellow Christians. ~

It's interesting how there are signs of God and elements of Truth woven through culture and time, it's in Pagan lore, and it shows up in books by modern authors. There are elements of truth amongst the lies and confusion so prevalent in society.

I read an account of Ragnarok (The Twilight of the Gods), which is the tale of the end of the world in Norse mythology. Much of it was very similar to what has been told in The Bible and outlined in  Heaven, by Timothy Keller. Ragnorak contains a fight between the gods where the  world is destroyed. In the end though, the children of the gods survive and begin a new life in a beautiful fresh land. Ragnarok rightly states that the world will be destroyed and a new world created. However, instead of the children of the gods, the children of God will live there. (The children of God are those who believe in the saving power of Jesus' blood and adopted by God. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! For that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." I John 3:1)

There are some books that I wouldn't recommend, but yet point towards the existence of God and of sin by portraying what can happen when one lives without God, which is the reality of life for many, many people. Waterland asks over and over: "Why?" It shows clearly the results of sin and the barriers it creates and how actions build upon each other so that you reap what you sow. The main character asks "Why?" but he knew why. He knew the pain he, his wife, and his father (and others) faced was the result of the wrong he (and they) had done, and this truth is slowly untangled throughout the story.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is another. I only read the first few chapters but I was just now struck with an allegory in this book --which I did not expect as this book makes light of God and contains crass imagery and innuendos (which are why I didn't finish it). In the story, Planet Earth was destroyed and Arthur Dent is presumably the only human to escape. He didn't have any luggage, he didn't get to take anything with him. The author wrote that the knowledge of Earth was just something that existed in his memory. For example  there was no place he could go to pull out a record and share the music of the Beattles with anyone. It was all gone. Like death and rebirth. None of your possessions come with you. But why was he the only human to survive the destruction of Earth? It wasn't by anything he did. His friend saved him. His friend was from another world who brought him along, Arthur Dent didn't do a thing, he just woke up inside an Alien spacecraft after the Earth was destroyed.

I believe the Earth will be destoyed. When people die, they take nothing with them, and the only thing that can save is Jesus. Fully God and fully man, he came from Heaven to Earth to save us from ourselves and from our sin, and our future home is in Heaven which will contain a new Earth, but this time there will be no sin and pain and suffering. Jesus is the friend who saves us.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Time in the Faery Realm and Ours

"Time runs differently in the mound." -The Moorchild, by Eloise McGraw

In an ancient Irish tale in the Fenian Cycle, Oisin traveled across the sea to Tir Na nOg (The Land of Eternal Youth). He lived there for a time then asked to go home to Ireland to see his father. His lover was loathe to let him go, yet she let him go bidding him stay on the horse. Once back in Ireland, he found that his father, Fin Mac Cool, and the Feanna were gone and it was years later. Then, in aiding some men move a boulder he fell off the horse onto the ground and was instantly transformed into an old man.

In The Moorchild, by Eloise McGraw, published in 1998, a similar circumstance is reported, or more like, she wisely drew upon the lore of yore. A fisherman named Fergus entered the Mound (the home of the Folk, as they are called in the book, basically mischievous little people in keeping with fairytales found in  The Book of Fairies and Elves, by Olcott). When Fergil was later sent forth from the mound he transformed into an old man and found that years had elapsed, "five-and-fifty years older" (The Moorchild).

Monday, February 2, 2015

Little Tid-bits on Psychosomatic Illness and ISFJs

"ISFJs are often overworked, and as a result may suffer from psychosomatic illness." -ISFJ profile, by Margaret Marina Heiss on Type Logic.

As we all know, Dr. Watson is an ISFJ. Interestingly, in BBC's Sherlock -A Study in Pink, Sherlock said to Watson, "and I know that your therapist thinks that your limp is psychosomatic, quite correctly I'm afraid."  In the books there is no mention of him having a psychosomatic illness.

A Study in Pink

Dr. Watson and the war in Afghanistan, past and present.

In the original adventures of Sherlock Holmes, written by A. C. Doyle, Dr. Watson served in the second Afghan War.
"The regiment was stationed in India at the time, and before I could join it, the second Afghan war had broken out...I...succeeded in reaching Candahar in safety, where I found my regiment, and at once entered upon my new duties." -A Study in Scarlet.  Candahar is another spelling of current Kandahar, a city in Afghanistan.

In the new BBC Sherlock series, Dr. Watson also served in Afghanistan.

So, they're just keeping it true to the book, right?

The amazing thing though is that Sherlock is set in our current times, and there currently is a war with British soldiers participating in it in Afghanistan, if this series had been produced 15 years earlier or later than it was, this statement would have been non-nonsensical. They would have had to substitute the name of a different country or set the show in the past. But they didn't, because there was a war there then, and there is a war there now.

Mary Mary Uncontrary

I found some amusing similarities between the primary romances featured in the Sherlock Holmes' adventures and the adventures of Richard Hannay. The former was written prior to the latter.

1. Both Richard Hannay and John Watson fall in love with girls named "Mary."

2. Both men are struck by her beauty and remark upon the fact that their male friend doesn't notice it.
Here Watson recounts his conversation with Holmes just after Mary left in The Sign of Four:
Standing at the window, I watched her walking briskly down the street until the gray turban and white feather were but a speck in the sombre crowd.
What a very attractive woman!" I exclaimed, turning to my companion.
He had lit his pipe again and was leaning back with drooping eyelids. "Is she?" he said languidly; "I did not observe."
"You really are an automaton -- a calculating machine," I cried. "There is something positively inhuman in you at times."
He smiled gently.
"It is of the first importance," he cried, "not to allow your judgment to be biased by personal qualities. A client is to me a mere unit, a factor in a problem. The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning. I assure you that the most win- ning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money, and the most repellent man of my acquaintance is a philanthropist who has spent nearly a quarter of a million upon the London poor."
"In this case, however --"
"I never make exceptions."

Here Richard Hannay recounts his first encounter with Mary in Mr. Standfast:
Someone put a tea-tray on the table beside us, and I looked up to see the very prettiest girl I ever set eyes on....She smiled demurely as she arranged the tea-things, and I thought I had never seen eyes at once so merry and so grave. I stared after her as she walked across the lawn, and I remember noticing that she moved with the free grace of an athletic boy.
'Who on earth's that?' I asked Blaikie.
'That? Oh, one of the sisters,' he said listlessly. 'There are squads of them. I can't tell one from another.'
Nothing gave me such an impression of my friend's sickness as the fact that he should have no interest in something so fresh and jolly as that girl.

3. These excepts lead to the third point: both men watch their Mary walk away.

4. Both men get lost in reveries about her.
 I sat in the window with the volume in my hand, but my thoughts were far from the daring speculations of the writer. My mind ran upon our late visitor -- her smiles, the deep rich tones of her voice, the strange mystery which overhung her life. If she were seventeen at the time of her father's disappearance she must be seven-and-twenty now -- a sweet age, when youth has lost its self-consciousness and become a little sobered by experience. So I sat and mused until such dangerous thoughts came into my head that I hurried away to my desk and plunged furiously into the latest treatise upon pathology. What was I, an army surgeon with a weak leg and a weaker banking account, that I should dare to think of such things? She was a unit, a factor -- nothing more. If my future were black, it was better surely to face it like a man than to attempt to brighten it by mere will-o'-the-wisps of the imagination. (The Sign of Four)

 In Charing Cross Road I thought of Mary, and the brigade seemed suddenly less attractive. I hoped the war wouldn't last much longer, though with Russia heading straight for the devil I didn't know how it was going to stop very soon. I was determined to see Mary before I left, and I had a good excuse, for I had taken my orders from her. The prospect entranced me, and I was mooning along in a happy dream, when I collided violently with in agitated citizen.
Then I realized that something very odd was happening.
There was a dull sound like the popping of the corks of flat soda-water bottles. There was a humming, too, from very far up in the skies. People in the street were either staring at the heavens or running wildly for shelter. A motor-bus in front of me emptied its contents in a twinkling; a taxi pulled up with a jar and the driver and fare dived into a second-hand bookshop. It took me a moment or two to realize the meaning of it all, and I had scarcely done this when I got a very practical proof. A hundred yards away a bomb fell on a street island, shivering every window-pane in a wide radius, and sending splinters of stone flying about my head. I did what I had done a hundred times before at the Front, and dropped flat on my face. (Mr. Standfast)

Yes, General Hannay, the career soldier, was so lost in thoughts about Mary that he didn't notice the air raid right away.
5. Both men marry their Mary and then she's suddenly much less of a distraction. 

6. Both men are/were soldiers.
My favorite picture of Hannay

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Hobbit - The Battle of the Five Armies

Yes, I liked it.

*Contains spoilers*

With the first two, I didn't see a need for an extended edition, this third one however, could really benefit from having an extended edition, some things were not very well explained or concluded.

For all that it's called "The Battle of The Five Armies" they never really explain the title in the film.

Favorite part: when Bilbo appears in the camp and talks with Thranduil, Bard, and Gandalf. The scene where he returns home to find all his belongings being auctioned off was satisfactory too.

I was surprised with the scenes of Bilbo alone in his "ransacked" house. All that talk of going home to his armchair, and his furniture is all gone. It almost symbolizes that his life was changed by his adventure and the emptiness in his heart due to the death of Thorin and the separation from the rest of the company. That atleast is what it said to me. That's what it's like to come back from an adventure. You've lost things, you've gained things, there's a hole in your heart from knowing those days are over despite the pain that was in them that made you a stronger person, you can never relive those moments with your team, like a breeze it's over, but it leaves an imprint on your heart and gently stirs you to drop everything and fly to the other side of the world....err...ahem, that's not where I was going to go with this... I digress, and it doesn't say all that, just the first bit, anyhow.

I liked the theme of love, loyalty, and honor. Love between many different characters, loyalty between Thorin and family, and Bilbo and Thorin, and honor between Bilbo and Thorin, Thorin and the people of Laketown.

While Tauriel and Kili were "in love" with each other, yet it was Legolas who showed the most love. Despite the fact that he was cold and distant, Legolas showed more love to Tauriel than Kili.  While he never said, "I love you" or compliments her beauty: actions speak louder than words, He was always there like a shadow protecting her. He stood up to his father and refused to return to Mirkwood for her sake. He invited her to go to Gundabad with him and they rode off together on a horse --interesting date idea there.... He fought many fearsome creatures to defend her, and he knocked down a building to form a bridge to get there in time to face down the foe that's about to slay her. And yet...she was "in love" with Kili. When Thranduil said to her, "it hurts because it was real" it rings false. I don't have an issue with Kili and Tauriel falling in love, but it is a paltry love story compared to Legolas' love for her.