“God’s Grand Game: Divine Sovereignty and The Cosmic Playground.” – A Review

Author: Steven Colborne

Preamble

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the review I would like to thank Steven Colborne from Perfect Chaos for the opportunity to review his book. Though he and I have different perspectives on the nature of God, our philosophical interests are parallel. My background is in anthropology whose parent discipline is philosophy. Therefore I am no stranger to God and his prevalence throughout human culture.

I need to state firmly my own views on the matter. I believe the God that Colborne knows, is one that billions of humans have known, albeit by different names and experience. However, I do not believe God to be a singular being. This is where Colborne and I diverge.

Do not fret however, this will not affect either my ability to see from his perspective or the anthesis.

*I will refer to God through Male pronouns throughout as so intended in Colborne’s book*

 

The Review

For work such as this, there is no need for worries of spoilers, as rather it is less a narrative and more philosophical. However, I implore you to read the work in-depth as my musings on the subject may be contrary to the views of others. Even that of Colborne himself. However, as he says in his work, this is how God wanted it. Some knowing of his existence, and those of us waiting in the wing for divine interaction.

So Colborne introduces himself first and his story was not an easy one to read. In his contemporary life, he has discovered a type of stasis, however, with illnesses inherent to him, he proclaims this may be taken away at any time. Such is the will of God.

It is also important to me that you do not mistake Steven for a man of blind faith, who have never known anything else. From reading his blog alone you would know this, and in his introduction, he explains his deep interest with all things spiritual since his teens.

In Part 1 we are introduced to the nature of God. Which can be summoned up by His omnipresence. He states his case quite clearly through the lens of scientific endeavours:

“Even scientists, who are very successful in describing how things happen, generally agree that they cannot say why things happen.”

The argument here for Colborne is linked with the philosophical paradigm of determinism. God is all there is, we are a part of God, however, he exists outside of us. Therefore he is all-powerful and knows how our lives will play out.

In Part 2 we are guided through the human experience, in which Colborne is certain is curated by God. Why he is certain of this is simple. We are used to experiencing things in a certain way, through a certain set of laws.

When something outside of these perceptions happened, rather than chalking them down to anomalies or mistakes, Colborne assures the reader that this is through the desire of God. It is because God is a higher being, that we cannot experience everything he does. In certain cases, he allows us a small window into his nature. Colborne asks that rather than dismiss these anomalous experiences we should accept them as God’s outer life.

Scientist have grappled for centuries with the concept of ‘thought’. Where does ‘thought’ come from? How does it arise? Now with modern science researchers have pinpointed the moment the brain sends the signals to, for example, move an arm. They have not, however, pinpointed the decision or the why.

Colborne makes it quite simple, this is God’s will. He is managing our every movement.

“If we consider the nature of God, particularly His attribute of omnipresence, it makes sense that He is controlling our conscious experiences because His being permeates every atom in existence and every cell of our bodies.”

For someone who has studied anthropology and humankind so closely, I cannot help but agree with Colborne to an extent. Although humans have spread ourselves across the planet, we have things that are so unique to us as a species that it appears wherever we are. The concept of God is universal and in favour of Colborne’s argument, this may be God’s own way of showing himself to us.

In our modern world, the war between science and religion has gotten us nowhere. I have often been an advocate for the inter-disciplinary cooperation of scientists and theologians. For many centuries now, scientists have been doing the work philosophers in ancient Greece once had the pleasure of.

Now more than ever we need to listen to, and read about experiences had by human beings such as Steven Colborne. In my opinion, his belief in God is not a dirty secret or an unfortunate quirk. There are many people I love who both believe in God and many who do not. With all the varieties in between.

Steven Colborne
Steven Colborne

There is no denying that Colborne has done his homework, and he entertains the philosophies of those who would be considered his opposite. In Part 4 he discusses the American Philosopher Sam Harris, who is a prominent figure surrounding materialism and free will. Harris believes that all we are is physical, and this matter is calling the shots. Whereas of course, Colborne argues this is nonsensical. How can inanimate matter create the diverse realms of thought that humans enjoy?

 

“How something that is purely material could create awareness of the kind that human beings experience is an area of ceaseless confusion for neuroscientists.”

There is also the espousal of the major world religions, (not discounting the thousands of others he would not have had time to mention). Colborne is not dismissing your version of God. His simple truth is this. God is omnipresent and God is our creator (at birth and each and every moment of our lives).

Colborne wants what I think is lacking in the Christian faiths (among others) of the day. A modern church were a scientific debate is not only welcomed but part of the general practice of religion. A church of God which has thrown off the shackles of the cruelness of human doctrines, and allow only love to flow. An inter-faith dialogue, a safe place for everyone, in which to look at God from all unique perspectives and experiences of the human condition.

There is room for everyone in the debate so I would ask for the comments to be respectful, and I implore you to read this book. There is more benefit here than you realise.

Conclusions & Further readings

For my own piece of mind I would like to point out that while Colborne believes that God creates all human art, I feel that our crazy, beautiful, individual minds produce these things. Also my disposition is to always push back against determinism, however, God may have made me that way.

For those of you who are intensely religious, I mean neither disrespect or dismissal. If there is kindness in your intent, there is room for you in this debate. In reading Colborne’s book I experienced nothing but due considerations for all faiths.

Finally, I deeply respect Steven Colborne, for all he’s achieved even through pain and adversity. Although we don’t always agree, I cannot dispute that his arguments are not only well thought out, but well researched.

As I mentioned in the preamble my anthropology background implores me to mention Sir James Fraser’s, “The Golden Bough.

Available from Amazon.

Also reading Steven Colborne’s other books wouldn’t go amiss seeing as they will give you more to the story that is his spiritual path.

Also available from Amazon.

Copyright © 2019 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Wicca

Wicca. Noun. “A religion influenced by pre-Christian beliefs and practices of western Europe that affirms the existence of supernatural power (such as magic) and of both male and female deities who inhere in nature and that emphasizes ritual observance of seasonal and life cycles.”[i]

 

Although I don’t follow an organised religion, I’ve always felt there was a spiritual gap in my life. I envy my friend’s meditative connection to a higher power when they pray. When I’m struggling with my mental illnesses, I know the ability to focus my mind would give me peace. Yet meditation is not an easy skill to learn as I’ve struggled with it for many years. However, those practising Wicca take this training as the due course in their craft.

“Be aware…that disciplines are ineffective unless a routine is established because the unconscious is attuned to patterns and will respond easily once the pattern of a conscious routine is rhythmic.”[ii]

In my local Vincent De Paul, I came across a book on Witchcraft, and absentmindedly bought it as research for one of my projects. In reading it a revelationary paradigm was cracked. Not only due to its descriptive worth, but it’s connections to female power struggles throughout history. While the modern Wicca has both male and female practitioners, it’s roots are in paganism and witchcraft. Both known for their charged feminine figures.

As a feminist I hunger to understand the lore of the feminine, and that which is interwoven into my body. It was comforting to discover that our pagan ancestors used their awareness of the heavens to not only influences the outer world but their inner worlds. To them inner peace begat outer peace.

“Discovering the sublime silence at the center of your being and activating that center.”[iii]

Wicca

Of course, as Halloween approaches, (my favourite time of the year), that which is chilling surfaces. Yet it is my duty to remind you that although dark magic exists and was practised as a religion throughout the ages, those that called themselves witches were persecuted out of fear. Not as a result of any true evil. Women were murdered for their independence, for displaying fortitude, and simply for their feminine energies.

Wicca was born in the 20th century out of the ashes of witchcraft and paganism. It can be practised alone or as the member of a coven. It’s the way of the Goddess, to live beyond the ego, to firmly grasp your senses, so you are their ruler. “Awareness is the ability to literally read the feelings in the air…awareness means control of one’s undertakings.”[iv] Wicca is not about changing the outside world to your every whim. It’s changing how you process your inner world so your journey in life may be more mindful, enjoyable, and rich.

‘Do as ye will, e’re it harm none’

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

References:

De Angeles, Ly. 2006. “Witchcraft: Theory and Practice.” Llewellyn Publications. Llewellyn Worldwide.

https://books.google.ie/books/about/Witchcraft.html?id=1TFuAm5N7gEC&redir_esc=y

Footnotes:

[i] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Wicca

[ii] De Angeles, Ly. 2006. “Witchcraft: Theory and Practice.” Llewellyn Publications. Llewellyn Worldwide. Page 4.

[iii] De Angeles, Ly. 2006. “Witchcraft: Theory and Practice.” Llewellyn Publications. Llewellyn Worldwide. Page 9.

[iv] De Angeles, Ly. 2006. “Witchcraft: Theory and Practice.” Llewellyn Publications. Llewellyn Worldwide. Page 37.

 

Do you like my Spooky Tuesday blogs? Well, there are more coming soon this October. Until then why not satiate your hunger with my stories section:

https://thinkingmoon.com/category/stories/

Tough Love

Episode Name: “Tough Love.”

Season: 5

Episode: 19

Writer(s): Rebecca Rand Kirshner

Director: David Grossman

Quote of the Episode:

Principal Stevens: “Now I think we all know that Dawn is more than just a kid.”

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It’s like she knows!

Screenshot of the Episode:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Firstly, this is actually Clare Kramer in the bath so perfect timing, and secondly, what other evil hell god loves bubble baths?

Summary:

Buffy and friends have the threat of the hell god Glory hanging over them. Some infighting occurs between Buffy and Dawn, and Willow and Tara. One these fights end in tragedy when Glory thinks she’s found the key, and as a result, destroys Tara’s mind.

Analysis:

There is something truly awful about fighting with someone you love. When we fight with a stranger or an enemy, it’s less personal, less painful. When we fight with our loved ones, we are vulnerable and we can cause pain. In “Tough Love” we see the agony we can inflict on our loved ones, and the agony they can inflict on us.

The female relationships take the fore in this episode, and even the subtext from the male characters is female.

Xander: “Whatever you choose you’ve got my support, just think of men as your *pause* you know I’m searching for supportive things, and I’m coming up all bras so… something more manly, think of me as that so…”

BtVS has always managed to subvert the male viewpoint and present itself from the female perspective. The Slayers are female, the male characters are in a passive position, and the morality of the show is presented from the care perspective which is explained beautifully by Jessica Pratt Miller:

“The justice perspective, with its abstract focus on reason and impersonal rules and authority, echoes cultural ideas of masculinity, while the care perspective, with its contextual focus on personal relationships, including feelings and emotions, fits with ideals of femininity.”[i]

Even Giles who is a strong father figure to Buffy points out that although he is there, she needs to take control of her responsibilities with Dawn.

Giles: “I may be a grown-up, but you’re her family, her only real family now, she needs you to do this.”

Buffy’s been struggling with her new found guardian role, as she cannot approach it with her fists. She must get Dawn to attend school, and do her homework, but Dawn doesn’t think it matters. Buffy has to tell her the horrible fact that if she can’t make her, then Dawn will be taken away. Of course in the Buffyverse, this is intensified by the fact that Dawn would without Buffy’s protection from Glory, she would be exposed.

Dawn: “Who cares if a key gets an education anyway?… Those monks put grades K through 8 in my head, can’t we just wait and see if they drop 9 in there too?”

Buffy: “Because they’ll take you away. If I can’t make you go to school, then I won’t be found fit to be your legal guardian.”

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Meanwhile, Willow, is grappling with her identity once again, as we have discussed in previous Buffy posts. She doesn’t want to be considered the “Side-Kick.” This identity crisis continues in her fight with Tara. She fears she’s the “Junior Partner” in the relationship. The key reasoning is that Tara has lost her mother, unlike Willow, Tara has been a practicing Wicca longer than Willow, and Tara has been out as lesbian longer than Willow. According to James B. South “…her biggest fear is that, deep down, she hasn’t changed at all; that beneath all the layers of social roles she has assumed, she is still the nerdy schoolgirl that she was when the show first started.”[ii]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Willow bites back at Tara with this bitter retort: “I’m really sorry I didn’t establish my lesbo street cred before I got into this relationship *pause* you’re the only woman I’ve ever fallen in love with so, how on Earth could you ever take me seriously?” This causes a fracture and Willow leaves. This leads to the consequence of Tara being alone when Glory finds her. When she discovers she is not, in fact, the key, she becomes angry and steals her mind. This is the worst punishment a character can face in the show as Glory describes it thusly: “It doesn’t kill ya. What it does is make you feel like you’re in a noisy little dark room, naked and ashamed, there are things in the dark that need to hurt you because you’re bad…” This makes me shiver every time.

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Spike’s character this season, while mixed ( we cannot forget the Buffybot…), has shown genuine courage and strength. He did not reveal Dawn to be the key, even though Glory tortured him for hours. His face still shows the scars of this valor, born of a new morality, the morality of the Slayer.

He comforts Dawn as best he can, when she is under his protection.

Capture26 a (8).PNG

Dawn: “Anything that happens to Tara, that’s cuz of me… I’m a lightening rod for pain and hurt… I must be something truly evil.”

Spike: “I’m a vampire, I know something about evil, and you’re not evil.”

Dawn: “Maybe I’m not evil, but I don’t think I can be good?

This compelling scene has the added dimension of not just Dawn as a mystical key but as a human being. None of us are truly good or truly evil. This is something we struggle with as we grow, and Dawn is getting a lesson early.

Finally, we see the further evidence of Willow’s descent into evil which will culminate in the final episodes of season 6. She reaches for a book with “Darkest Magick” on the cover.

Capture26 a (9).PNG

As with Dawns realisation that she can neither be solely good nor evil Willow shows us her dark undercurrents. This was put beautifully by James B. South: “…because our ordinary notion of Willow is one in which Willow would never do the sorts of things she did. It is incomplete as a response, though, because it assumes that we could ever fully understand Willow, that there are no dark currents in her, that we could ever construct a coherent and consistent narrative for Willow.”[iii]

While the episode doesn’t end in death for Willow, she has incurred the wrath of Glory. When Glory tracks her down (“I told you this wasn’t over,”) poor Tara inadvertently reveals to her that Dawn is the key. Had she kept her head as Buffy asked her to, Dawn may not have been discovered so early. We see the fallout from giving in to our desires, a conflict which Willow contends with for seasons to come.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Source Material:

“Tough Love.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 5, episode 19, The WB, May 1, 2001

South, J. B. (2003). “Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale.” (Vol. 4). Open Court Publishing.

Field, Mark. 2013. “Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Myth, Metaphor, and Morality. “Amazon Digital Services LLC.

Gilligan, C. (1993). In a different voice. Harvard University Press.

Endnotes

[i] Pratt Miller, Jessica. (2003). “The I in Team2: Buffy and Feminist Ethics.” (Vol. 4). Open Court Publishing. Page 37.

[ii] South, J. B. (2003). “My God, It’s Like a Greek Tragedy”: Willow Rosenberg and Human Irrationality.”  (Vol. 4). Open Court Publishing. Page 135.

[iii] South, J. B. (2003). “My God, It’s Like a Greek Tragedy”: Willow Rosenberg and Human Irrationality.” (Vol. 4). Open Court Publishing. Page 145.

Did you like this? Check out the Buffy the Vampire Slayer category on my main page:

https://thinkingmoon.com/category/buffy-the-vampire-slayer/

Mental Health: It’s not your fault – Part IV

I’m going to make everything really awkward for a bit so buckle up. Last week I was very ill. It was spent alternating between crying and feelings of numbness. Immediately after that week, I had 24 hours of pain in my abdomen. Thinking I was constipated or something (despite the large amount of fibre in my diet) I proceeded to eat plenty of beans and bowel friendly food.

I wake up on Tuesday morning and boom. Period in my pants. Less than 25 days since the beginning of my last one. So, in order to make myself feel better, I apply makeup and do my hair. Less than a year ago. This would not have been the case.

It's not your fault
It’s not your fault

By the way, this blog post was not planned. I actually have my blog posts planned until pretty much 2019. (I haven’t necessarily written them, but there you go). Also if you don’t feel like reading all this today, I have a link to my Youtube video below explaining everything.

I want to talk about: Premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Now although I have not been diagnosed with this, it would appear that I have many of the symptoms, especially in regards to depression.

I’ve been keeping a journal just monitoring my general well-being and moods. It appears that the week before my period, my depression is heightened. I’ve always had some form of depression and was only recently diagnosed in 2016 / 2017. I will be bringing this evidence to a gynecologist as soon as I can.

When you think you’re doing everything right by eating well, maintaining healthy relationships, working in a job you love, you feel like depressive episodes shouldn’t be too frequent. For me though it’s always bubbling under the surface. The symptoms are as real as any other disease and there is no definitive cure. So if my period is making it worse, well then I’m going to try everything in my power to, A) find ways to alleviate the pain, and B) build a better internal dialogue with myself.

Women are often ridiculed, “Oh don’t get so offended, you must just have your period.” Which, besides deserving zero response, is not fair. If our internal workings are really affecting some of us so deeply, shouldn’t we at least be allowed talk about it like adults?

It’s been 15 years since the beginning of my period and the realisation of its effect on my life has only recently clicked. When I said earlier that less than a year ago, I wouldn’t have bothered with makeup and hair to make myself feel better, I’m being honest. The general feeling during my period was self-blame. You shouldn’t feel sad, just get on with things, stop being such a baby.

This is not ok. Remember, if you are suffering from depression, regardless of how it is caused or exacerbated, repeat this to yourself. “It’s not my fault.” That’s like saying your auto-immune disease is your fault or the symptoms from the flu is your fault. It’s crazy and it’s pointless.

If anything I’m going to continue to make people uncomfortable and talk period talk. Especially if I spend up to a week beforehand alternating between crying uncontrollably and feeling completely numb.

The mad part? A lot of friends and family will read this, who were with me last week, and they will be super confused because I didn’t let any of this out in front of them. Which is just exhausting, let me tell you. I’m always exhausted.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

My Youtube Video:

 

Resources:

https://www.webmd.com/women/pms/premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder#1

Lilly Singh:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAGI-k5petk

Feel like you agree with something I’ve said here? Why not look at some of my other mental health blog posts?

https://thinkingaheadblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/mindfulness/

https://thinkingaheadblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/23/introducing-my-anxiety/

https://thinkingaheadblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/my-anxiety-my-magic/

 

Traffic-induced Anxiety – Part III

Traffic.

We are being herded like cattle.

When I began commuting to Dublin in 2012 it was busy but bearable. Now it’s torturous. The transport infrastructure has not kept up with demand, as current traffic levels were not expected until 2020.[i] Some TDs are even calling for a second ring road to be built.[ii]

I’ve spoken about my anxiety here before, and nothing exacerbates my anxiety quite like traffic. When I’m in a room, or shop that’s too crowded, 9 times out of 10 I can leave. When I’m in Dublin traffic, there is nowhere to go, and I’m trapped. Not a good feeling when you have anxiety (or just when you are a human being in general).

I’ve tried many solutions. Trains and buses were out of the questions because they were far more expensive than my own car. (I am on a student stipend). Leaving earlier in the morning, leaving later in the evening was also doomed to fail, as the volume of traffic prevents this from being a viable solution. I’ve listened to audiobooks in an attempt to distract me from the stress and not waste those hours. I’ve even tried breathing meditations. Which work for about 5 minutes until a fellow road user does something completely inconsiderate and I’m back to square one. My only option was to work from home.

Yet I am one of the lucky few. Being able to work from home for most of the last 2 years comes from the flexibility in my career. There is only a need to venture into the city when I have a meeting or some other unavoidable human interaction. This has made my life infinitely better and I am more grateful than ever for my job.

Millions are not so lucky.

Humans continue to behave in ways our bodies were not built for because it is ‘expected’ of us. It is unhealthy for us to sit for 1 – 2 hours plus every day in traffic, with our blood pressure rising, and our mental health deteriorating.

No wonder there is an increase of road rage.[iii]

It’s not healthy for us to spend our days in pursuits that literally makes us depressed. Draining our vital mental energy, so when we finally arrive home, even cooking a healthy meal for ourselves seems like a cruel joke.

Remember, if your brain is sad, this will transfer to your body. That’s because, spoiler alert, your brain is part of your body!

People are out for themselves when they are driving in traffic. I’ve stopped a few feet extra from a red light, to let a car out of a perpendicular road, and I’ve actually been beeped, by the car behind me. More than once. Where is common decency when traffic is involved? People are so amped up and unequipped to deal with the misplaced rage. All we can do as an individual driver is to be the sensible one. Be the one who’s kind and let’s other drivers out. If someone is driving dangerously, get out of their way, because you could end up getting hurt because of their lack of human decency and consideration.[iv]

Working from home is not for everybody!” I hear this on a daily basis, people argue that you’re isolating yourself, or you’re putting too much pressure on yourself. That you need to work harder to prove your worth. As always I say there are positives and negatives to both kinds of jobs:

“There’s also evidence that some freelancers “overcommit” to work and find it difficult to disconnect or relax, which they say negatively affects their mental health. But overall, the health effects of self-employment seem to vary from person to person and—like office jobs—can be either positive or negative.”[v] 

For me especially the good outweighs the bad, because let me tell you something, it would appear that a large majority of workers who have to commute to work aren’t flourishing in that environment either.

Stress is horrible, stress kills, and although we all know this, for some reason we continue to run like hamsters on a wheel. Just because it appears to be the norm, doesn’t mean it’s normal. All of your friends and family are stressed out, so I should just get on with it, right? Wrong. Just google stress-related illnesses. It basically causes a huge amount and apparently autoimmune diseases too.[vi] If that doesn’t scare you it should.

Also, what about the massive amounts of people who die or are crippled on our roads each year? 78 people have died on Irish roads already in the first six months of this year.[vii]

The answer to all of this? Mindfulness. Be aware of who you are as an individual and a human being. Figure out what works for you. If a job is causing an illness and it’s not satisfying, find a way out. Trust me, working for less money, in a more fulfilling career is worth it. I know because I did it, and gave up a lot of luxuries most people think they cannot live without.

Traffic is one of the worst side effects of humanity’s rapid urbanisation. I literally dream of a house in the country. Not because I don’t want people in my life, but because it seems that as soon as someone gets behind the wheel of a car, a rational part of their humanity switches off and they forget common courtesy. We need to reduce traffic anyway for the environment, why not be one of the innovative individuals that changes their own lives for the better.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

References:

[i] http://www.thejournal.ie/m50-traffic-3-4090729-Jun2018/

[ii] http://www.thejournal.ie/m50-4092277-Jun2018/

[iii] https://www.dublinlive.ie/lifestyle/travel/majority-irish-motorists-think-road-14882430

[iv] http://www.nkytribune.com/2018/07/melissa-martin-whoa-you-crazy-drivers-road-rage-we-dont-need-could-you-please-exercise-control/

[v] http://time.com/5333239/is-working-remotely-bad-for-you/

[vi] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-antidepressant-diet/201806/will-stress-lead-autoimmune-disease

[vii] https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/78-people-die-on-irish-roads-in-first-six-months-of-2018-854135.html

Do you like this? Try another!

https://thinkingaheadblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/sustainability-half-year-update/

Entrophy

Episode Name: “Entropy.”

Season: 6

Episode: 18

Writer(s): Drew Z. Greenberg

Director: James A. Contner

Quote of the Episode:

Buffy to Dawn: “True, but technically you’re one and a half.” – In reference to her only being created at the beginning of season 5.

Screenshot of the Episode:

Buffy32.PNG
Willow & Tara

Summary:

This episode is packed full of emotions, complexities, and plot developments. Notably, the episode follows Anya, the renewed vengeance demon. She tries in vain to wound Xander and by getting his friends to wish horrible acts of mutilation on him. The vengeance comes to her in the end. The Scoobies discover that ‘The Trio’ have hidden cameras throughout Sunnydale to monitor Buffy and friends. Anya has sex with Spike on the table in the Magic Box, an act everyone, including Dawn, witnesses.

Analysis:

Things fall apart.

This season was despised by fans for its dark atmosphere and what was considered inaccurate character choices. Even I found it distasteful when I first watched it. It grew on me as I aged, my life experience provided perspective. Philosophically this season flourishes in the shadows of human nature, showing us the darker side of our emotions. From Buffy’s treatment of herself and Spike, to Willow’s plunge into addiction, Dawn’s kleptomania, and finally Xander’s weakness of character, we are overcome with tenebrosity. I believe the season has value, so please allow me to play Devil’s advocate, that we might identify the life lessons we’ve all learned the hard way.

Buffy23
Buffy & Spike

 

This season saw the breakdown of several relationships. Buffy12From Buffy and Giles parting ways, Dawn’s kleptomania and Buffy’s complete ignorance of the fact, Willow’s abuse of magic and Tara, to Xander leaving Anya at the altar. Although we are often taught from a young age that love conquers all, it won’t. This is evidenced by Xander’s declaration, “I wish we could go back to the way things were before.” A childish train of thought to be sure, but we’ve all felt this exact painful flood of emotions when our actions cause irreversible consequences. However, it is common with grief too, “prompt fruitless fantasies of turning back time,” according to Korsmeyer (2008).

 

Love is like fire, it’s hot and transformative.  We often lose control of it, as it’s notoriously hard to handle, and it can be so easily extinguished. I don’t know any human who hasn’t suffered heartache in some way. It is part of our journey that we learn to heal ourselves and self-soothe, however many people never reach this stage in their development.  We see Xander and Anya fighting, their love transformed. To self-loathing for Xander, and wrath for Anya. This is shown through Anya’s bitter exclamation, “Yes honesty now. Congratulations Xander. I wonder what the medal will say.” According to Korsmeyer (2008) when love is mixed with anger there is a certain vigour to it.

Buffy21.PNG
Anya & Buffy

When I first watched this season, my anger was only directed at Xander. He was the sole villain of the piece, abandoning his love at the altar. My perspective has now shifted and although Anya was not to blame for the abandonment, her actions following the wedding-that-never-was are wrought with hypocrisy. According to Korsmeyer’s (2008) close scrutiny of Anya and Xander’s relationship, the love Anya feels for Xander is all consuming. She may have displayed affection for the other members of the group, but Xander was the only one she loved.

“…it would seem that although romantic love demands that we love only one person, forsaking all others, we may not properly be said to love truly if one person is all that we are capable of loving.”

Therefore it’s no surprise at her irrational behavior of engaging in sex with Spike on the table in The Magic Box. It really puts the nail in the coffin of Anya and Xander’s relationship. It also reflects the point made by Field (2013) that:

“As was hinted at the end of Hell’s Bells, Anya’s humanity (metaphorically, her adulthood) was fragile enough that it couldn’t withstand the crushing emotional blow of Xander leaving her at the altar.”

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Spike & Anya

Her deep love transmuted to wrath, she has sex with Spike in The Magic Box, as vengeance burns in her heart. Of anyone she could have cheated with, Xander could not forgive her for cheating with Spike. However, Field (2013) again considers this to be a display of her need for affirmation from someone for her pain:

“…I saw her behavior as seeking validation for her pain. She didn’t really get that from the SG females, but she did with Spike. And when she did, she hushed his wish.”

While actions have consequences, all of our actions have intent. Anya’s decision to sleep with Spike was that, a decision. We call on the Law of Congruity here, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Xander leaves Anya at the Altar, so she seeks vengeance. She struggles to achieve this as no one will take her bait. Anya: “Didn’t I mention the whole, left me at the altar thing!?” We’ve all experienced the separation from friends when we break up with a partner. Although the gang is happy to have Anya back, they will not allow the anger to overtake them. This leaves Anya is desperate and alone.

 

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Anya is dressed in red throughout this episode. A nod towards the colour of love, blood, and wrath. Spike is completely in black. This could be viewed as his lack of a soul. The reason why Buffy believes he couldn’t truly love her is that he is soulless. The love is only real for him. According to Milavec & Kaye (2008) their relationship was doomed regardless of whether or not Buffy terminated it:

Buffy and Spike demonstrate the friendship of pleasure based on irrationality… Erotic love cannot survive on passion alone.” 

The below scene, with Anya, Buffy, Spike, and Xander, speaks to the chaos the group has descended to. I noticed on closer inspection some nuances in Anya’s reaction to Buffy and Spike’s relationship. She displays clear grief and guilt at the realisation. I don’t believe she would have done what she did knowing Buffy and Spike had just parted ways. Her face of realisation and her soft, “Buffy,” shows her feelings are more complex than previously surmised.

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Spike, Anya, Xander, & Buffy

Buffy also tries to mend her relationship with Dawn, yet she still misses the underlying reason Dawn strayed in the first place. Dawn is the only one in the group to be treated as a child, and it’s common for teenagers to want freedom and respect. This relationship is on it’s way to restoration, but only after Buffy realises Dawn’s needs.

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Buffy & Dawn

Of course, the most heartbreaking moments come from beloved Willow and Tara. They meet in the hall of the University, they meet in the coffee shop, and they are on their way to reconciliation. Sadly we are witnessing some of their final scenes together. Tara’s declaration, “You can’t ever, put them back the way they were,” followed by, “can we just skip it? Can you just be kissing me now?” is tragically bittersweet. As the next episode is her last. We take this moment to consider if Tara had chosen to wait. Would she have lived? Could this be the Buffyverse punishing those who skip rehabilitation? According to Field (2013) Tara made the right decision leaving Willow, not because Willow was addicted to magic, but because Willow violated her mind and trust, in (and not exclusively) Tabula Rasa.  “Tara left precisely because she understood she was being mistreated.”

 

This episode is the stirring of the pot, the beginning of the end. The remaining four episodes in this season showcase the villain within us all. Suddenly although Anya is the demon, her darkness is outshone by the monster Willow becomes. Her eventual descent into caliginosity was inevitable. Tara’s tragic death was the excuse that she could justify the abuse of power for.

She forgets that love is not resigned to the romantic alone, and we have responsibilities to all the love we feel.

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Notable music:

Alison Krauss – “That Kind of Love.” Plays over the end of the episode.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Source Material:

“Entropy.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 6, episode 18, The WB, April 30, 2002.

South, J. B. (2003). “Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale.” (Vol. 4). Open Court Publishing.

Field, Mark. 2013. “Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Myth, Metaphor, and Morality.”Amazon Digital Services LLC.

Achebe, Chinua. 1958. “Things Fall Apart.” William Heinemann Ltd. London.

Do you love Buffy? Me too! Have another!

https://thinkingaheadblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/same-time-same-place/

Troid

Don’t fight who you are.

 

I am. I am. I am.

When did the world decide what the perfect human being looked like? Acted like?

They’re early risers.

Not gluttonous, and thin.

Humans are orderly.

We will drive in traffic 5 days a week, 48 weeks a year for a job.

Don’t forget community activists, parents, joggers, book clubs, and coffee.

 

I am, me. My brain is messy. It’s loud in here, and it’s always on. Even my dreams are problem-solving.

I love the dawn, but not from the side you’re used to.

Night time is when I come alive, and my muse is awake then.

She sleeps during the day. She is the owl, the bat, the wolf.

 

When I ask why we have decided what the perfect human being looks like, I realise, I’m asking for your permission.

When I don’t need it.

I am, me, and I cannot fight myself. I won’t. There is too much in the world I need to be strong for.

I’ll fight myself no longer.

 

A Saturn cycle is ending, and a new one begins.

In this one she loves herself, her muse, and the night.

Throw off the shackles of humanity’s portrait of a young girl, quiet in her ways, and opinions.

Welcome the wild woman.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

_____________________________

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Also this, Sunni Patterson’s ‘Wild Women.’

Why I’m voting YES on May 25th

When I was 15 I was forced to watch a video of childbirth in science class. I went to an all-girls Catholic school, and I assume this was done to try to prevent teenage pregnancy. To this day, at 28 years of age, I’m terrified of becoming pregnant. I do not want children. I’m not a monster, but I’m not going to change my mind. Having children was never in the cards for me, I knew I couldn’t marry my first love because he wanted children, and I didn’t. You can’t compromise on a child.

The day I was born I nearly killed my mother. Ok, that’s a bit dramatic, but I did damage to her body. To this day she still suffers the consequences. Now I was desperately wanted, loved unconditionally and so was my younger brother. However, my parents had to discuss if it was safe for my mother to have another child before she became pregnant with him. Woman have to give some of their body and soul to have children. Of course, when a child is wanted, this is a small price to pay for the mother-to-be.

It’s a huge price to pay though, for the woman whose liberty has been taken away. Childbirth is traumatic. So when you say ‘love both’, you are telling the frightened teenager, who got pregnant by accident, that she will have to go through this trauma. That she will have to give birth, and then ‘give up the child’ as you so easily put it.

Even if you thought you were ready to hand over the child, when you’re suddenly faced with the reality of giving the baby away, it’s harrowing. Woman are not monsters and when we hold a baby in our arms, we want to love it. This isn’t always possible. When you say love both, you’re saying to a woman, you must carry this child to term, give birth, and then decide can I, A) give up some of my life force to raise this child or, B) give the child away. All the while knowing that when the child grows up, they will feel rejected because you couldn’t keep them.

That’s what your love both is saying.

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Here are some tweets by the Vote No side, which have validated my feelings on repealing the 8th:

VN1

Trust me, if a woman is considering having an abortion, she is way ahead of you. Abortions are not just physically painful. Women do not have abortions as a form of birth control, and the decision is never taken lightly. Can you imagine if you’re trying to make this awful decision, and you read something like this?

VN2

This person is particularly callous. Note how they say, “Abortion to treat a “mentally unwell” mother is much like treating anorexia with liposuction.” Aside from that horrific statement, lets read what they’re referencing. Yes, in cases abortions may take place after the limit of 12 weeks. Why? Because continuing with the pregnancy will not only result in the death of the child, but the death of the mother. How can you love both if they are both dead? Savita Halappanavar would be alive today if it wasn’t for the 8th amendment. Please get your facts straight, and try to be kinder to those who are already suffering.

VN3

While I agree that maternal mental health care, childcare, flexible work hours, housing, financial aid, and emotional support are valid issues in themselves, they are not the issue we are voting for on May 25th. The vote will repeal the 8th amendment, which will stop women from being criminalised in their own country. They will be able to access safe abortion care, rather than travelling or ordering abortion pills.

VN4

This could be true, constitutional issues surrounding abortions are exceptionally complex. However, I would like to point out, that it will not remove all rights for the unborn baby. This is very important, and I will continue to state it. A women who is 5 months pregnant will not be able to walk in and get an abortion without a valid, medical reason. When it is repealed it will take 2 years for laws to be constructed and passed to for the female citizens of Ireland.

VN5

These numbers are a reflection of the abortions being recorded. They were not recorded as well before 1968 as they were illegal or abroad. Also they are not taking population growth into account. It’s very easy to manipulate numbers to show what you want.

VN7

This was tweeted by a male. He thinks, “killing a child in the womb because they are ill or terminally ill is barbaric.” Well I think that making the mother carry a dying or dead child to term is barbaric. I think allowing a sick child to be born, who will only suffer and die, is barbaric.* I think that compassion is right answer here. Compassion for the mother, (who may have children at home already), and compassion to the unborn child, who will be lost.

*Update: An old friend contacted me regarding the language I used here. It really affected them in a negative way, and reading it back I understand completely why. I want everyone to know, that mothers who carry their sick babies to term are absolute heroes. I don’t think that it’s the wrong choice (although it sounded like I did), I think the situation is unique to each and every person. I am absolutely appalled at the idea that I hurt anyone’s feelings on this matter. I have no idea what it feels like to be in this situation. I want to thank my friend for calling attention to it. If anyone felt personally affected by anything I wrote please know, I’m truly sorry, and you are welcome to message me anytime so I can be held accountable for it. 

 

VN8

When a child who has been neglected all their lives, turns to drugs and overdoses, this is a unique life being destroyed. When a father is murdered on his way home from work at 3am, this is a unique life being destroyed. When a girl is raped and forced to give birth to a child, this is a unique life being destroyed. Why is the life of the unborn, of a foetus more important than the already living, breathing, unique life? This is a non-argument. Once the child is born, if it lives in poverty, people couldn’t care less. Also it’s ‘foetus,’ not ‘fetus.’

VN9

This is not being supressed, this kind of information is readily available on any legitimate governmental medical site. This is a insensitive description of some hard cases, and is not the norm. What is not being said here, is that these unborn children, are probably already dying. They will not survive in the world without their mother, and will soon perish. This is a terrible tragedy, and no one should have to go through it. Yet when at all possible, shouldn’t we do everything we can to preserve the life of the mother? Of the human beings suffering from the death of their child?

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Of course she was distressed at having to travel. Her own government made her a criminal in her own country. I have said this, and I will say it again. No one has an abortion on a whim, or as birth control. The entire experience is traumatic, and we are compounding the issue for the women who have to leave their country to do it.

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No side debunked:

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  1. Yes it will, but there will be laws created in place of it. At the moment, women are criminals in their own country because of this constitutional amendment. If the amendment is repealed, it will make updating the law much easier. As a ‘yes’ voter I want the children protected as much as the ‘no’ side. Unborn babies will have rights. It’s important to state this.
  2. Yes it will legalise abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks / 3 months. A women who presents herself to a doctor, looking for an abortion will undergo a 3 day period in which she will be counselled and presented with each option. These women are being painted as evil, and that needs to stop. Life is not perfect, and sometimes a woman will need to avail of this service so her own life can continue. Don’t make an already difficult decision, more difficult by sending them abroad.
  3. When I see something like ‘Mental Health,’ on a political poster, I wince inside. As someone who has mental health problems, it only exacerbates how we are viewed. As if it’s not a real health issue. The cases they are talking about here are exceptional hard cases. You must remember repealing the 8th will save women like Savita Halappanavar. She was diagnosed, and she needed an abortion. She died because of our restrictive laws. This cannot be allowed to happen again, regardless on your views of what constitutes an illness.
  4. Finally I agree hard cases are the exception to the rule. However the argument is once again, when does life begin? A foetus cannot survive outside the womb. We must be compassionate to the living, breathing woman with a harrowing decision to make.

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To end this post, I would like to post some information for the Yes side of the campaign. If you are in doubt, if you are undecided, please read these.

T4Y1

Abortion will continue regardless of the 8th being replealed. Women have a basic medical need withheld for them in their own country. If they need to avail of medical attention, they will travel so they can fulfil that need.

T4Y6

We can save lives. Read this as many times as you want. Savita Halappanavar would be alive today, if it were not for the 8th amendment. We cannot let women die, because the law is criminalising them. We need to stand up for ourselves and vote Yes on May 25th.

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There is a reason, human rights advocate Colm O’Gorman and others like him are voting yes on May 25th.

T4Y4

When a women, whose just been told that her baby is dying, and killing her along with it, has to go abroad to seek the appropriate medical attention, a hard case is created. Woman have had to leave their baby in another country, when they died from a fatal foetal abnormality. How cruel is this? We cannot allow this inhumanity to continue. Vote Yes.

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Make them keep the baby. Force these woman who have already been violated in the worse way imaginable, to carry their rapists child. To go through the trauma of child birth, and then give up the child. A child who will either, A) find out they are a product of rape, and how is that going to impact them? Or B) will never find out why their birth mother rejected them, and have to live with the consequences of that.

T4Y7

Our Taoiseach is a conservative. Yet he is voting yes.

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If this was the other way around there would be all out war. The ‘No’ side’s vitriol, spawned from a generation said and lead by the Catholic Church has providing proof of their awful natures. I can’t help but notice there are 3 men in this photo, taking down a poster which says ‘Stop Policing My Body.’ Horrific.

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Why Vote Yes?
  1. Woman should have the right to bodily autonomy. Vote Yes to create a compassionate country for woman in crisis.
  2. Abortions will happen anyway. Vote Yes so they can access abortion care at home. In Ireland,
  3. Babies that are already alive will be loved, woman that are already alive will be loved. Vote Yes so women making a difficult decision, will not have to do it alone in a foregin country.
  4. Woman will not die because of something that never should have been in the constitution in the first place. Vote Yes to allow doctors to treat women without fear of breaking the law.
  5. The UN and the EU are I agreement, Ireland is violating some of it’s citizens basic human rights to safety and bodily autonomy. Vote Yes to regulate and restrict abortion care according to Irish law.

 

T4Y9

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

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The Creature

Storytelling is so personal, it’s difficult to disguise yourself in your words. I was terrified for many years of people actually reading what I wrote. Only my English teacher or my mother were permitted. Having worked hard on my writing technique throughout my life, it’s difficult to tell if I’ve improved or not. This is a symptom of my ‘imposter syndrome.’ I’ve always felt I wasn’t a real writer.

I’ve been especially self-reflective lately. This is mainly due to my age, however there is a certain healing power in it. My internal house work has kept me busy, fixing up old memories I haven’t been in for years. My teenage years were painful for me, and I’ve only established that truth lately. I didn’t want to dwell on my school days or early college years and spent a lot of time avoiding those memories.

Now that I’m more at peace with all iterations of myself, I have the courage to post a story from when I was 14. I present it as evidence of my writings maturation. The only changes I’ve made are grammatical, because nobody wants to see that. Otherwise it is a raw example of a ‘Jenni’ story, circa November 2004.

The Creature

Freezing air filled my lungs. I knew it was going to catch me; it was inevitable. I turned up a narrow cobbled street. It was slippery but I kept on running. It was evening and the sun was setting rapidly. The tall buildings around me let very little light in so this particular street was very dark.

I could hear it breathing very heavily behind me. It was definitely gaining on me. The cold perspiration was running down my back. I could barely breath anymore. The pain in my side was the only thing I could feel. Everything else was concentrated on getting away from my creature. I wanted to slow down but my human in instincts told me that if I did it would be the last thing I ever did.

As I ran I remembered back a month or so ago. When a friend of mine had bought a rare species of monkey from the Amazon jungle. “ Go on!” He said. “ All these foreign monkeys are in fashion!”

Well it’s a pity that the creature I bought wasn’t in any of the archives in the local library. It wasn’t in any rare creature’s book and a friend of mine who studies rare animals said, “well you know what Michael I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve seen a lot of strange things!”

Even the man who found him said that he found him in a rather strange place. He said “He somehow dug his was under some tree roots without damaging the tree, and he was asleep when I found him, so he was the easiest catch I ever made!”

“Amazing!” I thought, “beautiful, wondrous, a new chapter for human kind.” He was four foot tall, with four limbs. It walked on its hind legs but its arms were very small. It was covered in short strong fur. Its features were almost human like except for its eyes. They were large and dark. They seemed to be full of intelligence. It even bowed its head as if in some sort of greeting.

I was thrilled with my new pet, but I did not forget my old one. The next morning I awoke to find my cat John-Joe and the creature on my roof. “John-Joe come down I have your breakfast” but the cat continued to hiss and spit at the creature.

“Raorrrrr.” I snapped back to reality. I was still unable to breath and the creature was barely ten metres behind me. I was now running through the small forest beside the town, towards the docks. Night had fallen by this time,

I thought of the date. The 31st of December, not two weeks ago I had watched my cat plunge to its death. My cat knew, as he stood on that roof that the creature was corrupt. So it jumped off the roof not landing on all fours but sadly in my water barrel and drowned before I could fish him out.

I was very distraught at the death of my cat that I was blind to the truth. I should have guessed the reality of the situation when I read about the strange machine, which had been found by a logging company in the Amazon Rainforest. This I did not find strange. What I did find strange was the fact that my creature’s DNA did not match any compound I had studied in collage. I went to the library and researched this compound but I found no matches.

I was on a high. I believed I had discovered a new compound.  I thought I was going to win the Noble prize for science this year. I was too busy working to realise that my creature was building strange equipment in my garden shed.

*Crunch* I nearly tripped over a tree root, I should be concentrating on the task at hand. I ducked into a large hole in an old oak tree. I felt light headed I paused for a moment to try and catch my breath. I could hear the creature coming closer. So I jumped out of the hole and started running again.

I could see the end of the forest and the start of the docks. I reflected on how intelligent the creature was. I knew my only hope was for the creature to drown.

I had discovered the creature’s machine quite by chance the night beforehand. I was going down to the bottom of my garden to get a sample of earth.  When I heard strange sounds coming from the shed. “Click, zizz, waaag, nawk, tlick” these were the sounds I could hear. I went and looked in the window of the shed and to my great amazement and horror I saw my creature working on his machine. Oh my God I thought this creature is an intelligent life form.

Then it hit me; this wasn’t a creature from earth. I was having flash backs of the news headlines for the past few weeks. “It like some sort of metallic flying disk.” said one “It’s like nothing any scientist had seen before,” said another.  The piece of machinery found in the rain forest belonged to my creature. I thought I was going crazy but now I knew my creature was an extra-terrestrial.

I knew now that if I let my creature continue working on its machine it would eventually transmit Earth’s co-ordinates to its own kind on some far away planet, and that could only mean one of two things: 1. They would be peaceful and want to join in union with Earth and teach us new and exciting things or, 2. They wanted to destroy human kind and all it stood for and take over the planet.

I had to make a decision and I couldn’t make it lightly. As I stood there I realised the fate of human kind rested in my hands. Without further thought I went and got my shotgun and headed back down to the shed.

Before I open the door I asked God for forgiveness. I barged in took aim and shot the creature’s machine. This was my mistake. My creature turn round with anger filled eyes, it let out a deafening scream. I froze for a second then thought better of it and ran.

I could hear a foghorn echoing in the distance and it snapped me back to reality. I ran for the nearest boardwalk. I stopped at the end of it and turned round.  I could hear fireworks in the distance and people cheering happy New Year. The year was now 1980. I thought how far we had come since 6000 BC.

The creature came to a halt at the start of the boardwalk. For a few seconds we stood motionless. The creature took a running start and jumped at me, I ducked just in time and the creature plummeted into the water.

For a few minutes the creature helplessly splashed about in the water with its small weak arms, until eventually it sank. I sat on the end of the boardwalk till morning; I wanted to make sure it was dead.

I thought of how far human kind could have jumped into the future if we could have studied this creature and it’s machines. I also consider how the world could have been thrown into complete chaos if the aliens had prevailed.

I think we will leave this problem with aliens for the people in the 21st century. I stood up and started my long journey home.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Jennifer Floody
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