Firefly Month: Who You Are In the Dark in War Stories

The episode opens with Book and Simon debating on who the people that experimented on River were in terms of ethics. Book wonders if they wanted to see what kind of person River was by constantly tortuing her while Simon thinks they were being more specific. Meanwhile, on a distant planet, Niska (villain of the week from The Train Job) gets word that Serenity is in the vicinity. He’s torturing someone who neglected a payment. The works of a warrior named Shan Yu get brought up in both scenes.

River and Kaylee chase each other around the ship like two sisters, fighting over an apple. Apparently Jayne bought apples for the rest of the crew. Kaylee notices that Zoe always cuts her apples. And this is where the titular war stories start. Zoe said that the reason she cuts her apples is because of tiny grenades placed inside apples given by Alliance troops. When the Captain comes on deck, Wash brings up the fact that they could’ve made more money by cutting out the middlemen, but Mal brings up the fact that they need to play nice. Wash and Zoe  argue about this later because Zoe lied to her husband about not mentioning Wash’s idea. Wash is naturally jealous of how Zoe accepts Mal’s authority without question and is willing to lie to him. Wash feels like Mal is another husband.

When Zoe gets to a shuttle to deliver the last of the medical supplies, Wash decides to volunteer to help Mal to keep Zoe and Mal apart. Unfortunately, what starts out as a “milk run” turns into an ambush.

Back on the ship, Zoe takes Jayne and Book to check on where Mal and Wash are. Shepherd is able to identify the kinds of shots taken and recognizes that the men who attacked were professionals. They also quickly realize that it wasn’t a robbery…it’s a kidnapping. And Zoe knows who the kidnapper is.

Mal and Wash are taken to Niska’s lair and start arguing, with Wash thinking that Zoe always supports the Captain’s orders without question. Of course, Mal points out that Zoe married Wash in spite of him ordering her not to. (Again, would’ve like to have seen that story.) Niska puts the two men into his electrical torture machine and the two of them are still arguing. (Which is kind of funny in a dark comedy kind of way.) It turns out, though, it’s Mal’s way of making sure that Wash is still alive.

Zoe comes onto Niska’s space station to buy back the Captain and her husband and asks her to choose. Zoe chooses Wash without hesitation. Niska cuts off Mal’s ear (I have to wonder did they really do that to Nathan Fillion in real life) and sends both of them back to Serenity. Realizing that he owes the captain his life, Wash and Zoe decide to get the captain back. Jayne tells the two of them that it’s suicide. The rest of the crew surprise Zoe by volunteering to be armed backup, including Shepherd Book who says that while he isn’t intending on killing the Bible “tends to get fuzzy on the subject of kneecaps.” Zoe’s order as they arrive on the space station is “If it moves, shoot it, unless it’s the captain.”

The assault on Niska’s space station plays out like a really good video game with Zoe, Jayne, and Wash leading the full frontal assault and the rest of the crew holding down the main gate and providing cover. Book holds true to his word and shoots at the kneecaps while River surprises Kaylee by shooting three people down with her eyes closed.

Mal struggles to escape Niska and Viktor as Zoe, Jayne, and Wash make their way in. Zoe thinks that the captain needs to take care of Viktor himself. Mal replies: “NO! NO IT’S NOT!” and the three of them proceed to shoot him down.

All screenshots are copyright to 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy and are used for editorial purposes only.

All screenshots are copyright to 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy and are used for editorial purposes only.

Back on the ship, Simon reattaches Mal’s ear and Zoe makes her husband a bowl of soup. Then Mal attempts to fulfill his word by ordering Zoe to sleep with him and the two of them flirt in the most uncomfortable way possible. Of course, they have about as much unresolved sexual tension as Captain Hook and Emma Swan from Once Upon a Time. By that, I mean they have none at all. Even Jayne thinks it’s unsettling. Wash, of course, has no choice, but to steal Zoe away and declare to the Captain “We’ll be in our bunk.”

The underlying theme of this is “who you are underneath.” The reason that the warrior Shan Yu comes up is that he believed that you don’t really know a man until you torture him. The concept also applies to the rest of the crew of Serenity when they are put into a combat situation. We see that Zoe is cool under pressure, but loves her husband and her captain, albeit in different ways. We see Wash’s jealousy and vulnerability. We see hints of Book’s past by his knowledge of famous torturers and uncomfortably good marksmanship. We can see that Simon isn’t good with a gun, but his sister is. Most of all, we see why Malcolm Reynolds is the captain. He’s able to endure hours of torture and helps his comrades stay in line. His decisions may not be understandable, but they work out in the long run. The way that the crew works together will play a majorly important role next episode.

Faith and Trust vs Doubt and Discouragement

One of my favorite quotes from CS Lewis is “There are far, far better things ahead than anything we leave behind.” I keep going back to that quote whenever I face a setback.

I know you guys are probably gonna laugh at the idea of a twentysomething having a quarter-life crisis, but the fact is that it happens. I apply for jobs and don’t hear back or I get the interview, but not the job itself. I fall for guys who never give me a chance. I have a million writing ideas but get writer’s block as soon as I see the blank page of a word processor.

I know that God has a better plan for me. It would be nice to know what that plan was, though. I mean, what could be better than having a full-time job, having a car, driving where I want to go, and having a normal relationship? I’m not exactly sure if it’s in God’s plan that I stay at home blogging and only talk to people through the internet.

There are times that God led me to wonderful things that ended up changing my life for the better. The real test is living out that faith and trusting God on a day to day basis. To quote my favorite show “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” Believe me when I say that it’s sadly true. It’s hard to live life on a daily basis not knowing what’s gonna happen next, not knowing where life is going to lead you, and faced with a world that is seemingly indifferent. And it’s easy to think that this world is indifferent and to try and create our own meaning or to go the other direction and wallow in angst for the rest of our lives.

But by the grace of God, I am not a nihilist. I think that there is a bigger meaning to life. But I’m not anti-nihilist, either.  The universe is not indifferent to us because God created the universe and he created us. I think that while God has a plan, he always incorporates free will. But there are moral absolutes. I studied way too much Aquinas in my college days and one frustrating thing about reading his works is that I ended up asking more questions. (Which was the point of the Summas, apparently.)

So I don’t have a label for my philosophy, not yet anyway. I’ll always be asking questions and find answers that make me want to know more. And while I don’t like the core value of existentialism, I can say that I can make the most of the time I have now and push forward towards making it better.

Five Words For You To Contemplate

I started out this year with the oneword365 challenge in which I would focus and contemplate on one word for the whole year. The word I chose was “patience” since I always struggled with having patience in my life. Then God laughed and gave me some other words to contemplate during Lent.

 

Patience

I chose “patience” as my word for the year because, as stated before, I struggled with waiting. Whenever I anticipate something, time seems to go by even slower. My patience was tested several times throughout the last three months. Sometimes, it came in the form of people making small talk and other times it came in the form of over a dozen second graders who refused to settle down.

Throughout the last three months, I learned that things always come on God’s time, usually just when you need it the most. It might be something as small as hearing a song that lifts you out of a bad mood or as big as getting a job offer on the same day that your purse got stolen. It also means waiting for the right time to say something important or choosing not to say anything at all.  I learned that if I do little things while I’m waiting, it ends up paying off. So as Lent transitions into Easter, I’ll keep on serving the Lord and take life one day at a time.

This song came to mind when I thought about patience. I invite you to listen to it and tell me how God is asking you to be patient:

 

Serenity

It started with me finding this book called The Way of Serenity  by Fr. Jonathan Morris. The Serenity Prayer has helped me through a lot of restless nights. The first part of the Serenity Prayer is “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change.”

On top of my impatience issues, I also have some control freak tendencies. I hate being interrupted. I hate being rejected. I hate being late. But the past few months have reminded me that there are a lot of things in life that are far beyond my control and the only thing I can control is how I deal with these things. When the internet started fighting over a dress, I chose to watch Firefly. Whenever I faced rejection, I remind myself of those who already accept me. Whenever I felt neglected, I focused my sights on the fact that God’s always watching. Whenever life threw a curve ball, I dug my trenches and made the best of the situation, all the while accepting that God was in control.

BTW: Check out the cast of CW’s The Flash singing the Ballad of Serenity a cappella/gospel style. It’s shiny!

 

Courage

Of course, there’s a time to wait and there’s a time to speak out. Quotes from Taylor Swift’s album introductions come to mind:

FEARLESS is not the absence of fear. It’s not being completely unafraid. To me, FEARLESS is having fears. FEARLESS is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, FEARLESS is living in spite of those things that scare you to death. FEARLESS is falling madly in love again, even though you’ve been hurt before…It’s FEARLESS to have faith that someday things will change. FEARLESS is having the courage to say goodbye to someone who only hurts you, even if you can’t breathe without them. I think it’s FEARLESS to fall for your best friend, even though he’s in love with someone else. And when someone apologizes to you enough times for things they’ll never stop doing, I think it’s FEARLESS to stop believing them. It’s FEARLESS to say “You’re NOT sorry”, and walk away…Letting go is FEARLESS. Then, moving on and being alright…That’sFEARLESS too. But no matter what love throws at you, you have to believe in it. You have to believe in love stories and prince charmings and happily ever after. That’s why I write these songs. Because I think love is FEARLESS


Real life is a funny thing, you know. In real life, saying the right thing at the right moment is beyond crucial. So crucial, in fact, that most of us start to hesitate, for fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. But lately what I’ve began to fear more than that is letting the moment pass without saying anything. 

I think most of us fear reaching the end of our life, and looking back regretting the moments we didn’t speak up. When we didn’t say ‘I love you’. When we should’ve said ‘I’m sorry’. When we didn’t stand up for ourselves or someone who needed help. 

Words can break someone into a million pieces, but they can also put them back together. I hope you use yours for good, because the only words you’ll regret more than the ones left unsaid are the ones you use to intentionally hurt someone. 

What you say might be too much for some people. Maybe it will come out all wrong and you’ll stutter and you’ll walk away embarrased, wincing as you play it all back in your head. But I think the words you stop yourself from saying are the ones that will haunt you the longest. 

So say it to them. Or say it to yourself in the mirror. Say it in a letter you’ll never send or in a book millions might read someday. I think you deserve to look back on your life without a chorus of resounding voices saying ‘I could’ve, but it’s too late now.’ 

There is a time for silence. There is a time for waiting your turn. But if you know how you feel, and you so clearly know what you need to say, you’ll know it. 

I don’t think you should wait. I think you should speak now 

The debate over whether people can change is an interesting one for me to observe because it seems like all I ever do is change. All I ever do is learn from my mistakes so I don’t make the same ones again. Then I make new ones. I know people can change because it happens to me little by little every day. Every day I wake up as someone slightly new. Isn’t it wild and intriguing and beautiful to think that every day we are new?

So it’s only natural that the song I choose for whenever I’m contemplating courage is one of hers. I want to know what it’s like for you when you have courage, when you feel fearless, or a time when you chose to speak out.

 

Wisdom

It’s hard to believe that I’m 25 years, two months, 1 week, and five days old now. It’s hard to believe that a year ago, I consecrated myself to Jesus through Mary. And that I’ll be renewing that consecration this year.

One of Mary’s many, many titles is “Seat of Wisdom.” (Taken from the Litany of Loreto.) Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and a number of other saints have been teaching me wisdom throughout Lent. But Mary has been teaching me the most about what it means to be wise. I’m no longer the smartest girl in school and the news I hear every day reminds me that there are things that are far beyond my understanding.

But wisdom is different from knowledge. To quote The Way of Serenity:

Wisdom is not really about knowing many things, but rather knowing (discerning) what is important…Have you noticed that wise people are humble people? The know how much they don’t know.

Since today is the feast of the Annunciation, I ask you to contemplate the first Joyful Mystery and ask Mary to share her wisdom with you. Be with Mary as she contemplates the fact that she is going to become the mother of God, that she chose to say “Yes,” and that now, even to this day, many generations call her “blessed.”

 

Mercy

Throughout Lent, my dad and I prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3PM. I read bits and pieces of the Diary of St. Faustina. I even listened to Fr. Michael Gaitley’s story of how Divine Mercy was part of God’s plan for St. Faustina and for St. John Paul II.

But what comes to my mind when I think of mercy is Psalm 51. I kept seeing parts of it during the readings for Daily Mass and in the Sunday Psalms. It was my constant prayer during my restless nights and whenever I found myself “backsliding.”

Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;

in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.

Thoroughly wash away my guilt;

and from my sin cleanse me.

For I know my transgressions;

my sin is always before me.

Against you, you alone have I sinned;

I have done what is evil in your eyes

So that you are just in your word,

and without reproach in your judgment.

Behold, I was born in guilt,

in sin my mother conceived me.

Behold, you desire true sincerity;

and secretly you teach me wisdom.

Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

You will let me hear gladness and joy;

the bones you have crushed will rejoice.

Turn away your face from my sins;

blot out all my iniquities.

A clean heart create for me, God;

renew within me a steadfast spirit.

Do not drive me from before your face,

nor take from me your holy spirit.

Restore to me the gladness of your salvation;

uphold me with a willing spirit.

I will teach the wicked your ways,

that sinners may return to you.

Rescue me from violent bloodshed, God, my saving God,

and my tongue will sing joyfully of your justice.

Lord, you will open my lips;

and my mouth will proclaim your praise.

For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it;

a burnt offering you would not accept.

My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;

a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.

Treat Zion kindly according to your good will;

build up the walls of Jerusalem.

Then you will desire the sacrifices of the just,

burnt offering and whole offerings;

then they will offer up young bulls on your altar.

Danielle Rose has a beautiful musical version of this song from her album “Culture of Life.” I invite you to listen to it and pray it. I also want to know how mercy has been a part of your life.

 

So those are the words I have gathered so far. What words have you been drawn to during this Lenten season?

Cinderella's Faith and Good Works

Although I loved Beauty and the Beast growing up and enjoy watching Once Upon a Time every now and then, I find myself identifying with the character of Cinderella lately. And it’s not because I want a Prince Charming. It’s more that I think a lot of people (including myself) can identify with this idea of eventually being rewarded for all the hard work we do. In spite of what some Protestant denominations say, salvation isn’t gained by Faith Alone nor can someone do a million good deeds to earn their way into Heaven. And if you don’t believe me, please refer to these 2 Scripture passages:

“See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” James 2:24-26

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’In spite of what some Protestant denominations say, salvation isn’t gained by Faith Alone nor can someone do a million good deeds to earn their way into Heaven. And if you don’t believe me,” Matthew 25: 31-40

So how does the idea of faith and good works apply to the story of Cinderella? Let’s start at the beginning. For the sake of simplicity, I’m only going to refer to the live-action Cinderella directed by Kenneth Branagh. Spoilers ensue. You were warned.

The basic story of Cinderella is that the titular character believes in being good in spite of how her stepmother and stepsisters treat her. She makes the best out of a bad situation. And before a million angry detractors ask me “Why doesn’t she just leave?” there is a scene where someone asks her that exact question. The house is all that Cinderella has left of her family and doesn’t want to see it fall to ruin. There are a lot of small instances of Vinderella being active in her kindness, mostly in the form of her kindness towards her animal friends.

Another indication of Cinderella being active is that she creates a dress on her own, inspired by the faith that she will be able to go to the ball. Her faith gets shaken when Lady Tremaine rips up a sleeve, but in spite of her sadness, Cinderella goes out of her way to give a bowl of milk to an old lady sitting out in the garden. Hebrews 13:2 comes to mind: “Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.” The old lady turns out to be Cinderella’s fairy godmother.  Once at the ball, Cinderella spends times with the prince and runs off as midnight draws near. As the carriage and servants slowly turn back into lizards and pumpkins, Cinderella still has the glass slipper, a sign of her faith, and walks the rest of the way home.

The last instance of faith and good works is seen in the end, when Cinderella chooses to have faith that things will work out in spite of her being locked in the attic. The mice open a window as she sings. It’s through Cinderella’s singing (her good works) that the men down below realize there’s another lady upstairs.

Cinderella gets rewarded for her faith and good works by gaining a kingdom. As the Beatitudes remind us, those of us who are poor in spirit, merciful, pure of heart, hungry for righteousness, and suffer persecution for the sake of Christ will gain the kingdom, the kingdom of Heaven.

Old Vs. New: A Night at the Movies With Cinderella

This is going to compare the Disney Animated version of Cinderella to the 2015 live-action retelling. For the sake of convenience, I’ll refer to the animated character of Cinderella as Cinderella and her live action version as Ella.

Spoilers ensue. You were warned.

The entire first act of the live-action Cinderella develops the characters of Ella and her biological parents as opposed to just telling them in exposition form like in the animated version. We see that Ella’s optimism comes from her mother and that when Ella’s father marries again, Lady Tremaine tries to make it work but feels like she can’t compete with the shadow of Ella’s mother and the presence of Ella herself so that by the time Ella’s father dies, Ella’s life is degraded to that of a servant. It’s stated in the narration that Ella did the chores as a distraction from her grief.

Later on in the live-action film, Ella goes out riding on her horse and meets the prince, who is dressed as a member of the Royal Guard and calls himself “Kit.” (The animated prince shall be referred to as Charming, not to be confused with the Prince Charming from Once Upon a Time.) Kit tells Ella that he’s an apprentice. Later on, Kit meets back with his father, who is dying. The king and the Grand Duke remind Kit that he needs to marry a princess as required by law, but since Kit is head over heels for a girl whose name he doesn’t even know, he extends the ball’s invitation to every eligible maiden.

Both versions show their respective Cinderellas making a dress for the ball with the help of the mice. But this leads to the first scene that bugs me: the dress ripping scene. In the animated version, the stepsisters tear Cinderella’s dress to shreds, leaving her tattered and torn beyond repair. It also serves as an emotional breaking point for her because Cinderella has been working hard for so long and just wanted one night where she has a good time and that gets ruined.

cinderellatorndress1

In the live action version, the stepmother tears a sleeve and the stepsisters tear off pieces of Ella’s dress here and there, but the dress is not beyond repair nor is it worthy of breaking down in tears. Yes, it probably would’ve been harder to tear actual fabric, but it would’ve been even more dramatic if they actually tore the dress to a dilapidated state.

c2015tear

I will say that both Fairy Godmother scenes were done nicely here. Helena Bonham Carter totally steals the show, since she’s the narrator of the live-action version. I kind of miss the fun musical number, though. But the animated version only had 2-3 musical numbers anyway. Moving on to the ball!

The two entrance scenes are played very differently and I like both of them equally. In the animated version, Cinderella walks into the ballroom while the Grand Duke snarks about how love at first sight doesn’t happen in real life all while Charming sees Cinderella and does just that. In the live action version, Ella gets a grand staircase entrance and realizes as she sees Kit that Kit is actually the prince. Instead of a song like in the animated version, Kit and Ella spend time together by escaping the ball and sneaking into a hidden garden.

There’s a slight subplot in the live-action version involving the Grand Duke wanting the prince to marry a princess from a nearby kingdom and Lady Tremaine learning this fact. But more on that later.

Both versions also show their respective Cinderellas running off before they could tell the prince their name and the glass slipper gets left behind as they flee. The carriage turns into a pumpkin and both Cinderellas walk the rest of the way home. However, the live-action version gives Ella a moment with the King as she runs out, showing the King why Kit fell in love with her.

In the live action-version the King passes away, and after the period of mourning passes, the prince goes looking for the maiden who fits the shoe.

The shoe-search scene differs in the live-action version because live-action Lady Tremaine makes Ella an offer she can’t refuse: Make her the head of the royal family and give her daughters husbands. Ella refuses. Lady Tremaine breaks Ella’s glass slipper before Ella could go and meet her prince. Both Cinderellas get locked in the attic. Live-Action Lady Tremaine reveals the identity of the mystery princess to the Grand Duke and offers her help in getting the prince to enter into an arranged marriage in exchange of getting the title of countess and husbands for her daughters.

Eventually, the shoe-search leads to the Tremaine residence and in spite of the Cinderellas being locked in the attic, the mice are able to save them. The Cinderellas get their princes and they all live happily ever after.

So with plot aside, let’s compare characters!

First of all, I give major points to the live-action for developing the character of the prince and his relationship with Ella. It’s similar to how Prince Henry and Danielle were in Ever After, another Cinderella adaptation, with neither of them revealing who they truly were.  I’ll go into Ella’s handling of her relationship with the prince later.

I like how the king was written in both versions, although I’m sad that in the live-action version, he’s a dying man. The king in the animated version was funny and had a good motivation. He wants to have grandkids and isn’t as close to Charming as he was when Charming was younger. I also liked the Captain of the Guard who was basically the Prince’s Black Best Friend.

I don’t like how the Grand Duke became a villain in this version, either. The Grand Duke was actually kind to Cinderella in the animated version, willing to take the King’s insane demands in stride. I understand the Grand Duke’s intentions in the live action version, looking out for the good of the kingdom and all, but honey, you’re in the wrong movie. Save that deviousness for Game of Thrones!

I liked Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drisella in both versions, but there’s just something more menacing about the animated version. Live-action Lady Tremaine has a bit of sympathy because she wanted to love her new husband, but it doesn’t explain why she treats Cinderella so harshly. Yes, she explains that she loved her first husband and it’s implied that one reason she treats Ella so badly is because Ella is so kind and optimistic in spite of what she has been through. But if she really wanted to make things work, she could’ve put in a little more effort or cleared things up with her second husband.

Now the majority of the movie really rests on the shoulders on Ella herself and it’s hard to compare the animated version and the live-action version. They’re similar in how much they have to endure, but if you look closely at the animated version, you can see that Cinderella is actually slightly more realistic than the live-action version. See, Cinderella is shown to be patient, hardworking, but still wants to go to the ball and has normal reactions to Lucifer’s pranks as well as putting up with all the work her stepmother and stepsisters give her. She has to endure a lot, which makes her eventual breakdown at the dress-tearing scene all the more heartbreaking.

The live-action Ella is a bit too optimistic at times. I can get her doing chores as a way to deal with her grief, but again, the dress-ripping scene doesn’t exactly warrant her breaking down in tears. When she gets table scraps, she just decides to share the food with the mice. I also don’t like the fact that Ella just accepts her fate of being trapped in a tower, thinking that her memories with the Prince are enough to live on. Cinderella actually wanted to get out and begged her animal friends to help her.

I will give the live-action points on making Ella a queen in the end and saying that she and Kit ruled fairly and kindly. Evil queens are a stereotype that needs a makeover. But until we see more benevolent queens in fairy tales, my favorite “Evil Queen” is still my dear, beloved Sass Queen Regina from Once Upon a Time

Overall, both movies are good on their own. But if you ask me which telling of Cinderella is my favorite, I would honestly say that I choose the Rodgers and Hammerstein version starring Brandy and Whitney Houston. If you ask me to choose between the two, I think I want to give the animated version a visit again. It just feels more timeless to me, in spite of people’s preconceptions and problems with it.

Tomorrow, I’ll go into how the story of Cinderella as a whole provides proof as to how faith and works actually go hand in hand when it comes to receiving ultimate happiness.

Attributions: All images and screencaps are the property of Disney and other respective production studios and distributors, and are intended for editorial use only.

The Wreck of the Day On Red Hotel Paper

A Found Poem of Lyrics from Taylor Swift, Michelle Branch, and Anna Nalick

 

2AM

In my room

I’m still awake

The lingering question kept me up

Can you help me unravel my latest mistake?

I think of you

Feeling like I just lost a friend

Remember that fight in your car

The memories start

You say I’ve been driving you crazy

 

I see your face in my mind

as you drive straight ahead

Away from the wreck of the day

I’m calling on Jesus

I’m cursing your name

He’s everything I know

that makes me believe I’m not alone

He’s the teardrops on my guitar

His love doesn’t hurt so I know

I’m not falling in love

I’m just falling to pieces

I’m tied together with a smile

And I’m coming undone

 

I’m sitting on the citadel

On the outside looking in

I screamed so loud

Don’t worry about this heart of mine

Let me love you, let me want you

You’re gonna break my heart anyway

Hey can you talk a little louder?

I don’t think my heart is broken enough

But no one heard a thing

 

You just see right through me

You saw me there, but never knew

But if you only knew

I wanted everything

A part of this, a part of you

I’m the one who understands you

Why can’t you see?

Don’t just walk away

pretending everything’s okay

Cuz I don’t wanna lie

That I’m okay and I’m alright

 

It hurts to want everything and nothing at the same time

I never planned on you changing your mind

I want you, but I’m not giving in this time

I don’t wanna be the only one who’s drowning in their misery

Someday love will find me

 

No one can find the rewind button now

I cradle my head in my hands and breathe

Let it fill the space between

I have to breathe without you, I have to

 

JMJ

Firefly Month: Loyalty, Justice, and Mercy in Ariel

The episode starts out with a typical day on the ship. The crew is on their way to a core planet called Ariel, where Inara is going to get a checkup as part of the requirements of her Companion guild. Shepherd Book is absent from this episode, spending time with his monastery. All of a sudden, River grabs a knife slashes at Jayne’s chest. Once again, Blue Sun Corporation is to blame here (Jayne was wearing a Blue Sun t-shirt), but again, nobody knows that yet. Jayne gets major paranoid that River could go after any one of them. Mal, however, insists that Simon and River are part of the crew. He decides to put River on lockdown and reminds Simon to keep his sister in check.

Once the crew of Serenity lands on Ariel, Simon comes up with the idea for a job. Simon informs them of the types of medicines they can steal from the hospital, medicine that can be easily restocked, in exchange for getting access to a diagnostic ward that has a 3D neuro-imager. Simon basically figures he can kill 2 birds with one stone: find out what’s wrong with River and actually contribute to the crew outside of just being a medic.

Simon lays out the plan for smuggling him and his sister into the hospital. Jayne, Zoe, Mal, and Wash disguise themselves as EMTs and rehearse an elaborate emergency situation in which Simon and River pretend to be dead. When Simon explains the plan to River, she’s scared, but Simon reassures her that everything will be okay.

Mal, Zoe, and Jayne make it to the hospital and are able to take River and Simon to the morgue without anyone asking questions. Jayne is in charge of making sure that Simon and River are okay, but Jayne takes advantage of the situation to call the feds to turn Simon and River in. The three of them pass through the recovery ward and Simon takes care of a patient on the brink of death due to a bad medication mix. He calls out the doctor on making a rookie mistake while River smiles at her brother with pride.

Mal and Zoe are able to get to the medical supply room without too much trouble while Jayne, River, and Simon make it to the 3D neuro-imager. Simon takes a look at River’s brain and realizes that the Academy attempted to lobotomize River and cut her amygdala out. For  those who didn’t pay attention in biology class, the amygdala is that part of the brain that suppresses emotions. This means that River feels everything without any self control. Add to the fact that she can read minds and has some slight clairvoyance and you basically have a soup full of crazy and wrong trapped inside of the body of a 17-year-old girl. Even Jayne is horrified, but still plans on turning traitor. So when River gets a panic attack, you realize it’s because she knows what Jayne is gonna do and is fearing the worst. And her premonition turns out to be correct: Jayne leads them out of the hospital to get the reward money only for the federal marshal to turn traitor on Jayne in return.

Mal and Zoe make it back to the refurbished space ambulance with Wash and realize that something is wrong. Kaylee checks the space version of the police scanner and finds out that Jayne, Simon, and River are captured. Jayne and Simon fight off the marshals while Mal and Zoe go looking for them. Unfortunately, reinforcements come in. Remember the two men wearing blue gloves AKA the Hands of Blue from an earlier episodes? They’re back and they’re armed with sonic transmitters that have the power of literally blowing people’s brains out from the inside. Jayne, River, and Simon make a run for it, with River leading the two men to an exit, where Mal and Zoe are on the other side waiting for them.

The team makes it back to Serenity with some minor scratches. Simon thanks Jayne for helping them escape the feds. However, Mal is smart enough to realize that Jayne was the reason that Simon and River got flagged by the feds in the first place and knocks Jayne out, leaving him in the cargo bay airlock in the sci-fi version of what is called “keel hauling.” Jayne confesses to Mal and asks Mal why he’s taking it so personally. Mal reminds Jayne that if anyone turns on the crew, it’s considered a mutiny for him. Jayne begs Mal for mercy and Mal thankfully does so, telling Jayne that the next time he decides to turn traitor to not act as a coward. The episode ends with Simon giving River medicine.

There are 3 major themes in this episode: the concepts of loyalty, justice, and mercy. Simon wants to prove his loyalty to the crew of Serenity by giving them a mission that has a big payoff. Jayne learns how there is no honor among thieves, or in this case within the Alliance. He also learns that loyalty isn’t an individual thing.

That end scene with Jayne getting “keel hauled” by Mal is a perfect example of justice and mercy working together. Some people might think that Jayne got off too easy, staying alive and all. But he has to live with Mal constantly questioning his loyalty and the fact that he betrayed a man who’s trying to figure out what’s wrong with his sister, who is not in full control of her actions. It was right for Mal to warn Jayne not to do what he did again and it was also right not to let Jayne suffocate. It’s also interesting that Shepherd Book wasn’t in the episode because he and Jayne have an odd friendship and if anyone has the right to absolve Jayne of his sins, it’s the good Shepherd.

Justice is rendering to someone what they’re due and mercy, as pointed out by Mal earlier, is the mark of a great man. Mal showed to Jayne why he’s the captain of the ship. Since Shepherd Book is absent, it’s up to Mal to distribute the justice and the mercy that Jayne deserves and needs.

JMJ

Firefly Month: Solid Ground and Synchronicity in Out of Gas

Out of Gas is unique in the sense that it’s told in anachronistic order. I’ll start with what I call “present day”:

The episode starts out with shots of an empty Serenity, which already tells the audience that something is wrong. Just as we start to wonder where everyone was, we see Captain Mal Reynolds collapsing onto the floor of the cargo hold.

The episode then flashes back to the crew of Serenity sharing funny stories around the dinner table and celebrating Simon’s birthday, when all of a sudden there’s an explosion from the engine room. The explosion knocks Zoe out and disables the life support and auxiliary power. To make things worse, they’re flying under the radar which meant that finding help is next to impossible. Kaylee explains that the ship can’t be fixed without a certain part, meaning that they are proverbially “dead in the water.” Mal tells everyone to evacuate the ship while he waits for help.

A while after everyone leaves, another ship arrives, but unfortunately, the people who have that part that Mal wants turn out to be scavengers and not good Samaritans. Mal manages to get them off and get the MacGuffin, but collapses.

And now we’ll move on to the scenes where Mal’s life flashes before his eyes.

Mal bought Serenity with Zoe, back when the ship was in a supposedly dilapidated state. Zoe is wary of it, but clearly she’s never seen home makeover shows. Mal hires Wash to be the pilot and a mechanic named Bester. Zoe does not like Wash, which again makes me wonder how the two got together in the first place. Later on, we find the mechanic Bester in flagrante delicto with Kaylee in the engine room.. Bester said that engines make her hot. Mal points out that the ship needs to get off ground because they’re behind schedule. Kaylee, mechanical genius that she is, points out the problem and gets hired on the spot at Bester’s expense. Some time later, Jayne gets recruited to the team when he and a band of robbers take Serenity at gunpoint and Mal bribes Jayne into turning to their side, offering room and board and more money. Finally, Inara is taken onto the ship, citing that her status as a Companion will create a sense of credibility and status. She asks for 3 things: complete autonomy, that Mal never walks into her shuttle without permission, and that Mal never calls her a whore. Well, 1 out of 3 ain’t bad, right?

Going back to the present day, Mal is able to give himself enough adrenaline to get the MacGuffin into the engine room and get the ship running again, but passes out before he can send a call to the shuttles to return to the ship.

The next thing we see is Mal waking up in the infirmary and I start wondering if we’re watching the end of Inception because Zoe supposedly regained consciousness and ordered both shuttles to return to the ship, thus saving Mal’s life. Too bad we never see that scene and are left guessing whether or not Mal and the rest of the crew died and the rest of everything is just an afterlife thing. I’m not gonna say I hate you, Joss Whedon. Not yet. I’m saving that for later. For now, I’m gonna roll my eyes and roll with the punches.

This was not an easy episode to analyze. This episode runs on backstory, which doesn’t lend much to finding themes or questions about morality. But then this old adage came to me: “God draws straight with crooked lines.” Also known as “everything happens for a reason.”

Synchronicity, as defined by Carl Jung, is “two or more events that are meaningfully related, but not casually related,” a coincidence that actually means something.

 

One can also argue that synchronicity is another way of saying “divine providence.”

 

At the end of the episode, we see that Mal originally looked at a large rocket-type ship before choosing Serenity. We also learn that Wash and Zoe weren’t a case of “love at first sight” and Kaylee only came onto the crew by chance. Jayne joined the crew because there would be more money and better service, Inara joined the crew because they needed her as much as she needs them and the pilot shows that everyone else on the ship started out as passengers.

But eventually, we see what all these moments lead up to: Zoe eventually gains a husband, Jayne gets to act as the crew’s enforcer and muscle, Kaylee gets to do what she loves for a living (working with mechanics, not the other thing; get your mind out of the gutter), Inara has a sense of independence, the Tam siblings find refuge, and Shepherd Book gets a home. What does Mal get out of it? He gets a family.

I think it’s fitting that the first flashback we see in the episode is when everyone’s gathered around the table exchanging stories and celebrating Simon’s birthday. They’ve come a really long way from how things started.

Joseph Susanka of “Summa This, Summa That” says:

He’s “out of gas” at the beginning of the timeline, searching for somewhere to anchor himself. The ship is what he finds. But through the course of the episode, as we see everyone coming together (and eventually, his efforts to protect them all as the ship *seems* like it’s deserving/betraying him), we come to realize that it’s the people on the ship that really anchor him. The real “solid ground.”

So instead of taking the idea that everyone died, I’d like to think that Providence came in to turn things around for Mal. After all, there are bigger things that the crew of the Serenity has to face.

JMJ

Headcanons of Joseph and Mary: OTP of the New Testament

In the world of fandoms, there is something called OTP also known as One True Pairing. It basically means “the relationship that fans of a show love the most.” In the Bible, there are many beautiful relationships. My OTP is Joseph and Mary

I only gained a devotion to the Holy Family recently, but I would sometimes talk on Tumblr with other Catholics about what Joseph and Mary’s life could’ve been like. These speculations are called “headcanon.”

An example from a past Tumblr post:

  • Who decorates the house: Even though Joseph made all the furniture in their house, Mary is the one who always makes sure that the house is filled with flowers and little things she gathers from walking around town.
  • Who does the cooking: Mary does the cooking as per tradition. She taught Jesus how to cook, too.
  • Who kills the spiders: Neither of them kill spiders, but instead release the spiders to a safe outdoor area as far away from their house as possible.
  • Who is more organized: Mary. I’m very certain that she came up with the phrase “cleanliness is next to godliness.”
  • Who wakes up first: Joseph. He always smiles at his wife and child before getting up.
  • Who has the weird taste in music: Given that they had limited means of listening to music at the time, they both take what they get.
  • Who spends the most while out shopping: Joseph. He wants to make sure that what he gets is perfect.
  • Who sings in the shower: Mary. Joseph does hum, though.
  • Who cries during movies: Given that the closest thing they had to movies was folk tales and stories from Scripture, neither of them.
  • What’s their favorite non-sexual activity: Since neither of them have sex, Mary and Joseph pray. A lot.
  • Who is more protective: Joseph.
  • Who’s the cuddler: Also Joseph. He’s not much for words, after all.
  • Who’s the big spoon/little spoon: Joseph always spoons behind Mary. And it’s always my headcanon that they share a bed even though they don’t have sex because they love each other romantically.
  • Who kisses more roughly: Neither of them.
  • My rating of the ship from 1-10: 10! They’re 2/3 of the Holy Family!

I’ve written about my personal Joseph/Mary headcanon before. But my friends on Tumblr and I  are not the only ones who love speculating on

My dad, who has an amazing devotion to St. Joseph, has a book called Joseph the Silent by Michael Gasnier, O.P., which goes into detail about the kind of man St. Joseph was. There’s also a famous story of how Joseph became betrothed to Mary as described in the Protoevangelium of James: when it came time for Mary to find a husband, the priests of the temple called on all the eligible men to place their rods in the temple and the owner of the rod that would flower would become Mary’s husband. Joseph’s was the one that bloomed. However, the Protoevangelium of James speculated that Joseph was an old widower.

Rachel and Kateri made this video about what Fulton Sheen said about St. Joseph, who thought that St. Joseph was probably a young man, closer to Mary’s age (14):

Even fellow Patheos blogger Rebecca Frech goes into her headcanon on what Mary was like (or at least her kids do). Hopefully, we’ll see what her kids have to say about St. Joseph soon.

Which brings me to the question everyone’s asking: Why speculate about Joseph and Mary if it’s not in the Bible?

Headcanons are a very weird and funny thing. I think the reason we love speculating about Joseph and Mary is because headcanons make the characters (or in this case Biblical figures) feel more human. We can imagine Mary and Joseph as people and not just as images depicted on stained glass windows or statues that are part of a Nativity set.

We can imagine 14 year-old Mary turning to the handsome, young possibly 17-year-old Joseph for comfort and strength when she couldn’t deal with everything on her own. We can imagine the two of them trying to raise Jesus even as they deal with the constant mood changes that come with adolescence and young adulthood. We can imagine Joseph dying at a young age, in the arms of Jesus and Mary, and realize how short life can be.

St. Joseph, bring us closer to Jesus and Mary and grant us the grace of a happy death.

 

JMJ

The Litany of a Nerdy, Socially Awkward Millenial

Inspired by my friends from The New Catholic Generation, who collaborated on this awesome video:

 

From the desire of acting out on my feelings, deliver me O Lord

From the desire of using the internet as a safety blanket, deliver me O Lord

From the desire of rambling about shows not on TV anymore, deliver me O Lord

From the desire to dominate conversations, deliver me O Lord

From the desire to talk badly of others behind their backs, deliver me O Lord

From the desire to have the last word in a debate, deliver me O Lord

From the desire of having relationships with impossible men, deliver me O Lord

From the desire to overshare, vent, whine, and complain, deliver me O Lord

From the fear of never knowing my vocation, deliver me O Lord

From the fear that I may never publish a novel, deliver me O Lord

From the fear of socially awkward conversations, deliver me O Lord

From the fear of people who seem to have it all together, deliver me O Lord

From the fear of my past coming back to haunt me, deliver me O Lord

From the fear of falling in love with TV shows that are likely to get cancelled, deliver me O Lord

From the fear of my ships sinking due to sadistic writers, deliver me O Lord

From the fear of being left out and alone, deliver me O Lord

That I grow in my devotion to the Holy Family, grant me the grace to desire it, O Lord

That I share the Marian Consecration with everyone I know, grant me the grace to desire it O Lord

That I care less and less of what others think, grant me the grace to desire it, O Lord

That I use every opportunity to evangelize, grant me the grace to desire it O Lord

That I always write what I love and love what I write, grant me the grace to desire it O Lord

That I always grow in serenity, courage, and wisdom, grant me the grace to desire it, O Lord

That I may always be the best version of myself, grant me the grace to desire it, O Lord
JMJ