Having been bitten by the horror bug once again, tonight I found myself in the mood for a scary story, and looked up one I heard about 2 years ago: Where the Dead Go to Die (2012). A horror anthology about children who are taken to Hell by a demon dog.
Having heard that Where the Dead Go is one of the most graphic, horrifying anything ever…
…my curiosity was piqued.
Turns out, my curiously needn’t have bothered. Where the Dead Go is awful in ways it isn’t trying to be.
For starters: The demon dog’s voice is nails-on-a-chalkboard annoying. Watching it tempt a little boy, all I could think of is Kindergarten Cop (1990):
One thing that makes demons creepy is that they tell you what you want to hear in a way you want to hear it.
What father wants to kill his daughter?
I’d rather staple my ears shut than listen to this he-bitch for more than 5 seconds.
Second: Where the Dead Go is an eyesore.
A YouTube comment put it well: “This is like ReBoot on acid.”
But ReBoot — being the first computer animated TV series — has an excuse for its (by today’s standards) poor animation.
Where the Dead Go, having been made in 2012, has no excuse.
This is how far animation had progressed… by 2008:
If the creator of Where the Dead Go didn’t care enough about his work to make it look the best it could, than why should I care at all?
Finally: Nothing means anything.
If what I’ve read is true, the “horrifying” events in Where the Dead Go are just there for the sake of being there; there’s no deeper meaning to anything that I’m seeing.
When I read that what I’m seeing is just there for the sake of being there, I feel like I’m being trolled.
To go back to Evil Dead (2013): One aspect of that film that I like is that aspects of the story are left up to the viewer’s interpretation. The film isn’t just blood and gore for the sake of blood and gore.
“Worthless” is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Where the Dead Go.
I could be playing Doom right now. But I just had to talk about Where the Dead Go…
Thankfully, that’s a mistake I don’t have to live with.
Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: [It] is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called “concupiscence.” Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle. (Emphasis mine.) ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 405
As a Catholic, one aspect of my faith that I struggle with is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.
It’s not fair, I’ve thought more than once. If God can just create people free from Original Sin, like Mary, and thus spare them the possibility of ending up in a place like Hell, why doesn’t He do that for everyone?
I know God is love. I know God has a plan. But still: I look at all the horror in the world…
…and think Can God do nothing?
I’ll struggle with these questions all my life.
But, lately, I’ve found something that makes the struggle more bearable: Witchcraft. Specifically: Kiki, from Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989).
Kiki helps me to understand what it can mean for a person to be free from sin.
Having recently re-watched Kiki’s Delivery Service, there is only one instance I can remember where Kiki committed an act that could be called a “sin.” She disobeys a cop, running away from him upon being told to stay put after causing an accident. But the accident was just that — an accident. And after the cop dashed off to pursue a thief, there was no telling when he’d be back. Or if he’d even be back at all. She does avoid a police car she sees driving through the park. But, other than taking a page out of Johnny’s playbook…
…Kiki is a law-abiding citizen. As free from imperfection as Mary.
I often imagined Mary as emotionless, mindlessly going through one aspect of God’s plan to the next because there was nothing keeping her from doing otherwise. Mary was a puppet, and God was pulling her strings.
But, as a result of Kiki, I no longer think such a thing. I believe the absence of sin doesn’t mean the absence of one’s humanity (i.e., one’s emotions, feelings, and intellect). What it means is the perfection of one’s humanity; one’s humanity being directed toward that which will do the most good for all.
I think of my favorite scene in the film. Kiki goes to an old woman’s house in order to deliver a birthday present to her granddaughter. Only to find that, because of a broken oven, the potpie has not been baked and, thus, there is no delivery to make. Saddened that the delivery girl came all this way for nothing, Madame asks her maidservant to pay Kiki anyway. Not feeling that it is right to take money from a person she has done nothing for, Kiki insists on baking Madame’s gift in an older, long-neglected oven instead.
It is her desire to help others, and her insistence on a job well done, that drive Kiki to go above and beyond the call of duty. “A desire to help others” and “An insistence on a job well done” being qualities that I believe anyone, regardless of their beliefs or absence of beliefs, would praise. Such qualities are examples of human nature at its best. In such a situation, who wouldn’t want to be Kiki?
I believe Mary is the same way. She goes above and beyond the call of duty for the sake of the well-being of others.
Upon being told that God would impregnate her, Mary’s reaction was not…
…it was: “Let it be done to me according to your will.” (Luke 1:38)
To me, Mary always seemed alien and unapproachable. How could I even begin to have any kind of relationship with such a person? Every word I read about her, I felt like she was rubbing her perfection in my face. Scolding me for not being just like her. As a result, my feelings for Mary turned from revulsion, to jealously, to anger.
But no more. Through Kiki, I believe I can better see how Mary lives.
When I was little, God was there and wonderfully granted my dream. On mornings when I wake up with kindly feelings, even though I’ve grown up, miracles happen! Opening the curtain, tranquil sunlight filtering through the trees. If it envelopes me in tenderness, surely everything reflected in my eyes will be a message. When I was little, God was there and every day he delivered love. Inside my heart, I had forgotten my precious box of good memories. The time to open it is now. ~ An English translation of “If I’ve Been Enveloped In Tenderness”
“There are lots of people out there who have been brought up in some religion or other, are unhappy in it, don’t believe it, or are worried about the evils that are done in its name; people who feel vague yearnings to leave their parents’ religion and wish they could, but just don’t realize that leaving is an option.” p. 1
“To be an atheist is a realistic aspiration, and a brave and splendid one. You can be an atheist who is happy, balanced, moral, and intellectually fulfilled.” p. 1
“Religion . . . has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means it, ‘Here is an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything about; you’re just not. Why not? – because you’re not!’” p. 20 (quote by Douglas Adams)
Douglas Adams apparently never read verses like these:
“Test everything. Hold fast to what is good.”
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21
“…be as shrewd as serpents…”
~ Matthew 10:16
“You can’t get away with saying, ‘If you try to stop me from insulting homosexuals it violates my freedom of prejudice.’ But you can get away with saying, ‘It violates my freedom of religion.’” p. 24
Here we go again…
The reason I say that is:
This sounds like another case of a person thinking You’re criticizing homosexuality. Therefore you hate homosexuals.
To which I say:
If you believed in the existence of the soul.
If you believed in the existence of Heaven and Hell.
If you believed that the body doesn’t last forever, but the soul does.
If you believed that sin causes a soul to end up in Hell.
And if you believed that homosexual acts are a sin.
Than what, in your eyes, would be the bigger act of “hate”?
To 1) Hide your beliefs from another, saying that there is no danger in homosexual acts?
Or 2) Tell the person that homosexual acts put their soul in danger?
My point being: Can we move beyond calling people who oppose two men rubbing their penises together “hateful”?
If I really hated homosexuals, than I would tell such people that, when it comes to what two men or two women do behind closed doors, there is no danger of any kind.
And when it comes to the mistreatment of not just homosexuals, but of any kind of person:
“God created mankind in His image.”
~ Genesis 1:27
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”
~ Jeremiah 1:5
“‘Whatever you did to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to me.'”
~ Matthew 25:40
“If people wish to love a 7th century preacher more than their own families, that’s up to them, but nobody else is obliged to take it seriously…” p. 26 (quote by Andrew Mueller)
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” p. 31
At times, I agree.
But, when thinking about God’s nature, I find that a question to keep in mind is: “Why?”
Why is God the way He is?
For now, the best answer I have is:
Imagine if you found out your boyfriend/girlfriend were cheating on you. Chances are, you would be furious. Chances are, you’d give them an ultimatum:
“End it, or we’re done.”
It’s like that with us and God. Like an exasperated significant other, God will not tolerate infidelity.
“Who cares? Life is too short to bother with the distinction between one figment of the imagination and many.” p. 36
Ah, but here’s the thing: Believers don’t just have their eyes on this life; they have their eyes on what might come after, too. Hence the caring.
You know, for someone who insists that atheists can be decent people despite their unbelief, you’re not making a good case. After all: Is the response “Who cares?” the mark of a mature adult? Not to me.
On a related note: 0:30 — 0:47:
“…Judaism: originally a tribal cult of a single fiercely unpleasant God, morbidly obsessed with sexual restrictions, with the smell of charred flesh, with his own superiority over rival gods with the exclusiveness of his chosen desert tribe.” p. 37
I find it ironic that Richard Dawkins laments that religious people are “morbidly obsessed” with sex, and yet it is scientific people who are paving the way for men to give birth.
“Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?” p. 38 (quote from Barry Goldwater)
I’ll let you answer this one, Andrew Garfield:
“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there is one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.” p. 42 (quote from Thomas Jefferson)
To quote these verses once again:
“Test everything. Hold fast to what is good.”
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21
“…be as shrewd as serpents…”
~ Matthew 10:16
“The fact that we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of something does not put existence and non-existence on an even footing.” p. 49
God is not something that can be “proven.”
And even if the god of the Bible could be proven to exist as surely as the sun has been proven to rise in the east, would it make a difference to you?
After all: You know that your ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend exists, and yet you continue to want nothing to do with them.
“I have found it an amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just go one god further.” p. 53
You know… when it comes to questions about the existence of a god or gods, I don’t have the patience for “amusing.”
Such questions are, to me, too serious for amusement.
Once again, Richard Dawkins, I’m failing to see the decency that you claim to have as a non-believer. For now, you’re doing nothing for me but perpetuating the “Atheists are assholes” stereotype that atheists like The Closet Atheist are successfully combating.
“There is no reason to regard God as immune from consideration along the spectrum of probabilities.” p. 54
0:10 — 0:13:
Seriously, though: this quote made me scratch my head and go Wait. What?
I’ll return to it another time.
“Remember Ambrose Bierce’s witty definition of the verb ‘to pray’: ‘to ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner, confessedly unworthy’.” p. 60
Depends on what you’re praying for.
And: What’s wrong with being “unworthy”?
Acknowledging one’s perceived limitations is humbling. And if I had to choose between being humble or being prideful, I’d choose humility.
One reason why being: It is humility that prevents one from becoming the next Wolf of Wall Street:
“[Natural selection] has lifted life from primeval simplicity to the dizzy heights of complexity, beauty and apparent design they dazzle us today.” p. 73
“Even if we allow the dubious luxury of arbitrarily conjuring up a terminator to an infinite regress and giving it a name, simply because we need one, there is absolutely no reason to endow that terminator with any of the properties normally ascribed to God: omnipotence, omniscience, goodness, creativity of design, to say nothing of such human attributes as listening to prayers, forgiving sins and reading innermost thoughts.” p. 77
Terminators, as the name implies, don’t create life, they end it.
To take your “Terminator” reference one step farther: God is either Sarah Conner or the T-1000. Because, as Terminator 2 (1991) shows us, it is not possible to be both at the same time:
0:00 — 0:30:
Let’s say God is Sarah Conner.
Well, then He can’t terminate John Connor (i.e., us; the human race) because termination is against His nature.
And if termination is against His nature, what is left for Him to do but create, nurture, and protect, like a mother instinctively does for her child?
But what about all the people in the Bible God kills, or commands be killed? you might be thinking.
Well, ask yourself: “Why?”
After all: A mother is a creator and a nurturer. But she will not hesitate to protect; to kill the intruder who tries to make off with her sleeping child.
Now that school is back with a vengeance, my relaxation time has been limited.
Thus, I’m still on Shizune’s arc in Katawa Shoujo.
Katawa Shoujo, I would say, is 90% “Great!” and 10% “No!”
Why? The sex scenes.
And I’ve realized why, when it comes to a story’s content, I don’t object to, for example, a woman cutting her own arm off with an electric carving knife…
…but as soon as clothes come off, I’m thinking Hands over the eyes!
The reason why is:
I feel like I’m seeing something I shouldn’t see.
What I mean by that is:
Ever see two people together and think I’ll just leave you two alone. I’m like that when it comes to sex scenes. I feel like I’m witnessing something that should only be witnessed by those two people.
As the reader or viewer — as an outsider looking in — I’m not one of the two people experiencing this intimate moment. And so the gravity of the moment is, ultimately, wasted on me. So it’s better if I remove myself entirely, for the sake of the moment. Thus, I close my eyes, press fast forward, click rapidly, or turn the page.
Though I’m not a fan of the sex scenes in Katawa Shoujo, thinking back on the two that have occurred so far, one thing I appreciate about Katawa Shoujo is that, true to the story’s name (“Crippled Girls”), no matter how explicit such scenes get, ultimately I never got the impression that the girls were objectified, treated as a means to an end, or otherwise seen as anything less than who they are: human beings.
“To be honest, your constant messages are starting to scare me.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I was just being honest. Isn’t honesty what women want? Well, in the interest of being honest: If you’re afraid I am, or are going to be, stalking you: I’m happy in my own little bubble. I haven’t driven more than 10 miles in 3 years, and you’re not worth breaking the habit.”
“You’re an asshole.”
“So, you’re implying that the non-asshole thing to do is stalk you? Well, I wouldn’t want you to be unhappy.”
“Fine. I work at ___.”
“OK. I’ll go there every day.”
The Next Day
“Hello, ma’am. This is going to sound weird, but: The woman who works in the ___ department wants me to come here once every day and ask about her. Please tell her I was here when you get the chance. Thank you.”
“And make it very plain to [parents] what an awful harm they are doing if they will not help to train children to be pastors, preachers, clerks . . . and that God will punish them terribly for it.”
So every child must be a pastor, preacher, or clerk?
I understand being a “preacher” in the sense that one is willing to share their faith when the circumstance calls for it. After all:
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
~ 1 Peter 3:15
Otherwise: Being boxed into three roles feels, for lack of a better word, limiting. A child can’t grow up to be, for example, a writer?
I was raised to believe that… trans people were disgusting, and… should be avoided.
Hmm. What does Jesus say about avoiding others and seeing certain people as “disgusting”?
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”
~ Matthew 25:40
In case, after reading my post that deals with total depravity, you didn’t believe that there are Christians who really believe that we are “worthy of none of the things for which we pray” and “deserve nothing but punishment,” well, here is your proof.
This probably disgusts me more than anything else, especially when we are still urged to pray for what we want, even after being told that we don’t deserve to have our prayers answered. At the same time though, this teaches that no matter how bad we are, God will still give us everything we pray for (because of grace)…
What’s so bad about not deserving anything, really?
If I told you that I had told my girlfriend “I deserve sex,” you’d (probably) justifiably think This guy is a misogynist.
Granted, that is an extreme example.
But my point is: When we go around saying “I deserve ___,” that can lead one down a dark path…
Regarding praying for what one wants:
Not all prayers will be answered. And even if they are, not always in the way that one wanted, or in a way that is immediately clear.
Ideally, a prayer isn’t a person saying “Do ___, ___, and ___ for me and I’ll continue to love you and serve you, God.”
Ideally, a prayer is: “God, please do ___, ___, and ___ for me. But, trusting that you see what I cannot, and trusting that you have the best interests of humanity at heart, not my will, but your will, be done.”
…we’re told to do good unto others, when, after all, we can’t be good, only God can. So why try?
We “can’t be good” in the sense that, despite the good we do, we will always, to some extent, fall short.
No one is perfect.
Which is why there are signs like this:
Just because I’m not perfect doesn’t mean I can’t still strive for perfection, though.
To bring up my girlfriend again: Just because I can’t see the world from her perspective — just because I can’t be her — doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t try and empathize with her.*
I am reminded of a quote:
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”
1:55 — 3:01:
“What is the Sacrament of the Altar?
It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.”
This is just gross and weird. I don’t have anything else to say about it.
Since Jesus is one of the three aspects of God, eating his body is the evolution of that act: No longer are people eating bread that God sent down from Heaven to sustain their life — now people are eating God himself, who has come down from Heaven to be the bread that will sustain them.
I am reminded of the starving passengers in Snowpiercer (2013). Running low on food after scrambling to board a train that is the only hope for survival, the passengers, in their hunger, eventually resort to cannibalism. One of the passengers, seeing that a baby is about to be eaten, cuts off his own arm and says “Give me the child. If you’re so hungry, eat this instead.”
What Jesus is saying when he offers us himself is:
“Do not eat yourselves. Eat me instead.”
The hunger Jesus wants to satisfy is not physical, but spiritual.
I deleted my previous post, “10-Word Story: Moment Of Calm”, because I felt like it didn’t measure up to the standard I have for myself. I don’t know what my standard is, but I know what it isn’t.
When it comes to my 10-word stories, I usually write them fast. I see a beautiful piece of art, and the words pop into my head in no time. But for “Moment of Calm” I spent over an hour thinking of what to say.
The piece of art was so beautiful. I felt I had to say something. I was going for something serious, sensual, or erotic, but settled for something semi-humorous: One child asking another what his mom is doing sitting naked at his dinner table. How awkward might that conversation be?
But, after giving it more thought: The woman in this piece of art deserves better than that. She deserves better than I can currently give her.
Though the road is long and lonely and the end far away, out of sight I can with these arms embrace the light
As I bid farewell my heart stops, in tenderness I feel My silent empty body begins to listen to what is real
On another note:
Recently, I had a conversation with fellow blogger Love Alchemy about nudity and nature. In it, she said:
I remember most vividly bathing in streams and walking through what I would call forest for lack of a better term. It was a place of tall trees, uninhabited, serene and being naked was just so, a be’ing. Though quite young I recall those moments fondly and feel edified to hold any remembrance of beauty.
And I realize that, since that conversation, I’ve been trying to help her “hold any remembrance of” the beauty of, for example, bathing in streams. That’s one of the reasons for posts like “10-Word Story: Revelation.”
And I’ve also realized that, ultimately, I am not Love Alchemy. No matter how hard I might try, or how hard I might want to, I cannot see the world through her eyes. To put it another way: Ultimately, only Love Alchemy can tell Love Alchemy‘s story.
I wasn’t trying to “tell her story” because I thought she was not able to tell it herself.
Like with the work of art that left me speechless, I just wanted to say something; do something to help Love Alchemy hold on to the beauty of her past because I could not accept doing nothing.
Why could I not accept doing nothing? The answer to this question goes back to one of the driving forces behind this blog:
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
~ Matthew 5:14 — 16
Where do I myself go from here? I don’t know.
But, I believe the best thing that I can do is, to quote “Always With Me”: