Friends, Part 3: The Girls and Chandler

I’ve been sharing my impressions of Friends after watching it from start to finish for the very first time. You can read observations on the show as a whole in Part 1, and Joey vs Ross in Part 2. This week I’m writing about the girls.

I don’t quite connect with Rachel. Excellent analyses of this character have already been written. I’m only here to share impressions. I don’t have any major complaints about her. I think she’s well-written, and I get why other people love her, I just…eh. Maybe the well was poisoned by decades of hearing people gush about Jennifer Anniston, whom they saw as the sweet, respectable, safely feminine girl-next-door worthy of all good things in a way I felt they didn’t see me. That I found Rachel the least relatable character and Ross the least appealing, yet still got sucked into their trainwreck of a love story and cried at its happy ending, is a testament to how great Friends‘ writing and showrunning was.

Phoebe is everything. Remember I said I had seen a few nonconsecutive seasons before while I was bedridden and binging whatever daytime basic cable had to offer? Phoebe was the one character whom, even without the context of a greater arc, I immediately liked. I would happily watch a show that was just about Phoebe. I could relate to her Weird Girl vibe so much, and I love how she still fits seamlessly into this kind of basic friend group and ends up in a stable marriage on her own terms.

Monica is my cinnamon roll. I will protect her from her garbage family with my life. Plenty has already been written about how the fat-shaming in Monica’s story doesn’t hold up today, but modern shows are still putting skinny actresses in fatsuits to contrast unacceptable and acceptable versions of their bodies, and it was as cruel then as it is now. The difference is that, thanks to the internet, people have a more accessible platform to point out its cruelty.

Beyond all that, I really like Monica for all the things that annoy the other characters about her. I like how hyper-organized she is, and how she knows exactly what she wants and goes after it according to a perfectly itemized and cross-referenced plan. Her competitive spirit is awesome and hilarious. And who wouldn’t want to spend a couple nights at Hotel Geller?

I guess it makes sense that I like Monica so much, because out of all the Friends…

I am Ms. Chanandler Bong. It’s taking me forever to type out this paragraph because I can’t stop laughing. As much as I related to Phoebe, the Weird Girl, Chandler Bing is the Weirdest Girl. Expressing all emotion through snark? Check. Torn between drives for creativity and stability? Check. Allergic to sentimental attachment? Check. But paradoxically wants to find a soulmate and never have to go through the ordeal of falling for a new person ever again? Double check. On a more serious note, I think if I had been born fifteen years earlier, I would have had hang-ups about my bisexuality into my late 30s similar to Chandler’s.

It’s hard to wrap this up because there’s so much more I could write about Friends. And again, I can’t really even say I loved it. But I do understand now why this show and its ensemble are so iconic, and why people are still watching, quoting, and analyzing it over 25 years after it began. I’ll never know how I would have felt about the show if I had followed it as it aired. As is, a Netflix binge was a fun way to experience these friends’ journey into the new millennium and to look back on my own.

Friends, Part 2: Ross, Joey, and the Friend Zone

As I said last week, I watched Friends from start to finish for the first time ever during the last few months of 2018. You can read my overall impressions of the show in Part 1. I planned to write some thoughts on each character this week, but I only got as far as Ross and Joey because I had a flu, so tune in next time for my thoughts on the girls and Chandler!

It’s hard to like Ross in the age of internet fanboy misogyny.

You guys, I wish I could like Ross. I love brainy, awkward introverts. I love characters who are logic-oriented and also hopeless romantics. I love characters who love the things I love. But I see so much in Ross Geller that led to the misogyny problem we have in modern geek culture. I feel like if Ross had been born 15 years later, he would be a Red Piller bitching online about “ethics in gaming journalism.” I’d like to think I could enjoy the character and his romance with Rachel without this baggage, but I think his insecurities about her career and his disregard for her feelings would turn me off in any decade.

As a counterpoint, here’s a positive analysis of Ross’ character by an excellent feminist channel. I highly recommend all their Friends character profiles.

To my surprise, I don’t hate Joey.

Yeah, he’s a womanizer, but I never got the sense that he was doing anything coercive with his many, many sexual partners. There were some women who wanted more than a one-night stand when he didn’t, but it didn’t seem like he was trying to make them think he wanted more. And he is a good friend to Phoebe, Monica, and Rachel without expecting the friendship to turn into anything more. For the few seasons he’s interested in Rachel, he doesn’t act like he’s entitled to a romantic or sexual relationship or like she’s doing him wrong by not providing one.

In fact, now that I think of it, the friendzone scene exemplifies why I’m more okay with Joey than Ross. In the first season, Joey explains the concept of “The Friendzone” to Ross. Joey says that Ross is in Rachel’s friendzone because Ross presented himself to Rachel as a potential friend, not a potential partner, so Rachel responded in kind. She categorizes Ross as a friend because he hasn’t told her he’s in love with her. This is pretty much the opposite of how we use the term today. Joey isn’t commiserating with Ross, or denigrating Rachel for considering Ross her friend when that’s all he’s made any effort to be. He’s blaming Ross for not being honest about what he wants sooner. Which is…true, and if this were still how we used the word “friendzone,” I might actually consider it a useful term.

Would I date Joey Tribbiani? Heck no. But this show is about friendship, and between Joey and Ross, Joey is the guy I would rather have in my friend zone.

Next up: Best Geller and everyone else who has shared her impossible apartment!

I Finished Friends For The First Time, Part 1

I did not watch a single episode of Friends until after it had been off the air for a few years. I want to say it was 2007-ish? I was sick in bed for a long time and got through a few nonconsecutive seasons of reruns. My reaction was mostly, “Oh, ok, I understand this reference now.” I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t have enough of an impact for me to seek out more episodes once daytime basic cable was no longer spoon-feeding them to me.

A couple months ago, I read something in passing about how Friends is still a cultural landmark 25 years after it premiered. I thought, “Hey, it HAS been 25 years, hasn’t it? And, yes, Friends is a cultural landmark. Maybe I should actually watch it from start to finish and see what the big deal is.”

So I did. Here are my random observations on the show as a whole. Character observations coming next week!

It was fascinating to watch the 90s aesthetic fade into the 00s now that both are old enough to be Other Times. I’ve watched other shows from that time span. Fraiser is one of my absolute favorite comedies ever. But Frasier isn’t about trendy 20-somethings. Watching Friends, every other episode I was like, “Oh, yeah, I remember when that was a thing for five minutes!” Or in the latter seasons, “Hey, I still have that! Should I still be wearing clothes I bought in a year with two zeros?”

Young adults in the early 90’s were born in the 60’s. I know, this is stating the obvious. But Friends, a show about growing up, really highlights the effect our childhood has on our adulthood. On a superficial level, this quintessential 90’s show is full of pop culture references from the 60’s and 70’s. On a deeper level, the characters’ issues make a lot of sense when you realize their parents were their age in the era of Leave it to Beaver. The elder Greens and Gellers raised their kids for the lifestyles they themselves had as young adults. The driving plot of the show is Rachel running away from life as a traditional 60’s housewife, and Ross coming to terms with the fact that he’ll never love a woman who wants to be a traditional 60’s housewife. Alongside them we have Monica and Chandler finding a 21st century version of the white picket fence lifestyle, making room for Chandler’s gender-nonconforming personality and Monica’s dominant role in their marriage.

Why is everyone on this show tan as heck? Seriously, why? They all live in NYC and have indoor jobs and hobbies. There’s no logical reason for these characters to be darker than the cast of Jane the Virgin. Did people notice this when Friends was current? Was the episode where Ross gets a botched spray tan meant to lampshade this phenomenon?

Everything about the cast’s lack of diversity has already been said. But. I can’t help wondering if, in 1993, the showrunners did think they had a diverse show. Over half the ensemble is Jewish or Italian. Depending on the showrunners’ ages, either they grew up seeing those ethnicities as borderline non-white or they were raised by people who did. I remember older relatives on my white and brown sides talking about Italians like they were, I don’t know, brown-adjacent? None of these musings are meant to excuse the show’s lack of diversity, it’s just interesting to reflect on our country’s evolving concept of what does and doesn’t constitute whiteness.

The male/female non-romantic relationships are pretty cool. Each woman in the main ensemble has at least one close male friend who isn’t trying to get into her pants. That’s just really nice to watch. They can be alone together, do special little things for each other, go to each other’s family events, comfort each other when they’re hurting, and so on without the guys treating these gestures like sexual punch cards. I cried when Joey offered to stop eating meat during Phoebe’s pregnancy to cancel out the meat his vegetarian friend had to eat for her babies. It was so adorably thoughtful, and it truly was “just” an act of friendship.

The finale truly is perfect. I still can’t say Friends is “my show.” There are many shows from many decades that resonate with me more. But I’m glad I watched every episode in order if only to fully understand what a work of art the finale is. Everyone gets their Happily Ever After in a believable, satisfying way. I didn’t even care for Ross and Rachel’s relationship (more on that next week), and I was still a mess of joyful tears when Rachel came back at the end. And that final shot of the empty apartment, ending on six keys side by side? It was emotional enough after binging these characters’ journey over a couple of months. I can only imagine what it must have been like to watch that if the Friends were a part of your life for ten years.

Next week: Find out which Friend I related to the most!

2018 In Review

Wow, I sure didn’t plan to literally not blog at all this year, nor did I plan to nope out of Twitter or fade off Facebook and Instagram. I feel like saying this has become an annual tradition, but it’s been a crazy year.

Have I mentioned that I have a rare disease? Yeah, it’s called acute intermittent porphyria. The short, not-a-doctor explaination is that certain stimuli make my blood cells stop carrying oxygen. Starting mid-2017, there was a lot of certain stimuli. So this Janury, I started a 3-times-a-week infusion regimen. That pretty much consumed my life for the first half of the year.

By summer, I was improving, so I was able to taper down to twice a week, then once a week by fall. Time to do SO MUCH WRITING now, right? Lolnope, time to catch up on all the everyday stuff that had fallen by the wayside.

While all this was going on, I did manage to start querying the YA fantasy novel I finished drafting last year. Part of that was participating in a Twitter pitch event called #DVPit, which exists to help marginalized authors get their work noticed. I still don’t have an agent, but it was encouraging to have several agents actually request my query!

The #DVPit coordinators are a fantastic, supportive group of industry professionals. If you’re a marginalized writer seeking representation, I encourage you to check it out. And if Twitter pitch events aren’t your thing, still check out the #DViants community that grew from writers who connected through #DVPit.

Believe it or not, with all of that going on, I’ve still been working on the final Thalia’s Musings book. I promise I’m not going to pull a George R. R. Martin on y’all. I have a complete, chapter-by-chapter outline, and the manuscript is about around a third of the way done. And since you’ve been so patient and so encouraging, here’s a tiny SPOILER: The book opens with a wedding!

Signing off with any kind of hopeful, proactive declaration about 2019 feels like challenging the Fates, so by way of New Year’s resolutions, I’ll leave you with this.

New book news!

Boy, am I on top of things this year. I made an announcement to my Facebook page on New Year’s Eve, posted it to Twitter on New Year’s Day, and just now remembered I haven’t blogged about it. So here it is:

There is a decent chance 2018 will see Thalia’s Musings 4.

Because I finished one of the other books I’ve been working on.

Well, finished the rough draft. Still have to finish the rewrite, send it to beta readers, do the next rewrite, all that stuff. But I finished the rough draft! And I’ll be seeking representation for it in the next few months! It’s a young adult classic fantasy with a diverse female-led cast.

Looking forward to sharing more updates about the new book andĀ Thalia’s MusingsĀ in the new year!


Cross-posted to

2018 Facebook Resolutions

[This is an adapted version of a private note I posted to my personal Facebook profile on January 1st, 2018.]

Iā€™m a very pro-social-media person. I love having so much access to so much information, and I love having so many ways to keep up with friends and family that I donā€™t get to see in person nearly as much as Iā€™d like. And maintaining social media boundaries has always come naturally to me. I have some public accounts for networking [all of which you can find in the sidebar of this log], but my private Facebook has always been just for family and personal friends.

All that said, the last couple of years have been, well, the last couple of years. The way 2016 and 2017 affected my mental health isnā€™t sustainable. I discussed this a little in my #NaNoSoMeMo post. I knew coming into 2018 that, if itā€™s going to be more of the same, I need to be more deliberate about Facebook boundaries. I decided to post what I came up with in case itā€™s helpful to anyone dealing with the same thing.

Disclaimer: This is a list of personal boundaries that I came up with based on my own mental health needs, my own friend list, and my knowledge of my own abilities and resources. These elements are different for everyone, so Iā€™m very much NOT suggesting this list is what everyone should be doing.

  1. NPR has a daily 10-minute world news podcast called Up First. Iā€™m going to listen to that every morning and then ignore news for the rest of the day except for news about STEM and arts and entertainment stuff. This will include ignoring news articles that I support and agree with. I may end up hiding news pages that I like and respect, like NPR, The Washington Post, and The Hill. I hope my friends understand that this isnā€™t apathy or disdain, itā€™s just gaming Facebook algorithms. If anyone is curious about my opinion on a post I haven’t interacted with, they’re welcome to message me and ask.
  2. I will not be posting any articles about sociopolitical current events to Facebook. Again, this is just me gaming the algorithm. If I post one article about, say, patriarchy, racism, or homophobia in mainstream evangelicalism, Facebook thinks thatā€™s all I want in my feed for the next ten days. And I donā€™t need it in my news feed because I already lived it. Besides, I have a small friend list, and everyone on it is either already educated on the issues I care about or knows how to Google them.
  3. My Facebook memories show me that, in my first few years of Facebook use, I posted more about random stuff I was doing, watching, reading, or thinking. Not sure when or why I stopped, but I want to do more of that.
  4. As far as my public/professional accounts, my rules for this year are that Iā€™ll only engage on sociopolitical issues if (1) I have something to say that I donā€™t see anyone else saying, (2) I have a big enough following on that platform for my words to have any kind of an impact, and (3) I have the psychological resources to engage with the general public on that issue. Other than that, Iā€™ll remember that Iā€™m a writer/entertainer, not a news service, and expect my followers to remember that, too, and Iā€™ll be gaming algorithms to show me feeds conducive to better mental health.
How are you planning to use social media this year? Let me know in the comments!


#NaNoSoMeMo 2017, or, Being On Social Media In 2017

This is one of those posts that I keep starting and restarting, because I feel like the thing that I’m trying to express can easily be construed as another thing that I wholeheartedly disagree with, or an attack on people for whose work and effort I have nothing but admiration and gratitude. So I’ve decided to write this post as an interview with the imaginary person telling me why all my previous drafts are terrible.

Person In My Head: So, Amethyst, tell the seven people who will read this post what #NaNoSoMeMo is.

Me: It stands for National Novelists’ Social Media Month, and it’s really for creators in any media, not just novelists. I created it as an alternative to #NaNoWriMo for people like me who are good at prioritizing writing, but bad at prioritizing social media and networking. I’m challenging myself to update my public Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest every day for the month of November.

PIMH: “Good” at prioritizing writing? You haven’t produced a complete manuscript in three years.

Me: Your face hasn’t produced a complete manuscript in three years.

PIMH: I don’t have a face. Or a mom. This is going to be fun. Anyway, a lot of people are saying it’s difficult to keep up with social media in this day and age. I’m assuming you agree, since you failed your own challenge last November.

Me: Yes.

PIMH:Ā I know, right?Ā Social media has gotten so negative and divisive these days! Can’t we all just forget about politics and political correctness and find common ground and focus on beautiful things like sunshine and kittens and love? And can’t we all put our phones down and start talking face to face again? No one is ever misunderstood, disagreed with, or verbally abused in face-to-face conversation.

Me: No, the problem isn’t that we’re talking about “politics” or “political correctness,” or the fact that we’re having these conversations online instead of face to face.Ā The problem is stuff that is actually, literally, empirically, demonstrably, verifiably, objectively HAPPENING.

PIMH: Meh, potato, potahto; “actually, literally, empirically, demonstrably, verifiably, objectively HAPPENING,” #FakeNews. Can’t we ignore these meaningless differences and talk about video games and sitcoms?

Me: See, that’s the problem. The fact that I can now lose an entire day on social media trying to explain to people that it is in fact possible to know what isĀ actually, literally, empirically, demonstrably, verifiably, objectively HAPPENING.

PIMH: Okay, you’ve convinced me. So I guess you now have a sacred duty to spend your days telling everyone on the internet about all the bad things that are happening, why they’re happening, and what they should do about them. Oh, and issuing public statements that you know bad things are bad. Otherwise you’re being neutral and choosing the side of the oppressor.

Me: Which isn’t something I can sustainably do. I’ve spent a lot of this year avoiding social media because I can’t mentally handle getting involved in conversations about this stuff that is happening.

PIMH: That sounds awfully privileged. Marginalized people can’t just avoid this stuff and look at pictures of kittens. It’s stuff that affects them every day, Beckita.

Me: A lot of it is stuff that directly or indirectly affects my life, or that I can reasonably expect to affect my life in the near future. Whether or not it affects me in any way, it’s usually stuff that I don’t have the physical, mental, professional, or financial resources to help. So I put down my phone, spam Lin-Manuel Miranda’s playlist a few times in hopes that I’m generating a few pennies of financial support for victims of at least one of this year’s disasters, say a prayer, which all my atheist friends are reminding me doesn’t actually help anyone but me, chant “Our Existence Is Resistance,” and make sure my apartment and pets and self are getting the basic upkeep they need.

PIMH: Wow, that does sound stressful. Like, clinically stressful. Why are you still on social media at all?

Me: Because one does not become a successful author/artist in this day and age without having a successful social media presence.

PIMH: Ahhh, that makes sense. Well, be sure you sound sufficiently woke in your social media presence. Teenage girls who are reading about how to dress for a protest in Teen Vogue might not buy your books because of a tweet from five years ago that didn’t use a word that didn’t exist yet. But don’t sound too political. Those teenage girls’ parents might not buy your books because you expressed opinions about things ever, and you shared things about yourself that remind them people different from them exist. Oh, and don’t forget to post about your own art every now and then, because you are on social media for the primary purpose of promoting it. But if there’s anything terrible happening in the world, don’t even think about posting about your own art or about anything other than the terrible thing, because if you’re posting about anything else while something terrible is happening, not only does that mean you don’t care, it means you’re encouraging other people not to care, too. And you’ll be on the wrong side of history. You will be remembered as “Amethyst, the bitch who cared more about last night’s episode of The Good Place than fires, floods, earthquakes, police brutality, terrorism, and actual Nazis.”

Me: Or I could remember that I was taught to be honest about what I believe and who I am, and that I’m one voice among millions, and that I can be grateful for the people who are doing the hard work of keeping people informed about what’s going on in the world while acknowledging that people doing that work also need entertainment that lets them escape their troubles, and that I’ll never be able to provide that entertainment if I don’t protect my mental health.

PIMH: Wow, that sounded surprisingly reasonable.

Me: It did, didn’t it? I just may survive #NaNoSoMeMo after all.


Me: I give up.

PIMH: As well you should. Before we go, you mentioned that #NaNoSoMeMo is for all kinds of artists, not just novelists. Sure, that sounded nice and inclusive. But not everyone is an artist. Who are you excluding, exactly?

Me: Just one person.


Why Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is not about Stockholm syndrome

I have no idea whether this started as serious feminist critique or as comedic satire, but if you’ve read any Disney-related stuff on the internet in the last five or ten years, you’ve probably heard someone asserting that Beauty and the Beast is about Stockholm syndrome. I’m not going to bother with links. This stuff is everywhere. If you’re one of the three people who hasn’t heard it before, just Google it. Now, I don’t mind acknowledging problematic elements in childhood favorites, and I don’t mind “lol, your innocent childhood faves are actually The WORST” satire. But today I’m going to talk about why this particular criticism of this particular movie is seeing something there that wasn’t there before.

To begin, let’s establish what Stockholm syndrome actually is. According to Merriam-Webster, it is:

the psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with his or her captor

Beauty and the Beast fails this basic definition right out of the gate. Belle isn’t a hostage, and the Beast isn’t her captor. Maurice breaks a law, namely trespassing on royal grounds, and is imprisoned for it. Sure, it can easily be argued that he received an excessive sentence without trial and that the dungeon conditions weren’t humane, but “Don’t trespass on royal property” is a pretty reasonable law from a security POV. This would be like finding some random person camped out in an unused corner of the White House, claimingĀ it was because they got a flat tire.

So, anyway, Maurice is in jail because he broke a fairly reasonable law. Belle comes to find him of her own initiative. She knows her aging father won’t last long in the dungeon, so she volunteers as tribute to serve his sentence for him, also of her own initiative. The Beast does not in any way manipulate or intimidate Belle into that choice. He doesn’t expect or consider that she would make such a choice at all. But he decides it’s a fair exchange. He doesn’t care who pays for Maurice’s crime as long as someone does. Sure, the BeastĀ later admits that he considered the possibility that Belle was an eligible spell-breaker, but apparently that didn’t matter enough to him to actively force or coerce herĀ to stay for that purpose. Because he didn’t. In fact, he dismisses the idea that Belle could fall in love with him out of hand. The servants have to badger him into making an effort (a futile one in his eyes) to get Belle to like him.

And the Beast’s efforts are futile at first, because Belle has no reason to trust him. She’s glad to get out of the dungeon, but the opulent bedroom, the wardrobe full of fancy gowns, and the invitation to dine at the Master’s table don’t impress her.Ā She’s not fawning with gratitude that her warden moved her to a better cell.

Belle only starts warming up to the Beast after he’s followed her example and risked his life to save her. I mean, yeah, he was following her because she was running away from his castle (where she was under house arrest because she was serving a sentence for a trespasser, and then she went and trespassed herself). But he could’ve left her to the wolves and saved himself, and he didn’t. And Belle takes this for what it is – an act of basic human decency. She isn’t swooning over her captor because he’s tossed her an extra crumb.Ā She thanks him for saving her life, while maintaining that her life was in danger in the first place because he had frightened her into running away.

What mostĀ establishes here, imo, that this isn’t a Stockholm syndrome case or any other kind of abusive relationship, is that when Belle tells the Beast he should learn to control his temper, she gets the last word. The Beast doesn’t retort that Belle shouldn’t have made him lose his temper, nor does he faux grovel and shower her with assurances that it’ll never happen again. They’ve been arguing over whose fault the incident was, and “You should learn to control your temper” is what makes the Beast stop, silently acknowledging that there is no good counter-argument.

And we see over the course of a full season that the Beast does start controlling himself and acting more human. We don’t see a cycle of the Beast losing his temper, Belle threatening to leave, the Beast winning her back only to lose his temper again. We see consistent, long-term change. Belle sees it, too, and that’s when she starts falling for him.

Oh, yeah, we’re going to talk about the library scene.Ā 


I’m going to guess that, if you were a kid who loved Beauty and the Beast, this was the scene that made you believe in true love. This was the tale as old as time. This was the impossible standard against which all future suitors would be judged. This was the true fantasy. Not being kidnapped and falling in love with your captor. Not finding a “beastly” man and being the one to reform him. Not being given outrageously expensive gifts.


This scene is in such stark contrast to Gaston’s statement that “It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas…thinking…” The Beast givesĀ Belle ALL THE BOOKS! so she can get ALL THE IDEAS! and think ALL THE THOUGHTS! Not only that, he invites her into a dark corner of the castle, in contrast to shutting her out before. I’m trying not to stray too far into speculation and subtext here, but I think it’s a reasonable extrapolation that the Beast had been utilizing the library himself over the last ten years, and that a love of books (or at least literacy) was something he and Belle had in common, unlike pretty much everyone else in Belle’s poor, provincial town.

After all this, Belle asks to leave for the same reason she originally asked to stay. Her father is in danger. The Beast lets her go. He doesn’t force her to stay or manipulate her into “choosing” to stay, despite the fact that he’s fallen in love with her and that his curse is on the verge of permanency. Later, Belle returns to the Beast, not because she misses the (non-existent) abuse, or because she can’t live without him, or because she can’t function as a free person. She does what she always does. She risks herself to save someone she loves, and who loves her.

I can’t wait until the live action Beauty and the Beast comes out next month, and I’m interested to see what inevitable changes are made to the story. I just hope Disney doesn’t try to “fix” the Stockholm syndrome “problem”. In the words of a wise clockwork butler,

If it’s not baroque, don’t fix it.

Discourse in the Garden of Eden

“An Apple” by deviantART user Nazegoreng

When I was a teenager, I heard a preacher whose name I’ve forgotten say that Eve fell prey to the Serpent because she tried to reason with him. The preacher’s point was that Eve shouldn’t have relied on foolish things like logical discourse, and should’ve shut the Serpent down the second he dared to debate God’s command at all. Silly women, trying to be all rational and stuff.

While I am still a Christian, I hope it goes without saying that this “check your brains at the door” approach to religion or any other aspect of life goes against everything I now believe. I believe it’s vital to apply critical thinking to everything, even things that come from the people we trust most. Even things we understand to come from God.Ā I believe “Hath God really said…?” is a question theistsĀ should ask themselves daily in a sincere search for truth.

But I’ve been thinking back to this long-forgotten sermon a lot lately, and realizing there was a good seedĀ buried beneath the piles of fertilizer. Eve would’ve done well to shut down the Serpent’s discourse from the start, just not for the reasons that preacher stated.

See, the “discourse” between the Serpent and Eve wasn’t really a discourse at all. It’s the tale of humanity’s first bad faith argument. The Serpent didn’t really approach Eve in a desire toĀ verify what God said. His whole purpose in engaging her was to get into her head, get her to question whether she could trust her own sense of reality, and get her to do what he wanted. And it worked. Not because Eve was weak or foolish or amoral, but because she accepted a bad faith argument in good faith. She engaged the Serpent rationally, philosophically, treating his questions like a sincere search for truth when they were really a premeditated attempt to get her to accept a lie.

It gets more interesting when you consider how often Jesus was faced with the same situation, and how he responded to it. There are many times in the Gospels when religious leaders came to JesusĀ the same way the Serpent came to Eve. They presented a seemingly philosophical questionĀ deliberately designed to trick him into revealing himself as a blasphemer, traitor, or fraud. Jesus would respond by exposing them with a counter question, telling a story that he admitted he didn’t expect them to understand, or blatantly calling them out. In any case, Jesus neverĀ treated a bad faith argument like a good faith discourse.Ā 

The moral I’m seeing here isn’t one of faith vs. skepticism.Ā I don’t even see this as an issue that specifically applies to people of faith. What I’m seeing is that, if you have every reason to believe someone is only asking you questions to get into your head, gaslight you, trick you into betraying your own principles, or even just troll you for their twisted idea of what constitutes lulz, you are under no obligation to give them a rational answer as though they were asking for a sincere exchange of ideas.

Let’s try this weekly recap thing

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging as much these days. Or maybe you haven’t noticed because you’re one of the many people who doesn’t read blogs that much anymore. Which is no big deal. Internet culture changes fast, and it’s an internet creator’s job to keep up with it.

So that’s why most of my posts have been on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. lately. I’ll write up original content as a Facebook post and literally get ten times the views I would have if I’d written the same content as a blog post and shared the link on the same Facebook page. It makes sense to put my writingĀ where the most people are going to seeĀ it.

But on the other hand, I don’t want people to stumble upon this website and find a bunch of tumbleweeds, so I’m trying something new. I want to do weekly recap blog posts where IĀ link to my favorite things that I’ve shared on other platforms throughout the week. Might be original stuff, might be other people’s stuff that I’ve linked to. Here goes.

Oh Look, Someone Else Has Porphyria

I have a rare disease. Like, it’s been featured on House and I’m usually surprised to find thatĀ real-life doctors have heard of it. I’m even more surprised to find that someone on YouTube has come out with a porphyria-related vlog that’s informative, accessible, and entertaining. I really hope this vlogger is able to finish the series, and that his condition doesn’t get in the way of his work too much.


So, Yeah, Brexit Is A Thing

The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last weekend. President Obama addressed it by saying “One thing that will not change is the special relationship between the US and the UK.” To which I had this to say:


Do You Like PiƱa Colada (Wraps)?

I threw stuff in a pan and put it on flatbread and it was really good. I call it a piƱa colada wrap.