Joan of Arc

Born: Jan 6, 1412

Death: May 30, 1431

Patron: France (along with St. Therese of Lisieux). She is also known as the Maid of Orleans.

Joan of Arc is one of the most compelling saints. I know a few Catholics (and one non-Christian) who consider her an admirable figure in history.

She was the youngest of five children in a peasant family. When she was twelve years old, she had her first vision.  It was eventually revealed to her that she would aid the Dauphin and save France. She was laughed at by Robert de Baudicort, the commander of Vaucoulers. But when her prophecies came true, she was sent to the Dauphin. After a n examination cleared her of heresy, she was allowed to lead an expedition to relieve Orleans.  She had two  victories and on July 17, Joan was present at the crowning of Charles VII. She failed to capture Paris the next month and was captured sold to Britain.  This resulted in her trial for charges of heresy and witchcraft.  She was eventually burned at the stake.  But in 1456, she was declared innocent by Pope Callistus III and canonized in 1920.

To me, Joan is a compelling figure because of her unwavering faith and duty to God and her country.  She didn’t care if people believed her.  She didn’t care that she would be deemed a heretic.  Some might see the declaration of heresy as proof of the “error of religion”, as she was not believed, but think about it: would you believe her? If she told you “I had a vision that I would save France”, wouldn’t you scoff too?  She knew what God wanted of her.  We have to stand up for what we believe in, even when others think it is wrong.  That is what Joan of Arc means to me, not the crime that was committed against her.

One Faith; Many Paths: Phantom_Sorano

Welcome to a new series I call One Faith, Many Paths. Each month, I will interview a Christian I’ve met either online or in real life situations. My first guest is Phantom_Sorano.  She is a college student who majors in art with a concentration in painting and ceramic sculpture, with a major in Theater, with a focus on set and costume design.  She hopes to obtain an MFA degree to be an art instructor.

1. Could you start by explaining why you have disowned yourself from your family and consider God to be your parent?

Absolutely.When it comes to my family life-or lack thereof- I want to make clear that I have went through several stages to get to my thoughts on it now.I came from a very abusive background-emotionally, physically, spiritually…etc. My childhood was nonexistant and I took responsibility for my younger brother and later my grandmother. I was an unwanted child from an affair-my biological mother used me as leverage and my bio-pop took the bait. “Mistake at the Lake” was a common term. I grew up watching them beat me, smash things, swear, lie, cheat, steal, do drugs, the works while the threw God in my face for every shortcoming I had. I began to associate God with the cruel figure that allowed me to be locked in a room for days to lose weight or get hit or be degraded; eventually I came to the idea that God was did not exist.

I was a senior in high school and I knew I wanted to be something and do something with my life. My biological parents were very restrictive to say the least to the point that I wasn’t allowed to use makeup, wear most female clothes (for I am a girl), have friends, drive, listen to certain types of music…the list goes on. When I expressed that I wanted to go to college, they did everything in there power to stop me including blocking and stashing all of my applications for schools and scholarships. Their solution was to set me up with a son of a family friend who was shady to say the least. The man was 13 years my senior, made money by illegal gambling, and was someone I was certainly not interested in-especially marriage. I would drop out or finish high school and get married and be passed around to work the various family businesses. When I figured this all out and that I would have no future, I made the decision to leave and estrange myself from my family for awhile until I could start college for a bit. I found a family that allowed me to stay with them a few months until I was on my own. It was a few months after I had left that my biological folks were telling everyone they had disowned me-so that in my mind made it official.

While on my own, I struggled greatly until I transferred away to a prestigious private university on an academic scholarship. Things improved and I stayed close with the family that had aided me. Christmas of 2010, they asked if I would like to be adopted by them. Of course I said yes because I did-and still do- want my own sense of family. We began the paper work and this past summer I changed my surname to match theirs benefit and speed the adoption along. I returned to school this past fall with everything being perfect; my almost-adoptive mother was moody but I thought nothing of it. This past October, however, I got an email of the most vicious nature entailing from my almost-adoptive family and legal guardians that I was disowned. They had been watching me like a pyschological experiment and had given way to the malicious rumors my biological kin had spread.

Being abandoned and cast out of two families has been tough-I won’t lie. There are several small things I wish I could have but it in turn makes me appreciate things about families so many others take for granted. I had found God a few years ago and with the help of a few friends, I started to heal and mend. But as I have been doing so, I came upon the revelation that I am not truly alone. God is more than a spiritual deity: he is my best friend and confidante. His love can take the place of that of [family]….He can fill all of the holes in my heart. So to me, I have the best Parent ever…and He never wavers and no matter what I do or whom I decide to become, He will still love me and I know He will call me his daughter.

2. You told me once that you were a Buddhist. What attracted you to that religion and why did you leave it?

“When I first became a member of this site seven years ago, I wasn’t even a Christian at all. I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to be after having started and trying to go deeper into Buddhist practice. Before then though, I had been struggling with a seriously bad depression and suicidal patch: my grandmother I had been caring for had recently passed and my best friend had died form a drug overdose three weeks later. My biological parents were either abusive or drugged out and with school…I was at the mindset that if there was a god, he or she obviously didn’t care about me. When my depression began to turn some into anger at the lack of control I had and the increased stress and abuse, I became suicidal and thought there was no god at all.I did this for about three months until I decided I needed to find some avenue of wholeness, so I turned to religion. I looked and studied several; the ones that seemed the most promising I briefly practiced. I looked at Judaism, Paganism, Wiccan, Islam, Hinduism, and a few others before I settled into Buddhism. It seemed a decent fit for a time; though no matter how much I meditated and practiced the teachings, my depression and wish not to be alive increased.It was one random night that God found me, or I finally found Him. It was late and no one was home. I was doing the dishes and I picked up a large kitchen knife…and I was so tired of it all…I put it to my wrist, then to my neck and then I felt it. This overwhelming sense of warmth and love and concern. It surprised me-I didn’t feel like it was me- when I put down the knife and sunk to my knees. I called out “God”; I knew it was Him. I cried like a baby and told Him everything, told Him I was sorry, told Him I believed in Him and the pain went away. My suicide attempts stopped and slowly came out of my depression.”

3. Why do you consider yourself a non-traditional Christian?
“I classify myself as a Christian Naturalist meaning:
a.) I don’t agree or believe in most Christian church dogma. I personally view it as worldly and not of the spirit.
b.) I tend to be more liberal and open-minded about other people and their beliefs. As an Atheist-come Buddhist-come child of God, I try to have a more Jesus-like understanding. I have been to an array of churches and found them very hypocritical and sacreligious. It’s not that they are wrong and bad, just not good for me.
c.) I personally see God in abstract ways and enjoy that. A big thing for me is that I see God in nature. Having several Native American ancestors, I have a deep appreciation for the wilderness that can be a sacred space (so nature can be church).Besides that, I also practice a few other ideas that work for me and not for others. I still practice Buddhism, but more as a sub-philosophy, not a religion. I also speak with God on a very casual level. If I want to talk with Him, I’m very frank usually. I know there are times and places to be more reverent, but He’s my family, so I talk with Him as I normally would. I’ve shared my views and practices with several other Christians who labeled me as “non-traditional”. It might have been a kinder way of saying “crazy” or “wrong”, but I feel close to God this way. It’s funny because I date a very conservative Christian whose family comes from Methodist-Catholic origins though are now Baptist. We talk a great deal about Christian ideas, and always have very different interpretations on things. We are both in a sense correct, but we believe so for very different reasons.”
4. Many Christians have a “My God right or wrong” attitude about Christianity. This means, for those who don’t understand, that Christianity is the only true religion. I admit I did fall into this, but I now see this as an obstacle toward witnessing to those who are not Christian. I feel that all religions are a reflection of the divine truth, as C.S. Lewis said.
Do you agree or disagree with the “My God right or wrong” line of thought?

“Like your revelation, Rock, I see having the mindset of “my God is right and your beliefs/God are wrong” can easily turn others away. I hated Christianity for the longest time because of that and that was a contributing factor on my distaste in churches and also why i chose to be Atheist for so long. I see that is you approach people with that attitude, you are not acting like Jesus did and you are insulting that person(s) greatly. How would you like it if I approached you and said that Catholics are wrong because they place too much emphasis in saints, so they are worshipping other figures like deities and therefore going against God and therefore wrong and doomed to Hell? Obviously, I would never attack nor say that ever, but there are numerous people out there that would. Not only on your faith, but on several.I think a better way to approach it is by showing God’s love and ideas by example. It’s easy to talk the talk…but walking the walk…not so much. Having religious convictions are fine, and its okay to believe Christianity is the true faith because it leads to God. But when it comes to witnessing, Jesus didn’t go around denouncing the views of religion in others of the bat- he showed through his love and kindness the power of God and then through stories shared what God was about. I believe if Christians acted like Jesus, the faith would be transformed. Does that mean I am an ideal example? Goodness no! I have a thousand hang-ups and with the stereotype of what a Christian is and looks and talks like, most people are surprised to find I am one when I say my faith practice…simply because I don’t wear the latest and newest clothing and listen to Christian pop while talking badly about lower class people.I’m sorry if that statement offends, but I say so to make a point. I have been told there was no way I could be a Christian because I wasn’t that type. When I wasn’t a Christian, I remember asking a group of my friends of multiple faiths what a Christian was; most of them said that Christians were nothing but upper-crust hypocrites. My Muslim friend shared that Christians were in her opinion, the most unaccepting people she had ever come across. Even the Catholic of the group admitted that that statement of nonacceptance and hypocricy were the two biggest things she was hit with from others about her faith.

What is the point I am getting at? I unfortunately jump around, but what I am trying to say is that non-Christians watch and when approached with “my God is right, yours isn’t”, they look at those actions and usually would rather be “wrong”. I only wish Christians could be more understanding; that is the biggest thing I have kept from being a Buddhist. Many other religions have one God who rules the universe; a thing to keep in mind is that it could be many religions worship the same deity under multiple names. In the Bible, God goes by several titles. It might be stretch for some, but it might help with having a more understanding mindset when it comes to witnessing.When it comes to “my God is right, yours is not”, I don’t believe either side is right or wrong. I as a follower of Christ, which is generally what I call myself instead of ‘Christian’, I think that witnessing could be done better if we listened first to the beliefs of the other party with respect and kindly shared yours in turn. By sharing and being respectful, the seed has been planted and the person can and more willingly reflect on Christianity, and the Christian in turn, gains a new world perspective.”
5. What Bible verse(s) do you think have helped you the most with the crises you have endured.
“Verses of scripture have definitely aided me in coping and progressing, but I have used several secular quotes of courage and inspiration with my favorite coming from Dante: “Strength comes not from the branches of a family tree, but from the grace of God. If I had to choose a particular passage in the Bible. If I had to choose a particular passage in the Bible, I would probably go with Psalm 134. But my favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11.”
6. What advice would you give to someone in a similar situation to yours?
“It is difficult to imagine another person in my situation as suffering or hurting for whatever reason.  I want them to know that they are not alone and that the pain will not last forever.  I tell people all the time my metaphor of coals and diamonds.  We are all coal: brittle, filth, and worthless on our own.  LIfe will put us through fires and pressures; those who give up are those who are weak in spirit and will crumble in the ashes. But those who can withstand it all will transform into beautiful, priceless, unbreakable diamonds. So we’re all coals and you will be a diamond one day.  You just have to go through the process first. “
7. Who is your favorite Biblical figure besides Jesus?
“It is hard to choose a favorite Biblical figure.  I want to say a woman like Ruth or Esther, but as a a modern-day feminist, I don’t find them much empowered.  I really have an admiration for Paul because he was Jesus Public Hater #1 and he was completely turned around by God. To be able to make such a positive change is inspiring to me.”

Would you like me to interview you for this project? Email me and I’ll interview you! My e-mail is:
rocklobsterjwt@gmail.com. You’ll notice when you click on that, the subject “interview” is in your subject heading. I will only accept interviews if “interview” is the subject.

All About My Dad

With Father’s Day coming up, I decided I should talk about my dad. I talked about my mother on the Friday before Mother’s Day, so why not?

My dad has spent most of his life in Louisiana, as have I as a result. He was born in the 50′s and is definitely a product of that time. However, I often joke that he should’ve been born in another time. The reason I say this is he is obsessed with history. He seems to enjoy stuff about the Civil War and World War II the most. He also spent a good part of his life in the Navy. Because of this, he actually went to Antarctica for a while. That’s something neat: I can think of no one else I know I can say that about.

My dad’s current profession is bricklaying, and I help him with it. In fact, it’s pretty much the only job I’ve had. He’s a difficult person to work with, but I try my best.

My dad goes through a lot to help support us. Around here, work has its and downs, especially with the current state of our economy.

My dad’s really the outdoors type. He took me fishing, but it soon came to light that I am not the type of person for this. We did go camping when I was little, and I did like that, but fishing just bored me. My dad soon gave up on that, and now when he goes, I don’t and he doesn’t seem to mind. He’s also very much into sports, especially football. It will probably not surprise you that he is a fan of the New Orleans Saints, and has been pretty much all his life. I don’t watch football much, except for the Superbowl.

What I like best about my dad is that he puts up with me. I have a hot temper, and it makes me difficult, but he tolerates me. I am not a model child, and he knows it. I have to live with my parents because I am not financially able to support myself, so it’s great that my parents can support me. In fact, to be honest, I often worry what it’ll be like if they pass on before me, which I’m convinced will happen.

So, that’s my dad. Happy Father’s Day!

Bookworm: Kingdom Come

Note: This is a review of the graphic novel published by DC, not the webmanga.

Genre: Superhero

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Alex Ross

Publisher: DC Comics (Elseworlds)

Summary: It is the distant future. The superheroes of old have aged. A new war is waging and the lines between good and evil are blurrier than they have ever been Superman has exiled himself from Metropolis. Wonder Woman has been exiled from her ancestral home. The Flash moves so fast, now he can’t even stop! Batman has turned Gotham City into a police state patrolled by his “Bat-Sentinels.” But has the world truly changed for the worse.

Review: I love superhero comics since I learned to read. Since DC owns Batman. I became a fan by default. Batman’s use of both brains and brawn, coupled with his realistic origin, truly made me a fan.

The two people who created Kingdom Come are no strangers to comics. Mark Waid is most well-known for his work on The Flash.  Alex Ross’s painting so gorgeous, they’ve become museum pieces. I’d been a fan of Alex Ross back when and Kurt Busiek created Astro City, so I already knew how good he was.

I thought it was great how the DC Universe, was reimagined. Superman believed his holographicfarm was more real than teality. I loved confrontation and Magog, Metropolis’s new protector.  Magog even gone so far as to kill The Joker. He even got himself acquitted. The confrontation between Superman and Magog’s line “The world changed, but you wouldn’t. So they chose me.  They chose the man who would kill over the man wouldn’t.” got to the heart of what defines Superman the most to me–not his powers, but his heart.  Superman is, at the end of the  day, the person, we aspire to be. That is why he cannot take a life.

I also thought it was great how the legends lived on. Several heroes had passed on their mantles by the time the story started: Nightwing, The Flash, and even lesser-known heroes, like Mr. Terrific (yes, there’s a superhero with this name)were reimagined.  Waid even remembered Superman’s other weakness and turned Captain Marvel, whose powers are magic-based into the perfect anti-Superman, under the control of Lex Luthor.

All in all, I truly enjoyed this graphic novel. Some great pictures and a resonating story to go with it.

Film Freak: Batman: Under the Red Hood

Genre: Superhero/Cartoon

Distributor: Warner Bros Animation (2010)

Running Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Summary: A new figure known as the Red Hood has arrived in Gotham and is targeting the Black Mask, a druglord with a very hot temper.  The Red Hood is actually Jason Todd, the second Robin.  There’s just one problem: Jason Todd is supposed to be dead! The Joker killed him five years ago!

Review: For those who don’t know who Jason Todd is, allow me to provide some background. During the 80’s,  DC decided it was time for Dick Grayson, the first Robin, to grow up. This led to the creation of Nightwing. But fans still like the Batman and Robin team, so they created a new Robin, Jason Todd.  That plan backfired, and the fans hated Jason Todd.  So DC killed him. But this is American comics, they love to bring back dead characters. I wasn’t too fond of Jason Todd myself.  I felt that he was too headstrong to be Batman’s partner.


What I really thought was great was that the movie showed us the dichotomy between Batman and the Red Hood.  The Red Hood is almost like a villain himself. He actually creates his own drug ring and even convinces some of the Black Mask’s “associates” to join it.  What’s more–he uses guns.  This is never Batman’s way.  He never does things that underhanded, nor would he use guns.

We’re also shown Jason’s evolution.  As a kid, he was wide-eyed and enjoyed every minute of being Robin.  But as he got older, he began to realize there was no way they could completely stop crime. Every time they put someone in jail, they’d eventually be back out on the streets.  This frustrated him, causing him to resort to more drastic tactics, frustrating Batman. It was great to see the seeds of what created The Red Hood.

My main problem is minor.  Nightwing is barely in this.  Once he gets sidelined, he’s written out of the story.   I wanted him in for the whole movie. At least we got a very funny moment.  After several years, someone finally called Batman on his infamous “disappearing act”.  If you’re a fan of Batman, you know the drill. Batman will be talking to someone.  Then that person will say something and Batman will have already left, leaving the person talking to himself.  Nightwing complained about this at one point, saying “Could you just once say ‘Let’s get in the car? Would that be so hard?'”

As a final analysis, I really think this is one of the best Batman direct-to-video cartoons, and I would recommend it to any Batman fan.

Review: