Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Leverage Analysis - Parker and the Family Dynamic

As a fan of the TNT show Leverage, I have a peculiar contention - one that will make little sense to anyone who is unfamiliar with the show, so if you fall in that category I suggest you first watch an episode or two before reading the rest.

Ready? Okay, good.

The characters of the show, and the people involved in making the show, often discuss the familial nature of the five main characters, that is, Nate and his crew. If we were to break down the family dynamic, certain roles are more obviously filled than others. Nate is clearly the father figure in this family, and Sophie is the mother. Eliot is the eldest child, a mature yet passionate son. The other two are somewhat more difficult - Hardison and Parker. You see, since the two share romantic tension, we must accept one of three possibilities: their relationship borders on incestual, the "family" metaphor breaks down if it is considered too deeply, or one of the two characters is not part of the immediate family. Assuming the first is absurd and the second is too boring to put in a blog post, I shall now defend the third. Hardison or Parker is a "child" of Nate and Sophie, and the other has been grafted in.

My immediate thought, when I first considered this, was that Hardison is the outsider. After all, he is the only member of the crew who is not white - one glance at the crew would suggest that he is not blood-related, which could carry to the show's family metaphor. He is also the only member of the crew whose past and personal life have not yet been dealt with more than briefly, and three seasons have passed.

But consider Parker. Parker is the only one who goes by a single name. Her foster father has appeared on the show, and initially, he seems angry about her joining this new family, saying he'd made her a perfect thief and Nate ruined her by allowing her to become a "good guy." She acts truly strange in comparison to everyone else. In promotional materials for the show, she is almost always set apart from the rest of the crew. The DVD sets for both the first and second seasons of the show each have four discs, and each disc features a different member of the crew, but never Parker - she is the face of the special features. Finally, Eliot and Hardison fight like brothers.

So, my contention is this - in the family that is Nate's crew, Nate is the father, Sophie is the mother, Eliot is the older brother, Hardison is the younger brother, and Parker is the girl who is with Hardison, and has become included in the family but does not quite belong yet. Thus ends my analysis.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Youth is Wasted

I have learned to appreciate music, but I have no time now to play an instrument of my own - though for years I was in a good music program at a public school, and I loathed to practice, or to listen to instrumental music. I have learned to appreciate math, history, science, and education in general, but now I have to pay for it - though I was once handed information daily, for free, and I sneered at it. I have learned to appreciate family, immediate and extended, but it is while I live at home for less than half the year, and have little hope of seeing most of the extended family members who live out of state - though once we regularly visited the family who is in California, and once my grandparents were near at hand, and I hardly cared.

Youth is truly wasted on the young. Somehow, it doesn't seem fair. I wonder, what do I have now, that I will later realize I missed?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

On Forcing Our Beliefs On Others

I think the biggest complaint I hear from non-Christians, regarding Christians, is that we like to "force our beliefs" on other people. They consistently get offended or annoyed because, hey, can't we all just believe what we want to and leave each other alone?

‎First of all: no. To quote the character Emerson Cod from Pushing Daisies, "The truth ain't like puppies, a bunch of them running around, you pick your favorite. One truth! And it has come a-knockin'." I would like to explain why, exactly, we "force our beliefs" upon the unbelievers, and why we consistently "come a-knockin'" even after you have disconnected the doorbell, removed the door knocker, and hidden under your bed.

Christians operate under a set of beliefs that can be found in the Bible. The primary belief, especially in terms of sharing the Gospel, is that Jesus is "the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [him]" (John 14:6). Jesus is the way, the only Way, to a positive afterlife (commonly known as "Heaven"), and, many of us contend, the only Way to goodness and virtue in this life.

We could simply believe that for ourselves, and have good lives and afterlives for ourselves, not worrying about what happens to other people, except that selflessness is a tenet of Christianity as well. When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus's response was, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:36-40). So, if I love my neighbor - neighbor being loosely defined as anyone with whom I may come in contact - and I believe that my neighbor will live a dissatisfying mortal life and an unbearable post-life eternity without Jesus, it is only reasonable to do everything in my power to bring that person to Jesus, as soon as possible.

We don't always. We worry about mockery, insults, minor persecution, or losing the friendship. But should we? For Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11). The issue of timidity in the face of evangelism or open belief is addressed again and again in the New Testament, always saying that we are blessed by God though we are hated by men for belief and righteousness.

So this is why Christians "force their beliefs" on others. It is senseless to suggest that we should simply let people believe whatever they like, and that it does not matter. To suggest this shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the Christian faith. Christianity is not a crutch to get us through this life. It is not a mere set of rules for morality. It is not a philosophy chosen because it sounds nice. There is only one question of importance, in deciding to accept Christianity: is it the Truth?

Obviously, I contend that it is.

As always when I reference Bible verses, I encourage you to look up and read the context for them. Biblegateway.com is a good source if you don't want to leave your computer or don't have a physical Bible.