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The Red Shoes

The Red ShoesThe Red Shoes

There was once a girl named Karen. She was a poor girl and the shoemaker took pity upon her and made her some red shoes from some extra cloth. These shoes she wore to her mother’s funeral. At the funeral, an older woman took pity upon her and decided to take her in. She got rid of the red shoes though because she thought them distasteful.

Karen was sheltered and fed. She went to see a princess and she had the most wonderful red shoes. When it came time for Karen to receive her first communion, she got new clothes. There happened to be a pair of red shoes there. She got the red shoes even though she was supposed to get the black shoes.

Karen wore her red shoes to church and people talked. They thought it was disgraceful. She was warned by the old woman to wear her black shoes, but Karen wore her red shoes. There was an old soldier sitting outside the church. He remarked on what pretty dancing shoes Karen had. He mentioned the same thing on the way out. Karen felt that she needed to dance, just a little. She couldn’t stop dancing once she started. She ended up kicking the old woman. The shoes came off and were put away.

The old woman became sick and needed care, but there was a ball. Karen wanted to go, so she put on her red shoes and went. She danced and danced, but the shoes always danced a different direction than she wanted them to. She ended up dancing right out of the ballroom. She couldn’t get the shoes off. They seemed to have grown to her feet. She danced to a graveyard.

There she got no rest. She couldn’t quit dancing. An angel was there. He cursed Karen to continue dancing until she was a skeleton. She danced over fields and through brambles. She danced in the day and in the night.

She finally danced her was to an executioner’s house. She knocked on his door and asked him to cut her legs off. He did. The man then made Karen some new legs out of wood. The shoes weren’t gone though. They danced still with her old legs inside. She decided she would go to church the next Sunday, but when she got there, the red shoes were dancing in front of her and she felt too embarrassed to go in. On her way home, the red shoes once again danced in front of her.

She went to a parsonage and asked to be taken into service. She served there. The children enjoyed her. She shook her head when they talked of dress and fashion. She was asked to go to church by the parson, she was unsure, but went. She had confessed her sins and had done service. At church, there was music playing and the sunlight was streaming through the windows. Karen’s heart was so filled that it burst. He soul flew up to heaven where no one ever asked about the red shoes.

The End

AmishFamilyNiagaraFallsObservations

Well, this all seems a little harsh for just liking a pair of red shoes.

Looking at the idea of shoes and shoe colors back in the day, If Karen had shoes, they probably would have been brown or black. That’s not to say there weren’t red shoes because there were, but they were not common. Turning leather a different color than brown or black required dyes. Some dyes were more expensive than others. Karen’s shoes could have been dyed with something simple like madder, or they could have dyed with imported dyes, like carmine, which would have been more expensive. Carmine was imported from South America and was made from cochineal beetles. It produced a bright red color.

As you might have guessed, shoes dyed with imported dyes were probably a bit more expensive. They would have also been considered flashy by the more stodgy religious people. There came a time when religious people thought you were supposed to dress a certain way, this is still a thing by the way; it all depends on what religious community you’re discussing. People would have frowned upon Karen’s decision to wear red shoes to church. Should they? No, look here, if you’re at church, it doesn’t matter what you wear. It matters that you showed up.

Surprisingly, churches still have an issue with this today, well, actually, people in churches have issues with this today. Most recently, there were Mormon women who showed up to church in pants and some people practically lost their minds over it. Pants! Can you believe it?! It would be hilarious if it weren’t true that people actually acted like that.

There was nothing wrong with Karen wearing red shoes to church. What was wrong was people looking down upon her for showing up to church in her best and saying it was scandalous.

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We can talk about religious stodgy bigots until the cows come home, but we’re not going to. We’re going to talk about Karen and her vanity because that’s really what this story is about. Karen became overly prideful of herself. She thought this shiny pair of red shoes made her better and elevated her somehow.

Some say clothes make the man, sure, ok, but clothes are not a sole determination of your worth as a person, some people think it is though. They put their outward appearance above all else. They have to have designer jeans and expensive shoes. Let me tell you something, the thing about designer jeans is that they’re expensive, they’re sized smaller, and they wear out just the same as jeans from Old Navy. There is nothing special about the fabric the jeans are made from. The only difference is the name.

Back in the day, there weren’t really names to go with fashions. Maybe it was true that some people were like, “Well, I had this made at the good tailor’s,” if there was more than one tailor in town, but that would have been about it.

In Karen’s day, what stood out was being flashy and different. Karen wanted to stand out. She liked the red shoes. She thought they were just great. People really shouldn’t have looked down upon her for wearing red shoes, but at the same time, Karen shouldn’t have been trying to make herself appear better than everyone else by flaunting her red shoes. Nobody likes a stuck-up person.

Overall

This story still seems harsh to me.

Weigh In

Would you wear the red shoes?

Don’t you think it’s a bit creepy that these shoes were going around dancing with Karen’s old feet in them?

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice HoffmanThe Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Life can seem awfully cruel at times. For a girl named Coralie’s life has left her motherless and with a deformity. Coralie’s fingers have a webbing between them. It’s just skin, it could be easily gotten rid of, but Coralie’s father won’t’ let her. He teaches her to swim. He teaches her to run. He lets her read many books.

Coralie’s father owns a small attraction. It’s called the Museum of Extraordinary Things. There are all kinds of interesting things there. There are jars preserved with all types of specimens. There is an ancient tortoise. There was a two-headed goat. There are various tropical birds. In the on-season, there are also performers. They come and go.

At one point, Coralie becomes a performer. Her father had not allowed her in the museum until she was twelve years old. When she was twelve, she joined the ranks of the performers. Her father built a big tank in the museum, where Coralie pretended to be a mermaid. Her skin was dyed blue and the webbing between her fingers was the main draw.

As her father intended to create another attraction, Coralie’s life changed. She had to swim the Hudson River to be a river monster. It was after one of these swims that she spied a man named Eddie and her life would never be the same. Eddie was a photographer, also telling his own story. He left his father to fend for himself. Eddie also left behind his religion. Eddie came to know the dirty and dark secrets of the city. He had recently photographed the ruin of the Triangle Fire, an entire factory of girls had been burned up. The doors had been locked. Eddie gets embroiled in the mystery of a missing girl and so too does Coralie, for Coralie is the one who finds her, but the girl’s story does not end there.

Coralie’s life seems to tailspin into something that it never was before. Her father becomes obsessed with his river monster. Coralie realizes what it is to care for a man. In the end, she comes to realize that her life up until this point has not always been what people said it was. Yes, there were extraordinary things in the Museum of Extraordinary Things, Coralie had been one of them, but she can go on being extraordinary in her own life.

What I liked

There was actually a lot of history in this book. The Triangle Fire was a real thing and so was the Wizard mentioned in the story. He wasn’t a real wizard, people just called him that. The Triangle Fire’s hundredth anniversary was in 2011. Girls had been locked in the factory. They jumped out of windows from the 8th and 9th floors, hoping to escape the flames. All they found was death. There were forty bodies, or so, on the sidewalk by the time it had all ended. The aftermath of this fire helped in bringing forth different working conditions for people in factories.

I think I had heard about the Triangle Fire before, but I hadn’t known this much about it. I’m glad I was able to learn a bit more about history from this book. Alice takes her time to put real life into her books and I appreciate that.

Coralie was also an interesting character. She thought she knew what her life was, but things changed that. Life became something different for her. She had been ashamed of herself but learned not to be.

What I didn’t like

Despite all the great history, this story seems to lull a bit. There is action. Things do happen, but they’re not overly grand things. The action, when it happens, just seems a little slow. Action in a story doesn’t have to be fast and hard, but, I don’t know, this story kind of drifts rather than speeds.

The book did get quite interesting though and I enjoyed reading it.

In some ways, I feel like the characters are a bit stereotyped. We have a mad scientist who. We have a to be pitied woman. We have a girl who doesn’t know who she is. We have a man who forsook his religious life for worldly living. These characters all exist and have existed for a long time. The story is still interesting, but with expected things.

Overall

I’m glad I work at a place that doesn’t lock the doors.

Weigh In

Do you think Coralie is brave for accepting herself as she is?

Do you think Coralie’s father was without compassion for Coralie?

Three Little Words by Ashley-Rhodes CourterThree Little Words by Ashley-Rhodes Courter

Ashley spent years of her life in the foster care system. Her foster parents weren’t always good, in fact, very few of them were good. Ashley wondered if she would ever see her mother again and if she would ever have a family.

When Ashley was very young, she was put into the foster care system in Florida. She had formerly lived in South Carolina. She had vague memories of her life in South Carolina. There were two little brothers, one of which went into a box. There were fights and cuss words, but Florida soon became Ashley’s home.

Things got bad in Florida and Ashley ended up being put into the foster care system along with her brother Luke. Ashley bounced from one foster care home to the other. It’s not that Ashley was bad, it’s that the foster care system was broken. Some homes were overcrowded. In some homes, people took care of children who should not be taking care of children.

One home, in particular, was just awful. The woman made children drink hot sauce. She dunked their heads under the water in the bathtub. She took away the belongings of the children and put them in sheds. She lied about everything. She hit children with spoons. She starved children. She made some of the older kids take care of the younger children. The list goes on.

Ashley finally got out of this ordeal, but no one would listen to her about her treatment there. Finally, she ended up in a community for foster care children. This community was very good for Ashley, but she still wanted a home. At one point, she found out that someone wanted her. They were the Courter family. Ashley didn’t really know how to take this because she had been passed around for years. She had waited for her mother to straighten up, but she never did.

Despite Ashley’s worries, she was adopted by the Courter family, but the adjustment was not easy. Ashley didn’t know how to act as a child of parents that weren’t parents to a whole bunch of other children. She didn’t know what was appropriate and what was not. She still had trust issues. She didn’t know if she could ever love her adopted parents. Eventually, Ashley got a chance to help punish the couple who had been so awful to her. They didn’t get what they deserved, but they got part of it.

Ultimately, Ashley ended up becoming influential in the world of foster care and even goes around to speak about the system.

What I liked

Another memoir dragged me in, again.

Ashley definitely did not have an easy life. First of all, she’s named Ashley, which is an overused name and around the time Ashley was born, there were lots of other Ashleys and it was difficult to stand out amongst so many Ashleys. Second of all, her mother was kind of a screw-up. Third of all, she went into foster care, some of it wasn’t very good. In the end, Ashley won. She turned out ok. She ended up with a family, which is the ultimate goal of the foster care system. Children are supposed to end up in family units.

Ashley’s life was definitely interesting, but it’s not really anything I haven’t heard before. I do like the insights into the foster care system and Ashley’s quest for a family.

She was very lucky. I know it may not sound as if she was lucky, but she was. Ashley was so, so, so lucky. First off, she wasn’t sexually abused. She wasn’t sold for money. She wasn’t trafficked. These are all problems associated with girls, and children, in general, in the foster care system. She was hit a few times, but she wasn’t beaten terribly. She got to stay relatively close by to her brother. She got adopted into a family that had money and the means to show her things most average kids don’t get to see. Ashley really, really lucked up.

What I didn’t like

The foster care system isn’t perfect, but it does get things right every once in a while and saves lives. Sometimes there are people that just don’t need children. I’ve known a few in my life.

There was this girl I went to school with growing up. I later working with her at a nursing home after we were of age. This girl had two or three kids, I forget how many, by the time she was twenty-two. She was constantly getting her kids taken away by the state and with good reason. She was a crap mom. She didn’t need children. Whenever I heard that she was getting her kids back, I would always be a little upset. She and her sister were both awful mothers. The sister also happened to work at the nursing home and had a child. We’re talking about neglect, violence, and general lack of caring from these women. They didn’t need kids, but for some reason the state kept putting their children back into their arms. I get trying to give people a second chance, but maybe we should use that maxim, “Full me once, shame on you; full me twice, shame on me.”

The system can be very broken, such as the times when they give children back to parents who don’t need them, but there are also a lot of short-cuts around regulations and too much red-tape where there needs to be less red tape.

Getting back to the book, Ashley’s time was so terrible because nobody was checking proper procedures. Nobody was making sure people were qualified to be foster parents. Nobody was making sure the children kept their belongings. Nobody was making sure proper paperwork was filled out. It was all a big mess. If it hadn’t been such a mess, Ashley probably wouldn’t have had to have gone through half the things she did.

Ultimately, Ashley’s mother never needed to get her back. It’s a good thing it didn’t happen. It’s a harsh reality when you must admit that a child is truly better off without a certain parent.

Overall

I’m very glad that Ashley ended up ok, but she also doesn’t have the saddest foster care story I’ve come across.

Weigh In

Would you ever consider going through the foster care system to adopt a child?
Do you feel that Ashley was very lucky in how things ended up?

The Elfin Hill

The Elfin HillThe Elfin Hill

Lizards were on a rock abuzz with the goings-on underground. The nearby hill was home to elves. There was much noise coming from the hill. An earthworm told all that there was going to be a big party there.

Under the ground, the elves were preparing for the goblins from Norway to come to a great party. The elf king expected at least a couple of his daughters to be married, for the goblin king was bringing his two single sons.

The preparations were mighty. Each daughter must dress up. The food must be prepared. Invitations were sent out. An elf maiden went out to invite the Night Raven, the Death Horse, and the Death Pig. At first, ghosts had not been allowed to attend, but the elf king changed his mind.

Excellent food had been prepared.

In the kitchen were frogs roasting on the spit, and dishes preparing of snail skins, with children’s fingers in them, salad of mushroom seed, hemlock, noses and marrow of mice, beer from the marsh woman’s brewery, and sparkling salt-petre wine from the grave cellars. These were all substantial food. Rusty nails and church-window glass formed the dessert.

The goblins finally arrived. The sons of the goblin king were rather rude. They took off their shoes. They put their feet on the table. They didn’t seem interested in what was going on, or the elf king’s daughters for that matter.

Each of the daughters was presented. There were seven in all. Each daughter had her own strengths. One of them, the last, told stories. The goblin king asked her to tell a story for each of his fingers. She made up stories for the first several, but the goblin king was so taken with her that he wanted her for his wife. The goblin king told his sons that they better pick out a wife too, but they said they didn’t want to get married and went to sleep. The goblin king stayed up dancing with his new bride. They exchanged boots which is more fashionable than exchanging rings.

The lizards and the earthworm debated about who they liked better. The lizards like the goblin king better; the earthworm liked the sons better, but then earthworms are blind, so what does he know?

The End

HelhestObservations

This story is full of fascinating folklore. First off, I have heard of elves living in hills before. It’s not an uncommon piece of folklore.

What is more interesting about this story are some of the things mentioned in it. The elf maiden who comes out to give invitations was said to be hollow from behind. There was a belief that you could only see elves from the front. If you were looking at an elf from the back, there wouldn’t really appear to be anything there. It would be kind of like looking at the back of a mask. I have no idea how this belief came about, but people used to believe it.

The elf maiden goes out to invite the Night Raven, the Death Horse, and the Death Pig. The Death Horse and the Death Pig are similar in nature. At some point, people believed a horse or a pig was buried underneath every church that had ever been built, seriously. Did I forget to mention that the animal would have been alive? This animal died, of course, because some jerks buried it alive, but it was believed that the animal lived on. It became a ghost and would limp along at night on three legs to the houses of those that would die. I have no idea why anybody would do this.

Let’s bury a horse so it can come back as a three-legged ghost and foretell death. Yeah, let’s do that…later. This must be a purely pagan tradition because nothing I have ever heard about Christianity indicates any such tradition.

The Night Raven is a bit different but similar. If something was haunted, or if there was a ghost, a priest, or whomever, could condemn a spirit to a particular spot on the Earth. A stake was then put in that place. At night the spirit would cry, “Let me out,” and the stake would be lifted and the spirit would leave, but it would turn into a raven with a hole in its left wing. This creature was then called the Night Raven.

The Danes have some rather interesting ghost superstitions.

Quotation-Sarah-Dessen-relationships-sense-Meetville-Quotes-187261Themes

Everyone was initially impressed with the idea that the eligible bachelors that were the goblin princes were going to come to the party. They were not impressed by the end of the party. In fact, they probably just wanted them to leave. It’s like being all excited that Prince Harry showed up at your party in Vegas, but then he just took all his clothes off and ran around naked, you know, that sort of thing.

The goblin king, on the other hand, was rather mild. He talked of his homeland. He was kind. He was interested in what other people had to say or do. This is how you’re supposed to act at a party, people. Be the goblin king, not his sons.

At the end of the night, the goblin king was the only person who ended up with a wife. Why? Well, because the sons were pretty despicable. At first, you would have thought that only the young sons would have been the eligible men. They’re young. They’re handsome. They’re full of vigor. You would have all these thoughts. Then you would see their behavior and you might start to second guess yourself a little.

Appearances can be deceiving. Just because someone looks like your ideal of good, or a good catch, doesn’t mean that they actually are. You have to remember that there is a brain in there somewhere and with that brain comes a personality, whether good or bad.

You may find out that someone who doesn’t fit the ideal of a particular type of person in your head fits the ideal personality you have in mind. In the end, it didn’t matter that the goblin king was old. He was the better person. Hey, you know what, if someone treats you with respect and loves you, it really shouldn’t matter what their age or appearance is. As long as you like them and they like you, things should be ok.

Overall

I wonder if the six other elfin princesses found men.

Weigh In

Is there such a thing as “too old” or does it not matter as long as everyone gets along?

What do you suppose the purpose of having a Death Horse was?

P.S. Death Pony

The Little Elder-Tree MotherThe Little Elder-Tree Mother

A little boy was sick in bed and his mother was making some elderflower tea for him. The old man who lived on the floor above was in the room keeping the boy company. The boy asked for a story, but the old man didn’t know very many and didn’t want to make one up. He told the boy the best stories come of their own accord.

As they sat there, steam came out of the team pot and it appeared a tree was growing out of it. It turned out that it was a tree, but it was also a little old woman. The boy asked her name. The old man told the boy he was called by one name by the Greeks, Dryad, but by others she was called Elder-Tree Mother.

The scene moved to a little old man and little old woman sitting under an elder tree that looked very much like the elder tree growing out of the teapot. The old man and old woman were trying to remember what day their golden wedding was on, but they kept getting caught up in reminiscing. They remembered when they were both young and played as children. As children, they put branches in the ground and watered them. The only one that sprouted was an elder branch that grew into the tree under which they now sat.

The couple continued to remember. They remembered when they had grown up a little and the old man had gone away to sea. The woman had not heard from him for some time and was anxious. One day the postman brought her a letter from the man and she was so happy, but it turns out that the man was right behind her and had made it back to home along with the letter. The two were married. They had children. The man went back to sea many times. Grandchildren came along. Life went on.

They now sat upon the same tree they had planted many years before. Their children showed up to celebrate because it was, in fact, the day of their Golden Wedding.

The Elder-Tree Mother embraced the young boy back in his room and turned into a young girl. She then took him to see many wonderful things. They saw foreign lands and beautiful sights at all times of the year. At the end of their journeys, the Elder-Tree Mother gave the boy an elderflower. He put this flower into a book. When he opened it from then on, the flower always smelled as fresh as ever. He lived a long life and ended up sitting under an elder tree very much like the Elder-Tree Mother.

Then the boy came back to his senses. He was still a boy and wasn’t sure if any of it had actually happened.

The End

Elderberries2007-08-12Observations

Maybe it wasn’t an elderflower tea that the mom gave the boy; maybe it was something hallucinogenic.

Hans had his mythology mixed up just a bit. Dryad is not a particular person. A dryad is a description of a tree spirit, a female tree spirit to be exact. To be even more exact, dryads were tree spirits of oak trees, but later on the term dryad came to mean a tree spirit of any tree. There were notable dryads in Greek mythology with their own names, but for the most part when somebody said “dryad” it was a nameless thing.

There are several things about elder trees that we need to look at. The first is that elder tree has been used medicinally and has shown to help alleviate the effects of the flu and cold, but this is only if the plant is prepared correctly. Most varieties of this plant are poisonous when not cooked and poison the body in a similar manner to cyanide. Theoretically, you could poison someone with elderberries or other parts of the plant.

Looking at this story from an entirely morbid point of view, it could be that this boy died from the improper preparation of the elder tree. None of the trip the boy takes with the Elder-Tree Mother makes any sense. This could all be something of a life-after-death scenario, but you could also look at it scientifically and think about the fact that the boy might have had a high fever and was hallucinating.

Moving onto the folklore of the elder tree. It was said that the elder tree either protected against witches or drew them near. Witches were said, at times, to gather under elder trees, especially when their branches were full of berries.

Moving on past that, if you cut down an elder tree it was said that if you didn’t ask permission first, the spirit of the Elder-Mother would come out and take revenge upon you.

If you wanted some elder wood you had to say the following rhyme:

“Old girl, give me some of thy wood and I will give thee some of mine when I grow into a tree.”

Denmark had a particular belief about the elder tree. Danes believed that if you put a twig of an elder tree in your mouth, you could drive out evil spirits and cure a toothache at the same time. They also said that if you stood under an elder tree Midsummer’s Eve, you could see the elf king and his followers.

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I get the idea of devotion from this story. There’s also the bit about stories and being ill. For some reason, telling stories seems to go along with being sick. I have to wonder if this was ever an official tradition. If it was, I find it somewhat sad that we don’t practice the same tradition. I think that telling stories, or reading stories, or listening to stories, would be a much better thing for a sick person to do rather than play video games or watch TV.

Going back to devotion, this Elder-Mother watched over this couple their entire life. They planted the tree that later housed the Elder-Mother. Their mutual admiration for each other made this stick bloom into a tree. The tree grew and grew as a symbol of their love.

I’m a sucker for trees and the idea of a couple planting a tree to commemorate their relationship is something I really like. As the tree grows, the couple grows in their relationship. The tree is a visual representation of the couple’s relationship.

In this story, the tree became devoted to the couple, just as the couple was devoted to each other. As their love grew, the tree did too. It’s a pretty simple concept.

Overall

All of this folklore about the elder tree is really interesting.

Weigh In

Do you think planting a tree to symbolize your relationship would be a neat thing?

Are elder trees cooler after reading this post?

Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige HillBeyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill

It’s difficult for us to imagine being completely controlled. It’s not a situation we would want to find ourselves in. We wouldn’t want our agency to be taken away. We would want to be able to sleep when we wanted. We would want to be able to work where we wanted. We would want to be near our families. It would be very difficult to live in a world where we couldn’t do those things, but Jenna did live in a world like that and this book is her story.

Jenna is the niece of Scientology leader Dave Miscavige. She grew up in Scientology. Her youngest memories are of being in a Scientology nursery and going to a Scientology preschool with her brother. Her parents were rarely around. Later on the children were moved to a ranch, where they were made to do strenuous manual labor. Children were crammed into rooms. There were strict rules about everything.

In addition to all of that, there are strict rules and practices in Scientology. Jenna is well-versed in the Scientology talk of L. Ron Hubbard, or LRH, as everyone calls him. The church lives and breathes by acronyms, and, yes, it is home to the worship of people like Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Jenna didn’t get to see the celebrity Scientology experience, which is much different than what Jenna experienced.

Scientology is psychological and not psychological at the same time. People are “encouraged” to explore their daily actions, their thoughts, and how they behave around others. They’re encouraged to understand all the words they come across. These things would seem like good things if they were not lumped in with all the other detriments that Jenna faced.

Jenna grew up without a formal education. Jenna grew up without her parents. Jenna grew up without knowing what an average childhood was. Jenna grew up without typical teenage experiences; she was working the entire time. Jenna’s entire life was scrutinized.

Things got worse and worse. At one point, Jenna decided to leave, but it was not easy. Jenna got out to tell her story.

What I liked

I honestly hadn’t known a lot about Scientology before reading this book. I knew that L. Ron Hubbard was the Scientology guy and that Tom Cruise was a Scientologist. That was what I knew. Jenna introduced me to the world of Scientology and, crazily, it’s taken the place of the FLDS church in my brain for the most screwed-up church. It’s so odd to learn that there is this entire world that I didn’t really know anything about and I’m a person who knows quite a bit about the world, at least, compared to your Average Joe.

I am so glad that Jenna is out.

What I didn’t like

Why do people think it’s ok to treat other people like this? How does one small group of people get away with thinking that’s it’s ok to micro-manage people’s lives like this? Really, who thinks it’s ok to take a person away from their family and take away their individuality and then tell them some bullcrap about the planet Xenu?

This all sounds like the biggest load of crap to me. Let’s not say kind words about this. It’s crap. It’s crappy how these people were living. It’s crappy how these people were treated. It’s crappy how they end up treating each other. It’s all crappy.

I used to think that the FLDS was pretty much the worst church group I had come across in my research because they brainwashed people, and split children from their parents, practiced polygamy and believed in some stupid things like black people being evil. Scientology has now taken the place of the FLDS church in my head. Good Lord, they make the FLDS church look like heaven. If, for some odd reason, I had to choose between one of these two religions I would put on a prairie dress and marry a man with five wives rather than go into Scientology. At least the FLDS are Christian and do actually value family.

I feel so sorry for all the people stuck in this life. To be clear, public Scientologists aren’t going to be oppressed like Jenna was. Being a public Scientologist may be an ok deal, besides the money you have to spend for all those weird courses, but being in the upper Scientology group, like Jenna was, would be a nightmare.

This is another example of how someone perverted something that was once valued and respected by people. L. Ron Hubbard was a weirdo. He believed in weird things. He defrauded people, but there were a lot of things he did that really resonated with people. There are good aspects of Scientology, but there are also good aspects of what the Nazi party did in Germany such as building up infrastructure and education. I get some of the reason why people like Scientology. You’re this eternal thing. You have the power within yourself to do many things. Scientology teaches people to be direct. It teaches people to be confident in many situations. It teaches people not be so sensitive to others’ negativity. Those are all good things.

When there are more bad things than good things about a given situation or group, it means that situation or group is toxic. This applies to anything in life, a job, a marriage, a friend, a church, a store, a video game, just whatever. When a situation has more bad things for you than good things, it begins to damage you. Jenna was damaged. Scientology was toxic to her, just as it is toxic to many people she knew.

It’s just so hard for me to believe people actually live like this.

Overall

Don’t take the pamphlets.

Weigh In

After knowing even part of Jenna’s struggle, would you consider Scientology?

How hard do you think it was for Jenna to undo some of the brainwashing she endured?

The Snow Queen-Seventh Story: Of the Palace of the Snow Queen and What Happened there at LastThe Snow Queen-Seventh Story: Of the Palace of the Snow Queen and What Happened there at Last

Gerda made it to the Snow Queen’s palace, which was made of drifted snow. Harsh winds cut through and made doors and windows. There were many rooms each cold and barren, the longest of which was over a mile. In the center of the palace was a large lake. Upon its surface were pieces of ice that were precise pieces that would fit together. In the center of this lake was where the Snow Queen had her throne. There by her sat Kay. He was blue but did not feel cold because the Snow Queen had kissed away his coldness and turned his heart to ice. Kay would sit and play with pieces of ice. They didn’t look like anything special, but because of the piece of glass in his eye and heart, they looked like extraordinary things, including words. The Snow Queen had told Kay that if he managed the word “eternity” he would be free and have the whole Earth and a new pair of skates.

The Snow Queen decided that she must be off to Mt. Etna and Vesuvius to make their tops covered with snow. Gerda went up to Kay, where she found him cold. He did not recognize her. She wept hot tears which fell upon Kay and penetrated his heart. His heart warmed and thawed. The piece of glass was pushed out. When this happened, Kay began to cry, and as he did so, the piece of glass in his eye fell out. All of this caused Kay’s bits of ice to make the word eternity. Kay was free to go. The Snow Queen no longer had a hold upon him.

Kay and Gerda left the palace. The reindeer was still standing where they had left him, but he had brought another reindeer along, a female. Her udders were full of milk. Kay and Gerda had their fill and rode to the house of the Finland woman, where they were thoroughly warmed in her hot house. Then they rode to the house of the Lapland woman.

They then left the Lapland woman and went to the forest, where they met the little Robber-Girl. She had left her robber family and was on her own now. She wore a red hat and carried pistols on her belt. The Robber-Girl, as sassy as ever, asked Kay if he wondered if he was worth going all across the world for. Gerda then asked after the prince and princess. They had gone traveling. The old crow was dead.

Gerda and Kay kept walking. They finally made it to their home city. They went into their old home. The clock was still ticking on the wall, but they perceived that they were grown up now. They were man and woman. The grandmother was still there. She read to them both out of the Bible. Kay and Gerda were grown up but knew that they should become as little children to enter into the kingdom of God. They sat in the summer weather and were like children at heart.

The End

Turkdel8Observations

The Snow Queen’s palace sounds like the Fortress of Solitude. Why do all these beings have to go to the North Pole and build houses of ice and snow to be alone?

The more I read about the Snow Queen, the more she sounds like the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia, although, the Snow Queen doesn’t seem quite as evil as the White Witch.

There was no showdown between Kay and Gerda and the Snow Queen. This says something about the Snow Queen. She wasn’t necessarily bad. She wasn’t a villain, although, it kind of seemed like she was, she really wasn’t. Sure, she took Kay away, but he kind of went of his own accord due to the pieces of glass in his heart and eye. Because she wasn’t a villain, there was no need for the final showdown we’re all so familiar with in storytelling.

B6XS0XgCQAA-15HThemes

Think of this entire story as the story of a relationship and a story of man and woman. Kay and Gerda ended up being adults at the end of their tale. They were gone for a long time, probably. They went away children and came back, adults. That’s how life works. We start out as children, innocent, and knowing nothing of the world, but we always end up as adults. The ills of the world touch us and form us in various ways. We go through hardships. We go through trials. Sometimes we have to search for others in our lives.

Kay was the one who veered from the path of righteousness, but Gerda was always the one who was good. This is a sexist idea that we keep perpetuating. The woman is always seen as the more pious counterpart in any relationship, while the man, everyone knows, is going to carouse about and do bad things, maybe he’ll come around at some point, maybe he won’t.

There are people who even say that there will be more women in heaven because women are more righteous and men are prone to sinning, so there will be more of them in Hell. Seriously? Men and women both have the same capacity for good and for evil. Just because a woman is a woman, doesn’t mean she’s going to end up in Heaven, or in Hell, or wherever. The same goes for a man.

Why couldn’t it have been Gerda who got the piece of glass in her eye? There is really no reason it couldn’t have been.

Gerda goes through Hell and back to get Kay back. She endures so many hardships herself, while Kay is seemingly oblivious to the whole thing, again, this is rather sexist. We always assume the woman is working harder at everything and the man does stupid crap unknowingly. “Oh, he doesn’t understand that he was hurting you or that you didn’t like that.” Bull crap.

This is a fairy tale, but Hans reflected some rather realistic struggles and attitudes between men and women. This story is what society expected to happen. Gerda was the good one. Kay was the one who veered off course. They both learned a valuable lesson as they grew up and both ended up “coming to Jesus.” Gerda was able to win Kay over, eventually, with her pious practices. It took her years, but it happened.

Overall

I’m glad Gerda was able to get Kay back, but Kay could have helped her out a bit.

Weigh In

How realistic is it that the man sits and plays with his toys while the woman moves mountains?

If this whole thing sounds familiar, do you think men are actually clueless or do you think they’ve been conditioned to be clueless?

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