January 6, 2010

My Interactive Reflection Journal

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:44 am by lillianm2013h

For those people out there who are not in my English I class (or those who have not been here before), welcome to my blog!  Stuff that you will find around the site include four types of IRJs, which are basically short, informal writing pieces about one (or more) central ideas.  Feel free to leave comments and constructive (this is very important) criticism, but remember: be honest!

– Stealthy

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March 1, 2010

IRJ Reflection #22

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:37 pm by lillianm2013h

Hanging By Strings: A Fate Worth Buying

When the word “God” or “gods” is mentioned, one often thinks of omniscient, omnipotent beings who play the superior party in relationships with humans.  In the Bible, God’s motivation for creating humans was to have worshippers who would make sacrifices to him and obey his laws.  In the Odyssey, the motifs of giving sacrifices to the gods of Olympus and their control over humans’ lives are also evident.  Both God (found in the Bible) and the gods of Olympus (found in The Odyssey) are temperamental and proud beings, and share one ironic flaw: their imperfection.

If you think about it, these divine beings are more similar to us (that is, humans) than we think.  We are also temperamental, proud, power-hungry, greedy, etc.  But most of all, we like to be in control, and we like to maintain that control for as long as possible.  God kept his creations in check by occasionally punishing them (the 40-day flood), and the gods of Olympus weren’t far off either.

However, sometimes the tables are turned.  Let’s take man’s best friend, for instance.  Although some of us claim to be “cat people” or even “not-really-into-the-whole-animal-thing people”, the majority of us love dogs, and we aren’t afraid to show it.

In the old classics (and even new novels), such as “Where the Red Fern Grows”, we are often faced with the timeless “dog and his master” story.  However, we are seeing more and more celebrities carrying their tiny Chihuahuas in huge purses, and even more disgraced creatures clothed in, well, clothes.  People no longer hesitate before spending thousands of dollars on diamond-studded collars and weekly trips to the “Pooch Beauty Salon” around the corner.  But who knows?  Maybe love and obedience can be bought.

Perhaps this was the philosophy that God was following when he showed Abraham the promised land after Abraham obeyed his orders to follow him.  When Athena persuaded Telemachus to set out and search for Odysseus, she actually went out and got his ship and crew for him, due to the fact that Odysseus was her favorite pet on Earth.

You know, sometimes I feel like I’m just a divine being’s puppet…  Maybe that’s how Rover felt when I told him to fetch the tennis ball, but then again, when he successfully came back with a saliva-soaked green blob, he got a pat on the head and a Milk-Bone.  Sweet.

February 5, 2010

IRJ Reflection #21

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:19 am by lillianm2013h

Counting Your Blessings: Almost a Daily Procedure

*Reflection Idea: the story of Jacob buying Esau’s birthright, from Esau’s point of view

Alright, I admit it.  It was a stupid thing to do.  But I was starving!  Death itself was looking me in the face!  What else was I suppose to do?  I go and get his dinner, and he so graciously repays me by stripping away my pride.  Gee, thanks a lot, brother.

Let those people talk behind my back and call me dull – I don’t care.  Am I not the breadwinner of the family?  The man who provides his mother and father’s meals every night?  Without me, they would be the ones dying!  If you ask me, they should be thanking and worshiping me, not this Lord guy that father seems to be so crazy about.  If he was so great and almighty, wouldn’t he have prevented me from feeling the pangs of hunger that terrible day when Jacob tricked me to selling my birthright to him?

Without me, Jacob would never have been able to make the lame soup in the first place.  In fact, he would be nobody if it weren’t for me!  Who knows?  Maybe if he didn’t pop out holding my ankle, he would never have made it out.  But even if he has my birthright, I’m still father’s favorite, and I always will be.  Nobody can take that away from me.  Nobody! For I am Esau, a proud man of the field, a master at the art of hunting!  Plus I actually look like a man, unlike little Jacob who resembles a pale worm.  That’s all that really counts in the end: appearance.  It certainly works for the ladies, or at least it did for my two wives!  Or are there three?  Four?  Hold on, I’ll be right back…

February 4, 2010

IRJ Reflection #20

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:56 am by lillianm2013h

Hypocrisy: A Way of Life

When the two angels arrive and spend the night at Lot’s house, the men of Sodom surround the house and order Lot to bring his guests out so they can rape them.  Lot comes out and tells them, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly” (Gen. 19.7).

If people were given this story up to this point, many would agree that Lot’s reaction is commendable, ethical, and, well, just plain good.  How can anyone go wrong with speaking out against male homosexual rape?  Oh, look!  He even gets rewarded for it: the Lord spares his life while the rest of Sodom and Gomorrah is demolished and turned into pillars of salt.  Do you hear that, children?  You do something good, and you are rewarded for it.  What a concept.

However, Lot goes on to offer his two virgin daughters for the men to violate instead of the two strange angels he had just met hours before.  The idea of giving up his only daughters to the dangerous and violent men should be agonizing for Lot, even unthinkable.

On the other hand, Lot’s decision is not entirely his fault.  His choice is partly controlled by society, which dictates that personal sacrifices are necessary for humanity to benefit as a whole.  Of course, humanity in this case is, ironically, the two angels of the Lord.  Not to mention that the Lord Himself is up there watching Lot and judging his every move: one false step, and he dies.  Literally.

It’s also strange that in order to save his family, Lot must place them in jeopardy so he can gain favor with God, who will hopefully return the favor.  Once, of course, you kill a ram or two (which He so generously supplies in 22.13) so He can smell the pleasing aroma of burning flesh.

January 29, 2010

IRJ Reflection #19

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:22 am by lillianm2013h

To Kill or Not to Kill: One Story Too High

When God created humankind, He blessed them and told them to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1.28).  After He ordered Noah to build an ark to preserve his family and a pair of every living thing from the flood, Noah’s descendents populate Asia Minor and surrounding areas, eventually deciding to come together in one city.  God decides that humanity is becoming too powerful and strips away their one weapon, common language, and curses them with confusing speech and disperses them around the world.

The story of Babel brings up a prominent theme found in The Bible: the struggle between human and divine control.  It began when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, which forced God to banish them from Eden to prevent them from eating the fruit of the tree of life as well.

Similarly, when the humans wished to build a tower up to the heavens in Babel, their main motivation was to become like God: wise and powerful.  The humans’ greed from their new-found unity scares God, who must preserve the delicate balance of his own authority/dominance without breaking His covenant with His creation.

On the other hand, humanity naturally finds safety in numbers, which is evidenced by their fear of being separated and alone.  Humans also tend to stretch their limits and can only be stopped through punishment, proven by God’s decision to flood the earth and to confuse their language.

This, of course, is thoroughly applicable to humans’ behavior today.  When a toddler is refused a toy and resorts to thievery, will he most likely stop out of a guilty conscience, or will he discontinue upon being caught red-handed by his mother?  It is only natural to scope out our limits and boundaries, even if it means suffering the consequences the first or even second time around.

January 28, 2010

IRJ Reflection #18

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:33 am by lillianm2013h

Walking on Eggshells: Don’t Lose Your Shoes

When most people talk about “Wicked”, they are usually referring to the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical.  Some do not even realize that it is loosely based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, a parallel book to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz written from the witches’ points of view.

The novel delves deeper into controversial subjects than the musical does, including the shockingly fine line between good and evil.  Elphaba, supposedly the Wicked Witch of the West, is born with unnaturally green skin and faces discrimination from society and her own family since birth.  Her appearance, along with her razor sharp teeth, brand Elphaba as an alien-like child, and later on in the story, as wicked.  However, Elphaba is actually one of the more ethical characters in the novel.

While attending Shiz University, she becomes a major activist for Animal rights, never holding back her outspoken personality to stand up for what she believes in.  It is also interesting to note that Elphaba is a staunch atheist and does not believe that she has a soul, although she refuses to comment on other people’s souls, or the lack of them.  Eventually, Elphaba is only seen as wicked by the corrupt government (run by the ironically powerless Wonderful Wizard), which she protests against.

On the other hand, the idea of appearance vs. reality can be applied in the opposite way: seemingly good people aren’t necessarily good.  The most obvious example is the Wizard, who appears to be the all-knowing, wise ruler of Oz, but he is actually the idea behind prosecuting Animals.  Similarly, Glinda (supposedly the Good Witch of the North) seems to be involved in Elphaba’s mission to overthrow the Wizard, but as she grows up, it is revealed that Glinda actually works for him.  She marries for power and money and turns into a social ladder-climber, much to Elphaba’s dismay.

This novel does not only provide a “prequel” to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: it also allows readers to interpret the characters individually and explore the dichotomy of good and evil themselves.

November 24, 2009

IRJ-QR #17

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:19 am by lillianm2013h

Right vs. Right; A Teetering Balance

When Lyra tells Iorek Byrnison that his armor is hidden in the priest’s house he responds, “’I must work till sunset. I still owe a few minutes’ work.’” However, Lyra points out, “’The sun’s set where I am’” (Pullman 197).

When Farder Coram asks Iorek to join their expedition to rescue the kidnapped children at Bolvangar, Iorek responds that his price will be his armor. Lyra uses the alethiometer to figure out where his armor is being kept and gives this information to Iorek in exchange for his services. He admits that he has promised to work until sunset, but Lyra realizes that from her height, the sun has already disappeared. This alternative point of view allows Iorek more time to retrieve his armor before the gyptians depart for Bolvangar.

This situation is similar to one in Salman Rushdie’s novel, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, where Haroun meets the Plentimaw Fish. He comments that the Fish are quite chatty, but Iff tells him that because of the pollution, the Plentimaws are actually talk much more in normal conditions. In fact, he compares the Plentimaw’s  conversation to “silence.” This is an example of how the sharing of ideas allows advancement of the human race. However, it must be used in caution. Different perspectives can also lead to conflicts and disagreements, such as when Lyra and Lord Asriel argue just before he leaves for the North again. Lyra tells him that she wants to accompany him to the North, but Lord Asriel disagrees, say that her place is at the college. Their clashing opinions ruin their already struggling relationship, bringing it to a level beyond repair.

Proposition: Different ideas and perspectives can prove to be advantageous in most cases, but their application should be used with discretion.

November 12, 2009

IRJ-CP #16

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:33 am by lillianm2013h

The Snaresbrook Letters; A Reprimand from Nanna

My dear Krista,

It’s hard to believe that this is my little girl who is writing these passionate letters to me from the other side of the globe. I know that this is not exactly what you want to hear from me right now, but I can tell that this is not the same Krista who left home three months ago.  I cannot wait to see you again and to learn all about your adventures. But first, there are some serious issues we need to address. First off, you mustn’t talk about your father with such contempt. He is a respectable man, who is spending good money to send you to boarding school in London. He only wants the best for you, and hopefully someday you will learn to appreciate his actions. What you have to realize, Krista, is that literally thousands of children would love to be in your place. What would your mother say if she were still alive and could see your letters? She would be disappointed with you. Very disappointed, I tell you. If you cannot behave for your own sake, do it at least for her’s. I do not want to hear any more of these nonsensical pranks of yours, nor anymore complaints about your school, which happens to be one of the most prestigious in the country! You have great potential and you mean well, Krista, but you just don’t know how to handle your situation.  Well, enough lecturing for now. Remember that no matter what, I love you, and always will, with all my heart.

A hug and kiss,

Nanna

November 10, 2009

IRJ-OP #15

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:44 am by lillianm2013h

Façades and Deception; A World of Lies

In the movie Liar Liar, Jim Carrey portrays a smooth-talking lawyer who has built his career on a foundation of lies.  His son, Max Reede makes the following wish on his sixth birthday, “I wish, for just one day, that Daddy couldn’t tell a lie.”

Plot Summary: synopsis of Liar Liar

The Alethiometer: a description of the device

People lie all the time without realizing it. But it’s not really our fault.  After all, psychiatrists claim that lying is part of human nature. Most of the time, these are “white lies”, or harmless lies.  For example, if a woman is pregnant and asks her husband if he thinks she looks “fat”, a considerate man would reply, “No, of course not.” These white lies are more common than people may realize.  When a person passes by and compliments your hair, how are we supposed to know whether they mean their comment sincerely, or are only speaking out of jealousy or sarcasm?

Many would wish to be equipped with an alethiometer, a truth-telling device from Phillip Pullman’s novel The Golden Compass. By using three hands to ask a question, the alethiometer answers the question by pointing to three other symbols. Such a tool would be handy in every-day life, revealing people’s true motivations and feelings. This would be especially helpful to high-schoolers, many of whom sub-consciously put up a constant façade at school, around their friends. It would be interesting if everyone had a Max Reede in their life, to wish for just a single day of truthfulness.

Proposition: If humanity were to experience just one day free of deception in any form, perhaps we would be able to observe completely different, even shocking, aspects of human nature that would not been brought under the spotlight otherwise.

Liar Liar. Tom Shadyac. Imagine Entertainment, 1997. Film.

November 3, 2009

IRJ-CP #14

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:38 am by lillianm2013h

The Snaresbrook Letters; Mistress Swindlehorn

Dearest Nanna,

I am growing to hate Snaresbrook more and more each passing day. I try to change my feelings and pacify this raging fire within myself, but they remain obstinate. I just don’t know how I am going to survive until the end of term.  Perhaps the worst part of this prison is Mistress Swindlehorn’s arithmetic class. Quite a name she’s got, don’t you think? Her lectures practically put me to sleep; her voice is so soporific I think that she should be teaching us the art of hypnosis, not useless numbers that don’t make sense anyways. We are learning such rudiments I feel that I am sitting in my first grade classroom again. Maybe it is her unbearable disorganization and desultoriness that makes her class the most dreaded part of my day, or perhaps my beloved school back in L.A. has prepared me well for my deplorable situation. I couldn’t care less which way it was. All I can think of is Christmas break, when I can finally return home for the first time in four months. In the mean time, I manage to amuse myself by playing small pranks and larks on Mistress Swindlehorn by mussing her desk up during break, and even placing tacks on her seat cushion. I know you would not approve of such foolishness, but it’s the only way to keep myself from becoming completely torpid and practically a vegetable. Well, you should be glad that I am not as terrible as that witch Alexia Walper. But that is another letter. 

Write back soon,

Krysta

P.S. – Please tell Papa that I have not forgiven him, and that I refuse to see him during my visit in December.

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