Enchantress from the stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl

 

Enchanted by a story

A world a bit more advanced than our own earth has just discovered a planet that can be inhabited by humans. So they have traveled to it to set up a colony. The thing is that there are already people living on this planet, and their way of life is like that of Medieval Europe. The colonizers view these inhabitants as very, very inferior beings, not even human in fact. Now before you think you know where this story is going, just hang on a minute. The inhabitants , on the other hand, think that one of the colonizers’ machines is a dangerous dragon.

Has anyone ever read those European fairy tales about some man saving a kingdom or princess from some dragon, witch, curse, tower, etc? If you do, then keep them in mind.

Now in a galaxy somewhere in space, a Federation of really advanced ‘humans’ have found out that this planet is about to be colonized. The job of this Federation is to prevent colonization from happening in space. However, there’s a catch: they cannot reveal their identity to anyone. They cannot let this colonizing planet find out that there are actually other planets with people much more advanced than they are, and they cannot reveal their real identity to the medieval planet.  This is where the story starts.

What is so cool about this book is that three different civilizations are brilliantly and believable brought together to tell a good story. It also gives us a plausible and different take on all those European fairy tales. Interestingly,  in an interview found here:http://www.sylviaengdahl.com/elana.htm, the author she says that this story shouldn’t be seen as an allegory to world history because all humans on this planet are the same species, none is more ‘advanced’ than the other.

Enchantress from the stars was Ms. Engdahl ‘s debut novel. It won many awards, and I say that it deserved them. It also has a sequel, The far side of evil ( which I haven’t yet read).

The heart is deceitful above all things

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

Sometime ago, I went to a shop to buy something, and they didn’t have change, so I couldn’t buy what I wanted. This irritated me because this had happened frequently in the past (in this country I’m living in). It was so annoying.  I mean these shop owners lose money by turning people away because they’re too lazy to go to the bank and get change was my thought.

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The attendant who told me there was no change is like 14 years old. The shop is owned by her aunt, who wasn’t there at the moment. She apologized as I huffed and muttered to myself before I turned and  walked away to find some change. By the time I came back to the shop with the exact amount of money that was needed, I was no longer huffing or muttering. I was calm, and I said in a gentle voice to the young attendant, “if you don’t have change, you should go to the bank and get some change. You know.. you’re losing business this way”

“I’m very sorry”, she replied, “please don’t be angry”

“I’m not angry, really”, I answered calmly, “just think about it”.

I walked away happy that I had passed on my point in a calm and gentle manner.

angFunny thing is that a few days later, someone said something very unfair to me and in a similar way (calmly and gently). All  I could think of was how unjust and manipulative that person’s words were, and I was quite angry at this person. It took me some time to  remember that I had done something similar just a few days ago.

 I now looked at my behavior towards that shop attendant honestly. Why did I give her my “gentle advice”? Because I was irritated by the lack of change in shops (remember I was huffing and muttering at first). My desire to give “gentle advice” stemmed from this irritation. Even more unfair was what I said to the particular person I said it to. I instinctively chose this 14 year old as the sounding board for my irritation because she was young, I could ‘give her advice’ , also her aunt wasn’t there; and her aunt is older than me and could tell me off. How unfair is it to tell a 14 year old girl, who has probably never been to the bank, who could probably never leave the shop to go to the bank, and who could probably never tell her aunt (owner and in charge of the shop) ‘my gentle and calm demeanor advice’? Very unfair. I saw that I used the power that was in my age and in the situation to bully, yes bully, a younger person.  People are not going to have or be what I expect them to have or be. I don’t control them;  what good does my anger? None.

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So you ask, what does this have to do with books? A lot.  The way I behaved shows our very discreet human flaws, the lies we convince ourselves of (“I’m not angry”, yeah right), and how sometimes what we do unto others is not what we would want done unto us.

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Good character stories are able to pick out these subtle flaws in the characters, they don’t shy away from them, especially in their protagonists. They also don’t make light of them, that is to say they don’t justify them even if the characters don’t improve. (Note : I said good character stories, not all stories are about showing human characteristics)

Jesus Christ, Harry Potter and the Hunger Games

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I have a feeling that people are wondering at my title. What does Jesus, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games have to do with each other? The reason I put them together is because  all these stories deal with  one particular spiritual law.

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There are physical laws like gravity, whatever goes up must come down. There are also spiritual laws like, whatever you sow, you will reap. For example,  you treat people badly, expect to be treated badly. You gossip about people, expect people to gossip about you. Another example is don’t repay good with evil. Spiritual laws are just laws that have to do with things that can’t be seen directly, but happen as a result of people’s actions. I want to talk about a spiritual law that was broken in the Hunger Games by the killing of Katniss Everdeen’s sister, Primrose Everdeen a.k.a Prim. If you’ve read the books and know something about spiritual laws, then I want you to guess what law I’m talking about.

What is this spiritual law? The ultimate example of it is found in Jesus Christ. If you’re not familiar with what happened over 2000 years ago, Jhere is a short summary: Jesus Christ, who is God, was crucified by the Romans, under the directive of the religious leaders of that day. The thing is, according to the Bible, that was exactly what God wanted, He wanted Jesus, His Son, to die. You see all humanity has to go to Hell, to pay for any sin they have committed. Going hell is considered spiritual death. Yet because God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell (but He can’t interfere with people’s choices), He sent Jesus to die for humanity, every single human being.

A book in the Bible, John 3:16 says: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

So instead of you and I dying, Jesus took our place. He died for us. If we accept this sacrifice, we won’t go to Hell when we die, we go instead to heaven.

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In Harry Potter, this same spiritual law is applied. Voldemort, the main antagonist, went to Godric’s Hollow. He entered James and Lilly Potter’s house. First he killed James,  then  he went upstairs, saw Lily by Harry’s crib, and tells Lily to step aside cause he’s gonna kill Harry (yeah, like what mother is gonna step aside for her child to be murdered!). Lily refuses and says that Voldemort should kill her instead. Voldemort, instead of stupefying Lily (that is to make her unconscious with his wand), decides to kill her. Maybe he thought that if she had another child, he/she may come back and kill him in revenge. Then again, maybe not. I mean the guy just loved killing people. vold

Lily is now dead, and  Voldemort goes to complete the job he really came to do, the real threat to him. He looks at Harry who is also looking at him, he points his wand towards Harry, and he says the killing curse. Only something unexpected happens. The curse bounces off Harry and kills Voldemort instead. Nobody had ever survived the killing curse, and nobody had ever escaped when Voldemort decided to kill them. So why did Harry survive? He survived because his mother gave her life for him. She refused to step aside for Voldemort to kill Harry, and she told him to kill her instead. Her blood made Harry untouchable; he could not be killed.

Now in the Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist, volunteers to take the place of her younger sister, Prim, in the Hunger Games. (The Hunger Games was a mandatory competition where people were chosen through a  ballot box to fight other people to the death until there was only one person remaining alive.) Prim’s name was picked, and Katniss volunteers to go and fight in the place of her sister. Let’s now fast forward to the third and final book where Primrose is killed.

Can you now guess what law was broken in the Hunger Games?

Prim could not be killed. Katniss had taken her place. Prim’s life was protected according to a spiritual law.

So why did she die? This is my opinion: I think that the author wanted a way to get rid of Gale, one of Katniss’ potential love interest. Prim was killed in an attack method that  was similar to one that had been designed by Gale. And Gale tells Katniss that she would always be wondering whether it was because of what he designed that her beloved sister was killed. Katniss doesn’t deny this.

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I felt sorry for Gale, and I don’t think that the author should have gotten rid of him like that. (I also wonder whether my sympathy for him stems partially from the fact that he was tall and handsome). That aside, the thing is that the author didn’t need to get rid of Gale by killing Prim. Gale was a great guy, but I agree that he wasn’t the best guy for Katniss. Nevertheless, he didn’t deserve that sort of exit. Gale was smart, he knew Katniss, and he knew what she needed. He probably could have figured out that Katniss and him were too similar in personality to be compatible.

What could have happened was for Prim to almost get killed in the bomb blast, but be saved by Gale . In doing so, Gale could have come to the realization that he needed to deal with his anger, and that Katniss was not the woman that could help him in that area. That would have been a better ending. And the sad thing is that Gale was smart like that. He could have come to that realization. I also felt like that author was also giving some subtle unfair hints about Gale by saying that he went on to live in district 2, the district that had been buddy, buddy with the evil Capitol.capitol

This is the reason why I do not like the Hunger Games.

Unraveling the consequences of giving up who you are

Unraveling the consequences of giving up who you are

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The unraveling of my emotions

When I was younger, I had a very good image of myself, and it showed. Unfortunately I came into prolonged contact with people who had a very negative view of me. They fearlessly showed me with their words and actions what their image of me was.  Regrettably, I chose to accept their image of me. As a result, I became best buddies with low self esteem. I learned to fear rejection, to expect it because people really didn’t see me as worth much. Eventually, I had to relearn to see myself as I am: a child of God, priceless, and beautiful. Yet this new and positive image I have of myself is not yet a natural image. What I mean is that it doesn’t come to me unconsciously, I have to deliberately (making a conscious effort) paint it in my mind.

Interestingly, I read a book this last year called Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris, and I didn’t really like its female teenage protagonist Janelle. At first I felt that my dislike for her was because she was overconfident and cocky, but I later on saw that what I perceived as cockiness was really a lack of fear of rejection. The way Janelle behaved showed she didn’t even consider that rejection might be a possibility. That was what really bothered me; she didn’t even consider rejection.

When I was her age, I could never have been that confident, never! I would never have done the things she did because I would have considered rejection, and I probably would have been rejected. Janelle was unconsciously confident, whereas I have to make a conscious effort to be confident. In the end, I saw that it was for this reason that I didn’t like her.

What is interesting is that it took reading a book  entitled Unraveling to unravel this aspect of my emotions.

Has any book ever made you realize something about yourself or somebody else?