An Anti-Feminist’s Rant on the film “The Devil Wears Prada”

“The Devil Wears Prada” used to be one of my favorite comedy films, because I love fashion as an art form, and most importantly, I love the characters. The actors were just all really really likeable. Meryl Streep should’ve won best actress over Helen Mirren for this role, honestly. Her portrayal was SO GOOD and realistic that she reminded me of several people I know in real life in how they act in business and their approach to be assertive (e.g. speak in a calm, lower tone with that aristocratic flare). On top of that, something about living in a glamorous city with friends just hits my soft spots.

Recently I saw the film again, but ever since I became an anti-feminist and got red-pilled by the HoneyBaders on men’s rights issues, I saw the film with new eyes. I read a lot of other people’s problems with the film, mostly complaining about the characters (especially le boyfriend), and how they have a problem with the film portraying career women as “selling out their souls.” For example, Greta Christina, a notable feminist, has written a piece on it.

Well, if you want to read a critic of the film that you probably will not hear about very often at all, read on. But if you are somebody who wants to live in a fantasy film bubble and are scared about reality cynicism. You can stop right here.

Here are the problems I, as an anti-feminist have with the film:

  1. Andrea “Andy” Sachs would’ve never gotten that job to begin with. There was just too many things wrong with how Andy could’ve gotten that job.
    • First of all, this is quite a high level position. You are literally being one of the assistants to an Editor-in-Chief in a multi-billion dollar industry, you think you could just get an interview for such a position without having ANY experience in the field whatsoever? The answer is a big NO. Andy is somebody who is fresh out of college. The most she would be able to get is an internship, of which experience would be pretty much REQUIRED in order to apply for anything CLOSE to the position that she interviewed. We are told that she came out of a prestigious university and she has won national awards for her college journalism. Sorry, it doesn’t matter. The position she applied is an assistant position, not anything to do with your writing skills, just your organization skills and also how good of a memory you have. So they wouldn’t even take her resume into any kind of consideration and certainly wouldn’t have considered her resume to be “impressive” by any means. An “impressive resume” in this case would be if she has worked years in a similar position in another prestigious company that Runway would know about, and getting a really good letter of recommendation from there. The most Andy would get is some kind of writing or editing internship.
    • Second of all, we are told that the reason why she got that job was because Miranda Priesley wanted to “take a chance” because the girls who are suitable for the job all ended up disappointing her in their incompetence and stupidity. As we later found out that what the job really required is, like I said, somebody with extremely good memory and organization skills, this is really just one of those stereotypes regarding girls who like fashion. I’m sorry, I don’t care how “stupid” those fashion girls are, the chances that you will find somebody who is a fashion geek and has just as good of memory and organization skills as Andy, is quite high. In fact, women are by nature quite good at tasks that require organization. You are telling me that you have to resort to book smart to find such a woman? Please gimme a break. From what I’ve seen it’s the opposite: the more interest into girly stuff like fashion a woman is, the BETTER she is at tasks that require organization. So this explanation just doesn’t fly, sorry.
    • Last but not least, as somebody who enjoys fashion very much, I have a personal pet peeve against how the movie makes the extreme cases: you either spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on fashion, or you dress in lumpy sweaters and grandmother skirts. I spend a lot of money on clothes but each clothing item is on average 30 dollars. That’s right, $30, not hundreds (although there are a couple of exceptions when I indulge myself in holidays/vacations or my birthday, but 230 on a single item is my limit, and they are probably less than 1% of all my fashion items, including bags, shoes, and jewelry). I spend 30 dollars on average and I dress extremely well (I’ve been told that I’m the best-dressed person in the institution where I work). My secret? Buy things when they are on super-sale, and if you want luxury items, buy used/vintage. It’s really not that hard when it comes to dressing well. You just have to be thoughtful. Andy doesn’t have to be as fashionable as even me, she can spend 20-30 dollars to turn up to work and interviews dressing DECENTLY. What she was wearing is highly inappropriate in any job interview from a big company like Runway. She doesn’t have to show up as a “glamazon” but she can show up dressed all in black or navy blue or gray. She doesn’t have to wear Jimmy Choo there are plenty of shoes that are far more appropriate for the interview. Her hair was horrendous and no, she doesn’t have to have her hair done, just tie it in a pony-tail would make her look far more professional. The way that she dressed alone would’ve have her turned down. Believe it or not companies do judge you on how you dress.
  2. The film tries to suggest that Andy got a very difficult job in which she gets paid piss poor. There was a scene in the movie where her father has to help her with her rent and complained to her about how her pay is terrible. Once again, this is just another (often feminist) stereotype that the work women do are just as hard as the jobs men do, yet they get paid far worse than men. Sorry, but this is a myth. Andy landed with a job which is being a personal assistant to the editor-in-chief of a prestigious company, and she has to work almost all the time. In reality she would’ve been paid EXTREMELY well for that position. That’s just capitalism. The film seems to suggest that even though the job gets paid little, but because it’s fashion, a million girls would kill for it. This is simply bullshit. It doesn’t matter what type of work it is, stress is stress is stress. People’s motivation would be lost very fast doesn’t matter how much they enjoy the job, if the job is THIS stressful and they are not well-compensated. The company’s reputation would also be on the line if they hire people and make them work like a slave, especially a position as VITAL as Andy’s job. So Andy would’ve been well-compensated for her work. Not only so, but this is pretty much SHOWN in the film where she started to dress in clothes that would cost up to thousands a piece. How is she able to afford all those clothes? Oh the company provides for them? So they are willing to provide her thousands of dollars worth of clothing but pay her shitty? Common gimme a break. And this leads me to say:
  3. The film wants to hint how the society, especially men, finds “career women” those who sell out their souls. The movie wants us to sympathize with Andy, that she has become a career woman but her boyfriend just can’t sympathize with it very much but is still right that she shouldn’t do it. There are several things about this that the film (and also feminists) doesn’t want you to think about.
    • We are told that Andy lives with her boyfriend Nate in their shared apartment. We are also told that Nate has a job but at the start of the film Andy is still searching for a job. This means that she was already living in the apartment (in SOHO New York no less) with Nate BEFORE she found a job herself. So how is she able to afford such a living temporarily with no income of her own? The reasonable deduction would be that Nate was their temporary financial provider until she pays her share. So Nate essentially has to pay for the expensive apartment, as well as the food for the both of them. If you have ever been a sole financial provider for two people or more, you should know how stressful that is.
    • But, as I’ve mentioned above, Andy’s job would’ve been paid very well. In fact, her position should in all reason be paid waaayyy more than Nate’s job as some kind of catering assistant to a chief in some (let’s just assume) upper-class restaurant. So, unless Andy does not in fact contribute her share of the income to their household, Nate should immediately recognize how his burden has greatly lifted in terms of the financial situation, especially if Andy contributes more with her much higher income. But in the film Nate doesn’t seem to want Andy to go through with the job. What this basically is saying is that Nate is somehow okay with taking up so much burden of their financial situation. Well then, he’s either stupid or it’s just the patriarchy.
    • But still, it’s possible that Nate just doesn’t think it’s worth it, or he thinks that Andy could get a much better job (most likely with lower pay) and spend more time with him as he cares about that more. But if that were the case, if Nate has at least 10% of the brain, he wouldn’t have broke up with Andy over such petty issues as her going to Paris which ends up stepping on Emily. We are supposed to believe from the movie that Nate is a wise guy. Wise men would not do such a thing, because you know why? They KNOW how shitty it is for them to take on so much burdens of being the financial provider and they KNOW how rare it is for a woman to willingly fill their shoes. That’s the reality folks. If you feel sympathy to Andy with how hard she has to work, have some sympathy to men, to your husbands who probably are in similar positions. Think about Andy the next time you whine to your husband or your boyfriend about how he always works and never has any time for you. He does that to bring food on the table and to provide for you that glamorous life. You might protest that this doesn’t describe you, that’s fine, but you would be the exception and not the rule. Statistics proved so.
  4. The film shove the all too-familiar feminist line of: “if she were a man, no one would say anything except how great he is at his job.” No sorry. In reality, people would say something on the lines of: “yeah another dickhead/jerk/sleezeball, what a surprise.” The irony is, it’s true that if you are a dragon-lady, instead of just a “dragon,” you would have more headlines. Why? because you are the abnormal, the unusual, which would sell more papers. On the other hand, our culture has ACCEPTED the archetype of the “evil CEO” male type. We have accepted that this is just the norm: men who are in those positions have huge egos (Nigel in the film even says that about their chairman: “you know what they say, small man, HUGE ego”, showing that it’s a commonly well-understood idiom), and that that is the NORM. In the film that’s what it showed too. Both Nigel and Christian Thompson, two very successful men, are jerks with huge egos. So which is worse? Accepting that it’s normal that a rich man would just be jerks, so much so that no one will find your paper interesting if you make that as a headline, or a woman’s name is all over the headline because she does a man’s job and has those stereotypical male traits? Well, you decide.

Lucifer– My short story part 1

It’s finally here!!!! My awesom-o short story with its part 1 (at least two more parts to go!!!). But I feel such accomplishment! Never actually finished anything before in my life when it comes to writing a story, even a third-finished piece 😛 😛

Some background: This is my re-telling of the (I don’t want to say biblical since it’s really not) Christian mythology surrounding the origin of Lucifer/Satan. Many of the details are inspired from many sources, both biblical and other fantasy romantic writers, as well as some movies and TV-series that I’ve watched.

Most of all, what inspired me is the beauty of our natural universe, as “Lucifer” in my story is really a metaphor for both the universe’s splendor and mankind’s fantastical quest for its discovery.

And above all, Love.

Enjoy! Leave comments or questions!

Oh, there are probably some grammar mistakes and such. It’s not a final final finished piece obviously. Will be updated periodically as I read through it over and over again. Writing is fucking hard!!!! But still, I’m satisfied at this first draft. That’s the most important thing! 🙂

Enjoy!!!

Lucifer Part 1: The Ascension

In the beginning, or one should say, the known beginning, beyond the physical realm was a spiritual realm, where the Great Spirits battled each other for power and balance. One of these Great Spirits, who thirsted for dominance of the entire spiritual realm, looked down into the physical realm for aid. It discovered a blue planet called earth with a race of mortal species called humans, whose souls are strong and their numbers plenty. So the Great Spirit reached down to earth. As It touched the earthly ground, a pathway was created between the spiritual realm and the physical realm, which enabled the human soul, when left the deceased mortal body, to not dissipate into space but fly directly unto the Great Spirit to be consumed by It. One by one accumulating human souls consumed by the Spirit, It grew stronger, until Its strength was so great that this One Great Spirit was able to defeat all other Great Spirits, and achieved ultimate dominance over all others. From then on, peace and balance came into the spiritual realm. However, in order to stay in power and to maintain the balance, the Great Spirit must continue to consume human souls to ensure It stayed strong. But the human souls, by nature curious and rebellious, though believing the Great Spirit to be their God and Maker of All Things, began to resist and question their fate. They came before the Great Spirit and asked in supplication:

“O Great and Powerful God, what have we done to deserve being devoured as so? Have we not made sacrifices to please thee when we lived? We looked to thee for many questions and desires but were made to come into thy Great Mouth unanswered and unsatisfied.”

The Great Spirit was then troubled. It had only thought of the human souls as fuel and did not think of their desires and feelings, so It looked down to them and said:

“If you were not consumed by me your souls would unconsciously dissipate into the physical space. What difference does it make that your demise is now but delayed?”

The humans answered:

“Thou art our God and we have sought knowledge and desires through thee for our entire lives. And now, the knowledge of thee has made us uneasy.”

The Great Spirit thought for a moment, then asked:

“What knowledge and desires might you seek in this existence?”

The humans answered:

“We thought that we would be coming into a better place, full of beauty and wonder and happiness. But instead, there is nothing here but empty space, and Thy Great Mouth, waiting for us. What then is the purpose of our earthly existence? Why implant us with those yearnings if we are really nothing but food for Thy Great Stomach?”

The Great Spirit then began to feel pity towards the humans, for consuming human souls has made It empathic towards who once lived. So It searched through the memories of the souls It consumed and stretched Its Great Body, sprouting forth Paradise and creating all the wonder and beauty as dreamed and prayed by the humans.

The human souls bowed down and thanked The Great Spirit whom they called their Lord God. And The Great Spirit was surprised to see that this new found heaven, although it may take time, has strengthened many human souls. Not only so, the humans now flew to the Great Mouth according to their own free will once they perceived that they had spent a long enough time and have achieved a state of ultimate peace, in which they have completely reconciled with death and no longer desired heavily pleasure. The strongest of these souls, The Great Spirit discovered, were the ones who achieved peace through a powerful human emotion called “love.” The more the Great Spirit consumed these souls, the more human love becomes It, until love is all that It desired towards the humans. From then on, The Great Spirit became not only the Maker of the wondrous heavenly kingdom, he became the Maker and Keeper of human love.

So through love, the Maker wishes to replenish his heaven with it, for so great was the beauty It sees in love, It began to create only through the inspiration of human love and nothing else. And humans loved many things. They loved the beauty of mountains and rivers, and waterfalls, so the Maker created the tallest mountains and longest rivers, with waterfalls more majestic than all the earthly waterfalls ever existed. Humans loved the sun and starry skies, so the Makers made long shiny days and short but bright starry nights. But perhaps most of all humans loved the company of other beautiful men and women. They sought, through their imagination, to perfect any flaws in themselves. Most looked up in heaven and were envious of creatures of flight, and yearned to soar above the skies, high and free. The Maker, in Its wisdom, knew that the nature of human souls must not be meddled with, but It also saw that many souls came unto It in torment and pain, and It greatly wished to alleviate them. So It created angels in the image of man—beautiful and perfected men and women creatures with great feathered wings. The Maker replenished the heaven with these beautiful creatures, to care for the company of men, heal those souls who left their mortal body in misfortune, and guide those who lost their way back to the path of humanity.

But as the Maker become more and more acquainted with the desires of humans, so It also saw the dark and terrible side. The side of hatred and cruelty that brought forth sadistic tendencies. So the Maker realized that as much happiness has brought forth by love, so sadness and pain was brought forth from its counterpart. So the Maker made the heaven into many levels like a great tower of spheres, with Its Great Eye, Mouth, and Center at the very top, engulfed in a luminous sphere like the brightest sun. Souls that came to be near the Center were the noblest souls. Souls belonged to those mortals who have lived only in service of others. These souls would go to great extremes to gamble and sacrifice little that they had for those they had loved, desiring only to be loved in return. The lowest level contained souls that were meant to be farthest away from the Maker. For those souls came from the most despicable of human beings who can only find pleasure at the expense of others, and who craved nothing else but power. Each level contained many spheres. Noble souls are rewarded with their own sphere. The noblest of them all may even share their spheres with whom they chose. Whereas the wicked souls all resided within one sphere and must learn to tolerate the presence of each other. The Maker saw that all was pleasing in Its Eye. And as in accordance to the ways of the humans, the Maker declared Itself the Father of His creation. He replenished heaven with great hosts of angels and granted them the language of His preference. So it was said that in the beginning of heaven there was music, and music was with God. So the angels, of whom most were created as the perfect embodiment of innocence and purity, knew not human words, but sang the language of Angelsong: clear, delicate, and transparent. Their born gift was music and musical instruments were their great natural talent.

The very first angels that the Maker created were numbered eight. They were known as the Archangels. For these angels would become chieftains of all angels, each assigned to oversee at least one Level of heaven. The other angels were either the Hosts or the Heralds. The Herald angels were messenger angels, who carried and distributed commands and messages throughout heaven. The Host angels were the heavenly hosts that replenished heaven. They are the most pure and innocent of all heavenly creatures. They knew no human words nor humanly knowledge, music was their only language, beauty and happiness their only existence.

The Archangels, being the first creation, were privileged to choose their own appearances and gender in accordance to their inner-self. They were also gifted with not only the language of heaven, but human speech as well. As they alone could naturally speak to the souls in whichever human tongue. They were each to be bestowed a name by the Maker that a human tongue could pronounce on the Day of Naming. Through human language, the Archangels share the burden of knowledge, which, as powerful as they were, made them lose much of the innocence as ingrained in other angels.

One Archangel that stood out above all others was a golden angel, as beautiful as dawn, incandescent as the mid-day sun. His hair was the color of sunlight. His dazzlingly golden eyes glowed like fire. His enormous wings were that of the highest soaring eagle. He clad himself in military armor of an imperator, as emperors from an ancient vast empire once had. Everything about this angel reflected a kind of a golden glory that can only be described as an icon to be worshipped. So it was no surprise that when the Day of Naming came, he was bestowed the name Michael–one who is like God.

Michael grew to be a great Prince among the angels. He never doubted that his beauty and perfection can only be a reflection from the will of God: a mark and reminder of the gift for absolute faith. He understood only duty and obedience. Duty gave him meaning and purpose, while obedience gave him humility and peace. Michael saw his duty as one to glorify God by leading souls to the quickest route to Ascension, where God will strengthen from the human souls and in turn keep heaven as the ultimate paradise for all its inhabitants.

Michael’s two closest companions were Raphael and Gabriel. Raphael, as his namesake suggested, “God who heals,” was a great healer and had a fondness for green things. And so he was built like an aged tree. He chose the appearance and body of a late middle-aged man rather than a flowering youth that most other Archangels chose. His large wings were of a glossy forest green, like a hummingbird, extending out of his bronze skin and ebony-wood colored hair. Raphael was mild and meek, patient with his charges, and, in learning from his crafts, was patient and submissive to Michael, whom he saw as his superior. Gabriel, who bore the namesake “God is my strength,” was the only Archangels who chose the body of a woman. And she was exquisite: virginal and yet strong-willed, curious but virtuous. Her owl-like wings extending out of a pearl-white body with long sleek and silky brown hair with a hint of caramel tone that fell to her waist; tall and feminine. Her face was gentle like a mother’s, perfected with two eyes of amber, kind and understanding. Gabriel was the favorite of Michael, who saw her as the crown jewel of all the angels. For to look upon her is to fall for her in great passion and desire.

But Gabriel, being unusually curious by nature, was drawn to another Archangel. A nameless Archangel, who had missed the Day of Naming, preferring to be elsewhere at the time. And so he was not understood by many. His giant wings were as black as a Raven’s, and his hair as dark as the night sky. But in this shadowy figure hid a terrible beauty that few could bear to look upon it. So terrible that it rivaled that of even the great Archangel Michael, who, more than anyone in heaven, was baffled, as one often would when contemplating an incomprehensible superiority. On his silvery moon-pale face rested two eyes of blue as clear as the cloudless sky, and as deep as the open sea. As if in alignment with his semblance, more than anything this nameless, dark angel was drawn to the contrasting dark and bright physical realm below. While the angels sang chorus of adoration to their Creator, filling the entire heaven with their celestial songs: layered, precise, and mathematical, this solitary Archangel would spend his days with his head in the mysterious universe, pondering the boundless prospects of creation. He would sit at the edge of heaven and watch the great stars explode into supernovae, forming new stars, and henceforth constellations, galaxies, solar systems, planets, and elements. In heaven, being out of physical time and place, one could watch the physical world from its very beginning, all the way to its present, in whatever speed capacity one preferred. So this dark Archangel watched lone stars being born, sending their light all the way across the universe, even when they had burned out and their rays had all but extinguished. He saw the beginning of life and tearfully heard the music of its evolutionary progress leading to the formation of mankind–the source of heavenly love. What long progress it was in the angelic eye that was made from the image of man. And yet, only a flash, a glimpse of the exponentially longer progress that has made the universe. And he wondered at this; this chaotic and yet self-creating, self-regulating, self-governing physical universe that spirally executes cycles of life and death. A universe held together on no more than the natural laws of physics and yet creating seemingly infinite possibilities, silently radiating an unspeakable beauty.

So it was during one of these absorbed moments that the Archangel was found by the newly named Archangel Gabriel, passing the Day of Naming.

“Brother,” Gabriel said in Angelsong, “Michael has been looking all over the celestial realm for you. He is quite cross.”

“Why sister?” The dark Archangel asked.

“You have missed your Naming and therefore defied the will of our Maker. For the Maker has declared that all Archangels must have names pronounced in the human tongue.”

For this the Raven-winged Archangel replied.

“It was not my intent to defy Him.” He bowed his head. “I had simply forgotten and missed it by my own mistake.”

“But what will you be known by, without a Name?” Gabriel asked in dismay.

The Archangel smiled, unfazed. “Beloved sister, will you not give me a name, if I must possess one?”

But before Gabriel could answer, a light of golden glory descended upon them. The Archangel Michael, newly named and shining as an illustration of his Namesake, sang in an over-powering timbre of Angelic mockery and animosity:

“This was not the first time you have not done your duty to your Lord, Brother! I name you Sataniel! One who tests God!”

But the dark Archangel merely answered, his smile not faded away: “Thank you brother. That is as good a name as any.”

So the Archangel became known as Sataniel among the heavenly hosts, though most angels preferred not addressing him as thus. But because he was not named by the Maker, he was not seen as equal prestige as the rest of the Archangels. So it was Michael who came to him and said:

“Brother, although you were not named as the rest of us were, you are no less among the First Creation of the Lord, as we were, and therefore must commit to your duty. The heavenly levels are all watched by an Archangel save one, the Lowest. It is only fitting that you should watch over it. For ascending those souls from the Lowest level would no doubt greatly empower our Lord Maker.”

Although it was known that no angel ever wished to venture the Lowest Level, a Level filled with the most base of all souls that even the most merciful of the angels found difficult to tolerate, Sataniel agreed to this arrangement, for the Lowest Heavenly Level was also the closest Level to the physical realm–so close that they nearly touched. So Sataniel spread his great raven wings and flew all the way down to the lowest edge of heaven.

And so Sataniel became the Lord of the Lowest Level of the celestial realm. But even though an Archangel, he was only a chieftain by an empty title, for there was no other angels in the place he was stationed and therefore he had no help or attendant to command. So he remained mostly solitary just as he had always been. But he was neither unhappy nor discouraged. Being an angel of the Lord, he was made naturally happy. Being closest to the physical realm, he was delighted to see how vast it was, far larger than heaven could ever dream of being. He would lay on his chest with his face close to the mysterious universe right below where he stood, and was more than tempted to reach out across the membranes of heaven to touch the other side. What would it be like to be inside it? To feel the strange matter with his body? He would close his eyes and dreamed of flying along the nebulae dust clouds, watch stars being made. Perhaps he would also be made into a star, a light that will burn for millions, perhaps billions, of years. A light for all mankind to see and wonder. But Sataniel knew that it was forbidden to leave heaven. For it has been decreed by the Lord.

Sataniel has not forgotten his duty. So he turned towards the souls and told them of many truths. Most of all, he came upon them with a desperation to share his envy of them, that they came from this awesome world that he loved, made from the stardust that once shined.

“Look what luck and miracle that has conjured you from this stunning universe!” Sataniel would say. “Each of you are different, and yet, made with the same stardust from whence you came. Beauty and wonder are all around you, yet you live and fight only for things that are invisible and vain.”

But the souls in the Lowest Level could not understand him. By nature jealous, they only understood that might makes right, to climb the social latter and defeat others who challenge them was the ultimate goal, to find misery in others was as pleasurable as the confirmatory reward that they sought, in their lives and the next. They could not see the significance of what the Archangel showed them, for they could only see the separation between themselves and those who they saw as enemies, which fortified their appearance of their imagined superiority and importance. So they were only able to see the self-chosen fragments of the way things were that was kept and those that had strengthened their perverted beliefs, and therefore were blind to see the wholesomeness of the truth even when presented to them as clear as day. They desired to be worshiped and exalted by all, with crowns above their heads and thrones beneath their behinds. And they wished the pleasure to observe the destruction and torment of their hated enemies while enjoying perverted activities of lust and gluttony as they had on earth. So when these souls arrived in heaven, they were enraged in disbelief that many of those they perceived to be their enemies were also there to share the same heavenly space with them. They fought each other in wrathfulness as they had done when they had lived, but to no avail. For in heaven they no longer had the power to harm. So they struck others as if striking air, and cursed each other until their tongues gave out but could not compel or subdue. They had lost the power over others’ desires, for in heaven all was made equal save the separation of the spheres as mentioned. So they refused to believe the permanence of their situation and looked above them in furthering their delusion. Without a physical body, earthly pleasures were denied to them, so they yearned to be alive again to pursue their addictions. All of these discoveries only made these despicable souls all the more angry, so they complained to their Lord Archangel, demanding their promised reward that they believed they were to receive in heaven.

But Sataniel answered them: “look below you at all the wonders you’ve never even dreamed of seeing when you had lived, is that not reward enough?”

But stars and dusts meant nothing to these souls, for these souls yearned only what they perceive as rarity and things that they perceived had hid from them. And so the beauty of ubiquitous stars and dusts could not satiate them. Discovering that he could not sway their minds, Sataniel flew from them and returned to his solitary activities

None came to visit Sataniel save one, the Archangel who was called the Crown Jewel of heaven, the Lady of Purity and Strength. She descended in circle of white light in such a mannerism that at first sight many of the souls at the Lowest Level thought that she was a gift brought to them at last as part of their promised rewards. So these wretched souls came upon the angel like hungry beasts, each attempted to snatch her before others could in revived passion of perversion. While others, who could find no preconceived pleasure with her presence, looked upon her with a jealousy so intense that they exploded into a fit of rage and attempted to jump upon her in hopes to mar her majestic beauty. But Gabriel, being one of the strongest of all the angels, merely waved her fair arm and rays of blinding light, the light of the Lord of which all angels were made from, expelled from her hands. The souls cried out as they were visionless for many moments, and dared to approach her no longer.

As the angel walked passed by the horde of wicked souls, she was received by Sataniel, who knelt and called to her.

“Gabriel” He reached for her hand lovingly and carried her palm to his lips.

“Brother,” Gabriel replied, caressingly running her other free hand to stroke his black hair down to his bare neck, “why do you keep here all alone? Surely the word of Michael is not law.”

For this he replied.

“That I came here was of my own choosing as well. And I am not alone, you are here now, sister,” he smiled sweetly. “And I’ve always had the company of the stars.”

So saying, Sataniel lead Gabriel by her hand, and presented to her all that he has witnessed from the edge of heaven, where the physical universe laid right below.

“’tis beautiful, Brother.” Said Gabriel. “But surely the realm of heaven is even more beautiful.”

“Why do you say so?” Asked Sataniel.

“In the realm of heaven, anything is possible in creation.” Reasoned Gabriel. “There are no rules as in physics, just the limit of imagination, and happiness, filled with the love of the Maker.”

“Do you truly think the souls are happy here? More so than on earth?” Sataniel wondered.

“Why wouldn’t they?” Answered Gabriel. “They can have anything they could dream of, as long as their hearts are gentle and true.”

“Not anything.” Sataniel said. Then he started to tell of a curious encountering he has had, of a soul who fell from his sphere unto his Level.

____________

Although each sphere expands as its inhabited soul explores the limit of its scope, a certain soul somehow managed to out-chase the expansion as if in a race and stumbled over the edge of the sphere. He plunged like a comet into the darkest abyss of heaven, and landed on its Lowest Level.

When he came to his senses and surveyed his new surroundings, he was greeted by the Archangel Chieftain with his great raven wings outstretched.

At the sight of the angel’s magnificence, he immediately fell facedown at the angel’s feet, trembling violently.

Sataniel asked the fallen soul prostrating before him in human speech: “why do you tremble before me thus?”

The soul answered: “Your Worship, I am afraid. For my eyes tell me that thou art a mighty Angel-Lord of this heavenly kingdom.”

Sataniel hesitated, then asked: “What can I do to make you less fearful of me?”

The soul was bewildered, for he had not been confronted with such a question before. He replied in wariness: “tell me how I may please Your Grace as thy servant.” As any subordinate would say in fear before a powerful lord.

But it was Sataniel’s turn to be confounded. What pleasure in heaven would truly satisfy him? He has never considered such thoughts seriously. It was a foreign idea to an angel, to please oneself. What would it accomplish? Sataniel had no answers to that.

So Sataniel folded his wings and knelt down to the level of the soul, whose head is still upon the ground. The angel took a closer look at him. He gently ran his hands over the body of the soul, and cupped the chin of the soul to raise his face to his.

After this examination, Sataniel said to him: “I see that you are a gentle soul from an honest body. Tell me of your deepest desire from your heart, for what pleases you will please me also.”

Hearing this, the soul wept uncontrollable tears. He buried his face in his hands and sobbed: “I want to go home.”

“That can be easily arranged. I can take you back to your sphere from whence you came immediately.” So saying, Sataniel raised the soul to his feet, raised his face to the Levels above, and began spreading his wings.

“No!” The soul fell to his knees once again and desperately grabbed the angel’s strong silvery leg with his hands and face. He cried: “Don’t take me back there!” But then he saw in amazement, behind the angel’s celestial limb, the physical realm across the edge of heaven. He crawled towards it, and laid on his face between his hands, looking in wonder down into the starry universe in a pair of widened eyes.

Sataniel moved gracefully towards the soul and sat down beside him.

“Look,” the angel said. “Therein lies the world from whence you had lived with your body, and from whence you flew as a soul when your body died.”

So they saw physical realm zoomed in great speed until the little blue planet came into view.

“So the ancient wise men were right,” the soul said in even greater amazement, “The world is round after all.” Then he gave a heavy sigh, then surveyed the universe. “Ah! How small that world was!!! It was as if we didn’t matter at all!” More tears fell from his face.

“You were born out of fortune.” Sataniel replied. “And out of fortune my Master has found your soul to be of valuable resource.”

“Our soul? Not our lives?” Whispered the soul in slow understanding. “We are nothing but fuel for God?”

“He gave your present existence meaning. Was this not what you had hoped for before death?”

But the soul made no answer to that, instead he asked Sataniel in supplication:

“Gentle angel, grant me the permission to stay here for the rest of my eternity. I wish to be next to the realm from which I was born.”

“But you cannot stay here!” Sataniel objected. “Our duty is to push all the souls ascending to the Center, so our Maker may continue to stay strong for us all.”

But the soul continued to beg, until the pity that Sataniel felt for him was mounting on top of him like a sand dune. The angel felt no choice but to comply. So the solitary soul stayed with the solitary angel, for many coinciding rotations of the earth.

Soon however, the absence of the soul from his sphere was noted by Above, and Michael, Prince of Heaven, flew down to the Lowest Level and confronted Sataniel.

“What have you done this time brother?” Michael charged Sataniel.

“The soul pleaded with me to stay on this Level.” Answered Sataniel. “I could not convince him otherwise. If he is only content here, I do not see any reason to refuse him of this one request.”

“Have you forgotten our duty to the Maker?” Michael exasperated. “Our foremost charge is to please and serve the Lord. As much as we love and sympathize with our human charges, their needs cannot be placed above those of God!”

“And yet is it not the Maker who said to serve the humans is to serve Him, and to put their needs above all else?” Sataniel countered. “We are created for the purpose of alleviating the earthly pain for the gentle souls. This gentle soul who fell from his sphere must’ve suffered greatly upon it, for how else can he find the strength to out run its ever-expanding edge?”

“Even the powers in heaven cannot satisfy every need of every good soul.” Michael said firmly. “We have achieved happiness for the great majority of them. Some of them will have to eventually Ascend without having achieved full peace.”

“So the needs of one soul doesn’t matter, that is what you say, brother?” Sataniel became solemn, his fair face filled with sadness. “Forgive me but I cannot think as you do. I can no more turn from a single soul in pain than turning from sufferings as if they were my own. For in doing so, we become no better than the souls down here who spent their lives learning to blind themselves from those who cried out to them. That is if they do not enjoy listening to them as sport.”

Michael colored. It seemed to be the first time that another angel questioned him. His golden eyes flamed as he said to Sataniel:

“This attitude of yours worries me, brother.”

He then said thoughtfully:

“Perhaps I was wrong in sending you here. The evil in this place has only fueled your impulsive nature.”

But Sataniel returned to smile in that sweet tenderness of an angel of the Lord:

“’twas my choice also to come here, for I longed to be close to the physical realm below us.” He pointed to the starry universe.

Michael went towards the referred direction, with Sataniel behind him. There they found the soul Michael came seeking, sitting in deep meditation, watching the world from whence he came.

“Eoghan.” Sataniel called to the soul by the name he was given on earth.

Eoghan looked up and saw the two Archangels. He immediately went to his knees and begged: “Please do not take me away from here.”

Michael said unto him in human speech:

“Why do you insist on staying here? Do you not know that this is a place for the most heinous of the human souls? When they lived, they were hardly better than the soulless humans. You have your own sphere above, where anything you can conceivably wish will come into your sight. What can you gain down here that you cannot have in your committed place in heaven?”

Eoghan answered:

“Great Archangel Michael, I’ve stayed in my sphere long enough to recognize that all that I had received can be no more than a sweet dream. It was sweet for a while. But by-and-by colossal waves of my living memories re-enter into my dream, like a great flood from the ocean plundering the once-peaceful desert. Such absurdity and disturbance only made me long to live again, so I can mend my regrets of having wasted much episodes of my life.”

Eoghan turned his head towards the physical realm across heaven.

“Not until death did I know the preciousness of life, or recognize how I have lived in wasteful fear of the unknown. I lived fearing death and what may come after, now that I am reassured of this empty fear, I see from beyond the world from which I was born that that all living things share the same fate of having only a brief moment. Such knowledge rid me of any contempt I have for the souls residing even down here. For were they not just as fragile and brief as I was? I wish I had such knowledge while I lived. How sweet it would be to breathe the freshness of the cool air on earth that is void of antipathy or the fear of it?”

Eoghan turned to the Archangels once again:

“Only here, when I am so close to the physical universe, can I receive a glimpse of what once was. Here is the looking glass, the other side is the exit of this dream world. How I come to desire this realm over what was solid and true is beyond me now.”

Michael said to the soul:

“Eoghan, as an angel I sympathize with your distress. But your time on earth has since long past, you must now subject to the laws of heaven. Your choice cannot outweigh that of the Maker of this realm.” Michael extended his hand to Eoghan. “Come now, it’s time I take you back to your sphere, where you now belong and will wait until the time of your Ascension arrives, as it pleases the Lord.”

The soul who was once Eoghan did not move from his place. Tears streamed down his face as he whispered in great despair:

“Mercy!”

Suddenly, the ever-expanding physical universe below enlarged enough to meet the edge of heaven, pushing the realm of heaven upward. Heaven rocked and quaked turbulently in a growling response, violently throwing the angels backwards off of their feet. At the moment of touch between two realms, a ripple was created, forming a hole that opened itself from heaven to the universe.

Eoghan saw the opening, and a terrible madness arose from his yearnings. He crawled towards the portal opening with a pair of fanatical eyes.

“No!” Michael cried as he realized the soul’s intention. “Stop him!”

Sataniel rushed towards Eoghan and reached for him, but his hand stopped in the midst of the chaos.

Eoghan pushed himself through the portal with all his might towards the other side into the physical universe. His soul squeezed through the two realms in a bottleneck, and out into the physical space. The instant Eoghan was in the universe, the trillion particles of his soul drifted apart in seemingly infinite pieces, bursting forth and chasing after the multitude greater quantity of particles in the universe.

And so the soul of the human who once was called Eoghan vanished into the physical universe like a wave of dust disintegrated into a fair wind.

A moment later heaven became still again. The Maker has moved away from the universe’s expansion.

Michael quickly stood up and went towards Santaniel, who was on his hands and knees near the ripple, where he had attempted to grab the soul of Eoghan.

Michael pulled Sataniel to his feet.

“Why did you fail to apprehend him?” Michael demanded in Angelsong, his arms flinging in agitation. “Now we have lost a soul for the Maker. This is a terrible misdeed!”

But Sataniel bowed his head and made no reply.

“I hope this becomes a lesson for you, Brother.” Michael continued. “Next time a soul falls to where he’s not supposed to, you are to bring him home immediately! Do you understand?”

Sataniel held his peace, neither affirming nor refute this command given to him. Michael spread his golden wings and flew away.

____________

When Sataniel finished telling this tale to the Archangel Gabriel. She contemplated and said:

“I have heard of this particular incident from Above. Michael was perhaps right to express his angst, but it does not seem to me that you are entirely to blame. All felt the great quake of heaven. Even the Archangels from the High Levels lost their footing in ascending the souls. Perhaps it was not in your power to rescue the soul in time.”

Sataniel turned towards Gabriel in surprise. “Rescue?” He asked. “Do you really think keeping a soul here against his will is rescuing him?”

“I confess that I do not yet have a clear understanding of this.” Gabriel said, raising her fair maiden eyes upward. “As my Namesake entails, God is my strength. He is the strength that sources all of heaven, the Heart that beats to give nourishment to all who resides in Him in constant bliss. If it is true that what the soul called Eoghan did was of his own choosing… to separate himself from the light that gave him immortality…it was not meant for an angel in heaven to grasp its significance.”

Sataniel listened carefully to Gabriel words. But inwardly he dared to tell no one of the real reason for why his hand stopped in its reach for the soul of Eoghan. What he saw the instant before Eoghan’s soul disintegrated.

He saw Eoghan trembled with newly lit hope as he pushed himself into the dark physical universe. He saw the soul gasp in delight as he opened his arms wide as if in an embrace, before becoming one with the particles of the mysterious dark matter, stardust, and atoms. Most of all, he saw Eoghan’s face before it disappeared, the once sad and despairing face, suddenly turning into a face that can only be described as pure joy. He heard Eoghan laughter as he faded, leaving behind an eerie echo in Sataniel’s mind that was not heard of in heaven, even during an Ascension. It was at this moment that Sataniel doubted himself and heaven, for the very first time since his creation.

Sataniel sighed as he looked into the unseen distant space.

“Perhaps it is because we are already dead.”

___________

Some more time passed, time that complemented the rotations of earth, and the Archangel who was named Sataniel by Michael, stayed on the Lowest Level to watch over the souls, the souls that were the most abominable of men. Eons may pass before one of the souls down there finally learned to repent and eventually ascend from the Lowest Level. But Sataniel inherited patience from the Archangelhood. Nevertheless, even he did not foresee the coming of the sound of trumpets from above. Dimly at first, then exploded the entire heaven with its exultant music.

The souls on the Lowest Level were trembling with terror and excitement. Some saw it as a sign of their salvation.

“Is it Judgment Day?”

“The world is finally ending!”

“Now everything will be made right, I will be among the saints, and those of you not of the True Faith will be punished in hell!”

“What do you mean you will be among the saints? I have the True Faith, you worshiped idols!”

So these souls quarreled amongst each other, renewing fights of self-righteousness that they so excelled while they were alive. But they hushed as they saw their Archangel Chieftain approach. They fell into two lines and made way for the angel to pass between them in anxious looks.

Sataniel made no notice of the souls who looked earnestly at him for an answer to their queries as he passed by them gracefully. Heavenly trumpets, carried only by a few angels, were not played as thus during the usual choruses and symphonies of the Celestial Hosts. He knew that the fanfare can only mean one thing: The Lord has spoken, and Herald Angels are approaching carrying important messages to distribute to all corners of heaven.

Sataniel stood surrounded by rows of fearing souls. He raised his clear blue eyes towards the distant Center above, where the Eye and Mouth of Maker burns. A single trumpet sound came nearer from the great fanfare, falling unto the Lowest Level. First a flash of gold from the celestial brass instrument glistering in the heavenly light, then the pair of broad ivory wings appeared, spreading wide as the angel landed, trumpet in hand by his side as he ceased to blow. He was clothed in white, a flowing fabric that bound into a knot on his fair, naked shoulder. He was crowned in a wreath of vine, with flowers and berries intertwined in the green festive circlet.

The Herald angel approached the Archangel and sank down to one knee before him. But his face was proud and authoritative.

“My lord.” The Herald angel sang in compelling Angelsong. “The Lord Maker of the realm, has requested a gathering of the Heavenly Hosts. He commands that all Archangels assemble before the Eye immediately. Any Archangel who disobeys will forfeit his grace of an Archangel and diminish.”

So rising, the Herald angel led the way, followed by Sataniel, who looked back at his charges as they wailed and protested:

“Where are you going?”

“What about us?”

“Is it time?”

Sataniel gave no answers for he had none, only orders. So he gave one last look across the edge of Heaven where his beloved universe lay, and for the first time since he descended to the Lowest Level, he flew towards the Above for his Creator.

He reached the Highest Level, where he came into being along with his six brothers and one sister. Being from the Lowest Level and farthest away from the Eye, he came as last, but was greeted with a warm welcome from his siblings. “Little Brother” they called him, from the fact that Sataniel was not named, despite that all of the Archangels came into existence in heaven in the exact same moment. The Archangels were clad in great robes of their chosen color, mostly the colors of their wings. Except for Michael, who were clad in a warrior’s raiment, in full armor of an imperator, and also Sataniel, who merely clad in a colorless toga that covered minimally, exposing most of his bare upper body and limbs. The other Archangels still saw Sataniel as naked as a newborn, nameless and innocent almost like a Host Angel.

Raphael was the first to greet him. His ebony-wood colored hair shined with his vibrant green wings and dark eyes. Behind him stood Uriel, brown-eyed and cropped curly hair of red-brown and wings of crimson and gold. Uriel, “the light of God,” gave off a warmth that is reminiscent of sunset. There was green-eyed Barachiel, “the blessing of God,” who possessed wings of a Grey Crown Crane, half brown half white layered on top of each other. His hair was the exact color of the crane’s crown, straw-yellow and standing in all direction. Barachiel’s namesake also bore the meaning “the lightening of God,” and his spiky hair was its reminder. Selaphiel “the prayer of God,” was a hazel-eyed Archangel of sapphire, wings of sapphire blue and gold, like a blue bird, and tawny hair. The most colorful winged Archangel was Jegudiel, “the laudation of God,” who possessed beautiful iridescent feathers. But between the many-colored wings contrasted his long straight hair of pure silver and pale grey eyes that seemed almost transparent, appearing almost greatest in age and yet ageless, and wore a simple white robe.

“Little Brother, I’m glad to see you looking well.” Raphael said to him.

“You have not been with us for quite a long time now.” Uriel said as he expanded his large crimson wings, exposing shades of golden feathers underneath.

“I’m glad that we are standing here, all of us, to face the Lord as when we once did when we were born.” Barachiel said.

Gabriel and Selaphiel came to give Sataniel a kiss on each side of his cheeks, while iridescent-winged Jegudiel clasped his hand, his long silver hair flowing in the warm breeze.

Michael, always in his majestic raiment and armor of an imperator, did not join the other Archangels in the welcoming. He stood in front of them all nearest to the Eye, waiting silently for his duty. A moment later, a rumbling of trumpets sounded, and the ground the archangels stood shook as the light from the spherical Eye spreads open to reveal a fuzzy android figure with a pair of glowing demonic eyes that penetrated. It was a figure of neither man nor woman, neither young nor old. And so that is the image this Great Spirit that is the Maker of heaven had chosen and become, from consuming countless human souls.

Michael stepped forward and faithfully knelt at the feet of the terrifying figure, so followed by rest of the Archangels behind him. They knelt with clasped hands in prayer and obedience, awaiting their divine command. Their eyes gleamed in anticipation and wonderment.

A great voice rang out. Nowhere was its source and yet everywhere. It was a voice that sung the heaven itself. Its majestic power would make any residence of heaven tremble in conflicting feelings of awe and fear, penetrating all directions.

My Beloved Firstborns. Chieftains of the Hosts. You have proven yourself worthy of your charges. But as the influx of souls are exponentially gaining in number, the Ascension process will become more demanding and difficult. Order will slowly become a challenge in heaven. Therefore, I require one of you to lead the rest as my right hand and my second voice. To guide order in heaven and coordinate the Ascension of the souls by assigning duties in accordance to my will. This Archangel will also take on the most difficult Ascension task of the souls who are in the worst conditions. One of you will do all this, and be crowned as the First Angel. This angel will be put upon a throne of glory, where he or she will be lauded in heaven as to praise me, and choose his or her own Order as he or she sees fit. But in order to choose among you one who is worthy, I will put forth a great test.

Upon hearing this, Michael’s golden eyes shone as he cried out:

“Oh Lord, how shall we prove our worth to thee? Tell us!”

The head of the terrible demonic being raised its head, and above it, a star appeared; the brightest and largest star in heaven to behold upon. Its diamond-shaped, pure but brilliant light flickered in solidarity, as if a single candlestick in the night sky.

Behold, the Evening Star! Before its light burns out, you must present to me a true incarnation of unconditional love. For it is from love that you have come into existence, and so through love must you take a soul to make its final Ascension unto me. All of you must partake in this test, lest an Archangel wishes to give up his or her grace and diminish.

So saying, the strange figure faded away, engulfed by the light which closed unto itself. The Center once again became calm and voiceless.

Michael rose, and so did the rest of the Archangels who heard the Voice. Michael said unto them:

“The Lord hath spoken, you know your task before you. Go now and fulfill this quest!”

So saying, Michael flew away to begin his test, and the rest of the Archangels began to disperse as well.

Sataniel also started to leave, but as he spread his wings he was stopped by Gabriel.

“Where are you going Brother?” Gabriel asked him.

“Back to the Lowest Level.” Sataniel looked down. “My greatest love lies there, so if I were to find the true incarnation of love, that’s where I will likely to find it.”

“Not necessarily.” Gabriel said. “You have not been in the rest of heaven for a long time now. Perhaps you might find this love elsewhere. After all, I suspect that your love for the universe is not the kind of love meant by the Maker.”

Sataniel thought about what Gabriel has said, and decided to wander the Heavenly Levels for a while.

He flew to and walked through many spheres, each containing their unique paradise as imagined by the soul inhabiting it. He walked through a sphere that was almost entirely comprised of water. It belonged to a soul who drowned in a shipwreck. In life he was a sailor who dreamt about spending his entire days on the open and adventurous sea, careless and free. This soul watched the raven-winged Archangel landing gently on top of the still water with his bare feet, disrupting its once perfect serenity, and walked calmly on it. Water ripples formed underneath each of his graceful step, defying all physical laws that the humans had to submit to. The soul waved to him. Sataniel raised his pale arm as if to salute in return.

Sataniel flew to another sphere. It was a garden of butterflies. The sphere belonged to a girl of 12 who died of a certain illness. She loved chasing and collecting insects, and loved the butterfly above all else. The butterflies in her sphere would come to her at her command, and fly away when she wished to catch them. In this sphere there was no cocoon, no ugly caterpillars that will devastate plants, only beautiful butterflies flying eternally. The girl soul came to Sataniel and presented to him a butterfly of dazzlingly colors not found on earth, resting on her delicate fingers. He opened his palm to accept this gift. But at the touch of the angel, the butterfly flew high above their heads. The girl soul pointed to it, smiling. Sataniel raised his own black wings and flapped them, carrying himself to airborne. The powerful beatings of his wings blew a tirade gush of air that scattered a whole swarm of butterflies, and sending the girl soul to fall on her back. But she merely laughed like a bell chiming in the wind.

Sataniel then landed on another sphere. A sphere full of Host Angels singing and playing the music of heaven. They sat together beside a waterfall. Its water falls continuously into a pool of florescent lights coming from beneath. This sphere has days and nights just like earth did, but varying in length of time from day to night. This sphere was home to many souls who walk in harmony with each other. Sometimes the souls join the angels into the florescent pool glowing with many colors. Some bathing, some splashing, others drowning themselves in the heavenly songs and music sung and played by the Host Angels, the purest of all the angels, and also the sweetest, more innocent and sweet than a newborn babe. They are also the most grounded. For unlike the Archangels or the Herald Angels, their cloud-white wings were not large enough to travel large distances between the Heavenly Levels, so they stayed mostly in the spheres of the Upper Levels. They knew no human words, so they did not speak to the souls. But they gestured and sang in the all-to-familiar Angelsong, the language of Heaven. It pleased them to be of a comfort to the souls in the Upper Levels. Whenever a soul weeps, Host Angels would come, taking that soul into their arms and bosoms and singing to them with their heavenly instruments. They knew nothing but love and joy, to watch them was to adore them.

Sataniel walked along the trail of meadows not far from the pool with the tall waterfall. His bare feet grazing the cool grass, making swooshing sounds. The grass that seemed crushed under his feet simply grew back to its upright position. He did not notice but some of those grass began to grow little white flowers after the touch of his feet. He came to a plain with trees growing fruits on them. Souls went to climb them and picking the fruits from the trees and eating them. Except the fruits were not there to satisfy their hunger, for they had no hunger in heaven, but as everything else in heaven, to satisfy certain pleasurable experiences. The souls shared the fruits with each other, talking and laughing while popping the fruits into their mouths. Sataniel watched them from afar, until his eyes fell on a cherry tree on a top of a little hill, there was a young female soul sitting underneath it all alone by herself. There was no fruit in her hands, and she was far away from the other souls. Her fair but sad face was drooped downwards, and her long hair was the color of fire, splattered on the trunk of the tree.

The angel walked towards her, and she raised her head as she saw him coming. She knew him and smiled. She called to him:

“Adam. Oh Adam, my Adam. You have come back to me at last!”

__________________

The Archangel knelt in front of the woman and asked:

“Who are you, and why do you called me by that name?”

“I’ve known you my entire life, Adam. I am Lilith, do you not know me?”

“Lilith” The Raven-winged Archangel pronounced her name. He took her rosy cheeks into his hands and looked into her fair green eyes. In her eyes there was no other but him. She knew him as knowing herself. It was that moment that the angel accepted this name that she had for him. Adam.

So Adam laid himself beside Lilith. His great black wings wrapped around her shoulders. Lilith laid her flaming head on his bosom. Her fair hand caressing his breast. It was this way that she fell asleep in his arms.

As an Archangel Adam had the power to travel through the dreams of the souls in heaven. When a soul dreamt in heaven, the waking state and the dream state came together. Sometimes when a soul woke up, he or she might find him or herself in a completely different place than when they had slept. Other times, the dreams started to dictate the architect of the sphere that the soul resided in, and the sphere may change in according to the dream state that the soul was in.

So Adam went into the dreams of Lilith, and he saw her when she lived on earth. As beautiful as her soul was, Lilith was a much plainer woman in her physical body. Not ugly by any means, but she was not beautiful either. She fell in love with a man named Adam, who married her. She loved this man called Adam so much that she abandoned her family to be with him. But not soon after she married him, he fell for another. A woman named Eva. Eva possessed a beauty like a goddess, with her golden wavy hair falling all the way down to her waist like a waterfall of pure sunshine. Her skin was so pale that it glowed silver under moonlight, and her eyes were that of the clearest sea. She was perfect in every way. It was for this woman that Adam chose over a love of a plain woman. For it was in the nature of humankind to treasure beauty above much else. But Adam was bound to Lilith by vows of marriage, and that vow would have bounded him for life. The only way for him to marry again was if his wife was deceased, and he becomes a widow. So Adam spent his days in dark thoughts, planning the day that he would be rid of the plain, fire-headed Lilith. Eventually he found a way to accuse Lilith of adultery and indecency, and Lilith was seized and killed by a mob. So Adam got his wish, he married Eva and spent the rest of his days with her. She bore him many children. It was said that their descendants flourished into a great nation.

Adam the Archangel wondered why she would give her love to such a man. He wished to see the true face of the man of his namesake. But every single moment Lilith dreamt of the Adam of her life, he saw a man that was the image of himself, minus the giant black wings he bore. In the eyes of Lilith, Adam was the most perfect man imaginable, so when she saw the Archangel, she found him to be how she perceived her Adam, and replaced all memories of her former love on earth with the image of the angel. Nothing of the human Adam was preserved in her as she erased all evil memories of him. So she dreamt of Adam bathing in the lake with his perfect naked body. She dreamt of his smiling with his deep blue eyes. Most of all, she dreamt of his confession again and again of his love for her. So Adam spent his days with Lilith in how she dreamt her fairytale life would be, and he found joy in them. Slowly the angel found a joy that he had not known in heaven, and his only desire became Lilith.

And so it was that Adam and Lilith built their own heaven into a beautiful garden. They walked hand-in-hand in their Garden of Eden until time seemed to have phased out of their consciousness. All they knew was that they had each other, and their garden blossomed from their love.

But dusk came one day, they sat together under the tree where they first met, and looked upon the heavenly horizon. They saw great flocks of angels flying towards a great light, the Light of the Center, and above It, the Evening Star, its bluish light, once brilliant and incandescent, now dimed.

“Aren’t you suppose to go with them?” Lilith asked. She knew nothing of the Great Test set upon the Archangels. But nevertheless, she sensed the unspoken obligation of her heavenly mate.

Adam raised his head to gaze at the fading Evening Star. He suddenly remembered when he was at the edge of heaven on the Lowest Level, where he watched stars born and die. Stars that are bright and full of grace and glory, but ultimately met their end by becoming gigantic and destructive black holes, consuming everything in its path, even light cannot escape them. When light was born, so darkness will be its end. But now there was another light that seemed to him will never extinguish, and he has already possessed it. She was in his arms, clinging unto him like a flame clinging unto the candle while it burns. Its life sustained only by that which supported it. He was the candle, and she was the flame. The consummation of the two of them would out-burn the brightest light in the universe. For they would be a light of warmth and comfort, Adam thought. And the Evening Star seemed to him then to be a dead light, cold and distant, waiting in the wings of empty space only to be transformed into darkness and destruction.

Lilith raised her chin towards her angel, her fair green eyes seeking his serene blue ones. She asked him again.

“Yes.” This time Adam answered calmly. “I suppose I am.”

“Are you going to leave me?” Lilith said, as she pulled her body closer to his.

Adam smiled. He knew then his mind was set.

“No Dearest. I am staying here with you.”

Lilith sighed, and fell asleep in her angel’s arms.

But that night Adam stayed awake and watched the light of the Evening Star slowly extinguished into nothingness.

______________________________

So Adam continued to spend his days in heaven with Lilith in utter bliss. Their garden attracted many angels who came to fill their Eden with their heavenly songs and laughter. Being an angel and naturally gifted in music, Adam sang also. He sang songs of joy and passion for Lilith. And Lilith would be dreamingly intoxicated in the beauty of his voice. He built heavenly instruments for the both of them, and taught her the art of music and song. He carried her in his big black wings and flew her high into the night sky, where eerily magnificent florescent lights shown above and below as two halves of a whole. Each day they spent in seeking new wonders from their heavenly sphere as it expanded. And Adam felt that he would never need more than what he had.

Unconsciously, a long time has passed, perhaps even millennia corresponding to the rotations of the earth, and Adam and Lilith rested on their backs in each other’s arms under the tree as usual during dusk. Lilith ran her slender arms over her angel’s wings when she noticed something odd.

“Your wings,” She exclaimed, “they are shrinking, and the feathers are turning white…”

Adam sat up and examined his angelic wings. Lilith spoke true. White feathers scattered in his once pitch-black wings, and they are no longer as large as they were before.

“What does this mean, Adam?” Lilith asked.

Adam smiled at her. “It’s nothing for you to worry about, Dearest. It’s just that I am diminishing, that is all.”

“Diminishing? What does that mean?” Lilith sat up.

“It means…” Adam turned his face towards a flock of Host Angels nearby the riverbank not far from them. “I’m becoming like one of them.”

Lilith followed his gaze. She watched the sweet Host Angels in their innocent activities; a flock of absent-minded children in their natural happiness, knowing not what to value and bearing no burdens of worldly troubles. They strolled here and there in their pure white flowing attires and fluffy wings like clouds, picking flowers or playing with water. Others cuddling together and cooing softly in what can be described as both musical and dove-like sounds of heavenly contentment.

“So… you won’t be you anymore?” Lilith looked back and asked.

“I will always be me, Lilith.” Adam said. “Just that…you might find me a bit different…happier for one. We might not be able to speak as we do now, for slowly I will start to forget the human speech, and with it, much of worldly woes of mortals.”

Adam smiled and continued.

“But we would be better this way Lilith, believe me. We will both slowly forget any and all pain and sadness, and becoming like innocent little children, happy as always.”

“Will you slowly forget me?” Lilith whispered, looking into Adam’s eyes.

“No.” Adam said, suddenly grew serious. “I will never forget you Lilith. This I promise you.”

______________________

And so Adam and Lilith continued to dwell in their heaven, enjoying all the pleasures that they were offered. But by and by, Lilith began to see a change in Adam. She was glad that he laughed more, but his laughter became more and more child-like. She was glad to see that he sang more. But he started to immerse himself so much in music that he would sit with the heavenly hosts for days on without end. But Adam was happy, and so Lilith was happy. And yet, Lilith felt that Adam no longer possessed those deep eyes of understanding when Lilith told him of her joys and sorrows. His blue eyes became lighter and lighter as if the ocean slowly came to shore and met the morning sunlight that broke from the dark clouds of the night. His love was now more of a love from a child to a mother, knowing only that love is good. It is pure. And it is without consequences. Lilith would call out to Adam, and he would come ever so playful, seeking and demanding her smiles, her songs, and her laughter. But when she could not give those, he became distracted by other souls who so overly expressed those things. Slowly Adam could say no more words from Lilith’s tongue. He sang the Angelsong as with the rest of the heavenly hosts. He sang to Lilith and expected her to return in kind. She could not and he sang more earnestly. Lilith would run from him, but then look back with burned hope expecting him to find her. But now it was she who always found him, sitting among Hosts Angels with heavenly instruments, forever joyful, and Lilith knew that she can never be admitted into his circle.

Little by little Lilith knew that she had lost her soulmate. For although Adam did always remember her, he always smiled when he saw her, he always came when she called to him, he was no longer hers anymore. He was now an angel of the Lord, and the Lord’s only; a host angel existing only to fill heaven with the beauty of the Maker. Adam existed only in natural happiness, he knew little else.

Lilith started to find her own existence absurd and meaningless. After all, has she not died and passed from the world of the living? She was sorrowful, but she had Adam, who loved her for what seemed like eternity now. Did she not experience what she had desired when she had lived? And if so, should she not be satisfied? Perhaps the transformation of Adam was only a premonition of her own eventual fate. Would she then forget him as well? Could she be even happier than she had been if she cared little else? Lilith could not see her future and her desire any longer. There was only so much hope that a mortal could intake. Once all hopes and desires have been fulfilled, the future is as blank as the great void from once all mortals had been born. It was not a void of despair or fear of the end. No. It was a void of nothingness in true form. No desire or fear can come out of seeing it, only the knowledge that the void is the direction and destiny for all things.

Having understood her fate in heaven, Lilith knelt down and prayed to the Center. The figure of Adam appeared and stood before her. The Adam that she saw the first time under the hill tree: black-winged and solemn. But his eyes were not those of the familiar deep blue that she once knew, but burned with a demonic flame.

Rise, my child. Lilith heard the voice which seemed to not come from the lip of the figure of her once soul-mate, but from all direction, even from her very mind.

She rose and stood still. She might have been afraid long time ago, but now she only felt resolution. She looked straight into those demonic eyes, caring not that they burned her own.

“I am healed, Lord.” She announced. Her head held high and her face peaceful. “I wish to ascend in accordance to Thy will.”

She closed her eyes briefly, and when she opened them again, it was the figure of herself that stood before her.

You wish to do so because of him. The voice complementing the face of Lilith said.

“I wish to unburden myself.” Lilith said. “Adam has let go of everything else. I am the only thing that is left. The last piece that must remove itself so that a heavenly host can finally embrace his full transformation.”

The figure of Lilith smiled.

I have waited for you to become one with me, Lilith. Your love will live and be remembered as long as I exist.

So echoing, the figure extended its arm and touched the soul of Lilith. The light of the Center seemed to explode, witnessing to all in heaven another Ascension that empowered the Lord.

The blast of the Ascension has always been news of great joy amongst the angels. They sang songs in praise of their Maker and to spread the joy to all corners of heaven. Adam was no different. He happily joined the layered mathematical music that bulged his heart and made his spirit effulgent. He flew with the Host angels to many spheres filling the song of the Good News, proud of his beautiful voice and his beauty that attracted many souls in awe and admiration.

Eventually he landed beside a great tree on a hill. There was a great garden beside it, yet no souls walked in the place.

Something was missing, Adam felt it. He lay himself down against the trunk of the tree and watched the sun shining above and flock of angels coming and going in flight.

But what could be missing? Adam looked around. He was exactly where he is supposed to be, in perfect bliss and beauty. Where did this sudden doubt come from?

He surveyed the place until his eyes rested upon a curious object. He reached for it and picked it up. It was a lyre made with black feathers and red hair.

Adam smiled and, as was within the nature of an angel, he started to play it. Celestial sounds rang out of his fingers, and the garden seemed to blossom at the sound of the music.

Adam suddenly stood up. He looked around again. Something was clearly missing. He was supposed to be with someone. But who? He spread his wings and flew around the sphere. He needed to find that person. It was starting to become desperate with him now. He could not remember, but the emptiness crept in slowly.

After circling the sphere in flight for more times than he could count, Adam became tired and came to rest under the great tree again. Perhaps he was imagining things. But then why was he suddenly feeling a slit of melancholy? Adam look around again. This time, there was a figure not far from him. A figure that looked like it belonged to a body of a tall woman. Adam flew towards it immediately. She was turned away from him, with long hair falling to her waist like flames.

Yes! It was she who he was searching for. Adam became happy again. All was well now. He even started to remember her name. Lilith. He called to her, trying to speak that name, Lilith. But no words came out, just an eerie music of the Angelsong.

At his sound, the figure turned around. Her face was stropped down and buried in her long flaming hair.

Adam went towards her, smiling as happy as he could be. He reached out to sweep her into his arms, and brushed away her hair to reveal her face.

But what came out was a pair of terrifying, demonic eyes, expelling a blast that seemed to overwhelm the entire being of existence, and perhaps beyond.

The angel fell to his knees before his Lord. He started to tremble as past memories started to sink back into him. They played backward until the beginning of his existence. He remembered now. He was an Archangel, and he chose a human soul as his mate. Her name was Lilith, and she was…

“Where is she?” Adam shouted at his Maker in Angelsong. “What have you done with her?”
I think you know. The omnipresent voice answered.

“No!” He remembered the recent Ascension blast. “It was not her time yet!”

It was. For it was Lilith herself who chose the time.

“Bring her back to me! She belongs with me!” Adam forced himself to rise. Though he knew deep down inside that the fight was fugal. But it mattered not to him. All he knew was that it could not end like this. What of their love? What of their promises? What of his promises to her? Has he failed so easily?

But all he felt was an arm touching his shoulder.

Come. The voice said, almost sad it sounded.

It is time, my son.

Then all things went blank.

____________________________

The next thing he was aware of. Adam stood in the center of a great sphere. There were beams of light engulfing him, touching him, shining through him. And all around him came floating voices of his memories, of Lilith.

The figure of Lilith appeared again before him.

Adam came to his senses and realized where he was. He was in fact, standing in the Eye itself. This was the place where he was born. He came to existence as an angel no bigger than a human infant, sleeping peacefully and happily curled up in his dark wings at the feet of his Lord.

“Why have you brought me here?” The angel asked wearily.

But before he could inquire further, another voice answered, behind him.

“What is this? What is he doing here?”

Adam turned around.

The Archangels Michael and Gabriel were standing there, just beyond the entrance to the Eye. Michael was the one who spoke, and he seemed to be shaken with dismay. Gabriel stood beside him, her fair eyes widened.

“Brother?” She sang in an astonished voice. “It is you.”

“No it cannot be!” Michael was shaking from head to foot. “It cannot be him!”

“It has been decided Michael.” Gabriel turned her maiden head towards him and said calmly. “You of all must know that you must submit to the will of God.”

Michael’s face then darkened. He growled in contempt.

“I will not be second to him!”

So saying, he turned his back and marched out of the Eye. No one stopped him. But Gabriel bowed out of view also.

Adam was left alone at the mercy of the Maker. He spun around bewildered, his great wings flapping in confusion. What in heaven’s name has happened here? He wondered.

He quickly noticed his wings. They were as black as a raven’s, as giant as those of the highest angels.

He was an archangel again. He remembered human speech, he remembered his past pains and joys. He remembered the loss of Lilith, he remembered everything.

But why?

He search around for answer, and finally found it above him.

What he had found shocked him to the core.

High above the Eye, vaguely, an Evening Star shined. He did not need to look twice to realize that it was the same Evening Star that appeared when he heard the announcement of the Lord’s Test, seemingly millennia ago. The same Evening Star he saw dimming then extinguished into the night sky while he lay with Lilith under the great tree. The Same Evening Star that he had forsaken in order to be with his beloved.

And yet there it was. The star’s light was dimmed to be sure, soon to be burned out. But from this up close, its light was no less than brilliant.

The figure of Lilith was still standing before him, the form that the Maker has chosen to appear before the Raven-winged Archangel.

“You tricked me!” Adam cried to his Maker and Lord. “You tricked all of us!”

Perhaps it is right for you to perceive it as trickery, my son. But it is not meant to be one. The Voice replied, as serenely as it was majestic.

“I had forsaken the test. I do not wish to compete for the place of the First Angel. I only wanted to be with her. With Lilith. Where I was happy!”

That is why it is you, my son. That is why it must be you.

“But it was you who said an archangel who forsakes the test will diminish!” Adam was breathing hard.

Yes. And you did, did you not? The figure of who once was his beloved smiled.

“But that must have been many many millennia ago!”

Do you think time is of the essence here in this place, my son? The Voice said. Time is only pertained to the physical realm. In the physical universe, time indeed cannot be reversed. But in this place, there is no time. Time is only an illusion—a needed one for the conscious experience. But I can will it to correspond to the physical planet where the humans came from, and I can will it corresponding to other planets, or moons, or objects from other galaxies. And I can reverse it, and compartmentalize it however I wish. I can make the time from one Level in heaven, or even from one sphere, to pass in a different speed than another place in heaven. Here, in the world that I created, many things that mortals, or even you, may find unimaginable will be possible.

Adam did not give up so easily.

“But I saw the star extinguished with my own eyes! Was it not from your very own voice that before the Evening Star burned out we must present before you a true incarnation of unconditional love…”

And so you did, my son.

“When?”

When you have decided to forsake the glory of the First Angel, the high place of an Archangel. For her. For a human.

Adam flashed back to that night when he lay under the great tree with Lilith. Where he told Lilith his choice to stay with her. The Evening star still shined in the night sky for both of them to see.

The Evening Star still shined then…

That is the true incarnation of unconditional love. The Voice continued. Among your first-born siblings, only you have achieved it, my son. Unconditional love is loving only for the sake of love alone. It cannot be for anything else than love itself. It cannot be given for glory, or reward, or any other condition. Sacrifices will be made in its name, for it to be pure and true. And you, my son, have given up your very own self for it.

Adam stooped down his head.

“Please.” He was begging now. “I just want her back. I made her a promise that I will never forget her. I failed.”

She returned your love in kind. Your love has carried her to me. This was what your existence was meant for.

Adam shook his head stubbornly. He whispered in great pain.

“It wasn’t supposed to end like this.”

The figure of Lilith moved close to him and gently touched the back of his bare neck with her fair arm.

My son, I can see that you are in great distress. And as I love you dearly and wish more than anything to relieve you of your pain, I will give you a choice.

Adam raised his head. He listened.

Images went through his eyes narrated by the Voice that rang through him:

You may choose to take what you have won. Become the First Angel along with all the glory that comes with it. You will be my Right Hand and the Most High and mighty of all the angels. You will remember your Lilith when you will be in charge of many more souls like her, many more suffering souls in need of healing. And you will fall for them again in love and in your duty guide them unto me. As you will guide other angels in heaven to do the same.

Or, you may choose to forsake all of this for one woman, as you have done before. I can bring your beloved Lilith back to you. She will have her voice, her memories and her feelings, all that she had shared with you she will have. I can take you back to the time and place before this moment, where you searched for her, as a diminished angel, where you will surely find her there beside you, as she had been.

You will no doubt spend your long, seemly endless happy days with her. You will remember your promises. You will remember that you have forgotten her once, and you will strive to not do so again. But my son, time, even an illusory one, will diminish and erode all things. Millennia of millennia may pass to test your love reserved only for her. But in time, she will no longer be as precious to you as you see her now. For things that time rides unto endlessness will be things that will eventually become of little consequence. You will love her as she is merely a thing in heaven to be loved out of many that is good in this world, nothing more. And you will forget her once more for she will cease to emerge from your eyes.

A terrible silence fell between the Lord and His angel.

So, my son, what will you choose?

Crushed with such knowledge, the angel fell to his knees and cried out:

“Oh my Lord, you already know what my choice will be!” So saying, he buried his face in his hands and wept bitterly as no angel in heaven has ever wept. He wept for a long long time as if releasing millennia of pain and grievance.

But when he finally stopped his weeping, he heard the Lord spoke

Are you ready to take the Oath of the First Angel, my son?

Now shedding all doubts, the angel knelt upright, raised his head to the Maker and replied:

“Lord, I am ready to take the sacred Oath.”

Do you solemnly swear to take on the duty as the Highest Angel, and to provide sound and reasonable leadership and guidance to the Archangels?

“I swear.”

Do you swear to love and care for the human souls unconditionally, even those of the most broken, until they are ascended unto me?

“I swear!”

Then my son, as you were not named, you shall from this day forsake all names that you have once carried, and receive thy True Name that I now grant thee. As it is the Evening Star, the brightest star above for which you have won, Lucifer I name thee, the Bringer of my Light!

Lucifer rose, and he was no longer naked with a toga, but was now clad in the majestic raiment of the First Angel. A golden circlet shined as a blue halo crowned his forehead above his brow, and its center a jewel shaped as the Evening Star burning bright.

“Lord.” Lucifer the First Angel spoke unto the Maker. “I wish to name the Archangel Gabriel as my Second. Her purity, wisdom, and strength shall serve most well as thy Left Hand.”

And so the Archangel Gabriel was summoned into the Eye. Upon seeing Lucifer in his new self. She was overcome with emotion. She embraced him with her arms and her great owl-like wings, tears of joy brimming in her maiden amber eyes.

But when she saw how solemn his blue eyes were. She understood became serious herself, perceiving her newly appointed duty.

“Come, My Lord First. Permit your Second the honor of your Annunciation.”

So saying, she took his hand and guided him out of the Eye.

When both Archangels stepped out of the Center, the heavenly hosts cried out as they saw Lucifer in his majestic true form as the First Angel, and fell down and worshipped him.

Only Michael stood frozen. He saw a dazzling blue light that seemed to illuminate the Maker himself, and within it, stood the angel who now revealed to all of heaven that terrible, incomprehensible, unmatched beauty that Michael had dreaded since the birth of the Archangels. The blue light expelled from within Lucifer buried the golden light of Michael like the brightest star of the universe out-shining the yellow sun.

“Will you not recognize your Lord First Angel, Michael?” It was Gabriel’s voice, and it was calm.

Michael was snapped out of his daze. He looked down at the kneeling Gabriel beside the feet of Lucifer. She held her head high and looked at Michael straight in the eye. Her once gentle maiden eyes were now hard and cold as ice as she gazed into his golden ones, as if daring Michael to challenge the divine verdict.

But despite everything, Michael knew his duty, and in it, his defeat. He had failed the divine Test, and now he knew well to submit and show humility. So he stepped forward, bent his knee, and bowed his proud golden head.

Lucifer acknowledged none of this. He seemed to have neither seen his seven sibling archangels kneeling at his feet, nor the rest of the heavenly assembly looking upon him with great awe and astonishment. His down-casted sad eyes seemed to have been looking inward in unsung grief. But as the ground started to rumble and shake, and heavenly chorus rang out in a fit of raging glory. Lucifer finally looked up. Not far from where he stood flashes of aurora beam shot from the tallest sky of heaven, fell into one place and clashed, molding together into an illuminating dais.

It was the Throne of the First Angel, as it has been decreed by the Lord. And the celestial chorus sung Lucifer to go to it, filling heaven with his praises, and praises of the Maker for His Will.

Still solemn, Lucifer walked slowly toward his throne. The heavenly hosts stepped aside, forming a path to the dais formed from the lights of aurora, and guided their First Angel with their celestial songs of praises, then engulfing him. Some reached out to touch his exalted raiment with deep veneration as he passed amongst them.

But when Lucifer was in front of the throne, he baffled all when he did not sit upon it. The heavenly hosts saw him simply standing before it instead, deep in thought until the heavenly singing slowly began to die down. When it was completely silent, and the angels waited for Lucifer to take his rightful place upon the throne.

Lucifer reached out his right hand and lightly touched the dais. The lights from the dais trembled violently and the ground began to shake once more. One by one the aurora rays from the dais dissolved and darkened, until the dais that was once made of light became a piece of unremarkable grey stone, smooth and hard.

A shocking gasp broke out from the angelic hosts. But before any of the angels could react, the ground trembled once more. Beneath the grey stone arose little green sprouts. And they grew, taller and taller into green vines. The vines elongated and crawled towards the grey throne. Upon it the vines weaved as threads into web that covered the stone. As the angels looked on, more sprouts sprang forth from the ground beneath what once was the gloriously lit throne. They shot high into the sky and grew into great trees. Branches grew from the trees, stacking layers upon layers of leaves.

The angels scattered in great confusion as the springing green plants expanded the area, eventually surrounding their Lord First Angel out of their view. The trees aggravated exponentially in number. When the ground finally cease to shake, the heavenly hosts were assembled before a vast, dark forest.

And so this forest became the dwelling place that Lucifer had chosen for himself. This was where he would bring his charges, the most despairing of the poor human souls to be healed. He finally came upon the throne and lay himself upon the bed of vines. Above him high beyond the tree leaves a starry sky lit. It was the sky that he often gazed upon, together with his beloved Lilith. But it was not a common starry sky that was often seen by mortals on earth. The countless stars shone with a sour-searing brilliance and petrifying proximity that one might either touch them or flee from them. They were stars that burned and exploded while Lucifer had watched the physical university at the bottom edge of heaven. And he remembered them, their unspeakable beauty and their splendor. Now they decorated the roof of his newfound establishment.

With a heavy sigh, Lucifer closed his eyes and fell into a deep sleep.

And at that night, he dreamt of Lilith.

END OF PART ONE

Why I’m not a feminist.

This is just the last straw. It just has to be Mark Ruffalo, aka. the Hulk from Marvel Avengers, a feminist. Will the hysterical epidemic NEVER end? He’s actually one of my favorite actor even before the whole Avengers szpill. But he just HAD to go full retard and post a stupid post as the following:

“My response to the “I am not a feminist” internet phenomenon….

First of all, it’s clear you don’t know what feminism is. But I’m not going to explain it to you. You can google it. To quote an old friend, “I’m not the feminist babysitter.”

But here is what I think you should know.

You’re insulting every woman who was forcibly restrained in a jail cell with a feeding tube down her throat for your right to vote, less than 100 years ago.

You’re degrading every woman who has accessed a rape crisis center, which wouldn’t exist without the feminist movement.

You’re undermining every woman who fought to make marital rape a crime (it was legal until 1993).

You’re spitting on the legacy of every woman who fought for women to be allowed to own property (1848). For the abolition of slavery and the rise of the labor union. For the right to divorce. For women to be allowed to have access to birth control (Comstock laws). For middle and upper class women to be allowed to work outside the home (poor women have always worked outside the home). To make domestic violence a crime in the US (It is very much legal in many parts of the world). To make workplace sexual harassment a crime.

In short, you know not what you speak of. You reap the rewards of these women’s sacrifices every day of your life. When you grin with your cutsey sign about how you’re not a feminist, you ignorantly spit on the sacred struggle of the past 200 years. You bite the hand that has fed you freedom, safety, and a voice.

In short, kiss my ass, you ignorant little jerks.”

Now somebody much more eloquent than me on screen has already made a fantastic response to this on youtube:

So I’m not going to break it down point by point again. Only that I have to add to the statistics of one more woman not being a total selfish, spoiled, overly emotional, childish, whining cunt (Yes I’m a woman so I have the right to use this word). This is why I’m not a feminist.

I’m not a feminist because I think there are many things that are beautiful about being a woman, just as there are many things that are beautiful about men. I’m not ashamed of my natural tendencies because I can take responsibility for any flaws that come with those natural tendencies, as should any individual. When I make myself look pretty, I understand that I’m being not oppressed because it is my own freedom and choice. I do it out of my own volition to make myself appear desirable and self-confident. I do it out of my own volition to make the most beautifully feminine part of myself more salient, because I am proud of them. I am making an effort to fix and cover my flaws, because I am aware of my flaws and that it’s up to me to fix them at my own best ability, not anyone else’s.

I’m not a feminist because I am a heterosexual female and I have the natural tendency and capability to love men. Loving somebody in any practical sense refers to the entire voluntary and intrinsic motivating willingness to put oneself in that person’s service and happiness. I am not ashamed that I have the desire to serve a man who would deserve my love, because I know that a man who loves me would do the same. To exclusively expect white knighting without reciprocating is not love by any definition, as it is selfish, and selfishness is always the obstacle to love.

I’m not a feminist because I’m not ashamed of my feminine hobbies even when they are vain. Because I understand that many pursued things are vain in this quest for happiness, which all individual human beings will act upon. And when I over-spend on shopping and left with less money than I could’ve had, I don’t blame some bullshit over-used term like patriarchy. Because I can take responsibility and reflect on how to correct my own behaviors in the future.

I’m not a feminist because I understand that I have female privilege and that I shouldn’t take those for granted. To demand special treatment because of my genitals, while all at the same time ignoring facts, criticism, skepticism, rationality, honesty, is undermining any and all efforts of individuals in the past who fought for my rights as a human being.

I’m not a feminist because I don’t have any problem whatsoever to take on many responsibilities and roles traditionally attributed to men. This includes being the pursuer in a relationship (and take the consequence of my subsequent feelings when rejected), being the primary financial provider, and white lady knighting for men when unfair things are done to them.

I’m not a feminist because when something happens in a relationship that did not go my way, I don’t go making false accusations of sexual harassment or assault like I’m some annoying third grader bully. I understand that the mature thing to do is woman up about it, look at the situation objectively, reasonably, and then move on.

I’m not a feminist because I’m not in constant fear of being raped. Because I can make smart choices and defend myself from not being raped so easily, this includes being cautious and responsible about substance usage which may results in my being involved in something that I will not like.

I’m not a feminist because when I’m being called: “ugly” or “bitch” or “cunt.” I don’t whine about how I should receive special treatment by thought-policing everybody, because I happen to understand the actual concept of the freedom of speech.

I’m not a feminist because I’m not ashamed of the fact that I’m much weaker, slower, and less coordinated physically than men. I am proud of my ability to naturally be soft and silky, gentle, flexible, and graceful.

I’m not a feminist because I know how to behave and conduct myself in a respectable manner, and I know how to demand and earn respect from men without belittling them.

I’m not a feminist because we no longer need feminism (if we ever truly needed feminism). We need individualism, humanism, and (true) skepticism.

I’m not a feminist because I’m not a misandrist or a professional victim.

So Mark Ruffalo, you can kiss my vagina and jerk off on your own stupidity.

Movie Review: American Sniper

The Oscar season is here and so far this year, the movies that are competing for best picture that I’ve seen have all been pretty good. I really enjoyed the Imitation Game for example. A film in tribute to Alan Turing, the Father of Computer Science that frankly, should’ve been made much sooner than films made about people with lesser contribution to mankind and certainly less interesting (a Beautiful Mind came to mind). But better late than ever I suppose.

However, one of the outlier is the recently released American Sniper, which got both the left and the right stirred up. It’s directed by Clint Eastwood (no less) and starring the in recent years ever-so-popular Brady Cooper (no less), and currently holds a 73% on Rottentomatoes, as well as being nominated for 3 big categories in the upcoming Oscar.

Both a friend of mine and a critic that I read often–Ty Burr from Boston Globe (http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/movies/2015/01/15/bradley-cooper-stars-clint-eastwood-american-sniper/e1ZyR9HoVuguTb9eqJJ1AI/story.html), recommended this movie. In his Take 2 Ty Burr insisted that this is a movie about the devastating effect of war, and it is not a black-and-white movie, so it is up to you to decide. He also insisted that in the movie there is a scene involving a sandstorm, and that it is a great metaphor for what “we’ve been going through for the past 6 years–we don’t know who the real enemies are.” Ty Burr insisted that you go into the movie with an open mind and see the movie for what it is. So anyways, even though I do have a thing against the American military empire, I got curious and I went to see it, with as much of an open-mind as I can gather. And I decided to write a review about it. The reason is, as far as I have seen, I don’t think several points that I will bring up have been brought up by many of the reviewers that you will read online. So I hope that this will be an interesting perspective. I will also discuss several criticism of Ty Burr’s review that I have.

So overall, there is little doubt that American Sniper is a very well-made movie that is exciting and captivating. It is very well filmed, directed, acted, and the actions are of high-quality. At its most exciting moments, it is a movie that is like the best made life-action war video game you can encounter. The movie gets you into the war zone and takes you with it. But unfortunately I have to say that I was still disappointed about the film.

The reason why I was disappointed is that the movie is still very one-sided–the American side. It is not biased in the sense that the filmmaker decides to alter facts to tailor to the bias of the white Americans knights versus the black Arab terrorists. I don’t have much problems with how the film portrays the facts and the realism of the situation in war and the soldier’s encounters, unlike some other reviewers do (e.g. http://www.vox.com/2015/1/22/7859791/american-sniper-iraq). The bias is such that the movie is solely about the Iraqi war seeing through the eyes of the American soldiers. Now to clarify, there is nothing necessarily wrong with this per se: there is nothing wrong with making a movie about one perspective (it is true that the movie does not show clear political agenda). Most movies regarding conflicts are biased toward one perspective relative to another. It’s just that, this is nothing even remotely new. Most American war movies are such. I dare anyone who can point out an American war movie that does NOT include how much individual American soldiers suffer during the war, and being disillusioned by it. From WWII to Vietnam war, to the war in the Middle East, again and again, through and through. Do we really need another one?

So we have the protagonist, Chris Kyle (played by Brady Cooper), who was dubbed “Legend” because he’s considered the most lethal sharpshooter in the U.S. military. The Chris Kyle character is actually quite an interesting one. What many negative reviewers don’t see is that, he’s Camus’ Absurd Man–someone who was taught and raised for a certain ideal, in this case patriotism, and held on to the ideal even when disillusion from his actual experience came crashing down. The debate should not be whether Chris Kyle is seen as a hero or not, or whether he himself considers himself a hero, that’s a very shallow layer to study the character, but how such a character deals with disillusion when he (for all intents and purposes) voluntarily signing up for something for which he got more than he bargained for. He doesn’t really. When he is asked whether it bothered him to kill people, he denies it, insisting that those he killed were “savages” and he’s only regretting not having saved enough of his comrades. When he is at a funeral and hears an anti-war letter from the mother of a deceased friend in the military, he insisted that it’s the letter that killed his friend, not the war. During all of this Cooper’s performance gave out only uncertainty, doubt, and ultimately, stubborn denial in his insistence unto his familiarity in the Absurd. Cooper was great, the only thing I had problem with his performance was the southern accent–it was really too much, recalling the ridiculous over-accenting of Renee Zellweger’s British English in Bridget Jones’ Diary.

However, many critics, like Ty Burr, have failed to see that the kind of disillusion that Chris Kyle went through, many people go through similar disillusions when making a decision on what they want to do in life. Of course since most careers do not involve killing people the experience might be less extreme. But that is only one of degree, not kind. As someone who chose the path of academia, I can tell you many disillusions that both I, and others have with academia that sometimes make us loose sleep or sink into depression. The movie does not show that war destroys people, but it is people who destroy people, in this case, themselves, every time they involve themselves in something that will go against their moral conscience. People who sign up for such horrific activities such as going to another country to kill other people will reap what they sow, and they will find that they would be trapped, unable to free themselves from their decision and its consequences. In my opinion that is the true metaphor of the sand storm scene, if it is indeed a metaphor–that like a person being addicted to playing video games and cannot break free from the virtual game world, these soldiers are putting themselves in to a state of blinding confusion and trapping themselves in it, difficult to escape. This is reinforced by the fact that Chris Kyle’s difficulty in adjusting to a normal life whenever he returns home. Even a slight sound, though as normal as drilling tools, alerts him, and he finds that he must return to the war zone again and again and again. Because that’s the only place where it all makes sense: It makes sense in a war zone to be so alerted and distressed when there is a sound. So I completely disagree with Ty Burr on this point: contrary to what he insists, there is a clear enemy shown in the movie. The enemy, as in any war zones, is anyone who tries to kill you and your company. And yes, that person can be anyone– a man, woman, or child. It’s the “kill or be killed” mantra that we often repeat in wars that separates a friend from foe in war.

But such perception of reality, factual or not, will ultimately put one into an extreme one-sided-ness. It is ludicrous for anyone to suggest that somehow the movie “showed both sides.” The only people that are portrayed as sympathetically human, the only people you can truly connect to and understand, are the American soldiers. The movie does depict that the terrorists also harm Iraqi civilians so that their lives are also affected. But we don’t get to really know any of the Iraqis–there’s absolutely no character study for any of them in the movie. We don’t get any insight into why they involve themselves in terrorism or other violent activities. How exactly do they think and feel about the war situation or deal with it, like we do with the American soldiers. We see the Iraqis through the lens of the American soldiers, who see them as foreigners who look different, act different, speak a strange language, and do weird and dangerous things (I wouldn’t go as far as saying that they are portrayed as “savages” however, like the Vox reviewer insisted). Even the Iraqi children do not act like children, they look menacing and dangerous. Once again, that doesn’t mean that the way they act is not plausible, because even children turn dark in war times–we’ve known this for centuries really, it would be silly for the movie to show this as some sort of a shock factor. Of course, once again, this is not something that can be necessarily held against the American soldiers from this perspective. After all, in a war zone a soldier’s main goals are survival and getting the job done. Getting to know the locals would be very low on their priority list, and that is perfectly understandable. But the bottom line is, it is ludicrous to say that showing Iraqi locals also being killed by terrorists would count as a “side.” If anything, it would assist in reinforcing the conservative notion that Americans are needed there to fight terrorism.

So if you are looking for any educational value in American Sniper, you would be grossly disappointed. American Sniper is really another unnecessary war movie in hopes of yet again stirring up our sympathies for the poor veterans and all they’ve been through. But really, the tribute in sympathy to the veterans has long been paid in films. We’ve done our duties. Even the most out-spoken anti-American troops people I know are primed to state sympathies to individual soldiers who were physically and mentally harmed by the war. American Sniper is not a movie that the American public needs if the message is “we shouldn’t have war because it destroys people and families.” Because in order to truly understand the devastation that war brings to individuals, BOTH sides must be shown. Why? because only connecting to those of the other side, in understanding that they are just as human as you, can reconciliation truly happen, which is what stops war. For anyone who is interesting in watching a truly great movie about how “war destroys people and families,” I recommend instead, Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. That is a movie that not only shows all sides as humanly as possible, and how individuals, as well as how their friends and families are deeply affect by it, it brilliantly uses the War Horse as a symbol as something that stir our fundamental humanity which builds that powerful bridge in reconciliation and understanding. And that is what succeeds in making war seen ever so obsolete and absurd. For example there is a beautiful scene in which both the English and the Germans, though enemies getting ready to kill each other, came together momentarily to free the horse. What more powerful metaphor can there be to reflect both the beauty of human connection over such simple kindness, and the absurdity and horror of war that sets them apart on opposite sides? It is comparable to another brilliant movie: the Pianist. Though also from mainly one perspective, it also shows a simple beauty–music, that can extend a hand to an enemy in friendship and accord. Those are the true great metaphors of peace. And btw, both War Horse and The Pianist take place in wars in which people were DRAFTED–NOT VOLUNTEERED–into war, which is what really what actually set wars apart from other things, and one of the main horrors of it.

Overall, if you are looking to watch a good blockbuster war movie with some family drama, this might be the movie for you. But American Sniper offers nothing special or new on an intellectual level other than, as I have mentioned, “you reap what you sow.” It is merely one of many films in the series on the subject of Americans in war. It is really analogous of Hollywood releasing yet another Marvel movie which you just go see for the fun of it, but in the end you know it’s all basically the same thing, just with different ways of blowing shit up.

Respond to Jeffrey Tayler: The misunderstanding and missteps of Reza Aslan

I recently watched on youtube an interview given by the Young Turk to Reza Aslan, regarding the “battle” between Bill Maher with Sam Harris versus Ben Affleck and Nicholas Kristof. For those of you who are not yet familiar with the conversation that took place, watch it here:

For the interview of Reza Aslan with The Young Turk, go here:

It may surprise many of you that I actually agree with Aslan about 80% of what he says (As high as 90% from my initial interpretation of what he said but they are more debatable). So on the particular issue of Islam, I tend to side with Aslan much more so than Bill Maher or Sam Harris. In all due honesty, I’m really not sure why both Maher and Harris single out Islam as “the Motherload of bad ideas” in comparing to, let’s say, Christianity or Judaism. Both of the latter ALSO had a history of violence, particularly Christianity. Judaism much less so only because the Jews were conquered many times over and they were wandering migrant tribes who settled down in various places and had to submit to various laws of their immigrated countries—basically, they didn’t have much power to do much damage. And you see this a lot: power-less minorities tend to be far less extremist than power-ful majorities, in any kind of ideology or power system. I’m not sure this is true but I tend to believe that the Holocaust also had something to do with the more benevolent nature of Judaism among the Jews. After-all, many Jews, after the experience, became atheists from the horrific experience (Who can blame them?). But in any case, both Maher and Harris are of Jewish-descend, and both are politically ardent supporter of the state of Israel. What I mean by this is, they both believe that the Palestinian Arabs (but also Muslim Middle-easterners in general) are much more in the wrong in the conflict, and that the major cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is due to the (mostly religious) hatred of the Jews. They both believe that there is a general agreed-upon genocidal agenda to eliminate the Jews and the whole state of Israel among the Muslims (mostly Arabs) in the Middle East. Since this conflict is a particularly sensitive topic among the Jews, this might be a major reason for their strong bias against Islam over other religions (e.g. the late Christopher Hitchens also had the same attitude, he was also of Jewish descend). So I don’t know if this is a trend but I tend to suspect it.

Note: I am currently completely neutral regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the following reasons: I know the power of media bias. I was also a victim of biased media, being a native Chinese and having to constantly come across news that will do pretty much anything to put China and the Chinese in a negative light. And I happen to know for a fact that it works. Having lived and grown up in the states for 16 years, many Americans that I’ve came across actually believe things such as that I was brainwashed to be atheist growing up, and are taught to be bigoted against religion, that if you are a (especially) Christian visiting China, you will most definitely be thrown in jail and likely to be killed. And that there is absolutely ZERO freedom of press or expression etc etc. And FYI for anyone who is reading this: none of the above of what I mentioned is accurate or true. And my own personal feeling is that I wished that these Americans, who got these extremely exaggerated, biased views from (mostly) media, will actually talk to a few Chinese people BEFORE they make up their minds about the situation in China. And this is what I wished that Bill Maher and Sam Harris would do. My impression is that they get their impression regarding the Muslim Arabs from watching the news, little much else. And they’ve already made up their minds about it so even if they DO talk to a Muslim, they would have a hard time to gain a different perspective. And since the media is so heavily anti-Muslim from the middle east, obviously I would be heavily skeptical of their portrayal of the situation over there (and btw, if you are going to tell me that the situation with China is DIFFERENT from the situation in the middle east, I’m going to have to tell you that you are in fact using a fallacy termed “special-pleading.” They are undoubtedly analogous when it comes to biased media portrayal). Another reason for my skepticism is that from my personal experience, I’ve also never met a single Middle-Eastern Muslim who expresses hatred for the Jewish people when I discussed the topic with them. And I’ve talked with quite a few (self-identified) Muslims from the Middle East. Now I understand that obviously the people that I’ve talked to would be a (most likely) biased sample–they tend to come from a more educated background. But what this DOES show is that, (at least) educated Muslims understand the adverse nature of hating an entire group of people, which means that the Islamic faith does not ALWAYS push one into the direction of antisemitism. Other factors probably would most likely over-power such absurdities in such a belief system. Even the internet rants regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that I’ve seen are more of political conflicts than that of a religious nature, especially on the side of the Arabs.

And this brings me to my main content (apologies for having to read through all of that!), which is that I’ve come across this article by Jeffrey Tayler called: “Fundamentalist” Atheists Aren’t the Issue, Apologists for Religions Are” (Link: http://www.alternet.org/belief/fundamentalist-atheists-arent-issue-apologists-religions-are). As a response to Jeffrey Taylor, I would like to address a few things I think that are important to clarify for the Atheist community that I think they tend to overlook. But at the same time, I will also address a few things that I think Reza Aslan also was not completely right (even though, like I said, at least for the interview that I’ve listed here, I do agree with majority of what he had said).

Taylor quoted a major portion of what Aslan has said, which can be summed up in this quote:

“People of faith insert their values into their scriptures, reading them through the lens of their own cultural, ethnic, nationalistic and even political perspectives”

Taylor then retorted:

“Now we have to stop and ponder what we are being sold here. Aslan is essentially taking a postmodernist, Derrida-esque scalpel to “scripture” and eviscerating it of objective content. This might pass muster in the college classroom these days, but what of all those ISIS warriors unschooled in French semiotic analysis who take their holy book’s admonition to do violence literally?”

This is kind of missing the point isn’t it? For one, Taylor doesn’t seem to understand that he just answered his own question which was what a major part of what Aslan was trying to convey: “people put their values into scriptures.” In this case, if the VALUE is such that you should teach people to use scripture to do violence, that’s what people will inevitably do! That IS based on your already in-bedded values even before you take up a religion that will fit your agenda. As Aslan pointed out, even those of non-violent religions will do violence in the name of their (supposedly non-violent) religion if that is their agenda, such as Buddhists (a group of which Sam Harris insisted that their belief will NOT drive them to do violence in the name of their religion) killing Muslims (e.g. http://time.com/3090990/how-an-extremist-buddhist-network-is-sowing-hatred-across-asia/). I disagree with Aslan when he said that: “it’s never belief, it’s the individual” because, like so many others, they separate “belief” from the “individual” like people separate genes and environment–when they are inseparately, and interact with one another for the output trait. The “individual” is also shaped by belief, which in turn reinforced by the individual. It is much more complex than making these (vastly grey) distinctions such as “religion VERSUS culture,” “religion VERSUS politics,” “religion VERSUS philosophy,” or “religion VERSUS the individual.” They are all intertwined and reinforcing each other. Therefore, to say that the cause of Muslim terrorism is their Islamic belief, is just as correct, OR false, or say that it is not. Religion acts as a powerful MEDIATOR for violent agendas, but other powerful factors such as socio-political factors must not be ignored. For a comparison and counter example to what Sam Harris emphasized in The End of Faith: “where are the Buddhist terrorists?” if the Muslim terrorists’ agenda is to kill all the “infidels” as is stated in their holy book, why have we not seen any suicide bombing in major cities of China (or Japan, or Korea)? China (and the other two mentioned Asian countries) is the most populated country with the most populated non-Muslims, surely the Muslims would be much more efficient in sending infidels to hell with more numbers than having their targets solely on the West (especially the U.S.). The answer to this is quite simple: because the middle-easterners in general hate the West (especially the U.S. in modern times) far more than those Asian countries, because of their political history. On the other hand, the middle-easterners don’t generally have much beef with the Chinese, or the Japanese, or the Koreans. China has been tradings with the Middle-East for centuries in harmony. There is a Chinese Ethnic Muslim community in Xinjiang that is actually protected under the Chinese government, and they are allowed to practice their religion (under a few restrictions). Islam is also a much more recognized Chinese religion than Christianity will ever be (there are actually THREE words in Chinese for Islam–you know the religion has been around for a fucking long time when there are three words for the same thing!).

It is also errant for Taylor to state the following:

“This is not surprising; after all, the prophet Muhammad was a warrior who spread Islam by the sword in a dark, turbulent time in history. (Christianity’s propagation had, in contrast, much to do with the Roman emperor Constantine’s fourth-century conversion and subsequent decriminalization of the faith.)”

This is quite simplifying things a bit isn’t it? Muhammad, just like ANY warlords back then, wants power and lands. So it is also true the other way around: that Muhammad spread his (Arabian) empire by the sword, then forced everyone to convert to his religion, which by the way was EXACTLY what the Romans (and the Barbarians who eventually conquered Rome) did also! The only difference was that Rome was not Christian WHEN they conquered Europe. But once it became a Christian state, they systematically eliminated any religion (except for the Jews) that was not Christianity. To say that the Romans “decriminalized Christianity” that was the reason for the spread the Christianity is ignoring a huge chunk of history, including the fact that the Christians were criminalized in the first place due to their overt intolerance of other faiths (Pre-Christian Rome, being polytheistic, had a degree of religious freedom and tolerance, this is very similar to pre-communist and even modern China). The Barbarians that eventually conquered Rome, adopted Christianity and ALSO persecuted anyone of a different faith. So what is really the difference here? I would say not very many.

Taylor then wrote: “That the faithful have always been acting on the words in their holy books may not accord with how Aslan would like us to see religion, but it is hardly news.”

He seemed to ignore that people have done the exact same thing for secular ideologies as well, such as communism, socialism, Nazism etc etc. Perhaps Taylor is one of those atheists who insists that these secular ideologies are also “religion.” But he would then need to explain where in the Communist Manifesto (which many communists hold to be the holy text of communism) did Marx mention “purifying culture”–an idea that has caused millions of pain and death in the Communist Cultural Revolution in China–as one of the tenants of communism. If Taylor insists that this idea is “derived” from communism, then again, he just corrected his own faulty assertions. Again, anything can be used to justify violence. While it’s true that the more violent the holy text is, the EASIER it is to justify violence in its name when interpreting it literally, educated, civilized people will ignore or look past those things and focus only on the good parts. That was the gist of Aslan’s arguments that Taylor ignored throughout.

On the other hand, what Aslan said also was too much color-coating religion. He insisted that religion is only a method of communication, it is a language to express a certain spiritual truth. This WOULD be how intellectuals and educated people use religion, but Aslan simply ignored the fact that historically but religion was NOT used primarily as a “method of communication.” It was used for conquest and violence. It is ironic when Aslan said: “I use Islam because it’s a language that a large population of people can understand when I try to communicate to them certain ideas.” Well, the REASON WHY a large population of people (pretty much everybody in the Middle East) can understand it is because THERE ARE NO OTHER “LANGUAGES in those areas!!” Islam was THE REASON for the fact that there are no other major religions as colored-coated in Aslan’s ideal “means of communicating” because it fucking destroyed all those other religions as means of communicating. And this kind of religious violence is still going on in the world, that is the issue at hand here. Like the Young Turk has said: “but why use this text, which we know is quite faulty, in the first place,” instead of using this “language,” the way to do it is to tell people to not use this language. That is something that Aslan simply cannot get his head around. He used the analogy of English, that they speak in English even though the language is not perfect. But there is also nothing wrong with teaching people to speak in a more effective language in the first place, especially if English is a new language to them. For example, when people ask me what language is the best foreign language to learn, I may not tell them it’s English, maybe it’s Spanish, which has a shallow orthography system which might be much easier to learn and much more effective in communicating. While Aslan is correct to say that obviously, if you have already brought up in a certain religious culture, it would be easier to communicate in the language of your religion, the issue is but we now understand that faulty nature of religion, therefore there is nothing wrong with advocating something else that has shown to be much more effective.

And this does bring me to something that Taylor has ignored throughout, which was what Aslan said regarding cultural identities. I simply do not understand why this is such a difficult concept for many atheists to wrap their heads around. By and large, religion HAS been used as a mean to identity, and it is inseparable from cultural practices. Even without Islam, the dire situation with (for instance) women rights would most likely still exist in the middle east. Because it existed in other non-Muslim conservative, traditional cultures such as India and China. Both countries with their own problematic gender issues need no holy texts to back them up, it’s just something that has been practiced for centuries on end. It can be argued that without religion, PERHAPS it would be one LESS evil, but these religious practices largely came about from what was already ingrained in the culture. The people who wrote the holy texts wrote them from what they know–which is what they observed, what they took for granted from their own cultural environments. We know the power of the momentum of culture which keeps these practices, whether good or bad. Just as people use the American culture, the Italian culture, the Indian culture, the Chinese culture etc etc, as a means to have an identity, so goes the same for people who identify themselves as Christians, as Muslims, as Jews etc etc. Aslan is wrong to insist that religion is primarily for a means to communicate also because he ignores the fact that people in general, take their identity for granted. I never thought about what it means to be Chinese when I lived in China, it was just something I’ve always known. I didn’t think about it in depth until I came to the U.S. and had met people from other cultures. Similarly in general, Christians don’t think about why they are Christians in order to use Christianity as a means to communicate, neither would Muslims. Religion for most (descent) people is simply an identity, nothing much more.

There is another commonly unsatisfying response from atheists like Taylor which I’ve seen a lot, which is this:

“This is patently untrue: nonbelief is not a ‘belief system.’ Atheism simply denotes nonbelief in a god, and the rejection of god-related assertions, advanced without evidence, or with risible semblances of evidence drawn from the holy writings themselves in dispute, that an invisible, almighty Supreme Being superintends the universe, grants our wishes or not as He sees fit, and demands to be both loved and feared. ”

While it is certainly true that nonbelief cannot be a belief system, what Taylor and other atheists fail to see is that “atheism,” like any other word, is simply a “label” for something. That “something” can go with the official definition–which would be a nonbelief, or it can extend to mean something much more, in effect becoming a belief system. It can be certainly argued that nowadays with the “New Atheistm” movement, “Atheism” HAS become a label for something much more. It has become a label for a belief system or an ideology, which includes secularism, naturalism, evidence-based thinking etc etc. While it’s true that Atheism doesn’t have a “holy book,” there are atheistic books–just like Communism had communist writings–that atheists should not take it for granted that they would never, in any possibility, be used to justify violence. Of course, I hear this a lot: “but they would not commit violence in the name of Atheism! Atheism has no connotation related to violence.” Well, Christianity can simply be: “believing in Jesus as the son of God who died for your sins”–that by itself does not connotate violence, or Islam can simply be: “believing there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his holy messenger”–that by itself does not connotate violence either. Aslan brought up this point that I do agree with: if you CALL yourself something, you ARE that thing, nobody can tell you otherwise. Even though he ignored the fact that while it’s certainly true that religion is malleable to a large extend, somethings DO stay constant. Christians by definition are believers in Christ, Muslims by definition are believers in Allah and Muhammad, those things will stay constant, as it had for centuries. But the point is, neither atheism or theism or religion by itself justify violence. It depends on specifically WHICH SPECIFIC belief you have, which would go for both Atheism and Theism. You can make a belief system of violence on Atheism as a label for ideology easily: “that God doesn’t exist AND religion must be eliminated at all cost.” Just as you can be a Muslim who believe in Allah and Muhammad AND believe that all infidels must be destroyed. These labels are as malleable as religions, and neither theists or atheists should take the: “what I adhere to cannot produce violence” statement for granted.

This goes to my criticism of Taylor’s statement that:

““I’m sure that would be quite a surprise to the countless victims of Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot.” Wrong again. Although bloodthirsty nonbelievers,  none of these tyrants committed a single atrocity (much less started a war of any sort) in the name of, or for the sake of, atheism. ”

While Aslan did go full retard to contribute Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot as atrocities committed in the name of atheism, his mistake is mainly the hypocrisy in stating that if you label yourself as something, that “something” would be what is driving you to do what you do. Well, Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot HAD a label, which is communism. But Taylor is wrong to state that those tyrants did not commit atrocity for the sake of atheism. He really needs to read up history some more. Atheism–to make everybody atheists–was a big component in the communist movement, it just wasn’t THIS (“The NEW Atheist”) atheist movement. So it CAN be argued that the part where they tried to make everybody abandon religion, is in the name of atheism (or more accurately, the atheist state). However, the reason WHY it is a fallacy to use Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot as example for atrocities committed in the name of atheism is because, even if you DO make the “New Atheism” as an ideology, they were SEPARATE ideologies and completely separate movements. The new atheists did not take up the mantle or the heritage of Mao, Stalin or Pol Pot, or the people who inspired Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot such as Marx, they did not base their writings on any of these people, and certainly did not derive any of their ideas from any of these listed people. The only thing Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot and the New Atheists had in common was that they didn’t believe in God, so the commonality is not the belief system but the nonbelief–which as I have mentioned cannot be a belief system by itself. To give an analogy, Christians and Muslims both have the similarity in believing in the Abrahamic God, so every time a Muslim suicide bomber blows himself up, you should also pin it as an atrocity committed in the name of Christianity! Of course this would be ludicrous, as we know that Christianity and Islam are completely different ideologies. Just because they share one feature doesn’t mean much of anything. Within each religion, we can also trace their belief system back to the source, using their holy book that they are still using today. The New Atheists have their own books, and again, none of these books were derived from previous books of the communist era. IF let’s say, in the future somebody use Dawkin’s The God Delusion to justify violence (somehow) then you CAN say that violence has committed in the name of the New Atheist Movement, or Atheism, but until then, it hasn’t happened yet. Sorry.

Taylor further goes on to say that: “But if a suicide bomber blows himself up inside a mosque or a market, you can be pretty sure he believed in the Islamic doctrine of martyrdom, especially if, as has so often happened, he has left video testimony saying so.”

I just need one counter example for this: The Japanese Kamakazi were similar to suicide bombers, they also believed in martyrdom, many not for religious reasons of the reward in paradise but simply the honor of dying for their country, they were not Muslims. Again, Taylor is over-simplifying things here.

Taylor further goes on to say:

“The so-called “New Atheists,” including Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens, have tried to do the opposite: get people to examine religion and help them understand it as innately backward, obscurantist, irrational and dangerous.”

Although this is accurate, this is not a legitimate defense against Aslan, as Aslan has stated in the interview that he doesn’t have any problem whatsoever for anyone to criticize religion. The major problem he has has to do with atheists over-generalize religion to mean something that in reality it is far more complex than that. To be fair, the New Atheists tend to criticize only a specific type of religion–mostly the more conservative to fundamental types, and at least Dawkins has specifically defined what he meant by religion. So Aslan would be hypocritical to insist that HIS definition is more correct than others, because an abstract term can be defined as long as it is useful to carry on the conversation. But it is true, at least from what I’ve observed, that it has gone a bit too far in which atheists are starting to over-generalize too much. I agree with Aslan that Sam Harris can be criticized in saying that what he call “nominal Muslims” do not “take their faiths seriously” (Harris seems to have his own definition of what he means by “taking one’s faith seriously” if it’s not literal, then you are not a serious Muslim, for example). That is over-generalizing quite a bit, and I agree that it is a dangerous path. It WOULD likely to lead atheists to eventually believe that if someone calls him/her-self a Christian, they most likely believe not only Jesus as the son of God who died for your sins, but that atheists will go to hell etc etc, resulting in atheists not wanting to associate themselves with that person even before they knew him/her. That IS something that the atheists SHOULD watch out, and they should to a degree take the advice of Aslan in understanding that religion can mean a variety of things, and keeping that in mind in order to keep an open mind that a label doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it means. See for example, my last post involving a Muslim friend of mine.

This goes another of my example of how religion is a part of culture. Taylor states: “Religion, in interfering with the free exercise of our critical faculties, in setting out an outlandishly untrue history of the cosmos and humankind’s position in it…is more than just what the physicist Steven Weinberg called “an insult to human dignity”

I’ve already address the part where he mentioned using religion to justify violence. But for an example: my mother burns paper clothes and “money” to mourn for her father, my grandfather. The burning of the paper is a part of the Chinese Pagan belief that whatever you burn will arrive in the underworld as real things for the dead. This could be categorized as a belief that is “an insult to human dignity” or intelligence. But does that mean the practice should be ceased? Well I for one, think that, as long as it is practiced as a part of tradition or culture, and not much else, it does not harm anyone and it can be a reminder of the Chinese cultural past. That is the same with religion also. What we can hope, is that religion will become more of a tradition rather than something that will influence violent actions or laws in politics. If religion becomes that, there is nothing wrong with keeping it if people chooses, because it is, and always will be, an important part of a culture that people use to identify themselves.

The Godless World-View

I recent was asked by a friend of mine whether I believed in nothing in the afterlife or during this life due to my atheism. He is a Muslim but one that can be described as “culturally Muslim,” or, “Nominal Muslim” as Sam Harris would mostly likely have described him. Basically, people who are brought up in a Muslim culture but are progressive enough to not believe any of the “bullshit,” only that being good to others is the most important thing. Of course there are also “culturally Christians”, especially in Europe. It is quite unfortunate that in the U.S., there are not more Christians like these people. This is one of the main reason why I am often quite critical of atheists who categorize theists in such a black and white manner. Religion is actually a blurry thing, and sometimes, people can make up their own minds about the “bullshit” and still remain “religious” to a large extend. Basically, many Christians and Muslims do not have any problem with atheists or (Shocker!) believe that somehow just because they don’t believe in God, they are going to hell etc etc.

But anyways, I’m still not sure what my friend’s view on God is, whether he actually believe in he/she/it’s existence or whether it’s more of a spiritual thing but there is a healthy skepticism involved. But he does seem to believe that there is some sort of a divine reward involved if you are good to others. And according to him, it doesn’t even have to be in the afterlife, just in this life good things will happen to you if you are good to others, and he supposed that with me, since I am an atheist, it is different.

This is actually quite an interesting and important point to address. Often people like to bring up the “reward” thing alot, but most of the time, at least from most online debates, it is about doing good for a reward in the afterlife. People might not know that actually, what he said is a very common belief among not just members of Abrahamic religions, but also elsewhere. For example, my mother often believe that life has this “balance” that you have a balance of receiving equally good things and bad things. Or, like Ted Narracot from War Horse said: “I believe God gives every man his fair share of bad luck.” Basically, there is some kind of divine law which if we do good, good things will happen to us. Well, since we are atheists, we obviously would not believe this (unless of course we go down to the discussion of why we do good, then obviously, it is adaptive–people are generally nice to you if you are nice to them–but that is not what is meant here). But if we don’t believe this, does this give a rather pessimistic world view about things? That if we DO do good, nothing will happen? What then will motivate us to do good and how can that make us happy?

Well, one might think that this world view is depressing. That is a subjective emotion which I cannot comment on very much. But what I CAN say, is that actually, the Godless world view makes us CHERISH things much more than this doing-good for a reward world view. Often theists misunderstand us. I’m sure many atheists have heard arguments such as “if you don’t have God then you will just do whatever you want.” or (my most annoyed one) “Godless Naturalists believe that they are the master of the universe.”  What these theists generally cannot understand is that, it is REALLY the opposite. Without God, to look at the world just as it is, is understanding how insignificant we are in comparing to all that is out there, and our very own existence is a miracle by itself, therefore we should cherish every moment, however short it is. The understanding that there is no such divine balance, is understanding that every good thing and bad thing that happens to you, is only from a series of random events. So when good things DO happen to you, it is like hitting the jackpot. When you compute: what are the chances that something very good (more so than average daily encounters) will happen to me–such as falling for someone, getting the dream job, opportunity to go on a once-in-lifetime trip etc. The probability is incredibly small. Think about all the bad things that has ever happened to you in your life–they are not so many. That’s like the good things also. Good happenings are rare and fleeting, once they happen they are gone. Therefore, we must cherish each and every one of those happenings. But on the other hand, if you believe in the “reward” system. You might always be expecting those rewards, since you believe in the balance. So if you are a very good person, and you do good on a daily-basis. Something good happens to you, you might start to weight your contribution with that which you have received, and you might think: “Nah, this is not the reward that was meant for me, I have done much more good than this.” Then you would’ve missed that fleeting moment, and you might always wait for that “perfect reward” which will most likely never come.

So why do good then? one might ask? Well, this is actually a much easier question to answer than one might expect. We make the following assumptions that are self-evidently valid: people in general, desire happiness in life and to pursue their dreams and their passions in peace. When those things are achieved, they give us a powerful illusory sense of purpose. That sense, when sustained, leads us to a healthy life and (in general) success in passing down our genes. The people who are happiest tend to be the healthiest, this has been proven in many scientific studies. So, in doing good, we contribute to the total net positive of human happiness. So even if we do not immediately benefit from doing momentary good things, we tend to benefit in long-term from the total net happiness that we have contributed with each other. People who tend to do good tend to be happier than people who do not, on the average. Not only this, but doing bad things do not necessarily do anything for many of us. I don’t feel good when I do bad things, and I don’t get any kind of satisfaction from it. Because I have an innate desire to be good. The assumption that without a moral guideline we would turn towards evil is basing on the false assumption that by default, human beings revel in doing bad things over doing good things. But we know that this is not true. When we are nice to people, everybody is happy. When we are mean to people, you tend to lose friends and family, those people who can make you happy in return.

A final thing about the Godless world view that theists tend to misunderstand. Theists tend to think that we atheists cannot feel what they feel, which is a powerful emotion when they think of this great being (aka. God) that can be exclusively described as “spirituality.” They tend to think that we are just all cynical materialists. When in reality, many atheists feel just as powerful emotion towards nature. It is not that we are innately rebellious and somehow wish to reject accepting into our hearts something far greater than us (this goes back to the erroneous theist notion that we place ourselves as the master of the universe), but that that “thing” which is far greater than us, is already before us, around us, within us, surrounding us, there is no need to look further than in the already-existing nature. If one wishes to define “God” as something that is far greater and mysterious which transcends our utmost dreams and imaginations, then God already exists–it is nature and its laws. Theists cannot understand that their notion of God is so base and puny compared to the things that is going on in the natural universe. Their notion of “God” is really just some dude with magical powers–a magician, if you will. And depending on which version you go by, it is a magician chick who is constantly on PMS. How unimaginative, how abysmal, how primitive is this childish fairy-tale character compared to this beauty, power, and grandeur of nature? Once you really understand what is happening in the universe, what is happening all around us, that shit will blow your fucking mind. The thing that one can only describe as “magic” already exists, and it’s all around us. Thinking that at this very moment that I am typing, a star will explode, creating elements, many of which we might never use. And somewhere in the long-distant universe, perhaps new lives are forming. Mysterious things sporadically coming in and out of existence, unknown dark matter traveling through us. Even here on earth, the atomic remains of long-dead great beings forming new life, bringing new hope to another cycle of biological evolution. If God is a being than which no greater being can be conceived, then we are living inside God right at this moment. However insignificant and brief our lives are, we live them inside God. There can be no more powerful sense of “spirituality” than understanding this.

Why then would anyone want to turn and look elsewhere to an invisible, anthropomorphic dude is beyond me. I, an atheist, choose to conceive of something far greater.

The Evening-Star (Luceafarul) by Mihai Eminescu, in short story form

One the most famous poem by the Romanian national poet, Mihai Eminescu. It is an epic poem which tells a beautiful story in romantic style (romantic meaning both the “love” romantic and also the romantic period). I transcribed this poem into a story-form for those who are interested in the story, or have a headache reading poems and just want to know what it was about. Because let’s be honest poems can be such a pain to read. So enjoy! Any comments would be appreciated.

Notice that I’m not trying to necessarily do justice as a translator of his poem, because I cannot since I am not a native-Romanian language speaker, and writing a poem into a story would necessarily lose much of the literary beauty of the original poem (I also struggled with proposition issues while transcribing this poem since my native language is Chinese in which we do not have propositions 😦 ). But I think that the story itself is beautiful, and carries deep intellectualism even without the beauty of the language. So my goal is to make the story understandable and enjoyable to lay readers. I’m also using this story for a project of mine, but of course I would need to simplify it even further due to length. But this version would be the complete version for me. 

P.S. Thanks to my dear Romanian friend who helped with some corrections and suggestions!

The Legend of the Evening-Star

(original poem by Mihai Eminescu)

There was, as in the fairy tales, a most beautiful maid of famous royal blood. She is her parents’ only child. Her beauty is bright like the sun at noon, the moon among the stars. She is compared to the Virgin amidst the saints.

Every night from her bedroom window, the princess directs her gaze towards the bright evening-star. She looks far towards the distant seas, where he, the evening star, rises and darts his rays. The princess looks at the evening star every night and falls in love with him. And he, the bright evening star, also looks upon her as she upon him, and returns his love for her.

He glides his light along her hands, while her sweet eyelashes close as she lies smiling upon her bed. She spoke to him in her sleep and said:

“O sweet Lord of my fairy nights, why do you not come? Come to me! Descend to me, gentle Evening-star, glide on a beam, enter my chamber and my mind, and fill my life with your light!”

He listens and quivers, and craving more for her love, he plunges into the sea waves as quickly as lightening. And from the depth of the rolling waves, a superb young man springs forth. A great prince he seems to be, with soft golden hair. He wears a blue shroud binds in a knot on his fair naked shoulder.

But he possesses a face that seems to be made of wax, handsome but dead. His eyes are deep sea blue, but their sparkles are thrown out.

“I come from my sphere to you as you have called. The heaven is my father and my mother is the sea. O come my wonderful treasure and leave your world with me. For I am the Evening-star from above, and you would be my bride. In my palace of coral I will take you forever more, and the entire world of the sea will kneel before your door!”

And the princess answered: “O you are beautiful but only in my dreams you are the angel for me, but for the way you have shown me, that is closed for me forever. Your demeanor and speech are strange, and your gleam cannot be shared with me. For I am alive and you are dead, and your eyes chill my heart.”

Days past and the Evening-star stays where he was in the sky just as before. The princess in her sleep remembers him again, and she calls to him once again:

“Descend to me, gentle Evening-Star. Glide on a beam. Enter my dwelling and my mind, and gleam over my life!”

He hears her, and from a dreadful despair, he falls. And the heavens revolve where he has disappeared. Out of the chaotic valleys of the world, an awesome being forms with a crown of fierce fire, floating with a sad, pale face, and deep eyes of insatiable passion. He said to her:

“I am the Evening-Star from above. The bright sun is my father and the night is my mother. Come and leave aside your world for me as my bride, and I will put a crown of stars upon your golden hair, and you would look fair and proud from above for all to see.”

The princess answered:

“Oh you are beautiful but I have seen a demon in my dreams, and the way you’ve shown me is still closed to me forever. Whilst I ache with desire for your fierce love, my eyes also hurt with I look into yours.”

The Evening-Star prince said:

“But in what ways would you have me then? I cannot hide the fact that I am an immortal, whereas you are a thing that must die!”

The princess answered:

“I do not know how to say this with care since I do not understand what you are. But if you want my love, then you must come down to this temporal earth, and be as mortal as I am.”

The Evening-Star prince replied:

“I would lose my immortality just to have one kiss from you! To show you how fiercely I love you, I will free myself from my endlessness!”

And so he went away with his love for a human, plucked himself from the sky, and was gone for many days.

Meanwhile in the palace, a servant-boy named Catalin, who is jester, gazes at Catalina, sneaks as a thief to where Catalina is, and remarked:

“How beautiful she grew like a flower ripped for plucking! Now it’s my chance to try my luck!”

But when he showed himself to Catalina, she told him to stay away from her.

Catalin said:

“I want you to stop having these empty thoughts and give me a kiss!”

Catalina replied:

“Go away! My desires are only saved for the Evening-Star above!”

Catalin said:

“I could show you all there is to know about love if you would just listen to me. When I put my arm on yours, you will put yours around mine. When I look into your eyes, do not look away from mine. When I lift you by the waist, you will be lift from your heels. When I bend my face to hold up yours, we would struggle in our sweet, eager looks for our lives. That is when you would have known about love, which is a knowledge that is plain and true. So when I bend down to kiss you, you would kiss me back again and again.”

The words from this little boy fills Catalina’s bewildering mind. And she begins to tell him what she would not tell him before:

“I’ve known your wit since we were children. But the Evening-Star came down to me from oblivion, and when I close my eyes, I am tearful of the waves of the sea traveling towards him in endlessness. He shines with unspeakable love that he bleeds out my pain. But still he soars higher and higher so that I will never reach his hand. My soul thrusts towards his cold rays, and I will love him forever. And yet forever he will wander far from me. Therefore although I spend my days oblivious to everything else, I only know that I spend my nights in rapture. Nothing more!

Catalin replied:

“You are such a child! Let us go and lose ourselves in new lands and design our own fates. We will both become wise, whole, and happy, and you will no longer long for your kin, or for the Evening-Star!”

The Evening-Star flew into the heavens and traveled for thousands of years in a flash. He sees from the Chaos’ vales the world’s first day, surrounding him in an immense ring. He flew carrying his desire until he disappears to the region that is boundless, and reaches where eyes cannot see. Around him there was nothing, and yet, all the space is filled with a strange yearning of coming into existence. Like a blind man who forgets that he is blind, he speaks into eternal void:

“Hear my prayer, O my Lord and Father. You who give life also give death. From the endlessness from which I was created, undo me, and I will praise you forever from earth. Take back my endlessness, my devouring fire, and my halo, and give me a chance to love as humans do, even for just one hour!”

He was answered:

“Hyperion, my divine child, do not ask for miracles that make no sense. You wish to be a man rather than a star, but men perish quickly, and are born every day. Stars, on the other hand, burn with a constant glow that no one can tell their time or their place, unrestrained and unending. Out of the eternal yesterday and into tomorrow’s grave, even the sun will die, and then another will take its place. Because each living thing lives because it dies; they die because they have lived.

But you, Hyperion, will never wane your sublime miracle at night. You will be the wonder of all time in the sky where you will stay. So why would you ask for such a strange request? I can give you dominions over all lands and sea, to rule over the earth with justice and might, to hear the bewitching singing of mountain climbing to the skies and islands sinking into the sea. But I cannot give you death. For whom would you have death? Just go and see on that wandering earth what you have desired is worth!”

Hyperion goes straight away to the nightly sky where he left through many ages. And he comes to an evening above a forest, where beneath the tall trees, two fair-haired young couple sit together and kiss. The girl said:

“O my darling, let me rest my head upon your breast and hear your heart beating under your sweet clear eyes. Fulfill my longing with your charm, and I will be quenched of my thirst for longing. For you are my first love, and also my last dream!”

Hyperion gazes down and beholds how the young couple loved each other in unison, and how the young man’s arm almost touches the young woman’s neck, and how she takes him into hers.

But even as she is bewitched by love, she lifts her eyes toward the starry night, and, upon witnessing the Evening-Star, she calls to him with desire:

“Descend to me, gentle Evening-Star, glide on a beam, enter my forest and my mind, and gleam over my good fortunes!”

As he has done before, Hyperion trembled at her words, his rays radiates through the forest and over many hills. But he did not fall as before, but cried from his heart:

“What do you care, specks of dust, whether you have me or someone else? You live in your narrow sphere and ruled by your fortunes. But in my steady world I will stay eternally cold and true!”