Daily Archives: May 1, 2012

“Photographs and Memories”: Attachment and “Big Sacraments”

It’s that time of year again: first Communions, Confirmations, and, soon, weddings.

“There is a time for penance and a time for partridge,” Holy Mother Teresa of Avila said, and celebration is great, especially when we’re celebrating Christ’s grace in the sacraments.

However, in the vein of cautioning people about the secularization of Christmas, it is important to beware the secularization of the Sacraments themselves. We know it’s a problem with “Cultural Catholics” who treat the sacraments as merely ceremonial “rites of passage”. And again, celebration is wonderful.

I just worry we become too hung up on fancy clothes, photography, and party planning, and we forget to actually remember that these are all supposed to be prayerful occasions.

I also worry that we take times when we’re supposed to be growing closer to God and turn them into times for building on our human habits of attachment–the very attachments we need to shed if we hope to not spend a few centuries in Purgatory.

What did they do to _Young Justice_?

Even my trivia-minded brain couldn’t list the numerous adaptations of the DC super heroes without help. When we first started seeing ads for _Young Justice_ on Cartoon Network in Fall 2010, my wife said, “Can’t they come up with something new?”

In many ways, _Young Justice_ *was* something new. First, like _Batman: the Brave and the Bold_, it attempted to put the “big names” in supporting roles and focus on some of the less-overexposed DC characters. Familiarity with the big names of the Justice League and their rivals provided a fictional backdrop in which to focus on character development and story development.

So we had a limited team out of which only Dick Grayson/Robin was a major character. The other Young Justice team members–Wally West/Kid Flash, Aqualad, Artemis (a very obscure character), Miss Martian, Speedy/Red Arrow, and Superboy (the more recent concept that is a clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, not Clark Kent as a teen)–were relatively obscure or relatively recent characters. Superman and Wonder Woman hardly showed up at all in the first season, except in big group scenes. Batman was the only major character with a regular speaking part, and the team’s “adult” “chaperones” were usually Black Canary, Captain Marvel or Red Tornado (and Captain Marvel is a fantastic treatment of the character, retaining the personality of a 10 year old boy while in his magically adult form).

As the season progressed, the team expanded slightly. The latter part of “Season 1” (which technically ran from Thanksgiving 2010 until last week–Cartoon Network has a weird concept of “seasons”; I think all three “seasons” of _Transformers Animated_ aired within the same kind of time frame as season 1 of this show) introduced Zatanna to the team’s ranks, and another female character I never heard of, whose name I don’t recall, was added at the very end.

This small roster, again, led to great character development. Meanwhile, there were several excellent ongoing story arcs. In particular was a conspiracy called the Injustice Society, which in turn was overseen by a group of mega-villains called The Light (including Ra’s al Ghul, Vandal Savage, Lex Luthor, and a few others I hadn’t heard of before this show). They carefully weaved plot threads and elements throughout the season. The show developed an _X-Files_ or _Law & Order_ technique of time cards, but unlike even many fictional live-action series (let’s start with _Star Trek_’s stardates, and then look to how L&O episodes play out over months, technically overlapping each other when the characters’ lives move from episode to episode), the producers intentionally use this technique to show where the episodes all fit together. It starts in the pilot, when four “cold theme” villains (e.g., Mr. Freeze, Capt. Cold) attack different cities at exactly the same time.

Season 1 was just tremendous.

Season 2, called _Young Justice: Invasion_, premiered this weekend, and I’m scratching my head. First, the story has skipped 5 years. This throws a wrench in both the sequential action and all the carefully built story threads. All of a sudden, it’s five years later, and everything’s different (for example, the romance of aliens Superboy & Miss Martian has apparently ended, and she’s now dating some amphibian dude). Correspondingly, the “teens” from season 1 are all grown up, and are now both the junior members of Justice League and the overseers of Young Justice. Dick Grayson is now Nightwing, and Tim Drake is Robin (no word of Jason Todd).

A few of the regulars from last season were missing in this weekend’s premiere, with no word of what happened to them. The team’s roster is expanded. The plot’s scope has broadened to an impending alien invasion (hence the title), which is somehow related to the supervillain conspiracy from season 1.

It took years for them to progress from _Batman The Animated Series_ to _Justice League Unlimited_. _The Batman_ introduced Justice League in Season 4 or 5. _Smallville_ became essentially a Justice League-without-the-costumes series by somewhere in the middle of its rather long run. Even _Batman the Brave and the Bold_ (IIRC, the original comic of that title was really what got the post-1960s concept of “Justice League” going), which had started as an attempt to scale back down to Batman & 1 other guy per episode, ended up as essentially another Justice League show by its last season.

I’m hoping this season will be really good, but I’m bummed they’ve jumped right back into “big team with tons of obscure characters,” because the character development was part of what made season 1 so great. I’m also bummed that in a show with such a finely crafted narrative (though largely drawn by the original _Young Justice_ comic book miniseries), they took such a big jump in time. I wish they’d at least gone one more season before doing this.

Why is anything bad the parents’ fault and anything good random chance?

One great irony of parenting is that your kids’ faults, or anything bad that happens to them, is always your fault. Anything *good* that happens to them or they do is like some random chance.

“Your child misbehaved. Obviously, you’re a bad parent.”
“Your kid got hurt. You’re obviously a bad parent.”
“Your kid isn’t doing well in school. Obviously, you’re a bad parent.”

Then, when they behave, the school, or “genetics,” or the child alone gets the credit, as if the parents had nothing to do with it.
If they do well in school, it’s the school’s credit, or theirs, as if the parent has nothing to do with it.

Which is it?

Are parents just dumping grounds? I guess that’s one of the sacrifices.

This is a constant annoyance, but has come up several ways recently.

One was through a back-handed compliment. Our daughter’s orthodontist recently complemented her improved behavior and said, “If you’re doing something differently, it’s working.” I said she’s on a new ADHD medicine.

Another exception-that-proved the rule was at our second daughter’s First Communion Sunday, when our closest friends from our former town came to celebrate with us. They’re homeschoolers, and we met them through the homeschooling group there. They know our kids are in brick-and-mortar school this year because of our help.

The two eldest girls entered their respective grades with a few deficiencies we were aware of–and the school hasn’t particularly done anything to correct those deficiencies more than we would, except complain to us that our daughters weren’t performing well in those areas. The only exception is math, because the school has a nominal math tutoring program, but I’m not even sure how much that helped when it was one volunteer parent tutor dealing with a room full of kids from various grades. Our eldest “struggled” with math (on her standardized test scores from last year, all her other subjects were exceptional. Math was only a few points short of “exceptional”). She was, in the first couple quarters, a “B” student in Math, making her eligible for both math tutoring (B & below) and Math Club (B & above). She finished the year as one of the top performers in the 4th & 5th Grade category of Math Club, and her team won their big tournament last week, partly because of her key contributions.

Our second-grader started the year with a skills test that said she was at a 4th grade academic preparedness level. She’s had nothing but “Greens” for behavior” and high “A’s” all year.

Much of the commentary we’ve received from family has implied that this is *in spite* of their being homeschooled up until this year. Our friend at the First Communion party actually *credited* homeschooling with it, and it was so refreshing to hear.

If you seek help for your kid’s needs, you’re a bad parent because you’re showing weakness (“If you can’t feed ’em, don’t breed ’em” as the modern day Republican Scrooges like to say). If you don’t seek help, you’re a bad parent. If you seek help for your kids psychological or behavioral issues, you’re a bad parent because you’re showing weakness or “labelling your kid.” If you *don’t* seek help for those needs, it’s “Why do you let your kid act like that?”