"A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience."
~~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Hi all,

I'm starting this from a cruise ship docked outside Ketchikan, Alaska.  Just waiting for my family to wake up!  So this issue is short because it's due the morning after I get back in town.  Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy. 

God bless,

ETA: Ha.  Yeah...  So now I'm home and it didn't end up being that short.  But it does only have one "feature" and I tend to try to have at least two per issue except when there's a lengthy story.  Oh well.  Too jet lagged to do anything about that.  I hope you like rambling cause there's plenty of it below!

JABB's Angel Rules Part II

So back in JABB 369, I introduced JABB's own version of the "Angel Rules."  The backstory is thus: Martha Williamson and her team of writers decided on several rules that they'd carry throughout TBAA regarding the angels and what they could and could not do.  I then expanded upon those, creating new ones to address situations specific to JABB.  So now I'd like to get to a handful more.  As I said before, these are "rules" I use for writing JABB stories.  I do feel they're in keeping with TBAA but, as always, people may disagree. 

To start, here's an addendum on the question of can angels be ill or injured?

In 369, I wrote that I wasn't decided on if angels could be harmed while in their own (not human) form.  Well, with "Abide
With Me," I reached a conclusion: yes sorta.  Those who have read that story will recall that Andrew was injured in a few different ways.  First, his captors sometimes physically assaulted him.  Second, he was deprived of sleep, food, contact with friends and Home, and cut off from many other comforts.  Third, Max recounted this to JenniAnn: When they'd... they'd give us a hard time... it was damn weird.  I could see them swing at me.  But I never felt a thing.  Andrew said it was an angel and I believe that.  But I wish... I wish one had protected Andrew, too.  When I'd get back to where they were keeping us... Andrew would be there looking like hell.  I don't know what they did to him when we were separated.  Worst part was then they'd haul him off so I think he was getting the beating twice."

JenniAnn puts together that Andrew was the angel protecting Max and thus taking the blows.  Obviously he was in his own angelic form at the time given neither Max nor his attacker(s) saw Andrew.  Even though Max says Andrew was "looking like hell," I don't believe he was physically hurt while protecting Max.  I believe Andrew was drained and very emotionally hurt by the men's violence.  Then pair that with the fact that those evil men were punching, kicking, etc. Andrew when he was in human form and that makes for a very sorry state for Andrew.  But the visible wounds and the TBI all stemmed from injuries Andrew experienced while in human form.  The PTSD could have come from both.  The psychic wounds Andrew received while protecting Max would have only manifested themselves physically in terms of impacting the time it took to heal the human form wounds.  Think about if you cut your finger.  It takes much longer for that wound to heal when you're stressed but the stress itself isn't causing the wound.  So Andrew's angelic form's psychic wounds could have slowed down the healing of his human form's physical and emotional wounds.  And if you actually understood that the first time you read it through, good for you!  Cause I didn't and I wrote it.  ;-)  Anyhow, this brings us to...

Can angels die?

I have to be honest and say that I feel like this shouldn't even need to be addressed.  The short answer: no.  I think this may have even been in the original rules but so many fanfics have gone against it and had one or more angel die that I feel the need to address it.  So... no angel in JABB stories will ever die.  It's simply not possible in their reality.  TBAA left it a little blurry whether they could die when in complete human form.  Monica did honestly seem fearful for her life in "Black Like Monica."  So I dunno what the writers were going for with that but, personally, I can't foresee an angel ever dying in a JABB story regardless of what form they're in.  It simply doesn't interest me and it's a little hard for me to write outside of my beliefs and I don't believe real angels die.  Ever.

The above does not, however, mean that an angel's friends may not fear that fate.  For them, the angels' immortality is a matter of faith and thus can be questioned.  And in some very select cases, they may even wish the angels could die.  Both perspectives get brought up in "Abide With Me" (yes, that story really did force me to decide on some rules).  JenniAnn genuinely feared Andrew might be killed in Afghanistan.  That sounds crazy but you have to consider that she was grieving, anxious, and angry.  Her reasoning abilities definitely suffered.  Further, though she may be a bit of a rogue Catholic, she definitely is a Catholic and (like yours truly) majored in Theology.  She very much believes that God is immortal and, in fact, the ultimate Immortal being without beginning or end.  And yet, as a Trinitarian, she also very much believes that on one very dark day God's heart stopped, all vital systems shut down, and He was clinically and physically dead.  Most mainstream Christians would agree with that but I think for those of us who have studied Jesus' life to a perhaps too detail-oriented degree, that doctrine can take on an almost grimly obsessive streak that surfaces with considerable strength during times when one's not mentally stable.  In that state of mind and with that background, I thin
k it's understandable that JenniAnn feared Andrew might die but her believing that in no way made that fate likely or even possible.  No more did Owen's belief that it might be better if Andrew could die rather than be endlessly tortured.  It was simply never a possibility.  This begs the question of what will happen when Andrew starts aging given one can only age so much.  Ask me that in a few years.  ;-)

What can Andrew tell his human friends about God, Heaven, etc.?

As we all saw on TBAA, the angels spoke endlessly about God and His love for us.  The angels of death especially spoke often of Heaven.  However, the angels steered clear of doctrinal questions by and large and that's something I want to maintain with JABB stories.  Andrew can talk all he wants about Heaven and God with his human friends but he would steer clear of specifics.  TBAA truly valued faith and so do I.  I don't care to write stories about people who simply get told the absolute truth and never have to struggle with shades of gray or searching for their own answers.  For example, I can imagine that it's sometimes been something of a struggle for JenniAnn to have grown up Catholic and be taught that Jesus is the only way to Heaven yet have a number of Jewish friends.  At this point, she's worked out her own answers to that but if ten years ago she'd been freaking out about it, I do think Andrew would have been well within his rights to assure her that her friends were not barred from Heaven and that, in fact, he has taken countless Jewish people Home.  Yet I don't believe Andrew would ever start deliberating Catholic soteriology for JenniAnn's enrichment.  She and all of their human friends need to make their own sense of their beliefs and heritages until the time when they come, fully, to the Answer at the end of their mortal lives.

Similarly, Andrew will not at any point rattle off about the question of Joshua's divinity.  That's between the human and God.  If a Dyelander were to, upon meeting Joshua, discover that he was Jesus then I think it would be acceptable for Andrew to speak to them fairly freely.  The angel can very much hope and pray that a human friend meeting Joshua will come to recognize and love him.  After all, Andrew loves Joshua incredibly much and wants him to feel loved.  However, Andrew would never try to force a connection or realization.  God gave us free will and Andrew wouldn't go against that... even for Joshua's sake.

Side note: I do write Joshua from the Trinitarian perspective.  No recurring character, including Joshua, would ever get pushy about that.  As I said, I can't really write outside my belief system and my belief system is Trinitarian.  I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and also God Himself and I can't write any other iteration of Him (i.e. Joshua will never be just a nice carpenter with some good ideas and a flair for the dramatic).  Very seldom do I use capitalized pronouns for Joshua, though.  He is a fictionalized Jesus in the tradition of C.S. Lewis' Aslan and Fr. Joseph Girzone's Joshua and I don't believe it's common practice to refer to either of them with capitalized pronouns.  So this Joshua also doesn't get a capital except in rare cases.  Anyhow, I hope no one is put off by any of this but at this point I kinda gotta do whatever I want to keep myself interested.  Kinda hard to write stuff when you're not interested!

Very important question: where do Andrew's clothes come from?

I believe that the vast majority of the clothes and accessories the angels wore on TBAA came from God.  In some cases, God
may have dressed them in the sense that they had to look a certain way for an assignment and so they appeared clothed that way.  An example would be "Voice of an Angel."  Andrew was a mime and there's a particular look for a mime so no doubt Andrew arrived on scene in black with white suspenders.  Or at other times (like during "A Clown's Prayer"), Andrew might be expected to dress a certain way by his human boss and no doubt God provides those clothes if they're not already available.  Another example of clothes coming from God would be revelation scenes.  The angels clothing changes before our eyes.  Definitely a God thing.  Of course, He would take their sensibilities and tastes into consideration but I definitely think He's providing the clothes. 

But then there are times when the angels are on assignment but their clothes don't much matter.  In "Face on the Bar Room Floor," Monica recounted trying to choose shoes.  That suggests to me that the angels do all have their own wardrobes and when clothing isn't prescribed, they are free to wear whatever they wish.  But Andrew (and no doubt some of the other angels involved in Dyeland) also have a secondary source of clothing: the girls.  My thinking is that anything the girls buy or make them becomes theirs without condition.  They can have those clothes and accessories in Dyeland, when on Earth, and in Heaven.  Those clothes are treated just the same as the clothes the Father provides and He may even draw on them and clothe the angels in them at His command.  For example, if Andrew had an assignment as a cowboy, God may have him show up in jeans and a Western shirt of His choosing but then also a cowboy hat Rose bought him and boots from C.J. and such.  Bottom line: I really doubt God frowns on the girls' shopping sprees or sees them as second-guessing His fashion will.  I like to think He finds em cute and amusing.  He brought this group together and if dashing off to the Goodwill makes some of the girls happy and gives Andrew the warm fuzzies then I can't imagine the Father seeing that as anything but community-building.  As for Joshua... he well knows that if a woman wants to buy you something, you best let her because whatever she's lavishing on you may come to mean more than is at first apparent. 

Since a prior rule concluded the angels do have some limited spending money, I suppose it's possible they do sometimes buy their own clothes but I just can't really imagine Andrew going on a shopping spree for himself.  But it's possible he'd pick up an item or two here and there.  I am aware that Andrew says in "The Christmas Watch" that he bought his pocket watch at Piltdown and Sons but as he said in "An Impossible Dream" that his Father gave him the watch, I like to think the Father did indeed purchase the watch for Andrew but had him pick it up.  Because, of course, God would know several years in advance that there would later be good reason for Andrew to know about Piltdown.  Also, it might be just a bit much to have the Father walk into a shop to buy a watch...

Can Andrew spend as much time in Dyeland or with his friends elsewhere as he wants?

Definitely not.  Just as Andrew didn't get to go to Paris like he wanted, he can't go to Dyeland whenever he wants... and sometimes he's there even when he doesn't want to be.  I will say God is pretty generous with the time He allows Andrew to spend with his human friends... because otherwise I would be writing normal TBAA fanfic and lotsa folks do that.  I wanted to do my own thing.  But it makes sense within the story, too... not just taking the eccentric author into account.  In Andrew's reality, his time in Dyeland always figures into God's plan.  The Father's working through those relationships and loves all the angels and humans involved... no wonder He lets them be together so often!  But if Andrew has an assignment then he needs to be with that assignment.  Sometimes the Father might allow Andrew's friends to be with him but sometimes not.  Sometimes Andrew's assignment might even flow directly from or into his circle of friends.  Mick, Josef, Chava, Raquel, Max, and others have been assignments of Andrew's at various points. 

In some ways, I think of Andrew and Co. as a very large military family... but if the military was run by Someone who was omniscient, omnipresent, and all loving.  If God tells Andrew to go then Andrew will go wherever he's sent.  Sometimes that means packing up the family to go along.  Sometimes it means leaving them behind.  But Andrew would never run off to Dyeland against the Father's wishes.

Bottom line: if Andrew is in Dyeland that means the Father wants him in Dyeland even if not expressly stated.  It usually also means Andrew wants to be there but, on a few occasions, God has sent Andrew there even when he preferred to be elsewhere.  For example, Andrew was sent to Dyeland immediately after the events we saw unfold in the TBAA finale.  Really Andrew wanted to be in Heaven but God wanted him in Dyeland so he appeared in Dyeland.  God's will always prevails.  Thankfully, Andrew's will is almost always aligned with His.

So that's it for now!

This newsletter is dedicated to John for livening up yet another of my travels.  When I took a bus trip (my first), I ended up inadvertently revisiting "Shallow Waters" right before.  Nothing makes ya feel better when hopping on a bus than thinking about a deadly bus crash!  Thankfully, I'm a fan of ironic humor... even if inadvertent.  Then this past week I was sitting in the ship cabin I was sharing with my siblings during our cruise.  "Face on the Bar Room Floor" was my next scheduled episode for re-reviewing.  I really don't love that episode but John is so darn cute in it and so, of course, I watched it... only to have Ray Walston's character bring up a ship sinking in the ocean.  Well, at least it wasn't the same ocean.  ;-)  Thanks for the laughs, John! 


JABB 388

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