"Earth’s saddest day and gladdest day were just three days apart!“ ~~ Susan Coolidge

Hi all,

Happy Easter!  I hope you all have a blessed holiday filled with love and hope!

God bless,

PS- Kim's follow-up to "Glad Tidings" has been added to the Author's Cut and can be read here.

Fun with Tropes: The Joshua Edition

(Click here for more on the origins on this photo!)

In honor of Easter and because I wanted something quick so I wouldn't have to actually work on this on Easter Sunday... I returned to
tvtropes.org to find tropes that somehow figure into the Dyeland stories' depiction of Joshua aka Yeshua aka Jesus.  Turns out there were several!

Angelic Beauty- TBAA had a good looking cast so this was largely inherited.  However, even those angels I've created fall into this.  Eli looks like Jesse L. Martin who is quite handsome.  Violeta is stated to be very beautiful and Snow White-like.  Reuel looks like a movie "hot Jesus."  Andrew, actually, is a bit of a subversion, though.  He's stated to be just a bit less good looking than John Dye.  Even JenniAnn agrees with this so it's likely true.  The Angel of the Lord has not yet appeared in Dyeland stories but for those who interpret that to be God the Son... he probably subverts this trope.  Pre-Incarnate Joshua and Incarnate Yeshua look the same and he's not a looker.  That being said...

True Beauty is on the Inside- Joshua is incredibly handsome!  Well, so says those who know and love him really, really well.  While Maryam is probably perfectly aware that her son doesn't match the cultural standards of beauty, she thinks he's handsome.  Violeta, on the other hand, is probably shocked that not everyone thinks Joshua is handsome.  He's only ever been her super-awesome Creator who dances with her and comforts her so her Daddy's Girlness overrides any other aesthetic considerations.  Meanwhile, JenniAnn probably wouldn't ascribe "handsome" to Joshua but takes it a step further and dubs him perfect looking.

You're Not My Father- This is a trope I've deliberately avoided with Joshua and Yosef.  I actually have seen/read Jesus-themed things where this happens.  I can't imagine Joshua and Yosef having this moment, though.  For one, they don't get into ugly fights.  For another, they utterly believe they're father and son.  That they have no biological connection doesn't matter.  That Joshua is begotten of the Father matters deeply but doesn't change the fact that Yosef raised Joshua.  Joshua would no sooner say Yosef wasn't his father than tell Andrew that he's not Belle's father.

Happily Adopted- See above.  Yosef and Joshua are thrilled to be father and son.  All the adopted kids and parents in the Dyeland stories are this.  
Half-Human Hybrid- Another one that the Dyeland stories actually end up doing away with.  Lots of people thought/think Vincent from Beauty and the Beast is this.  Most likely half-human/half-lion.  In the Dyeland universe, Vincent is... Irish.  He's fully human.  Joshua was just being creative.  One would not be wrong to assume that Joshua chose for Vincent to look that way because of the Lion of Judah/Aslan.  At least a handful of times, Vincent has been a comfort to people because he reminds them of Jesus/Aslan.  On that note...

Voluntary Shapeshifting- Joshua can do this.  Thus far, the Dyeland stories have only depicted him turning into a butterfly and a different looking man (aka Jack).  In the last Christmas story, he told Caleb (or was it Edward?) that he does sometimes appear as a lion.

Sleeping Single- Entirely subverted in Dyeland stories.  JenniAnn thought that Maryam and Yosef might prefer this sleeping arrangement but Joshua quickly put her to rights and Maryam and Yosef get to violate the Hays Code to their holy hearts' content.

Outliving One's Offspring- Sadly, a number of characters have experienced this including but not limited to Maryam (temporarily... Happy Easter!), Raquel, Vincent, Catherine, and Kelly.  This is one of the things that makes Andrew's and Monica's family situations especially poignant.  While they all trust that Joshua has something planned, no one is quite sure how the angels will "go back to normal" and not end up permanently aged and watching generations of their family die.  Taking it deeper, this is Joshua's reality.  He will, at some point, see every single one of his children die.  But death is not the end, naturally.

- Several of the characters have surnames that point to either their parents or ancestors further back.  In the first century, they were Yeshua ben Yosef, Yosef ben Yaqob, and Yohannan ben Zakharia.  In the modern era, Joshua, Maryam, and Yosef all use Davidson while John uses Aaronson.  A variation is Fr. Mike whose last name, Solas, is actually an acronym meaning Son of Lewellyn and Sibyll.

Afterlife Antechamber
- Joshua's island is this.  JenniAnn goes there after being shot.  Spirits from Heaven proper can go there to visit with the in-between person.  It's multi-purpose as Joshua also uses it as a sort of halfway house (Eben goes there after leaving Sheol) and some place people can occasionally get to in their dreams.  Andrew and JenniAnn were both there during the former's captivity in Afghanistan.  Emma and Joshua were there when the former had her epiphany about the latter during JCS.

Celestial Bureaucracy- TBAA had a bit of this (think Ruth) but I've tried to steer completely away from it.  The problem is it assumes God needs to deputize people.  God is all powerful and omnipresent.  God could handle every single job if He wants to.  The Dyeland stories maintain some of TBAA's celestial structure.  There are supervisors and trainees.  There are angels who are a bit smug and overly proper.  But God, in the person of Joshua, is shown to not need any of them and is perfectly willing to intervene personally if someone gets out of line.  Joshua and the Father put those structures in place solely for the angels' own benefit and because they want them to feel a part of things.  Who doesn't want work that feels worthwhile and invigorating?  Who doesn't want to feel part of a loving team?  Whatever bureaucracy exists in the Heaven of the Dyeland stories, it can be shifted at any moment and exists only for the mutual betterment of everyone evolved.  I've also done away with TBAA's development structure that tended to have Choir then Search and Rescue and/or Annunciations then Caseworking and then AOD or Supervisor.  The angels in Dyeland could bounce all over in no particular order.  Each is on an individualized path chosen by God and themselves.  Take Violeta who went from Records right into AOD work, albeit with a supervisor in Andrew.

Due to the Dead- The Dyelanders and their cohorts take this very seriously... a lot because Joshua takes it very seriously.  Even before becoming involved with the Dyelanders to any great extent, Behnam is determined to give his sister, Badriya, a proper burial.  Catherine travels clear over to Ireland to spread Cora's ashes over her husband's grave.  Joshua and Abraham show up to say Kaddish over a mass grave at a concentration camp.  Tiva helped JenniAnn prepare Chava's body and, despite not believing in Joshua at the time, was committed to accurately depicting Jesus' burial in Jesus Christ Superstar.  Josef was distressed when faced with difficulties surrounding Sarah's burial so the Dyelanders stepped in to offer a burial plot and service.

Fatal Method Acting- Has never happened in a Dyeland story, thankfully.  However, JenniAnn was scared of this fate befalling Joshua and, years in the future, Emma is concerned about Peter having a heart attack while on the cross.

Heroic Sacrifice- Joshua, of course.  But also Lor who was shot while shielding Cora and, unbeknownst to him, an unborn Vincent.  Badriya was killed while trying to protect Andrew and Max.  (ETA: And David!  I can't believe I forgot him before.  He sacrificed himself for his wife and friends.)

Fake Nationality- While the Friends are very firm in their belief that Joshua is Jewish and born in Judea, they can't populate the entire JCS cast with the same.  Peter, who currently plays Jesus, is half-Scottish and half-Mexican.  Zeke, an African-American, plays Judas.  Violeta isn't even human but appears Caucasian and plays Mary of Nazareth who, again, is Judean Jewish.  With the exception of Monica, all the other angels are playing humans so basically Fake Species.  It's also Colorblind Casting since Violeta and Peter, playing mother and son, aren't the same race and there's no guarantee the apostles who are supposed to be siblings will be played by actors of the same ethnicity.  They may or may not be, all depending on who is available during a given run.  And while still under the broad umbrella of Middle-Eastern, Behnam and Isra who are Afghani play Maryam and Yosef... who are not natives of Afghanistan.

Pre-Sacrifice Final Goodbye- Well, maybe not so final... but Joshua has this.  The opening number of JCS' second act essentially re-enacts Yeshua's good bye to his Twelve.  Joshua sort of subverted this with some people, though.  He later admits to JenniAnn that he didn't let any of the women go to Gethsemane with him because he was afraid that he wouldn't have been able to leave them.  He did manage quiet, even unnoticeable good byes with them, though.  Andrew manages to get a final conversation with Joshua before his Crucifixion but Joshua doesn't even realize he's the dying father Andrew is mourning.

Laser-Guided Amnesia- Joshua, by choice.  During the Incarnation, all memories of His life as God the Son were erased.  Hence, he didn't recognize the angels who occasionally popped up during his ministry even though he created them and has had several long, emotional talks with them.  For that matter, he also didn't remember creating humanity, the animals, the world.  Nothing.  When Joshua incarnates among the Friends, a less encompassing amnesia occurs.  Despite having previously known everything they would ever say or do during their entire lives, he "forgets" it so he can have normal conversations with them.  The Friends sometimes take advantage of this to surprise him.

Public Execution- Yeah...  "The Carpenter" contains Andrew's account, given to JenniAnn, of Joshua's scourging and Crucifixion.  And the Friends re-enact it every single Lent at St. Genesius'.

Old Man Marrying a Child
- You know those paintings you sometimes see of a young, fair Mary with her grizzled, graying husband?  Yosef's not a fan.  He's so bothered by a nativity scene at a department store that Maryam "magically" turns the old Joseph figurine's hair black to comfort Yosef.  While an 18/19 year old getting engaged to a 14 year old girl is shocking to us now, it would have been the norm for Maryam and Yosef and would definitely not be cause for saddling Yosef with the "old man" label.

Rescued from the Underworld
- This is basically what the Harrowing of Hell is about.  "The King," "Child of Laughter," and "Shadowlands" all make reference to Joshua going to Hell/Sheol after his Crucifixion and collecting Yosef, Yohannan, Isaaq, and others.  Andrew causes Eben and a bunch of Nephilim shades to leave Sheol in "Shadowlands."

Genetic Memory
- This is one of those things that either is or isn't in Dyeland stories depending on your interpretation.  Ever wonder why Belle just toddled on up to her uncle Behnam in "Hope and Healing" despite never having seen him before?  It's possible that her birth mother's memories of her big brother pointed Belle to her uncle.  But it could also just be that Belle's extremely friendly.  One could also imagine that some of the Friends were quicker to recognize Joshua because their ancestors may have personally known him.  Who knows.

Self-Sacrifice Scheme- Joshua, all the way.  He subtly alters the lyrics to JCS' "Gethsemane" to drive home the point that God the Son aka himself was as much a part of the "scheme" as God the Father was.  There are even hints of Joshua having one-on-ones with the angels to tell them about his plan prior to the Incarnation.

They Died Because of You
- All of the Friends have had to grapple with this.  Even the angels eventually realize that while Joshua didn't die directly for them, he died so that they could enjoy their current lives.  Imagine how Adam would feel if Kylie and Clay were consigned to Sheol after their deaths?  Or Andrew or Monica thinking the same of their little ones?  And then there's JenniAnn...  She was actually testing Joshua's JCS Crucifixion make-up when she realized she was recreating the same wounds on Joshua that Joshua endured to save her and everyone she knows.  Kemara struggles a lot with guilt stemming from this when she learns the truth about Joshua's true identity.  Joshua does a very good job of keeping any of the Friends but getting too burdened by this.

Momma's Boy- Joshua is the epitome of the best strain of this one.  He may have always existed but he's not too old to lay his head in his Ama's lap or listen to her and his Abi tell stories. 

Give the Baby a Father- St. Joseph is even mentioned on this one.  The Dyeland stories make him even more an example of this.  While he was already betrothed to Maryam when she conceived Yeshua, he ends up renewing his vow to marry her.  In the present day, Yosef insists that even if Yeshua had been conceived via rape as he initially feared pre-visitation by Gabe, he still would have married Maryam and fled the country, raising the baby as his own.  While there's no way to prove this hypothetical, "Believe" provides strong reason to accept it.  Upon finding Maryam pregnant, Yosef was more horrified by the idea that he'd failed to protect his beloved than that she might have actually cheated on him. 

Human Mom, Non-Human Dad
- Guess Who?  This could actually apply to Belle, too, albeit not biologically.

Like Father, Like Son- Despite not being biologically related, Joshua and Yosef are a lot alike.  They're both carpenters and both devout Jews... up until their religious law runs against their compassion.  They can both have very visceral emotional reactions.  They are very fond of sweets.  Both are loyal to those they love even if others turn their noses up...  Yosef marries a pregnant girl, Yeshua spends his time with prostitutes and tax collectors, both befriend a homeless, mentally ill man.  They're both very affectionate (kissing, holding hands) and don't care how this looks to the modern world.  Maryam likely never felt unloved with these two around.  And, of course, they both love God the Father immensely.

True Love is Boring- Maryam and Yosef completely defy this.  They've known each other since Maryam was 2 weeks old and been together since she was fourteen.  They're so much a part of each other that after Yosef's death, Maryam continued to sleep with his robe, presumably until her own death.  Far from bored over 2,000 years later, they still enjoy being in each other's company and go out of their way to please each other.  Yosef even made wedding rings for them both to wear.  It goes without saying that they're in a Seduction-Proof Marriage

Pals with Jesus
- The Dyeland stories turn a bunch of the TBAA angels into this.  Others who haven't been mentioned in Dyeland stories are implied to be this.

Reasoning with God- Because Joshua makes himself less than omnipotent when with the Friends, they have opportunities for this.  In "The Carpenter," Joshua is at first against JenniAnn and Kemara going to a raunchy dance club with him and Andrew to rescue Emma.  Then JenniAnn points out that, as angry as she is, Emma is bound to flee to the ladies' room when she sees Joshua.  Knowing that, as a man, he can't enter the ladies' room, Joshua concedes and Kemara and JenniAnn come along.  Even before that, Joshua was taken aback by the idea of moving into Cora's house and Andrew had to put aside some of his concerns before Joshua accepted.

The Not-Love Interest- Joshua... with so many people!  Arthur saw JenniAnn kiss Joshua and worried they were having an affair since, given he didn't know Joshua's true identity, he failed to recognize it as a father-daughter moment.  Upon seeing the white JenniAnn, Middle Eastern Joshua, and a half-Afghani Belle, Beatrice called them out as a biracial couple with an out-of-wedlock kid.  Way off.  When Joshua showed up as Owen's "date" for his grandma's birthday, he was assumed to be Owen's boyfriend.  Derek accused Joshua of sleeping with Emma.  A jeweler thought Peter and Joshua were a couple when they came looking for Emma's engagement ring.  And then there's everything with Mary Magdalene...

The Unfettered- Joshua is the most noble variant of this.  His mission is to love, completely and utterly, and nothing is going to stop him.  Yeshua endured agony to accomplish his purpose.  In the lead up to that, he was constantly threatened and his reputation was torn to shreds.  If he cared, he didn't let it stop him.  While Joshua doesn't face the same sort of danger, he is similarly unmoved when people take swipes at him.  Whether accusing him of loose morals (see the listing above) or saying cruel things to him or threatening violence, none of the trouble-making characters ever succeed in making Joshua stray from his path.  That being said... he will get riled when someone targets a loved one.  He kept his cool when speaking to Beatrice... up until she called JenniAnn a whore.  He was even courteous to Owen's homophobic parents until Calvin called Owen "disgusting" and Joshua became downright antagonistic.

Good is Not Soft- John is nice and cuddly and rather amusing... but don't forget he's the same man who slung pretty harsh insults at the king and his wife.  Yeshua was very much the same when it came to hypocritical religious leaders and Joshua won't hesitate to give people like Calvin and Derek verbal lashings.  Michael is completely untroubled by scaring the bejeezus out of the hate group members.

The Patron Saints of Dyeland

Keeping in the Christian vein, I thought it'd be fun to consider what future Dyelanders might assign to the current Dyelanders as patron saints.  If you've read about El-Chanan, one of the Sibling Cities, you know that they honor the saints held in common with earthly Christianity but have also picked a few of their own over the thousands of years they've existed.  Therefore, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the characters we're reading about now could eventually be named saints by their descendants.  For now, here's what Kim and I came up with... some funny, some serious!

St. Andrew- Patron of adoptive fathers, PTSD survivors, and people with poor taste in shoes.

St. JenniAnn- Patron of the childless who wish for children and against eating disorders.  Also patroness of those harboring feelings for angels of death.

St. Vincent- Patron of homeschool teachers, those with facial differences, and people who can recite every Shakespeare play and poem on command.

St. Owen- Patron of T-shirt canon operators, snarky people, and creators of religious art.

St. Eric- Patron of reformed players and against floor damage.

St. Emma- Patron of sexual abuse survivors, theatre operators, and restaurant workers whose patrons settle their bills entirely in change.

St. Peter- Patron of actors depicting Jesus and co-patron of theatre operators.

St. Arthur- Patron of fathers separated from their children and baristas.

St. Monica- Patron of caffeine addicts and coffee growers.

St. Violeta- Patron of shepherds and hair stylists.

St. Adam- Patron of knitters and cake decorators.

St. Kemara- Patron saint of totally exasperated, at-the-end-their-rope moms.

St. Sean- Patron saint of model builders who realize that one essential piece is missing.

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for reminding us, as Andrew, of the true message of Easter: God loves you and has prepared a place for you in your eternal Home.

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(Photo Credits: The majority of the photographs used on this page are from Touched by an Angel and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions.  The top photo is from FreeBibleImages and originally from the Lumo Project's fantastic Gospel of John starring Selva Rasalingham which you should totally see!  They are not being used to seek profit.)