"If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend,
that would be giving as the angels give." ~~George MacDonald

Hi all,

With Lent having arrived, I've been in a contemplative mood so this seemed like a good newsletter to do now.  That and it was one I could write largely during breaks at work without disruption from certain dogs...  ;-)

God bless,

Ask a JABB Co-Founder: The Jenni Actually Uses Her Theology Degree Edition

Do you have any particular rules for writing Joshua?

Sorta/kinda.  First, there's always going to be a subjective component to him.  As much as I try to stick to the biblical narrative and historical facts about the time in which Yeshua of Nazareth lived, his character involves a great deal of interpretation and, as we all know, if you give a Bible verse to five different people, you're apt to get five different interpretations.  So Joshua is representative of who *I* believe Jesus to be but I know that I surely can't get everything right.  All I can do is try to maintain some sort of consistency in how he's represented in my stories.

One thing I try to do is remember that Joshua really doesn't care what people think about him.  Obviously he wants people to believe in him but if, for example, Joshua was driving around and saw a prostitute in distress, he would pick her/him up and take them to wherever they needed to go to get help.  He would never let "Oh but then they might think I slept with a prostitute" stop him from doing the right thing.  The only times Joshua cares about his reputation are when he thinks it might make people feel like they can't approach him.  So, for example, he did everything he could to help Emma see that his reputation as a stony judge was untrue.

I also think the old "good isn't always nice" sentiment is an important part of Joshua.  The bulk of Joshua's scenes are with Friends and other people of goodwill so he doesn't have to be tough very often.  However, when he does, I don't have a problem with him causing pain, emotional or even physical.  He knows that sometimes pain now can stave off a much greater pain later.

I try to avoid having Joshua, at length, talk about anything I know virtually nothing about.  While we can be sure he knows every last rule of physics, I certainly don't.  As I wrote above, I know it's possible I could have him pegged completely wrong on a given moral issue.  But no one can prove that.  I would feel pretty foolish if I had him say something that was or could be proven to be false.  So don't be expecting Joshua to nix the existence of, say, Bigfoot when it remains possible, however unlikely, that one could be proven to exist.

Finally, I always try to remember that Joshua's capacity to love is infinite.  I think sometimes TBAA made it seem like humans were more important to God than angels.  Truth be told, I think a lot of religion suggests the same.  Maybe that's so if real angels don't require love but I find that hard to imagine.  A being with an infinite capacity to love has no need to form hierarchies in His affections.  Joshua loves Andrew as much as he loves JenniAnn as much as he loves Belle as much as he loves Lulu... and, yes, as much as he loves Satan.  Joshua may show that love differently to each but the love he feels for them is equal in intensity and unconditionality.

So why did you decide to introduce the idea of angels having anam cara relationships with humans?  That's a pretty big departure from TBAA.

Actually, it's partly owing to unanswered questions I still had after TBAA ended.  Why did Monica seem so drawn to Mike in "Netherlands"?  The Driver used those feelings to tempt her but I didn't get the impression he was making something out of nothing.  Generally speaking, temptation only works if the thing being dangled is desirable.  For
example, I don't drive and don't particularly like cars.  Therefore, if the Devil tried to tempt me with a Corvette, he'd get no where.  I don't want a Corvette!  So I had to believe that Monica wanted *something* with Mike.  What that was, I wasn't sure and TBAA never clued us in.

At the same time, there's the whole idea of the Nephilim and the Watchers and such in the Bible and apocrypha.  For a long time, I wholly discounted it.  And then I actually read the Bible (minus one book which I'm saving cause I'm weird like that).  And, since I'm Catholic, my Bible contains a book called Tobit.  In Tobit, a woman named Sarah loses a succession of husbands because a demon keeps slaying them before the marriages can be consummated.  When I read the book, I got the impression that the demon was straight up obsessed with Sarah.  So it was no longer just a brief passage in Genesis that seemed to imply angels of the fallen variety had unseemly attachments to humans.  There was desire there of some sort.  But what sort?

This brings me to a famous C.S. Lewis quote: "If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world."  I've always taken from those words the idea that, while our desires can be perverted, at root they're God-given and meant to be fulfilled in a way God takes pleasure in.  So if fallen angels/demons have desires for humans, that would have to be a perversion of a desire ordained by God.  So what was the desire ordained by God?

My personal answer to that question was: anam cara-ism.  It would be a love that, at its best, would be selfless and unconditional, never lustful and only romantic in the best senses.  It would never be based on gaining power and the love shared by the anam caras would spill out and bring joy to others... say adopted children... and not destruction a la dead grooms and a race of six-fingered warriors.

Monica's attachment to Mike (aka Arthur) made so much more sense within this partly biblical narrative, partly personal reasoning.  Monica simply wanted to love this man and be loved by him and do great, beneficial things together.  She didn't want a husband or lover.  She wanted a soul mate.  And if she wanted one... why couldn't Andrew?

Happy bonus: No more writing about JenniAnn's unrequited love!

So do I think any of this could be real?  Could angel and human anam caras exist?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But, to me, it makes as much sense, if not more, than the Nephilim-are-human-angel-hybrids thing.

Why did you decide to expand Dyeland to include El-Chanan and its residents?

For starters, I never intended for Andrew and JenniAnn to wind up as close as they are.  Evidence for that can be seen as late as "Promises of Someday" with Belle's "Uncle Andrew."  But then when "The Carpenter" came around and I had to deal with Joshua as more than the occasional cameo character, I just couldn't see him being satisfied with that.  Why shouldn't Belle have a father?  And if Kelly can be mother to a child, why can't Andrew be father to one?  Why would God allow one and not the other?  So "Uncle Andrew" became Daddy.  When you have two people who are already close raising a child together, it makes sense that they'd become closer still.  Same thing with Arthur and Monica.  But I didn't want to make it seem like the Dyelanders and Friends were some oh-so-special group without precedent or like.  I didn't want the anam cara relationships to seem exclusive to this one clique of humans and angels.  By introducing El-Chanan, I could place the angel-human pairings into a much bigger framework that stretches back to the Great Flood if not before.  And by having the El-Chananites be descendants of the Nephilim and those who knew them, it also anticipated the later human trafficking story. 

On a less lofty level, I also thought El-Chanan might offer some infrastructure that the Dyelanders will eventually need but haven't had near enough time to build.  If you consider that El-Chanan society has been going on for thousands of years then it makes sense that they'd have hospitals, colleges, etc.  For the Dyelanders, there would be occasions when seeking medical help from those who know their secrets might be necessary.  For example, what if Vincent needed surgery?  They're certainly not going to wheel him into a Manhattan hospital and wait for all heck to break out.

Finally, it was just plain fun to start from scratch with a whole new world!

A Brief Survey

And now...  I have some questions for whomever would be willing to answer them.  I'm hoping to find some time to build up a store of newsletter material that I can use on weeks I get really busy.  Knowing the following will help me do that.  Thanks for any input!

1.  Do you have a favorite JABB newsletter feature (i.e. top tens, stories, quizzes, etc.)?

2.  Are there any features that aren't currently part of the newsletters that you'd like to see here?

3.  Is there anything you'd be interested in contributing to the newsletter?

4.  Apart from the newsletter, is there anything that you feel would be helpful to have on the web site that's not already there?

5.  Do you have any questions for any of the following features: Ask a JABB Co-Founder, Ask Andrew, Ask the Angel of Angels?

6.  What are your favorite TBAA episodes or other John Dye projects? 

7.  Anything else you'd like to share for the good of the cause?


This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for getting me through obtaining that theology degree!  I became newly obsessed with TBAA as my graduation neared and I'm sure a lot of it was because of how soothing our lovely Andrew was.

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