|“The place where you made your stand never
Only that you were there... and still on your feet.”
~~Stephen King, The Stand
Happy Halloween! I hope everyone has a fun and safe
one. And if you decide to stay in, avoiding the reapers and
ghouls and clutching the candy bowl, I'm sure a certain AOD won't
blame you. :-)
Ask a JABB Co-Founder: Halloween Edition
Question: Andrew's view of Halloween has
evolved in the Dyeland stories. But has his view of death
Answer: I don't think it's changed in the
sense that he still believes there's life on this side and on
the Other Side. But I think he would have to have a
greater appreciation of how scary death can be for humans.
He's always been very empathetic, of course. However, when
JenniAnn was in the hospital after being shot and hadn't yet
woken up, he had to really grapple with questions about if he'd
have to continue on without her, what that would mean for their
kids, balancing his own wishes with her parents',
etc. I would think going through something like that
would give him a greater understanding of how humans face death.
Question: Would Andrew be okay with watching horror movies or
reading scary stories?
Answer: As far as whether he'd be okay with others doing those
things, I think it would be a matter of intent. Someone
with anger issues and a violent streak watching slasher films
would undoubtedly be very troubling to him. But a person
watching the same just because they like snuggling up on their
couch with popcorn and feeling safely scared... it's not
Andrew's cup of tea but I don't think he'd get judgy about
it. Plus, horror covers a wide range of material from the
aforementioned slasher films to psychological and even
ultimately hopeful pieces. I think I'm a better person for
having read some Stephen King, for example.
As for whether Andrew would take any of this in on his
own... I'm going to say no, probably not, unless someone
else was. For example, I was among those who were
enthralled by Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House.
I could see JenniAnn feeling equally pulled to it. If she
wanted to watch it, I think Andrew would suffer through
it. And... spoilers ahead. Skip to
the next question and do NOT scroll up if you plan on
watching the show and don't like spoilers. Now for some
this! (end of spoiler space)
I think Andrew would have a terrible time, as a parent, watching
Hill House. In it, a parent faces the reality of
losing a child and the possibility of further bereavement.
For Andrew, that would hit very close to home. As an
angel, it's a given that he'll survive his children. In
the course of the series, the family matriarch also begins to
lose her mind. While this is attributed to a possible
mental illness that's undoubtedly exacerbated by a wicked
spirit, I think Andrew could possible see in it a reminder of
his potential fate with JenniAnn. They both know that
dementia runs in her family and, again, it's simply a fact that
Andrew will survive her. And did I mention it's about a
couple with five children living in a huge, castle-like
house? It just might be a little creepy for Andrew to
watch it in a huge, castle-like house with the mother of his
However, I think Andrew would find the experience ultimately
rewarding if he could make it through the finale. Sure,
it's scary and even a little gory at times. But,
ultimately, it's about family and how people face grief.
In fact, it seems the director even based characters on the Five
Stages of Grief. Plus, there's a lot to be discussed
regarding how siblings relate to each other, what it means to be
a parent, the nature of time, the meaning of home, and the
importance of love. These are all things that Andrew deals
with either in his personal life, as an AOD, or often
both. He and JenniAnn could have some very worthwhile
discussions. The show also does a great job of showing the
cost of protecting people rather than being honest with them...
something Andrew has repeatedly struggled with. So I think
if he was exposed to horror of that nature, he might be open to
exploring it more. Especially upon hearing really gorgeous
lines like this:
Luke: I don't- I don't know how to do this without you.
Nell: I learned a secret. There's no without. I am not
gone. I'm scattered into so many pieces, sprinkled on your
life like new snow.
Sigh... Yeah, I basically sobbed through the whole last
So, yeah, I think Andrew could potentially watch/read some
horror... but probably never slasher films! Too real for
Question: How exactly does the afterlife
work in the Dyeland stories, anyway?
Answer: Like it works in C.S. Lewis'
Okay, maybe with some tweaks... Obviously, there's Heaven
and I don't think that requires much explanation. Those
who accept God's love go to Heaven.
While I believe the term "Hell" has popped up, I prefer to use
Sheol. It's where Andrew goes in "Shadowlands" and is also
where people waited until Joshua was crucified and opened the
gates of Heaven... which should imply that Sheol doesn't
automatically mean the Dantesque place of "abandon all hope, ye
who enter here." For Yosef, Yohannan, and others who
preceded Joshua in death but were people of goodwill and love,
Sheol was a pleasant place. On the other hand, people who
are angry at God, consumed by regrets and won't accept mercy, or
refuse to acknowledge the harm they caused in life (think Nen
and Tzila) experience Sheol as a very bland, rundown
place. The further they get from the entry to Sheol, the
darker and drearier their perception of Sheol is. Hence,
shortly after his death, Yehuda experienced Sheol as a very
negative place because he was in a very negative state of
mind. As time went on and he heard more and more
encouraging things about Joshua, Yehuda drew closer and closer
to the entry of Sheol and things grew less and less bleak.
At the entry to Sheol is a bus which carries willing passengers
from Sheol to the mortal realms or even one of Joshua's
lands. Yehuda took the bus, got dropped off in New York
City, tried to make-up for his betrayal of Joshua, and,
ultimately, accepted Joshua's mercy. So he never went back
to Sheol. The most important aspect of Yehuda's story is
that neither Joshua nor the Father sent Yehuda to Sheol... he
chose Sheol. And then he chose to leave Sheol and,
ultimately, to go Home to Heaven. In the Dyeland stories,
no one ever gets pushed into Heaven. It's always a choice.
As for Joshua's lands, they exist for different reasons for
different people. For JenniAnn, Joshua's island was a
place to stay until she'd decided whether to return to her
mortal life or continue on to Heaven. For Eben, it was a
place to get his head and heart right after leaving Sheol.
And, for Nen and Tzila, another such place existed to help them
make amends to the people they wronged... a sort of Purgatory.
Question: Could Dyeland stories ever feature a ghost?
Answer: I actually sometimes forget that, by
many definitions, Yehuda would have been a ghost. At least
I would consider him to be one. This is purely my own
logic but I consider a spirit to be anyone who purposefully
returns to the mortal realms. Thus, Maryam, Yosef, John,
etc. are all spirits albeit in human form. They're not
back because they have unfinished business or something not
right in their own lives. They're beings of Heaven who are
just helping out. Basically what angels do but as
humans. Ghosts, on the other hand, haven't yet gotten to
Heaven and need help. There's something wrong with them
that needs to be righted. Yehuda needed to make peace with
his actions and reunite with Joshua. Were he to ever
return to Earth, he would now be a spirit having come from
So really the question is would Dyeland stories ever feature
another ghost? I dunno. It's certainly
possible. With the stress on free will inherited from
TBAA, it seems possible that, after their death, someone could
simply choose to not move on. But, at this point, I have
no ideas for such a plot and am, frankly, pretty behind on what
I do have plans for! I'd actually be more interested in
exploring what sort of ghost stories and urban legends Fr. Mike
and other native Asterians grew up with. Considering
Asteriana was founded by displaced Irish people, there's gotta
be a good deal of lore there!
Even though this is on the short side, I think I'm going to go
ahead and end things here so I can get back to the story I'm
working on. I truly hope you all have a fun-filled Halloween
and get to enjoy some sweet treats!
This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for
bringing Andrew to life so we could all be reminded that death
isn't the end, just another beginning.
(Photo Credits: The photograph above is from
Touched by an Angel and owned by CBS Productions,
Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions. It is not
being used to seek profit.)