“The place where you made your stand never mattered.
Only that you were there... and still on your feet.”
~~Stephen King, The Stand

Hi all,

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.  :-)

God bless,

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 changed?

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 spoiler space...







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 five children.

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 episode.

So, yeah, I think Andrew could potentially watch/read some horror... but probably never slasher films!  Too real for an AOD.

Question: How exactly does the afterlife work in the Dyeland stories, anyway? 

Answer: Like it works in C.S. Lewis' works.  :-)

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 Heaven. 

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.

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(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.)