"Go with it as best you can. Do that day by day and give the rest over to God. There's nothing else you can do, is there?"
~~ Paul Edgecombe in Stephen King's The Green Mile

Hi all,

Before I get into the newsletter, I wanted to share an update on my pet mice since I mentioned them last time.  Sadly, Gussie passed away early last week.  Thankfully, she was able to pass on at home and I think that helped Jackie to realize what was going on.  Jackie's doing pretty well.  It just makes me sad to see her alone.  But I'm grateful that Gussie is no longer suffering. 

I've now been able to resume focusing on my abundance of housework so, once again, this is a short newsletter looking back on my favorite bits of JABB's nearly 600 newsletters and the related stories.  I hope you enjoy the continued (short) trip down memory lane.

God bless,

My Dyeland Favorites: Part II

All stories referenced can be found here.

Favorite Head Canon
- Okay... so this one may be controversial.  And it may eventually be more than head canon.  I haven't decided.  And, yes, a person can have head canon about stuff they write.  I have lots of head canons about various Dyeland characters that I haven't made official because sometimes I like for things to be ambiguous.  Or I might change my mind.  Or it's just not really that important.  But, anyway, my favorite...

Yosef is unable to father children.

Do I believe this historically?  No.  Personally, I'm not even convinced that Yosef of Nazareth didn't father some/all of the "brothers and sisters of Jesus."  I have no problem believing he and the real Maryam had other children... but neither do I have a problem believing they did not.  Since I opted to have those folks be cousins/adopted siblings in the Dyeland stories, that did leave Yosef without any direct descendants... although he would still be biologically related to the "brothers and sisters" since they're the children of his sister.  Ultimately, I did that because there's not consensus among Christian denominations so no matter what I did, someone was going to disagree.  So I picked the variation that best worked with my stories.  I didn't want to necessarily have to account for a slew of siblings when writing flashbacks.  And since adoption is common among the Friends, it felt thematically appropriate to have Joshua come from a family that included adoption. 

The reason I like the idea that Yosef couldn't father children is there's kind of a running theme in the stories of things that, at first, seem troubling but end up being the only way for a character to become fulfilled.  For example, I think both JenniAnn and Shelby experienced some angst in being asexuals and seeing their friends pairing off.  They felt left behind.  But if JenniAnn wasn't ace, her relationship with Andrew would definitely be more difficult.  And if she'd been interested in sex and, thus, more likely to get pregnant, maybe she wouldn't have the five kids she actually has and very much loves.  And Shelby might not have grown so close to Violeta.  And who knows where that would have led Violeta who is mildly obsessed about finding her anam cara.  So, along those lines, it's kind of cool to think that Yosef was initially so troubled by Maryam's pregnancy but then literally had the best son ever and, after his death, found out that Joshua's Incarnation was the only way he was going to get to experience accompanying his wife through a pregnancy.  It's commonly said that God is a father to the fatherless but maybe, just once, he was also a child to the childless.

A runner-up would be my head canon that John/Yohannan was asexual.  I dunno.  I just get that vibe from him. 

Favorite TBAA Throwback- So even though Dyeland is spun-off of TBAA, more often than not, the Dyeland stories are completely independent from TBAA barring some characters.  But sometimes they pick up a plot line introduced on TBAA and run with it.  And I think my favorite example of that is the introduction of Arthur (formerly known as Mike on TBAA).  There's a lot about "Netherlands" that bothers me.  But I actually quite liked the idea of Monica having this mysterious, life-changing connection with a human.  It fit in really well with the idea of human/angel anam caras.  I think it actually makes the Dyeland stories seem like less of a departure.  Arthur and Monica also gave me the opportunity to explore some things that I just can't with Andrew and JenniAnn... namely what it would mean to give up sex when one has previously had an active sex life.  And then there was Liam.  The "surprise kid" trope just wasn't something I could do with Andrew and JenniAnn since he can't father children and JenniAnn would surely have noticed if she'd been pregnant for nine months. 

Favorite Soap Box Moment- I think probably the discussion of purity culture in "The King."  Purity culture is one of the seediest, most insidious aspects of modern Christianity IMO.  So it was really cool to be able to write a scene in which some of its evils are laid out and then Joshua and Maryam have the opportunity to respond. 

I also appreciate every opportunity to bring up that Joshua isn't a blonde white man and is very much unimpressed with bigots.

Favorite Romantic Moment- This is hard...  But I think I'm going to have to go with the first time JenniAnn lets Andrew see her topless in "Cupid and Psyche."  I think it was important for a number of reasons:

1.  It allowed him to see her scar from when Rex shot her which is something that had become out-sized in his imagination.
2.  It allowed JenniAnn to reclaim a part of her body, in a manner, after she'd been assaulted by Rex.
3.  It showed she'd made some progress on pre-existing body image issues.
4.  It demonstrated that being asexual doesn't necessarily mean that a person is squicked out by intimate touch.  JenniAnn doesn't want to have sex.  That doesn't necessarily mean she doesn't want to share physical intimacy with her partner.  Ditto for Andrew.
5.  I just think Andrew's really cute in that scene. 
6.  Honestly, it was a big step for me.  I was kinda nervous writing it both in that it felt a little uncomfortable for me but also I wasn't sure how people would react.  It was fine on both counts.

I also really love Yosef giving Maryam a wedding ring in "The Carpenter." 

And because sometimes being tropey is fun... I loved Lor "rescuing" Cora from the convent in "Origins."

I also enjoy the "sex scene" in "Song of Songs" because I thought clothes piling up on a chair was a nice way of doing the old "showing the door close behind two amorous people" schtick.  Also, I'd been waiting since circa 1989 for Vincent and Catherine to get their happily ever after.  It was due!

And this is one where I'll probably think of another example right after I send this.

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for looking awesome in that green shirt in that one TBAA promo shot.  Been thinking about it as I wash my own green shirts as part of Project Post-Mice Clean-Up.

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(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from Touched by an Angel and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions.  They are not being used to seek profit.)