“You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.”
~~C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Hi all,

I'm still hoping to write something for Valentine's but it's definitely not ready today.  Instead, I decided to do another trope-themed newsletter.

I hope you're all doing well and staying warm!

God bless,

The Four Loves... in Tropes
(links to all stories are here)

This time around, I wanted to feature love-themed tropes for Valentine's Day but I didn't just want to highlight romantic elements from the Dyeland stories.  So I decided to take a page from C.S. Lewis and focus on the Four Loves: Storge, Philia, Eros, and Agape.  If you need a refresher on the Four Loves, tvtropes.org has a good overview here

Storge (Family)

The Dutiful Son- Max doesn't fill this role because his siblings leave or prove incompetent.  It's just that he's the only real adult among them.  Avi and Belle are small children.  Shelby, though mature, is still a minor.  And while Violeta is technically an adult, given she's an angel being in her mid-twenties doesn't quite mean the same as it would with humans.  She's still very young and immature.  So when things get rocky as with the beginning of the pandemic or Andrew being injured after an attack by demons, Max packs his family up and moves to Willowveil to help out. 

Hereditary Hairstyle- Not hereditary since they're not biologically related but Vincent, JenniAnn, and Shelby all have long blonde hair that they tend to wear down.  Shelby subverts it a little, of late, by putting in purple and green streaks. 

Adult Adoptee- Max was well into adulthood when he was adopted by Andrew and JenniAnn.  In fact, JenniAnn is only seven years older than Max.  However, the adoption finally gave Max the loving parents he'd been missing.  Shelby was very nearly this since Andrew and JenniAnn only very recently officially adopted her.  However, since she's seventeen she's still technically a child.  Unlike Max, she had Andrew and JenniAnn acting as parental figures for most of her life.  They only made it official because Shelby's older brother, Asher, got concerned about what would happen if Shelby had a medical emergency and no legal guardians.

Raised By the Community- This happens in the Tunnels.  While couples certainly have and raise their own children, the orphaned and abandoned children the Tunnel dwellers take in are raised by the community as a whole for the most part.  There are a few exceptions.  Father/Jacob raised Vincent as his son.  While the Tunnel community helped, Andrew and JenniAnn raised Shelby and she often lived with them including currently.

Playboy Has a Daughter- While Josef had already settled down somewhat following Sarah's death, finding Daisy really put an end to his free love existence.  He ended up marrying Amber-Marie and they're raising Daisy together.  Josef is devoted to his wife and child and definitely not looking to play the field any more.  Though this didn't involve a daughter, Eric experienced something similar when he met Neela and her son, Zane.  Supporting Neela through Zane's health struggles forced Eric to grow up and set aside his playboy ways. 

Not Under the Parents' Roof- This is somewhat subverted.  In "God With Us," it's revealed that Andrew and JenniAnn let Joccy stay in Takoda's room (where they're obviously not having sex but could be canoodling) so long as they're discreet.  Andrew and JenniAnn believe that certain romantic activities are best experienced within a committed relationship and they didn't want Belle bursting into Takoda's room and getting the wrong idea at a time when Joccy's and Takoda's relationship wasn't very well defined.  I assume they've also stressed to Belle that it's not okay to burst into people's bedrooms but... kids will be kids. 

Philia (Friends)

Token Houseguest
- Willowveil has two: Takoda and Marty.  The former was just supposed to stay there for a bit while he was working out some issues with Joshua.  And then I just never bothered to move him out.  Assumedly one day he and Joccy will settle somewhere.  As for Marty...  It was kind of the same thing.  I think I originally wrote that he'd occasionally use an attic room to do some writing.  But then that just morphed into him having his own garret.  I dunno.  I just like them as part of the household, I guess! 

The Clan- Even though I tend not to refer to them as such, I do think of the Dyeland characters as being part of the Dyeland Clan, the St. G's Clan, the Vampire Clan, or the Tunnels Clan.  Obviously, the lines get blurry as some people belong to more than one group.  And the lines will blur even more once the children grow up and intermarry.  So really it's more like sub-clans beneath the umbrella Friends Clan.

Intergenerational Friendship- JenniAnn and Chava grew very close prior to the latter's death.  Behnam is close friends with the elderly Stanley who works at the library with him.  While I never got around to writing about it, Stanley actually moved in with the Al-Mitras during the height of the pandemic so he didn't have to experience lockdown on his own. 

You Are Not Alone- The Friends are pretty great at this.  When tragedy or otherwise hard times strike, they run the gamut from fairly normal supportive things (dropping off meals) to more extensive help (letting people move in with them).  When Andrew has to head to Sheol, a slew of Friends spend the night in the Fields of Gold with him and his family.  Once Andrew is gone, they rally around JenniAnn and the kids and try to keep them reasonably calm and distracted until his return.  When Joshua is shot, the Friends arrange a pretty big candlelight vigil to support him and stand against racial and religious violence.  When Emma was struggling with addiction and self-harm, a few of the Friends went to her rescue and Peter let her move in with him. 

Staying With Friends- While Zoe is able to continue living with her mom, Joccy just can't.  So she moves into the Tunnels.  Now she spends considerable time at Willowveil since Takoda lives there.  Everyone rallied around her to provide her with the support she needed. 

Eros (Romance)

Opposites Attract- I already covered this one very briefly but I'd now add that Andrew and JenniAnn are actually a good example with a twist of something I can't quite name.  Not only are they opposites in some ways but the things that make them opposite seem like they should be traits of the other person.  For example, in "God the Gloom," JenniAnn brings up how the two of them remind her of the "kite and the line" metaphor from The Haunting of Hill House.  But while you'd expect the human to be the more grounded one and the angel the airy one, Andrew is actually the grounded one and JenniAnn is the airy one.  And this is actually borne out.  JenniAnn's job is teaching theology which is a very intellectual, spiritual thing.  Meanwhile, Andrew's a carpenter.  The language they use towards each other plays with this, too.  Andrew sometimes refers to JenniAnn as "my angel" (quite seriously) while she'll refer to him as "my man" (less seriously... maybe?).  And... they're not wrong.  After a tough assignment, JenniAnn does comfort and counsel Andrew which are pretty angelic things to be doing.  And Andrew's filling a pretty traditional, gendered role in the family as the primary breadwinner and protector.  Andrew is also considerably more worldly than JenniAnn which is probably not surprising given he's so much older.  But it does sometimes seem a little goofy when he's had to explain sex related things to her when his species is completely asexual and the vast majority of her species is sexual.  Personality-wise, they're also pretty different.  While I'm not sure I'd say Andrew is extroverted, he at least copes much better with meeting new people.  Meanwhile, JenniAnn very seldom goes anywhere unless someone she already knows tags along.  Andrew is more apt to keep things to himself.  JenniAnn needs to talk her feelings out.  Although, over the years, there has been a lot more of Andrew being more vocal about his emotions.

Romantic Fusion- Sort of.  In "A Thousand Years," JenniAnn has the following dream which she interprets as seeing the mind of God before Creation:

"It was like I was walking in a galaxy.  But as I passed the stars, I saw they weren't really stars.  They were people a-and animals and plants and creatures I've never seen before!  And I saw two in the distance.  And I was drawn to them.  There was... something like a bubble around everything but these two... they were getting so, so close.  And I was afraid that the bubbles would burst and then something bad would happen to them.  And the bubbles did collide.  But it was like they just merged into one bubble.  And the two stars.... people... they touched.  That was us, Andrew!  I'm sure of it!"

Whatever is happening there, I think it's the case for all anam caras and not something exclusive to Andrew and JenniAnn.  And it's not their actual selves that merge.  They remain two separate entities.  But whatever that protective bubble is merges.  I envision it as something like twins in the same womb. 

What Measure Is a Humanoid?
- So...  TBAA left it kind of ambiguous what the angels' true forms looked like.  Were they just what we saw on TV but perpetually glowing?  Or... was it something else?  Google "Biblically accurate angels."  Now imagine JenniAnn and Arthur acting lovey-dovey with those beings.  It's... interesting.

Relationship Writing Fumble- I did this.  I never intended for Josef and Amber-Marie to end up together.  I just figured Amber-Marie would help Josef learn to parent Daisy.  But then two different people who I don't believe were in contact with each other asked me if they were going to be a couple because it sure seemed like it.  So I went ahead and went that route.  And, really, I'm glad I did.  I think, originally, I just found the idea of Josef always loving Sarah and never moving on romantic.  But... that's kind of a lot.  Finding someone else after a loss in no way diminishes a person's love for their previous partner.  After all, Peter was married before Emma.  That doesn't mean Emma is second-best or that Jaz is forgotten. 

Disabled Love Interest- I would like to get better about disability representation in the Dyeland stories.  But, for now, JenniAnn's epilepsy is a recurring element in her relationship with Andrew.  Because she's unable to drive, there were at least a couple of times when Andrew had to go pick her up when she found herself in a troubling situation. Andrew's gotten very good at getting JenniAnn into bed or some other relaxing location when she does have a seizure (often stress-induced).  The tables have turned before when Andrew had two separate incidents of traumatic brain injury.  The most important thing is that whichever one of them is struggling, the other steps up and tends to their partner's needs and those of the family. 

Clay was burned over a significant portion of his body, including his face, while serving in Iraq.  Initially, he hid in a hospital room and largely refused contact with others.  But once Joshua broke the ice, Clay and Kylie struck up a romance rather quickly.  While Kylie is sensitive to how the scars impact her husband, she's made it pretty clear that they have no bearing on her attraction to him.

I Love You, Vampire Son
- Isolde turned Marco into a vampire, at his suggestion, when he was dying.  He had TB which was a death sentence at the time so he told her to either drain his blood to give her energy to escape their increasingly dangerous village OR turn him into a vampire, too, so they could get away together.  She chose the latter.  That was the 1500s and they've been together ever since.

Agape (Unconditional/Godly)

Ideal Hero- Joshua... obviously.  But I also think Andrew fits.  Unlike Joshua, he's not sinless.  He can be a little prideful.  But he always puts others above himself and he never sets out to be unkind.  He chose to age alongside JenniAnn so she wouldn't feel uncomfortable and so his children could have a normal childhood.  When demons attacked them, Andrew did everything he could to protect JenniAnn even to the point of being seriously harmed himself.  He went to Sheol to stop the demons from tormenting his friends.  And I could go on.

Hope Springs Eternal- Even in Hell.  God's love is so immense and unconditional that He continues to try to reach those in Hell by sending a supernatural bus there to pick up anyone willing to get on.  Yehuda eventually does.  When Andrew goes to Sheol, he brings a message of hope that leads to Eben and the Nephilim being freed.  And, as will unfold in upcoming stories, God definitely never gave up on the wily serpent of Eden aka Crowley.

Go and Sin No More- Joshua tends to be this way when people discover who he is.  He doesn't harp on what they've done.  He doesn't punish them.  He acknowledges the harm that may have unfolded but then he moves on and encourages them to do the same.  The only exceptions are people who stubbornly refuse to take responsibility for the pain they've caused others.  Joshua is less warm with them... but he still loves them.


This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye whose work highlighted several facets of the Four Loves. 

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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.)