I support Compassion

14.8.11

Great responsibility

"Please don't fart. If you fart, it's bad, but then I have to return fire, and that opens up hell.

It's not fair! I can't do the same thing! You're like America, and I'm like... I dunno, some pissy country with only one bomb. So if you bomb me, I'll have to be like, 'Okay, I guess I have to return fire now,' but if you bomb me then everything will explode!

Do you see how that's not fair?"

2.5.11

Free Write- taking it back

A true mark of shame for me is that amid the chaos of this past semester, I disposed of a habit I developed as an everyday (or night, rather) occurence at The Brook. Freewriting-- which became my primary method of processing and debriefing in a very mentally volatile environment-- circled up and vanished like the dust of a windstorm. A vital leak in my mind for jumbled, confused thoughts was plugged. I didn't notice.

I'm taking it back.

I am the only person within a 50' radius right now who can pee standing up. Do you think that might have an effect on how I act? It's strange to think about the baby making noises that isn't crying it's something I've had to get used to like being the only person on the unit who grows hair on their face. And the baby noises are making me miss my nephew who I've never met and that makes me regret that there are people who desperately want to be involved in the kid's life, and he'll never meet them. He'll know them from Christmas cards and Thanksgiving "oh that's who brought the awesome beans" but he'll never know me-- and I'm arrogant enough to believe I'm blameless enough to be a role model-- but I just want some information. Feedback that I did all right. Can I live without it? This kid makes me want to pack up and leave sometimes-- they all have. And I convince myself that it's worth it to have started a new life in a new place away from them but I admit it hurts a lot somethings to hear about my brother having a beer without me or a baby wondering aloud where his uncle is

11.3.11

Elegy for My Daughter (3rd draft)

** This is absolutely not yet a finished product. I hope that anyone who reads this will be willing to provide insight/suggestions. Any feedback-- constructive or no, rational or no-- will be accepted and appreciated. **

And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

- Judges 11:30-31

Stone of my stones underneath my feet,
beneath the victors of the sounding
gravel-run drums for thousands
coming home. Altar-brown eyes
greet me, from down low, shame.
Warp and shackle me, thoughtless march,
I forgot the Philistine word for "daughter"
immediately, because
I thought it was too close to our word for "charcoal"--
worry mother for the rough burn
crack, I peal and plea-- for your forgiveness.

Like a virgin song at a long ago river,
singing, inhaled and let me watch,
your dark hair and light music on my wrinkly ears
I remember--
now play the tambourine
again. again. play it please
bring on, the flowing notes, the altar-brown eyes.
My Gd-winning hand on your shoulder
is too violent, too crushing harmony;
your hair still singing, exhaled.

"What did you see," my grandson
calls me from down low, my hair underneath
my feet, blood of my blood on the same edge.
"What did it teach you," he calls again
and I reply with laughter-- am I mad
for that Lord; shock, blaze, for God's sake.
A bushel of grain from that dream onward, but
just a wisp of your tambourine on the wind.
Salt of my salt underneath my feet,
bar me from returning again.

23.2.11

On "The Strength of Fields" by James Dickey

James Dickey, when we first met (as in, when I first discovered his work), seemed to have it in for me. A legend of a half-sheep stillborn in a museum preservation jar-- yeah, that was cool. Then, the book, which became a movie, which became an instantly referential banjo tune of the most unmentionable canoe trip ever. Which I've never read, by the way, and probably won't, either.

Not best friends, or similar thinkers, even. He writes in a style that blows the tops off my atria, and makes my cerebrum sick, and I don't like it.

But he writes so well. He is that player on the other team that I hate just because he doesn't play for my team. He is that general I despise when he beats me fair and square. He is that driver who silently reminds me of the fact that I never had the right of way. And then he says this to me,


"Moth-force a small town always has,   

          Given the night.

                                           What field-forms can be,
         Outlying the small civic light-decisions over
               A man walking near home?
                                                         Men are not where he is   
      Exactly now, but they are around him    around him like the strength

Of fields.    The solar system floats on
    Above him in town-moths.
                                             Tell me, train-sound,
    With all your long-lost grief,
                                             what I can give.   
    Dear Lord of all the fields
                                             what am I going to do?
                                        Street-lights, blue-force and frail
As the homes of men, tell me how to do it    how
    To withdraw    how to penetrate and find the source   
      Of the power you always had
                                             light as a moth, and rising
       With the level and moonlit expansion
    Of the fields around, and the sleep of hoping men.

       You?    I?    What difference is there?    We can all be saved

       By a secret blooming. Now as I walk
The night    and you walk with me    we know simplicity   
   Is close to the source that sleeping men
       Search for in their home-deep beds.
       We know that the sun is away    we know that the sun can be conquered   
   By moths, in blue home-town air.
          The stars splinter, pointed and wild. The dead lie under
The pastures.    They look on and help.    Tell me, freight-train,
                            When there is no one else
   To hear. Tell me in a voice the sea
         Would have, if it had not a better one: as it lifts,
          Hundreds of miles away, its fumbling, deep-structured roar
               Like the profound, unstoppable craving
            Of nations for their wish.
                                                      Hunger, time and the moon:

         The moon lying on the brain
                                                    as on the excited sea    as on
          The strength of fields. Lord, let me shake   
         With purpose.    Wild hope can always spring   
         From tended strength.    Everything is in that.
            That and nothing but kindness.    More kindness, dear Lord
Of the renewing green.    That is where it all has to start:
         With the simplest things. More kindness will do nothing less
             Than save every sleeping one
             And night-walking one

         Of us.
                   My life belongs to the world. I will do what I can."
 
And though my ribs curl with truth, I thrash around in my loud cocoon, and tell him he'll never be right.
What good will that do, my feet say, to walk where there isn't a sidewalk?
I step outside, and I curse under my breath when he shows me how obvious it is.


(p.s.-- That poem is by an American legend named James Dickey. it's called "The Strength of Fields", and it is just a bit of his amazing work. Just so we're clear, Estate of James Dickey, that I didn't write that.)

27.1.11

Status quo in the abdominal cavity

This was a joy. Total, electrifying, relentless joy. Darrin worked all the time, of course, but never like this, not in a long time. Too long, he though, as he grinned broadly. With every push, lightness, freedom. With ever pull, exhilarating influxes of raw, pore-filling energy. Of course, none of the others would have disagreed. Those in the legs hadn't been pushed this hard in decades; the massive strength of effort from their withering bodies was inspiring. Every once in a while, one of them would start complaining to his coach. But she would continue to prod him onward. His coach told him that he was becoming greater, to the benefit of everyone else around.
Darrin looked at his coach and smiled. He long, slight body weaved across his vision. Abrupt pulses of light over her pastel yellow clasps gave her a lovely tint of light blue. He felt himself keeping time with the flashes of her figure: flash, pull, flash, push...
His concentration was interrupted. The sound of a persistent whine began to grow in his ears. "Come on, please! I needed that! I'm even running out!" moaned Dom. Takers were walking off with a few generously sloshing jugs of essence, water as Old Boris called it, and dumping them into the River. Darrin noticed that the river was teeming with red Carriers, inflated and beaming bright with life gas.
It was enough of a chuckle to watch Dom's face when they made off with a small pile of gold earlier: payment to get the legs moving. His greasy fingers greedily squeezed the last gold piece as the Taker plucked it and tossed it into the River. Dom looked comically desperate to retrieve it, as if he had forgotten the astonishing, rolling hoard of gold he had accumulated over the years. (In all fairness, Darrin thought, most Movers had gathered more that their needed share of gold; but Dom's landmark of a gold mound was undoubtedly the largest.) Unlike before, however, Dom wore a face of pain, not resentment. His eyes watered as he watched what used to be his essence float away in the River. He grabbed a red cordon, sobbing, and pulled it. He was quitting.
Darrin scoffed as the whole Mover effort halted. He filled his eyes with black judgment and mustered the most contemptuous glare he could stand to make, then pointed his face at weeping, oily ball of sloth that was Dom. Tears were streaking down over his bulging chin and darkening his red dress shirt. His huge gut bobbled as he sniffed, wiping his eyes to meet Darrin's hateful look. "Oh, stop. Fine, I don't care. Stare. Laugh. No one works as hard as Darrin, who only stops to rub his gung-ho bullshit in my face," Dom seethed. He pointed downriver, where Big Glenn was making sure all the Movers had their traps out to catch clay in the stream. "You never look at them like that," added Dom, indignant.
"I don't think they complain half as much as you, Dom. Old Boris won't be happy when he finds out you pulled the cord for his 'jog' idea."
"Well, guess what! He already knows. And I submit, with the utmost golden confidence, that he'll never try it again."

20.1.11

Impart

She peeked over her shoulder, shuddered, and kept walking as fast as she could.

A slimy, pale hand grabbed her wrist, just tight enough to feel her vapid pulse.

Crunched his nose with her remaining clog, slammed apart the sloppy hand with a reluctant, thundering door.


She said yes to the salesman's first offer so quickly that he appeared puzzled, perhaps thinking she was capable of car theft.


The thought of driving even another five minutes, staring down at where those ruddy, deathly fingers reached up for her-- yearning, clawing, sweating-- she didn't tell him she would have given it away.

11.12.10

Control

"I'm not going to pretend that this is the first time a gun has been pointed at your head, Carlton, so I won't draw this out,"  Riggs sneered. His hand was shaking too much to hide, but not enough to lose its aim on Wembley's forehead. The air in the warehouse behind the auditorium was heavy with the sound of anxious breathing. More than once, Riggs struggled to swallow and gather in a breath. He clutched the funny looking jackknife-type weapon in his left hand, threatening to drop for slippery, sweating palm. He eyed it cautiously, then began again, his voice lower, "I'm taking this out of here, and we're not going to kill this one."

Wembley started, "Riggs--"

"RIGGS NOTHING! I'M LEAVING WITH THIS!" bellowed Riggs. His chest heaved, but his speech seemed very controlled. He turned his gaze to Park, who was leaning luxuriously on a stack of wooden pallets. The smoke of a new cigarette billowed up toward the ceiling. Riggs was furious. "So, you think this is amusing, do you Park? That I'm threatening to shoot your mentor, my mentor? The man who played himself as our father for ten years?

"No, that cool demeanor can't be disrupted. The fa├žade of control won't be broken by anything, even now. You're disgusting, Park. It's all for the show, isn't it? Who cares if you win if you don't look good, isn't that right, Park? ISN'T THAT RIGHT, PARK? I SWEAR TO GOD, IF YOU DON'T PUT THAT CIGARETTE OUT, I'LL SHOOT HIM RIGHT NOW!"

Riggs shook violently, his finger hooked around the trigger. Park looked up at him with a curled grin, raised his hands to plead innocent, and spit the lit cigarette out of his mouth. As Park pressed his boot to extinguish it on the floor, Riggs turned his mean, wary eyes back to Wembley. He was doing a much better job of looking frightened-- though Wembley's body was calm and steady, his eyes were wide. He stared at the barrel of the suppressed handgun, then at Riggs' eyes. He began again, "Riggs, look around you. You know the security in this building. You know your chances of making it back out of here with that weapon in your hand. Look at the decision that you are making, Riggs. This is not worth it."

"YOU'RE WRONG!" screeched Riggs. "I'm not staying here for you to manipulate me more! I'm not doing what you say! You're gonna get caught, I'm gonna leave, and that's it! I'm through, old man!" He backed toward the door, clutching the H-50 under his arm, keeping the gun pointed at Wembley. He shook as he tried to manage the awkwardly-shaped weapon under his jacket. Then, in one motion, he slipped the gun into a shoulder holster, and vanished the warehouse door. Riggs was gone.

Park lit another cigarette. Wembley turned to him and frowned. "You won't be bothered going to get him, then?"

"You told me that gun's not loaded with anything deadly. So, no, I'm not gettin' 'im." Park smiled as he took a drag. "He could've chosen one of six different routes out of the building. When they catch 'im, we know where he'll be."

Wembley put together his tools loudly. He clamped up his black bag loosely and with an angry-sounding clattering of metal. "Mr. Park, the penchant you have for assuming you have control over a given situation rivals that of Mr. Riggs, which is obviously troubling."

Park took notice of this as an insult. He wrinkled his face in offense, cigarette hanging from his partly open mouth. Wembley gathered his bag over his shoulder and started for the door. Park grudgingly put out his cigarette and followed him. Wembley put his ear up to the door, listened, then stopped Park with a raised hand. He whispered, still frowning, "You would do well not to flaunt your ability to understand the forces at play in front of the others so loosely. It is a gift that is best kept silent."

Park smirked and reached for another cigarette. Wembley slapped his hand away. "We are leaving!"

7.11.10

Psychosis

a room that smells
like a hospital. Like a crack in the clock.
Wish-you-were-
sterile.
Unmistakable, in the humming dark corners.
a black brain claw with rotting thoughts
in its grip. Sharp coal-charred grip
a different Hand-- each mind finds its own
version of obvious folly
always vengeful, twisting fingers in the slimy, gray peel:
occipital temporal always grasping never giving
it remains-
ever true to the sleeper and false
to us. I close the door.

The crazy-knuckles crunch
(as real as electric locks)
because yesterday, they crunched. I felt
the popped frail thoughts
and shattered rigid dreams, fading fragments litter my pillow.
Waking spells strangled relentless clenching
crush.
Please.
The slow tight roar, squeezing visions, until
the world is a flying powdery dust.
Let me at least rebuild the hallway!
Where is it?
Mop the floor, try again tomorrow.

1.10.10

Love your enemies

"Imagine your whole life being about the worst thing you ever did." - Clarence (played by LL Cool J on House)


I may not
You don't
They didn't
We never deserve
it but by God do we ever need this sobbing, cleansing, releasing touch of forgiveness

27.9.10

Ears to hear

I looked up from the pavement, and noticed three people in a line, walking down the sidewalk toward me. The little girl on the far left couldn't have been more than four years old; the old man on the right couldn't find a shirt before they left the house. The tall man in the middle was working on a 40 of Bud Light. Judging by the effort it took to swing it up, he was on the final lap. Judging by the heat of the sun, it was about 1:30.

There was a beat-up white building on my left. According to the little girl, this old "barely-used" furniture store was still in business. She ran ahead of the group and stuck her pig-tailed head just inside the door. "Daddy, can we go in here?" she asked, swirling back around in her lightly-soiled, white sun dress.

"No. Not today, hun." the man in the middle replied.

"Okay, daddy." She walked back up the sidewalk and gave Daddy's leg a big hug. Shirtless cracked a smile as I walked past the gang.

The scene carved out a pit in my chest. If it was a vacuum, it would explain the crunchy, unsatisfied feeling in my ribs while they caved inward. My eyes glazed; my lungs couldn't fill. I bit my lip and blew melancholy breath out from my nose. If I could have said so, I would have sworn that after two more beats, my heart would have been on the pavement in front of me in my pathetic weakness. The little girl whitewashed my mind and I forgot where I was and where I was going.

I don't remember what I was thinking about just before all that, but I do remember wiping the tear off my cheek.

28.8.10

Creative license

Sam held her hand out the window and twirled her hand in the blowing wind. It was tough to think of a response that wasn't cliche. She stirred a pile of adjectives over and over through her head, searching for different things she could say that no one else had said. It would be difficult to be honest and original at this point-- especially when she'd never had this conversation with anyone before. The irony was unbearable, and it was against her. For fear of allowing the silence to pan into awkwardness, she gave up and let it fly.

"It all sounds the same. Seriously, I can't tell one song from another. I don't know if they all eat lunch together or grew up together or were in the same band... or whatever. I can't tell them apart."

Ugh. Here it comes.

"Well, if you listened to it more often, there are nuances. I guess I just listen to it more, and I can pick out different things about them that make them good or bad," Taylor replied, while changing lanes.

This was not a satisfactory answer. No way was it only good when you listened more often, but Taylor seemed convinced. That works for weird food you've never had before, the kind that is vile on the first bite but everyone else still seems to live on it-- but it doesn't work for worship music. At least it shouldn't. Connecting with God can't be an acquired taste, can it? There was one other problem. Sam decided to give the second barrel a go.

"At least they could use different words. I feel like our songs have had the same words for two thousand years. Except for some hymns by people who were-- I dunno, creative-- every single lyric is post-consumer content." The addition of a sideways method of saying recycled on the end of her argument gave her a smile. She felt a warm hum in her chest that told her she was on a roll. "Frankly, it's annoying. I know they call God 'holy, holy, holy' in the Bible, but really, don't you think there's another word for 'holy'?"

Taylor's face shifted into a surrendering half-smile. "There's really no other word for what holy means. That's just the language of worship. We work with what we're given. It was good enough for David."

"David didn't speak English, Taylor."

"My point's still valid."

"He spoke Hebrew."

"Yeah. I get it. I misspoke. But my point really is valid. The best worship artists used this word, and we should, too."

"True."

Wait, did he just defeat me? Nuh uh!

"What does 'holy' actually mean, anyway?"

"Well, it means literally 'set apart.' When something has a special purpose for God's will, it has to be held sacred. It can't be polluted by other stuff. It's just different from ordinary. And when something is 'holy, holy, holy'-- in the ancient culture, that meant that it was at the highest state of holiness. Nothing was holier than that. Does that make sense?"

"Yeah."

Sam examined some typical white, rural graffiti on the face of the overpass. Something about Metallica, as well as prom three years ago. She grinned.

"I knew there was another way to say it."

Taylor smiled and chuckled to himself.

16.8.10

Ignorance

“… now at this time, I’d like to have all the children up front for the children’s message.”

The herd of children rumbled down from their elevated seats in the pews and slowly assembled on the altar steps. On some faces was the look of perfect satisfaction, the look of knowing the answers to a test before the test is given. A bright look in the eye toward Mama and Papa was flashed, and a feigned smile waxed and waned. But most of the children looked convincingly bored, and probably put up quite a fight to coming to church in the first place.

“Let me start by asking you all a question. Is the sun out today? Did you see the sun outside this morning when you came in?”

Suddenly, they were a united chorus. “Yeeeeeaaaaah.”

“The sun does a lot of things, doesn’t it?”

Again, their hive mind agreed with the pastor’s sound logic. “Yeeeeeaaaaah.”

“What does the sun do? Someone tell me something the sun doeeees.”

It was, indeed, a puzzling question. A blonde-haired boy stared at the ceiling, looking as if the pastor had asked him to calculate a derivative. Two little girls, wearing matching print sun dresses, whispered prospective responses to each other, carefully concealing their tentative words from the pastor. These kids had heard these deceptively simple inquiries before. If the pastor simply said what he meant, they wouldn’t be deceptive; and it was this deceit that made it so difficult to answer. It takes a keen mind and fortunate train of thought to be the hero, the one who accurately determines the proper function of the sun, or the moon, or the reason for rain, or the prettiest flower, or the best reason to do what Mama and Papa say—and therefore push the “children’s message” on. The bravest and most confident children usually tried their luck first.

“It shines?” It sounded like a question, but the freckled second-grader with bright orange pigtails was sure that the sun did, in fact, shine.

“Yes, the sun does give us light,” the pastor corrected. “What else does the sun do?”

Strike one. The ultimate insult was to waste so many guesses that the pastor became infuriated with their ignorance and revealed the answer himself. The clock was ticking.

“It’s yellow?” Again, not a question—but his response was corrected by a rough elbow from the young boy’s neighbor. This was obviously not the correct answer, nor was it even something the sun did. Foolish.

“Yes, it can be yellow sometimes. Or red, too. Does the sun ever turn red?”

“Yeeeeeaaaaah.” The pastor’s question was his way of consoling the boy for his terrible postulation that being yellow was a task the sun performed. The easier question was to build their confidence, but it was already too late.

“Does the sun make a circle around the earth? An orbit? Does the sun orbit the earth?”

“Yeeeeeaaaaah.”

15.6.10

The Parable of the Clinician and the Epidemiologist

As read from Inside the Outbreaks by Mark Pendergrast:

The Brown River usually flows lazily through the middle of town. But today it is a torrent carrying human bodies. Some, still alive, are gasping for air and thrashing the water.


Approaching the river to enjoy lunch on its banks, two doctors, horrified by what they see, begin to haul people out of the water. There are no signs of violence, but the victims' eyes are glazed, their weak pulses racing.

The doctors cannot keep up with the flow of bodies. They save a few and watch helplessly as the others drift beyond them.

Suddenly, one of the doctors lowers and old man to the ground and starts to run. "What are you doing?" yells the other doctor. "For God's sake, help me save these people!"

Without stopping, she yells back over her shoulder, "I'm going upstream to find out why they're falling in."

That sounds like a good job.

2.5.10

Whatever we are, nothing more

Certainly, you've heard this statement before. The words have shifted or morphed into their cousins at times, but this family of phrases have remained the same. In fact, I would bargain that this idea has dug its head into your mind and won't leave without serious and well-thought persuasion. Time will tell.

"If you love someone, you'll love them for who they are."

"Of course." That's what you said, isn't it? I said it, too. Because we all believe it (and by we all, I mean everyone in America). What does this really mean? Read it again.

Go ahead. Read it again.

Since this idea is totally spliced into our consciousness, I can probably assume that you have expectations what this looks like. That's not uncommon. For what it's worth, quite a few people seem to know what love is before they experience it. Don't make me use ancient Greek words to explain what I'm talking about, nit-picker, because you know exactly what I'm talking about. If we know what love is right now, and it happens later, then all we have is an expectation of what love should be. That's dangerous.

Although we claim to know what fire feels like from watching, learning, and observing-- the sensation of actually burning is quite inexplicable.

Why is it dangerous? Because our expectations come in images, and not reality. Images are easy to deal with. They act and react the way we really want them to-- sort of the way I imagined the beautiful snow before I first experienced it with my freezing, remorseful hands. How can we treat reality with any kind of fairness if we have such expectations? Was it the snow's fault for assaulting my hand when I never imagined it would?

Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Most of the time, I hear this rant on how we don't love ourselves enough to love others as much. I encourage you to engage this thought and not blindly accept it-- if we still love ourselves, despite having a front-row seat to our disappointments and shortcomings, is that the same treatment we give others? Or is it totally different?

Read the statement again. Look at the agency here. It's a cry from the beloved to the lover. "I am only whatever I am! Nothing more!"

Is loving someone for who they are seeing their shortcomings in light of my expectations and making the choice to love them anyway?

Is loving someone for who they are being forgetful of our past expectations for who I believe they should be?

24.3.10

What Isaiah 22 has meant to me

10 You counted the buildings in Jerusalem
and tore down houses to strengthen the wall.

11 You built a reservoir between the two walls
for the water of the Old Pool,
but you did not look to the One who made it,
or have regard for the One who planned it long ago.

12 The Lord, the LORD Almighty,
called you on that day
to weep and to wail,
to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth.

13 But see, there is joy and revelry,
slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep,
eating of meat and drinking of wine!
"Let us eat and drink," you say,
"for tomorrow we die!"

There is a lot of stuff going on in this passage.

- Israel is depicted as under attack. Worse than under attack-- they are under siege. The chariots and horsemen described earlier in the chapter are not Israelites, because Israelites typically did not train horses for combat or have the necessary means to field a regiment of chariots. So, to have a massive army in the valleys of the country may at other times be a mark of splendor or strength... but since they have those horses, it's a sign of defeat. Think Sennacherib (except that story ends a lot better for Israel than this one).

- The actions of Israel then mean more than ever. In this situation, they need to have the ability to make correct choices. Emergency preparations are made, and what is left of Jerusalem is being apportioned out to withstand the siege. The wall is reinforced. Water is gathered. At the surface, it looks like the Israelites are digging in and not going down without a decent fight.

- But the Israelites have instead lost heart. They have a party. Defeat is imminent, so they have as much fun as they can before the invaders snuff them out for good. All of those preparations to hold out during the siege were just rituals... what anyone should do when under this kind of attack. The building of this facade gets a huge amount of narrative time, though, while the exposition of it is only a few verses. How come?

- The end of the chapter is an ironic end of a solid leader. He has made all the right choices and planned all the right moves. But in the final moments, I make the connection that Eliakim chooses not to seek after God, even in the advent of total defeat, and especially when his choices matter most. And though the history books of the nation of Israel speak of victory after victory won by God himself, it just doesn't seem prudent to Eliakim to look to what is intangible or possibly useless against the onslaught. It seems impossible to beat these odds, so he figures his chances of living it up one last time are way better. You can see how he places his wager.

I think this chapter speaks volumes on hollow leadership. And I believe that actions define my values for everyone who doesn't know what I'm thinking. Yes, I read a lot of books about leadership. I've been to quite a few conferences and meetings on how to develop my relational abilities and communication skills and conflict management and visionary thinking. I have been in a position of effective leadership for three years. I am well on my way to knowing all the right moves--

like perseverance. Endurance. Consistency. Integrity. Dialogue. Perspective. Selflessness. Proaction.

But do I look first to God? Or am I building up a wall to be torn down tomorrow?

9.3.10

No Complaining

That's actually what this post is all about. I've decided that it isn't very healthy to keep negativity inside and building. As a matter of fact, a ton of stuff worth complaining about has piled up over the course of Lent so far. It's starting to make me physically sick. Here is where I'm going to try to spill it and see if it makes a difference. At least here, no one will be forced to listen to it. Here goes, starting most recent:

- Sometimes I wish that I could just march up to important people in charge, grab them, and just shake the daylights out of them. I really don't think that powerful people always realize what kind of influence they have over the lives of others. What's worse is that they usually utilize their power to obscure what they're doing from other people. How many people my age in America know about the UN Security Council? About how there are five permanent, powerful members who can veto any kind of intervention at the drop of a hat? Or how the last health care bill submitted to Congress by the Democrats was almost 2,000 pages long-- and it didn't even provide a way to reduce any costs? It is totally unfair that our generation has not only been charged with taking care of this obscene mess that the one before us created, but that we have to deal with the fact that we don't know anything about it! Partly because:

- People on the news are paid to obscure what happens in the world. Cline said it best on Wednesday when he said, "Using language is not a neutral act." It makes sense that news stations should be on 24/7, because people will watch this garbage over and over! When there's nothing happening, they pay random "experts" to sit at a table, whether real or virtual, and shout at each other. It's like an ideological coliseum-- and even though we pick our favorite mental gladiators, all we really came to see is blood. Part of that stems from:

- We live so inconsequentially. Our lives have purpose, but absolutely no meaning. We don't take care of ourselves. We say we need more sleep and end up getting even less. We say we really need to exercise, laughingly, as we open a bag of Doritos. Doritos aren't inherently bad, you know. And I'm not nominalizing my culture as "we" so that I'm exempt. I do it, too. The power is in place for us to buy what they make and work our nails off to get it and eat what we "deserve" and never question their necessity. What would heaven even look like for us?

- Would it just be relationships? Or the relationship? Would it be the myth of a soulmate, the one true love we are destined for since before we were born? The perfect match to our terribly flawed, incomplete, undeserving, but still somehow deserving personalities? Please. Your favorite Nicholas Sparks character is just that: a character. He's not going to materialize from the pages of your book and ask you to spend the rest of your life with him because "that's the way it should work." And Jennifer Aniston/Megan Fox/whoever-your-favorite-stunning-actress-is is not going to walk off the screen to you-- nor would you ever have a chance with her if she did. These people don't exist! It's insulting to everyone else that you believe they do exist! Why should I want to be like that? I don't want to be that guy! Guys who want to be those guys and girls who want to be those girls end up making themselves crazy/sick over it, which is really, really unfair. Stop making a list of what you want in a mate. Stop taking cues of what's attractive from the dominant culture. Just trust God and live your life and don't worry about what's next. Loneliness sucks, but a crappy relationship is worse-- trust me. I'm glad I can't complain anymore.

This didn't help me much, but it has shown me that I've changed what I complain about.

4.3.10

Electric

An assignment was postponed until next week.
A conversation with the smartest person I've ever heard speak.
A presentation on overcoming failure as a leader.
A particularly successful piano lesson.
A letter of acceptance from the University of Louisville.

They say God gives us joy in any circumstance, but all this surrounding goodness is making me want to burst.

Hallelujah, hallelujah, he's alive in me today =)

1.2.10

Marriage, 1 Cor 7, and SAU

"But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this." - the Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians

I am not married, nor do I plan to be any time soon. Therefore, I do not consider myself an expert on the Christian-style sacrament of marriage. I have a rough idea of how it works (and how it doesn't). I do, however, have a lot of experience with weddings as of late. Oh, reader, I warn you:
I'm 'bout to get all verbally offensive if you're not careful.

My brothers will back me up when I say this: the main point is the marriage, not the wedding. And though you may confess with your lips, you actions some-the-times betray those words, fellow Arborites!

Paul talked about marriage. To some of us at SAU, chapter seven of 1 Corinthians is the scariest chapter in the whole Bible, because Paul tries to convince us that it is actually possible that staying single could be better than being married!

The nerve
.

Take it easy, we'll go through this from a literary standpoint. By chapter seven, Paul is wrapping one of the harshest tirades that I've read in any of his writings. Is anyone who claims to follow Christ engaging in sexual immorality (whatever he means by this is hidden from me in the Greek, which I cannot read)? If so, kick him out! Don't even have dinner with this turd (1 Cor 5:11). Don't sue your fellow Christians, because it opens us up to be wicked to each other. We might as well just give up trying (1 Cor 6:7). Then, he comes back to sexual immorality. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Sexual sin is one of the worst kinds of sin, because we usually underestimate the consequences (1 Cor 6:16-17)!

Paul starts the next paragraph with this very interesting qualifier: "Now for the matters you wrote about:". I would really like to know what the Corinthian church body asked Paul in that letter. Paul is, of course, not married. I can only guess that it had something to do with his marital status, because he begins a huge concession on the social aspect of marriage in the church.

First of all- and this is a personal rant- the fact that this discussion takes place is a demonstration that the institution of marriage exists beyond the borders of the Christian church. Believe it or not, the Church does not have a monopoly on marriage. That's all I will say about that.

Now that we have a literary basis of context, let's look at the first bit (nine verses) of this chapter- which is about as deep as most people get before they get scared off/ justify marriage with threat of sexual sin (I wish I knew the Greek behind the phrase "burn with passion"). Paul present marriage as a sort of last-ditch form of accountability. Of course, that is not all it is, as he goes on to explain. But in the case of the church of Corinth, it would be helpful to have both marriage and a healthy understanding of the Christian marriage. Our bodies are not just our own anymore. This combats sinning against the body (1 Cor 6:18), because we no longer have total control of our body anymore. In this light, getting married is more of a confession of weakness to the world, rather than a strong statement of love or a covenant of faith.

Paul says that it is better for a man or a virgin/unmarried woman (interesting that he includes both genders in this discussion, plus the possibility of an unmarried woman who is not a virgin) to be unmarried. Deciding to be unmarried is not a sin, neither is deciding to be married. Paul says that he tells everyone in the church that they have been given a God-sanctioned place in this world (7:17). Changing that station isn't necessary, because the things of this world like baptismal water and circumcisions don't mean anything past the grave (7:31). It is much more important to keep God's commands. This is a cornerstone of both Jesus' and Paul's teachings- love God and keep his commands, and the rest will follow. Duh.

It looks like I had a lot more to say that I thought. It isn't right to automatically think "marriage" in relationships, and it isn't fair to the other person. Being unmarried can be and usually is a gift from God (7:7). I say again, it is not imperative for you to marry! So, I would encourage anyone reading this to read the seventh chapter of 1 Corinthians for themselves.

If you don't, Jesus will come back before your wedding night. Ha.

25.1.10

Dangerous Free Write

I was talking to Carrie in the car on the way back today from her house about how terrified she is of creative writing class this Spring. I asked her why and she told me it's because she doesn't "write creatively." I told her that it's easy, all you have to do is freewrite every day for a week, practically, and you'll have enough good ideas to last the whole dang semester. and she told me that she just can't freewrite, and I know that this all just seemed like a free write to you, but that's the point. It's a set-up.

I'm gonna free write here for ten minutes, to show that I've still got it. And I promise to publish whatever goes down here. Ready? Go.

I've got this Muse song stuck in my head from a dream I had last night. I know, the whole day goes by and it's still stuck in my head. The worst part is that I don't even own the new CD, so in order to listen to it, I have to go to YouTube. YouTube hasn't been working out very well for me lately, and I don't know if it's my computer or just the internet it's attached to. Which is sort of a funnything if you think about it, beacause my computer is not actually physically attached to youtube. it's just talking with it, pretty much, and then telling me with pictures what they're talking about. in that sort of way it almost feels like I'm on the outside of this internet. I feel like it's mine a lot-- you know, facebook, myspace, blogger, all of those things feel like me. I feel like the internet is mine. but it's not. no way in heck is it mine, you know? it's just a bunch of computers talking to each other, and I'm just listening in. What if my computer just up and decided not to talk to me anymore? What if it finds out how ridiculous I am, or just decided that it didn't like me? Where would I be then? I mean, the internet would have to be my computer's homie by then, and if my computer breaks up with me, then the internet is sure as heck not gonna talk to me anymore. After all, my computer was really the only reason it ever hung out with me in the first place, and hanging out without my computer would be really awkward. I can't say that I would blame the internet for that. That's just common courtesy. But it wouldn't feel right to call it my computer anymore. or the Internet. I feel like they would have to have names. And if I'm going to personify my computer, I don't feel right in calling it mine. It's not like it's my slave or anything-- in fact, most of the time, it just does what it wants anyway. Regardless of whatever I want to do. So, it is in fact, not a slave. It can obviously refuse me at anytime. Which makes me think about the way I treat... computer. Weird typing it like that. It doesn't feel like a relationship right now, that is for sure. I mean, I just push buttons, it flashes letters, and at the end of it all, I feel accomplished and it feels greasy. That's not exactly fair, right? But I fon't know how else to describe it. I mean, it talks to things. Surely it is a person. It makes decisions! There's no way it couldn't be its own entity. Whatever we do together, then, should be for the better of us both. Not just me. That's not fair. And I don't want the internet to get mad at me, either. It's much bigger than I am, and I think it's the type that wouldn't mind letting me have it for disrespecting computer.

That wasn't nearly as tangential as I thought it would be. In conclusion, however, I'm a psycho.

10.1.10

Elucidate

Microsoft Word knows elucidate is an English word, but it can't tell me what it means. Therefore, it may not use elucidate in Scrabble or Boggle. (p.s. if you can score elucidate in Boggle, I will give you money.)

p.s.s. - elucidate- to make lucid or clear; throw light upon; explain: an explanation that elucidated his recent strange behavior

I was about to complain about classes on my IM. The fact that classes are probably going to be one of the best times of my life stayed my hand. I should be more grateful.