I really can think of no term more degrading to a human being and his fundamental incapacity for grasping philosophical, even scientific, concepts than Atheist. Can you imagine any assertion more narcissitic, more arrogant, more absolutely nonsensical than that of the "knowledge" that something doesn't exist? That something has never existed? That something can't exist? Why they haven't blasted all claims of their own existence for their incessant screamings of their own omniscience I will never understand.Read More
Once upon a time, scientists were merely God-lovers who wanted to understand how the stuff God made worked. "You've given us some awesome stuff here; mind if we open it up and take a look at how You've wound the gears?" we asked.
"Go ahead," God said.
And then something happened.Read More
Following suit of fellow (far more successful) blogger Ally Spotts (VERY worth reading), I am writing this as an open letter to women from a man's perspective. Have no fear, you cuddly, adorably uptight equal opportunity extremists, I'll write my piece to men too. This has simply been on my mind for a while and recent events have simply pushed them into the realm of "need to be developed." Sitting for 2 and half hours fighting madness in Cultural Anthropology doesn't hurt the desperation for something to ponder. These are simply the words of an admittedly somewhat jaded boy who is tired of what he sees on both sides of the spectrum. So without further ado, you may read my first of two letters here: Dear Ladies, I am going to speak purposefully in a rather extreme, generalizing way about the issues on my mind with a specific rhetorical stance meant only to enforce my points and encourage thought. I will be writing in mass with the inescapable knowledge that I have close female friends who represent everything that is right not just with women but with people in general. I am extraordinarily aware of and embrace the fact that just about every rule has exceptions. The generalizations I am about to say are surely among those things with exceptions.
1. Never let someone tell you that you can't do something just because you're a girl. Not where you thought I would start is it? Of course not. You ladies are the crowning achievement in God's creation. He stopped with you because it simply couldn't get better. You got the beauty. You got the parts to complete your male counterparts. You were not created as subordinate or as superior, but from Adam's rib: his side. Under his arm, like two classmates posing for a picture on the playground. Totally different but completely equally favored. This being said, listen up. I told you there's nothing you can't do, and I completely back that, as long as you understand what I mean by nothing. There are logical limits to that kind of a statement. You can't fly. You can't survive without water. There needs to be a line drawn between can't and shouldn't. I have a lot of readers of this blog who do not subscribe to the same system of beliefs as I do, and so you will find fault with this next part: the Bible (my basis for how we should live) lays out groundwork for the specific things men and women should do. God sets it in motion in Genesis with the differing punishments given to men and women. Paul speaks of them in his letters to Timothy. This is not a post about what your roles are, nor is it a commentary about how fair or unfair I think they are, but it is rather an exhortation to women who are of like mind that there are Scriptural examples of the expectations God has for you. In no way is God limiting the things you CAN do, He simply says, like He says to every person alive "lay down what you think of yourself and instead do what I would have you do."
2. No matter the reason you do this (which I may never understand), leggings are never an acceptable alternative for pants. I don't know the names of all your short little skirt things or those shirts that attempt to shove in our faces the degree to which the fat content of your chests is disproportionate to that of your male counterparts, but I'll let you in on the deep, inner-workings of the male brain: we notice. The more willing you are to show it, the more willing boys are to be slapped for looking at it. The more willing you are to show it, the easier boys think it is to get you out of it. The more you show us, the less we think you are capable of intellectually. Yes, it is vulgar. Yes, it is unfair. Yes, I hate that it is true, and no, I am not exaggerating. I think that if women knew what flit through mens' brains based solely on what you are wearing (NOT on body size or type or preconceived notions or heresay), this country would be dressed differently. You might clean out your closets. If you hold it in front of a hungry animal, you cannot get mad at it for eating. Sure, men are pigs, but you do not have to be the slop they consume.
3. (this is the longest and last point in this letter)Please, for the love of all that is holy, acquire your validation from some source that is not a man. *I speak more about the concept of Identity here, if you want to read* Men are horrid, superficial, two-faced creatures who, if you look for acceptance from them, will give it to you for the right price. I am sick of reading blog posts and articles and bad poetry about how to find the right man for you, because it insinuates a one-track mind. It focuses attention, calls importance to, deems necessary, the almighty relationship. Not like, friendship relationship, you know, the boyfriend/girlfriend, hold hands down the street, whisper sweet nothings and make it official on Facebook and Twitter and Myspace relationship.
We, as a society, are obsessed with it. It sells so well! Even in the most manly of movies, the perfect girl ends up with the rugged hero (I'm sure I'll talk about this sometime later) because that is what is expected of us. What are every one of Taylor Swift's songs about? Why do women worship Nicholas Sparks and Rom-Coms and write to Abby about relationship problems and drown their faces in makeup and assume that innocuous, amicable friendships should become "more" just because somebody is "cute together"? (Not that it is just women who are responsible for these things, but it is generally associated with you. Remember I am speaking in generalities) Because in many ways, we live in a society that assures us that unless we are in a relationship, we aren't doing something right.
Today in the UC I was eating my lunch in peace at a table in the corner and I was listening to a girl giving Biblical advice to another girl. It was wonderful and refreshing to hear Scripture spoken boldly and eloquently, but they soon got on the topic of this boy. She began giving the advice I've heard a thousand times: pray that you can be made into the woman for the right man and pray for that man that he may do the same. As if we expect God to drop a man/woman into our lives because that's what we want. Why are we not praying more that we become who God wants us to be, with single/married not even an issue? We should ask to be conformed to the image of God not to be partnered with somebody else who wants the same, but because we want to be conformed to the image of God. It's that simple. It is a disease even within the church, this addiction to relationships.
I have read articles about cheating and sex outside of marriage and love and entries from Christian blogs about how to find the perfect Christian guy all with the expectation of finding a guy. Ladies, please hear me out: I am not at all slamming Godly relationships - I am merely asking that it not be the priority of your life. It is a sad thing when, even within the church, we stress more about our relationships with boys than we do with our relationships with the Creator of the boys.
This letter is very long and rambley. To be honest, it was very hard to write, because men and women are such fascinating and complex creatures that have such enormous potential that it was hard to synthesize my thoughts about the way they should interact. Here is what my notebook looked like before even editing:
And it went onto the back too.
I just HAD to capture how much you rock, how much potential you have, how much you are treasured, and how specially you fit into God's vision. But I also wanted to highlight some areas that can use improving (and have no fear, the boys are next, because we are far worse off). It is not an extensive list (I figured 1500 words was plenty). I am more than open to discussion, further exploration, etc.
I just wanted to make sure that the jewels of creation realized it, took it to heart, and found it within themselves to pursue a relationship with their Creator before anything else, because He is jealous for your hearts more than a boy ever could be.
Mountains of Love, Hamilton
We depart for civilization in 6 hours and all I can think about is how dark it is in this room and how Andrew is in the bunk across from me hogging all of the sleep. Or: what is vacation, a place to get away or a place to get alone?
Or: what I need is fresh air and I need to dig words out of that dusty place I threw them when we got here. For some reason.
Words are stubborn when they've been wadded up. They crinkle a little in their unfolding and you have to flex them back and forth for them to be of any use. Go figure, you don't call for a week and all of the sudden they're mad at you like you did something wrong. You tell them you just didn't need them right now because you're trying to unwind and take a breath before the train hits again and they get all defensive cause they feel like you're using them. You forget that words have feelings too. And trust issues, I think.
I tell them, let's take a stroll, because we need to talk, and I figure the humidity would help with that.
I step outside and I can smell the ocean. I can feel on my skin the sticky hot Atlantic wind and the salt in the air makes me thirsty. When the air conditioner kicks off behind me I can hear the steady rhythm of the waves crashing to a meter that seems asymmetrical at first, but on longer listen is just a complex set of hits stretched out over an ambling, slow, incredibly steady tempo. We are waltzing, that sound and I. We're going nowhere in a hurry.
And now I'm asking something different. Something about what keeps sleep away. Something about what brings it in the first place. Something about the nature of things that comes alive on still hot nights like this.
I always related to Thomas the most, I think because I know I would have been the one trying to call Peter and the Beloved one out on their excitement until I actually put my hands in the gaping, miraculous, saving holes. I can look back on him and frown and ask him "how could you" when really I should just look at myself and mutter the very same words. Ask myself if I believe simply because I have seen, or vice versa. The curse of looking for reason and knowing that until you find it there will be sleepless nights. The pain in that place you can't touch when belief sometimes feels like a listing sailboat after a changed wind. When you wish you could be Elijah and call down fire from heaven not so much for proof but just to see something wet catch fire.
Sometimes even just for the proof, I suppose.
You can drown in your unbelief, and it does feel like drowning. Gasping, groping, frantically kicking your feet until your hands slide upon something already being rocked gently to sleep by the tide. When finally on the surface you realize that it is the surface itself that snapped you awake. Just when you started to think that your whole world was underwater and enslaved to wet, you burst to the surface and your lungs ache for more of whatever it is up here that just tastes so good. You realize there's way more up here than there was down there and you can see better too.
You can hear, somewhere in the distance, those waves pounding the shore being heard by a boy sweating and swatting flies on a porch in South Carolina.
The funny thing about them is that as they roll over the sand they pay no mind to us. We can build sand castles to try to stand in their way but the water won't have it. We can try to drown out the sound with music but they crash all the more. We can film them and stick them in a spotlight and draw attention to their beauty but they pulse humbly. We can mock them with barriers but they will power through them mightily.
They are constant. The same when husbands get fired and when brothers die and when babies are born and when teenagers get pregnant and when empires fall and when songs are written and when animals sleep and when it rains and when boys want so hard to just believe as fierce as the sea but let reason get in the way. These waves operate separate from reason. Blame it on rotating planets and spinning moons and shifting continental shelves and trade winds all you want and the waves will be there when you crawl back to simply see them. They represent something that goes on despite us. One way in a long list of ways God can shake us up to refresh our belief. One thing in a long list of things that proves that there is something besides us and our petty human problems.
They are beautiful to taste for a soul crying "why".
I believe this is all the thought I am allowed on this sticky summer's eve before my skin becomes fodder for a thousand hungry insects who will bite me no matter the vigor with which I question them.
>I have noticed a disturbing pattern since the beginning of the year... I have been doing an exorbitantly little amount of writing.
No, that is not right. I've been writing more than ever. I have taken up a feverish sort of journaling as of late, scribbling with fury almost in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way about things I have been reading. I have collected around fifteen pages shy of a composition book's worth of thoughts on Genesis and Exodus alone.
I think that I have started about 15 new posts in the past week. I'll get ten words in and then lose motivation, focus, realize that I have nothing I feel like sharing
Move on with my day.
So I was trying to read today, on my single most unproductive "Study Day Saturday" in recent memory, including the ones over break when it consisted of me sitting on the couch staring generally at nothing for extended periods of time and feeling the build-up from school draining out of the pores of my skin, and I successfully read NOTHING.
Allow me to clarify: when I say "nothing," what I mean is that I did not finish a page of anything. I tried reading my grammar textbook and instead ended up thinking about why LED lights don't burn out. I tried reading The Turn of the Screw and instead thought of a list of things I needed and then thought about how I didn't really need "candles" and "books of matches" and "leather," I really just needed to read this story. But then I tried reading it again and realized I had lost myself in the story and was going to have to start back at the beginning.
And the thing is, I knew why. Because this is how we have become wired. I don't think that we were born this way: unable to focus on anything that isn't graphically engineered and flashy and moving and telling us how pretty we are and how socially relevant we think our thoughts. But alas, I have become assimilated into the culture of the have-now's and I JUST CHECKED FACEBOOK 5 TIMES IN THE PAST MINUTE.
I have developed a small rant/rhetorical analysis of Facebook in my time staring at pages full of knowledge, which is surely coming soon, so don't you worry.
What I mean to say is that something has to change. Why am I surprised when I can't sit and formulate my own meaningful thoughts when I am used to Googling what other people are quoting from somebody else? Why am I surprised that all information seems a secondhand facade and is springing from some asymptotic nega-vacuum simply spitting unimportant, superfluous things out for me to know when I don't take the time to find the sources of what is important for myself?
It is less important to know what is going on than why it is, or what is its significance. The significance of my dwindling concentration is not that I can't sit and read like I have been able to or like I need to, it is that I have been tossing it away with this fabulous little button on my internet browser that takes me to a random page on the internet full of facts or games or cute little cartoons with witty proverbs. I am filling my down time rather than making it down time, which makes NOTHING downtime.
Information overload. The #1 killer of creativity since Al Gore invented the internet.
Since Google monetized it.
Since I abused it.
>I am sitting in my chair in a towel, because I am waiting to get a shower until the clothes in the dryer are done tumbling so that when I am done they will be warm and dry and ready to cover my cold skin.
I bought a cd today too. It is a departure from my musical tastes of late (meaning primarily that it is not Lovedrug), and I welcome the departure of style if anything just because it is new material and it is a switch and a temporary break from the monotony that has become my minutes, hours, days, weeks. It is scary how fitting the title of this album "Disambiguation" is.
I perhaps do my topic disservice by restricting it with that "my" above, because I think I meant to address a broader audience than just my busy self.
Go to school for 20 years. Get a job. Do not live on the street. Walk on the sidewalk. Make enough money to eat. Give the rest of it to the establishment created by us. For us. That has forgotten about us. Complain about something and then realize how pointless complaining about that thing is, because it's done and you can't change it. Fall in love. Create. Recreate. Retire or die. Now repeat after me: I am free.
I think that the most compelling evidence for the existence of God to somebody who is in search of it is the system in which we are trapped. The little box of earthly, physical existence. Rich or poor, old or young, we are in chains, and I dare you to find somebody who would disagree with that. We are enslaved to time and to desire and to passion and to lust and to love and to sin. Each and every one of us. But just like there can be no dark without light to be the contrary, no rich without poor to be the opposite, no high without low to compare, the mere fact that we are enslaved means that there exists freedom.
But, since there is nothing earthly that we can do to break free of these chains, that means that there has to be a spiritual key to the locks. It must exist outside of time, because if it existed within time, it would eventually decay or rot or turn to dust. It must have no beginning because that would mean it would have an end. If all we know is the here and now, there must be an unhere and an unnow.
This is nothing new. Solomon knew it: "Vanity of Vanities! All is vanity!" "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." Since the literal dawn of time the disconnect between us and God has been both the proof of God and the burden on His heart. Because the presence of the physical means the presence of the non-physical, or else physical would be nothing. It would have no alternative. And we know that this disconnect is the burden of God's heart because of the lengths He went to restore it. We live among sin. He dwells among perfection.
Beauty is not beauty without un-beauty. Pain isn't pain without pleasure.
So with all of this said, the part about God I mean, it should be no surprise to us that without Him life would be rather miserable. Without the assurance that there IS beyond this, I cannot fathom the shattering hopelessness that would accompany our steps. They would only see the horrid pattern described above. School.Job.Family.Kids.Love.Loss.Death. and they would feel extraordinarily trapped. Herein is the beauty of my Savior, the Messiah, the promised and received Christ. Because He dwells not inside of this wretched box, but rather His father is the one that holds it. And I can't get outside of it except through His arms...
Don't you see? If it were up to me, the highest I could ever get in the vast span of eternity is how far I can run. Whether you accept it or not, the same principle applies universally: the give and take; the idea behind there being no light without dark permeates literally everything. It has to, because things only mean in juxtaposition. God doesn't need your support to exist. You can deny it all you want but your belief or lack thereof is not what keeps Him around.
Rather it is His existence that keeps your disbelief around.
>Every once in a while, in the course of my pondering, I become hung up on one concept or idea for which I cannot define the terms. The first rule of Rhetoric is "He who controls the terms controls the debate." I am not sure against whom I am debating, but there is an internal struggle there and I am positive that I am not in control.
I am tired of going over and over it in my head to decide just exactly what "grown up" is. I know that, first of all, it is a goal which at a young age we areOh sure we will reach eventually, and which as we get older we see become more and more elusive. We watch birthdays come and go and we graduate from Kindergarten and High School and eventually College and we will repeatedly ask ourselves "am I grown up yet?"
I think after our senior year in High school, in that time between complete freedom, the excitement of new possibilities and a completely blank slate we get our first glimpse of what it could feel like. There is this moment of "I am in control" (even though it is not nearly as complete as we think it is at the time) which seems to overtake all of the general thought processes going on at the time. People will change their clothing styles, their reading habits, their television tastes, their friend groups and they will call it all the beginning of the rest of their lives. Is this when you are grown up? Good Lord, I hope not.
So I decided against the "time" aspect being what makes one "grown up." I then thought that perhaps it was less the unfolding of time itself but rather what took place as time was doing its thing. I'm talking about even the most innocuous little decisions that we make during the course of our days, like which shoe we put on first or whether we hit the snooze button twice before we wake up, that have more of a bearing on being a "grown up" than time itself. The little things form the habits by which you live, the standard against which you measure all of the big decisions you make, like where you will go to college or what you will do to be able to eat. The little things are what you use to remind yourself that you are still there, like pinching yourself to make sure you aren't dreaming. I figure that something even as trivial as this that bears such a lasting consequence has to play a major role in shaping who you are. The "up" version of you.
But this didn't give me an answer as to how you know when you are grown up... The best I could ever do is compile a list of things that are either growing you up (making you who you will become) or making you look like a fool. You won't walk across a stage to receive a diploma that declares you officially grown up, nor will you wake up one day feeling instantly accomplished. I think, little by little, you will discover things about yourself that you recognize as reaching towards becoming the person you are destined to become:
You will become comfortable with yourself. You will have gone through a painful process of recognition of your flaws and weaknesses but you will learn to deal with them. You will become less and less dependent on other people for validation or companionship and you will start to savor the little moments when you are completely alone. You will find yourself drinking them deep, storing them on a hard-to-reach shelf in the back of your mind that you can only tap into when absolutely necessary. When the storm around us consumes all of the tranquility we manage to squeeze out and sip like the last warm drops of water in the hot desert sun.
You will learn the difference between necessary and unnecessary. You won't see yourself on this one point on the timeline of the third dimension but you will instead see from above how little things you experience will ripple out and effect things to come.
Because you have this newfound broad view, you will learn to do the things that you have to do, even though you may not want to do them. Doing it now is always better than doing it later. On the other hand, one more cup of coffee with a friend will be more meaningful to you in a week than getting home twenty minutes later than you would have otherwise. Stopping and smelling the roses will make your trip a lot more memorable than if you just blow through, only looking forward.
Each of the things above will lead you to a realization that there is something bigger than you and your little group of friends and your family and the people in your community and in your county and in the state and in the country and in the world. You are blind to not see a plan unfolding before your eyes - blind by either ignorance, naiveté, or prejudice. The recognition of this plan is what drives philosophers to think on and what makes songwriters sing on and what makes lovers love on, knowing that they are searching for something even if they are not entirely sure what it is they are searching for. Even in reading this, you know that on some level, even if you disagree with my methods or my pre-established beliefs, unless you have filled what is missing with the only thing that is big enough to last forever, nothing seems to stick. You feel some sort of longing to reach farther down the path on which you travel in hopes that you will eventually reach the point where enough is enough.
Perhaps it is not that we are meant to know when enough is enough. We may not ever recognize that we are "grown up." There might not be a moment of recognition that tells us we have reached everything we are capable of reaching... but maybe that's the plan.
Maybe we are meant to press on forever and strive each day to be better than the day before and learn that the only way we'll ever know what is sufficient is by trusting in the only One that ever could be.