About Me

Phoenix, AZ, United States

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Christendom speaks of a personal God whom reaches out across the eternal stretch between the infinite and the finite...the noumenal and the phenomenal. It was Christ afterall who had to enter our world as a vulnerable man because we could not in all our collective brillance and effort reach out to find the very creator of our souls...

but what happens when God feels like a shadow? Like a fuzzy memory of someone I once knew... He is still strangely quiet, though I am told that all of creation shouts of his splendor... Perhaps God is reluctant, whispering under His breathe now...perhaps he has not left his sabbath after setting the firmarments... or perhaps we've chased Him away...

The Deists like Thomas Jefferson believed that God formed the world and then removed Himself from it's affairs entirely. In a sense, a form of functional atheism; God had no relevance to existence and I guess at the moment I can sympathize with their peculiar view... A friend of mine shared with me that someone in her family had been in a serious accident yesterday. Today a midst all the doubts I have been having lately, I managed to mutter a feable prayer through my warm tears... I pleaded with God that He might reveal his mercy and power...his relevance... I told God that I had no idea what His will was in this situation, but that I just really wanted this person to be delivered and asked Him to hear me... early this evening, the person in question passed away...and the news echoes in my mind...

At this moment, it follows that I feel I am in for another disappointment. It looms just around the corner....feeling so inevitable, like it will stream through the cracks of my window, with the early morning rays... And the dawn will bring with it a strange sickness to my stomach, a dull ache that will follow me through the days, throwing fits of sharp pain between the tenants of my demanding schedule...it will hit me hardest in the idelness of afternoon...under the autumn skies... as I drive home leaving another day behind...

And I know, I'll be fine, that things will work themselves out as they seem to...or at least as we have grown to accept.

Time it swallows everything, from the mighty to the meager things...
-Amos Lee

and I will evolve and change and grow...again. The seasons will continue to unfold, new people will enter and the old exit, cars will fill the motorways and planes the skies, the suburban sprawl will widen it's wings, news will still travel at lightning speed... time will drizzle away just as it always has...and life as I know it will take one clumsy step after another...it will keep going...

and I know that this will not be the last of my challenges...nor is it strange and unusual, but simply that which is common to man...I know all of this...and yet it brings me no level of comfort, no sleep tonight. Perhaps I am afraid to close my eyes now...afraid of the morning, afraid of what that will mean...or what I will come to realize... perhaps I am quite comfortable here, now... in the purgatory of late evening...suspended in limbo, alone. Perhaps I will stay here just a little bit longer...until the dawn breaks me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Looking for More.

I am beyond tired and I really should be going to bed right about now, but I just got home, found myself famished, and so I cooked myself a late dinner. I generally get an upset stomach if I sleep immediately following a meal so here I am typing away about nothing.

We had club tonight and there was quite a number in attendance. I was asked to sign people up for small group, which meant that I was running around with clip boards and applications. I don't very much care for this type of task, mainly because I feel like I'm selling something. I can kind of see it in the eyes of some of the people I talk to, that they might perceive me that way... they walk in the door, get rushed by smiling folks wanting to make them a name tag, then pulled to a table to sign up for college weekend, and then there I am trying to talk over all the noise about the great benefits of being in a small group. It's a madhouse, and sometimes I feel like I'm in the middle of the stock exchange floor.

We had a guest speaker for the message this evening, he leads a high school Younglife in town. I've heard him speak a few times now and the students always seem to enjoy him. He seems genuinely sincere and likeable and passionate about sharing his faith. But the truth is I found the contents of his message troubling for me personally. As I've mentioned before, I've been having a real crisis of faith these past few months mainly in terms of the nature of God. Consequently, when I hear people talking about their understanding of God, His function in their lives I listen intently. Truth be told, often I simply cannot relate to what I hear and I wonder if we seek after the same being...

My professor of religion believes that there are 3 levels to religious beliefs. The popular, historical and the philosohpical. The popular level deals solely with practical and psychological needs, it is shallow and wide and is the point where people use a system of faith to function daily in a highly pragmatic sense. The philosophical on the other hand has to do with the challenges and questions that go further, deeper beyond the day to day functions.

I often hear people talk about God as if He were a genie in a bottle, but one that is very limited in scope. They tell me that they prayed for a specific car, and the exact shape and color and number of miles were granted, like a wish come true... and they feel that God loves them immensely because he even considered the meticulous details... far less often (maybe twice in my entire life) have I heard of someone praying for a friend or family member who is severely ill or in immense suffering, and their relentless prayers were answered. And I struggle with this fact... and I have to wonder if it is that God more readily answers our trivial prayers... or if it may be true that we more often obsess over nonesense and attain things out of sheer stubborness of will and then attribute it to God to keep our faith system (however faulty) intact.

I say all of this because the speaker tonight talked about how God would bless people if they would truly follow Him. In sharing with us about what it was like to follow Christ, he chose to mention that God had blessed him with finances and two houses and a vehicle. But it all seemed to trivialize God to some extent. To make our religion, popular. Is that really what we're spending our time praying for? More stuff? Is that reason enough for to follow the cross? Are there not larger battles to fight, more imperative ones?

Is this what Christendom has been reduced to? Follow Jesus and he will hook you up?


Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Weight of Beauty

This blog finds me sitting in a coffee shop in Flagstaff. My weekend was surrounded by the beauty of Williams, which sits about 30 miles to the west of my current location. I drove up Friday evening to attend a Leadership camp for Young Life and Friday quickly led to Sunday morning, when bags were clumsily stuffed with dirtied clothes and memories... It was an interesting weekend though and for the most part it was enjoyable. The days were filled with activities, interesting conversations, seminars, poor sleep and indoor volleyball... and I am glad I made the trip, though it means that I have a great deal of studying to catch up on this evening. It was enjoyable and yet not without pain and struggle...not without longing, as it seems with so many things in life... at least this has been my experience thus far.

Perhaps beauty has an intrinsic cost. An artist can create an amazing work of art, a painting that may strike awe in a great number of others, inspire them, make them fall in love and yet her soar arms and joints, the paint under her fingernails, the paint smeared over her arms and clothing speak of a price... the labor, albeit a labor of love. The painting is no less beautiful, and perhaps some might even conclude that it is all the more so in light of the pain involved... but it often seems romanticized from the perspective of the witness, not by the one whom has struggled.

As I headed home (and obviously i didn't make it very far) I drove with the windows down and stereo off, which if you know much about me, you realize it is a rare thing for me to exclude music from my experiences. The highway pierced narrowly through fields of golden dandelions swaying softly in the wind, as if they were dancing to a song, a song that was felt but unheard... The summer skies spread the pale clouds out across the hills...and the vivid colors, the shapes and textures swirled inside my very soul. I was journeying into a painting so glorious that it pointed up above where time and imagination serve as tools and not limitations. But I couldn't help wondering then of the costs... if our broken lives have been our share in the labor, if His broken body, the price...

The air was cool and light, pleasantly curling around my head, like a soft, empathetic hand- it touched my shoulders and grazed my neck as the cabin of my truck took deep breathes to drink in the breeze. It was within such a moment that I decided I would stop in Flagstaff to do my studies instead of hurrying home. I'm not ready to leave the forest... but I may never be.

It was also during this short, but moving drive that I had a strange thought to quit school. It was but a passing thought I admit, and yet a real one. I guess I was thinking about just how structured it all seems, pursuing a degree that is... and though I am interested in the material I don't enjoy the way I have to arrive at it. It seems unlike me, to sit in a stuffy classroom and make note cards and cram for exams... I want to be walking along the ocean, the warm sand against my feet thinking about why it feels so good and why there is such beauty in the world... to ponder why it is we are here and why we keep getting hurt... I want to be strumming my guitar and the chords in my throat, sending waves into the universe...and pouring out songs of how I just keep falling apart... I want the sum of my time, the culmination of my days and years to mean more than a respectable job, a shiny new car and finding the American Dream... but this isn't because I am in some way enlightened or closer to dying to myself... I wish it were... The truth is, I arrive at this conclusion mostly for selfish reasons, because that lifestyle seems rather drab and dull to me... the status quo rubs me like indistinguishable shades of grey.... and I want to dream in color... And though I have no idea what that looks like...I do know what it doesn't resemble.

But like I mentioned, though I had a good time, I felt torn this weekend. To be among natural splendor and the tranquility of the mountains, among good natured people who were engaging and well intentioned and yet still feeling like I was somehow cosmically lost, like a star that had ventured too far out into space, too far to give off any light... too far to be considered a star any longer. I struggled because God still seemed so distant... a great distance from real and present and it was killing me, I guess it still is. Perhaps I am living in a paradox, I'm living in that space between...beyond what is reconcilable, I am living in a gap and I just want it to stop hurting, for it to stop kicking the crap out of me. Sometimes I wonder if this might be my lot in life... for we must all bear a cross each of and everyone one of us... perhaps it is my cost, the price I must pay, my weight of beauty. If this were the case, I can only hope that at the end of this weary life, something amazing would result, something of worth that might allow others to feel awe, be inspired and to fall in love...

Christ promises living water from which streams would flow, reaching unto eternity... but I thirst.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Stars beyond the scope of vision.

So here I am in my second week of school and thus I have been holed up in the library the last 12 or so days, for hours at a time. It is from this very library, from a very familiar seat -with window view, that I type this, as I break away from my studies momentarily. It is warm and murky outside and I find myself fighting two heavy eyelids and a wandering mind, both indications that I have not had ample sleep the last few nights.

Following two-back to back Ethics lectures, I headed over to the cafe for a meal and watched the news for a few moments as they interviewed "experts" on their opinions regarding Governor Palin; the question at hand- whether she would be overwhelmed with the Vice Presidency considering her familial responsibilities. Strangely this story was quite the welcomed escape for me because the discussion at hand was about something so highly specific and immediately practical. For the last several days I have been knee deep in lectures and readings offered by Plato, Immanuel Kant, Confucius, J.S. Mill, and St. Thomas Aquinas on topics raging from the plausibility of the existence of God, to varying theories and counter theories on Morality/Ethics and the philosophy of religion itself... I actually feel on edge somehow, as if I must critically analyze every passing thought... to the point of feeling as though I want to fold to the nonsensical belief of true skepticism.

After this short break, I journeyed through the center of our modest sized campus where many of the different student clubs had set up tables to appeal to the students passing by. Colorful banners, loud pop music and cheap, useless incentives littered the courtyard making the University look more like a bustling flea market than an institution for higher learning. There were religious/spiritual clubs, fraternities, sororities, an African American association, and a number of event based organizations; a myriad of groups crying out for attention. And I thought for a second how we all just want the sense that we belong somewhere, that we are not alone.

A friend of mine recently admitted to me his greatest fear in life was to be alone and this is evident in the fact that he is constantly surrounding himself with company and I mean that not as a criticism, but rather matter-of-factly. On the other hand I have been inconsistent about company and have spent a great deal of my time without in recent months... and in some ways I began to pride myself in the fact that I did not need to be around other people all of the time... I guess I thought this meant that I was more independent somehow and not so afraid of being alone... but I think this has been a false conclusion.

The truth is I hate feeling alone probably just as much as the next person, just as much as my friend... and I do fear it, I fear it a great deal... or at least fear that it could get worse or be a perpetual state. But the thing is, to me loneliness has always been more of a philosophical problem than an environmental one. What I mean is that it is far deeper a dilemma that may have little to do with whether you are with people or in solitude. I think a person may feel alone in the company of his/her closest friends, sitting around the dinner table with a loving family, in the arms of true love.. at least I have found this to be true. This is not to say that being physically isolated isn't problematic, it does in fact have psychological consequences, but what I'm considering at the moment is the converse, why people can feel alone when they are not in fact alone. But I speak from my experience, never having to have faced actual, physical isolation for any substantial periods of time...so I may be incomplete in my thinking.

Lately, "Community" has become the big buzz word among Evangelical circles. The emergent church writers have filled our bookshelves with seemingly radical ideas on "doing life together" as a fundamental part of what Jesus taught and I think it is a beautiful concept that does permeate the scriptures. Yet I can't help but wonder if we might often view it as some kind of a solution to this problem of loneliness. So when we hear of someone who is struggling with feeling alone, we think that they should immerse themselves in the busyness of community...we think that if we can make them feel loved and accepted, understood and heard and a part of something that they will begin to feel better... it seems quite obvious, if someone feels alone, they must be in need to be with and around other people right? but perhaps this isn't always the case... If I am correct in asserting the idea that loneliness is in fact primarily a philosophical problem then it would follow that merely changing the circumstances wouldn't do the trick... But again perhaps I overstate my idea... I don't know if in fact it is more of a philosophical problem than a material one...or more of a circumstantial problem than an existential one... I think I can, for the time being safely say that it is likely to be at least as much a problem of the soul as it is of the body... back to the books, but maybe I'll touch on this more later....

I leave you with an excerpt from D.H. Lawrence's controversial book, Women In Love:

[A conversation between Ursula and Rupert who are romantically involved.]

"Love gives out in the last issues?" she asked, feeling numb to the lips.

"Yes, it does. At the very last, one is alone, beyond the influence of love. There is a real impersonal me, that is beyond love, beyond any emotional relationship. So it is with you. But we want to delude ourselves that love is the root. It isn't. It is only the branches. The root is beyond love, a naked kind of isolation, an isolated me, that does not meet and mingle, and never can."

She watched him with wide, troubled eyes. His face was incandescent in its abstract earnestness.

"And you mean you can't love?" she asked, in trepidation.

"Yes, if you like. I have loved. But there is a beyond, where there is not love."

She could not submit to this. She felt it swooning over her. But she could not submit.

"But how do you know -- if you have never really loved?" she asked.

"It is true, what I say; there is a beyond, in you, in me, which is further than love, beyond the scope, as stars are beyond the scope of vision, some of them."