You may have heard the phrase, “The devil is the best friend of the church- he keeps it in business.” This idea is somewhat proven in the strong reactions of fundamentalists to perceived deviations and opposing viewpoints. People get to protest concepts and events with which they disagree and, as a result, feel justified, righteous, and productive. Shocking performances, personalities, and policies give conservative Christians something to rally against and a sense of purpose.
There is more than one side to every issue or concept. Usually there are more than two, (Even though we hu
mans like pairs and generally limit ourselves to two polarizing parties/denominations at a time. It’s cute.) but for the sake of this post let’s just stick with these two. Here’s the deal- in order for “shock art” to exist, there have to be shockable people. In order for people to be rebel, there has to be a conservative status quo against which to rebel. In order for someone to push the envelope, there has to be something to push against. Are we the envelope?
What if we weren’t shocked by “immorality” or “sin” which we believe to exist in theory, yet seem so flabbergasted and start screaming about it when we see it? What if we stuck to what the Bible actually said instead of making our own feelings into gospel? Now listen, pastors and deacons, I’m not talking about your youth-group kids or whatever. I’m not condoning sin. I’m talking about people who are actually living in the world; people who don’t come to your church.
I think that if the self-righteous old guard of fundamentalism chose to acknowledge that they (we) are as broken and small and sinful as everybody else, Marilyn Manson and I would probably feel welcome in church and rebellion would be less attractive. Missing the mark is rubbish. So is judgementalism.
We talk about beauty out of ashes, but sometimes at the expense of the beauty in the ashes. How stunning ashes are, themselves. I don’t mean this simply in a bleak sort of minimalistic sense; that the white/gray/black stuff is starkly attractive like a white-washed room in a photo from an abandoned house on a Norwegian fjord. I mean the nature of destruction and reduction of an object by fire into almost-nothing. That’s beautiful.
Now, before you think that this is a psychopathic ramble about just wanting to watch the world burn, hear me out.I know two things:
1) We can only live in the present as it drifts into the future, and
2) Some things have to burn for others to be built.
You may find yourself in the midst of ashes, perhaps the ashes of things you believed to be true, a relationship, or a job… existential ashes. Don’t just move on. There’s beauty in them, just as beauty may come from them. Dig through the ashes, then rise.
To all the guys out there: someone needs to tell you to man up.
But, I want to tell you that being a man has nothing to do with how you look or whether you cook or play football. It doesn’t matter whether you wear pink all the time or camouflage; if your favourite movie stars Bruce Willis or shows on Hallmark; if you do yoga or MMA or ballet.
I can’t believe that adults have to be told this: but the standard for who you are as a man and a human has little or nothing to do with your appearance or interests contrasted with the traditions of the culture in which you were raised. Don’t listen to the voices tugging on your identity in different directions if they limit your effectiveness in loving God and your neighbor. Brothers, true manliness is power under control. Exhibit self-control. Be a man.
To read more on this kind of self-control, check this out: http://www.amazon.com/Chivalry-Quest-Personal-Honor-Unjust/dp/1414376359/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
I was hanging out with my friend Daniel and we had just eaten at Rasta Pasta (the tastiest Jamaican-inspired pasta I’ve ever had). Daniel had to cross the street to plug a quarter in the parking meter in front of his car. I was waiting on the other side of the street, when I noticed this guy crossing the street and shouting at me.
“Hey! Hey, man!”
“I need a harmonica, man!”
I’ve never had someone approach me asking for a harmonica. I was intrigued.
I shook his hand, “What’s your name, man?”
We went into a nearby toy store and bought a red harmonica (in the key of C) for the man named Donnie that we met on the street. Donnie was super pumped.
“Look at this colour! I didn’t even look at it before we got it! Look- it’s like a brand new coat!”
He was stompin’ and riffing on that harp. His passion is grin-inducing. He stops to breathe…
“I’m not Loony Toons. That’s not Loony Toons. That’s called improvisation. It takes a real musician to improvise.”
He had me film this bright, shiny, red Volkswagen Karmann Ghia (that matched his harmonica) with his little camera while he played some more. We were both wearing denim shirts. That made us friends.
He was about to get a picture of us together but then said,
“I don’t want to be filmed, you don’t want to be filmed. LET THEM WONDER! Let the people wonder who the artist is! Let them wonder who the musician is. Let them fill it in with the imaginations in their minds!”
It was about time for us to go.
Keep it real, Donnie.
A lot of people seem to think I have direction- that I have it figured out. I just want to be honest with you guys. Every second of every day, I question whether or not I’m doing the right thing. Whether or not I’m where I’m supposed to be; being who I’m supposed to be. Every decision. I’m assuming I’m not the only one out there who’s like this. Feeling like I’m doing the wrong thing when it should feel right. For those of you who feel this.. I’m with you. I feel like I KNOW it’s worth it. But sometimes I don’t believe it. It’s not even that I feel broken, necessarily… but just that I feel bent. Sort of crooked and cockeyed. I know that the truth will set me free and I know what I believe and where I stand. It’s just that sometimes, my own feet betray me. Is this what humanity is/feels like? Uncertainty? Question marks????? haha… Faith is tricky. But friend, I believe in you. I really do. And it is my belief in my fellow humans, and my overarching belief in a God that is love, that keeps me going. Even if I have to limp.
“If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.” William Wilberforce
August 1 commemorates the end of slavery in the United Kingdom. This concerted effort required tireless work from politicians, clergy, poets, captains of industry and every day citizens. Today the fight continues. We need just as diverse of a coalition to bring an end to the sale of humans once and for all.