Monday, December 26, 2011

Susan Sontag's In America.

Growth



It makes me feel nasty and conflicted to wish I'd bought more things just to prolong the opening of presents on Christmas morning. Things no one needs, like DVDs of movies that were just decent.

It is this casual desire for an overflowing pile under the Christ-mas tree, like the plume of a rocket that blinds you in its brightness, noise, and atomic bomb shaped cloud spreading in slow-motion, that fuels the economy of growth.

The more they can have us think that way, of perceived-manufactured/in/a/board/room needs, the more presents we buy, the more things are created, the more jobs created, the more americans we can have employed, the happier the president is, the happier america is with the president, the more kids we can afford to have, the more taxes we can ingest, the more farms we can subsidize, the more dominion over creation just like God promised.

Conflicted, because it is such a joy to see your mother feel loved with presents and the thoughtfulness of her children.

and it seems to me that growth is terrifying, and obviously terrifying, and yet every smart economist speaks only of growth. Maybe they must mean smart growth, that starts to exchange breadth for depth... growth in quality of life for the individual, not just the population of the suburbs and the strength of track-housing-development. Maybe.

that said, the spirit of Christmas is a beautiful thing. I love beautiful things. I relish it. but I think of Tolstoy,

'What a strange illusion it is to suppose that beauty is goodness.'

The world as it is, all beautiful things on this planet have a shadow. The ocean is a killer. The rose is red with blood. The shadow we are called to fight and shake, if at least perceive.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Family, today


I come from remarkable people,
or said the same, ordinary people

who have pushed beyond the human-family tradition of awkward
shoving and turning stomachs of things said and unsaid, the jamming of imperfection into the too-tight baby clothes of expectation.
I opened presents yesterday in one warm room with my former step-mom of 18 years,
now without legal status in my life, but still referred to as a 'mom', in spite of the
truth of her being the impetus of my parents split, my single dad, my brother and his 20 year old wife, myself with a never-spoken-of-in-front-of-me difference from the rest,
my half-sister and her newish boyfriend, my former step-sister and her three sons
of three different fathers, her ex-husband wearing a large jersey and looking tired but
friendly and cautious, my former step-brother and his wife and child and three
children of an undisclosed father,

and the house was alive with laughter and Christmas and prayer before the meals
and cigarettes on the front porch and scripture before the opening of humble presents
from grafted-in family that hardly knows me but proudly calls me 'brother' and brags about my life of traveling and Africa.

and now today, my single father sits with my single mother, the woman he left for another woman 25 years ago, and we watch A Christmas Story together, and we are a family. Laughing in full volume. (this comfort was a long time coming, through much thickness in the air, but it came)

And this generosity of community is not all-forgiving, or all-endorsing. It is not so heady as that. It is the survival of the heart. It is generous, and less patient for change than understanding of this condition of frailty and hunger and tiredness of vice.
It feels modern, but I doubt it is, as the human tenderness that overlooks what 'should be' for 'what is',
that loves and welcomes and is kind,
is as old as humanity
and the child born of this day.

Stories



There is nothing we’ve imagined

that is not just a reordering of what we’ve seen.

No place or creature is original to the mind of man.

But the mind of man is an original of the place it woke up to.

Your thoughts are the mechanics of the arrangement of your

memories of senses,

in play with the longings inborn, waiting to haunt a body of thoughts.

And so, we get our stories.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The sun is telling us the truth.



The truth of God is being told at every moment, by everything.
If it seems a lie, it is not a lie, but a half told truth not yet realized. (sometimes I think our fear of lies is fertile ground for lying)

A rich man happy in his riches is a half told truth:

the honest story of man's search for meaning, his temporary belief in
his present comfort, his many beautiful things,
the certain and coming erosion of that joy, and
his necessary movement to find new happiness, or certain misery.
Sometimes that movement is jumping deeper into the half told story:
more things, more riches will appease the relative boredom of purpose
that comes with achievement...
but again, it is the first half of the story, the repetition of an exposition already told.

It is God sewing into us an insatiable desire for meaning, for true mingling-belonging in the universe that cannot be owned, but only belonged to. And the hunger to own is just the bastardized craving of being one-with. How the rancher, when he owns the land, feels it a part of him, and extension of his arms.

I see man, made in the image of God, bastardizing his making with lies. Speaking half truth or poison in an attempt to create reality in the mind of another. But even if a man is doing so, squandering his birthright of creation... the Lord of truth is righting his wrong with nothing less than the Universe and its ever-present working.

I see God telling the truth in everything.
Each day dies at dark and mourns until it is reborn again in blinding sharp white glory sunrise.
Everyday we must die to our self and believe the night lasts only so long as to reflect
on our death, and then believe in the coming sun.

The seasons also tell us of this true cycle of spirit.
The tides tell us.
The stages of human life and aging tell us.

And the sun, what a story of God:

It is the source of all life,
It is the marker of day and the opposite of night.
If you abuse it, if you get too close it will kill you.
If you stare at it too long, without reverence or bowing your head,
you will go blind.

How obvious it must have been to ancient people to worship the sun.

And the truth continues: if you try to find energy from other sources,
like oil and your own toil, you will some day run out...
and you will surely destroy the planet and the place you call home. Maybe not today,
but this is a half told story.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

to say something plain





to requote a hero of mine:
We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them


i am a piece of a focused machine that has deployed US troops
to help pursue a warlord, a mass murderer, a leader of a rape-cult,
a child destroyer, and potentially kill him and his commanders

i believe Joseph Kony is a human being with a childhood and a soul

our call is to arrest him. But we understand that in forceful arrests, he may resist,
and in that situation, he will be killed

i accept that I may be, in a way, killing a piece of a man
or many men

i accept that i could be instrumental in the death
of an american soldier fighting for congolese victims he has
no national interest in protecting

and that that exemplifies a selfless hero
and that we don't see those very often

i believe in action

and i believe in monsters

and that all human beings have the potential to be monsters

i believe in the chance of redemption, and a trial and life in prison is what we demand

and i believe in peaceful resistance to the detriment and even death of myself,
from regimes that are mistaken and capable of hearing the overwhelming voice of the people

but i also believe in sociopaths who use human beings as fleshy-holsters for their machetes. for a dark dark dark that can move into the mind of a man and turn him into a force of nature

i believe in human beings no longer capable of persuasion. or said differently, the patience it would take to continue discussion would enable them to kill another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another as I wade in blood with a megaphone saying 'please'

if a brain injury can render a man incapable of speech and motor function, could not a spiritual injury render a man beyond the reach of words and reason? resolute to destroy other human beings and amused by their begging tears? by spiritual injury i may mean brain injury. just that more important part of the brain

at that point, his prolonged days on this earth are a hindrance to his redemptive crash with the Lord.

this dark line can only be manifest in his actions and the exhaustion of diplomacy

i am crass because war is crass and to kill a man even a monster is crass

i am uncomfortable with the purity of fundamentalist pacifism
as i am uncomfortable with any fundamentalism
because it denies the fact that nothing exists in a vacuum and
the assumption that it does empowers a lie that empowers its opposite

but let me be plain with you, i want this man arrested. for arrest saves me the weight of holy decision. if we let the man live his days robbed of the lust and drunk stupor of his jungle power, the fragrance of redemption may just find him.

i am not the first to struggle. much greater men, Bonheiffer. Lewis. taught me these things. as did the victims.

and i believe we cling too desperately to life
like nasty bundles afraid to die

and the people most noble understand this
and the people most powerful understand this, and that power can be used for evil
and sinister spirituality and magic and murder and the LRA

and G-d understands this better than i. that when our flesh falls
He has something to do with it

that every knee shall bow

but if i am the wall, or the builder of the wall, that blocks the wave from the town
then so be it.

i would rather save the town
and stand before G-d honestly mistaken

than sit beneath the tree and write of the shame of it all
as i keep my legs pulled tight so as not to touch the blood

for we are too afraid to die, yes

but we cannot be afraid to live

and a monster makes the world afraid to live.
and a monster invites the world to produce heroes that will sacrifice their comfort
and maybe even their lives to define nobility, equality, virtue, and sacrifice

i believe the physical life matters,
but
i think the spiritual life matters more

but i don't know how that ties in to all of this.

but i am acting on lofty words, and have been, and believe there is virtue there.

may G-d have mercy.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The laws were wrong




In light of the recent discovery that the speed of light is no longer the speed limit of the universe. and the other incredible discovery this year that the universe is expanding at an ever-increasing rate, meaning that some force is pushing it to move fast and faster... because physics tells us that an object will remain at a constant speed unless acted upon by a force... therefore some invisible and absolutely unknown force is at work... my framework of scientific wonder has been expanded. and wrapped up in that, my sense of spiritual wonder is again ignited as if new. The things we believe to be laws are not laws. but shadows of laws. and a few hundred years ago, it was a sin-punishable-by-death to presume that the sun did not orbit the earth... I am silenced by the beauty of discovery, and the humility of wonder, and the admonition to the Fear of G-d. It makes wonderful sense.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

i love that tiny shutter window frozen moment that i’ve always wanted to see without knowing it

The many layers of a picture and the people frozen in the space behind the subjects

Unless the layers are the subjects and perhaps every picture is a painting of the insane

history of the universe that brought those souls to be standing behind those eternal souls

‘there are no ordinary people, only eternal souls becoming gods and monsters’ or somethinglikethat cs lewis said

i think about that a lot as i ignore a jabbering homeless woman that looks at me with distant eyes dehumanizing me as a pocket-book-preppy-asshole-with-spoiling-parents

as i dehumanize her as the result of a long string of short-sighted-self-serving-corroded-willpower-weakness-decisions

and she tells me some weak and tired lie that once probably sounded real about a bus ticket to see her children and i might buy her something at 7/11 although

i probably wont because i’m rushing somewhere far less important than the state of her life

and as with everything I am, so enter the mitigating factors of: my belief that a free society must give people the right to suffer from their decisions, and my spread-too-thin lifestyle of care can destroy me and more importantly them as they see in me a promise i cannot fulfill… blah blah

there are no ordinary people.

Monday, September 5, 2011

freedom is a shaking off in a culture of choice



My skin is thinner and my jaw is set,
My bones have set and my muscles grow long and thin,
And I am a man now with the whimsy of a boy
and a fox and a canyon.

How pleasant that I sink into this body
and the wisdom of time, with wonder and whimsy intact.

I want to take off the garments made by shaky rotten wooden legs
that creak and sway.
shake them off as when you throw your arms back and fling the sleeves back and
thrust your chest to the sky

and walk up stream with some few souls.

and make a promise to my cold creek skin
to never grow tired and bitter
at a world that will not bend.

Not sure who reads this...

but I appreciate it. It's a place to hold my thoughts to find later.
When I don't pour them into something, they mist away.
and your comments (especially those kindreds that find this a place
to connect with me) mean a lot to me.

But if anyone prefers, I'm gonna start doing this on tumblr too...
maybe even switch completely over to tumblr bc I like the aesthetic more
and I found a widget that sucks all your blogspot posts into a tumblr automatically.
(http://jonnytran.tumblr.com/post/221876842/import-blogger-posts-to-your-tumblr)

http://thewaterisblack.tumblr.com/

just saying. just staying. just swaying.

jedidiah.

Back to (the wrong) school




From Seth Godin:

A hundred and fifty years ago, adults were incensed about child labor. Low-wage kids were taking jobs away from hard-working adults.

Sure, there was some moral outrage at seven-year olds losing fingers and being abused at work, but the economic rationale was paramount. Factory owners insisted that losing child workers would be catastrophic to their industries and fought hard to keep the kids at work--they said they couldn't afford to hire adults. It wasn't until 1918 that nationwide compulsory education was in place.

Part of the rationale to sell this major transformation to industrialists was that educated kids would actually become more compliant and productive workers. Our current system of teaching kids to sit in straight rows and obey instructions isn't a coincidence--it was an investment in our economic future. The plan: trade short-term child labor wages for longer-term productivity by giving kids a head start in doing what they're told.

Large-scale education was never about teaching kids or creating scholars. It was invented to churn out adults who worked well within the system.

Of course, it worked. Several generations of productive, fully employed workers followed. But now?

Nobel-prize winning economist Michael Spence makes this really clear: there are tradable jobs (making things that could be made somewhere else, like building cars, designing chairs and answering the phone) and non-tradable jobs (like mowing the lawn or cooking burgers). Is there any question that the first kind of job is worth keeping in our economy?

Alas, Spence reports that from 1990 to 2008, the US economy added only 600,000 tradable jobs.

If you do a job where someone tells you exactly what to do, they will find someone cheaper than you to do it. And yet our schools are churning out kids who are stuck looking for jobs where the boss tells them exactly what to do.

Do you see the disconnect here? Every year, we churn out millions of of worker who are trained to do 1925 labor.

The bargain (take kids out of work so we can teach them to become better factory workers) has set us on a race to the bottom. Some argue we ought to become the cheaper, easier country for sourcing cheap, compliant workers who do what they're told. We will lose that race whether we win it or not. The bottom is not a good place to be, even if you're capable of getting there.

As we get ready for the 93rd year of universal public education, here’s the question every parent and taxpayer needs to wrestle with: Are we going to applaud, push or even permit our schools (including most of the private ones) to continue the safe but ultimately doomed strategy of churning out predictable, testable and mediocre factory-workers?

As long as we embrace (or even accept) standardized testing, fear of science, little attempt at teaching leadership and most of all, the bureaucratic imperative to turn education into a factory itself, we’re in big trouble.

The post-industrial revolution is here. Do you care enough to teach your kids to take advantage of it?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

sister island



I sit beside my sister today, she is fresh home,
and grasp a gift of adulthood.
When you see the woman as you see the stranger,
studied for what she is, her face a unique mystery
of shape and familiar structure. I see my face in hers,
and I see a face that is new to me.

and so I put on the shelf of nostalgia
the bundle of inconveniences,
as children see their siblings, as only in relation to them.


And I see her for what she is, or at least partly.
What a wonderful gift of age and distance.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Promise to wake me up



If you catch me with blood on my hands,
when I am forty,
with a cul-de-sac comforter
and plenty of soft and malleable money in the bank,

If you catch me with blood on my hands,
because my heart has hardened to the softness of empathy,
and my cage is not the earth and the handiwork of G-d
but rather the ends
of my real.estate.

If you catch me with blood on my hands,
please come to my gilded door,
and throw red paint on it.

but first knock,
so that if I'm home
and if I can pull myself up off the leather couch,
you may paint me as well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mark this well, you proud men of action!



"Mark this well, you proud men of action! you are, after all, nothing but unconscious instruments of the men of thought." - Hebbel

I am reading the biography of John Adams, and feel somehow kindred. Perhaps that is bold and silly to say, but we grow only as we believe we grow, and we are fashioned by our heroes.

Yesterday Jason, Ben, Laren, Chris, Zach, Kimmy and I sat around a lunch table by the ocean for 5 hours discussing the world we want to see in 100 years. And how that hundred year vision could be wrought in some small way in the spring of 2012.

"Intention is everything" as Jason has become fond of saying. And he is right. We must unscale our eyes from the lies of what is, and see what could be. And not wait, but build such a nation now. As Gandhi took to the sea to make his own salt. As Adams and Washington and Hamilton and Jefferson sparred over old and new ideas become one.

All this talk of principles and vision makes my eyes glaze over. I start to lose the forest for the thickness of the brush. But then, as Steinbeck says, the black reasoning comes to me in the morning.

I am utterly convinced that in 100 years, the current use of free market capitalism and the abuse of natural resources in the worship of growth will be looked upon with the same disgust as we now see the economy of slavery.

Not because capitalism is wrong, but because it's lordship is endowed by a fiction: namely that growth is success.

But despair is not my motif. One thing I love about capitalism is that it is mindless, and therefore will not be offended when it is replaced with a sustainable and downstream logical framework. Even the most hardcore of free market lovers knows that when resources become scarce to a degree of danger, we will adapt. And perhaps this is still Capitalism... for when it changes to the will of the people, it will have done what it always promised: to blindly reflect the freedom of individual choice.

I only mourn the smallness of the massive mind to count the cost of what is lost as the dumb fat worm chews the stalk that holds it up. Jeremy Rifkin believes we may already be too late. God stands above us and winces, though he wrote this play. Take heart.

I am fired up because I read this > http://www.organicconsumers.org/btc/berry.cfm

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Talk is sound



Political theory and the summersault acrobatics of language make me tired. It seems to me the human mind can hardly hold on to complicated ideas, and so it clings to simple ones uncluttered with inconvenient facts or circumstances. It can with athletic ease disregard information that challenges assumptions and cling with blood-ties to fragments of truth that support a pre-conceived universe.

Like 'the free market is the answer. If you take away people's money, they won't have incentive to work hard, and besides, if the government can't spend money responsibly, why would we give it to them.'

or

'the rich are poisonous vacuums that hoard and support a wealth gap that suffocates the poor in an endless cycle.. until the gap is so severe that the poor rise up, overthrow the aristocracy, and redistribute by force.'

and so we get the endless unconstructive cycle of debate that gives shape to partisanship and stagnation.

This same calcification of thought, i.e. the exchange of holistic understanding for informative cherry picking, is not just seen in politics. It is seen in religion. It is seen in family history and the disappointments of family. It is why we stay angry at a sibling for years, or our mother, or a friend. It is why we stop asking questions in our twenties and hang like weak handed children to a few facts that sound right in a dinner argument.

What if we clung to the first and second commandments of Jesus? That alone is a life's work. Instead we cling to Ayn Rand or John Piper.

I'm speaking out of both sides of my mouth.

Because I believe people cling to two types of simple things.

1. Simple fragments of truth that make men fools. These are used as weapons to maintain a status as 'right.'
2. Simple foundations of truth that make men great. These are used as quiet humble fuel for action and example.

All this talk engages me, challenges me to take part in the constructive dialogue (if it exists) of building a better future... because the founding fathers of America believed that ideas could change the system, and they did.

I also believe this to be true:

“Mark this well, you proud men of action! You are, after all, nothing but unconscious instruments of the men of thought.” – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

And so I think.

But I get tired...

and see great merit in leaving my hat on a hook at the front door, stepping out of my living room, and living amongst the real problems of real people.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Thoughts on the Fourth Estate and my time in an RV that followed.


How do you digest a hurricane? How do you swallow the moon and the earth lit up by the moon? Some things are too big, too inextricably bound up in the world to be consumed. I want to know The Fourth Estate. A conference designed to spark an ideological movement: a commitment to global citizenship and responsibility to justice. I want to analyze and categorize it. But it cannot be held in my hands because there were too many miracles in the orchestra to hold.

Each individual experience, the unique events of every life and the wash of one video on one pair of eyes and a speaker’s words on another. I will never know the stories, the ruffles of the heart that were the very moment of a life change, or the seed falling in the crack of stone, invisible for years, only to grow into a mighty tree in years I will not know.

I held the face of new loves, cried with them as we said goodbye, I hugged a million works of art and wrote my name in books that will hold the words of great men and women not yet written.

I spoke with my heroes, listened to them address and articulate a future and a present and the human condition.

I heard great minds give credit to science for life, to God, to something more but not quite God. Each man, each woman bringing her motivation, the deeper hunger, to the stage, inviting each member of The Fourth Estate to take the wild wonderous magic of living seriously, the profound duty to examine the phenomenon of existence and behave with intention. Intention is everything.

If these members walked out a bit dizzy, stumbling over thoughts too big for the brain, we have done our job. If these members walked out convinced of nothing except the dignity of human beings and a desire to protect that dignity, then we have done our job.

If these members exchange self-serving profit for life-serving purpose, if they see their lives as part of a living body, and not an ignorant cancer, we have done our job.

If we prioritize worthy things, and marginalize unworthy things. If we celebrate beauty and mystery and belonging, and if we critique abuse, the rape of the human soul and the natural world, the fragmented fiction that my choices are separate from yours… then we have done our job.

If we stop blaming injustice on laziness, culture, and history, and start solving injustice with love and focused attention, then we have done our world a service.

And if there is a God, He will be well pleased.

As I traveled the east coast in an RV, celebrating Brady’s bar exam, exploring the Carolina’s and sitting at Lincoln’s feet in DC and walking the streets of New York with Orion (a fresh poet’s eyes seeing the temple of man for the first time), I carried with me the glory of The Fourth Estate. The sense of purpose, the crater of impact scarring my face and shoulders with value. It was a haunted drive, my thoughts present in the Charleston rain and above the clouds in the lingering ghosts of the prior week. It was the perfect meal: swallowing the moon with brothers of chosen blood and adventure, digesting the hurricane that circles inside me, wrecks the islands of doubt and rests its quiet eye over my heart.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

If there is one thing



If there is one thing that keeps a human being alive
it is belief.
or said differently: hope.

it is hardly evidence. hardly even experience.

Belief is why we wake up everyday, the hope of some good outcome, prolonged or immediate,
it is why we enjoy meeting new attractive people, if we are single or not single,
it is why we so easily remember their names and forget the names of plane looking people,
that some unsaid unimagined unthought connection will grow into something unthought
but always imagined,

or it is why we make status updates: the hope of being noticed and affirmed
it is why we blog: the hope of being read, and someone finding the
tiny personal single life we live to be, in some small way, important,
which of course to us is hugely important,
even if no one ever ever reads it, or we get the rare affirmation,
that one affirmation gives birth, sets free, our lustful imagination
for all that could be reading it.

or even our journals, those secret things that shall never be read,
how few of us would burn those books,
how few of us write to write,
without the hope that someone in the future might stumble across it
and find that we said something,
or even the sexy thought that someone has found us interesting
and tip-toed into our room, glanced over their shoulder,
and read without us knowing.

and in so hoping, we bait hope for hope,
if we win, and someone does affirm us or notice we are breathing,
they too are hoping, they are attracted to us and want to understand,
to consume and be better,
or to know us, study us, grasp us, and win us. It is an exchange, and when even
it is perhaps what Love is, a type of Love, but it is
not always even... and so we find unrequited hope, which is heartbreak, which
is defeated belief.

I believe humans hope for such things, because we are unfulfilled
and therefore hungry. We hope for dinner and hope for a spouse and
hope for children and hope to retire and hope our children love us and hope
to make them love us right and hope to be healthy and hope for heaven so that
we have something else to hope for when what we hoped for wasn't what we wanted
and then we grow tired, and the desire starts to be tired, and we stop laughing,
and so many lose their faces.

I sound like I'm critiquing. But the alternative is nirvana, freedom from desire,
which of course is death. Hope is what living is.

Hope can sound an empty common word,
but it seems so much more real than most things I hear of Love.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This is what I'm writing for work. It is the manifesto for an ideological movement of citizenship and global identity.




Every generation is invited to endow its share of history with a name. It begins with recognition. If the events of the day are marked by a growing contrast: the comfort of some is removed by a widening chasm from the tragedy of many, and the voices of the dying are hushed by the hands of the wicked, such a day is set to end.

This recognition is followed by response. First, by bold symbolic action, usually by the young.


Then, in the audience of the effected, a proper articulation of the problem emerges. Then a movement of change, often sweeping so quickly the Establishment fumbles to trace it.

We are at such a time.

The Fourth Estate is a recognition of human identity in the face of global connectivity and the responsibility that flows from it. It is a blueprint of the future founded in humanity's bold endeavor to seek a more perfect peace, a more perfect unity, and a more honest expression of success.


We have always experienced empathy for our neighbor, our family. In a novel age such as this where the stories and faces of humanity writ large are brought to our living rooms, our eyes and our ears, and what's more: our products and consumption touch the globe as a whole: this empathic responsibility has outgrown its ancient limits of proximity.

It is a coalition of minds that believe there are no national boundaries, no laws, no man made rules that trump the law of common humanity written on the heart. It is not something new, it is the proper expansion of something old, truths that are self evident, God-breathed, and manifest in the history of discontent:

We believe all men are created equal, and that justice for some is not justice for all. We believe that human evil is the responsibility of all men. When we turn our face from horror, we bless it to continue. We believe our task is to live the simple and true things, and work them out no matter how hard: that men and women, no matter where they live, are equal. and loved. and worthy. and that we are all connected, not just in a complicated global exchange of goods and commodities, which is undeniable, but in a human web of innate value.

And these things define us: We are not the intellectual elite. We are not the bored idealists in the lounge chairs of comfort. We are the young people on the sidewalk. We will sleep where we fall and work until our hands are raw, connected like never before to the central nervous system of mankind.

In the face of a modern world that is inextricably connected in a web of exchange, we accept the responsibility to protect those that are victimized by extreme cases of injustice. It is not 'their' problem. It is a humanity problem.

We believe in starting with the specific to prove the universal. We are starting with Joseph Kony, the rebel leader of the Lord's Resistance Army that has systematically abducted children to fight as soldiers in his rebellion.

We will not ignore his murderous campaign simply because his escapades do not impact us economically or threaten us militarily. We will respond because he destroys human life.

And our responsibility to protect does not invalidate our national identity. We believe in the pride of cultural expression and society. But we do not believe in the fiction of self-interest in isolation. Our choices echo to every single corner of this globe, and we should respond with reason and temperance.

To the degree in which society denies the affect of its choices on its own citizens and those of its neighbors, is the degree it will fall victim to history as a failure. As a decaying monster.

It is about rejecting the concept of the 'other,' the belief that 'they' are the problem and 'they' are out to get us. We understand that 'they' are us, and we are 'them.'

When we acknowledge the mystery of value in every human life, and witness to such, we thrive, and succeed, and protect one another.

We choose to stand up for that belief. We will fight for it, expand our talent, exhaust our bodies in its pursuit, and define a generation of human belonging.

We are The Fourth Estate.


Truth is truth is truth



Playboy: Much of the controversy surrounding 2001 deals with the meaning of the metaphysical symbols that abound in the film — the polished black monoliths, the orbital conjunction of Earth, Moon and sun at each stage of the monoliths’ intervention in human destiny, the stunning final kaleidoscopic maelstrom of time and space that engulfs the surviving astronaut and sets the stage for his rebirth as a “star-child” drifting toward Earth in a translucent placenta. One critic even called 2001 “the first Nietzschean film,” contending that its essential theme is Nietzsche’s concept of man’s evolution from ape to human to superman. What was the metaphysical message of 2001?


Kubrick: It’s not a message that I ever intend to convey in words. 2001 is a nonverbal experience; out of two hours and 19 minutes of film, there are only a little less than 40 minutes of dialog. I tried to create a visual experience, one that bypasses verbalized pigeonholing and directly penetrates the subconscious with an emotional and philosophic content. To convolute McLuhan, in 2001 the message is the medium. I intended the film to be an intensely subjective experience that reaches the viewer at an inner level of consciousness, just as music does; to “explain” a Beethoven symphony would be to emasculate it by erecting an artificial barrier between conception and appreciation. You’re free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film — and such speculation is one indication that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level — but I don’t want to spell out a verbal road map for 2001 that every viewer will feel obligated to pursue or else fear he’s missed the point. I think that if 2001 succeeds at all, it is in reaching a wide spectrum of people who would not often give a thought to man’s destiny, his role in the cosmos and his relationship to higher forms of life. But even in the case of someone who is highly intelligent, certain ideas found in 2001 would, if presented as abstractions, fall rather lifelessly and be automatically assigned to pat intellectual categories; experienced in a moving visual and emotional context, however, they can resonate within the deepest fibers of one’s being.

Playboy’s interview with Stanley Kubrick in its entirety (1968)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wisdom from a sometimes hated man



"When people spend their own money on themselves, they are careful about how much they spend and about what they spend it on. If people spend their own money on others, they are careful about how much they spend, but not as careful about what they spend it on. If people spend other people’s money on themselves, they are not careful about how much they spend, but they are careful about what they spend it on. If people spend other people’s money on other people, they are not careful about the amount of money they spend, nor are they careful about what they spend it on. That is government.” - Donald Rumsfeld. Written in his private notes while Secretary of Defense.

This not only summarizes the psychology of government, it also describes man's general self-preservation and self-attention superseding all other understanding. We can only truly know our own needs. That is why we are commanded to 'love one another as we love ourselves.' There is no deeper love.

And if we find ourselves in such a state where our insecurities and self-hate act as the foundation of our identity, I'd argue that such a person is incapable of free and true love.

Friday, July 1, 2011

mingle with the truth. our feet know more than books. but books know more than self-promotion.



don't know about the hedonism of self discovery.
but know there is a truth to rejecting the path of least resistance.
resistance is the only reason man has muscle.

"Never go to art school. Never go to New York. Never rent a loft. Dump your font folder. Forget symmetry and colour coordination. Stop taking text from editorial you don't read and packaging it in eye catching ways. Walk away from your computer. Then take off, go to India, rural China, Rio, Caracas, and Belize. Mingle with the filthy rich and the dirt poor. Dig up all the roots of terror. Make hunger, disease, cruelty, lust, greed, self preservation and genocide your roommates. Then when your run out of money and can't take it anymore, fly back home. Look in the mirror. Face your fears, your weaknesses, strengths, your imminent demise. Then when all of this begins to gel into a master narrative in front of your eyes, go get a job."

- Kalle Lasn

Sunday, June 26, 2011

We’re giving away husbands on a game show.



“I know many people are concerned about the destruction of the sanctity of marriage, as well, and they view this as a threat. But let me ask you something, ladies and gentlemen, what are we really protecting when you look at the divorce rate in our society? Turn on the television. We have a wedding channel on cable TV devoted to the behavior of people on their way to the altar. They spend billions of dollars, behave in the most appalling way, all in an effort to be princess for a day. You don’t have cable television? Put on network TV. We’re giving away husbands on a game show. You can watch “The Bachelor,” where 30 desperate women will compete to marry a 40-year-old man who has never been able to maintain a decent relationship in his life. We have “The Bacholorette,” in reverse. And my favorite show, which thank God only ran one season because it was truly distasteful, was “The Littlest Groom,” where 30 desperate women competed to marry a dwarf. That’s what we’ve done to marriage in America, where young women are socialized from the time they’re five years old to think of being nothing but a bride. They plan every day what they’ll wear, how they’ll look, the invitations, the whole bit. They don’t spend five minutes thinking about what it means to be a wife. People stand up there before God and man — even in Senator Diaz’s church — they swear to love, honor, and obey; they don’t mean a word of it. So if there’s anything wrong, any threat to the sanctity of marriage in America, it comes from those of us who have the privilege and the right, and we have abused it for decades.”
NY Senator Diane Savino

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A post. a window.





I wanted to post two pages from my journal. one of the pages, because it was part of my shaken response to the death of my grandmother last summer and is honest. someone may find themself less alone in reading it. that is worth the exposure. and one, because it is what I want to be known if I died soon.





Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Reminds me of my friend Eric.


Who has not forgotten the sunset.

Have you ever seen
anything
in your life
more wonderful than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone—
and how it slides again out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance—
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love—
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you as you stand there,
empty-handed—
or have you too
turned from this world— or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

~ Mary Oliver

What does my life say?

From NPR:

To reclaim their “honor,” families in Syria have been known to kill raped female members. Even if families allow such women to live, they are not eligible to marry.

“We sat and discussed that we want to change this. We don’t want to change just the regime in Syria, but also this kind of stuff. So we will marry them in front of everyone,” said Ibrahim Kayyis, a 32-year-old baker from Jisr al-Shugour.

To do what is right at the expense of what is easy or socially acceptable is to the Glory of God.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

They gave it a name.

how many floating clouds of feeling
are given words
by different cultures with different tongues
that value different things?

I've been looking for this word.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

You start.



"The chief Raoni cries when he learns that brazilian president Dilma released the beginning of construction of the hydroelectric plant of Belo Monte, even after tens of thousands of letters and emails addressed to her and which were ignored as the more than 600 000 signatures. That is, the death sentence of the peoples of Great Bend of the Xingu river is enacted. Belo Monte will inundate at least 400,000 hectares of forest, an area bigger than the Panama Canal, thus expelling 40,000 indigenous and local populations and destroying habitat valuable for many species - all to produce electricity at a high social, economic and environmental cost, which could easily be generated with greater investments in energy efficiency."

I am torn. By my life, the power to be one man, and the current of influence I may be a part of... for change, for fire, for busting down walls and ripping out the pillars of hungry made-up gods. I want to destroy factories, I want to sew something, I want to tell one person, look them in the eye, and say 'stop consuming so much. you are cancer.' And see the look on their face that says, 'you start.'

I believe in such cartography.



“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on by body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography - to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience.”

—Michael Ondaatje | The English Patient

Being alone is first in being in love

““The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it is not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of the other person - without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other.””

- Osho, Being In Love

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Thinking



Thinking is hard. I've heard is said that
genius is nothing more than continued attention,

I think that may be true.

I am possessed by desire to know and be known and feel and be felt
and if I am not seeking, I am sinking.

I am like a shark in that way.

But I know great men and women that are not like sharks at all,
to the naked eye, they seem much more like lonely bears
that forage and eat berries (somehow supporting their mass) and sleep
and are formidable in their own way.

But maybe we are all sharks, or maybe I am a bear,
I get excited when I think I may have it all wrong, because that is fresh and I am a learner.

Here is something I think I know: We want what we are not, because at the root, we want to control all of creation, and control comes from ownership and understanding.
I believe that is why we are attracted to opposites: to grasp them, understand them, own them and control them.

We do not fear what we understand.

I am a student of movements of the heart



I am a student of movements of the heart
when the clouds like milk in water billow and spill
down the low places of the mountains
and the late sun light is too smooth to believe,
I am a student of movements of the heart.

when I am bestowed a life of co-toil in worthy soil
with kin closer than blood by choice and not by choice,
and wake every day springing from my floor
ready to do what I was built to do,
as a pelican must feel when it sees its wings work on the lift of wind by the crest of waves at the shore, I am a student,

when a best friend is committed to raise too much money
for too high a mountain and kids too burdened with chains they did not fasten,
and a best friend shares a cigarette with me to confess his sins and
make me feel less alone,
I am a student of movements of the heart,

for they are neither joy nor sorrow,
but one part longing, one part hunger, another thirst,
and a space in my chest and fingers and knees,
that makes me wish to be barefoot,
to burst into mist and mingle there
where I have no body but all of it at once.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Critics as creators

There are critics,
and there are creators,
and so often, I am a critic of critics and a fan of creators,
but there are critics who are creators, because they see the world around them, assimilate it, and hold it up as something that can be grasped. I like them.


“Many films diminish us. They cheapen us, masturbate our senses, hammer us with shabby thrills, diminish the value of life. Some few films evoke the wonderment of life’s experience, and those I consider a form of prayer. Not prayer “to” anyone or anything, but prayer “about” everyone and everything. I believe prayer that makes requests is pointless. What will be, will be. But I value the kind of prayer when you stand at the edge of the sea, or beneath a tree, or smell a flower, or love someone, or do a good thing. Those prayers validate existence and snatch it away from meaningless routine.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry

From The Country of Marriage (Harcourt, 1975)

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Saturday, May 7, 2011



When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego,

and when we escape like squirrels turning in the
cages of our personality
and get into the forests again,

we shall shiver with cold and fright
but things will happen to us
so that we don’t know ourselves.

Cool, unlying life will rush in,
and passion will make our bodies taut with power,

we shall stamp our feet with new power
and old things will fall down,

we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like
burnt paper.

~D. H. Lawrence

I can hardly wait
for the day that all this contrast
comes in to focus,
and I see it from above.

but oh how I love the pitch and peak of the story, the flashlight
at God's chin as he reads me
my next turn.

We all agree. Yes we do. Yes.


If I am being honest,
and not the kind of honest that asks for the
permission to say hurtful things under the mask
of honesty,

but honest in the sense that I share something that
may be unpopular:

I'd say 95% of the time
I fear exploring my culture-enforced beliefs,
I fear questioning the doctrinal authority of Paul,
and the salvation story
and the implications on sin and judgment if choice is an illusion,

because of social discomfort and alienation,
rather than upsetting or frustrating or disgracing God.

I wonder what that says about my true allegiance,
and if I am unique,
and the Christian quest for truth over the establishment of a comfortable culture
and the fiction of communal accord.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I do not know the seasons



“There are no miracles beyond the seasons, yet you and I do not know the seasons. And what if a season shall be made manifest in the shape of a man? In a field I have watched an acorn, a thing so still and seemingly useless. And in the spring I have seen that acorn take roots and rise, the beginning of an oak tree, towards the sun. Surely you would deem this a miracle, yet that miracle is wrought a thousand thousand times in the drowsiness of every winter and the passion of every spring. Why shall it not be wrought in the heart of man? Shall not the seasons meet in the hand or upon the lips of a Man Anointed? If our God has given to earth the art to nestle seed whilst the seed is seemingly dead, why shall He not give it to the heart of man to breathe life into another heart, even a heart seemingly dead?”

- “Jesus the Son of Man” Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, March 27, 2011

One world, under Man.

secular Humanism: the belief in finding the right through reason and philosophy:
a good theology for modern government, I'd say.

Christ-centered historicism, pre or post evangelicalism, universalism in the prism of Jesus, post-emergent realism, Zionism: isms looking for the right. some truths are focused on heaven. some truths are focused on the sexy idea of truth.
some truths are grounded and fed by fear and the loneliness of the soul. no, they all are.

And the mysterious clues get picked up, like bones in the badlands, of a brontosaurus,
and legends of dragons are written,
and the Cretaceous period is mapped out day-by-day as if we were there, by men who write backwards...

and reverence for the way it is is lost.
and worship for what it must have been is a golden calf.

I love the assembly line and hate the responsibility of one life under God.

and I worship what it must have been and drink and laugh.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

April 26

"The inner wagings of biology and heart, reason and instinct. I detest my attraction to beautiful faces and bodies... how they can pull out of me more attention, laughter, focus... and tell me that beauty does not fade. ha. We are all promised by our lust that the taste of beautiful skin will satisfy our lonely bodies. It does not matter how many books, parables, films and songs I hear and see and read about the fleeting dangers of choice by physical attraction... we will still war with its silver tongue. I sometimes wish to be blind and content as an island and straight as an arrow and married. strikingly handsome. or fit. or fat and jolly. or a cow in another pasture, mocking me by paying no attention across the fence. I say sometimes, some more than others, some not really at all. I just hope to be good. A good boy with the talents in this box clutched in my arms."

Something I wrote

Something I wrote while in love with an impossible love and reading Rumi:

covered mystic poetry from a desert man
that removes the shape of
the soul, dissolving
self into The Friend,

I am possessed
marching possessed
in the mirror I hold
to set side by side
self and other and
skin - bone - breadth - hair
skill - speech - heat - hunger
pull and ignore and conquer
slave slave slave
slave slave and
not a bond-servant to
this

dip into mystic river,
free me. freedom. or
give me, and let it be dry.
or teach me how to
love, or what to love, or
break me, Spirit, in the Texas soil
like my sister

and sew me again and kill
me and wait, in white snow cover
for spring. or something else.