Broken-down Poetry: August 2008


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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Welp, I know who I'm voting for.

I just got settled into school, (and already have tons of stories to tell) but I honestly don't want to waste a good, healthy blog on wildcat news. So you'll just have to ask me in person.

However, there was another big event going on this week--a bit bigger than my college escapade. The Democratic National Convention ended on Thursday with Barack Obama's acceptance speech.


I have been watching the DNC with a careful eye because I know that it's political. And when I mean it's political (because you already knew THAT) I mean that people are crafty with their words, careful to make you feel all the ethos, pathos, and logos of whoever's speaking at the moment.

Prior to Thursday night, I was a bit wary of declaring my party (in this election, not just in general). I just knew that I wasn't ready to declare that my beliefs rest solely on one party's claims. And, I still feel that way.

But, here's the thing: I have been doing my research. I wasn't just taken in by Obama's (truly profound) speech, I started realizing that there are more issues out there that I need to take into consideration.

Yes, I agree that abortion is wrong. Killing babies is never good (hmm unless you believe it will lower crime). I have a problem with the government making the decision on a decision like that JUST because I know that in desperate times, some women will go great lengths to get an abortion. Clothes hangers. Risky drugs.

Now they're not only harming their fetus, but themselves.

But I also believe that war is wrong. War can't be just. I'm sorry, Austin Jett, it can't be. Like the hospital manager in Iraq, as quoted by Shane Claiborne, said, "Violence is for those who have lost their imagination. Has your country lost its imagination?"

I don't believe anyone is beyond redemption. Not even terrorists. (Paul was a terrorist, and he wrote half the New Testament!)

I believe we need to carry each other's burdens, financially even. I know we have a tendency to think that since we're in America, that means everyone else has equal opportunity to strike rich. But it's not true--it cannot be true.

I mean, after reading books like Savage Inequalities, which explored poor school systems, I can't possibly think that someone from a school in East St. Louis possibly has the same chance at "success" as white suburban me.

So what do we do? We help the low income folks. We provide some healthcare, nothing wrong with that. I know that it's easy to think that once someone's been handed a freebie they will always be begging for more. Maybe that's true. But what did Jesus say about the least of these? Jesus was homeless, wouldn't we give him healthcare?*

Now, I hate when people try to convince me I'm wrong in my beliefs (about anything), so I won't try to tell you to vote Obama/Biden '08. Seriously. I just want you to examine more issues than just the one you hear about the most (abortion).

Either way, as a moral person, you can't honestly believe one party is faultless. The question I've got to ask myself is what issues concern me the most right now.

*Don't leave me nasty comments for that. I KNOW there's more dynamics in helping the homeless than just giving them handouts. But sometimes I believe those handouts (money, food, blankets, etc.) could do WAY more good than trying to make someone go through some program to get them out of their financial woes. Why? Because with a handout there's love. Or, there can be love if you show it. Programs don't show love in the same way.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008


It all started yesterday when I listened to the RELEVANT Podcast. I wasn't going to yet (I like saving it for a long drive or while cleaning my house), but my ole buddy Bryce told me that it was epic. So I did.

Well, I started listening, but when I heard that what was epic was also sad, I skipped to 46:05 minutes into it. To hear that Adam Smith is moving away. To New Zealand. (Who else can make the whaleshark voice like him?)

Now, flashback to May 2007 when Ash and I made RELEcakes for the crew... and I took a picture with my "favorite podcaster," Cameron. So why, do you ask, is Adam's departure so difficult for me? Especially since I've said goodbye to Tyler, Cara, and Jesse in years passed?


I don't empathize very well. In fact, I can muster up just enough sympathy for people to keep my distance while still looking pretty compassionate. But when it comes to empathy--the kind that Jesus shows us (Heb. 4:15)--I suck. I mean, I really do. I relate to Dustin Kensrue (ha, here I go) when he said,

“My personality is somewhat inward looking, and, therefore, I am somewhat selfish and self-centered by nature. I am not naturally a very empathetic person. I would have to say that my burden for broken people comes from the influence of Christ in my life, showing me how to love people like He loved them. I have a long way to go.” RELEVANT Magazine (I don't feel like looking up the issue... but Thrice is on the cover.)

So despite my usual tendency to NOT empathize, I was overwhelmed with concern for Adam's well-being. Again, kind of weird because I neither empathize NOR know Adam.

So, that night I couldn't sleep. This could partly have been due to my Grasshopper Shizzle (blended coffee drink, very tasty) I had 2 hours previous or the bouts of spiritual warfare I had been dealing with. But instead of settling on either explanation, I decided to lay there in bed and grapple.

I woke up early. My mind just kept pouring through random thoughts. What could I have possibly been thinking about for hours and hours on end? I have no idea. It was sickening.

So, this time (though in previous days I would have told myself to pray against the spiritual forces keeping me from sleep--as John Eldredge would suggest I do) I just got up and went on with my day. I told myself to "heed not thy feeling" and keep muhself busy. No thinking about random crap that'll stress me out or sadden me--whatever.

By mid-afternoon I was still feeling the same crappy way I felt the previous afternoon when I realized that Adam was heading adios. Uhm, I don't think that's empathy anymore.

I had a sort of "godly sorrow" there for a while, till Satan took advantage of it and kept those soul-heavy feelings remain.
"Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain. " Ps 127:1a

But, like all good and hardy DESPAIR, I started asking God some questions. Questions, I learned today, are good. We just might not get answers--deal with it.

And I realized as I was praying my questions, that they really all flowed from last afternoon. I mean, Adam Smith is directly linked to RELEVANT (hullo, podcaster/managing editor) which is directly linked to my future. Or, so I always thought.

I've been gung-ho about working for RELEVANT for over a year now and I have never seemed to question that I may not be good enough or passionate enough or whatever-enough to work there. Why have I never questioned that?

I think I have always just trusted that Thomas Friedman quote that said that the PASSIONATE people will get the jobs over the geeks. I'm passionate, I know that. But now I wonder if I'm passionate enough.

And, what if that doesn't matter?

And, what if I don't even like working there? I'll have spent years pursuing a dream that fails me.

And, what about college? What if my professors don't prepare me? What if they don't like me?

And, what if I never find true love?

And, (the scariest of all) What if God changes his mind about me? What if he doesn't want me to be Ezekiel or to change the world or to write and write and write or to be passionate or to be whoever I think I am supposed to be....

The questions kept coming. I know that I just need to trust God--there's no doubt about that. I know what it is to close my eyes and jump, and that's what I'm going to have to do. I don't like it, but if I am truly going to call Christ my Savior, I'm going to have to just go--go wherever he says to go.

If it's to RELEVANT, than that's where I'm supposed to be.

If not, then I pray he prepares me for somewhere else.




Welp, my friend Austin always told me how he listened to Coldplay when he was depressed. Understandable. When I'm depressed I listen to the smooth sounds of The Alchemy Index (Vol. 2).

I remember after the overnight at the church for New Years, after one crappy night trying to sleep in a 20 below zero room, and having to wake up at 6 to go home because a snow storm was brewing, I listened to that disk. I listened to those 6 tracks over and over again until I felt good inside.

Then I went home and slept.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Jacob and Esau

Once upon a time there was a woman named Rebekah. God told her that she was pregnant with two nations, one that would rule over the other. So she gave birth to two boys: Esau first (who's name means HAIRY) and Jacob who latched onto Esau's heel (who's name means DECEIVER).

One day after a hunt, Esau came back famished--I mean, STARVING--while his brother Jacob was making some soup.

"Dude, I'm hungry. Can I have some of your soup?" Esau asked Jacob.

"If you sell me your birthright," replied Jacob.

"Well, I am going to die anyway if I don't get some soup.... what the hay!"

"Swear it?"

"I swear it."


A little while later, Daddy Isaac was dying and Esau was about to get his blessing (another right of the firstborn), so he went to hunt for some food for Pops.

Well, Rebekah must have liked Jacob better or something because she told her younger son to disguise himself in some goat hair to convince blind Isaac that he was Esau to get his blessing.

And Jacob was blessed.

Esau came home mad (and a little whiny). "Bless me too!"

"Welp," replied old Isaac, "your brother stole it. Sorry."

Esau mumbled, "He gets whatever he wants! It's not FAIR!"

"Welp, what can I do?" Isaac said.

"Don't you have another blessing? Like, a spare for a rainy day?"

"Uhm, how's this: 'You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother.'"

"Sucky." So Esau held a grudge against Jacob because he got whatever he wanted and no one seemed to care.

Years later, after Jacob had acquired two wives, his own flock of animals, a name change, and a blessing from God himself... he prepares to meet Esau.

Now, expecting to get killed by his grudging brother, he plans on giving him a pretty generous gift, to "pacify him."

Well, when Esau meets him in the road, he runs up and embraces Jacob. All is forgiven.

And everyone lived happily ever after? Right?


You know why? Because somewhere along the way--between Jacob's unfair blessings and Esau's unfair losses--God decides that he hates ole Hairy.
"I have loved you," says the LORD.
"But you ask, 'How have you loved us?'
"Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" the LORD says. "Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals." Malachi 1:1-3

This passage was then quoted in Romans. In the Septuagint (pastor Paul would be proud) a portion of the passage reads, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." Romans 9:13

And again in Hebrews: "See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son." Hebrews 12:16

I mean, it is pretty bad to sell your birthright (possessions, probably flocks of animals, etc.) for a bowl of soup. That is kind of dumb on ole Esau's behalf.

But GODLESS? Can you really say that? And what real reason did God have to HATE him?

It seems like there were some pretty awful people in the Bible that God could have easily said He hated, but Esau? Is this all about soup?

This kind of brings me back to the question of predestination vs. free will. God can choose who He wants to call and who He doesn't. He can choose who He wants to have mercy on and who He doesn't. (This is taken from Romans 9.)

I feel like this is why certain people go through harder trials than others. God puts us in a certain place for a reason (and I mean this in a fairly broad term: who are family is, our hometown--things we cannot choose). Why should I live in Autumn Ridge while a brother or sister in the faith live in the Chicago ghetto? Why are my friends' parents married while mine divorced?

God has given us the blessing of a good life (a nice home, food to eat, loving parents) so we can use them for His glory... the same way he would expect those without the such things to live for his glory as well.

We should be thankful for our "birthright"--our political freedom and suburban lifestyle--instead of selling it off. We should not forget that God is the one who put us in this setting. I feel like Esau's mistake was mishandling a gift rather than using it for its true purpose. It's so easy to do that.

How often to we spend our paychecks on crap--literally, like video games, DVDs we'll only watch once, midnight cravings for BWW (guilty!)--instead of tithing or doing something genuinely godly with it? Maybe Esau just wasn't a good steward.

So be thankful for what you've been blessed with.

And don't sell it off for a good bowl of soup.



Unlike Esau, Thrice would not sell their souls for a bowl of soup. In fact, they are excellent stewards of their money. A portion of each CD they sell is given to an organization. The Alchemy Indexes sent money to Blood:Water Mission, Vheissu sent money to 826 Valencia (a nonproft educational organization), The Artist in the Ambulance sent money to the Syrenthia J. Savio Endowment (which provides chemotherapy to those who can't afford it), and I'm sure their other CDs sent money as well... but I don't own them to know.

They are sick, They are poor
and they die by the thousands and we look away
They are wolves at the door
they are not going to move us or get in our way

Cause we don't have the time
Here at the top of the world
Yeah we're doin just fine
Here at the top of the world

We hold our own by keeping our hearts cold

Different god, darker skin
They are just not a burden that we like to bear
They are living in sin
Just throw out any reason for us not to care

Cause we're feeling alright

Here at the top of the world
Yeah we're doin just fine
Here at the top of the world

We've learned that money matters most
So we keep our cards held close
Here at the top of the world

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Lion and the Wolf.

I feel like we should start out with a verse: "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." James 1:13f

Let's get our brains workin' today people.

Pretend Satan and Temptation are two separate entities. Two living vessels. Picturing it? Good. This is how I view sin (metaphorically speaking I guess. Hang in there with me).

Say you're a good, hardy Christian guy. You are pretty sure if Satan told you to drop everything and have sex with your sixteen-year-old girlfriend (mind you, you're eighteen, not a pedophile) you would not. Of course, you recognized that to be Satan. (Whether it be through a thought running through your mind or a friend egging you on. Either way, you know it's wrong because that's what ye old Bible says.)


Temptation works like this. It's a lot like a wolf in sheep's clothing. It sneaks its way into your life. It's not like blatent ole Satan who comes a-knockin'--NO....

It starts with the desire to, say, watch a raunchy movie. I mean, nothing like HORRIBLE, but say an R-rated movie with lots of innuendos in it (and you're a guy and you get your kicks from all that. Ha, I'm stereotyping). Then your old pal Johnny watches some softcore porn online. Oh then that hardcore. I mean, ya can't get enough. Then you get a girlfriend and, well, you start expecting stuff from her... stuff you viewed in those pictures and vids online.

Imagine a downward spiral.

And yourself plummeting through.

Now that original temptation from Satan (the one you thought was CRAZY) isn't such a big deal anymore. I call this the progression of sin. Pre-marital sex may have seemed like a big no-no back then, but now not so much. Not only that entity of Temptation ceased you, but also the entity of Satan.

And that's a problem. A lot bigger one than letting the wolf in the door.

We gotta be careful. Far too many of us have let the wolf in (not recognizing its fangs under its fluffy sheep costume) and left the door open for Satan to peek his way in. Keep your eyes open.

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. " I Peter 3:8 tNIV



Just read the blog. I learned all that from a Thrice song. (Note the title.)

The lion's outside of your door, the wolf's in your bed.
The lion's claws are sharpened for war the wolf's teeth are red.
What a monstrous sight he makes mocking man's best friend.
But both the wolf and lion crave the same thing in the end.
The lion's outside of your door, the wolf's in your bed.

The wolf he howls, the lion does roar, the wolf lets him in.
The lion runs in through the door, the real fun begins.
As they both rush upon you and rip open your flesh.
The lion eats his fill and then the wolf cleans up the mess.
The lion's outside of your door, the wolf's in your bed.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

experiencing God

so hold on
hold tight
open daylight
we will overcome

so put away your fear
a morning star will soon appear
and bring an end
to this dark night

This is how I worship God.

My friend Amanda and I were talking about how people experience God differently. For her, she senses His presence when she's talking to people about God (when she's being a "little Christ") and when she's having a strong emotional experience. As for me, neither of those two things make me feel close in God's presence.

I experience God through the music, written word, and logic.

If you've seen the movie MUSIC AND LYRICS, you'd know that the hero (a washed-up popstar) and the heroine (a woman with an incredible vocabulary) join forces to write a number one song. Well, at one point the two have this conversation about what makes a song a song. The hero said the music. The heroine said the lyrics.

I love lyrics. I love the depth an artist can reach just through rhetoric.

When I hear a song that describes God in a way I had never imagined (i.e. 2 of the 3 reasons why Thrice is the best band has to do with their lyrics) I feel Him awakening a part of me.

And sometimes--though not nearly as frequently--I feel God in the melody of a song. The main theme to my favorite movie THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS is soul-stirring for me. Whenever I hear it I want to drop everything and run through a forest in a flowing dress.

I can feel something in me stir. I think that's God.

And logic. I find God through organization. Like my dad, I like color-coding, making lists, and having a plan. That's me. God woos me through this (it's kind of a long story, but I'm always willing to share).

So my point of all this is (I know this came way too late) to find how you experience God--and revel in it just a bit. Not to the point of putting that song, word, or list in front of God, but learn how to worship God through them. God stirs your heart when you hear that song or see that sunset or talk to that person FOR A REASON.

Thank Him for it.



Read blog above. Take note of quote in italics.

Friday, August 1, 2008

who's to blame?

It's 4:00 in the morning.

I went to bed at 11:00, watched a little Colbert at until 11:30, then tried to go to sleep. It didn't work. My stomach had been acting funny (hmm could've been that coney dog I had...) and my muscles ached from the shots I got on Wednesday. I sprawled out on my bed hot and sweaty, too weak to turn on the fan, though once I did I got cold again.


I've been reading a book by John Eldredge, his latest, called Walking with God. I used to be a pretty hardcore Eldredge fan. (I even befriended his oldest son on Myspace.) Anyway, Eldredge's focus is on learning how to talk with God and be in a right relationship with Him. He talks about spiritual warfare and the effects it has on our walk with God.

So after my fifth trip to the bathroom, I collapsed back onto my bed and asked myself, WWJED? (What would John Eldredge do?) He would pray against Satan because he was stealing my joy. He was keeping me from enjoying a nice night sleep, from rest after a busy Thursday.

Well, I prayed, God I feel like crap. Please don't let Satan steal my joy. Amen.

And after that prayer I felt ridiculous. I thought about all the reasons why I was sick: food poisoning, touch of the flu, malnutrition, etc. Can I put Satan on the list as well?

I feel like there are two camps, either you believe Satan is directly causing all pain and suffering going on in your life OR you believe in rational explanation for everything. (Sure there are shades of grey, like everything in life, but what's fun about debating that?)

There's some legitimacy in both arguments, I believe. I mean, the Bible does state that Satan "prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" (I Peter 5:8 ) and that Satan "masquerades as an angel of light" (II Corinthians 11:14) to deceive us. Jesus even calls Satan "the thief" (John 10).

And I understand that in a lot of circumstances Satan is to blame, that he is the one presenting temptations before us.

But, with that camp I think there is some misdirection. I think of Eldredge's emphasis on spiritual warfare--that constant blaming of Satan for everything going wrong--keeps him from owning up to some stuff. It's almost like prosperity preaching: If I pray against Satan in every area of my life, then everything will be perfect. Rather than: My decisions caused this or that to happen, and my selfishness is to blame.

Perhaps, once again, this is just my self-righteousness getting the best of me, but it seems like God does discipline us and really wants some bad things to happen to us--because that's how we learn to trust Him.

I'm just giving this some thought. We all have a tendency to cling to whatever is easiest in life (which in this case would be to blame Satan), but I don't think that discredits the theory for sure one way or another.


[Serious part complete.]


REASONS NUMBER 2 AND 3 WHY THRICE IS THE BEST BAND EVER. (Because I forgot to post a reason after my last blog.)


Okay, maybe not the MOST controversial, but pretty close. Here's the thing: Thrice is NOT a Christian band. If you call them a Christian band people will stab you with knives. Seriously. They will. HOWEVER, lead singer Dustin Kensrue (who writes all their music) is a Christian. A very thoughtful one, at that. And he brings in some of the blatantly "Christian" themes into their music. Like, hullo, COME ALL YOU WEARY is a song taken DIRECTLY from scripture. Along with DUST OF NATIONS, MOVING MOUNTAINS, and a good 3/4 of all their music. And then they have blatantly "Not-So-Christian" songs like Silhouette. (Lyrics read: "Your eyes slit the throat of all I know about myself and this life...") Hmm. Or how about this: "hells black wings did i over perch these walls, for stony limits cannot hold me out and now you all DIE" (The Red Death). Oh yeah, I want to sing THAT on a Sunday morning... not.

But honestly, it gets pretty heated in ye old blogosphere concerning all this. Here's a taste of what the bloggers have to say about The Red Death (which has those really not-so-Christian lyrics):

Belsambar: man... i have always associated the term 'christian rock' with 'annoying rock'.... i have only recently discovered thrice, and i have been completely, 100 percent impressed.

Alcoholic Panda: I hate to burst your bubble, bud, but thrice isn't a christian band. Check their site. It plainly states in their faq that they infact are NOT a christian band. All the some though, they kick a**. :)

SaveJake: Hate to burst your bubble, but while Thrice is not a christian band (proclaims the name of Christ in the music), The writer of the lyrics, Dustin, IS a huge follower, and his struggles with it are dealt in the lyrics. What makes it not Christian rock is the fact that it's just part of his life, and he deals with his life with lyrics, instead of using the music as a way of worship

HolkeyeSF: Who cares. Music is music. Thrice is awesome. If christians want to think of the lyrics in that sense, then why not let them?

Deadbolt: hate to burst all of your bubbles but here is where we discuss the red Death not christianity...SHUT UP WITH THE GOD S***!!! nobody care if they are a christian band (which they arent) so lets discuss the lyrics here not the stupid fact about if thirce is a christian band.

Duffmyster99: every freaking posts that are on thrice....are its a christian its not check their website..blah blah blah.who cares!!

Xfromyourhandx: hate to burst your bubble(s) but you all need lives.. THEY ARE NOT A FREAKING CHRISTIAN BAND NOW STOP POSTING 20 SOMETHING POSTS ON IT

And that's just one of their songs... just read what they have to say about those songs that they COULD play on Star 88.3. Ooh I love drama.


I believe my first reason as to why Thrice is the best band ever talked about the song CHILD OF DUST which is written as a Shakespearean sonnet and is about man's use of the earth's resources and is mirrored with the Prodigal Son story in Luke. Well, SILVER WINGS is even better. This is why.

First of all, how often do you compare Christ with air? Well, never. EXACTLY. SILVER WINGS is the sonnet on the Air EP of the Alchemy Index which juxtaposes Christ with Air. Not only is this a unique comparison, the song fully embodies the analogy. Of the four sonnets on the Alchemy Index, Air and Fire do the best job sounding like the element they are. SILVER WINGS sounds like air would sound like if it had a voice. And, most importantly, the lyrics are gold.
From tender years you took me for granted
(But still I deigned to wander through your lungs)
While you were sleeping soundly in your bed
(Your drapes were silver wings, your shutters flung)

I drew the poison from the summer's sting
(And eased the fire out of your fevered skin)
I moved in you and stirred your soul to sing
(And if you'd let me I would move again)

I've danced 'tween sunlit stands of lover's hair
(And formed the final words before you death)
I pitied you and plied your sails with air
(Gave blessing when you rose upon my breath)

And after all of this, I am amazed
That I am cursed far more than I am praised