Broken-down Poetry: November 2009


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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Child, I don't remember.

Saturday I felt more human than I had in a really long time.

Dr. Smith in World Civ. talks about the importance of having a big view of sin in order to have an even bigger view of Grace. Saturday my view of sin grew big. And I felt small.

Jacqueline and I watched Lars and the Real Girl (in Elder Hall on the big screen - heehee) and it reminded me of my humanity, my sinfulness, my inadequacies.

The movie is about Lars, a socially awkward guy who lives alone and hates being touched. One day he decides to order an anatomically correct doll/manikin and makes her his girlfriend. He's having a delusion - he thinks she's real - and everyone eventually goes along with it. The whole movie is about their relationship.

Lars believes this manikin, Bianca, is real. He talks to her. He loves her. He buys her things. If someone told him that he was going crazy, he denied it.


Richard Dawkins wrote a book a few years back, heading the New Atheism movement. The book is called, "The God Delusion." Hmm. There's that word again.

And I'm not denying God's existence. But I thought about it a lot while watching this movie. I thought a lot about Pascal too. He said that it's reasonable to believe in God, because if he is real, you'll get to heaven, but if he isn't, you'll be unaware of your delusion after death. Win-win.

Then I thought of Peter Abelard, Medieval philosopher. He believed in the importance of doubting and questioning one's beliefs. It's how you learn faith.

Then I thought a lot about love. How Lars treated Bianca so well and how I wanted a boy to treat me that well.

Then I thought about how imperfect I am. How I am just a girl, not a god. I am so in love with myself sometimes that I forget about other people.

And I thought about how I have lost all ambition, have been caught up in my silly little stories, and have no idea what I want to do with my life. I don't know if I want to change the world anymore.

Part of me wants that picket fence and 2.5 children. And a hot husband. A nice home. Lots of money.

Then the other part of me, not really standing for social justice, still hates American consumerism. Then I go and buy stuff for myself. And dream about being comfortable.

I know I'm under Grace, but I'm suddenly aware of all the rotten shit I do. (Like cussing. When did I pick that up? A few weeks ago, I think. Around the time Lindsey started calling Medieval kings stupid bastards. lol)

I guess that is what Grace is about.

We don't get excited about Grace until we realize how selfish, arrogant, dirty and self-righteous we are. Big view of sin, bigger view of Grace.

Then Jesus looks at me and says that he doesn't remember any of those things I just listed off. He forgets. He sees me as 100% righteous. Amen and amen.

And he likes it when I ask questions and doubt a little bit. He knows that this is a season. That this dry, lazy, disillusioned valley I'm in won't last forever.


Everybody's waving hands in the air
They're singing songs of Grace
But it feels so dead to me
Could it be that I just don't believe?

I can't let go what's holding on to me
This is just for show
'Cause you don't want to see who I am

Sure as hell not the better man
Sure as hell not the better man

I am naked, and I'm trying, but I can't make it
Oh Jesus, I'm doing all I can
I'm just a man ...

"Child, I don't remember
What you've done
Child, I don't remember
The things you're dying from"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Title Track: Musical Pride

Be thankful that I was not A&E editor last year.

I say that for many reasons, I suppose. I think Jocelyn did an amazing job with the section, and I’m proud to be her successor. Not to mention that last year at this time I hardly knew what AP style was – the journalist’s version of MLA or APA – despite my year on staff at my high school newspaper.

But last year the A&E section, had I been the editor, would have been filled with a lack of variety and integrity. Because last year, folks, I was a music snob.

I would have said that with pride because the bands I’ve been listening to for years are the same ones loved by professional music enthusiasts. Bands like Franz Ferdinand, Kings of Leon and Manchester Orchestra became my most played on iTunes. I learned that rap music can be cool and ironic like Gnarls Barkley and Jaydiohead. And most importantly, I shunned all “Christian” music, except for Jars of Clay.

Back in May, my friend Adam and I would sit in this little locally-owned coffeehouse in Fort Wayne, sipping tea and talking about what real music is. We’d rattle off names of musicians no one else knows about (Great Lake Swimmers, M83, Eef Barzelay). And Adam would tell me about the time he played secular music through the church loudspeakers when he ran the soundboard, and I would say something snotty about the lack of musical variety my own church offers (Chris Tomlin or Matt Redman, take your pick).

Last summer I remember flipping through my friend Jacque’s CD collection during our road trip, seeing only Switchfoot and Sanctus Real, wondering how I was going to survive the next 300 miles.

So, I never knew that the sin of pride could infiltrate my music like this.

Because that’s really what this is: a pride issue. I think that because I listen to cool music and you don’t, I am somehow better than you or more tasteful or more cultured.

It works the other way around too. This is the same reason why I get so offended when my roommate Lindsey makes fun of my music. It’s not that you’re dissing what flows through my ear buds; you’re dissing me for choosing to press play.

My friend Abby loves Coldplay. Whenever we drive together, she switches what I am currently playing (the Decemberists, fun., Andrew Bird) to Coldplay’s song “Lost.”

I hate that song. I hate that album. I hate how much everyone loves Coldplay so much.

“Then why do you have them on your iPod?” Abby has asked me more than once. And honestly, the answer is kind of pitiful: I have songs by Coldplay to make my musical tastes seem cooler. Because, apparently, Coldplay is the epitome of “good music.” (Really?)

You know that phrase, “Keeping up with the Jones’?” Some people like getting fancy electronics to show off to their friends. Some people dress in only brand names. I fill my iPod with catchy music – whether I like the songs or not, apparently.

I shouldn’t find my identity in the type of music I listen to, but I do. I know I’m not going to be shunned for liking or hating a certain band. I’m still friends with Matt who listens to Creed, so he can still be my friend when I blast Miley Cyrus.

Even writing this column has been a struggle for me. You can’t imagine how hard it was admitting I listen to Miley Cyrus. I’ve tried to make up for it by placing other cooler musicians in parentheses throughout this column. (Like this: M. Ward, Animal Collective, Kings of Convenience.)

I want to know what you think. I know taste in music is subjective, but do you find yourself acting like me, letting your favorite music define you? Do you do it with other forms of media?

And if so, what should we do? Humble ourselves and listen to lame music, or suck it up and try to not let music define us?

Continue the conversation online at my blog:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Inspired by Buddy Glass

I'm finishing up Salinger's last novella about the Glass family, "Seymour - an Introduction," written in the point of view of Buddy Glass.

Seymour, whom Buddy writes about, is a poet; Buddy writes in prose. It's brilliant, really, how they're contrasted. Anyway, Buddy has a lot to say about prose ... and since I am a fan of prose (as broken-down poetry), I thought I'd post some of my favorite quotes.

Thanks, Buddy.

"And while I think an economically happy prose writer can do many good things on the printed page - the best things, I'm frankly hoping - it's also true, and infinitely more self-evident, I suspect, that he can't be moderate or temperate or brief; he loses very nearly all his short paragraphs. ...

Worse of all, I think, he's no longer in a position to look after the reader's most immediate want; namely, to see the author get the hell on with his story." -- "Seymour," pp. 98-99

"It is, then, as if this clerical error were to revolt against the author, out of hatred for him, were to forbid him to correct it, and were to say, 'No, I will not be erased, I will stand as a witness against thee, that thou art a very poor writer.'" -- Soren Kierkegaard, epigraph to "Seymour"

Other well-written passages by Buddy Glass:

"Her voice sounded strangely levelled off, stripped of even the ghost of italics." -- "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters," p. 85

"I said I didn't give a good God damn what Mrs. Fedder had to say on the subject of Seymour. Or, for that matter, what any professional dilettante or amateur bitch had to say. I said that from the time Seymour was ten years old, every summa-cum-laude Thinker and intellectual men's-room attendant in the country had been having a go at him. ...

I said that no one Goddamn person, of all the patronizing, fourth-rate critics and column writers, had ever seen him for what he really was. A poet, for God's sake. And I mean a poet." -- "Raise High," pp 59-60

with Love and Squalor,

Friday, November 13, 2009

Title Track: A Backstage Christian

Whenever I read a book, I always assume the writer and I would make good friends. F. Scott Fitzgerald and I would share a (nonalcoholic) cocktail, J.D. Salinger and I would probably ride a carousel together in a park – and Don Miller and I would, of course, get married.

But knowing my luck on things like this, I bet that most authors are jerks.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few published authors. My mom is a writer and she’s made friends with a lot of other writers in the romantic inspirational genre (yes, there is such a thing). I wouldn’t call her friends jerks, but they are definitely their own breed.

But author Jason Boyett is not a jerk or weird like my mom’s friends – at least not weird in a stop-eating-the-paste way. He’s a nice guy, and he definitely knows how to write.

Jason is the master of taking fact-loaded information, bringing it to our level, and explaining it with humor and irreverence. He even took four weighty issues like the Bible, the afterlife, the apocalypse and sainthood and made Pocket Guide books out of them. And you know what? I could tell you more about the patron saint of beekeeping than you’d ever want to know. (Thanks, Jason.) His blog,, which helped inspire the theme of my blog, is hilarious and reading it is an integral part of my day.

I only say all that to build Jason’s credibility. Anyone could tell you that Jason’s a good writer, but not everyone knows that Jason’s a good guy too. And I don’t know about you, but I would really like to read a book by a guy I could drink a nonalcoholic beverage with.

But unfortunately, this isn’t always realistic.

A few months back I uncovered a bunch of dirt about a publication I loved, a company that boasted of a Christ-focus. It turns out calling yourself Christian doesn’t mean you maintain a level of integrity or view profit gain differently – it’s just a matter of appealing to a certain demographic. I am still a little bitter.

I’m not saying that you should only read books by Christian authors or listen to music by Christian bands. Because honestly, I have a healthy mix of Christian and secular entertainment. Rather, I’m trying to argue that bands who claim a faith shouldn’t act like jerks behind stage.

Maybe that’s too much to ask.

I recently had a phone conversation with a guy who used to work for a Christian magazine and a Christian record label. He told me how he met a lot of recognizable Christian figures who were doing pretty slimy things.

He met vain musicians and money-hungry businessmen. He refused to give me any names – but ooh James Dobson, I’m suspicious of you! Though he did assure me that Toby Mac is not the (insert derogatory noun here) that you’d think he’d be.

I’m not saying we should boycott all books, magazines, CDs and movies by superficial Christians – I’m not saying that at all. I just know that I don’t want to have the same fate as these guys. I want my actions to line up with my professed devotion.

We talk a lot about becoming world changers here at Indiana Wesleyan, but I wonder if there’s more to world changing than just building a Christian company or calling yourself a Christian doctor or a Christian writer or a Christian football coach.

I wonder if world changing has more to do with being a pleasant person to work with, to have patience with coworkers, to live as though you recognized God’s blessings.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I ... am ... blogging in the middle of a crowded hallway. That kind of sounds like a joke or the introduction to an anecdote - but it's not. It's just true.

I was talking to my friend Molly last night, hashing out everything that I've been thinking about for the past week or so. Nothing is organized. My dear thoughts are all over the place.


I keep forgetting to breathe.

Madelaine L'Engle in her book "Walking on Water" talks about creating cosmos from the chaos. I think I want that. But how?

I've been really good at compartmentalizing everything. I reserve thoughts about school to the afternoon hours, thoughts about boys to the night. But I can't seem to do that anymore.

I want to detox.

I told Molly last night how I wish I could write poetry to get these feelings out, to express them in an appropriate way ... but all my poetry comes out as prose.

This is my poetry.
The closest thing to it.
Words that don't mean much.
It looks a lot like
but it's not.

When Jesus was on a boat during a windstorm, he slept. His apostles poked him and woke him. Sleepy-eyed Jesus told the storms to stop and they do. Then I bet Jesus went back to sleep.

God, teach me how to rest during this storm!

I was reading an old Xanga blog post of mine which talked about this topic. Even in my naivety, I understood the benefits of storms - to go through them, not to avoid them. Not to organize them. But to let them change me.

Dear God, I hate this chaos.
But let it transform me.

Get out your measuring cups and we'll play a new game
Come to the front of the class and we'll measure your brain
We'll give you a complex, and we'll give it a name

Saturday, November 7, 2009

10 Things New With Me

This post is for those of you who I haven't talked to in a while. I feel bad that you're not up to date with my life.

1. I added a major. Despite what Dr. Huckins thinks, our journalism program lacks good writing courses ... so I added a writing double major. It's only 30 hours, so it's not much extra work. Because of this I changed my minor from writing to media comm.

2. I am obsessed with Christmas. I always loved Christmas - don't get me wrong - but usually I celebrate the holiday for only one month. Not this year. Lindsey and I have been playing Christmas music pretty much all semester. Our room is already decorated.

3. I lost weight. Thanks, Wii Fit!

4. I like a boy. And he acts like he likes me. He has a beard.

5. I stopped going to church - at school anyway. I get my fair share of preaching, worship and fellowship on campus, so what's the point of attending church I don't like anyway? I feel so rebellious; I'm not trying to be rebellious. I just like doing devotions at Starbucks more.

6. My mom had surgery on Thursday. BUT SHE'S OKAY! For those of you who knew this, thanks for praying!

7. The Sojourn's going to 8 pages! Right now it's 6 which means my section is only in the paper every other week. Now it'll be in every issue. And designer-willing, in color as well.

8. I've been really busy, which is why you haven't heard from me much. School + work + social life = BUSYNESS! But I love it. ;-)

9. I miss my sister so much! She's in Italy right now, studying abroad. I've had the urge to text her so many times, she has no idea.

10. Anyone can read the work I've done on the Sojourn at (Ha, shameless plug.)

with love and squalor,
Lauren Deidra

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

To tell a better story

I finished Don Miller's "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" a few days ago; it made me want to marry him even more.

The book was very moody. It had the structure of "Blue Like Jazz" (more like a memoir than SFGKW or TPD), but had the tone of "Through Painted Deserts" - thought-provoking, contemplative. It made me moody too.

Don talks about Story, about how he didn't find his story worthy of the big screen, and how he tries to change that. So Don rides a bike across America. He hikes in Peru. He starts a non-profit.

Don talks about living a better story, which made me consider my current story. I go to class. I drink a lot of coffee. I have interesting conversations ... sometimes.

I know I'm in college and that limits my freedom to live a bigger story, but it doesn't stop me either. Gosh, all this talk of being World Changers here at IWU has gotten to me. I really do want to change the world. I was made for greatness, as Pastor DeNeff would say. I'm not designed to sit on my hands, drag myself from class to class and settle for banality.

I like what these guys at TellABetterStory.ning are doing. They're just a couple of college kids (like me!) trying to shake things up.