Monday, January 31, 2005

reading and other such endeavors are no substitute for the people from "home"

i read the entire book choke, by chuck palahniuk, yesterday. it was fantastic. if you get offended easily...wait...if it doesn't take a LOT to offend you, then you shouldn't read it. but if you can handle a fair amount, then take a look. palahniuk is an amazing story-teller, and his themes are fantastic. his stuff is really funny, but also very inciteful, and it asks the kinds of questions that everyone should be asking. so there's a plug, like what jacob did recently.

i got to talk to krispin and jacob and ashley on the phone, all from my parents' house, because krispin was in roseburg this weekend. his post since returning to beaverton captured so well how i feel about the place that i had trouble finishing my day at school. well, that and the fact that the little cretins are trying to prove their citizenship in the underworld. gosh. they ruin me.

i don't have much else to say. i finished the problem of pain, by c.s. lewis, today. good stuff. now i think i'm going to read a play called w;t [wit] that luke recommended, and finish organizing a bunch of papers the first graders will take home tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

the queen of scene girls revisited

okay, so i assmed that "my readers" would understand by my silence what happened with the queen of scene girls. apparently not. quick story: she was kind of with a guy, or a bunch of them, or something like that. in addition, I DON'T ASK GIRLS OUT! geez, if you've been reading my blog for a while, you should know this. if you've known me for a while, you should know this. so, in case you didn't figure it out from everything i just wrote, I DON'T ASK GIRLS OUT!

some day, some day, some day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

the life aquatic with (insert name here)

i finally saw the life aquatic with steve zissou. i enjoyed it, but was slightly disappointed, although my disappointment has been fading since the final 20 minutes, and now is nearly gone. it made me miss family and friends. i was surprised at that, actually, and on the drive home from the theater i realized that all the fuss over physical touch being important is not made for no reason. that was a very meandering sentence that tried to say this: i miss hugs. as much as i can be annoyed by people who are always touching other people, i really do need some sort of physical touch, and i haven't had any since i was in roseburg. wow.

also, qickly since i need to go to bed, i liked the idea of life as an adventure in community that the movie put forth at the end. well, i guess it was out there throughout the movie, but it became as close to explicit as a wes anderson theme will get at the end. stanley hauerwas talks about life being an adventure in community, particularly for the church, and it was cool to be reminded of that in such a profound way by a movie.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

zao, scene kids, and the queen of scene chicks

tonight i went to a metal show. it's not really my cup of tea, but one of the bands playing, fear before the march of flames, played with my band a year ago and i thought it'd be cool to support them. also, the headlining band, zao, is legendary, and i decided i couldn't pass up a chance to see them. so i went. it was fun. zao really is amazing, and fear played really well too. the other two bands were okay, but it would be true to say that between my bandmates and krispin my appreciation for metal has been developed into a (gasp) affection. so there's that.

the bands were pretty good, but one part of the show that i didn't enjoy was the abundance of scene kids. emo haircuts, tight jeans, look identical to everyone's the same as being in abercrombie and fitch, only the look is different. (and it's really not that different). needless to say, i was very annoyed by them all. but there was one phenomenon that made being around them worthwhile...

at a lot of rock shows there is some sort of pit. it's either for moshing, or for kicking/punching/elbowing/flailing. the latter option is what they do at metal shows. during the zao set this pit was even bigger, so that more people could be acting out the culture's currrent version of fight club. at one point a girl i had seen earlier, probably about my age, walked into the middle of the pit. she just stood there. this is not proper ettiqette. i kept waiting for someone to ram into her. but no one did. she owned the whole crowd. certainly she was attractive: bobbed bleach-blonde hair, vest, and a beautiful face. but it was still amazing to see the scene kids bend to her whim. it got better when one of the biggest guys at the show decided to stand back to back with her--as she is watching the band--to make sure no one blindsides her. unreal. so that happened, and i thought you all should know about it.

and once again, zao really does rock.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

walking opposite the flow of traffic is hazardous to one's health. (or perhaps it's the cigarette)

As I pulled up, Morgan was walking toward me on the opposite side of the street. Of course I didn’t know then that his name was Morgan, I only knew what I could tell from his appearance. Better said, I only knew what I made up about him based on his appearance. I stared at him as I would stare at any out-of-place object, trying to figure out where he was supposed to be, or whose place he was in, or maybe even if I was in the right place. He wasn’t supposed to be in front of the church. He wasn’t supposed to be in front of the church because he didn’t want to be there. I didn’t know that he didn’t want to be there, he just looked like he didn’t want to be anywhere near a church. Maybe I decided this because he had his hood pulled tightly over his head to keep the rain from dousing his cigarette. No one with a hood on could want to be near a church.

As I stopped driving, he stopped walking.

As I got out to walk opposite the direction I’d been driving, he turned around and walked toward me, still on the other side of the street.

As I crossed the street, he turned back around and fell in-line behind me.

As I walked inside, he continued to tail me. He followed me up the stairs, a few paces behind, and through the doorway into the worship center. Once inside I headed to the front—to the stage—and he sat in the back. My comfort had stayed behind me in the car, so I grabbed my guitar to ease the tension in my own mind. After a few notes—notes that didn’t ease any tension whatsoever—I put the guitar down and moved to the front edge of the stage.

As I sat down Morgan lost status as an out-of-place object, his voice ringing in the empty room.

“What’s your name?”

“Cornelius,” I said. “What’s yours?”

Social convention was introducing us.

“I’m Morgan.”

As Morgan named himself he became completely human. He was no longer an out-of-place object, but he was still out-of-place. Our dialogue continued, and I tried to make sense of him being inside the church.

“So, what do you believe?” he asked me.

How can I answer a question about belief when there are so many different things to talk about? I believe in the creeds: One Father, His eternally begotten and only son, the Holy Spirit, which proceeds from both Father and Son, the Virgin birth, the holy catholic church, the death on the cross, the resurrection, the ascension, and the future glory. I believe that relationships are more important than tasks. I believe that I am screwed up.

That’s a good place to start.

“I believe that I’m pretty screwed up. I mean, I do a bunch of stuff that I can’t even understand, and I don’t treat people the way I want to treat them. So I believe that. I believe that God was gracious enough to make a way to fix everything that I’ve messed up. With some great sense of divine irony he sent himself—only not the way I would send myself somewhere—to his very creation so that he could save me and a bunch of other screwed up people. Somehow he died. I don’t know how a living God could die, but he did. And he didn’t. He conquered death so I didn’t have to. So I believe that.”

“Well I don’t really believe that I’m screwed up. I think that a bunch of things that most people call sins aren’t really sins.”

“Wow. I guess I think that the way I’m most screwed up is in how I treat people: the fact is that I’m a huge jerk and I don’t love people the way I should.”

All the beautifully vile and utterly meaningless evangelical rhetoric came rushing down the stream of my mind, but somehow the dam of my mouth was closed. Morgan did not want me to tell him how Christ had saved my life. Morgan didn’t even want to be loved. Morgan was only interested in a philosophical discussion. Worse than that, Morgan didn’t have any trouble with pain or suffering. Apparently he’d never thought about those things, because he didn’t really think that there was evil in the world. This conversation was going nowhere.

“Actually, I don’t really believe in Hell,” he elaborated. “I mean, I believe in Satan, but he’s more about keeping us from being the people we should be than trying to draw us away from God.”

Wow. He just said some of the very things I think, but with a different perspective. Satan really is trying to keep us from being the people we were meant to be. He wants to keep us from reaching our end. But for Morgan that had nothing to do with God. Aristotle even thought our end had to do with God. Morgan must have been a lot smarter than Aristotle. With the knowledge that Morgan fancied himself smarter than one of the most important thinkers ever, I stopped contributing to the conversation.

“Actually, I think I’m an angel,” he said.

“Umm, I’m going to have to disagree with you there,” I responded.

“With all of the things that have happened in my life, I must be an angel.”

“Yeah, again, I don’t think so. I think you have a pretty poor theology.” And there it was: I pulled the theology card out, how terrifically superior of me. In all the effort to keep the dam shut on meaningless evangelical rhetoric, the spillway had been filled with my intellectual arrogance, and that arrogance couldn’t be held while the rhetoric was being stalled. Never fight a war on two fronts.

“Well, if you only knew what I've been through, you’d think I was an angel too.”

“I really don’t think I would.”

With that the conversation ended. I turned and walked back up onto the stage. Morgan stayed seated in the back and said hello to various other members of the band as they walked in. After fiddling with some switches on my amplifier I turned around, and Morgan was no longer there I don’t know when he left. I don’t know why he left. Maybe he realized that he didn’t belong in a church. Maybe he decided that he didn’t want to be anywhere near a church.

Or maybe my theology is the one that’s off. Maybe Morgan was an angel. God put him there to wake me from my dogmatic slumbers, as Kant would say. After talking with Morgan I had to think about my view of others. I had to think about my hypocrisy of being prejudiced against meaningless evangelical jargon while being wedded to meaningless academic jargon. I had to think about the way I talk to people, and not just making statements like the one I made to Morgan about not loving others enough.

Probably not.

Even so, Morgan made me think, and I’d rather interact with another broken human who makes me think than an angel who tells me what I want to hear.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

it's on the way

i've heard that i'm a lamewad, and i acknowledge this fact. the trth is, i've been reading a lot, and i've been finishing up my grad school stuff and writing other things. i've been working on a short story and this should be done and posted very soon.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

more hauerwas, but not at present

i just finished the collection of hauerwas essays (finally) and wanted to put some excerpts up from the last essay, but i'm too lazy. instead, i just told you that's what i wanted to do. what a waste.

Friday, January 07, 2005

at school

so i'm at school right now. one of my first graders is sitting in the classroom eating lunch, the rest are outside on recess. i must say that it's really weird to think that i'm not leaving things for the everyday teacher to fix, rather, i'm leaving things for me to deal with on monday. that's crazy. i just thought it'd be great to update from work/school.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

the return

so i'm back in phoenix. i stayed monday night with michael o'neil in palo alto, which was awesome. then tuesday i made the trek south and east. the grapevine was closed because of snow, so i went through bakersfield and some mountains to catch up with I-10 in san bernardino. at that point my left rear tire blew out. i didn't know exactly what to do, and had never had a flat before, so i wasn't too sure that was what was happening. but it was. and then i pulled off the freeway with a flat, because it was raining really hard and there was an exit right there. the exit i pulled off had a tire store right there, so i was able to get a used one to replace mine for $21. it really didn't end up being too bad. today i didn't work, and i'm not tomorrow either, as i need to finish all of my grad school stuff asap. but friday i was requested for a music teacher i've subbed for before, and today i was requested for a long-term sub job starting two weeks from yesterday. it will last five weeks, and i'll be teaching first graders. get excited.

as for my pathetic showing over the break: meh. i can't say much more than that, i don't think. i need to work on this grad school stuff, so i shouldn't even be writing this now, but when that's over i'm ready to begin writing again. i have some new things bouncing around in my head that need to be put down somewhere, and the intellectual abyss of cyberspace is my dumping ground of choice.