Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Useful Thought

The following excerpt is from Martin Loyd-Jones Spiritual Depression, which as I am slowly reading is proving useful in a lot more ways than its stated purpose. The books intent is to provide practical, Biblical advice about being a happy Christian. It is striking the many ways in which we find ourselves unhappy, and Loyd-Jones urges us to take ourselves "in hand" and search out and destroy this soul depressing lies.
As I think about life in academia I find this advice useful- as I imagine it being useful to many others in nearly any other profession:
There are some people who seem to think that it is wrong for a Christian ever to use common sense. They seem to think that they must always do everything in an exclusively spiritual manner. Now that seems to me to be very unscriptural. The Christian is in no respect inferior to the unbeliever; he is always superior. The Christian can not only everything that the unbeliever does, he can do even more. That is the way to look at the Christian. He is a man who is to apply common sense to situations, and it is right and legitimate that he should do so... It does not matter at what level you conquer the devil as long as you conquer him. If you can defeat him by using common sense and ordinary wisdom, do so.

Is "common sense" simply the most general and most generally revealed revelation of God? If by common sense we mean the practical use of the mind in His image, then it certainly is so. The general and special revelation distinction which is so useful in certain areas of understanding is prohibitive in this case.
What Loyd-Jones does not develop, it is outside of the scope of his book, is the implication of what he is saying for the Christian in the workplace and public sphere. He should walk boldly, using common sense and reason to "defeat the devil," (which may simply mean do a good job, or get along with a co-worker), and appealing to the more finely revealed will of God when necessary. Some things may drive us to desperate prayer, but prayerfully we might not overly trouble ourselves when in other times common sense will suffice, and to God's glory.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The following is a fictionalized account of a real event that occurred in front of our house on Monday, October 26.

It was all about the drugs. They started with Rico who was the big time. That's how they got to Baltimore. Then on to Steve, also know as Zero, who bought them off of one of Rico's people. The day he bought the stuff, an old friend Devin showed up at his door. They picked up right where they had left off more than five years ago now and the evening involved a generous amount of alcohol. The next day, Devin was gone, and so were the drugs. Devin is Tiffany's brother.

So Tiffany came up the street screaming and wailing. Her 9 month large belly was sticking out, stretching the over worn t-shirt to a translucent grey. "My baby's in there, ohhhh, my baby! My BABY'S IN THERE!" It sounded like a fire, but there wasn't a fire. And no one ran. In fact, everyone was standing still and just watching. A little bit scared and a more than a little unwilling to get involved. Samitha the neighbor yelled for someone to call 911 while three masked men leaped from Tiffany's house and jumped into a champagne colored truck. So it was an attack or robbery. Tiffany's baby surfaced, not the one in her belly, but six year old Isaiah, shell shocked and soon crying. They put him inside the neighbor's so he wouldn't see his mother screaming. She hadn't been shot- she was in labor. "Where the hell is the ambulance?" everyone started wondering. Tiffany's sister was yelling "I need the fucking po-lice!" Blankets and pillows came out to cushion a now prostrate Tiffany as she lay across the concrete step.

The police did arrive, ten minutes or more after the fact. As if there weren't a half dozen squad cars within as many blocks. Maybe the 911 call had initially been too vague. Tiffany's brother, waving a relic of a pistol in his hand and yelling, was anything but vague. "I fucking fought them off, beat em' off me. Ain't nobody can GO OUTSIDE ON WHEELER AND FAYETTE NO MORE." He punctuated each word with an emphatic adrenaline induced wave of the piece in his hand. If shots hadn't actually been fired, there certainly was a chance they still might be. The ambulance took Tiffany away, her water breaking as they moved her onto the stretcher. The police fanned out to talk to witnesses. The car was actually brown. Maybe there was actually four. They wanted drugs? Devin's drugs - the only thing possibly worth robbing a house for in this neighborhood.

Mother yelled at me to stop picking on my little brother, and my little sister was born. Tiffany's child was born of the gun.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Los Lonely Boys


What struck us the most when we first sat down in our seats was the consistency of demographics in the room...
Aijalon and I had secured last minute tickets to a performance by Los Lonely Boys at the Old Town School of Folk Music. The theater is an intimate and very comfortable venue with pew style seating, a cozy balcony, and plenty of good beer available at the lobby snack bar.
...Except for three middle school aged kids, we were the youngest people in attendance, the rest being very decidedly middle age. Aijalon commented, "What is this? A middle age date night?!" The crowd was boisterous, calling out often, and the number of wolf- whistlers in the room was certainly at a much higher ratio than normal. What is What was it about this crowd and this band?
(1) Probably the venue, more than anything else, was to contribute. One would expect that many of the school's band of of faithfuls are typically the re-invented ex-hippie types who talk like teenagers although they very well may have grandkids.
(2) Los Lonely Boy's solid Texas roots bring out a particular crowd as well- people from, well, Texas.
(3) The music itself is a bit middle age. Not particularly serious but not childish either. Just fun.
The concert was fun. And the musical ability of these three brothers is incredible. Probably what first jumps out at you is their beautiful harmony, "the genetic match" as an audience member behind us noted. They also were hilarious, goofing off and joking around with a comfortable level of self-deprecation. Highly recommended.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Winepress

The winepress 

That crushes grapes

Is not broken

It is merely resting 

If you are thirsty
As I am thirsty 

Grab the sickle 

Harvest the land

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Anger


I finally saw the Oscar recognized There Will Be Blood this weekend and was stunned a bit by its raw display of anger. The only redeeming aspects of the movie were technical- the soundtrack, composed by Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood, and the excellent acting. The movie develops Plainview's character (Daniel Day Lewis) mostly in the first 10 minutes of the film- a series of scenes depicting his unflagging determination amidst the hard and tragic life of oil prospecting. This battle to success, along with a vague angry past, is what we are given as the reason for Plainview's anger and his hate for everyone, including, as it turns out, his adopted son. I wondered, "Can anger really do this to someone?" In general, I think people are much more mediocre, even in their worst passions. But it is a process. It wasn't really until the end of the film, which comes a bit in fits and starts, that I decided how terrible Plainview was. Because we don't have anyone really good or honest to compare him too, we get lost in his maniacal delusions a bit. Looking back, I understand why his interactions with Mary Sunday put me so on edge. She was the closest thing to purity. H.W. was too much a part of him. His abrupt transition to an adult critical of his father is disappointing but only as abrupt as his loss of hearing.
The movie made me sort of hate rich people. As my friend Ben put it, "it makes you wonder what they did." Something terrible. And is that what hateful terrible rich people do alone in their mansions- shoot things, crush things, and drink themselves into oblivion?
A disheartening film. How does it build us up in any way?

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Year Later

As a word of tribute to our forgotten Columbus:

Columbus! Twice forgotten voyager
Who knew you would be buried twice?
I cannot tell which one is worse,
to be lost to history or to a hearse.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Will it change the day?

If I give this day, now that is has expired, to God- will it change? Will it matter?

Friday, October 2, 2009

The vanishing "F" word?

I realize this blog is supposed to be about life in Bmore...and this post really is about life at NU.
However because I probably won't be exactly firing out posts or anything I hope you guys don't mind taking a quick trip north that for many of you (those of you who are my brothers) may be rather familiar!
But first, I must delve into my childhood. I remember as a youngster between 8 and 11 hanging out with the neighborhood kids. I believe that was probably the only time in my life that I hung out consistently with non-christian friends. That is until I got to college anyway. I remember hanging out on the the block trying to get kids to stick their finger in the back of the air-conditioner at Jeffrey's house so they would get shocked. And I remember that back then when I was maybe kind of actually cool was also my first exposure to that special group of words known as "curse words" (or as I consistently term them to people's amusement "bad words"). Now I don't remember Jeffrey and his friends ever referring to those odious words in their full form. It was always mysteriously put, the "A" word, or the "S" word. And you were a very special person if you happened to actually know what the full words were! I was never blessed with those divine secrets and so I always had to pretend that of course I understood just how bad those words were.

Now this may seem like an interesting little childhood anecdote but I have a point here. See, Jeffrey was one bad kid. The baddest kid on the block! Or at least thats what us other kids got the impression of by the way he talked...the only kid badder was actually his younger brother who was infamous for allegedly hitting his Grandmother over the head with a chair (thats how Jeffrey explained the big bandage on her head at any rate). But even big bad Jeffrey knew that bad words were bad words! They were just bad! Unacceptable in societal functions! Only excused when released in a extreme situations or else on TV!

BUT when I started in on this great old adventure of my life, college, that is supposed to determine who I grow up to be and become for the rest of my life, I quickly realized something very strange and different. The old terminology I had grown up with, the "A", "B", "S", and "F" words had been left behind! In fact they didn't exist anymore, because people didn't even think that these words were bad anymore. I want to speak specifically about the "F" word here. There is no such thing as the "F" word anymore. Not in my generation. There is only the word F***. My generation doesn't just not care about whether saying a "bad word" whenever they want is socially unacceptable, they don't even seem to know it was ever "bad". It is the new "crap"! There is no flinch in their eye or anyone else's. There is no lowering of their tone. And if you ask them why 50% of the words in their sentences is the same curse word they will probably look confused. In fact I wouldn't be at all surprised if next year's generation will be raising their hands in english class to ask why the word F*** is not in the dictionary!
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