Archives For December 2012

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“I want to be a Ninja!” That’s what my four-year-old son said as he handed me his costume this morning. Eli likes to dress up in various guises all year long, Halloween etiquette be damned. I looked over at him from my bed where I was sitting, unable to resist his request for assistance. He’s so adorable, I thought. So I put the Ninja costume on him and he ran out of the room, making the traditional Hai Ya! noises as he went off to join his other brothers in the living room.

Eli is in preschool. He’s only slightly younger than many kindergarteners who were killed yesterday in the massacre in Connecticut. I can’t help but imagine the terrifying images of it being my children, as I’m sure many other parents imaged yesterday. “What if it had been my kids?” There’s the immediate relief I felt when I came home last night from work to find them healthy and happy, playing video games. Then came the immediate grief knowing that other parents had no such relief. For them, only the unimaginable horror. I think millons of parents took a moment to let in the pain, knowing in their hearts what it would feel like. Those kids were all of our kids.

The shooting yesterday was one among several recent mass shootings, but it hit a nerve unlike the others. How could this happen to kids? Kids, damn it. Innocent little kids. Kindergarteners. When we look back at our own childhoods, I’d suspect that many of us at that age were lucky enough to be happy, playful, wonderfully goofy, with a healthy optimism that the world was a good place where we could grow up to be like our parents, like super heros, like astronauts…

like… Ninjas.

I’m 29 now, my aspirations for being Batman all but dashed (maybe in my 30s it will happen), but I can think back to my first day of kindergarten. I remember my mom dropping me off. I was sad to see her leave but I was excited about my new school. It was a diverse place where we had an even distribution of white kids, black kids, hispanic kids, etc. I learned very quickly that we were all the same. We learned together watching videos from the prophets like Martin Luther King Jr and Big Bird. The world was a big big place with lots of people in it, but people were basically good. We were all in this together. The future was ours, but first it was time for recess.

When I went online yesterday I immediately saw what many others saw: the best and worst of humanity. I saw the emotional outbursts, the political rants, the loss of hope, the hatred, the fear. It was all there. Most shocking to me were those who, within MINUTES of the news, tweeted and blogged and posted that this was our fault as a nation for not allowing prayer in public schools. Such lack of perspective, such disconnect from reality, from humanity, from decency, is so utterly irresponsible that it makes me shake where I sit, as I type these very words. Such lack of empathy is only possible if one is living in an alternate universe, is only possible if they somehow took some kind of reassurance from the tragic events to justify their convictions that the world was somehow deserving, that these kids were caught in God’s wrath or indifference towards us, towards them.

I am torn between rage and pity for such displays. If that is the God they worship, it is a false one, an evil one. It is a cowardly and archaic deity that does not resemble the Jesus they also claim to live for. It is not indicative of love, compassion or piety to use tragedy as a catalyst for your abomination of a theology.

Yet I am bound to all humanity. I can not claim the children are all of our children and simultaneously disown those who I feel deserve my hatred. I can not claim to be the ultimate judge or jury of such atrocity, such bigotry, such ineptitude. We are still brothers and sisters. All of us. Yesterday is a reminder of that truth. Simply, many of our brothers and sisters have fallen into a web of delusion that threatens our relationships, our potential to be the family of humanity God, or the universe, or the decree of love in general intends (and demands).

But I am pissed off.

Another result of the massacre is the all-too-frequent question that arises in my life. How can there be a God who would allow such evil? It is a question that many try to answer, when really they should just let the question be the question. We do not know. We don’t. Any attempt to answer such a question from a theistic point of view will be met with the awkward insufficiency of their response. If someone believes they know the answer, if they feel the matter is settled, then they have divorced themselves from the Good Friday reality, from the part of us that ever cries out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

…the words uttered by the very Christ so many use to validate their claims.

There is a truth I once realized, that if we were to witness the totality of evil on this planet we would be forced to confess there is no God. Even worse, far less than the totality of evil may be enough to convince us. I would wager that the atheistic nail in the coffin was struck for many yesterday. Many living on the edge of apostasy most likely made up their minds when the news of the events of Connecticut were revealed. Can we blame them?

But then again, I was once told that if we were to witness the totality of goodness on this planet, the opposite conclusion could also be made valid. There must be a God, we would say to ourselves. Our inner atheist and theist are locked in eternal combat, one claiming victory as the other retreats for a period. While some have made their choice, while some have decided which has prevailed, I simply let the two duke it out. Yesterday both were battered and bruised. But today I gave them the day off…

…because my son wants to be a Ninja.

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(That’s how you save it)

AMC depicts a world overrun by the undead, the nations reduced to rubble and decay. In the aftermath of a world-wide pandemic, mindless zombies are the majority while the living are awkwardly the minority. Good men become desperate, forgetting their former compassions and goodwill. Survival is all the matters. A few cling to hope that perhaps some degree of meaningful existence could be possible, but their grim reality offers little reassurance. A new age has arrived, ushering in hell on earth. A hell that is here but dragging its feet, groaning, toying with them. To say this resembles present day America would be misleading, but the familiar smell of decomposition is in the air.

While the zombies of The Walking Dead are mindless killing machines, they did not choose to become monsters. They were victims. They cannot be blamed for their atrocities since they are already dead. They are also not to be pitied, for they feel no pain. They are simply a new force of nature, much like tornadoes, forest fires, tsunamis, or earthquakes. They are simply dealt with by a sniper’s headshot instead of progressive climate change legislation (oh snap). The Walkers are an old threat in a new (and rotting) package.

While our society is safe (for now) from a zombie apocalypse, we mimic the ethical dilemmas involved. Do we have conditions for our humanity? If our fragile foundations of faith, belief, vocation, and perceived freedoms were shattered, would we then forget who we once were? If the answer is yes, were we ever truly human, or zombies simply lacking an appetite for flesh?

Is faith contingent upon blessings? If our worlds were to come to an end, would all our hopes be reduced to false promises? Would we become mindless cynics, fading into the background chaos of a burning world, not to be pitied but to be feared by those still naive enough to join the plight of the living? I fear that a new darkness is indeed emerging, but it has always been so.

Some of us find a certain transcendance, a connection with the divine spark of humanity. Some call it religion, or philosophy. Others call it God, Allah, or Vishnu. There are even a few who call it Oprah Winfrey. Regardless of the metaphysics involved, such hope and meaning is a valuable possession. But there does come a new age for us all, either an age of light or darkness. We are not bound to one or the other, and for some both may come and go as do the seasons. Yet come they shall. When the darkness emerges, many do not emerge from its grasp. But true death, or should I say un-death, comes when one welcomes such a day to find them.

Remove my faith, my cares, my dreams, my hopes, my ambitions, my memories of innocence and wonder. Take from me my optimism, for it only weighs me down. Do not pity me. I have become numb. I no longer feel the sting of my wounds. I am already dead.


To be human is to live. It is not merely not dying. If you look closely, you will see these Walkers at work, at church, in your own home, or even your own mirror. You’ve been trained not to pity them, since they are victims of life’s cruelties. They are numb, you say. They are to be feared and envied, for they have found an escape from the vulnerable nature of hope. This is the lie that buries more than any other catastrophe. 

There is a reason to start over, to fight, to live again. The charlatans try to market it in the veil of materialism, yet these things decay as we all have witnessed. The false prophets stand on the corners, wielding fear by its name. Sappy movies form allegiances with holiday cards to sell you its cheap aroma. Politicians use its name to convince you of their morality, hiding their true motives. Of course I speak of love, that simple word with the elusive meaning. But this much is certain, that those who abandon love cease to live. Those who cling to love, even on their death bed, know the meaning of life.

And once you know the meaning of life, your brains are off the menu.  

-From your friends at weoccupyjesus.org.

We’re approaching the end of our member talent showcase. As a finale, here is a gorgeous short film by member Stephen Greenlaw entitled “We are all connected.” Make sure to watch the 1080p HD version on YouTube. Stunning.

Our community talent showcase is almost over, but not before this entry by member Rick Koobs! Check out this number.

“CHARLIE”
 
One day whean talking with Bernice
I listened to stories she’d soon release
Of times gone by and images remembered
Of family and love unteathered.
 
“Have you a pet?” I asked her plain
“Yes and Charlie was his name”
A dog? A fish pulled from the sea?
“No, Charlie was my pet monkey!”
 
“What did he eat?” I ventured to ask
“Just human food, not a big task”
But soon my mind saw a primate so curious
One not only of charm, but moods that were furious!
 
Some days he’d be angry, his mood quickly changed
I wondered if he was hurful or maybe deranged!
“What did you do with his mad tendancy?”
“He’d be sent to his cage and locked with a key!”
 
But we all throw tantrums, we all get mad
Not only a monkey but most people are bad
It was a good lesson for kids to have learned
Treat others as you want, that’s how respect is earned!