Writings

Del Playa.

This may be a dangerous post to write, but perhaps those are the posts actually worth writing.

https://www.change.org/p/berger-bros-entertainment-shaun-hart-josh-berger-halt-release-of-del-playa-movie?recruiter=356467616&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_term=mob-xs-share_petition-no_msg

The above link is something that is being shared by friends and schoolmates of mine as of late, both past and present.  By all means, I encourage whoever reads this to go and sign the petition; it is a call to action to stop the making of a film that seems to bear a vague relationship with the May 23rd tragedy that occurred at UCSB due to the film being insensitive to the tragedy.  I have not watched the trailer, nor have I done any research on the film itself and what it is actually about.  For all I know, it could be an unfortunate misreading of a low-quality film’s premise because of the emotionally charged location and plot.  What the people sharing this have said about the film is that it glorifies the shooter, that this is what he would have wanted, and that the making of this film is profiteering from a tragedy that affected thousands of students – all fair sentiments to be shared.

However, two things give me pause about this sudden deluge of protests against the film: the disintegrating clarity of rights and the limitation of human sympathy.  I’ll start with the more unsavory of the two so as not to leave my readers with a bitter taste in their mouths.  The notion of rights being infringed upon here is evident when we take a step back from it emotionally: the freedom of speech.  It is possible to claim that the film is infringing on public order, in which case someone who is vehemently against the production of the film might take Berger Bros. Entertainment to court.  However, at the core of it, what is being called for is the prevention of some people, however misguided in the context and plot they chose, from expressing a story that they want to convey.  Now, this statement comes not with support of their actions, but in defense of an idea; the more passionate among us might challenge this claim by asking, “Well, why don’t I make a movie glorifying the terrorists who flew the planes into the Twin Towers?,” to which I respond, “Because you have the decency not to.”

The interesting thing about having freedom is that it can be abused.  Just yesterday, in fact, we had Bible study and went over 1 Peter 2:16, which says “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (ESV). While not all of my readers may be believers, this notion itself still can apply; it’s about how to use the freedom we’ve been given.  As a believer, that freedom is the freedom to operate within God’s will because the freedom is not a freedom to act on my own, but a freedom from sin.  In the same way, the freedom of speech that we have all been given according to law is a freedom that can be used to encourage and a freedom that can be used to disparage.  How we choose to use our freedom is based on our individual sense of respect for one another and the imagination of how other people would respond should we choose to say one thing or another – which brings me to the limitation of sympathy.

It hurts my heart thinking about the incident, and even the poem written soon after the shooting could not fully encapsulate the fear, sadness, and disillusionment that followed after.  Nevertheless, this depth of sorrow only extends to the realm of my own personal experience, for no other tragic shooting that has happened across the nation brings me to a yearly remembrance of the tragedy each year with a deep personal sadness.  There are certainly people who feel the anguish of tragedies that occur across the nation, much less across the globe, and yet fewer still are those who consistently remember global tragedies with a deep personal investment.  In many ways, the tragedies of Sandy Hook elementary, or many other shootings, are only remembered when something similar has happened.  Our compassion only remembers with repetition; that is to say, we only recall tragedies when similar situations occur, and it compiles into a vast amount of temporary grief.  Perhaps it’s that we haven’t learned anything from these tragedies which brings them back in different manifestations time after time, or perhaps it’s just that for all of our ability to commiserate, we prioritize our sympathies based on our own personal experience.  People who rarely share these types of posts have been seen sharing this one, and why this one? Why not share about any of the atrocities occurring around the world?

Our hearts are far too small to help one another; our brokenness is illuminated by tragedies, and we are loathe to gaze on it, believing that we have progressed.  We believe that our world is getting safer, that people are learning to love one another more.  And yet, look at the darkness that is filling our world.  We are so overcome with grief that we have forgotten to love out of the grief; we seek justice too soon, we dry our tears with our fists.  For those of us who believe, it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, and that not of ourselves lest anyone should boast.  We have been loved from the depths of grief.  God is not pleased that we bear sin’s shackles, but His great response to that sadness is sacrifice, and with sacrifice, a love that sets us free.

I do not support this movie.  I do not support the glorification of perpetrators of tragedy.  This is my opinion.  But, I do not want this single case to arouse my sympathies; I want my sympathies to extend around the world that exists within the boundaries of “all nations.”  Because if I am upset at this case but not the circumstances of people being killed on the other side of this planet, I am involved in too small a vision.  The only effect that will bear any useful fruit from this opinion is to be loving towards all around me, that they might share a similar view of the world – perhaps even the view of the world from the eyes of one who believes in a God who loves perfectly.  It may sound naive, perhaps, to believe that the desires of people to profit from tragedy, to commit enormities, to discourage those around them can all be changed by loving more.  And yet I know how I have been changed by the love of my Saviour, and so I believe.

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Poetry

Lightness of Being.

To walk among the meadows

and not break out in hives.

To smell the trampled flower

and hope that it survives.

A wisp of cloud beyond the view,

grassy feathers specked with dew –

its name is just a life that thrives.

As sunbeams pour onto the Earth

and springtime has just given birth,

the heart is cheered by time.

Though clouds float on in silent mirth,

they shine with joy’s peerless worth

with wisdom just sublime.

A feather falls as if it flies –

the pull of gravity it flees.

The wind bears it upon its sighs

as the sun smiles on all it sees.

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Poetry

Treading Water.

The storm around calls to the end of all breath,

the watery gallows roar.

Without any hope, all that remains is just death –

its call we try to ignore.

We tread amongst sharks stalking all around,

water approaching the neck.

A cry, a plea, a shout, yet no sound

for in ocean, we’re just but a speck.

He calls to us, invites us to walk on the waves

if only we’ll trust and believe.

The water’s below our feet, for He saves

as we now His warmth do receive.

At times, we may slip and fall back into wet

silent waters, but lest we forget;

He found us in those dark depths of the storm

and has never let go of us yet.

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Poetry

Give Me Jesus.

Yessssss posting just because feels so good! It’s like having a burden be lifted off my shoulders because of the fear that comes with posting and creating something palatable for the general audience.

Anyhow, as I was driving home today, I was listening to Bethel to keep me awake as I sucked on ice from an ice coffee I finished, and the song “Give Me Jesus” came on.  I thought about all the things I heard about Bethel’s theology and some things that are associated with the Bethel Church in Redding (see Kris Vallotton’s article: http://www.ibethel.org/articles/2011/10/11/bethel-church-god-the-bad-and-the-ugly).  I thought about how hearing about their theology (specifically about healing) somewhat put me off in regards to the music that they created.  But in the midst of all this meta-reflection, the thought appeared: am I worshipping?

While it might be true that it’s unlikely for everything the Bethel Church believes in terms of theology will come to pass – though perhaps I just need more faith myself :P – it is also true that worship is worship, and I believe it’s a uniquely personal experience.  Maybe some people laugh when they worship or they fall down or they kneel or they lift their hands in the air…but perhaps a better thing to focus on is the fact that I noticed them doing that in the first place.  My eyes, in those moments, were not set on worshipping God, but observing how other believers worshipped Him (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).  Watching other believers worship can be incredibly refreshing just as seeing a brother or sister’s passion for sharing the Gospel or serving those around them is refreshing.  However, when that observation becomes quizzical or even judgmental, it sours this connection to God that is created through worship.

So, when this song came on, somehow, God revealed to me a purpose for worship: to fully express our own adoration and delight in Him.  It’s not about worrying about what’s proper or what’s socially acceptable, but it’s a time to rest and reflect and enjoy God’s presence in my life.  There is no space for me to judge what is right and what is wrong, what is true worship or what is just for show.  Worship is not for me (sorry, not sorry Victoria Osteen), but it’s for God; it’s simply because we delight in God and we want to sing out for Him.  One of the lines in the song goes, “Give me the One my soul delights in,” and it’s true – our body, soul, and spirit should all delight in Him, and that’s what we’re asking for in worship.  Worship is joy in God, pure and simple, and it should be something we’re all excited for; it should be an attitude we always keep with us as we continue walking this walk of faith. Bethel probably doesn’t care, but I’m truly sorry for the bit of apprehension with which I regarded their worship because of their church’s theology/doctrine because it’s not about that at all.  It’s about Jesus and loving Jesus and remembering all His love and mercy and justice and wisdom, and really focusing on that aspect and singing out to Him because of the wonder that comes with it. So, give me Jesus, and all the ways delight in Him is manifested because in Him my hope is securely found. I’ll end with Psalm 100 which, in its five verses of glory, says:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;[a]
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

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Writings

Summer Project.

It’s been a while since I’ve lasted posted, but hopefully getting back into the swing of things will allow me to carry it over to what my title is referring to: my summer project.  Now, since I’ve been collecting money for the AACF service auction that we had to support missions, I’ve been thinking about the AACF auctions I have yet to fulfill.  I have started working on the story for DSol, but it’s nowhere near where I’d like it.  I’ve barely scratched the surface of the daily devotional book that I wanted to write. All of these things are going to be things that I’m hoping to work on over the summer. However, it is the story for DSol that most interests me.

The idea for the story first came about a year or so ago perhaps, but it has left an indelible impression on my mind in terms of the story’s premise.  I am not going to reveal the idea for it at all because I feel like if I do, I will compromise the integrity of my desire to write and finish the story.  Nevertheless, the story is interesting because I feel like if I pursue it until the end, it will be the first full novel that I will have written since my short story in ninth grade that was published.  The laziness that is mingled with trepidation has slowly been taking over, and what was once a clear vision of the story’s conclusion has become but a nostalgic haze.  Even as my discipline to go to the gym has waned, it seems it has taken a hold on all other areas of discipline in my life as well.  I guess this post was my attempt – though looking back now, it seems rather feeble – to try and fight back the fog and reclaim my rusting art in hopes that my vitality might be restored me.  More to come later, I hope, or else I shall be in a pitiful condition with regards to my literary composition.

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Poetry

Lent is Due.

So, this post has been long overdue.  Perhaps it is because of a variety of other distractions that have propelled me into obscurity, or perhaps it is because there just hasn’t been much inspiration for me to take hold of.  Regardless, it’s finally time to go through the self-conscious catharsis that is writing and talk about what happened during my Lent period.

Since my last Lenten season, I had lost around fifty pounds as a direct result of what I sacrificed for Lent: sugar.  However, this time around, I’ve taken on a completely different lifestyle, getting subtly obsessed with body image and physique.  Therefore, this Lenten season was all about removing myself from being consumed by how I looked – specifically the number on the scale.  I vowed to not weigh myself for forty days.  What I found during this seemingly carefree time was an agonizing period of insecurity about weight and body image.  Every day I went to the gym, I gazed longingly at the scale, wishing to know how much weight I had convinced myself I was putting on.  In the bathroom, I would poke around and see which places got softer – eventually this began happening regardless of location.  I spent a lot of time locked in a constant internal turmoil over whether I should take the time to relax and let go of body image for a bit or feeling like I needed to tighten up my discipline even more during this time when it was difficult to truly ascertain how “fit” I was.  Some days there would be a profound sadness in myself realizing that I was slowly losing all that I worked so hard for in the past year, and that somehow, I was gaining weight no matter what.

However, I’m thankful that the God I love is one who provides peace in my heart when I need it.  Days when the struggle was particularly hard were turned over to the Lord in prayer, and eventually, the violence in my heart subsided and settled down.  Days when I let the anxieties overwhelm me were filled with tinged with the melancholy that comes with insecurity and acknowledgment of letting myself go.  But God, in His infinite love, says in His Word, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).  During this Lenten season, I experienced firsthand the peace that He provided because I stopped gazing at myself and fixed my gaze on Him.  It’s probably easy to think, oh, look at this guy, he’s not even that aesthetic, how dare he be filled with pride. And to some extent, you’re right.  But it’s just another part of my humanity showing when I want to celebrate the progress I’ve made because only I know the amount of effort put into it to get to where I am.  Nevertheless, it’s the mercy and grace of the Lord that delivers me from myself because He knows that what I really want to do is forsake my insecurities and quell the prideful uprising in me to pay more attention to myself than to Him; the flesh is weak, but the spirit remains willing.  Everything I learned in the gym hasn’t gone to waste, however; straining under weights can be applied as a spiritual concept – God is the only spotter you’ll ever need, and you lift with your prayers, not with your legs.  May I continue turning my inwardly critical eyes onto Him and fully enjoy His love and mercy towards me.

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Poetry

Slowsand.

Sighs masked as hearty shouts,

wand’rings marked as guided routes.

Yawns removed from concentration

feebly yearns for liberation.

A slow ascent upon a plane,

a crawling climb beneath the slain.

Labored breath intent on rest,

the rise and fall within the chest.

Thoughts just flitting here and there,

sparks igniting ends of hair.

Preparing speeches ne’er to raise

the spirits of the languid daze.

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