The Journal Portion:
Ok, events that happened this week and last: I’ve been doing research like crazy. Its not fun. It’s not worth writing about, but I’ll just say that I keep long hours in a federally insured and national gaurd-protected library (Alderman) reading pages upon pages of nineteenth century poetic criticism. Last friday, Gabe and Caitlin came up to visit me I suppose – maybe there was another reason. I mean she has other friends here, I’m not the only one. But they arrived early and I felt bad that I had to say no, I can’t hang out until 5. So I stayed put and felt myself being engulfed by the flames of academia. Eventually I got out, ate Little Johns, then we threw the frisbee on the lawn, and met three of the band members from Rocky and the Cavemen (from Brooklyn.) Apparently Rocky is a girl, and she bellydances, and these were her cavemen. Well, we couldn’t promise we would go see their show, plus they were asking all these sketchy questions about the ratio of girls to guys here at the school – so we were weirded out. We leave the lawn and hang out at the study center for an episode of AD, then the girls leave earlier than planned – or expected by me (boo). And I go to see mute math at starr hill (the concert I wrote the review for) lonely and nostalgic. The concert was good, it and the beer helped me forget my troubles, I sort of disassociated myself during the show. At points I would just propel myself away from my friends and into the crowd, sort of physically expressing myself with dance and motion, and then I would bounce back over to our little group and pretend everything was ok. I dunno, maybe it was. I was just sad, that’s all. But regardless, mute math are still the kings of digital rock, and darren never ceases to amaze me with his locked-on-target-math drumming. He even jumped ontop of his set, banged the sticks against his head like a monkey, threw his cymbal to the ground, and then jumped back on and kept playing. They are maniacal.
Saturday was sort of a waste of time. But by that I mean, not a waste of time (I was working on a saturday) but a waste of my life. So I will not write about it – the day at least. At night I drove to Richmond to hang out with the girls again, and we rented Best in Show to watch at Gabe’s house. Um. That ended abruptly thanks to her father, who deemed the movie unwholesome, inapropriate and a bad influence on us (*** an ironic footnote: the reader should note the author’s restraint in this situation and should understand his potential ability to write a 2,000 word essay and rationale on the topic of Christ in Culture vs. Christ AND culture at the drop of the hat if he chose to, virtually disproving irrational and extremely conservative cultural philosophies with ease, and perhaps also, with grace – not to mention the undeniable fact that as an education masters student who in less than 10 months will be teaching students how to become critical consumers of media themselves, this address was the only inapropriate thing about the situation. But luckily, the author chooses not to on the grounds that such an attack is unnecessary, but if ever warranted, would be carried out with honor, distinction, and perhaps a few notes of pleasure) — and so instead we chose to bite our tongues and play with Gabe’s new mac laptop camera distortion settings. Then we went out to the golf course to enjoy the orange fountain in the pond, and were nearly fined for trespassing by the police. They let us go because we were good people, I believe. The cop was also from Mercer PA, one county over from Grove City. He couldn’t arrest two grove city girls – and their responsible male chaperone. Certainly not. I drove back to Richmond at a safe speed, but sufficiently frustrated by the evening.
This week, more papers, more research. I wrote a piano trio (is it a sonatta, I have no idea?) for my composition class and the whole class seemed to like it. I think I’m getting confident in my ability to write songs that people like. There is a mix between the familiar and the exploratory, the pushing of the envelope and the pulling: using just enough new age theory in your music and blending it with romantic sensibilites that everyone can relate to. So that’s what I did.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Jeremiah the Street Preacher came to UVA. I got to know him. I had a 30 min conversation with him on wed, and then on thursday sat and listened to him in the ampitheater for a good 2 hours. He called on me in front of 45 people to explain the three classical greek distinctions of love (agape, eros, and phileo (spelling?) ) and to help dismiss the lovey-dovey notion that God loves the whole word with that hippy, raffi-esque “he’s got the whole world in his hands” sort of love. More on this at the bottom. Jeremiah pissed a lot of people off, but he was no heretic. His theology checked out. He was just extremely radical, and fundamentalist. But still preaching truths. Just not going about it in the way I would, is the only difference. But it was a very thought provoking exchange for the most part. I got his card.
Friday Susannah came and we went to Davis’s AVP concert. Jimmie and I saved a dollar on our tickets by dressing up as Davis Gouldin for Halloween. We raided his closet and wore all of his clothes and shoes. We won second place in the contest and got pulled up on stage to receive a free cd. Davis actually thought he saw himself in the crowd when he made eye contact with me from stage. That has to be weird – to see a duplicate of yourself in a crowd of people, and suddenly, to not be sure whether you are on stage on in a seat. Ha! Susannah is fun, and so is Gray Miller and her roomate Leslie – both of whom showed up unexpected at midnight on Friday Night. All three of them slept in our room after we sufficiently caught up. Also of note, I learned how to let things go.
Saturday, I woke up, ran 5 miles, went to a tailgate on the lawn with my parents and and sisters, went to the game ate hot dogs and drank cola with them, watched a very boring win over NC state, and then hung out with gabe at good will and walmart for the rest of the afternoon, where, it seems to be a common theme with us, we got held up at the walmart check out counter for a good 10 minutes when I asked to buy only one boxing glove. [ Apparently they won’t sell you just one , nor will they give you quality customer service in the meantime while they go on a holy grail quest for the missing glove. ] I almost lost my car key in the parking lot, I almost almost had a nervous breakdown, and I almost almost almost threw my phone out the window because fifteen people had called me in the last hour. The sunset was nice. We drove back home, passed the Massies on the way out (we knew we would be 30 minutes late by this point) and got ready for dinner and the dance. Dinner was at an asian tapas bar called Bang! The Massies, the Estopinals, the Jones’s and all of our dates fit (14 of us) at a table built for 8. It was a very hip and urban restraunt, and we sat on these little cubes and ate from dish after dish of exquisitely presented plates of fish, steak, and artistically dressed vegetables on a two foot high table. Imagine Mr. Massie trying to order from the menu. It was quite a trip. But we all had fun. Chris and Jimmie gave me the occasional high five, because my date was unbelievable, everyone agreed. Then we danced at the parent’s semi-formal, where I realized that no, I didn’t know how to dance quite as well as I thought (pride check) but that I’m not terrible at it, just somewhere in the middle on a grand scale of serious quality dancing. I didn’t know she was raised in the Richmond Ballroom Dancing Circuit, but its a good thing because it means I have room to grow.
Then Gabe and I made a quick exit with Jimmie and Anna – and we changed into our costumes for the Halloween party. We went as a boxer with boxing gloves (me) and a cliche surfer hawaiin chick (Gabe) – and when you combine them you get: Hawaiin Punch. Haha get it?! We danced at 316 for a while, then left.
Today we sat outside and watched the afternoon slip away by the pond for hours. I hear their calling it Lake Casteen these days. (That’s our president, and we love making fun of him, oh yes we do.)
The Pontificating Portion:
I am finding that work is getting in the way of my life these days. I have so many ideas for short stories, for poems, for songs, for hanging out with friends, for dates, for just plain fun – and NO TIME TO SEE THEM INTO ACTION! How unfair. Finally, at an abundantly fruitful period of artistic inspiration, school gets in the way. This should not be. I think I am going to start being irresponsible on purpose. I chose not to turn in an ed school assignment last week. I guess that takes my grade down from an A to an A – , but I have no regrets. Grades have absolutely no hold on me anymore. I have broken free into a new atmosphere, and I have to tell you, the freedom tastes good from up here. And the view is great.
I watched a very compelling exchange between Jeremiah the Street Preacher on Thursday with a girl who made it known to the whole ampitheater that she was Catholic and she meant to defend it. She asked for his thoughts on the eucharist, confession, mother mary, etc. He told her that the majority of catholics in the world are not christians (true, but offensive) and then he made a very convincing demonstration of comparing Jesus and the bread at the last supper to him holding his hankerchief in his right hand. If Jesus was saying that the bread in his hand was actually his body, then the bread would have had to have been his actual flesh and an extension of his right hand. “That’s like me saying that this hankerchief is part of my pinkie, and now I want you to eat it in rememberance of me.” Obviously, jesus was speaking in metaphor, meaning the food to symbolize his death so that when you eat of it, you remember what he has done for you. Not that the bread undergoes trans-substantiation and actually becomes his real body. Jeremiah also debunked many of the other catholic traditions with memorized scripture (it checked out) and he completely won the debate. He tried his best to do so lovingly, but maybe came off kind of harsh. The girl ended with this remark: “Sir, I believe that your Savior is ashamed of you. You should be ashamed of your lack of faith in your savior.” – then she turned and walked up the steps ignoring Jeremiah’s reply to ask her not to be that way. It was amazing! You could see how hard her heart was. Everyone saw it. She was pinned in a corner, and did not want to admit she was wrong. She was grasping to the tradition she grew up with, and to question her beliefs was just too much to ask. So she attacked, she lashed back, and then walked away to save face.
Why is it so scary to admit that you are wrong? Why is it so hard to create your own idenity, instead of subscribing to one – a system of beliefs that very well could be founded on misinformation. Why don’t we know how to search for real truth, wherever it may lead? Why are we happy to have the rules made for us instead of, upon finding corrupt systems, to correct and adjust the rules based on logic and reason. I don’t know. The one thing I do know is that that girl is a very unhappy person.
Also there was this guy who asked about every possible one of Dan Brown’s church conspiracy cover up theories from the DaVinci Code. The kid was ridiculous, you could tell that he just wanted to sound smart when coming up with these contradictions. A lot of people were asking him real complicated questions and just trying their best to contradict this guy with smart 21st century theory. But its mostly all based on misinformation. And the gospel will destroy it time after time. There were a lot of people who would walk by and say “I think you’re crazy” or “Fuck God” to Jeremiah, and honestly, I didn’t like the way he responded, but I did like what he said. He would sort of snap back (which made me question his fruits of the spirit – love, patience, joy, self control) – but he was always right: they are just bitter because they are confused and they don’t have the truth. That is very true. People who don’t know what they really believe will always attack, really, as a defense mechanism. They are covering up their holes – the fact that really they have no idea what truth is or whether it really exists.
Jeremiah made a statement that stuck with me: he said God doesn’t love the whole world nearly as much as everyone thinks he does. And you know what, I believe it. The church that I go to now always preaches love love love, there is always forgiveness for your past no matter what you have done. And man, that is so true. Jeremiah would agree. When some people asked the Hitler question: “would hitler go to heaven if he had accepted jesus on his deathbed” Jeremiah responded with a thunderous boom: absolutely. And I know so many churches that preach this same thing. The problem is, that is all they preach. They never ever mention the fear of God that non-christians should have, or at least should be aware of. (This is a pretty fundamentalist approach, but I believe there is a lot of truth here.) The fact is, the world has betrayed God. And God is a jealous God. He is furious that he has been slapped in the face. Its like we were his bride, and we were walking down the aisle with him, and then when we met him at the alter, we spat in his face, turned around, and ran out of the church. We as a human race are terrible. We are whores. We have betrayed our first love. And God SHOULD be incredibly jealous. Hell is a reality for those who don’t come back to God. And Jeremiah was saying that churches are afraid of preaching this sort of thing because it is incredibly offensive. No one likes it. It is uncomfortable. It doesn’t sell. It doesn’t fill church pews. But it is the truth, and we need to realize we need to tell people about it.
*** Now, an important distinction. This is not the starting point, I believe. Because if it is, its just selling fire insurance. You don’t want to scare people in Christianity. Jeremiah agreed with this. He said he doesn’t like to begin with the consequences – he can’t convince anyone to become a christian anyways, but scaring them into is the last thing he wanted to do. He just wanted to make sure people knew that God was jealous that his creation had turned away from him, and that there is hope to return to him through Jesus.
Jeremiah went one step further to make a distinction about the ways that God loves the world. He said that – okay, its not true that God doesn’t love the world. He created it, he will always love it because of agape – God’s inability not to love unconditionally. God cannot help but love the world. He doesn’t know how not to. There will always be some love there, just like a bridegroom who was stood up at the alter. He still loves his bride because he had for so long. Feelings don’t dissapear just because he was betrayed. But in terms of phileo, brotherly love, the world is not on good terms with God. The world is not his fellowship. They are not his brothers. They are his enemies. They have no chemistry. God is bitter. But offers forgiveness immediately if someone asks. Because that is his nature. He cannot stay mad if their is a change of heart on our end. But until there is, he will roar at them like an angry lion (Hosea) and their present and their future will be hell.
I feel like Jeremiah went about things the wrong way (for example, barking back at the people trying to provoke him, saying “do you need to rebuked,” saying “my ministry is yelling at people – don’t piss me off or I’ll come over and yell at you” – “I am here to judge people who need to be judged” – this is very offensive and off-putting. Not a great wayto sell God. To show them that they are on bad terms with God and that they need to repent and make a change of heart. The loving “everybody’s ok” method that my church uses seems much more enticing doesn’t it. BUT! I am not convinced that one is really better than another. I heard a talk this summer where the speaker said: God can even use your screw ups to witness to people, if you really have the holy spirit. (And I believe Jeremiah had the H.S.) God can uses your mistakes and your fumbling words and your anger and your unbelief to witness to other people. But what he can’t use is your SILENCE. So witnessing is witnessing, whether you do it the “right way” or the “wrong way.” One way or another, you are stirring the pot and getting people to ask questions and to think about God. And that, to me, is much more worthwile than saying nothing because you are afraid of what people might think about you. So – this is essentially a call to myself to start being more radical, and not caring what people think about me. That is all temporary, but the work I am called to is eternal. I need to start manning up and sharing my beliefs. It would be great if some other people decided to do this with me. Let’s not be afraid of doing it the right or the wrong way and feeling like we can screw up some one’s salvation. The truth is, we can’t. If the holy spirit is really in control and the elect are elect regardless of our fumbling words, then what are we afraid of.
Let’s hit the field.