This blog is not updated often enough. This blog often has typos in it because I post too quickly. If you follow it, you won't be bothered too often.
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Fear and Trembling.

"Everyone shall be remembered, but everyone was great wholly proportional to the magnitude of that with which he struggled. For he who struggled with the world became great by conquering the world, and he who struggled with himself became great by conquering himself, but he who struggled with God became greatest of all."

"Thus did they struggle on earth: There was one who conquered everything by his power, and there was one who conquered God by his powerlessness. There was one who relied upon himself and gained everything; there was one who in the security of his own strength sacrificed everything; but the one who believed God was the greatest of all." -Soren Kierkegaard.

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And so I "wait patiently for the Lord."

Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. - Isaiah 40:30-31

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(A book is a painting's opposite)

II.
This book is a monument
to a passionless existence
that folds over no corners,
cries on no pages,
and never feels the need
to clutch the book
just to stop itself from
throwing it across the room.

Only a deep respect for a book
can leave it mangled and abused,
stripped of all its trimmings
and fashioned into almost a character,
its outward body now reflecting the inner soul.

Soulless people leave you with pristine books
Soulless books leave you with pristine people.

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The Ideal Bookstore

I.
I look at the first page,
Twenty-one dollars and ninty-five cents, it says.
It is a small volume,
but I think that price Just,
considering the depths of joy
and aching inside.

Perhaps books ought to be priced
what they're worth.
All those thick hard-backed
mystery novels would
be a dime a dozen,
no matter what news-paper list they were on,
and all those thin volumes
that contained the hopes
(joys, loves, truths, telos')
of a lifetime would cost
small fortunes.

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And By You I Mean Me (Mercy)

You feel the shame of your faithlessness
and the tug of regret
But you know the warmth of forgiveness,
(sensuous and human mercy)
loving you into trustworthiness.

The weight of your selfishness is lifted
and the yoke of brotherhood restored.

But "hang on just a minute!"
you feel a "righteous" indignation,
you are not the only one at fault!
They had their share just the same!
They certainly fell short of the mark,
at times! (and they ought to know it)
To think, they would go on
believing they were spotless,
as they let you down! Acted out of turn!

But the cup of mercy overflows!
What could be more lovely than
to be covered over,
to be washed and forgiven!
to come out free!
Than for them to be spotless?

To love is to bear
and love hides a multitude of blunders.

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Will I lose the hardened jeans

for comfy PJs? And leave
on my argyle sweater besides?

I'll mix sun and moon,
sleeping with waking in a
defiance of them both
and give myself up
to nonsense.

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Some further thoughts.

The difference between "Abstract" art and "modern" art is that people like me often mislabel "Abstract" art as "modern". While all abstract art is modern art, not all modern art is abstract. So there.


Last Wednesday I went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and saw some of their new "Americas" wing. I, for one, was really excited that they at last had some abstract art in the museum. It fascinates me, frustrates me, and always provokes me to thought. I dislike the distain people can have for abstract art in saying it's just "stupid!" or "I could have done that!", partly because I can see it in myself but mostly because I know it's an unthinking and careless response to someone else's deep thought and care. Alas, the exhibit was packed, so I visited the near empty courtyard before leaving. Then I got to thinking . . .

Representational art is to Longfellow as Abstract art is to cummings. I always disliked Longfellow. While I haven't always liked cummings, he was the poet I had brought with me and I was (am) really enjoying his poetry. While all (or at least most) painting styles are trying to say something, abstract art seems to be screaming it the loudest. Still, it is a thousand times more difficult to apprehend abstract art's meaning. I'm not sure I have much else to say about the subject. I have been unable to understand most abstract art that I've experienced and examined . . . but I think I should continue to try hard to understand it. I plan on making another visit to my museum on a more quiet day.

That trip to Boston, on the whole, was incredibly full and interesting. I have stories to tell both interesting and amusing, but those will have to wait for a time when I am not trying to write half a nanowrimo novel in the last week.

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And this is all so different than I could have imagined,

a great adventure into the unknown of Gods vastness
armed to the teeth with hope and joy, and faith and trust.
And surrender.

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Today (from my notebook)

I am a restless spirit, and a reckless man. Foolish to the core. Lighted in fire.

---

I have said all that is needed
to be said . . .
I wish ever to speak
when silence is golden.
patience is so hard.

---

Cleaning out the corners
and tossing the long-forgotten socks
into the hamper,
snapping the old hanger
I'm turning on the light
and having a long look 'round.
Pulling up the roots I've wrapped
about the other trees
and re-turning to my Ground.

and I am renewed . . .

---

This is me trying.
I feel life in my face again.

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(Responsibility)

Let me carry it for awhile,

Let me take on both halves,
or at best the lion's share
Let me be cautious,
trust in me in my trust in God
Rest in him as I wrestle in him,
sleep while I remain watchful

But - keep thy love as a matter of conscience,
Blessedly independent, joined to eternity.
Only through movements of infinite individuality
(who is more alone than one alone with God?)
can people really be together.

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Forgiveness. It better be real, because I'm really counting on it. :) I feel the weight of my own failure over and over again. The sense of desperation and sadness. I feel how I fail to meet the standards of righteousness. I feel my emptiness and my self-centeredness and my self righteousness. I need, oh I need so terribly to be reminded of Grace. This morning I was finding it hard to feel the meaning (or have the passion) for Grace. Now I see it again clear. He has covered over a multitude of blunders. He hides the multiplicity of sin and embraces me, loving me into holiness. By love He builds love up in me. And He abides. Oh! He abides! I am united with eternity, and by His loving He is near to my soul. And I need Him now.

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NaNoWriMo has begun. I feel overwhelmed. There is so much that I have to do, and so much I wish I had the time to sit and think about. For the first time in my life I have no time to reflect or think, and I don't think I like it.

I'm procrastinating from writing. I don't know how to write what I want to say. What do I want to say? How can I "say" something with characters when I really just want to care about the characters?

I feel so . . . silent. So inexpressive. I wished I blogged more, or got into the habit of sharing my thoughts with you people. I feel like so much of my thinking has been in "doing". I hate the thoughtlessness that comes with being busy. I should get back to writing. I'm not sure how to tell a story . . . I'm not sure I'm a good story-teller at all. I have ideas, and I have characters . . . but I don't know if I know how to do both. humph.

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Solitude.

I am not here to heal,
not here to understand,
or to work it out.
I am not here for peace and quiet.
I am here to be broken.
There is no peace and all
distractions and consolations have
been torn away, I am utterly myself.
(there is no one to pretend to)
I have taken off my clothes and
the bandages wrapped about my face
and there is nothing left to look at.

"And I am a ghost."
I come to be turn apart,
I stay to be "thickened up a bit"
he leads me beside
these quiet waters
are a violence
against my ceaseless movement.
The battle is a healing,
the violence a peace.

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The Kingdom of Heaven.

" 'The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden planets and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.'

He told them another parable. 'The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.' " (Matthew 13: 31-33)

I wonder what he means . . . what is the kingdom of heaven, then? Why does the kingdom of heaven begin (if begin is the right word) as the smallest seed? does "The kingdom of heaven" mean "the people of God", the saints?

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." (Matthew 13:44)

So the kingdom of heaven is . . . the truth of God? The man is in surrender to God, devoted to God. "the kingdom of heaven" is what the man is searching for and what he's found. The kingdom of heaven . . . is what he sacrifices everything for. This view of the kingdom of heaven seems to be man's search (and devotion) to God.

I really like this parable. It inspires me about . . . what losing your life to save it is, and about the reckless abandon of righteousness. About 'infinite resignation' and . . . faith. How do I sometimes forget the fervor of . . . grasping at righteousness? (Blessed is he who hungers and thirsts after righteousness) Or a desperate feeling for unity with Christ.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13: 47-50)

Here . . . the kingdom of heaven is God coming for his people, separating the good from the bad. This seems straightforward enough, but why does he call it "the kingdom of heaven"? Am I just making this unnecessarily confusing?

" 'Have you understood all these things' They said to him 'Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore, every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.'" (Matthew 13: 51-52)

This really confuses me. What does he mean "brings out"? Does he mean "Gets rid of" Or "brings to the light", "shares"? I'm completely unsure about this passage. What do you think?

"Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain 'be taken up and thrown into the sea," it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." (Matthew 21:21-22)

Somehow it seems to me that Faith must be more than just "belief" that something will happen, or that you can do something. Is it possible to have true, honest belief in something that is not true? Or does the quality of truth in something (in Christ) make it the only thing that can be truly believed, or truly undoubted. Moreover, is this faith, this belief possible? Can we believe in the Truth? Or must the Truth believe in the Truth? . . . I mean . . . instead of us reaching for the Truth in faith, is faith being reached to by the Truth?

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I'd like to reject the entire idea of moderation. I have a distaste for it. Why not live everything to the most extreme? The utmost! But then perhaps what I would call the "utmost" is only "utmost" in the most human and basic sense. The ideal, the spiritually utmost may look completely different. I haven't the foggiest idea.



I've been thinking about the church. Recently my thought process (due, in no small measure, to Soren Kierkgaard, but also due to other things) has been focused on the . . . individuals relationship with God. How that is the center of my life (and of yours). We are all alone with God, individual human beings in relation with God. I'm afraid I have forgotten, a bit, about the unity of fellowship with believers. How much can different people be united? How can another person be grafted into my . . . existence before God? And how can I be grafted into theirs? I have been very lonely of late. I haven't been communing with people, and I see its effect on me. I miss my friends. I think . . . part of me believes that I am not yet enough of an individual to be able to have fellowship with others. How can I possibly be united with others when I find that I need them? I think I am wrong to think that. And I do need others. How can other people help me in my relationship with God? (How can I help them?) So . . .the church. The fellowship of believers, the communion of the saints. I miss you.

This loneliness. This foolishness of thinking my journey to be with God is a solitary one . . . has done the exact opposite of its supposed purpose. I see myself losing ground on honesty, on . . . reality of being. I need people to remind me of the beauty and loveliness of God, and to help me to love God.


What I've been up to: I'm taking an ethics class at a community college. I will write more about it some other time, but suffice it to say . . . it's interesting, and gives me a whole new idea of talking with people who completely disagree with my baselines of thought.

I'm taking an online New Testament Greek class, which has really been quite fun. There is, of course, boring rules mixed with the interesting ones. Language is confusing. It's a lot of work, but I don't mind so much, as long as I have the time to do it.

I work on Saturdays and Sundays at a convenience store and meat shop down the street from my house. I've begun thinking about . . . the Sabbath, and what I must do to keep it, or . . . what keeping it means. I wonder if I should not work on Sundays. In addition to this job, I also work on Wednesday mornings, and volunteer on Tuesday nights. Add all the school work I am doing . . . and I feel like I need a Sabbath day, that . . . this sabbath may be more than just a order for me to obey, but a provision for my stamina. I have to think and read about it more.

Shocking revelation: I am not currently reading a Soren Kierkegaard book. Right now it's all Lewis and cummings. And I admit . . . I miss him.

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So here's to silence!

Just as putting something into words can make it appear more important than it is, exaggerate it. I think putting something into words can also marginalize it, make it smaller than it is. Or it is inexpressible as it is, and any attempt to express it shrinks it, or simply makes it sounds absurd.


But silence also is judged, and so we speak against the emptiness of silence.
Silence holds within it the depths of the heart, its joys as well as its anguish. It can hold the smallest of indifference's (which is fearful to me) just as it holds the deepest thoughts and cares. So here's to silence!

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"I believe in you."


When I was hit by full understanding I wept. You have made my heart glad.

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Faith.

Faith cannot be against being disappointed, because precisely to conceive disappointment is to lack faith.
Faith and realism do not coexist.
Faith is the fool who dares to decide.
Realism exists in a kind of self-interested indecision. He will put his hand to the plow, but look back (preparing against failure). Realism (itself a kind of mistrust) stakes its life on nothing, and so exists in a kind of abstracted unreality. His life is a perpetual possibility, nothing more.

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II

wonder.
to seek out the world,
be overwhelmed by its beauty
to walk with you in delight
of his land,
to see Christ in it.

I long to question (with you)
and to be overwhelmed by our questionings
Our growing understanding only shows
the multiplicity of Truth and its endless expanse before us.

to move together through ignorance and discovery,
to be worn out by wondering
and rest in wonder.

and all wondering is worshiping.

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Bright Star

Yesterday I watched this movie, Bright Star. It is a lovely film. Visually it's gorgeous. I'm not sure I have much to say about the film except see it, it's worth being enthusiastic about.


One thing I particularly liked about it was how it was larger than the two lovers (John Keats and Fanny Brawne) who are at the center of it. The side characters particular of Fanny's younger sister Toots and Keat's friend Brown are fantastic. Toots relationship with Keats . . . gives me warm fuzzes inside (Micah expression) I wanted to hate Brown, in fact for parts of the movie I did, but he was too much of a real human being to be hated, with sympathy along with his selfishness, by the end I loved him as much as I loved all the other characters.

As it turns out, I can't say I really like most of Keats' poetry, though some of it is quite alright. Also, on a more practical note this movie has solidified my belief that poetry should not be a mans sole occupation but rather simply a part of his life. Keats and Brown spend the majority of this movie either sitting in their study or walking in the fields waiting for inspiration. I loved the movie, but of course I am always up for a good love story.

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Unapologetic sappiness

I

Beauty that transcends physical presence and is rooted in the essential whatness of a person. That in seeing their face it is irrevocably connected with their being, and seeing their face draws their being so close behind that it is caught up in it, and manifests itself as one, so the beauty of a face is mentally inseparable from the beauty of the person. The distinction between physical beauty and beauty of the soul becomes meaningless, since all is one, a unity irremovable from itself.

(Note: this is not to say that if their face were to be disfigured that that would make the uglier, and their soul uglier. In fact, just the opposite, the beauty of their soul would cover over it)

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Things that have been on my mind

"The most powerful word which has been said, yes, God's creative word, is: 'be'. But the most powerful word any human being has ever said is, if said by a lover: I abide."

-Works of Love, Soren Kierkegaard.

"-after which our separating selves become museums
filled with skillfully stuffed memories."
- it is so long since my heart has been with yours, e. e. cummings.

"If God perfects our natures it must expand all our natures in the full richness of the diversity which God intended when He made them, and Heaven will display far more variety than Hell."
-Letters to Malcolm, C. S. Lewis.

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A quick story.

Yesterday, I went to the library to check out a book of e. e. cummings poetry.

I found it easy enough. When I found it, I noticed it looked familiar. I have checked out e. e. cummings books before, but never actually gone all the way through them. When I picked it up I found inside one of my bookmarks (I make them myself). I was surprised an excited, and grinned all the way to the check out desk. I wanted to tell the library but feared she wouldn't be as amused or excited by it as I was. hum.

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"Go, go, go, said the bird"

I'm beginning to feel dissatisfied, discontent. I'm looking at these things that have given me so much joy, these ideas . . . these realities. Thinking about love, God's love for me, my love for people and their love for me . . . it feels gray, dim, small, not enough. I think I am beginning to want more understanding.


I feel somehow as if I've "lost" some kind of knowledge of the reality of God, and the reality of hope and faith that has made my life meaningful. Things seem less meaningful. But, I don't think I have lost understanding, I don't think I've lost what I know. I think I am beginning to crave more understanding. Meaning . . . that I have lain too satisfied with the understand I've had for too long. I haven't sought to understand the glory of God, the glory of the world, the beauty of life more. I've been too content where I am. I've stop searching for a bit and now it's beginning to get to me.

I am reminded that my understanding is incredibly small. I had begun to think I knew something, and now I'm thrown into a pit of nothingness, an un-understanding. A disillusionment with my own knowledge and my own understanding. I don't want this to sound like I have been "leaning on my own understanding" because that isn't what I mean . . . I mean that I've been thinking and believing too smally, too contentedly.
(and now as I'm writing this I'm worrying about being too interested in expressing this and forgetting its reality, or expressing for expression rather than for honesty and reality)

I think a part of this disconnect, this grayness may have something to do with losing sight of the unity of everything. I need to be reminding that the God-relationship is essential to everything, that God is essential to everything, that he is at the root of everything. From this dimness of understanding I've looked right at the love of God and thought "isn't there more? Isn't there something that goes behind all of this and makes it meaningful?" I am not tortured by this, because I haven't been asking it in real earnestness (at least not yet), I realize quickly enough the failure is not in Gods love and the meaning behind it, but rather in my understanding and in the smallness of my mind.

Some part of me is worried (or excited?) that I will not see it, will not see any of the unity of God's meaning until the end, until I am dead and raised again (following after Christ), and partially that is true. But! . . . we understand in levels, degrees. I'm not really sure if I've got down a level, or simply become unsatisfied with the level I am in. I want it to the latter.

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"I love you!" I said that I had won because to love without assurity (in some sense) of being loved, and so to love in earnest is the greatest joy, and expression that I said it without asking. (But I hope it all the same).


I fear to be forgotten, but infinitely more to forget.

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a waiting peace

Teach me to sit still

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Love Builds Up. (Trust)

Worried with thoughts of friendship and unity
I idled by the side of loving
by looking at loving itself.

I tore you down in my mind
by failing to presuppose love.
For love to build up is for love to presuppose love.

I failed to carry your burdens by thinking of them,
my duty of love is to presuppose love,
and by that build up love.

By trust, we become trustworthy.

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What I've been thinking

If you came this way,

Taking any route, starting from anywhere,

At any time or at any season,

It would always be the same: you would have to put off

Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,

Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity

Or carry report. You are here to kneel

Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more

Than an order of words, the conscious occupation

Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.

And what the dead had no speech for, when living,

They can tell you, being dead: the communication

Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.

From "Little Gidding" by T. S. Eliot

I've missed T. S. Eliot. Or more rightly, I hadn't realized I missed him until I came back to him. The more I read his poetry, the more seriously I consider it, and the less I seem to understand it, and the more lovely it becomes. I'm not sure I really have much to say about the poem, or this portion of the poem, but I think it's wonderful, and you should read it, and think about it.

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be an individual human being before God. Being unreservedly yourself before God changes more how you are unreservedly yourself before other people, God already knows you.

What have you been "getting into" recently? (and I don't ask carelessly)

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"You shouldn't think what you're feeling."

I rush through things. I read books quickly, don't stop till I'm finished. I stop and think when my thoughts cloud my reading so much that I can't go on. Only when I am drowned in thought do I sit down to digest them, consider them, examine them. I don't go out of my way to examine one thought. I wait until I have a dozen, and then sift through them trying to make sense of it all.


Wouldn't it be easier if I took thoughts one at a time? If I let life come to me slowly, and I was patient enough to listen and think? If . . . if I was patient enough to question everything, to go into the room of all that I throw out of my head, to stare in the face what I avoid thinking about.

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Where I am

This morning I got up far too late. In fact, I got up to take the trash out and then when back to bed. I was wasting time, and I knew it. I wasted time all morning. I knew I wasn't looking about where I was. I wasn't doing work, and my mental idea of the place around me was dingy and unclear.


This afternoon, or the beginning of this afternoon I began to really look around me. I picked up my school books that have lain dormant these few days and worked. I sat by the kitchen table and looked out the window, felt the breeze and the sound of where I was. (Where I am)

Since getting back from Wheatstone, I've had a mixture of all sorts of those processes. I was glad to have the rest of Saturday to relax, attempt to surf (with miserable consequences), swim, and mostly sit on the beach thinking far too much about the morning.

Sunday was mostly a day of airports. Airports and more thinking. Mostly happy thinking and remembering of the week. I love airports. I had an hour of waiting. I posed on all the elevators, went on unnecessary elevators to pose some more. I used a pay phone for the first time in my life (it was a week of new experiences). I walked with distinct swagger, feeling absurd.

Now . . . since then . . . I've wondered how to integrate myself back into my life, back into my place. So far I've been mostly failing. The last few days have been success mixed with failure, with a lot of apprehension thrown in. This afternoon, though, I think I'm beginning to find where I am. Find out . . . how I can love my place, and work diligently in it.

Also . . . I think I am seeing Christianity (in the strictest terms of what it means, the real thing, not our conceptions of it) transform my life in completely unnoticeable ways.

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You shall love.

"Only when it is a duty to love, only then is love eternally secured against every change, eternally made free in blessed independence, eternally and happily secured against despair. However joyous, however happy, however indescribably confident instinctive and inclinational love, spontaneous love, can be in itself, it still feels precisely in its most beautiful moment the need to establish itself, if possible, more securely." -Works of Love. Søren Kierkegaard.

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And yeah . . . it's a little crazy.

Love rips open their souls

as they aim at our chests.
A physical violence is

met with transcendent
nonviolence. Immovable
stillness (Only the cause and

end of movement) defeats
unstopping movement.
Willingness to suffer tears

apart the oppressors conscience.
The hypocrisy of retaliation
is endless and it keeps them

at our throats. Then there is
no victory left to be won. No
honor can be gained when

Hate overpowers hate. To
overcome, not overpower
we must love the oppressor.

And I've had enough of lip
service to love and life
while we devote our lives,

our money, our allegiance
to hate and death. The
defenses for this hatred

(for hatred it is, in action
not in feeling) are
equivocations and

affections. Neither logic
nor love. How can death be
fought with death and still hope?

Our failure is in imagining.
Until we can imagine our enemies
as our friends, our dear ones,

our beloved, we will continue
to kill rather than be killed.
We must die for our beloved.

Die for our oppressors. Die
for those that would kill us.
It is in death we show them life.

Injustice will be met with Justice.
For love is justice. Then they will
know that you are my disciples.

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Are you? Yes!

I am on some kind of . . . Being high. I just got back from L'abri. My hands are bit shaky, my blood is pumping. I feel invigorated, and simply by talking! Today I felt a blunt force of words, coming and going, to and from me.


I'm not sure what I ought to say. There are plenty of ideas in my head, but it seems impossible to share them in such a primitive way. Ideally I'd being talking to you in person. The word primitive seems ironic. Because the primitive forms of communication are the forms that have come after the original form of physical contact and so on. primitive forms of communication have been derived, invented. Huh. Interesting.

My head is racing, but not really going anywhere. Deep breaths Micheal, deep breaths. I'm so excited about the wonder of the world! And the mystery of this life. All that we don't understand, all that we don't know! And how wonderful it is that we don't know it! The perfect world of order must be so disorganized. I feel like to comprehend it would be to ruin it. Though perhaps that is just because I do not comprehend it. Perhaps my wonder at the mystery of existence is my inkling of how fantastic the secret must really be! Maybe mystery and knowing don't have to be opposites. Is that a paradox or a contradiction? Maybe some things are by nature incomprehensible. I don't know! (And it's wonderful!) Huh. that's punny.

*sigh* Today I am alive, today I am real, today I think I have some clarity. Today God has me present in myself. Today . . . Oh my.

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Let it all out!

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I don't know

I feel this head splitting insincerity inside me and I don't know where it's coming from. I want to be honest about my uncertainty. About the limit of my interpretations. Today I think I miss a flavor of scrutiny, and Wendell Berry.


Huh . . .

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I'm a selfish bastard

Today has been a long day, and I woke up late today. Today's been a journey, from start to finish. I should be finishing a book right now, but I'm not.


This post is motivated by this post.

There are lots of reasons why I try to stay connected to my friends who live far away, who I can't be with right now. Some of the more admirable ones is that I want to be there for them if they need me, I want to not drift away from them because I love them. Then they get to more ambiguous motives: I enjoy good conversation, talking to them feeds my spirit. And then . . . Sometimes I think I just feel like I need assurance. Assurance that they are my friends that . . . well . . . that they love me. I'm a selfish bastard.

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"And I will hold on Hope."

I must love with Reason,

Reason and Hope
With Fear and Trembling
In really fearing God,
I must lose the fear of what he will do to me.

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I don't care about being interesting anymore. (But I'll die if I'm not real)

I need to think. I need to think and I need a place to think in. I've felt for weeks now that I need to get out, and get out and go somewhere to think. Somewhere away from roads, away from computers, away from everything. I need to walk by the trees, let the silence swallow me. I need to not speak for hours, but instead let myself be spoken to.

Now I think I understand what it means when people say that God speaks in a still small voice. It is most when I am in a still small place that I hear his voice. (out in the open air is not the wide world, but the small world of what is around me, and just what is around me) I need aloneness, a kind of loneliness that leaves me with no one to talk to but God, and I can't talk all the time. I have to listen eventually. There's nowhere for me to go here. Everywhere I go there are people, and cars, and houses. There is no field that I can run in, or lie down in. No grist mill to sit by. No peninsula to kayak to, no beach to walk on, or rocks to get trapped on. Nowhere to sit and think, alone.

"Wheeler sighed as if to make room for his heart to breath." I've been sighing too much like that lately. My heads been crowded with media old and new, the volume on the world is too high. Every noise makes me wince. My proverbial tongue is tied now . . . what am I trying to say? I'm trying to say that I want a home, and a home where I can walk out of my door and walk for hours and see no one. I want to walk alone and wish someone was with me. I want to clear my head, have a chapel of woods where I can preach to myself (and be able to think of better metaphors).

I want to be allowed to appear before other people in reality, honesty. I want to seem them as they are, for them to show me who they are, and to show them who I am. But I am not sure I am a person enough yet for that. Too much of me is undecided. I want to be alone for a long time so I can better know how to be with people, and how to be alone.

I need somewhere to think . . . but I can't find it.

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(title unknown)

The purpose of movement is unmovement
Rest.
Movement is a kind of resistance against unbeing.
Action is only a kind of reaction,
(there simply to sustain being)
a response to that which is constantly moving
because it is incapable of being.

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I want to love you selflessly.

"As she strove forward with her various claims on other people, she more and more destroyed the possibility of a genuine mutuality with anybody. Her need for love isolated and estranged her from everybody who might have loved her, and from everybody who did." - A World Lost, by Wendell Berry.

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"You would not have been calling to me unless I had been calling to you."

I feel ripped apart from something I've never been held to
Some knowledge has passed to me that not all is well,
that this isn't how things are supposed to be.
I long for to be united, or not . . . united . . . but reunited.
But reunited to what I have never really known
This isn't what I meant to say at all,
it's better.
It's what is truly inside me,
what I meant to say is what I told myself this was about, but it's not.
Is this bare-faced?
Oh, to be real, to be seen as I am, to see myself as I am!
How wonderful! It is the first step toward unity.
To be united with something as real as You, I must be real myself!
Can cloth be sewn to dust?
Can a vine be grafted with a weed?
You are making me a vine,
But oh! do hurry!
How much more can I stand wanting to be a vine before I seek to be grafted to something else?
anything else to end this longing!
Now I am held to you imperfectly.
The beginning of unity does not relieve the desire for it, but only intensifies it.
Perhaps I cannot really want to be with you until you force me into it
To want to be real, I have to begin to be real.
Oh! This longing could not have started unless you had longed for me first!
What perfection is this?

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Eternity in their words.

Ah! To think! a discussion, a passing of words, a connection of eyes, sitting quietly in council, is this not a battlefield? This, this is where lives are lost or won, where one lets down one's shield of certainty, of dogmatism, and says "Here I am, take me!"

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This part is called "being stupid" . . . again. And resolutions.

In typical self-referential fashion, I am going to tell you a story of "Michael does something stupid" and then say something that will hopefully force me to hold to my new years resolution (read two books each month). So, first, the story.


I was at a homeschooling conference and I saw this girl with a buzzed haircut. I thought she looked awesome. At first I wasn't going to tell her this, in case she had cancer. Then eventually I must have forgotten why I had thought better of telling her that her hair looked awesome, so I did. So, I pass by her in an exhibit hall and quickly stop to say that I think her hair looks awesome, and probably not everyone could swing that, but she totally does. She says thanks and laughs. I say "I didn't want to tell you in case you had cancer or something" and then she says "well, I did." . . . yeah.

Okay, so I haven't finished any books so far this month and there are only a few days left! Ask me about it after the month is over, hopefully I will make it. (I'm thinking of finishing "the sickness unto death" and "to the lighthouse", we'll see how that goes.)

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A boring story.

I sit at the bar like area of the coffee shop in Barnes and Noble and stare aimlessly toward the counter. I'm hot, should I get something cold to drink? What should I get? There is Naked juice in a cooler, I'm not sure I'm in the mood to try something new, even if everyone seems to rage about it. I'll just got the Pineapple Orange Guava juice I was considering . . . . right.

I cross three lanes of traffic and then jump over the fence to get to the T station at Kenmore square. I'm going to have to put some money on my Charlie card.
I carefully place the Nantucket juice with only a few sips taken out of it on top of the charlie card machine. Huh, it would be so easy to forget it's there, I'm sure plenty of people have done that before. Well, make a mental note, it's right up there, don't forget it. I try to put five dollars into the machine. It spits it back out. I try again. No luck. Instead I try putting three singles in the machine, it spits those out as well. Perhaps it's the machine. I try the machine next to it. Ah! success. I put my wallet away, and tap my charlie card on the entrance . . . thingamabob. A green line train is just pulling up. "The destination of this train is: Government Center. Perfect! The train is practically empty. I sit down, settling in for a long ride. The doors close.
My juice!

Post Script: Later, I get off the train and walk toward the exit. Above one the charlie card machines is a cup of coffee. At least I'm not the only one.

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To love god and enjoy him forever.

I've been reading Donald Miller's new book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years for the past few days and I've gotta say . . . Donald Miller can really bring me down. But whenever he does, it's for a good reason.

In the book he talks a lot about living a good story, or what makes a story good will also make a life good. I won't give too much away for those of you that want to read it, but it's gotten me thinking about my life . . . or whether my life is "meaningful" or not. I'm afraid a lot of my life feels meaningless. Or I spend a lot of time doing things that don't seem to "help" me. Even my school work at times feels pointless, or not worth it. Even the things that make me enjoy life, or enjoy living like the books I read, or the poetry I read, or the music I listen to, or the walks in spring . . . these things often feel like I am living in my own head thinking all the time about living.
I want my life to be meaningful. So today I was thinking, what makes a life meaningful? The things that come to mind are saving peoples lives, or helping people out of poverty and starvation, or what Donald Miller has done: starting a mentoring program to help fatherless kids. But then I think to myself "So what makes life meaningful is helping other people to live?" It seems like a pointless cycle to me. Then I realized immediately what I ought to have realized immediately to begin with: The point of life, what makes life meaningful, is the business of making the world, and people, into what they were meant to be. What makes life "meaningful" isn't some solemn idea of "saving lives" or "feeding the hungry" at least not in the strictest sense. What makes life meaningful is making life beautiful. Making life wonderful, glorious, or in a word: joyful.
The point of life as a Christian is to glorify God, and the way we do that is by loving Him, and doing what He wants us to do. What he wants us to do, in the broadest sense, is do our part in making the world into what it was supposed to be, and part of that is making ourselves into what we are supposed to be.
That seems to make "meaningful life" make a little more sense to me. But all the same, I just want to live well, I still don't really know what that means. But I think I have enough answers . . . for now, to go on living in a way that doesn't feel "pointless".

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Three notebooks, each more (or is it less?) me than the last.

I feel like my life has grown more full in the living of it. And in the interacting with other lives, my own has become more real, and worthy of being lived. Perhaps it is not so much my life being better, but my perception of the life I have always been living. But oh! The perception of living is a part of living itself (isn't this what Søren called the "self", the self relating to itself?)

Through others perception, through participating in and being a product of the "intertextuality" of Human Perception, I have become "muchlier", which is to say, I can now better see the muchness that exists apart from me, and always has. And I hope I will go on seeing it better still for eternity.

Later: But I must be clear, it is not that I am becoming an interesting person, it is that I am finding more things interesting, things that are not me. Things that are a part of what I first saw (and most likely see now) as an outline, without muchliness to it. That outline being that God created this world, that he died for it, and that we Hope for the day when 'this too shall be made right". I am growing in my perception of what that means.

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little realities

This life is made of little realities

which happen more to be expected and remembered than for the happening itself.
Life is made of hope
The fulfillment of little hopes is at once most real, and most unreal.
Death is the beginning of real reality.
the beginning of all the little realities of life being sewn together
to create not fulfillment of hope (life itself)
but a more fervent hope yet
and to guide us to the Large Reality
Reality of Realities, and Fulfillment of Fulfillments.

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Half of a light bulb

Which is more important, questions or answers? My first inclination is to say questions, but then after further consideration I want to claim answers. I've decided that answers must, by nature, be more important. After all, that is what questions are for? Questions are for being answered, and real inquiry is happy when it discovers the truth. In loving questioning, and I love questions so very much, we cannot forget that there are real answers in the world. C. S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce

"Once you were a child. Once you knew what inquiry was for. There was a time when you asked questions because you wanted answers, and were glad when you had found them."

I truly believe that in the end, answers are more important than questions.

But I would be a fool if I said that I knew what any of the answers were, or if I even thought that human reason really could discover what the answers really were, for sure. It seems not only a limit of our intellect, but a limit of the entire idea of human intelligence whatever that we can never know for sure. Answers are not provable, not really. So, I maintain that answers are more important, but the fact is they are, in a way, impossible. This knowledge that we cannot know anything (the only knowledge we can really trust) should give us a sense of humility, and meekness in our beliefs. More on this later.

So, if it is hopeless to find any real proof of answers, why do we ask questions to begin with? I think there are two reasons to ask questions.
1) It may be one thing to say "I don't know" It's really another to live it. People don't really doubt their own opinions by nature, so asking questions are a good way to make us think "maybe I don't know what I thought I knew." We think we understand what a soul is until someone comes and asks up point blank "What is a soul?" Or we suppose we know what love is until someone (or we ourselves) think to ask "Well, what is love?" Asking questions is a way of exposing our ignorance.

"The more you see the less you know, the less you find out as you go." - U2, City of Blinding Lights
The second (2) reason we should ask questions is because, while proof is impossible, I don't think certainty is. While we cannot prove what we believe, certainty does not depend on proof. It is better not to say "I know that God loves me", but rather to say "I think that God loves me". This in no way says that we are less certain of God's existence or goodness (For God has more about him than just existing). Asking questions can allow us to wonder, and in wondering discover more truth (though it may be unprovable).

I think . . . that we ought to have a tension between belief and humility about our ignorance. Some truths demand belief, or unbelief and there can be no agnosticism. In those instances, we ought to pick our side, and be opinionated, but always willing to dialogue. No one likes a dogmatist. Our understanding that we cannot know anything should give us humility in our beliefs, and always be open to be proven wrong. This should come not only from intellectual humility, but also from a genuine concern for other people. If people truly care about one another than they will listen to one another's ideas.

So, are questions or answers more important? Well, technically speaking the answers are of infinitely more importance, but in this life of uncertainty and ignorance, forming and thinking about good questions is more pragmatically good than seeking definitive answers. Dialogue is best fostered by questions, and questions encourage humility. Anyway . . . that's what I think. And just for the record, I think those dudes at the top are kind of hideous, but their speech bubbles are interesting.

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Sticking to it.

So, it's more or less the end of January, and let's see how I've done with my resolutions.


1. This month, I have read three books. And The Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, The Great Divorce, and A Grief Observed.

The first, And The Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks was one of the most despondent books I've ever read. It was written by Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, so you can imagine what it was like. Lots and lots of drinking, and cussing, and . . . eating glass. It was disturbing to read, but it was also surprising how quickly you could read it. The words just seemed to fly off the page, and next thing you know you just picked it up for a moment and you've already read fifty pages. All in all, worth reading only as a window into "The beat generation" life.

The second, The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis, was a remarkable book. Probably one of my favorites now. It makes me look forward to a new world, but also more closely examine how I live this one. One idea that kept striking me . . . was that what I see as really beautiful, might in fact be really ugly.

The third, A Grief Observed, also by Lewis, is more like a pamphlet than a book, but very good. Perhaps I can't fully appreciate it because I am not Lewis, and have never lost someone the way he has. But it made me both think and feel.

2. I didn't pick this month to read the whole bible in a month.
3. I ate a fair amount of chicken at Masters :P
4. This has been more or less a failure. I've eaten a lot more Tomato's this month, but I haven't really liked them. In fact, at one time, I almost threw up because it was so revolting. I still hate tomato's. I am going to try this one again while tomato's are in season, and I can get them from my uncles garden.

That's all I've got for now, next month is peanut butter. Books on the menu: Phantastes, A World Lost, and That Hideous Strength, and possibly some others.

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Two poems.

A candle's scent.

When the fire burns

Does the wax fly into the air,

And perhaps alight on my eye?

I ask it not as a question of science, but philosophy

As if the wax were not itself,

or its selfness extended beyond the physical world.

As if it were a question that could not be proven or falsified,

But only pondered,

Wondered about with a faint loveliness of belief

Unable to answer “yes” or no”,

But only a resolved, though somewhat despondent, “I don’t know”

With perhaps some certainty

But certainty that exists apart from proof or knowledge.


Letters

She writes with a poetry not her own

My day lends poetry to her words

And gives more meaning and flow than she has power to make

And yet I admire her for it

As if somehow she were to blame, or be praised for how my mind projected her.

Response in anything other than likeminded poetry would seem false to me

But such poetry written would be out of place to her

For I am not writing to her, but my idea of her

But the real her must endure what I say to some Other.

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Fearfully and Wonderfully made

I love people. Or . . . certain people. I don't think I'm the kind of person to like the idea of a "person" for itself, though perhaps I ought to. I love specific persons.


I know that in order to really love people, I have to love God first, and more. I can't have an idol of a human being, or human beings, in the way. Sometimes I really feel like I love God, but a lot of times I don't. Often I want to love God just so I can love people, or I did. Now that it comes to the point, what this post is about feels so simple and obvious that I may sound like a fool for being so excited about it, but I will write it anyway.

I've felt so much like I love people, and loving God has to come first . . . but that's a difficulty, an obstacle. But, I see now! I cannot say I love people just because, I love them for their personalities, and their interests, and their dedications and passions, and a myriad of other things, because all of these things are part of who the people are. I believe there is an essence to a person, but we cannot simply love that essence, and that essence is wrapped in all the details of a person, and perhaps even mingles in them. I cannot love someone for themselves, as in something other than what they do and say and think, because all of that is part of who they are. I love them for the things that I think are beautiful, good, and true about them.

But if anything is beautiful, good, or true about them it is because God put it there! Because he put into them a picture of himself, an expression of his mind.

"God created me -not out of nothing, as say the unwise -but out of his own endless glory." (Lilith, George MacDonald)
So if I love these people, it is because of how God made them, as beautiful, good, true people. How can I say that "loving God first" is hard? How can I put people before Him if he made them, and if I think they are wonderful, how much more wonderful is He? The best of them are at best a description of Him, dimly, how much more lovely is the "thing itself"? And my ability to love people comes from the fact that I am made by Him as well! Everything that makes me want to love people, and everything that makes me able to love them comes from Him!

I say "I love C. S. Lewis" when I have not met C. S. Lewis and never will, but I have read many of his books, and his books show me partly who he is, and what he thinks, feels, and believes. While some might say it is technically correct to say "I love C. S. Lewis' books" I would disagree. I see a reflection, a part of C. S. Lewis, and though (Like God) I cannot see him now, I can still love him, and appreciate who he is.

I think what has made it truly hard for me to love God more than I love people is that I have not seen God in the same way that I have seen people. The great irony is that people are the best reflection of God that we have, and what makes me want to love them so much is how God-like they may appear to us in their loveliness.

I don't know how to end this post now. that block quote thing is really spiffy. And I feel like that comment is too lighthearted for how seriously I feel about what I'm saying.

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Charlotte NC, 2010

Reading Kerouac on the floor
waiting
"The essential smile/in the essential sleep."
I'm through lying to myself.
I surrender to myself
in my surrender to God,
the God of feeling,
the God of love,
the God of Violent Peace
I'm through trying my best
I'm going to put my real shoulder to the wheel
and present myself as I am
I'm through waking up,
through with moments of feeling, of truth.
It's about time I lived like I felt
what if I acted all the time what I see some of the time?
I'm through with resolutions and moments of recommitment
I'm going to live Truly, and sometimes it will be a lie.

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Finish the sentence

Ian: Don't talk to

Me: Girls
Ian: They will
Me: break your heart.

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New Years resolutions.

I am not a fan of New Year's resolutions. For one thing, people infamously don't keep them and for another they assign arbitrary significance to the New Year (nothing changes except for how you sign things. The fiscal year doesn't even change on that date). However, this year I thought "why not?" and went ahead writing a couple of things down. This blog post is a way of me setting myself up for failure, forcing me to try harder to avoid embarrassment. At the beginning of each month (or perhaps the end, the date is of little significance other than to have a reasonable deadline) I'll tell you how I did on keeping these in the past month. Honestly. So let's get started.



1. Read at least two books every month.
These books must not be school related, at least in the strict sense of the word. So far I haven't finished any books in the month of January.



2. Read the bible in one month
I'm thinking June, or perhaps July. Basically any month that is far away from now. To some this may seem daunting, to some this may seem simple enough. I'm definitely in the group that says it's daunting.


3. Eat more chicken.


4. Every month, pick one food that I don't like and try to make myself like it. This month's goal: Tomatos. Perhaps next month it'll be peanut butter. But I'll miss the emotional connection I make with people who also don't like peanut butter. It's always nice to find another believer, you know?
So, there they are. Nothing really life changing, just some "personally challenges" if you will.

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