Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Big M Question

I hear people use the word "millennial" to describe an individual every day now it seems. The expression is one of many, demonstrating the increased granularity of our society.

That's what we see more these days: an emphasis of quality, denominations of  culture, gradations that have tremendous weight. I think of, say, the Transgender community, a fraction of a fraction of the wider populous, that leverages so much power through appealing to hardened concepts like Justice, despite the depreciation such weighty concepts endure now that God is dead. 

Millennials have been described in a variety of ways. That demonstrates the wider problem of what to call a millennial definitively. We as a people are pulled in two different directions. On one hand labels are viewed as micro-transgressions. On the other, they are coveted and disseminated. When I listened to Metal I found it very interesting that the anarchist mobs, my brothers and sisters, coveted their genre particulars like they were species. More interesting is the renewed interest is ethnic studies of religion, dying languages, and anthropology. Our world has changed so much in the last two thousand years; our cosmology has changed. What does it mean to be human in the context of the great heat death of the universe? To those that still believe, is God entropy? Our epistemology has changed. at one time knowledge was knowable, then unknowable, now quantifiable, soon to be quantum. Information is volatile, ultimately. To know what a Millennial is, we must trace how we came to this road. A truly postmodern generation, Millennials are burdened with a duplicitous relationship with their world. They both aspire to find meaning in it and grapple with the futility of existence. 

I found it interesting, personally, that I contemplate who I am on a regular basis. I am a Nihilist, a Christian, a Socialist, and an Author. Capitals to emphasize the essence of each, their properties and true form. This makes me very much a Millennial in that regard. Labels, as used by Millennials, connote variety and innovation. Labels in reality imply qualities superficially. When someone who is black says, "I am Black," it could mean much different that when a person, who is white, says, "He is Black." This is why when I say I am a socialist, there are three meanings to the word: what the "world" believes a socialist to be, what a socialist believes a socialist to be, and what I believe a socialist to be. This doesn't even account for nationalism. Obviously, the Dutch may believe different things about socialism than say, an american, or a Brit. In the end each member of the three yearns for a kind of cohesiveness that negates the originating intention of a label, and at worst reintroduces the racism-like equivalent of category, the very state the Millennial was intending to avoid by expressing their uniqueness in the first place.

We live in a mad, rudderless world, that compels me to embrace forms of nihilism that thread through popular culture. On Facebook, there are meme communities that generate more meaningless content than a Dadaist monastery. I'm familiar with a few of them. Popular entertainment, though not as cutting edge, perpetuates what these internet communities call "shit posting" on television. I think its because we crave order that we cannot acquire, and we want the world to be okay with ourselves giving up, and feeling crazy with us. I ask myself, "why is Nihilism so funny?" everyday, and I can't produce a worthy answer. This morning while I was walking my dogs it occurred to me that #YOLO is less of a modern interpretation of the Latin "Carpe Diem," and more an expression of futility. 

"I just had sex with three different partners withing 48 hours. #YOLO" a Twitter feed iterates. Translated from the common vernacular: "Smashed all night. Smashed All day. Sick beats at the club. #fuckyeah #YOLO"

Might as well right? We are all going to die.

I don't mind this world as much as it may seem because it drives people to accept Christ. To defy convention by undertaking one. Nothing is certain anymore, so people yearn for certainty. Half of me writing this is an attempt to talk myself down the ledge, to turn away from the bleak world that was provided me by moderns and post-moderns alike. The other half is just procrastinating from starting my work on the novel.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

An Open Letter to My Children

Dear Future Son/Daughter,

Myself, and many others, grow up thinking that moms and dads know what’s best. And the more I grow, the more I realize that parents are people like you and me. They’ve had thrust into their lives this wailing, screaming human that doesn’t know how to eat or sleep. And even though you’ve never done this before in your life, it is your responsibility to care and provide for this little person. Along the way you learn things, likely out of just experiencing the day-to-day, and become familiar with your child and their quirks. And I’m sure that even these words that I write to you today will become obsolete in the coming years. But I wanted to say the following because I love you and feel called to.

I grew up in a tough spot. I didn’t have much to go on living in a home that was unstable and often times changing. Even though I didn’t have it nearly as bad as other kids there were still hard days. Usually I would go to school and come home to play with my toys. Other times I would go over to other kid’s houses and play video games, even the ones my mom told me not to play. All these days I would learn new things. Sometimes what I learned was difficult and it hurt. But each time I learned from my mistakes and from good times I became stronger. And I want you to be strong like I was.

I realize now that what we see, what we hear, challenges us. Some things are too much. (I wouldn’t let you play an M-Rated video game when you turned 6!) But when we face the world and try to understand it, with all its complexity, we become like a stone on the beach: well-rounded. Some people my age think differently. They think that if you hide the badness of the world away that you will be preserved from it. I think people think this way because they remember what it was like growing up. They remember seeing things they shouldn’t have seen or listening to people that they shouldn’t have. Out of love, when they become moms and dads, they want to spare you the trouble they went through themselves by hiding you away.

I grew up watching things that I shouldn’t have. I grew up listening to people I shouldn’t have. But, here I am: the finished person I am today. There are bad things in the world. Evil things. Sooner or later we will have to face them, and be strong. We have Jesus to show us the way. All of us were made by him, including the bad people. Even in the darkest places, his light shines. So when you see something bad, or listen to something that doesn’t sound right, remember that all things have a root in what has been created by Jesus. The world out there is worth it. And when you meet people, watch something on TV, or have a bad day, see the big picture: where things are at and where they will eventually be. The world isn’t perfect, but it still bears the image of God, and all over underneath everything he is there ready to redeem it.

So if you want to watch something on TV, watch it with me. If you want to play a video game, let’s take turns. If someone tells you something at school, let’s talk about it. We can face this world together, and with Jesus we are a threefold cord that can never be broken.



Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thoughts about Pastor Mark

During this week a pastor named Mark Driscoll resigned from his ministry at Mars Hill. This came to a shock to me, or not so much of a shock given what’s gone down on the Hill lately. There was a time in my life when I waited on every word the man said, so even though my phases of admiration has long concluded I still feel compelled to think about it.

Mark Driscoll is a very harsh, bullheaded man; a theological pit-bull that can’t shake an issue. Many disagree with him for his pastoral styles, myself included, and see him as insensitive and overly positivistic regarding certain issues. He is a Reformed superhero, despite living in an age where postmodernism has crumbled the impersonal, procedural logic that Reformed Theology/Soteriology so heavily relies upon to function. Everything about him is simultaneously relevant and, paradoxically, antiquated. But he’s still my pastor.

The strength of Mark’s preaching style is his tenacity to chase something. He’s something of a warrior for theology and the pursuit of holiness that up until the early 2000s had all but disappeared in the USA in favor of wishy-washy non-denominational theology. There’s something to be said about taking a stand. Stand up and fight for something. Believe in what you say and mean. That is the way Mark handles his business. They keep saying that Mark hasn’t disqualified himself from ministry, that he’s done nothing wrong. That’s where I disagree. I think he has sinned, only not in the way people at first imagine. His sin, I think, was pride. For all the controversy, I think it was the mega church that he started that became the issue. After going to a small neighborhood church now for almost five years, I am convinced that humans were never meant to worship corporately in a room full of five thousand people, where the pastor is a demagogue and surrounded by an entourage of personal assistants.

I hope and pray that Mark moves on from Mars Hill, that this experience motivates him to re-evaluate his personal missiology and the way he deals with people. I hope that he can spend time with his family and take a long vacation and finally let go of his responsibilities. I hope that he decides to pastor a church again, and continue to change the lives of people, and I hope his church never exceeds 200 people.

Mark has been a huge influence on my life. It saddens me to see him move on. But it’s God’s will, and I hope he grows closer to Jesus for it.