Hello readers!

So no blog should be without some short, random stories and posts, so here is one for you to keep you few happy while i write my next update, which should be done next week. Stay tuned!

So for the summer I am working as a lifeguard at a local amusement park, and quite honestly i love my job. I mean, they pay me to stand around, look intimidating, and yell at people. It’s great 🙂

But the other day i saw something that just completely made my week. A woman came to the shallow pool where I was stationed pushing a young boy of about 12 in a stroller. She had to help him out of the stroller and into the pool due to a mental handicap, which looked rather severe as he could hardly walk without her help and couldn’t really talk at all. But for the hour and a half that I was stationed at the pool, she walked him around the pool just beaming with joy. Just smiling and talking to him and playing with him. It was beautiful! I talked to her at one point, and she said that he was her nephew, but that she loved him like her own and that he was her whole world.

Wow.

Its people like that that restore some of my hope in humanity. Such an example of true, selfless love. We need people like that.

Mercy for a Monsterman

Hello readers. I apologize for the long absence, it’s been long time since I have been able to sit down and write, but I finally have time and something important to write about.

I am an against-the-flow type of guy. Those of you who personally know me know this far too well. I do my own thing, regardless of what others think. Resulting in half of my university campus convinced I am 100% stoned about 90% of the time, but oh well.

But sometimes you have to go with the flow. Not because you want to, but because you have exhausted yourself so much in the fight upstream you convince yourself you can’t fight anymore. You condemn yourself to floating, in the flow but not part of it and wishing to God you could find the strength to take the fight up again.

This last month has been a really trying time; not only for me but for a lot of people whom I am really close to. I have seen several friends overcome by their demons, and others, including myself, just getting by. We all lean on each other, but amidst it all there is the overwhelming feeling of loneliness, emptiness, and despair. We fight a seemingly losing battle, and even combined we can do nothing.

Despair is so prevalent and so powerful. And it is that despair that convinces us that there is no mercy, no hope, no joy. That we are alone.

As Catholics, we believe that Christ’s mercy is boundless and that He is always willing to forgive, but we convince ourselves that our sin is too awful, that our failure is too great.  That we are monsters.

And we are right. We are monstermen, who do monstrous things. And in our despair we  hate ourselves, convinced that Christ cannot love us, that there is no mercy.

But it is there that we are so wrong.

Christ in the beautiful mystery of the Incarnation became a monsterman. He is one of us. He understands our struggles more than we do ourselves. He struggled just as the rest of us did because He IS a monsterman. THE Monsterman.

In the face of this, we know we have hope. We know that Christ will always be merciful, always be loving. We know that we are not as alone as we feel, for Christ is always with us, strengthening us in our time of need.

We only need to turn to Him.

And through Him and His boundless love, we can find the strength not only to forgive ourselves for our failure but also find the strength to pick ourselves up and fight the current once more.

And through Him, and Him alone, we can win.

My challenge to you guys this time around is to forgive. Forgive yourselves, forgive others. And keep on fighting.

God bless you all 🙂

Better Off Broken

Last summer, I was blessed to have the opportunity to learn how the methods (and the madness) behind the making of stained glass. Stained glass is actually a more complicated process then it would seem, and after much training, cuts, blood, tears from having to take it apart and start over, and burns (solder is hot, people), I finally had my finished cross, which actually wasn’t half-bad in case you were wondering.

But as part of the workshop, we were shown how the process is a metaphor. A beautiful metaphor for life.

I’ll give you a hint. The stained glass is us.

Brokenness is rampant in the world. Many lives are broken from a major loss, a death, a broken heart, a crisis. Sometimes it isn’t even a major event, but so many little ones that lead to a person crippled, kneeling and feeling unable to take another hit. People cut, people hurt, and they despair looking at the broken pieces of their lives. In the lyrics of the beautiful song, Iris, “Yeah, you bleed just to know you’re alive”.

You look around at the shattered pieces of your life and can only ask a question for which you expect no answer: “Why?”

Why? Why did this happen?

Because it had to.

The first part of stained glass making is the breaking. You first select your piece, and then, taking a sharp blade, score it (mark it) in the shape you want. Sometimes all it takes is one deep cut, sometimes repeated shallow cuts, and after it’s scored, you break it. And you repeat this until your original sheets of glass are in small, indiscernible pieces that you could never put back together.

But do you want to?

After the breaking, you sift through your pieces, selecting the right ones, the best. These then are cleaned, foiled, and soldered together through intense heat. And after it is cooled, your finished project is beautiful. A masterpiece that filters and colors light and emits beauty.

But the masterpiece would never have happened without the break.

In brokenness, we find our true selves. The best pieces of ourselves. We have a deep, intimate knowledge of us, and are fully able to see which parts are good, beneficial, and godly, and which ones aren’t.

We are strongest here. Here in this brokenness, we are able to make a conscious decision to leave behind the parts of ourselves that are lacking, and to recreate ourselves with only the best parts.

Now we have our pieces, broken though they may be, but ready to be renewed. But we are missing the main component. The only way we can be made whole and strong. The solder.

Christ.

Christ is the solder. Christ is the cement that picks us up out of our brokenness, and through the Fire and heat of His love, binds together our broken pieces. Our brokenness become something new, enveloped and surrounded by Him.  And our new masterpiece allows the Light of Christ to flow through us better.

And what happens when the new masterpiece is not right? When we take along a few pieces that just don’t fit? We have to break again. We have to start over, over and over again until we finally reach our fullest. And it will happen. You will break again.

But it is beautiful. Brokenness is a beautiful thing. It allows something new to be created that would never have been able to before. Something new that better shows the Light of Christ, the One who makes us whole again.

To again quote Iris, “Everything is made to be broken”. You can choose to sit in you brokenness an despair, or you can realize its beauty, its potential. The opportunity for the creation of a beautiful masterpiece.

And the finished masterpiece is much more beautiful than the sheets that you started with.

The Beauty of Authenticity

We all wear masks.

Authenticity is a virtue that has been all but lost in the modern world. A beautiful, beautiful virtue that the modern culture has twisted and effectively stomped into the ground. The modern culture promotes tolerance, ‘be yourself’, and acceptance, but then proceeds to shove a mold down your throat. Accept everyone, but you are not beautiful till you wear this makeup, look like this model; ‘be yourself’, but you’re not normal if you act in this way, believe this, or like that. The world has warped the meaning of authenticity so much that ‘being yourself’ extends only to certain deviations and everyone ends up wearing a mask to fit a certain mold.

We give up our individuality and our self-worth and place such a high value on the opinions of others. We fear rejection so much that we would rather ‘go with the flow’ than dare to be different. We sacrifice authenticity for the mask.

What exactly is authenticity?

Let’s be clear on something here. Authenticity is not simply being yourself. It is so much deeper than that. Authenticity is being the person you were created to be, no matter what others think of you. It is finding your call and taking it, finding your God-given gifts and using them, finding you.

Our worth as humans should not and bloody well does not come from how ‘in’ we are, by how ‘cultured’ or ‘with it’ we are. Our value as humans comes from the beautiful fact we were created in the image and likeness of Perfection and Love; in the image and likeness of God.

Our value as humans comes from God Himself.

Take a moment to let that sink in.

This fact is why going with the flow is so incredibly ridiculous. The culture does nothing to give us worth. Our worth comes from within, comes from being the person we were created to be; not the person who fits the culture mold. We wear a mask every day to be accepted in a culture that can never change our intrinsic value.

So be yourself. Be who you were created to be. Tear off your personal mask and stick it to the culture that you are different and are proud of it. We find that happiness is not found behind the mask; it is only in recognizing ourselves and our worth that happiness will be achieved.

So do it. Be authentic. ignore the clamors of the culture and you do you. To quote an old song that wraps this up in one line: “I don’t give a Damn what you think of me!”

Conversational Pieces

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How much do we actually listen?

Two of my favorite artists’, Simon and Garfunkel, have a beautiful, very famous song called “The Sound of Silence”. It’s a masterpiece of a song, about darkness, silence, and culture. One of the verses especially contains two lines which I think are more applicable to our current culture, where the artists sing of “People talking without speaking, People hearing without listening”.

People, they weren’t talking about the new ability to have a conversation over text and email. That is a 21st century thing. No, they were talking about something much different; about the nature of speech itself.

How much do we actually listen? Hell, how much do we actually talk?

Again, this is not a post condemning texting. I am referring to the terrifying entity known as conversation.

When was the last time you had a conversation?

Conversation involves two or more people, growing closer to each other by discussing ideas; discussing and simply enjoying the conversation and one another’s company. Conversation is a wonderful chance to make new friends, and to deepen relationships with old ones.

So why is it so terrifying? Why do we shy away from conversation, falling back to just chit-chat? We can use the same topic as either conversation or to chat, depending on context and purpose, and we so often chose the latter. We as humans have been given this beautiful gift of speech, but we reduce its potential and purpose to meaningless chatter. So why the fear of conversation? What are we afraid of?

The fear of conversation, in all reality, stems from our fear of the unknown, of possibilities that are deeper than our comfort zones. I mean, look at a fear of the dark. We do not fear the dark; we fear its possibilities, it’s potential. We fear conversation on the same principle. Conversation opens up areas about ourselves, each other, the culture, etc., that we as a race are uncomfortable facing. Conversation opens up possibilities for growth, for expansion, for change; none of which we typically like.

Conversation is deep; swimming in the shallows is far easier, and there are far fewer sharks and unknown beasties. But our nature craves the depth. We were built for it; our rationality itself requires it. We need opportunities to grow, to develop our ideas and thoughts, to mature. We need the opportunities to think of higher and more intellectual things because, as humans, we belong to a higher realm. Chatter doesn’t supply anything except a time killer; good in certain situations, but more is needed. And not only for personal growth either. Conversation is necessary for relationships; friendships grow with conversation, not chatter.

Converse. Talk with purpose to people you know and care about. Do not simply talk: speak! Listen to the other person and leave the conversation a better person. Do not simply hear their words: listen! Dare to think!

They say that language is one of the greatest gifts you can give, talking in someones own language. But guess what? You don’t have to be bilingual to do that!

So meet up with a good friend, and have a meaningful conversation over a cup of coffee. Challenge thyself.

A Call for Feminism

So they say that the first few posts of any new bloggers are the most important, so after a lot of internal war I decided what topic to start my blogging career with: feminism. Now perhaps its strange for a guy to be writing on feminism, but………..¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Feminism has become a huge part of our culture, gaining an incredible amount of support. I, in fact, count myself as a feminist, but not in the modern sense.

I am making a call to return to true feminism. Feminism that celebrated the dignity of women, the beauty of simply being a woman. Feminism in the modern culture promotes ‘equality’ with men, but forgets something rather vital: we are not  the same!

I mean just look! Physically, psychologically, and many other ways, the differences are not hard to see. Equality between men and women is impossible to achieve, and really shouldn’t be achieved at all!

True feminism, for men, involves protecting the inherent dignity of women, not because women are ‘too weak’ to protect themselves- seriously, we are well aware you can open a bloody door by yourself and pull out your own chair. But the point is-if there is a guy in the vicinity, you shouldn’t have to. A man should respect a woman’s femininity so much that he holds a door for her no matter how full his hands are. And this goes much further than simply opening doors and the like. Protect her dignity from yourself by watching your words and actions; and always be prepared to defend her honor against others.

True feminism, for women, recognizes their inherent value and dignity. Women should let guys hold doors for them and such. Feminism involves respecting yourself in dress and actions, not engaging in any activities that do not respect the dignity you carry inside. Feminism involves letting yourself be treated differently because you are different. You are created to be loved and honored by men.

Now this does not mean I hate everything the Feminist movement has done. There is a vast difference between being a feminist and being a sexist. Women should have the right to vote, should have equal wages, and should have careers. And yes, you ‘feminist’ men, I am talking to you! Women should have careers if they want them! They do not have to be stay at home mothers for your offspring.

Matthew Henry, the famous writer, once said “Women were created from the rib of man to be beside him, not from his head to top him, nor from his feet to be trampled by him, but from under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.” This pretty much sums up true feminism. A respect for the dignity of women, the protective role of men, and the beauty of the individual sexes.

I challenge every man who reads this to start to change their behaviors. I challenge every woman who reads this to start to change their behaviors.

I challenge all to true feminism. Do you dare?

The Start of it All…

This a rather odd place in our culture. We have come a long way from the bootleggin’ days of the 20’s, racism and segregation in the 60’s, and the sexist views of women in the workplace all across the 20th century. But at what cost? Have we as a culture become so focused on equality and liberation that we have lost focus on a real goal? The taglines “equality”, “freedom”, “tolerance”-these are powerful, powerful words in the world of today. But what do these words really mean? Have we become too quick in abandoning anything of antiquity in the name of “freedom”?

Today we hate anything old. Old implies uselessness. If something is old, it reminds of the days of segregation and sexism. We have thrown out those old ideas of past generations, bringing new ideas, new ways to the world. But we grouped the morals of the past with the ideas of the past, and, to coin the phrase, literally threw the baby out with the bathwater.

The purpose of this blog? To make a point. To make a call for some change. to temperate the new, good things of this time and age with some classical wisdom of our past, wisdom we need to bring back.

And the rock n’ roll? My fav. Music is description of a time, and rock n’ roll is no different. And although rock n roll gets a bad rep for being the immoral ramblings of a bunch of hippies, (seriously who doesn’t love hippies?), it really has so many gems contained inside. And plus, its just freakin’ awesome. So yeah, there will be a lot of rock n’ roll contained herein.

Happy readings! I’ll be posting every so often, so stay tuned! (And yeah, that pun was totally intended)