Monthly Archives: April 2013

Shepard Fairey and the NRA

Shepard Fairey and the NRA

Growing up in a small mountain town in Colorado, guns were everywhere. I myself am not opposed to gun ownership. The reason I like this photo however is because it portrays the contradictions of a belief in “pro-life” ideology and unrestricted use of guns. In refusing to consider even minor requirements like background checks, we do a disservice to those marred by gun violence.

Mostly, I like this photo because it will piss off a lot of Christians who think they can believe in war and pro-life sentiments. As I heard Chris Haw says once, “Our money says in God we trust when our economy is founded on the seven deadly sins.”

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Wendell Berry is a Badass

Wendell Berry is a Badass

I wish I could get the whole interview but some very interesting thoughts from Wendell Berry. He’s my new favorite person. 

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Wendell Berry is a Badass

Wendell Berry is a Badass

I wish I could get the whole interview but some very interesting thoughts from Wendell Berry. He’s my new favorite person. 

http://www.abpnews.com/culture/social-issues/item/8130-wendell-berry-expounds-on-gay-marriage#.UX8zeyvWFeS

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Her Dad is Dying

Her dad is dying. Slow and fierce. Yesterday he threw up green bile, exorcist style. With no warning. It washed out of his mouth like a fire hydrant, then dribbled down his chin. It was green, dark green, like kale, or the leaves of an evergreen.

 

He has dementia. Lewy body dementia. The average lifespan of someone with this disease is seven years. He has been alive for ten. His wife died a year ago almost exactly. He’s been a vegetable for awhile now. His eyes staring blankly at the ceiling, clutching his left arm. We’re not sure what he sees. The white ceilings of a gaudy rehab center or…spaceships. She tells me that when a person is dying they see stars they try to pluck at. Or little twinklings. His arms can’t move enough to pluck, but perhaps his eyes see the stars. Who knows, maybe he can see beyond the hubble telescope. See what the rest of us are missing.

 

Or maybe he sees ceiling tiles. His mind blank and worn enough that nothing registers. His breathing comes in gaps now. His body looks yellow and it’s not just because he’s Japanese.

 

We go see him every day after work. She (my wife) gets off work at 5:15. We go see him after. Hang out for an hour or so. By the time we get home it’s late. 7:30 or so. We’re indecisive about dinner so we don’t eat dinner until 8:30. Or we get pizza or cheap Chinese food. By the time we eat, it’s 8:30 or 9. We watch some T.V. Go to bed, get up again and do it the next day.  This is our life.

 

I’m getting bigger. Bigger and fatter. My stomach is like Buddhas. I used to ride my bike. But we have a dog now. And dying parents to attend to. Besides, I’m too tired anyways. I’ve drank every night this week. It doesn’t help my Buddha stomach. She doesn’t like that I keep smoking, but I don’t know what to tell her.

 

I have to run a Farmers Market booth for my coffee business tomorrow. I don’t want to. I also have to take a pay cut so we can move into a new location. I’ll have to get a part time job. It’ll probably be some fucking coffeeshop that serves gasoline. The perks of starting a small business. I haven’t written in weeks. My stomach’s been sick from alcohol. I’m listening to a lot of David Bazan and Glen Hansard.

 

His eyes are open. Staring.

 

We didn’t think he’d make it through the week…but he did. We didn’t think he’d make it through the weekend—but he did.

 

It’s Monday. Eight to nine days since he’s had food or drink.

 

She’s exhausted. We’re exhausted.

 

We sit here, waiting. Waiting for her dad to die. Waiting for relief.

She goes to work every day. Expecting a phone call. The call never comes.

 

Since the diagnosis, she knew it would be inevitable. But now it’s so close, and yet, so far away.

 

The medical bills pile up.

 

 If anything her worse fear is if he doesn’t die. She’ll have to finish the Medicaid application. Come up with money out of thin air.

 

Not that she doesn’t love her dad, she does.  More than ever. But there are practical implications to death. Debt. And medical bills, And funeral expenses. And so on. Those things disappear when death comes (sort of).  Besides, he’s been sick for so long. A vegetable for years now.

 

 

 

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A Tribute to Brennan Manning

If I had to name a Christian writer who had the single most influence on my life it would undeniably be Brennan Manning. The ragamuffin priest and writer passed away early Friday morning after deteriorating health. To think back on the ways in which Brennan influenced my life from an early age is to think back on my journey as a Christ follower.

 

Brennan manning was my first encounter with grace. The reason I now I have the word tattoed on my neck. He was my first encounter with radical confession and honesty—the first writer with whom I felt a kinship in their struggles to love and be loved by God. The first person I read who I felt honestly portrayed the Christian life—with no political slant or quest for power or self-help slogans.

 

He made me want to be a Franciscan priest or go meditate in a cave in Spain.

He made me want to live amongst the poor in Mississippi.

He pronounced blessing over my discouraged, worn-out, and doubt-ridden self.

 

It was my father who first introduced me to The Ragamuffin Gospel. He said it was the best book written on grace he had ever read. My father, a Christian counselor and elder at our local church, encouraged me to read it multiple times. But, I was in high school and thought little of reading books on theology or Christian Spirituality, especially books recommended by one’s dad.  

 

When I finally cracked open the book though, it was the archetypal experience of someone putting words to what you had thought all along, but didn’t know how to say. It was all the clichés. A breath of fresh air.  Spring. Etc.

 

I continued to read Brennan’s works and they continued to inspire me and draw me closer to Abba. I was haunted by his question of whether or not I really believed God loved me. In high school it was easier to believe, I thought I was a decent person then. But after high school I began a long and dark journey with depression and sin and addiction and it became ever more challenging to really believe that God could love someone like me.

 

I remember when I first heard Brennan’s take on nuclear weapons and got scared because I was a good nationalist and proud American who hadn’t thought much about war or nationalism and didn’t care for all those “liberal hippies.” I however soon became the “liberal hippie” I once disdained. Not because of Brennan Manning but because of Jesus and how Brennan pointed me to him.

 

I still read his books continuously throughout the year. It calms my heart just to pick up The Ragamuffin Gospel off my black bookshelf and flip through a page or two. His works to me are penultimate to the scriptures themselves, blasphemy perhaps I realize.

 

His words become ever more important with the years, especially today, when I feel the most burnt-out and discouraged I’ve been in awhile, his words calm my frightful and anxious ragamuffin experience. They remind me that, as he says, “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”

 

He reminded me that I cannot give in to self-hatred and guilt no matter how overwhelming those feelings can be.

 

After finishing his memoir last year, I wondered at how a man with such a frightful and sad story could continue his walk with Abba. But if a man with a loveless childhood, two day drinking benders, divorce, and so on could continue to believe and love God and continue to believe that God loves and believes in him, then I guess I could to.

 

He gives me strength to go on.

 

And I have absolutely no sadness in my heart for I know that what Brennan wanted all along was to finally be at home with Jesus. And so he is.

 

 

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