levade: (Default)
2017-01-09 02:21 pm

Tolkien thought

First, I am not the most highly educated person, don't have a high degree, but I do have curiosity. And I was listening to someone speaking about generational differences and that translated (naturally!) to me musing about how the Aman-born elves coped with the influx of so many different people.

And, if you are a canon scholar, please be gentle. I'm a layperson. I do this for my own entertainment and don't make a single dollar off it.

When the ban of the Valar was lifted a lot of Noldor sailed. That probably wans't so hard. They were Noldor, and if they weren't born in Aman, they likely had parent(s) who were and knew about life there.

But then you get the other kindreds. Silvan, Sindarin, Telerin (and yes, I know there are Teler in Aman, but the Falathrim were almost a people apart by then). And they brought with them all of their traditions and ways of thinking that must have been very different from those elves born in Aman. In M-e, you don't have the Valar right there. You don't have Maiar, at least not openly. You don't have the traditions of respect and stars only knows what other hundreds of traditions sprang up over the generations.

It all comes from this. Here, in America, we have a lot of different ethnic groups who moved here. Then you get the second generation who speak the language and understand both sides of the coin. My Dad was first generation Italian-American. He spoke both languages. His children do not speak Italian, don't know half the traditions of the old country and a lot of heritage was lost. We gained new traditions and I don't know....

I imagine that must be how it would be for the elves going to Aman for the first time. Everything would be odd, even if this is the place the Valar prepared for elves. They were born in M-e, raised there, for countless generations. It was home. It was where their ancestors awakened. It was the true, first Elvenhome. Of course, Cuivienen was gone, but still.

So how did they cope with all that new? All the traditions that weren't theirs. All the languages that they didn't know. All the places and memories and stories that were different and new and probably some very radical ideas about who and what the Valar were.

We're still learning in America how to deal with the changes. I find them fascinating and love to hear stories of how life was in a person's homeland and what traditions they had and still keep. But other people get threatened by change and worry it's changing the landscape of what they perceive as 'home'.
levade: (freckles)
2016-06-27 07:19 am

(no subject)

starlight-in-your-eyes:

do you ever just think about Jesus living here on earth

i think sometimes we tend to think He just bounced from one miracle to another and everyday was a Bible story but His ministry lasted for three years and the Gospels don’t actually cover that much so

imagine all those ordinary days??

He probably had favorite foods and morning routines and sore dirty feet from walking while sweat ran in His eyes in the hot Judean sun and He got blisters and hiccups and colds and maybe He snored

all the times He laughed till He cried and i bet He had inside jokes with His disciples. imagine having an inside joke with the person who gives you breath to laugh in the first place

and He had human skills He knew how to build a house and cook and wash his clothes and read

passing food at the dinner table and bumping hands with Jesus

talking about silly inconsequential things like the weather

maybe some nights John was sleepy and he leaned against Jesus and could hear His heartbeat

maybe some nights a disciple had insomnia and he climbed out of his bedroll to find Jesus sitting against a rock, looking up at heaven, and they sat and watched the stars together

(the God of the universe looking up through short-sighted eyes at His creation, and the disciple wants so badly to ask what it was like to shape each star, but he looks at those calloused human hands and something in him trembles)

do you ever think that the ordinary days so far outnumbered the miraculous ones that the disciples, sometimes, almost forgot

and then He goes and turns water into wine and feeds five thousand people from a kid’s lunch and brings dead Lazarus walking alive out of the tomb and they just kind of lose their breath

not because they didn’t expect deity to accomplish the impossible but because this God has been living with them

it’s not the miracles that are unthinkable
levade: (Default)
2016-06-16 06:12 am

Optimist's Creed

Optimists Creed

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best and expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
levade: (freckles)
2016-06-15 06:56 am

I have to post this

It made me think about some of my own attitudes, my own actions and those of my church. Mostly, it made me look again to Jesus to see how his actions guide us. And if you do identify as LGBTQ, please know there will never be hate posted here. Never. Shame on me if I do.

I have gay friends, straight friends, Christian friends, and atheist friends. Friends. People I love and care a great deal about. We don't always agree. *G*

I love them, but now? I'm not sure I've been caring enough about them.

Food for thought. Food for action.



Violence Toward LGBTQ: A Pastor’s Reflection


Saint Augustine once wrote the famous words:

In essentials, unity;
in non-essentials, liberty;
in all things, charity.

Today, and especially in light of the horrendous massacre in Orlando, in which forty nine souls had their lives cut short by a shooting spree at a gay night club, I would like to focus on the third of Augustine’s three statements. For the purposes of this reflection, I will add the words, “and toward all people and all people groups” to the charity part.

Because of the way that Jesus came to us in love—not while we were at our best but while we were at our worst, not when we were treating him as a friend but when we were treating him as an enemy—we Christians of all people should find creative and consistent ways to love, listen to, and serve all kinds of people…especially in their days of need and loss and sorrow.

In light of the Orlando tragedy, I am especially moved to highlight this basic gospel imperative, to love your neighbor as yourself. This is not a time to be silent about the horrible injustice that occurred in Orlando last weekend. And it is not a time for preaching one’s views about right and wrong when it comes to sexuality. This is a time to love. This is a time for compassion. This is a time for tears, to enter into the sorrow and the loss, not with answers but with presence.

And, whatever one’s beliefs may be about sexuality, silence is never an option where abuse and injustice are perpetrated. Because, as Dr. King once said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Furthermore, Jesus never seemed too concerned about sending “mixed messages.” He welcomed sinners of every kind—religious sinners and irreligious sinners, sexual sinners and pious sinners, bottom of the barrel and holier-than-thou sinners—and ate with them. Without caveats. And he took a lot of criticism for it from pious religious folk. But he didn’t seem to care.

A day or two after the Orlando shooting, I cane across a tweet by an LGBTQ advocate named Tamara Lunardo, retweeted by Rachel Held Evans, which said the following:

Straight friends,
especially you Christians,
please know:
We hear your silence so loud.

According to Ms. Lundardo, most of the outcries about Orlando seemed to be coming from everyone except those who identify as followers of Jesus. It’s as if she was saying, “Hey you Christians, they are hurting down there in Orlando. So then, you Christians, where are your tears? Where are your outcries? Where is your compassion? If it’s there, let us see it and feel it and experience it. If you have a light, you Christians, this is most certainly not the time to be hiding it beneath a bushel.”

There are exceptions to Ms. Lunardo’s concern, like this thoughtful piece about weeping and mourning together over lives and loved ones lost from the Southern Baptist leader, and a relatively new friend of mine, Russell Moore. Or one tweet and then another from another friend of mine, pastor Matt Chandler, to his sizable number of followers:

What a horrific act of evil. Christians your Muslim friends & neighbors woke up this morning wondering how they will be viewed. Love them. Also consider the fear and pain this will have in the LGBT community. Let’s be the people of God in this heinous and awful violence.

But, responses like these notwithstanding, to whatever degree Ms. Lunardo is right in her concern, that is, to whatever degree Christians do choose to remain silent about such violence done to any person or people group created in the Image of God, is the degree to which the gospel’s humanitarian pulse and ethic must be revisited.

In the spirit of loving deeply in the midst of having differences, I am especially struck by the following excerpt from an essay written by a former chaplain at Harvard:

The divide between Christians and atheists is deep…I’m dedicated to bridging that divide—to working with…atheists, Christians, and people of all different beliefs and backgrounds on building a more cooperative world. We have a lot of work to do…My hope is that these tips can help foster better dialogue between Christians and atheists and that, together, we can work to see a world in which people are able to have honest, challenging, and loving conversations across lines of difference.

The former Harvard chaplain’s name is Chris Stedman.

Chris is an atheist, who also identifies as “queer.”

Is it possible to disagree with each other on sensitive subjects, and still maintain meaningful and even loving friendships with each other? And, as Russell Moore suggests, is it not only possible but imperative and right to weep and mourn across such lines…and in such a way that the lines become transformed into bridges?

As an atheist and member of the LGBTQ community, Chris Stedman believes it is possible.

As a follower of Jesus, I believe it is not only possible, but is an essential part of Christian discipleship. It is morally imperative for the people of Jesus to weep with all of our neighbors who weep, and mourn with all of our neighbors who mourn.

“Who is my neighbor?” the teacher of the law asked Jesus.

Your neighbor, O child of God and heir of the Kingdom, is anyone who is near and anyone who has a need.

In the spirit of neighbor love, Kate Shellnutt from Christianity Today posted this on Twitter, in response to Orlando:

Looking for churches volunteering
or offering security for Pride events
in light of the Orlando massacre.
#lovethyneighbor

I don’t know about you, but to me this provocative comment from Kate feels like something Jesus would affirm. You know, Jesus…the same Jesus who healed ten lepers even though only one of them would say thank you, the same Jesus who made a Samaritan the hero of his story about neighbor-love right in the face of the reality that Jews hated Samaritans and Samaritans hated Jews, the same Jesus who commended Rahab for providing refuge for Israel’s spies even though she was still, at the time, an active prostitute, the same Jesus who went after Peter in love when Peter had denied him three times, before Peter ever repented or said that he was sorry, the same Jesus who looked a prostitute dead in the eye, while she was still dressed like a prostitute and had come to him straight off the streets to kiss his feet with her prostitute’s lips and douse his skin with her prostitute’s perfume, and praised her for her expression of love, regardless of how unorthodox it may have been to the cultural norms of the day.

Kate Shellnutt’s tweet sounds to me like what Chick Fil-A, a Christian owned and operated restaurant, did in response to the Orlando shootings. On Sunday, the day that Chick Fil-A is always closed so its employees can worship God at their churches and observe a Sabbath rest, they decided instead to brew gallons of tea and prepare hundreds of their sandwiches, and then they handed them out free of charge to people who were donating blood for the LGBTQ shooting victims.

This is the same company who, because of its President/CEO’s belief in the Bible and, on that basis, the historic Judeo-Christian sex ethic, got boycotted by a gay activist and then reached out and ended up becoming good friends with the same gay activist (you can read the full story, from the perspective of the gay activist, Shane Windemeyer, here).

The truest disciples of Jesus, not in spite of their Christian beliefs but because of them, take initiative to love, listen to, and serve those who don’t share their beliefs.

Chick Fil-A’s response to Orlando is merely an attempt to mirror the action God has taken toward everyone who believes, and the reason why anybody ever believes in the first place…

It is God’s kindness that leads us to repent.

It is not our repentance that leads God to be kind.

Let’s make sure that God’s kindness is tasted not only on the pages of Scripture, but through our lives and through our loving. Because the more we are into Jesus, the more conservative we are in our belief that every single word of the Bible is right and good and true, the more liberal we will be in the ways that we love.

Jesus said to the adulteress, “I do not condemn you. Now go leave your life of sin.” Reverse the order of these two sentences, and you lose Christianity. Reverse the order of these two sentences, and you lose Jesus.

This is the faithful response. Yes, this. To seek with all of our hearts to love our LGBTQ neighbors in ways that our LGBTQ neighbors themselves would recognize as love. The response that makes us suspect in the eyes of those who are religiously smug and relationally scared, the response that leads some to even accuse us of being soft on law because we are so heavy on grace. The response that causes onlookers, especially the more pious ones, to mischaracterize us as “gluttons and drunks” because of the aroma of Jesus, who was similarly accused, that seeps out of us.

In theory this sounds reasonable, but in real life it is messy. As Dostoevsky wrote in The Brothers Karamazov, love in practice is a dreadful thing compared to the love in dreams. But the real and messy love—the kind that leads us to maintain conviction while communicating love and compassion and empathy to those who might not agree with our convictions—is better than the love in dreams, which is a sentimental love that has no roots. The real and messy love, not the love in dreams, is the love that Jesus entered into. And we must follow.

And so I ask again, is it possible to profoundly disagree with someone and love them deeply at the same time? Is it possible to hold deep convictions and embrace people who reject your deep convictions simultaneously?

Yes, it is.

Do you remember Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man (Mark 10:17-27)? Do you remember how Jesus told the man to sell all of his possessions, give to the poor, and then follow him? Do you remember how the man then turned away from Jesus because he had great wealth? If you do remember the encounter, did you catch these two incredibly significant details?

First, Jesus looked at the man and loved him.

Second, the man walked away from Jesus feeling sad. Not judged. Not ticked off. Not feeling bullied or dismissed or excluded or marginalized. Not saying to Jesus and his followers, “I hear your silence so loud.” No. Not this. But SAD. The man walked away in the tension of paradox—held captive by the chains of his money idol, yet sensing a forfeiture of a different and perhaps more life-giving form of wealth.

So let’s ask ourselves, what will matter more to us in the end—that we successfully put others in their place, that we took a “moral stand” regardless of who we alienated and whose fragile spirits we crushed in the process…or that we loved well enough for lines to turn into bridges? God have mercy on us if we do not love well because all that matters to us is being right and winning culture wars and taking moral stands that put people in their place but don’t win any people’s hearts. I want to contend that truth and love can go together. I want to contend that truth and love must go together.

Into a climate in which Christians were routinely made fun of, maligned, and persecuted for their convictions, Peter wrote these words:

In your hearts honor Christ as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Critics turned to friends, lines turned to bridges…through gentleness and respect. Can you imagine it?

So then, as for the dear souls lost in Orlando…

Look at your neighbors with compassion, and lean into love. Listen to the cries and the sorrows. And take to heart these words put to song by Charlie Peacock:

Don’t speak. Save your words.
Silence the lips
of the people with all of the answers.
Gently show them
that now is the time for tears.

Because Jesus wept.
levade: (Default)
2015-03-01 02:20 pm

Kids play Led Zeppelin

No, really. You need to listen to this and watch these kids. They are GOOD.



XD Wish they'd had this when I was in school!
levade: by <lj user="roxicons"> (sea gazing)
2015-02-08 11:00 am

The other side of the moon

This is really cool. And ties in perfectly with Teitho's theme this month!

levade: (hello world)
2015-01-10 09:34 am
levade: (freckles)
2015-01-01 10:28 am
Entry tags:

2014

Do you ever feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t get it? Get what? Life, love, friendship, politics in the workplace. How to dress for success. How to not look like you’re dying while you workout.

Everyone around me seems to have it together. They ‘got it’, and I have to wonder… Was I sick that day they passed out the understanding? I was probably reading and didn’t even hear the announcement.

Even on Pinterest I feel like I just pin things I like or think are funny. Then I see other’s boards and they’re like coffee table books, with the nice pictures and pretty words. Mine? More like someone threw darts and they landed on hugely different things all piled into one grocery cart.

I think it comes down to this. Whatever gene other women got that allows them to decorate a home to look pulled-together and comfy, or put together outfits that look classy or get and keep haircuts that look great no matter what?

I didn’t get that.

I got the klutzy bangs into corners and clips knees on tables and stumbles on the rug, and has a cluttered (but clean!) home with comfy chairs, and hair that can’t decide if it’s curly or just plain frizzy and never looks good unless you comb it every five minutes. I got the gene that gives dark circles under your eyes no matter how much sleep you get, and the gene that says getting less than six hours of sleep means you will be a zombie all the live-long day.

I just never fit in, and I guess I never really wanted to because to be honest? It looked like a ton of work to keep up with all that. And I just would rather spend time reading or taking a walk with a rambly hound, or walking through a field of mustard grass to visit the horses and getting horse hair all over my shirt because hello? You can’t just walk past a horse who sticks his head out and rumbles a greeting at you. I would rather laugh too loud because dang! THAT was funny! I would rather be quiet if I sense someone is having a bad day than say something that might make it worse. I would rather do something for someone who is hurting than offer words that they probably won’t hear.

And yes, I do live in my own world too much. I like what’s in my head and I like listening to the stories and the words and visiting the characters.

And I’m sorry if I figure out the movie plot twenty minutes into the movie and gripe about how ridiculously simple the plot was. I’m a writer, we dissect stories and pick apart characters for fun. So we tend to spot the storyline fairly quickly. Sorry, but typically Hollywood doesn’t put out tremendously complicated plots for their movies. I wish they did.

I’m terribly sentimental, and music can make me cry. So can a painting. Words. Words are everything to me. Kind, honest words written in response to something I wrote, said or did? Will make me ridiculously happy!

I’m too honest at times, and say things far too bluntly. I’m sorry for hurting your feelings, even if I haven’t yet, I probably will. Or staying silent when you wanted a word. I do love words, but my dear friend, sometimes it takes hours or days for me to think of how to say what I’m feeling. I feel, very much so, but I have a hard time translating that to words quickly. I promise you…once I give you words, you’ll know they’re heartfelt because I did take time to choose the right ones.

I think too much. Way too much. I will overthink anything you say to me and possibly go haring off in a direction that never even occurred to you when you said that just now. I read too much into things people say and often take the words said to me at face value. I expect you to be honest in what you say or write.

I don’t like flattery. Flattery is uncomfortable to me and I don’t take it seriously. Put a little constructive criticism in what you say to me and I’ll take it better.

I sometimes will go away for long periods of time to be by myself and clear my head. I need time alone to sift through my feelings and thoughts to find what I really think. I process slowly. I like to know the ins and outs of an idea, the whys and what will happen if.

I’m loyal. Ridiculously so at times. But if you lie to me and I lose trust in you, it might be a very long time before I trust you again.

If ever.

I don’t have a lot of friends, and that’s fine with me. The people I call friend are dear to me, and I trust them with my thoughts and feelings and dreams. I don’t want a lot of friends though. I like being able to really know a person and be able to share anything with them. That takes time and a lot of trust.

I don’t open up online much. This is the exception, done because I was told it would be good for me. I’m still not sure about that and if this disappears no one will be surprised.

I like listening. I like it when people tell me stories about their families or friends. I love listening to older people who have lived through …so much. It’s a gift when they open up, and I treasure that.

I love burgundy (the color), and Celtic music. I love the cello and want to learn to play the violin. I don’t want to live to be too old – I’m terrified of being the very old person with no memory of anything who can’t do anything for herself.

I’m not afraid of dying. I’ve been a hospice volunteer and sat at bedsides while people die. I’ve lost a my father, my grandmother. I’ll lose my mother in the coming years and I will cry for that because I love her very much.

I love science and I love Jesus. The two are not mutually exclusive in my mind. Science shows natural processes that were put in place. I don't have a problem if you disagree so long as you don't tell me I'm wrong. I believe what I believe and you can as well. Okay?

I love explosions and shows like Mythbusters. I love finding out why things work like they do. I'm awful at physics but love science and have a love/hate relationship with maths. I do not believe science can explain or know everything. I like that. I like knowing some things are too big, too immense and just ... Too much for us to grasp.

I think it's good to believe in something bigger, and better and smarter than humans. It keeps us humble and man, we could use more humility.

I don't like smug, pretentious, know-it-all people who push their program on others. I love to hear people who have opposing views because it's interesting to me to hear how they see the world. But tolerance is a two way street and I've found too many people who say that but will only walk one way and that's it.

I love the ocean and I love the deep woods, far, far away from campgrounds and roads, where it’s just you and the wind in the trees and everywhere you look there is nothing but trees and rolling land.

I always wanted to go to Australia. Maybe I still will, or maybe not. That doesn’t bug me like it used to.

Maybe I’m not so different. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but either way it’s okay. I’ve learned that most people are too caught in their own thoughts and too busy to really notice you. Odds are pretty darn good they didn’t notice you trip on the sidewalk or try to push the door that says pull.

Most people are decent and good and care. It’s the 2% they put on the news that scares everyone to death.

I’m learning to push my comfort zone a bit every day. So I’ll post this when I really don’t want to. I figure hardly anyone will read it and that’s okay too.

But if you are? Thank you. For coming along with this ridiculously long thing, and for giving me the gift of your time and attention. Happy New Year!
levade: (Default)
2015-01-01 09:27 am
Entry tags:
levade: (Default)
2014-12-25 06:50 am
levade: (Default)
2014-11-29 11:34 am

Once you start down that path.....

I gotta tell you this. Star Wars was an enormous part of my years growing up. It ate parts of my imagination that I will never see again.

This isn't a bad thing. I feel fortunate that I saw the original trilogy before the prequels because if you came onboard with the prequels first? I'm sorry. Really. There needs to be an apology made.

No, they weren't all bad. I loved parts. I hate, loathe and want to spit at other parts which I won't get into here because I respect other's opinions and expect the same back.

But they lacked a lot of what the original trilogy had -- and yes, there were problems with Eps. IV, V and VI.

I think when you have a story that spans so many years, so many generations and a writer who changed his mind so many times (yes, George, I mean YOU) there are bound to be issues.

My second fandom is Tolkien, and it suffers the same problems. Two writers, though Christopher was working off his father's notes and writings, and a very long time span, with the same generational span of fans.

Opinions change, views shift, and what was once widely accepted suddenly is viewed with a skeptical, cynical eye.

I really think you have to look at generational differences. There's been a shift in the perception of life since 1977 when Star Wars (A New Hope) came out. Fans then saw it one way. Fans now see it another.

So this trailer isn't going to be perceived the same by all the fans. You have fans who were adults in 1977. Some were kids. Some weren't born yet.

Me, I'm in the middle. I grew up in the middle of all of it, but there are definitely fans younger and far older than me. I'm from the age of grunge and disillusionment, where we knew darn well we weren't going to be able to do as well in life as the generations before us and yes, we still resent that, sorry. It was more gritty and, in some ways, more honest.

We're kind of back to the lalala, everything is fine here, we're all fine, how are you? generation when most certainly it is NOT all fine.

That's another rant. :p

So, the trailers. I...am on the fence so far. I'm cautious in trusting JJ Abrams with SW. The first Star Trek movie was fine, the second? A bloody pulp of a shipwreck.

Can he understand it all and embrace the generations of fans and not screw it over like George did with all of his canon re-writes? Hm. I don't know. I hope so! I would love to see something that was as controversial and wonderfully written as Empire Strikes Back.

No Ewoks, please. No JarJar (one can only hope he's dead by now or someone finally killed him).

Star Wars was a mythology in its conception, and turned into a marketing monster by the prequels. Can we go back? Not sure. Hope so, but not holding my breath.

Seeing the Falcon again reminds me of that story (forget which book...and no, not going to talk about EU books) where the people in charge of monitoring the outbound and incoming flights have a conversation about why the Millennium Falcon is up on the pad again, like it is so many mornings. "Don't worry, he's not going to make trouble," one says. "He goes up there to remember the old days."

Aww, Han. Damn, dude. I hope they haven't totally neutered you!! Sometimes I wish you hadn't married Leia. I wish you'd stayed wild and rebellious or maybe gone out in a blaze of glory.

And Luke. Luke was someone I understood as he stood there staring out at the sinking suns, wishing so hard he could get off that backwater world.

Be careful what you wish for, eh?

Especially if you're a Skywalker.

But that's the thing. For life-long fans, regardless of age, these stories and characters have found a place to live in our hearts, in our imaginations and they grow as we grow, changing with the years. That's why I say it's perception. George put it out there for the world to see and it became ours, our story, our friends fighting for their respective sides. It continued and grew.

It was not stagnant. It didn't die. Fans wrote stories, authors wrote EU books and contradicted each other and fans argued and dressed up and dreamed....

Once you put a story out there, it is never solely yours again. Not if it sparks in readers/viewers. I think George was smart to sell it and get out. It wasn't his any more.

levade: (Default)
2014-11-29 10:34 am

Why I Think Jesus Hates Religion

by Jefferson Bethke

It was that time of the year when you could feel a mixture of intense emotions in the air — the joy of the semester almost being done, along with the pressure of having to pass through final exams first. People were stressed. The campus was fairly quiet as students were trying to make up for all the studying they didn’t do the previous three and a half months.

I had come to expect a few breaks that included fun treats or programs during finals week that the student life department at my previous self-proclaimed Christian college make available. Sometimes there were free massages in the student lounge. Sometimes there was free food or candy.

Even though I had just transferred to a secular liberal arts university, I expected the same. While I was in my room studying — most likely Facebooking, but let’s not talk about that — I heard a knock at the door.

I answered it to be greeted by my lovely RA (resident assistant) who was holding a bucket of lollipops in one hand and a bucket of condoms in the other.

She cheerfully said, “Candies and condoms! Be safe and have a stress-free finals week!”

I remember thinking, Just what I needed to help me study for finals — high fructose corn syrup and latex birth control.

I definitely wasn’t at a Christian college anymore! Later that year they did something similar, where they taped “sex facts” and condoms to the walls of the dorm. I think they used to use staples, but as you can imagine, it wasn’t very effective.

Talk about a quick change. It didn’t take me more than a few hours to see the glaring difference between my strict Christian college in San Diego and my new liberal arts university in Portland. Whatever comes to mind when you think of Portland, that is exactly the essence of this school. It was the mecca of gay rights. They banned bottled water because it wasn’t environmentally friendly. Everyone had dreads, and none of the girls shaved their armpit hair. Well, that last one is not completely true. It was the type of university that had used books by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens as textbooks and dripped with a granola-liberal-progressive spirit. But I loved it. Really. I absolutely loved it. If I had to do it all over again, I would have gone there in the first place.

Now, what’s really funny is while I was at the Christian school, I wasn’t a Christian. But while I was at the secular school, I was a Christian.

You’d think I would have wanted to go back to the Christian school, right? It was the opposite.

I found the Christian school to be stuffy, hypocritical, and judgmental. I could no longer stand praying after baseball practice with thirty guys who wore crosses around their necks, knowing a few hours later they’d have a beer in one hand and a girl in the other (myself included). Weirdly, my new university felt accepting and loving. There was no guessing if someone was really a Christian or not. If you said you were a Christian at that school, it wasn’t to gain you any points — in fact, you probably lost some. There was something about that type of atmosphere that drew me in.

My senior year I was an RA — which pretty much means I was the dorm’s “dad.” I was the guy who would let you in if you locked yourself out, wrote you up if you broke the rules — there weren’t many — and would be there if you were having emotional or academic problems.

Dealing with students daily, I got a pulse on the common conceptions they held toward God, Jesus, religion, and Christians.

What constantly surprised me was the ignorance of most college students regarding Jesus. I heard things such as, “I could never follow Jesus; I still want to drink beer.” Or,

“Why would I like Jesus? He hates gays.” I remember thinking, Huh?

I still drink beer, and I don’t hate gays. My favorite was one of my baseball teammate’s responses after I asked him what he thought about Jesus: “Yeah, I love Jesus — and Buddha too. I’m a Christian Buddhist.” It took everything in me not to laugh. Christian Buddhist? That’s like saying you’re a lactose-intolerant cheese lover.

A college campus is an interesting place. Students have little to no responsibility, question everything they believe in, and live within one hundred feet of all their friends. There’s also a huge dark side to most colleges. As an RA I had a front row view of the pain in my generation. Colleges these days are breeding grounds for poor decisions, emotional brokenness, and sharp pain.

This is all behind the scenes, of course, because the girl who was raped freshman year and the guy who hates himself and struggles with depression don’t seem broken when sitting in a lecture hall debate.

People don’t flaunt their brokenness when trying to prove themselves. But in their dorm rooms in the middle of the night after another disaster or one-too-many shots, I got to see people become transparent over and over again. They’d continually admit their lives weren’t working. They were empty. Longing. Desiring. Searching.

One friend’s sister had just admitted she was gay to the family, and it was tearing them apart because their dad refused to “have a gay daughter.” Another friend admitted she hated herself for losing her virginity to her ex-boyfriend, whom she didn’t even speak to anymore. Another felt the immense pressure of balancing school and child care because she was caring for her little sister now that her dad had left and her mom had to work.

I saw some of my peers nearly drink themselves to death or try to kill themselves — and without the ambulances showing up so fast, they just might have.

I wondered, How am I any different? Just two years before, I had struggled with depression. I had struggled with suicidal thoughts. I had struggled with the guilt and shame that so often come with recreational dating. I had spent the first year of college shotgunning beers, messing around with girls, acting like the world existed to cater to my needs, and never taking a second to pull out the emotional, spiritual, and mental shrapnel that had been lodged in my soul by the “me” lifestyle. Inside I was just a scared little boy who had been deeply insecure his whole life and lived in hopes that others would tell me I was good enough.

Of course, none of us would admit it so plainly, and for nineteen years of my life, I wouldn’t have either, but isn’t it true? Why else do we do most of the things we do?

My generation is the most fatherless and insecure generation that’s ever lived, and we are willing to sacrifice everything if we just can be told we are loved.

If only we knew just how loved we really are.


So being a follower of Jesus now, and knowing just how gracious He had been to restore me, heal me, and pursue me, I longed so deeply to share His love with these students. Over and over again, though, I’d get the same response whenever I’d bring up Jesus. Literally, the overall essence of Jesus to these students had been boiled down to whether or not someone could say the F-word. Immediately, they’d bring up periphery issues that Jesus barely mentions as their biggest opposition to him. Ironically, the reasons they opposed Jesus were sometimes the reasons Jesus opposed the religious people of his day.

Half the time, they weren’t even rejecting Jesus; they were rejecting what He rejected!

I sat in bed one night and wondered, When on earth did “hates gays, can’t drink beer, and no tattoos” become the essence of Christianity?

It hit me that my friends weren’t the ones to blame for their confusion. They had gotten this idea from people they grew up with, churches they went to as kids, or preachers they saw on TV. It was the church’s fault that they thought this was what real Christianity was all about. As I’ve heard said, “Of 100 unsaved men, one might read the Bible, but the other 99 will read the Christian.”

Ouch.

I’m sure we’d have a very different Bible if it were written simply by observing modern-day Christians.

My peers couldn’t separate Jesus from religion because they weren’t reading the Bible to learn about Jesus; they were looking to the Christian religion to understand him. What they were rebelling against was religion.

People lamented that they had tried Christianity, and it didn’t work. But last time I checked, you don’t try Christianity; either your heart has been transformed by Jesus or it hasn’t.

But you can try religion.

You can try to follow the rules.

You can try to climb up to heaven.

But all you’ll do is white-knuckle your way to religious despair. It won’t work. It never does.

That’s when I started to notice an interesting trend: When I juxtaposed religion and Jesus in my conversations, they took a different turn. It allowed people to pull back a little and see him in a different light. They no longer were just brushing him off, but were actually pursuing, thinking, and investigating the man named Jesus. And that’s when I started to write the poem “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus.”
levade: (freckles)
2014-07-09 08:30 am
Entry tags:

Remain

I know you're feeling weighed down
It's all on your shoulders
I know the dreams in your head
Don't look any closer
I'm gonna make you stronger
Hold on just a little bit longer
Cause I'll be there
When you feel like you're going under
Yea I'm gonna be there for ya, yea

The sky could fall
The ground could shake
The stars burn out
And seasons change
Time will pass and beauty fade
But all My love will remain

When there's a secret to tell
It's locked and I'll keep it close
When you're walking through fire
I'll take you to streets of gold
I'm gonna make you stronger
Hold on just a little bit longer
Cause I'll be there
When you feel like you're going under
Yea I'm gonna be there for ya, yea

And when the world all around you
Is out of place
And you can't seem to find a familiar face
I'm here to remind you
My love remains

Royal Tailor - Remain
From the album Royal Tailor
levade: (joy)
2014-06-07 11:58 am
Entry tags:

My current addiction



It really gets me going when I'm running though.





I can't explain this one. It tickles the side of me that loves Southern Gothic stories, stories that have a ghost and send a chill up your spine. And sweet tea. Okay, yes, I did get addicted. Do you know how hard it is to find good sweet tea here in California? Yeah. :D
levade: (White Ranger)
2014-05-23 07:40 am

Rawr!!!

LOL. I cannot believe it's been almost a year since I was here! I just got notification from Tumblr that I've been there a year too.

o.O Okay, I'm scarily taking on traits of Mr. Oliver and that... That's kind of not good. I mean, some of them are great, but the forgetfulness, the loss of time, erm...loss of a few memories? Yeah, well, I guess I could say God wiped them out for me to save me grief? Probably true, that.

Have you watched any PR or um...is it still on? I totally dropped out of this fandom and pretty much all others. Just started dipping my toes into Tolkien again (mostly the writing, not the fandom. Because yo, that fandom? Is nuts. Certified Blue Diamond in the bag...nuts), going back to roots of stories I started ten years ago.

So it's all about getting reconnected for me now. Back to what *I* liked before I let myself get confused.

I do now, and always shall, love the first PR movie. I'll be 80 (with God's grace) and still cheering on that team.

Have you written more on your stories?? I know, you have a right to be wary of me, and not want to talk about them. :) Totally understand that. Forgive me if I blather here about writing. It's pretty darn amazing to me that I'm excited again about putting words together. I honestly thought that was dead and gone.
levade: (freckles)
2013-06-05 08:30 am

When it becomes evident that the shunning is directed at just you, it is like Silent Bullying.

Shunning – The Ultimate Rejection
What Does It Mean When We Shun Others - or Are Shunned?
Published on February 1, 2013 by Rosemary K.M. Sword in The Time Cure

Shunning can cause enduring damage.
In the past few months, the topic of shunning has presented itself to us one too many times to be ignored. And so we off-road from our usual topic of PTSD and delve into this unfortunately pervasive social phenomenon.


Most of us can probably recount an incident when we have been either the perpetrator of the act of shunning and/or the recipient of being shunned. In the first instance, maybe you didn't want to see someone you know because you didn't have the time to deal with them. So you turn your face away and walk quickly by, hoping they didn't see you. You know perfectly well why you ignored the person, but they don’t have a clue, if you have had a good relationship previously. Conversely, let’s say you notice someone you haven’t seen in a while and want to say hello and catch up. You are sure they saw you. So you make a beeline toward them, but they do an about-face and walk in the opposite direction. You spend hours or days - maybe longer - trying to figure out what you did to warrant being ignored, or worse being rejected. This really hurts when that other person is someone you thought liked you, accepted you, and maybe even ideally respected you.



Nani Nani Boo Boo

We've read stories such as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter about people being shunned in centuries past by communities for what were considered having behaved immorally. In the past several decades, we've expanded this type of rejection to the fine, negative science of avoidance; one that can be upsetting and hurtful to the recipient. For most, we get our first taste of shunning in grade school. You know the scenario, a group of friends decides that some kid in the group just doesn't fit in, too fat, too ugly, too poor, too smart, too nerdy, too whatever, and the shunning begins. Unfortunately, this behavior continues for many well into adulthood. When it becomes evident that the shunning is directed at just you, it is like Silent Bullying.



Enduring Damage

From a psychological standpoint, the act of shunning is social or mental rejection. Why do people shun others? Here are some reasons, instances, forms of shunning and the damage done:



• Embarrassment – You recently had a party that the other person knew about but wasn't invited to and you don’t want to talk about it. You see them at the mall and dart into a store.

The person wonders what’s wrong with them.

• Shame – You left your job for another one and told your new employer confidential info about your former employer. Now you shun your former employer and former co-workers because you know what you did was unethical.

Your formers speculate what happened and may eventually lose respect for you.

• Jealousy– You are resentful about the progress made by someone in your field and have found your passive-aggressive behavior toward the person isn't working. So you shun them instead.

The person and others notice your behavior which reflects poorly on you.

• Annoyance – You just don’t like the person – they irritate you and don’t pick up on your signals. You don’t attend events you know they are invited to and shun them if you happen to be in the same room.

The person: a) may think they did something wrong, b) experiences a plummet in self esteem and/or c) may think you have a personality flaw.

• Racial or cultural bias – You have a negative bias towards cultures other than yours. You shun those whom you think are of those stigmatized races or cultures.

You offend others and miss out on rich opportunities to learn from individuals you may actually enjoy as well as their cultures.

• Poor timing – You just don’t have the time to talk.

The person thinks: a) you are a snob, b) you are blind or oblivious and/or c) don’t care about them.

• Shyness – You are painfully shy and shun just about everybody—when down deep you want and need that social connection.

You miss out on rich opportunities.



Take Control – Of Yourself

If you tend to shun people but want to give it up, start by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Compassion and communication work wonders. For instance, in the party scenario, instead of darting into a store, meet the person head on and explain what happened; you are sorry that you could only invite a limited number of people. That’s an acceptable explanation. If you don’t have time to talk, don’t turn away, be civil to the person who wants to chat and explain you are on a tight time schedule. They will understand. If you are shy, annoyed by others, or culturally biased, a simple “Hi! Nice to see you”, works - and keep moving. By acknowledging the other person, even for a moment, you validate them and do no harm to their self esteem.

The two work-related examples are more complicated – the damage may be irreparable. Make a vow to handle situations better in the future.

If you believe you have been shunned intentionally, you have two options: hold your head up high, move on, Don’t waste time trying to figure out what you may have done to create the situation. Or, bite the bullet and have a “courageous conversation” with that person, simply saying that you feel he or she is avoiding you and you wonder why. That way you have closure, and it may be that you learn something valuable about yourself or the shunner.



What Phil did When Shunned

This is what Phil did to solve the social puzzle he experienced when his family moved from New York City to North Hollywood, California, way back when he was in high school. He had always been a really popular kid, liked, admired not only for smarts and leadership skills but also for his athletic abilities in baseball and track. But from the very first day in this new school, he was totally and brutally SHUNNED! Meaning classmates would not sit next to him, they would all move away from wherever he sat in the cafeteria or auditorium. This total social exclusion hurt so deeply that he developed severe asthma, bad enough that he would have to stay home when he had not been able to sleep at all. (Obviously a psycho-somatic coping mechanism.) In the spring, after making the baseball team, on a bus ride to a game, Phil had to know the Why of his shunning. So he simply asked a teammate, what had he done wrong to deserve such social abuse. The answer was startling: “ A lot of kids are afraid of you, because they think your family must be from the East Coast Mafia, since you are Italian - the only one in our school - so it’s better to avoid you than takes any chances angering you.” NOT SO!! But it no longer mattered; his asthma became the reason the family all moved back to the Bronx, and as you might suspect, his dreaded asthma vanished shortly thereafter. And he was voted most popular boy in the senior class at James Monroe High School the very next term !



So forgive and forget the shunners, while making more time for all the people who love you unconditionally, and whom you can love fully in return.