In the Wake of Love, Hopelessness Disappears


IMG_0813The vast rat race of modern life

Have we all bought into the lie

Money makes you happy, so find success

Acquire all the money you want, then die

 

Death is the great equalizer of us all

Something that transcends race and class

We cannot escape its omnipresent grasp

We cannot overcome, nor can we surpass

 

What then do we live for

Why continue if the edge is our end

What is the glory of wealth

If hope it cannot land

 

And what of happiness on a September day

If tomorrow it shall rain

Life is more than the moment

For it all culminates to be vain

 

Do we pass on forever in our children

But they too succumb to eternal rest

Our children’s children will one day cease

The hope of life a cruel jest

 

And of the bond between lovers

A tale more fiction than fact

For all lovers end through choice or death

If two become one eventually one will subtract

 

Live for the moment I hear you say

But what of when the moment passes

In the quiet dark when reality appears

When the fear of our end amasses

 

Or do you ignore such questions

Do you push forward deaf to silence

Are you a mindless animal

To reason you must recompense

 

To ask these questions I ask

To face the world with fear

Not about survival, but about life

This differentiates us from animals, it’s clear

 

O stupefied and simple man

How easily you are led astray

Distracted by things of decay and rust

You ignore the night and no longer appreciate the day

 

We fill ourselves with drugs

To push away well-founded anxiety

For what are we in a sea of atoms

What more are we if not concentrated energy

 

What does it matter if I die today

What is gained if death awaits ’till tomorrow

I am but one life in an existence of billions

In my death or yours the universe does not sorrow

 

But what of beauty in this world

Of sunsets, lovers, and manmade art

Surely this is what we live for

This is found at the center of the heart

 

To this I emphatically say no

For what is beautiful shall not persist

The young vixen, the Rembrandt, the cathedral

All will fail and nothing now shall subsist

 

What of the form of beauty

Is this not eternal, for what we strive

What worth of an empty, mindless form

Why, for this, should I survive

 

Why, then, do we continue to avoid death

This all-too-natural unnatural reality

For what purpose do we live

Lest all actions be mere vanity

 

Perhaps we continue on in the name of love

Not mere romance, but something grander

But should the universe collapse on itself

Would not also love capitulate and surrender

 

Or is love beyond the realm of the seen

Could it be that love is the true reality

All now merely shadows, a simulacrum

And love directs us toward an eternity

 

If what we see is all we have

Then there is no point to this life

But if there is more, an unseen extravagance

Perhaps there is meaning to this strife

 

This love cannot be a mindless force

For then it could not be love, no intention

It must be intelligible and full of vivacity

Yet so vast a mystery, one without definition

 

This love must be our object of desire

Our Penelope on the odyssey of being

To run from this love the beginning of misery

Avoiding a contentment that sex and money cannot bring

 

We shall die and decay, but love live on

This love will rescue us from the grave

It will descend to any depths

For there is no soul it will not save

 

Our moments suddenly matter enveloped in love

For they shall continue forever and ever

Love will keep us and protect us

And seek us, to the end’s, wherever

 

Though my soul shall crumble to the abyss

And life collapse and tumble down the slope

I shall no more fear the darkness

In the arms of love I find hope

 

To the abyss love will find me

Love will break open the gates of death

The end of all shall be reversed

As love breathes a life-giving breath

 

Let meaninglessness win the day now

But let not death control history

There is more to life than our senses

Let love reign today, for love has eternal victory

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For the Simple Life


IMG_0248The world is a thing of beauty

A big ball of blue in a vast sea of black

And on this ball we live

O how we live!

 

I watch the children play in the garden

Creating worlds ex nihilo

From nothing they craft a great adventure

The world their canvas

Their minds their brush

Too young to face corruption

To have lost the ideal

Still enough belief in reality

To believe dragons still roam the earth

 

We are destroying this world

With our regressive progress

“Science will save us!”

O the blind optimism of ignorant fools

“Science has damned us!” I yell

But I am the madman

And retreat back to the mountain top

 

In my solitude I find that beauty

Away from all of you

 

Sex, glory, power: The unholy trinity

We’ve sold beauty in all things

To obtain these trifles of vanity

We want sex without love

Glory without dignity

Power without self-control

A living without a life

We want, we want, we want!

But we will not give

 

Observe the clouds

O modern

They form and collapse

And give no worry

They birds sing and live

But we remain silent

 

In this silence let us find ourselves

Let us return to Reality

in earnest meditation

Clear our minds of our own pollution

Find beauty, and just live

Against the Entropic Hope


IMG_0954Look at the glow of their faces,

glued to their phones and computers

They do not even see their hopelessness,

no questions asked, marching to their futures

 

What has become of my generation?

We are lost in our quest for money

Promised the world but too afraid to take it

We will not cross to the land of milk and honey

 

Work! Obey your masters! Slave away!

Toss aside your dreams and questions

of existence and meaning, they bring no profit

Hide behind technology, retreat to your bastions

 

O life how we have failed you

Not to conquer you, but embrace you like a lover

An invitation to reality you sent us

But we’ve chosen to run into the arms of another

 

Was it the shooting in the mountains?

Was it the crashing of a plane into our prosperity?

Was it the collapse of a broken system?

Was it the lack of our leaders’ transparency?

 

What caused us to lose our courage to live?

Have we surrendered to the commodification of our essence?

Did we even know to put up a fight?

Surrounded by stuff we feel a distinct lack of presence

 

How I wish we could live once again

and pursue life as a lover and friend

To see life with our eyes and not a lens

To truly live before our inevitable end

 

We are broken children from broken homes

Estranged from ourselves with no known identity

“Who am I” is a scary question to ask

A hazy people so desperately seeking clarity

 

Love is what we want, to find meaning

But ignorance of love is our curse

Lost to us like Atlantis, a myth never known

Condemned to live an undefined life, so terse

 

Beautifully ignorant of what it is we hunger for

We stumble through life drunk on entropic hope

A hope that will never pass or come to be

It is a reality with which we cannot cope

 

I see not a sunrise, but a sunset

Tomorrow will be tomorrow, no better or worse

I will face it and hopefully survive

If necessary, I will drink and curse

 

But life still continues to thrive around us

It is still waiting for us to partake

in all that it has to offer

For us to go out and make

 

Embrace life you ignorant fools!

For what will we do otherwise?

I turn from this apathetic generation

I take life and mundane death I despise

 

I look for hope and I find none

And now I am forever undone

And now I am forever undone

I Dream of a Reality to Escape Reality or, The Futility of Consumption


DSC02097Tumbling down the hole of existence

What is the point of it all

Information overload and told a purpose

Still I stumble, tumble, and fall

 

Do I exist simply to exist

Is there a point beyond pleasure

Oh for simpler times I long

To return to a life without measure

 

The simple summer days of youth

Innocence uncorrupted by life

Free from the struggles of today

Free from an adulthood of strife

 

A gilded view of my past I see

A utopia that never was

Life is a fight against the absurd

Perhaps we exist just because

 

“Hear me!” my generation cries with a roar

And yet we have nothing to say

To live is our dream, our goal

But we are afraid to seize the day

 

We are educated for jobs and not callings

To become better consumers and not humans

The life of consumption is not worth living

Personal peace and affluence but a numen

 

I set off into the unknown

I reject your world of consumption

I cannot spend my life spending

I must look past corporate assumption

 

A rebellion of peaceful creativity

Against it all my soul remains

But I awake and look around

I am still in my cultural chains

 

Into the woods I wish I could go

To offer up a greater resistance

Yet, I find myself consumed by the machine

Tumbling down the hole of existence

Christian Porn is not Dead or, This Post Isn’t About Sex


School of Athens

School of Athens

Pornography has a reputation for creating unrealistic expectations and having horrendous acting. A man comes over to fix the cable and a scantily-clad model answers the door and, well, you can imagine where it goes from there…he fixes the cable. (Sorry, I’ll try not to be so fatuous). Essentially, it creates some false reality where sexual fantasies can be lived out; porn creates a type of “strawman” concerning sex itself, putting in unrealistic expectations and scenarios. At its base, porn isn’t so much about sex as it is about false self-affirmation, about putting one’s self in a mental state of imagining the impossible and ridiculous. Overall, even the “secular” media realizes that porn is a bad thing that desensitizes people to actual sex. Or to put it in hipster terms, porn is a chemical additive to the natural and organic act of sex, thus ruining the act.

Of course, porn doesn’t have to be sexual. There is a popular term called “disaster porn,” wherein the media blasts images from a disaster into people’s heads 24/7 until the public is immune to that disaster (or to disaster itself). Often times, the real news of the event is lost in the narrative that the media wants to shape. There is violence porn where television shows engage in too much violence, which then desensitizes the audience to violence in general. There’s even a new Superhero porn, where the plots of every single superhero movie out since 2003 are exactly the same, but hey, explosions, so why not? Christian culture, or more appropriately American Christian culture, is not immune to a type of porn; Christian porn, or the Christian cultural attempt to fit in.

Christian porn is whenever Christian culture attempts to ape the world in music, products, television, style, or movies, but does so in a mediocre, “Not the cool kid but really want to be” way. Instead of Hootie and the Blowfish, in the 90s Christian porn produced Third Day. Instead of hip hop, Christian porn produced DC Talk. Somewhere around the early 2000s, MercyMe evolved the whole copying aspect of Christian music and said, “Hey, why not just create an entire genre?” Thus, since 2000 Christian porn has evolved its own genre of music, where lyrics and chords sound almost the same across “artists” and bands. Not to be outdone, Christian porn also gave us apocalyptic fiction via the Left Behind series, gave us Christian television in various, beautifully bad forms, and of course who can forget the Christian movies?

The latest product from Christian porn is God’s Not Dead, a movie that opened up to church groups movie theaters everywhere this past week. As someone who lives in the Bible Belt, I can say confidently that churches went full-force at this movie. The local movie theater didn’t have a single parking spot available on Sunday. Restaurants emptied earlier than normal on Sunday and weren’t busy that night as the theaters took all the business.

For those not in the know, you can watch the cringe-worthy trailer with the Newsboys (them?). Or, you can see that Rotten Tomatoes has it around 40%. To put that in perspective, Sharknado is around 82% and Noah is around 76% (but hey, at least it’s not Catwoman bad). The film deals with the typical Christian view of a philosophy professor; a man angry at God who doesn’t believe in God because of some personal tragedy and decides to indoctrinate all the students into believing that way. To further this trope, we’re led to believe that anyone not a freshman at this university no longer believes in God. I mean, the professor makes his students sign a pledge saying they don’t believe in God (academic freedom?), the professor gets angry when one, just one student, states a belief in God. Within the trailer we’re taken from some mysterious/probably unnecessary skeptic in Dean Cain (Superman is trying to eliminate the competition) while Hercules mocks God possibly for perceived daddy issues over abandonment (not realizing that Zeus and the Judeo-Christian God are different).

Of course, there are other subplots within the movie. A muslim girl converts to Christianity and is kicked out of her house by her father (just short of an honor killing I’m assuming), a vegan journalist discovers veganism causes cancer (or something like that), and somehow people end up at a Christian concert with the Newsboys (them?).

And the whole thing is really Christian porn. It presents an incredibly unrealistic scenario with bad acting where the plot doesn’t matter, but allows Christians to fulfill their fantasies and see those fantasies played out in “real life.” We always hear about the big, bad, dangerous atheist professors who are just waiting to destroy the faith of college students. Of course, most students lose their faith in college not because of what they learn in the classroom, but because of what they learn in the dorm room; their faith isn’t lost by reading Friedrich Nietzsche or David Hume, it’s lost when the Christian cultural bubble collapses and they’re exposed to a world unlike anything they’ve ever seen. If anything else, a more accurate description would be a hostile atheist student – whose sole education in the subject consists of a few YouTube videos and Reddit – yelling at a Christian or theistic philosophy professor. In fact, Quentin Smith laments the rise of theism within the field of philosophy a la Alvin Plantinga. Not to mention that Oxford University Press, Harvard Press, Philo, and other academic press agencies and journals regularly publish peer-reviewed pro-theistic/pro-Christian books/articles.

The movie God’s Not Dead simply serves to confirm biases and present a watered-down, emotional, and useless faith. Hercules’ Kevin Sorbos character asks about a God that would allow a 12 year old to have cancer, and we’re met with a song by the Newsboys (them?). We’re then confronted with the idea that the ONLY reason this professor could show such hostility to God is that he has personal issues. Of course, the idea of a 12 year old dying of cancer ought to cause us to question God; that’s not a lack of faith, that’s called being a decent human being. The Bible is full of its main characters questioning God in the face of evil, there’s even an entire book dedicated to such a thing (Job). Even Christ, God incarnate, while on the cross shouted out Eli, eli, lama sabachthani (“my God, my God, why have you forsaken me”). The point being, the movie allows for a very real question, but this provides a fluff answer.

Christianity has a very rich heritage of providing rational and solid responses to critical questions. The first philosophical defense of Christianity is found in the book of St. John, when the Apostle uses philosophical language to describe Christ, showing that Christ is an answer to the questions of Greek philosophy. In Christianity’s recorded history, however, St. Paul serves as the first philosophical defender. While the account of Mars Hill in Acts is a summary, St. Luke (being a genius), refers to Paul’s refutation of two competing philosophies (Epicureans and Stoics) and showing how Christianity served as a solution to their problems. Anyone versed in Greek philosophy who reads Acts 17 sees that Paul is refuting their claims while finding common ground; but most importantly he is giving substance and rational replies to their critiques.

Even outside of Biblical tradition there are great Christian thinkers who defended the faith while also raising questions. Justin Martyr gave a strong philosophical defense of Christianity with arguments so solid that they are used today. St. John of Damascus gave a summary of the faith, providing a defense for the existence of God (this after he wrote a work on logic and philosophy). After experiencing the Russian revolution, S.L. Frank wrote The Meaning of Life where he openly questions if life has any purpose and goes on seeking a purpose. Of course the other famous Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoevsky, gave the best argument against the existence of God via evil in The Brothers Karamazov, and he did this while being a devout Christian. Some of the greatest music, greatest ideas, greatest art masterpieces, greatest scientific discoveries, and so on for the past 2,000 years in Western history have been accomplished by Christians. How did we go from the Sistine Chapel to Thomas Kinkade?

The problem is that many Christians feel they have to be countercultural in their artistic endeavors while equally being overly spiritual. There can’t be a subtle message, there can’t be any mystery, rather it has to be an in-your-face, moment by moment display of the Christian message. Gone are the days where Lord of the Rings is appreciated as a great epic and in are the days where Jesus is seen as Gandalf and Kirk Cameron should star as Aragorn.  Gone are the days where a Christian can have great dialogue over the question, “If God is dead, then what?” and in are the days where when faced with the question of if God is dead, we answer with Hercules, Superman, and the Newsboys (them?).

Christians need to wise up and realize that they are deserving of better. Instead of supporting low-budget, low-quality productions, they ought to support good stories that are well-done. No one is saying the Christian message cannot be overt in a work of art done by a Christian. The Christian message is incredibly overt in Dostoevsky’s Brothers, but it’s also a beautiful work of art. Dante’s Inferno is blatantly Christian in its message, as is Milton’s Paradise Lost, but you can’t get through an English major without having to read both of them due to their artistic beauty. While subtlety is preferred in today’s market, it’s okay for Christian art to be overt in a Christian message, but it must be done well. Movies like God’s Not Dead are not only a disservice to living Christians, but also to those who helped develop the Western-style of art that is so abused and neglected by today’s Christian “artists.”

We live in a world where Michael Bay, J.J. Abrams, and others are considered innovative directors because of explosions and light glare on a lens. Our culture’s idea of music is Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Miley Cyrus. Art, true art, is more and more being confined to museums, the rich, and The New Yorker. As our culture degenerates more and more, as it succumbs to the entropic hole left by the collapse of postmodernism, it is in desperate need of an artistic voice in the wilderness. Before, during, and after Rome’s collapse, Christians stood tall as the saviors of civilization. Christian monks preserved the works of the pagan Greeks even though the pagan Vikings sought to destroy anything not of value to them. Christian iconography allowed for art to continue, even outside the church. The Renaissance was a Christian affair. Christians didn’t just have a voice in the formation of Western art; Christians formed Western art. It’s high time that Christians moved back to such a position, producing quality and supporting quality. After all, we’re made in the image of God, who is the Creator. This means that we ought to be creative. If God isn’t dead then neither should we let our creativity die, we should give up our taste for Christian porn. Christians don’t need to become countercultural and watered-down in their artistic endeavors; they need to lead the culture and become the pinnacle of artistic standards.

Morning Must Come


20140306-165758.jpg

A big beautiful ball of life
Adrift in an ocean of black
Surrounded by an expanse of strife
Yet here a lack of nothing where nothing lacks

Chaos found a way to this blue haven
Where man kills his brother
Simplicity we have forsaken
And sell our humanity for a dollar

Do we cherish this tiny island of hope
Or toss it away to busy lives and waste
We traverse down a destructive slope
But beauty is something for which we have taste

Man will one day awake anew
To a world familiar yet unseen
He will embrace the love he always knew
And eternally rest in creation redeemed

The day will be brighter but not hot
We shall all laugh and play
An eternal holiday for the wearied heart
How we all anticipate that day

Toil now on his earth
Let the sweat pour until reckoning
For it all has eternal worth
When we shall leave this night for morning

The Regress of Progress or, The Poverty of Wealth (A Poem)


DSC01993Hope springs forth or so I’m told
From joy and love a bountiful well
The pessimist to the optimist scold
Reminding them of this world, this hell

What is our purpose in this busy life
We fight traffic to a job we hate
And fight traffic back to a home of strife
Awake, for this night you cannot overtake

To run away to something meaningful
To run across the fields and hills
To discover in this world something beautiful
And cease relying on our cures and our pills

A man used to plow a field that was his own
As his family was with him in his vocation
We once understood the meaning of home
It was more than an address, a location

The world has itself in a damn hurry
We are only racing to our graves
Impossible to leave all the bustle and scurry
We are all fools and knaves

Buy the farm, build a skyscraper, and call it progress
Put the children in school and the parents at work
Our advanced civilization is a facade and a mess
Suppressed are our dreams, deep down they lurk

Created free, to progress we are now enslaved
We make great paper money and wage
But our master’s name upon us we engrave
And have traded nature’s freedom for a corporate cage

We are rational animals, soulful beasts
But we seek to deny both in the pursuit of wealth
Frozen dinners and fast food replace feasts
The beauty of this world is now hidden, it is stealth

Rise up above the skyscrapers and corporate chain
Reclaim your rationally savage essence
Pursue a life of living, one not in vain
And be happy as you grow in senescence