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“For so long, all I wanted from Christianity was for it to make sense.” —from For Believers Who Have Considered Apostasy When Faith Isn’t Enuf (Junkyard Salvation, March 28, 2012)
I’m getting into Talking Heads. Their music is aloof and funky and odd. It’s only for your ears… not your mind. One should clearly not look for intention or meaning in these songs. Their non sequitur titles and absurd lyrics warn me to expect no Grand Design. Nothing makes sense. When I realized this, I breathed a sigh of relief, and a usually overactive part of my brain took five.
My friend Joshua writes poetry. Good poetry. It doesn’t matter how good it is though. I hate poetry. I have a personal vendetta against it. It loses me at “hello.” And I hate feeling lost.
Mostly, I lack patience. I don’t want to wait for the words to wash over me and leave their impression. Poetry is like traditional photography. You have to sit in the dark with it awhile before any recognizable images appear. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Continue reading
[Word count: 650. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]
I am a huge Chaka Khan fan. Really big. I’ve met a lot of the artists I respect, but Chaka has eluded me like a ghost for nearly 15 years.
Back when the internet was young, I built a comprehensive website called Chaka’s House. It attracted a core of fans and established an internet presence for the fiery-haired songstress during an important time. Her management team, headed by her sister Tammy, caught wind of it and contacted me. I was thrilled! I would’ve gladly turned the site over to them to carry forward, but Chaka did not want to commercialize it.
Ain’t nothin’ but a maybe
As a consolation prize, Tammy invited me to the video shoot for “Don’t Talk To Strangers.” This was before the age of cell phones, so I had them call me at work. In a comedy of errors, my bungling co-workers didn’t pass me her message until the day after the shoot happened.
So Tammy tried again. She scored me an invitation to a scientology benefit held by Kirstie Alley featuring Chaka as the mainstage entertainer. I received the invitation in the mail the day after the event happened.
Third time’s the charm, right? Tammy called to invite me to a Prince concert Chaka was opening at The Forum. I would have loved to meet them both; however, as a struggling college student, I couldn’t afford the tickets.
Pretty frustrating. I still love her though. Something about the frequencies and vibrations she generates stirs my soul in all the best ways, but I unofficially resigned that maybe it wasn’t meant for me to meet her.
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“If you want my love, well, you’ve got to get closer to me
I don’t understand why we can’t get close enough.”
—Jars of Clay, “Closer”
I met an interesting girl online recently. She was the holy trinity of smart, talented, and beautiful. But, to my chagrin, she was very furtive and dodgy. If she was playing coy, she was playing to win. My curiosity was piqued because she kept her thoughts and feelings so hidden. Typical of me, I’m always fascinated by what I cannot understand.
I decided I wanted to get to know her better, but that wasn’t happening fast enough. So I worked up my nerve and expressed interest directly. The response I received was dusted with sugar. I imagine she giggled and shrugged her shoulders as she essentially told me, “you know enough about me already!” Fierfek.
The response landed like a playful punch on the chin, with the indication that a less-playful punch could follow if I didn’t pick up the first hint. Access firmly denied. She has decided to remain mysterious and aloof, the way she wants to be.
My ego was chapped over her polite refusal. But before I could get about the business of licking my wounds, I had déjà vu. The way I felt about her is the same way I feel about God. Well hot damn. Look at that. Continue reading
[Word count: 496. Approximate read time: 2 minutes]
Whenever I visit my hometown, my mother does not let me leave until she prays for me. It’s always been that way since the mid-80s when she got good and saved. That means whether dropping me off at elementary school or releasing me to the freeways so I could get back home to Los Angeles, it’s still the same thing. I would have to pad my travel time by about 5 or 10 minutes for Mom.
There is a very singular way her hand shakes when Mom prays for me. It’s not violent, or over the top. It’s just the slightest bit stronger than the magnitude felt when you lean against the dryer on its final spin cycle. It’s actually kind of relaxing. In any case, I can see it coming on as she reaches up to place her hand on my forehead.
If I didn’t know her well, I might think it was a put-on to dramatize the prayer. That’s no act. It’s been consistent throughout, which gives it credence. Fakeries reveal themselves over time.
These days, I moonlight as a skeptic. But I wonder about that. There must be something real to it. And I wonder what it is. Continue reading
[Word count: 839. Approximate read time: 3 minutes]
Lately whenever I hear “you said,” I pocket it away, like a child does a shiny object found. At the emotional climax of Karate Kid, Jaden Smith pleads earnestly, “You said when life knocks you down we can choose to get back up. Well I’m trying to get back up! Why won’t you help me?” Something pinged in me.
It called to mind Jaden’s mom in A Low Down Dirty Shame who, caught by an angry and villainous Charles S. Dutton, reminds him innocently, “now, you said that you wouldn’t hurt me!” Ping again.
Jessica Reedy’s “Marching On” opens with the lyric, “Thought my mistakes would change the way you love me, but I remember you said you’d never leave, you’d never go.” Resounding ping.
I caught the pattern. Hearing others’ pleas for fairness and promises kept was echoing the silence of my own. As things in life periodically turn bleak, I wonder, “God are you still going to keep your promises?” Continue reading
Posted in Faith
Tagged authority, belief, Christianity, control, doubt, faith, fatalism, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jaden Smith, Jessica Reedy, Karate Kid, Marching On, sovereignty
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In order to set up some background, I need permission to be narcissistic for a moment. Okay, here it goes. I am smart. It’s one of few things I know, and rarely doubt. I haven’t received a Mensa invitation, but I know I have an uncanny ability to comprehend complex concepts that don’t come so easily to most. While other children might have been hearing “you’re so special,” “you’re so pretty,” or “you’re so cool,” I was hearing, “oh, he’s so smart, so advanced!”
Intelligence is part of my identity. I’m known for it and, to an extent, it defines me. I’m thankful for it, but it seems to have a downside. I’ve long held that I had the ability to reason my way out of my faith. I think the two may be mutually exclusive.