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The Lent Connection: Reflections of disconnecting with Social Media

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The opening scene of Holy week depicts a scene where Jesus, an unlikely king, is riding a donkey into a city as a new symbol of hope.  Sometimes Hope doesn’t look like what or who we wanted. It looks inadequate at first but it is what is needed.

I think hope exists in the times when I am the most hopeless.  I whine when life gets too overwhelming and I  start to become angry when a small thing doesn’t go our way or we will try to spite someone who has it better than we do and we know that if they were my friend this wouldn’t be the case.

Regardless of my lousy attitude and or actions I know there is Love, which treats most of our ailments.  It may only look like a small amount but we are given more than we are aware and it is pretty potent. 

We live in a world that it is easier to observe than it is to love.  The internet gives us insight to the lives of not only famous people but our acquaintances, friends, and family members that has never been available in the rest of history.  I found myself knowing a lot about people I know through a news feed but never really connecting with them or myself due to the distraction social media had become. After this realization I made an important decision: I decided to give up social media as a vice for Lent (full disclosure: I didn’t include Sundays because in the early Church they were considered feast days so I would log on those days but not very long). I did this because I felt like was only accessing a representation of people’s lives.  While it is great to update people on the internet, it is hard to see who a person really is on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and even more so to know who they are and by extension, to love them.

I generally use these networks to post what I have written or created to share with others.  As a writer, I like when someone has seen what I have written and enjoys it. It is like a dancer receiving applause  after giving a performance.  The reader doesn’t see the missteps and falls from the previous drafts.

It is nice but in my case it was at the point where I was hoping and anticipating the praise too much.  I was afraid to write what I really felt and create the projects I wanted to make.  The acknowledgement was addicting and I was numb when it was silent or when no one saw the piece I posted online after I spent so much time working on it.  I was miserable and I forgot creating was more important than accolades. Fulfillment never comes from the comments other people make.  It serves as a good push to keep going forward but not to sustain the pace long term.

I learned how to be brave as a writer and an artist. It is important to stand by your work even if it isn’t perfect or if no one notices it.  I have also grown closer to My creator and I understand him more because of this experience.

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Posted by on April 4, 2015 in Writing

 

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The Problem With Disney Princes And The Rest Of Mankind

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Credit: http://fc01.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2011/291/c/0/official_disney_princes_by_nuts4books9-d4d9jcq.jpg

This past weekend was valentines weekend had its own resurgence of male characters. This included Billy Crystal from when Harry met Sally.  Liam Neeson from Love Actually. I think it is easier to look at characters as people it is easier to differentiate between real male traits and stereotypical traits.

If we look at the stereotypes of male characters we see that they are a little less intelligent than the average person. They are driven by passions and this is shown by an overriding desire for sex.  This portrays men strictly in the sense of function: we are no more than a penis attached to the secondary organs that keep us alive.  The truth is men are deeper and more complex.  We are passionate sometimes so much that it is difficult to express our emotions.  We aren’t guilty of “showing our sensitive side”,  we are sensitive.

If we look at  stereotypes of the fantasy genres in early Disney films. Most of them don’t even have names. They exist to help fulfill the fantasy of true love for the Princess and as a plot device for her to have an over optimistic love interest.  Snow White and Sleeping Beauty’s princes only appear twice in the films and one of those appearances is a dream-like sequence.  Disney Princes are always able to solve any crisis from slaying the main villain to coming up with the best lyrics and melody on the spot. 

Sometimes women get the notion that men exist to be changed into these stereotypically ideal characters.  All she needs to do is scrub out his imperfections.  If he is too tough,  make him gentle.  If he is gentle, make him tougher.  The good news in real life that it is not a spouse’s job to change the other spouse.  In a narrative it must come mostly from the plot or an outside element. In real life it must come from outside the persons too.  As a Christian I believe Jesus has a large role but our stories also play a role in shaping our character.
I hope that we as storytellers portray men as characters to show them as people so men can be seen as more than just a gender.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Writing

 

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Whology: Theological Parallels in Doctor Who

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If you are a fan of British Science Fiction then you are more than likely heard the sound of a high-powered spaceship within an old-fashioned Police Box.  You have also accepted the moniker Whovian and wear it like a fez or bowtie.

If you have no idea what I am talking about I will fill you in.  I am talking about the television show, Doctor Who. The show involves a time traveling alien who takes a human companion with him along travels throughout history and multiple dimensions. 

One of the main features of the protagonist is that he regenerates into a new person every few seasons. This event makes him more than one person and at certain times,  more than one doctor can exist at the same time. I started thinking about my own belief systems as a Christian.  I am like most Christians believe in a three-fold God,  consisting of the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  It is hard to understand how this can be true but I think Doctor Who may have given me a glance to how it is possible.  If we can conceive even of a being who is one person and has one personality and is also a completely different person and has a different personality, how much more complex is a God who is one person and two others at the same time . 

What I like the best about The Doctor are his clever and humorous ways to solve problems like his ability to defeat armies with a screwdriver (albeit a sonic one but a screwdriver nonetheless). It reminds me when Jesus, who needs to pay a census tax tells Peter to go catch a fish and open his mouth and he will find the payment. (Matt. 17:27)

With the discovery of two new planets we learn our universe is bigger than we thought.  What we thought was impossible is possible that is why I love Science Fiction, it holds the virtue of possibility.  This is helpful when a new discovery happens like when we find two new planets and we learn our universe and the world around us is smaller than we thought. In scripture we are taught that A whole universe, galaxy, and solar system glorifies God. (Psalms 19:1)  What if we find this event looks something like this?

If you are a fan of British Science Fiction then you are more than likely heard the sound of a high-powered spaceship within an old fashioned police box.  You have also accepted the moniker Whovian and wear it like a fez or bowtie.

If you have no idea what I am talking about I will fill you in.  I am talking about the television show, Doctor Who. The show involves a time traveling alien who takes a human companion with him along travels throughout history and multiple dimensions. 

One of the main features of the protagonist is that he regenerates into a new person every few seasons. This event makes him more than one person and at certain times,  more than one doctor can exist at the same time. I started thinking about my own belief systems as a Christian.  I am like most Christians believe in a three-fold God,  consisting of the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  It is hard to understand how this can be true but I think Doctor Who may have given me a glance to how it is possible.  If we can conceive even of a being who is one person and has one personality and is also a completely different person and has a different personality, how much more complex is a God who is one person and two others at the same time . 

What I like the best about The Doctor are his clever and humorous ways to solve problems like his ability to defeat armies with a screwdriver (albeit a sonic one but a screwdriver nonetheless). It reminds me when Jesus, who needs to pay a census tax tells Peter to go catch a fish and open his mouth and he will find the payment. (Matt. 17:27)

With the discovery of two new planets we learn our universe is bigger than we thought.  What we thought was impossible is possible that is why I love Science Fiction, it holds the virtue of possibility.  This is helpful when a new discovery happens like when we find two new planets and we learn our universe and the world around us is smaller than we thought. In scripture we are taught that A whole universe, galaxy, and solar system glorifies God. (Psalms 19:1)  What if we find this event looks something like this?

I am not saying we will find alien cats on the day of Resurrection but I do believe God will restore not only our world but all worlds. After they are restored Heaven will be infused into our universe and we will see a new Heaven and a new Earth. Even though it is fictional, maybe in this show we are seeing small glimpses of what that is actually like.

I am not saying we will find alien cats on the day of Resurrection but I do believe God will restore not only our world but all worlds. After they are restored Heaven will be infused into our universe and we will see a new Heaven and a new Earth. Even though it is fictional, maybe in this show we are seeing small glimpses of what that is actually like.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Writing

 

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Grace Wears Sandals in the Rain

Taken from Wikimedia

Taken from Wikimedia

When I look at my childhood, I remember every Sunday in church  prayer requests were taken twice during the church service. The worst place in Texas when it is scorching hot is a church because no matter how cold the temperature on the thermostat stuffiness suffocates the room. It is easy to think God sent fire from Heaven. Eventually, a man walks to the pulpit and took prayer requests, each one rolls into the next: “Eunice’s cancer has returned, keep her in your prayers.. Sam’s son was in a wreck but He’s doing better.. and pray that we will receive some rain”.   Any summer day in Texas that isn’t over 90 degrees is a“nice day”. The ground pleads  for rain and Everyone prays until it comes.

Every summer since childhood I wear sandals almost everyday  because they are comfortable and an easy way to look like Jesus. Unfortunately, a few days ago It becomes a choice I soon regret because it rained every day I wore them.   Every step I take soaks my entire sandal. I step like a newborn giraffe through every puddle.  Jesus doesn’t have this much trouble when He walks on water.  When I arrive home, I rub my cold feet on the carpet to dry and warm them. I look out the window, watch the rain, and realize summer is over.

I know a few people who run into the rain and start dancing like in the movies. They think they transform into elegant creatures while I change into a Gene Kelly who practices modern dance and wears size 15 steel toed boots. They dance and twirl because rain starts a magical moment. I wish I was like these rain dancers because they know Rain, like grace, sustains life. Sometimes it sprinkles, others it pours, and sometimes we wait on it. We clumsily trip because we watch our feet instead of celebrate. The next time I’m in the cool fall rain I hope I dance and Grace soaks my sandals so I can take it with me. I stop and notice My skin absorbing the rain and I pray I seem graceful when the dance starts again.

Taken From Zoltan Kelemen

Taken From Zoltan Kelemen

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Life, Writing

 

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Broken Blimps and Disciples

Note: When I started writing this I thought it would be a personal history, however, it became a reflection piece on having hemeparesis.  If you want to see the first post in the series, Click here.

It was a cold fall morning, a rarity for Dallas.  My parents and I crossing the street as fast as we could, as fast as a five-year old could to the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.

I hadn’t been to a hospital in several years so the fear was obvious on my face. We walked into the biggest waiting room I’d ever been in and I remember I looked up at the high vaulted ceiling and saw a contraption that I couldn’t believe existed.There was a fully suspended model blimp hovering over us.  It had an open frame with multiple gears spinning inside it and two cowboys piloting a tandem bicycle that functioned as the cockpit.   The propellers made of tennis rackets, weather veins, and spoons.  It moved with controlled turbulence.  In all the commotion, it never sank or looked like it was going to stop.   Now, I understand that it was held by wires but back then I thought to myself, “Is it flying or is it floating?”  

I could say that it was flying.  It had moving parts and propellers that moved together to make it fly.  Every gear rotated as it should.  Every piece moved in the same direction.  The machine dazzled anyone who stopped and looked at it.  It was as if the blimp was actually flying and the spectators were seeing a live airshow.  There are moments I felt like I could fly, the moments that everyone seemed to stop and look: When I got a 5th place ribbon  at my first grade field day (I’m not very athletic so that’s good enough for me); When I help my friends and neighbors; When I graduated from high school and college.  In moments like these, the disability fades into the background and I’m not caricatured by the disability.

I don’t dwell on my disability every day but there are times I know my have a damaged body: When I need to carry a big box or heavy tray, turn a doorknob with my left hand.  These are the times that I float and I follow the airship.  The blimp ran without as it should,  It stays on its course and fulfills its role without worrying about how successful the model is.

One of My favorite poems is by John Milton, author of Paradise Lost.  Milton had poor eyesight and towards the end of his life, He went blind.  He worried that his blindness would stop him from writing.

“God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
It is a humble reminder that God doesn’t need my work or my gifts.  He doesn’t need my triumphs.  I need him.  He is the only one who can give us the strength to dwell with him.  In John 5, Jesus goes out-of-town (during temple by the way) to a town watering hole at a sheep gate.  He sees a guy trying to get into a pool that could heal any ailment of the first person to enter in.  He can’t walk and is always pushed to the side when he tries to get in. Jesus asks him if he wants healing.  It is an important question because Jesus isn’t asking him if he wants health.  He is asking if he wants restoration.
Jesus doesn’t want to just heal his ailment, he wants to heal him.  This man’s busted relationship with God needs to mend.  It was not due to what he had done, Everyone is fallen participants of creation, separated from God.  Jesus showed him the way back to God.  In ancient times, No one with a physical or mental flaw wasn’t permitted in the temple. Thus, expelling them from God.   The unseen miracle in this passage is that the man went into the temple.  He restored his relationship with God and Jesus made it possible.
I don’t fly high like the blimp, in fact I’m broken down, but one day, God will give me–and you– a new body, mind, and spirit.  We will rise in the air and begin our new relationship with God.  Until that day, we float on course and expect to soar.
 
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Posted by on March 15, 2013 in Series, The D-Word

 

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The D-Word

I am starting my first series.  I have a condition called Hemiparesis, It was caused by a stroke when I was born.
Whenever I meet someone, they notice that I look different from them.  Some aren’t bothered by my appearance but others are.   I answer their questions to put them at ease.  Unfortunately, People want to cure me before they even know me.  I know they have good intentions but it demeans both of us because it places us in a hierarchical relationship, not an equal one.

There are different types of disabilities: physical, mental, and emotional.   And Those conditions look different depending on the person.   It is unfair to define someone by what they can’t do.  For example, I can’t do math well.  If it is a process that isn’t on a basic calculator, I can’t do it.  However,  This doesn’t show who I am or reduce the other qualities I have.  It only shows what I can’t offer not what I can offer.

Recently, I saw a public service announcement encouraging employers to hire employees with disabilities to join the workforce.  Isn’t that what Jesus did? He didn’t heal the blind eyes, bum legs, or withered hands just to show his power (although it was part of it).  He needed workers and these people needed to be in the workforce of His Kingdom.  He wanted everyone to have a job so He made the unable, able.  As the church, we should follow his example.  We look for ministries the folks can do and get them in.  We say “What will they do” instead of “What can they Do”.   Through these people may God be shown.  I will share my story next time.  Please leave questions or comments below.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Series, The D-Word

 

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Video

The Vernon Davis Interview and Its Application to Christians

Last Sunday’s Super Bowl was one to talk about.  Brothers coaching against one another.  There was a power outage.  It was a close game.  One of the best stories of the Super Bowl wasn’t in the game, it was the pre-game interview of Vernon Davis.

Last year, after the AFC Championship Singletary ejected Davis out of the game, He talked about his actions during a press conference saying “I will not tolerate players that think it’s about them and not about the team.  I would rather play with ten people and just get penalized the whole way, rather than play with eleven when I know that this person is not sold out to the team.. Cannot play with them.  Cannot win with them.  Cannot coach with them. Can’t do it”.

Davis didn’t like Singletary and in an interview said he was glad Singletary wasn’t with the team anymore. The interviewer,Bill Cowher, asked Davis if he could talk to Coach Singletary what would he say? He leans foward and looks at the camera and tells Singletary that he “saved his career” and Singletary changed him into the player he is today.

This interview looks like one Jesus might have.  His apostles disagreed with his leadership style because they had their ideas about the Messiah.  He can’t eat with tax collectors.  He shouldn’t wash their feet. He can’t die—He needs to set up a kingdom (although he already had).  

Jesus said that he needs committed followers, yet he also struggled with non-committed followers.  A rich man walks away because he can’t give up his wealth or his wealthy lifestyle.  A crowd of people walk away because He doesn’t have any food. Peter denies him when he hangs on the cross.

Peter met Jesus after the Resurrection.  Jesus asked about his commitment three times.  Peter started crying because he knew he was disloyal.  Jesus readily blesses him and sends him on a new path.  Vernon Davis was disloyal to Mike Singletary.  Mike blesses Vernon on his new path.  Maybe this could be imitated.

If you would like to see the interview, click here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50muFk6Wwvs

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Current Events

 

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