Pure

The other day a thought came to mind. I was drinking a cup of water, and I thought “water must be the purest thing on earth.” I don’t know why the thought occurred to me, but then I considered the fact that people drown in water, Water can be used for torture, and there are all sorts of dangerous things that live and thrive in water from bacteria to man-eating sharks.

So, while I was preoccupied with one of humankind’s mundane but necessary tasks (involving a toilet), I set out on a quest to figure out what the purest earthly thing is. I determined that nothing is entirely pure besides God, since this is a sinful world, but I thought I might be able to think of something that came close.

I thought of air, but then I thought of all the pollution it has been tainted with. I realize that it might have been close to pure before humans tainted it, but air is just delicate balance of Chemistry that works only if the right amounts of harmful chemicals are combined in the right ways. Also, air, like the rest of the world has been effected by industrialism and commercialism. So I strove to find something purer.

I thought about the color white. White often represents purity in art and literature, but this image has also been tampered with. The color white can often invoke fear, a sense of emptiness and the general idea of cold and death. An example of this would be the white whale in Moby Dick and the white witch in The Chronicles of Narnia. The cliche image of a ghost is a white, semitransparent figure who haunts and terrifies its victims.

Then I considered the sky. I’ve recently started thinking of the sky as God’s looking glass. I love metaphor, and this seemed like a good one. Scientifically, the sky is just a bunch of layers of I-don’t-even-entirely-know-what that separates the earth from the emptiness of space. I always like to look beyond science though for the artistic meaning and beauty of things (partly because science confuses my brain). I believe no human artists could ever match what God has done. Sure, artists can make up new creatures or plants or places, but they will never be as perfect or real as God’s creation. They can never be brought to life. But I digress.

The sky is God’s looking glass. I thought this might be my answer, but I thought, “Well, the sky is part of the earth, so I guess that means it’s tainted like everything else.” Of course I was looking for the closest thing to pure, and I still thought the sky was a good answer, but I put it aside just to have a little fun.

Love seemed to be a perfectly logical answer, but then I remembered that people can love each other for the wrong reasons. I’m not sure if this makes love any less pure, however. I have never been in love, so I can’t say for sure, but I think true love is the same no matter what the reasons are for it. One also has to remember that God is love. This does not mean love is god, but I do think there is a measure of divinity in love. The problem is, love comes in many different forms. There is the love between children and parents, the love between/amongst friends, the love between partners/soul mates and the love one has for certain hobbies or possessions or pets. I think some of these types of love can tend to be purer than others, but since not all are pure, love as a whole concept or mindset is not. I think the actual word “love” gets misused or used too loosely, and that is part of the problem. I think the word gets used and overused as it does because there isn’t a sufficient synonym.

If one ignores the science of it (which I do), the sky is still the best answer. This is partly because I like my metaphor, but the sky also seems to be the least dangerous and the least tampered with by humans. We can’t stay in the sky except for with airplanes, and even then, we can only stay for a limited amount of time. The sky seems to be the emptiest expanse on earth, devoid of all but clouds and birds, and by itself, the sky can cause no harm to anyone, human or otherwise. It is an ever changing work of art that has no other purpose than to awe humankind.

Hierarchy

Political and social hierarchies can be either good or bad for varying reasons. I believe that a solid political and social structure is needed in order to maintain peace within a society, but I also believe that this structure needs to be flexible in order for people of every political view, race, religion, gender and to a degree, age will have a chance at influence if not power. I believe that this is fair and right, and it is why I firmly believe in democracy. I believe it is right for every opinion to be heard, and therefore, every person in a democratic society needs to have a chance at ascending the ladder of political power.

Although I believe that Democracy is the best form of government, I also agree that it can be dangerous. In a democratic society, one has to keep in mind post World War 1 Germany. Although different from the United States system, the Germans had a democratic government for several years. In this form of government, the people would not vote for individuals, but they would vote for political parties. Instead of having two parties, the Germans had many. Because there were so many opponents, the stronger parties allied themselves with less influential parties in order to gain more votes for their particular cause. Unfortunately, parties also turned against each other. The system was overly complicated and ineffective, which is ultimately why the Nazis were able to come to power. As leader of the Nazi party, Hitler was able to pass a law that made him dictator. It is easy to condemn the German people, but one has to keep in mind their economic situation. They were dealing with hyper inflation and war debt that would have been the demise of Germany if not for World War 2. The United States’ form of democracy is safer and more effective, which is why we are one of the most powerful and successful countries in the world.

I also believe in the hierarchy created by capitalism. I believe that there should be rich and poor. This is because I believe that people should be repaid for their efforts. I think the people who work hard should gain more than the people who wait around for a handout. I also think that people should keep what they gain from their work, which is why I do not believe in income taxes. I also do not believe that the government should take away from hard working people so that they can give it to those who did not work for it and do not deserve it. What many people fail to recognize, is that if the rich were not taxed so much they would be less likely to hold on to what money they are allowed to keep with an iron grip, and more likely to donate to charity and give to those who are less fortunate not because they are forced to, but because they want to.

There are many hierarchies I strongly disagree with, however. These are actually hierarchies that are currently more relevant to my own life. I do not agree with the hierarchy created by economic status. This seems to be contradictory to my last point, but let me explain. In a perfect world, money would not matter, but because the world is not perfect, people judge each other based on their occupation and income. Imagine how much nicer the world would be if people were interested in important things like moral character or common interests.

Another excruciatingly annoying hierarchy is the one created by popularity. Although this hierarchy is fairly rigid, there is a relatively easy way to navigate it. Perhaps “navigate” isn’t the best word, but if you find yourself at the bottom of this hierarchy (as I did), there is a lovely solution. You just have to give up caring. In fact, if everyone gave up caring about this hierarchy, it would shatter and die all together. But I digress. The way this hierarchy works is very confusing to me. When I was younger, I thought this social structure only existed among people between the ages of 7 or 8 and 18 or so. I thought it died away with public education. However, as I’ve grown and as I’ve been exposed to more of life, I see that this social structure never dies. I see it among the women in my own neighborhood. I confess, the only thing I understand about this social structure is that it is easier to do things when one is popular, and it is more difficult when one is unpopular.

It is no wonder that hierarchies encompass nearly every aspect of society. According to one theory, hierarchies are actually wired into our brains. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is the theory that over all else, humans need five things to be fully developed. At the very least, people need to be able to fulfill bodily functions such as breathing and excretion. Next they need safety, which can include financial security as well as mental and physical security. Next they need love and belonging, which can mean belonging to another person, or to a group of people. Next they need esteem of themselves and of others. And finally, they need “self actualization,” which is basically the ability to express individuality. There is room for a measure of vicariousness within this hierarchy. For example, one can have financial security while living at home with one’s parents as a child. Therefore, it is not particularly difficult to be able to fulfill all of these needs in one way or another.

I also believe that hierarchies are wired into our brains in other ways. Preference is a type of hierarchy. We like some things more than we like others. We also deem things more important than others. For example, I enjoy reading more than playing video games, and I consider faith more important than reason because I believe in God’s ability to manipulate the world and I believe that His will is good. That is not to say that I disregard reason; in fact I find reason and logic to be exceedingly important, but when it comes to things that I can’t do anything about or that I really do not understand, I turn to faith.

Open Mic Night

Tomorrow night my friend and I are going to Salem to play an open mic. We’ve played together a couple times before, and we’ve actually made a few dollars from passers-by on the street near an ice cream place. We’ll be playing a four or five song set. Another friend of mine is the feature performer tomorrow night, but he’ll be playing alone. I’m hopefully going to interview him for my music studio’s blog. He is one of the teachers there (I’m just a student who updates the blog), and I’d like to feature an instructor and a student once every month or so. It should be a good time for everybody. I’ll be playing electric and the friend who’s coming with me will be playing acoustic guitar, and we’ll both be singing.

The funny thing is, I don’t know the lyrics to any of the songs she’ll be singing, and she doesn’t know the lyrics to the one’s I’ll be singing. I just play lead guitar and we call it good. Unfortunately, we won’t be playing any of my originals either. My friend doesn’t write her own music, but I write a lot. I enjoy playing my own music somewhat more than covers. I suppose that is to be expected. We won’t be playing any worship music either, which I enjoy immensely. I’m sure she’d be fine with playing that kind of stuff, but we just happened to not pick any worship songs. We chose the songs we did because they were easy to adapt to two voices and two guitars. We’ll be practicing tonight, so perhaps we can substitute a worship song for one of the others. I have two in mind that might work. “By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North, and “I Don’t Care,” which is an original. I don’t mind if we stick to the set we have though.

My cousins are also coming tomorrow night, which I am very excited about. My cousin, Gretchen might be sleeping over as well. We just had a pretty funny text conversation. I warned her that I’ve been staying up very late in the past week or so, and she said “So have I. I’ve been up partying (translated into normal people terms: I’ve been doing puzzles.)” I responded that I’ve been up reading. My family is so rowdy. 🙂

Thank You!

I just checked my email and was delighted to see that people are actually reading my blog! I must admit, I wasn’t really expecting that many people would. You guys are fantastic, and I appreciate it so much. It’s so great to know that my tangents are interesting! So, this post is just for you guys! I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you! I might just have to grab some Oreos and throw my own little personal party!

Role Models

I was filling out an application for a mentoring program for women with disabilities, and one of the questions was “Who is your role model, and why?” I honestly could not think of an answer. I thought of my dad and Ken, and both seemed to be good answers, but for some reason, I paused. Neither answer seemed entirely true to me. Then I thought about John Lennon, who is one of the most interesting people I have ever read about. But I don’t consider him a role model either.

Then I thought, “Maybe I’m my own role model. I’ve paved my way so far with a fair amount of success.” That of course started making less sense the moment it came into my head. I didn’t think I could be my own role model. Eventually I thought of Jesus Christ, whom I worship. I certainly strive to follow His example, but it seemed inappropriate to put that on the application.

This annoyed me to some degree. It seemed like a perfectly acceptable answer, but I suspected that it would lead me to be judged unfairly. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve noticed that, especially in liberal New England, many people view serious Christians as unreasonable fundamentalists. It’s true that by worshiping the Lord and following His example, we tend to sometimes have a different and sometimes more conservative outlook on things, but it is also true that we are meant to be loving and accepting of people, despite their flaws. It is disappointing to have to point out that some Christians seem to forget this.

There are some things that, above all else, people should remember. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no specification about religion, ethnicity, age or gender here, and yet over the centuries, scores of Christians seem to have forgotten this. You’re not supposed to love your neighbor as long as they’re Christian and of the same denomination as you, you’re just supposed to love them. Another thing people tend to forget is that humankind was created in the image of God. It is true that we are all fallen, but there is also a part of us all that is the embodiment of God’s perfection. Thirdly, Jesus Himself spent His time with sinners and tax collectors. He said that it is not the people who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. This means that to follow His example, those who follow Him need to try to help others to know Him, not by throwing the Bible at them and telling them that they’re horrible sinners, but by accepting them as He would.

My New Testament professor at school told us a story one day. He said that he used to teach the Gospel in prisons. He said there was one man who was very logical and very intelligent who argued with nearly everything my professor said. Instead of getting angry about it, my professor just tried harder to convince the man that what he said was true. Eventually the man got out of prison, and my professor never heard from him again. Eventually he found out that the man had married a Christian woman and converted to Christianity but never told anyone. He had said that he wanted people to know he was Christian not by his words, but by his actions.

I had an interesting exchange with a friend the other day. She is stubbornly agnostic, which I actually enjoy at times because we have exceedingly interesting conversations about theology, philosophy and other subjects. We were hanging out in the deep end of my pool and I can’t remember exactly how the conversation went, but at one point she said “I’m proud to be your bad influence,” to which I replied, “Well, I’m proud to be your good influence, so it all works out.”

One thing I find can be difficult to understand at times is that over and over again, we are warned not to be influenced by “evildoers.” At first glance, this seems to contradict the idea that we are supposed to be loving “neighbors” to everyone. The point is not that we should avoid and shun those who do not share our beliefs, but simply that we should not allow ourselves to sin merely so we will be accepted by our peers. We need to exercise a measure of self control, as does everyone if we are to even uphold a functioning society. This does not mean that we must hide in our little Christian bubbles and avoid those who are different than us. We are meant to follow Jesus’ example, and therefore, we are meant to mingle with and be a good influence on our non-Christian friends. I personally believe it is better to be subtle when doing this. As with many things, it is best to show not tell.

If you’ve read this whole thing, you’re totally awesome, and I appreciate it! I hope this was interesting and helpful.

Summer Day

Since I have writer’s block, I thought I’d share the lyrics to a song that I wrote a couple years ago. This is called “Summer Day.”

Beautiful day as the sun fades into shades of pink
People exchange smiles as they make their way up the hill
Waiting to see the stars explode into red white and blue
Smell the smoke and the party food and the kids are playing in the street

We’ll say what a day as we’re walking back through Portland
Back in our home town and we’ve been doing this for years
Perfect summer day and we’re driving home and midnight
Perfect summer night and we’ve got the music playing

Beautiful day as the light fades into black and blue
Colored lights start to shine like little fire flies
Little laughs inspired by explosions in the sky
People flood the street as they wait for twilight to come

We’ll say what a day as we’re walking back through Portland
Back in our home town and we’ve been doing this for years
Perfect summer day and we’re driving home at midnight
Perfect summer night and we’ve got the music playing

Beautiful night as the star light takes the place of the sun
Hear the people laugh as they walk home in the dark
All the little kids will say that was the best show yet
Mom and dad will roll their eyes and smile and the old ladies will agree

We’ll say what a day as we’re walking back through Portland
Back in our hometown and we’ve been doing this for years
Perfect summer day and we’re driving home at midnight
Perfect summer night and we got the music playing

Teach Me Something

Well since I’m an artist, I might as well throw a little art into the mix. Here is a poem. I hope you guys like it!

Teach me something
I want to learn
I want to live
You know something I don’t know

Teach me philosophy
Teach me magic
Teach me faith
Teach me music

I hear the music in my head
I see the magic in your eyes
The meaning of life is in your smile
And I believe when you kiss me

But who are you, shadow friend?
I look across the table into empty space
The world whispers I must wait

But I want to learn
I want to know your name
Teach me something, shadow friend
And I will teach you something

Thanks for reading! ❤