Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Things I’m Thankful For

I know Thanksgiving was a couple days ago, but I haven’t had time to get to a computer until now.

My aunt did this “month of gratitude” thing where she had to post something she’s grateful for every day through the month of November. I thought I’d do my own list and share it with you guys.

1) My family… the huge, insane, lovable mess that it is
2) My friends… for introducing me to lots of good movies and music and for always being there
3) Music… for getting me through every allnighter and making me happy
4) Movies… because they are wonderful. Nuff said
5) My faith in God… I don’t know where I’d be without him
6) Coffee
7) Chocolate
8) My bed
9) The wood stove in my basement
10) Cute animals
11) My education
12) My mom’s accessible car (even though it’s falling apart)
13) My wheelchair
14) Electricity
15) Humor
16) My insane dreams
17) The ability to use language
18) The ability to make music
19) The ability to help others
20) Forgiveness
21) Love
22) Art (literature & visual art)
23) My medication
24) Technology (even though it insists on fighting me most of the time)
25) Video games
26) My eyesight (as crappy as it is)
27) My hearing (because it’s awesome and therefore I’m super good at eavesdropping)
28) Traditions
29) The sacrifices people make for me and for each other
30) The absurdly satisfying clicking sound my keyboard makes when I type

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

He Put Up A Fight

Well, since I wrote about it last night I thought it would only be fair to let you all know that Papa passed away this morning. My mom told me when I got up and I said I was fine to go to school, but we made it halfway there and I had to turn around. I wouldn’t allow myself to cry all day yesterday, but now I can’t stop. It almost seems strange to be so sad. He’s in a better place now, and he’s young and healthy again. I guess the point is that he’s not here any more and we’re never going to see him again in this life. The wake is on Friday and the Funeral is on Saturday. We’re still planning on doing everything we said we would with Thanksgiving dinner and the Christmas tree and everything. I think I’m still going to try and see the Hunger Games if I feel up to it later.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

His Time To Go

Last night my dad got a call from my grandmother. When he hung up he said that his dad probably wasn’t going to make it through the night, so he got in the truck and headed to Maine around midnight. Well, Papa made it through the night, but my dad sent a text to my mom a couple of hours ago saying that he had a fever of 105 and was having trouble breathing. We haven’t had any news since.

I cried when I went to bed last night, but the weird thing is, I haven’t felt all that sad today. Other than my dad not coming home for dinner it’s been a pretty normal day; I got up, finished my homework, played some Minecraft, went to class, went shopping with my mom and my brother, had dinner, and now I’m procrastinating working on a philosophy paper.

The only thing I really am bummed out about at the moment is that this had to happen right before Thanksgiving. A friend of mine is coming home tomorrow night and the new Hunger Games movie just came out on Friday. It was going to be like any other fun holiday weekend. Now we’re all just sitting around, waiting for something to happen. We had made plans to go out to eat in Portland for thanksgiving, and we had invited a bunch of my mom’s cousins and her two sisters. We were going to have a big party and stay in a hotel for the night. On Friday a bunch of us were going to go cut down our Christmas trees. Mom said we could still do all that if Papa goes, but I’m not sure I’ll want to. I know the best way to deal with sad things is to keep busy, so maybe I will anyway. It just seems like it would be too soon to be trying to have fun.

It would honestly be a blessing for Papa to go. He’s been in a nursing home for two years. He could barely talk, and what he did say hardly ever made any sense. I suspect the stuff he did say that made some sense was by chance. After the first year I started avoiding going to the nursing home. I never really knew Papa as a normal, healthy person. The only distinct thing I remember about him is that when I was really little, maybe even before my brother was born, dad and I would go to Grammie and Papa’s house and Papa would make me Ovaltine chocolate milk. I do feel bad about avoiding the nursing home now that he’s going to be gone for good. From what I know, I believe that he was a good person before he got sick, and I believe that he’s going to heaven. I just hope he forgives me when he gets there.

I’m not sure what things are going to be like for Grammie once he’s gone. She’s been going to the nursing home every single day since he’s been there, and my dad has gone up to Maine every other weekend, alternating with my aunt Betsy. It would be good if Grammie decided to move down here to Massachusetts, but I don’t think she will.

Honestly, it feels weird talking about this with my mom. I think she thinks that I’m not emotionally attached to Papa, but I am. I mean he is my grandfather. He’s not just some old man, even though I hardly know him. My mom tends to think that it’s not good to be sad for very long and that people should get over things as soon as possible. I guess I sort of agree with that, but getting over it does take time. I think things are going to be weird for a little while even when we’re done being sad. Life is going to be different anyway.

Well, I should get back to my paper.

The guinea pigs will always be flying.

Share Your Pizza

On Friday night I had to go into Boston for work and then I met my parents for dinner at a pizza place. After dinner I had a little over half a pizza left since I was bad and had a pumpkin spice latte at work (I have an easy job). On the way back to the car we walked right past a homeless guy who was sitting on the sidewalk, and after we got in the car I thought, “Crap! I could have given him the rest of my pizza!” It wouldn’t have been a long walk, and I could have gone back and given it to him, but I didn’t. I felt bad about it the whole way home, and I prayed that God would send someone nicer than me to share their pizza with that guy.

When I was a junior in high school (I’m a junior in college now) I attended a summer program at Berklee College of Music. There were a lot of homeless guys hanging around there, and at the time I was a broke high school student, but I heard a lot of people were buying them water bottles or sandwiches or what have you. I grew up being told that a lot of people were homeless because the probably deserved it; they were probably drug addicts or criminals, so I shouldn’t give them any money. I don’t believe that anyone doesn’t deserve help anymore. Everyone deserves help because no matter who they are or what they’ve done, they are God’s children and my brothers and sisters. Maybe it’s better not to give some of them money, but it can’t hurt anyone to share some pizza.

My point is; don’t pass these people by. Too many people do, including myself, and nothing can change if they don’t get help. They need someone to care about them. We don’t have to single-handedly save the world, but we can lend a hand every now and then. Maybe you will be the nicer person that I prayed for. Please share your pizza next time you pass someone who looks like they need it.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

My Food Problem

I’ve recently become vegetarian after watching a documentary called Earthlings. It’s about how animals are raised, treated and killed on industrial farms. I’ve been a vegetarian for a few weeks now, but I’ve been noticing some things that I’m guessing aren’t so good about it. The first is that instead of meat I’m eating a lot of carbs. I’m not sure of the exact effects this will have, but I suspect it won’t be good long term, especially since I don’t get a lot of exercise. Secondly I’ve noticed that I’ve been more hungry and more tired lately, and I’m wondering if it’s because I’m not getting enough protein. I have been eating eggs maybe once or twice a week, but I used to eat chicken a lot more than that.

The reason I’m writing about this is because I’m having some questions. I stopped eating meat on moral principle; animals have as much right to live comfortable, natural, happy lives as humans, so I believe that eating animals from industrial farms is immoral. My brother argued however that I’m literally not doing anything by not eating chicken. One person isn’t going to change the way animals are treated. That’s not the point, though. The point is that if everyone stopped eating meat then animals wouldn’t have to suffer.

My dilemma is that in the long run I might not be doing anything, and I’m hungry. I’m also worried that in trying to prove a point I’m compromising my health. Maybe that shouldn’t be that big a consideration; people who feel strongly about a cause comprise their safety and health all the time for that purpose. The thing is that even if I’m not making a difference, I’m not sure I could go back to eating meat with an entirely clear conscience, even though chicken was (and I guess still is) my favorite food and I want to eat it.

I would really appreciate some guidance on this issue.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Prayer For Children

Last night I heard a horrifying story on the news. An 11 year old boy was chained to the porch of his foster home wearing only a T-shirt and long pants in the cold with a dead chicken tied around his neck. There were 4 other kids living in that house, which apparently was filthy. The worst part is that the foster mother was working in social services and was supposed to have the best interest of children in mind.

I have an 11 year old cousin who is one of my best friends, and I can’t imagine anything like this happening to him, but the fact of the matter is that it did happen to this little boy who was probably a lot like Dinkens. He was probably in 5th or 6th grade, just adjusting to middle school, on the verge of puberty, interested in baseball, math and video games, and just kind of a goofy kid.

The truth is that I don’t want any kids of my own. I just don’t have that kind of patience and I don’t really know at what age you’re supposed to teach them things. I know myself enough to believe that I’d probably be an irresponsible parent. I don’t know what was going through this woman’s head when she adopted. 5 kids maybe she just wanted kids so much that she was willing to sacrifice their welfare in order to just have them. I don’t know. The point is that people should know themselves well enough to know that children just aren’t a good idea for them, and it’s incredibly selfish to go against that intuition.

Kids deserve to have good, fun, loving childhoods so they can grow into happy, intelligent, responsible adults. Please pray for the kids in that house and all the kids who are in similar situations. Kids who are born into this world deserve better. My mom says that when people have kids they are making a promise to live for those kids. I had an awesome childhood because my parents kept that promise. It just makes me so angry that this lady on the news didn’t.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Gender Roles

I just read a post a out this and thought it was interesting. The main point of it was that people put too much emphasis on being masculine or feminine and doing masculine/feminine things. The author also talked about the “Man Card” concept, which I hadn’t even heard of before.

An important point that the author was making was that concepts of masculine/feminine allow men to treat women like objects, but removing these concepts makes the two genders more equal. He listed a bunch of things that he was into/does/knows about that for someone who has ideas of girly and manly were surprising.

Interestingly, when I was a kid, it seemed that girls really weren’t into video games. I’ve noticed in the past few years however, possibly because I’m simply more observant, that a lot more girls and women (including myself) play them regularly and enjoy them. On the flip side, there are a lot of teenaged boys who watch and enjoy My Little Pony. Furthermore, there have been a lot more men deciding to stay home with the kids while their wives go off to work, essentially switching the traditional gender roles. I am interested to see what will happen when gender differences disappear entirely, which I think eventually they will. Perhaps it won’t change much at all.

What the author of the post I read disregarded was that there do seem to be certain things that men like/do/enjoy/are better at more/than women and vice versa. Again, maybe I’m saying this because I grew up on the very end of gender roles being a defined thing.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Prayer For The Philippines

I saw a post by Tenth Avenue North on Facebook, asking their fans, friends, family, etc to pray for the Philippines. I “shared” the post on my music page, and I thought I’d just share it here as well. No matter who you are or where you are reading this from, I know we can all empathize with those people because they are suffering incredibly, and although most of us will never experience suffering in the same way they do, we do know to an extent what they are going through because they are human, and we are human too.

We are all created and loved by the same God, so I just want to ask my readers to pray for our brothers and sisters on the other side of the Globe. God will hear our prayers and theirs, and he will move many people to love and to help those in need. He will give us all hope and patience and perseverance, and as a global family we will have the strength to get through this.

If you’re looking for a way to help, don’t disregard the power of prayer. I don’t claim to know much about the will of God, but I do know that it’s good, and I do know that some good came come of even the worst tragedies. I don’t know what that good is right now, but for now we will survive, rebuild and rejoice together because that’s what we do as a human family.

Life, Liberty, Happiness And Animals

Life, liberty and happiness; these are more than human rights. They are natural rights, belonging to all living, beings, especially beings that are able to distinguish between pleasure and pain. I believe that although different creatures feel pleasure and pain as well as many other sensations differently, it is undeniable that on some level, it is the same for all beings; pleasure is good and pain is bad.

Furthermore, I believe that since these are natural rights, given to all beings, they should be protected. The rich are meant to protect the poor as the strong are meant to protect the weak. This means advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves and who don’t have a voice or the capacity to use language. I am talking about the millions of animals that are tortured and killed every day for our food, clothing and enjoyment.

To put it bluntly, if you’re not a vegetarian now, you’ll be one after watching this movie. Just a fair warning, it is horrifying, but I think it’s important to know what really happens in the world, and it didn’t really hit me until I watched this.
http://vimeo.com/1753971

3 Way Split?

I was thinking earlier about different kinds of worship music. I’ve thought about this before, but I haven’t really come up with a conclusion about it, partly because I haven’t thought about it deeply enough; what is the (for lack of a better word) best kind of worship music?

What I mean by this is that there are several different kinds: there’s “sneaky” worship music, which I tend to like the most, there’s “me and You” worship music, and then there’s straight up “praise” music. Basically I define these as follows: “Sneaky” worship is when you take a song that could be about anyone/anything and direct it to God. For example, I have a song called “Passenger,” which is about driving home late at night and not wanting to fall asleep because I enjoy the driver’s company so much. The metaphor is that I don’t always know where my life is headed, but God does, and I’m pretty content to just let him drive. “me and You” worship music is explicitly spiritual in terms of the lyrics, and it’s about the human relationship with God. What I define as “Praise” music excludes the human element as much as possible and focuses entirely on God’s greatness.

The reason I was thinking about this was because I remembered last semester I was taking a music of worship class, and someone brought up the idea that music that includes the human element is somehow less worshipful than music that does not. I’m not sure I agree with that, but I’m not entirely sure what I think in general, which is why I’m posting about it.

It seems to me that it’s difficult to think about God in nonhuman terms. For example, most people think of God as loving his creation. Love is a very human feeling. Furthermore, most people think about God in terms of what he does; whether that is what he does for them personally or in general. Then there is the fact that for a period of time he actually became human (at least I believe so).

Obviously there are some distinct aspects of God that are not human at all. He created the universe, for one, and he has greater power, strength and knowledge than anyone that has ever lived on the earth or ever will. He can perform miracles that no one would even think of doing because the thought is just absurd. Lastly, he is invisible and intangible, which is obviously not a human quality.

It seems to me that both sides of him need to be acknowledged; of course the list I’ve made doesn’t even scratch the surface of who or what God is, but that’s a whole other story. My intuition says that music that acknowledges the relationship between man and God is more effective in terms of allowing someone to have a more worshipful experience, but perhaps straight up praise music is more appropriate in terms of actually acknowledging who God is. Of course there is always the argument that different music is better for different situations, but how does one know what to use and when?

My thinking is that maybe “me and You” music is better for individual worship; i.e. when someone just wants to have their own little spiritual jam session in their basement, but praise music is better for communal situations.

I’ve said this before, but I prefer “sneaky” worship music because it tends to be more creative and artful (at least in my opinion). I think because it’s “sneaky” however, it can tend to be less spiritual sometimes. This might simply be because of the fact that it can be played/listened to in less spiritual situations and still be enjoyed; the spiritual nature of it can basically be ignored. Maybe that just makes it better music; it can be appealing to a larger audience. I have argued before that if it is partly the duty of Christians to spread the Gospel (which is definitely the case), then it follows that music which appeals to a larger audience should be more effective in achieving that end. This is probably a large part of the reason that there is Christian pop, country, punk, metal and rock music.

If I remember correctly, the argument against music that acknowledges the human relationship with God is that it can tend to be self indulgent and and at times, whiney. It can definitely be whiney; I will concede to that. I still don’t believe that the style in general is so. Furthermore I think that less upbeat songs can be more helpful in someone’s spiritual life depending on their emotional state and their beliefs in general. Even some of the psalms are rather dismal; they’re essentially calls for help. Modern music does the same thing.

In general I feel that straight up praise music is less relatable, which doesn’t make it bad by any means. It just feels to me that removing myself from the worship of God alienates us instead of bringing us closer, which I feel is kind of the point. Of course the point is also to acknowledge God’s greatness, in which case praise music is just fine. I will conclude that in an individual or small group situation it’s up to the individual(s) to decide what will work best. When it comes to a larger audience however, I think the best thing to do is to do all 3 (provided the audience is willingly going into a worship situation). Some would argue that it’s best to figure out what works best for the person/people in charge and then like minded people will join them, but I feel that worship should be more inclusive than that. I think because the different styles of music appeal to different people that they are all valid, as long as the people can really use it to acknowledge God’s greatness.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!