Tag Archives: Food

Who Are You?

One day this past weekend I hung out with a twelve-year-old kid who lives on our street. He was playing in his driveway with his six-year-old brother and their five-year-old friend. I was going for a walk and I heard U2 playing. The two little kids left after a little while, and one thing led to another. The kid in question plays, as far as I know, four different instruments, and is a much better guitarist than I am. He also knows how to use protools, which is an audio engineering software that professionals use. I can’t decide if it’s laughable or annoying or scary or what. Anyway, we had fun. He’s a really polite, pretty mature kid, for his age. After the little kids left I actually scurried back to my house and got my guitar so we could mess around for a while. I have no rules about who I’ll hang out with, as long as they’re cool.

I didn’t used to be like that. When I was in high school especially, I hated kids. I don’t think that’s an understatement. Kids were annoying and stupid, and that was it. Of course, at that time, a “kid” was anyone under the age of eight. Now I refer to the high school freshmen I teach as “kids.” It’s kind of disturbing. I think I used to have a much higher view of myself. I used to think I was the queen of the universe. It was entirely undignified to associate with such plebeians as children.

I think I understand kids better now as a writer, too. Kids are much more willing to believe things, so long as their capacity to listen holds up. I think you have to be able to believe something in order to enjoy it. You have to be able to pretend, and be willing to enter into a different universe.

A friend of mine who is older with kids once asked me what I thought about allowing his kids to read the Harry Potter books. He’s Christian, and he wasn’t totally inclined to let them because magic is seen as the highest power, and the battle between good and evil is entirely up to human ability. There is no mention of any kind of God (though the Christian holidays are mentioned offhandedly), and though there is a general sense of morality, like in any fantasy story, it isn’t directly spelled out. For example, I’m re-reading the series now, and I’m actually surprised at just how much the characters lie. Ultimately I advised my friend to let his kids read the books because it’s simply another universe that isn’t governed by the same rules as this one.

As I reread the Harry Potter books, I find myself laughing a lot. I’ve seen the movies a thousand times, but they’re not nearly as good as the books, and I’m finding they cut out a lot of humor. Maybe my sense of humor has changed too, but I think the movies tried to make the story too dark in places where it didn’t need to be, and not dark enough where it’s really creepy. I’m excited because I’m almost halfway through the fourth one now, and it’s after this one that things get serious, and in my opinion, the series gets more cohesive from book to book.

I don’t want this to turn into an analysis of the Harry Potter series, so I’ll make my point. I like these books. They’re meant for a younger audience, but I don’t care. My dad taught me a rule when I was in high school, and I have faithfully lived by it: growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. I used to get thoroughly annoyed with myself when I did something embarrassing. I used to think I was so dignified. I have no idea why. I’ve gotten used to the fact that I’m clumsy and silly. I spell things wrong and say ridiculous things. I make dumb mistakes. My friends laugh at me about this stuff, and that’s okay.

Mistakes are part of life. Messing up is part of life. Silliness is part of life, and being wrong is part of life. I’m writing this down because kids used to annoy me for the same reasons that my friends laugh at me (not in a mean way). In the past several months my mom and I have been listening to audio books in the car. We started doing mostly contemporary realistic fiction and moved, really by accident, into science fiction. We went for a few weeks without a story because I know she’s not a huge fan of sci-fi, and we couldn’t think of what to listen to. Finally I suggested The Brothers Karamazov. We just started it yesterday.

My point is that it’s okay to love Dostoevski and Rowling. It’s okay that my favorite foods are fancy pasta dishes and fried buffalo chicken wraps (for the record, yes, I also eat healthy food). I’m getting comfortable joining in events at my church where most other people are at least in their fifties, and hanging out with kids on my street who are under ten. The teenagers I teach think I’m kind of weird, which is probably at least a little true, but that’s okay. Lately I’m becoming more comfortable in my own skin. Weird is more fun, anyway.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Advertisements

Yup…

Today I got up and my mom said since it’s Valentine’s Day she’d take me out to lunch. I just wanted take-out, but since she offered I agreed, to be polite. Unfortunately we had an appointment, and therefore, didn’t have enough time to eat a sit-down lunch, but I got my buffalo chicken wrap. It’s my favorite thing in the world, but it’s super unhealthy, so I’m careful not to give into my craving too often.

After our appointment, Seamus (my bird) desperately wanted to go for a ride in the car, so we took him to the Starbucks drive-through with us. Several of the employees there know who he is by now. There are plenty of people who drive through with their dogs, but I think we’re the only bird family. Plus my best friend works there, so I’m sure she’s told them all how actually nasty he is. He doesn’t like people aren’t part of his flock. He just looks cute from a distance.

I got some more of my mosaic done last night. I’m thinking I’m going to need a lighter shade of blue or maybe teal. right now I’m working with black, white, red, and blue. My dad was helping me and he was perplexed at what I was doing last night because I was kind of haphazardly putting pieces down. I’ve been trying to tell him that I’ve had a concept in my head, not a complete, perfected picture. As I get more done, though, I get more of an idea of what it’s “supposed” to be.

Kathy (the woman I mentioned in my previous post) did end up getting back to me. We’re going to meet at my house tomorrow. I don’t know why I’m nervous. I guess part of it might be that although the idea isn’t exactly new to me, I’ve been kind of skirting around it and now I’m finally taking the plunge. There’s also the annoying thought in the back of my mind: “What if I’m wrong?” There are really two ways of looking at it. God calls everyone. I know that, so either I just need to shut that doubt out for good, or if I am wrong, it means I need to figure out what he actually is calling me to.

Last night I came across this: “Every word we speak was taught to us by God’s Spirit, not by human wisdom. And this same Spirit helps us teach spiritual things to spiritual people. That’s why only someone who has God’s Spirit can understand spiritual blessings. Anyone who doesn’t have God’s Spirit thinks these blessings are foolish.” (1 Cor 2:13-14 CEV) Admittedly, there are times when I find myself thinking about things Jesus says or does, in the Gospels and throughout time, and I think, “Lord, that’s crazy. You’re crazy. I’m crazy. All of this is crazy.” This quote that I found last night just made it make a bit more sense.

Anyway, I have a bird to harass and art to make.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Today I’m A Pirate (With A Tiny Parrot)

Tonight I will be dressing up as a pirate and celebrating Halloween. Halloween has always been fun for me. When I was a little kid I loved to dress up and get a ton of candy, which I inevitably never ate. When I was in high school I liked it because I was interested in the occult. Now I like it because it’s an excuse to hang out with my friends, eat fried chicken and watch scary movies. I also enjoy coming up with cute or creative costume ideas. My best ever was when I dressed up as a soldier, and my dad made a cardboard tank to go around my wheelchair. I realized I could have requested a pirate ship be made for tonight, but we ran out of time.

Of course it’s Halloween season, but somehow my dad and I got on the subject of Christmas a few nights ago. I think we were talking about politics and somehow ended up there. Last night I realized something, however. I like Halloween more than I like Christmas. I don’t mean I dislike the essence of Christmas or the reason we celebrate it. I dislike what Christmas has become. Our culture has turned a religious holiday of great importance into not much more than reason to go shopping. Our Jewish neighbors celebrate it, and my friends, a Hindu, Atheist, and Agnostic, all celebrate it. It is no longer a Christian holiday, but I still feel like I should celebrate it as a Christian, and that can be a headache sometimes.

Halloween has also abandoned its origins, and maybe this bothers someone, but I just don’t know. For me Halloween has always been a completely secular, and completely innocent holiday. It’s just fun, and that’s all it will ever be. The point I’m trying to make is that I don’t feel like I have to fight anything when it comes to Halloween. I don’t have to defend its roots. I don’t have to work so hard to re-make it spiritual. Honestly, Christmas, like Halloween has been very secular since before I was born, so I don’t really even have a place to start. I’ve just had to wing it when it comes to making it spiritual.

This is also why I like Easter so much better. While things like the Easter Bunny are weird additions, it’s still a very Christian holiday. At Christmas time, my family throws big parties. We eat a ton of junk food, stay up late, and revel in gift-giving and silliness. We don’t do that at Easter. We go to church, and our parents still give my brother and me Easter baskets, but that’s about it. I usually do some writing and praying and celebrate in my own quiet way, but there’s nothing else to it. No lights, no decorations, no parties. It’s a lot more subdued, but it feels so much more genuine. From what I just described, you might be thinking we’re not happy on Easter, which would be missing the point. Actually, I always feel very happy on Easter, and I’m in a celebratory mood. I’m just not celebrating with so much stuff and so many people. Part of the reason for that is that we don’t have many super spiritual people among our family or friends, but part of it, I think, is that the “stuff” distracts from the purpose of it.

My mom has a cousin whose immediate family doesn’t celebrate Christmas at all because it has become something so vastly different from what it originally was meant to be. I think not celebrating at all still misses the point. While it’s hard to ignore the commercialism of it, I think it’s necessary. Maybe it’s because there’s a part of me that’s still a fighter. I just don’t want its original purpose to disappear completely.

Last night I had a very timely dream. In the dream I found some kind of magical document that opened a doorway to another world, and I spent the remainder of the dream scurrying around my house trying not to get killed by weird magical creatures. It was dark and creepy, and I woke up thankful that it was just a dream. At the same time, it was fun because, well, it’s Halloween. The truth is that Halloween is a perfectly good day to celebrate what Jesus did for us. In fact, considering what this day still represents for some, it’s probably an even better day than most. It is what you make it, and for me it’s a day to celebrate silliness, It’s a day to celebrate being alive, and yes, it’s a day to celebrate my salvation.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Unrehearsed: Episode 1

Hi everyone!

This is a little project  I started working on last night. It’s called “Unrehearsed” because life is unrehearsed and so is this show. The point of it is to discuss various topics that will hopefully, in one way or another, pertain to justice. I want to tell stories and have discussions about the way things are, and the way in which they can change for the better. I want to expose issues that people may not know about, and I want to hear from other people as well. I would love to get comments here or longer comments at: unrehearsedaudio@gmail.com

There will be a different topic every week, and the next topic is posted in the current episode’s description.

So without furth ado, here’s episode 1

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Merry Christmas. Sorry For The Whining.

I don’t want to be bitter, and I’m sorry that I have been lately. Ironically, Christmas does that to me a little bit. I think it has that effect on a lot of people. It was simpler when I was a little kid and didn’t really know about Jesus. I just knew that a guy named Santa was going to sneak into my house late at night and give me stuff.

Lately I’ve been liking Santa Clause less and less, but today I looked up the history behind the myth because, honestly, I didn’t really know much about where it came from. I knew Saint Nicholas was a real, historical person, but I didn’t really know anything about him other than, presumably, he was generous. What I found were two details about his life that made me like him quite a bit more. I found out that Saint Nick was actually a bishop in the Church. At one point he found out that a poor nobleman had three daughters who were getting married, but he didn’t have a dowry for each of them. Nick wanted to help, but he wanted to do it anonymously, so he threw three bags of gold through the nobleman’s window. Eventually people did find out who did it, which started the tradition of associating charitable giving with Saint Nick. I also found out that at one time, he was imprisoned for his faith, but while he was there, he spread the Gospel to the other prisoners. In fact, he was super generous because the Gospel says we are supposed to help the poor.

So I like the guy. I have a cousin who doesn’t celebrate Christmas at all because it has essentially become a secular holiday. I know plenty of people, including my friends, who celebrate Christmas even though they’re not Christian. While the consumerism of it does get on my nerves, I still love it. I love Christmas. I love going bananas with the decorations. I love hanging out with my relatives. I love going to midnight mass on Christmas eve and then coming home at 1:00 in the morning and opening presents then. I love driving around with hot chocolate to go look at people’s insane decorations. I love that there’s tons of junk food.

I love that Christmas is kind of like starting over. It’s a reminder that our savior came as a tiny human baby, born to a family who couldn’t even get a room in the inn. It’s where his story, and therefore, really, our story begins.

There are some things I want to do differently in the coming year. I want to read Scripture more, and try to figure out to the best of my ability what is objectively True about some things (as best I can, anyway). I also want to lose a little weight and build up some upper body strength. Skiing is on my bucket list, but because of my disability, I would have to ride a sit-down ski thingy and use my arms to steer. I’m not strong enough to do that yet, so I’m going to work on it. I have to figure out exactly how I’m going to do it, but these are sort of my New Year’s resolutions.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and this makes me happy. Long story short, I want to thank everyone for reading, and I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Making A List And Changing My Mind

I realize that I’ve been posting a lot of not-so-happy things on here lately. Part of that is the result of working on my literary journal project for school. The subject matter of my journal was activism, so I ended up reading a lot of concerning things.

Yesterday I was in a bad mood. I read an article from a white woman’s perspective about her godson and his family, who were black. The story was about how, as a teenager, her godson was arrested for not giving up his hat at school because he was afraid he wouldn’t get it back, and later, how his father was badly beaten because he wouldn’t get out of his car fast enough when the police targeted him for committing a crime he had nothing to do with.

After reading this, I was angry. I was sad. I had to consciously remind myself that the world is not terrible, so I sang my song, “Good In Things,” to myself. It’s a happy song, and in that moment, it meant a lot. However, it took me all day yesterday to completely snap out of my bad mood. Yesterday afternoon I had to consciously make a list of what the good in the world was.

Here is my list:

Love
Faith
Trust
Hope
Music
Sunshine
Snow
Rain
Sunsets
Family
Cars
Airplanes
Food
Movies
The Internet
Powered Wheelchairs
Hospitals
Medicine
Doctors
Compassion
Engineers
Humor
Video Games
Blogging
Strawberries
Language
Hands
Guitars
Voices
Singing
Eyes
Cell Phones
Trees
The smell of dirt
Forgiveness
Fish tanks/fish
Doing stupid stuff
Water
Fire
The word “Noodle”
Redemption
God’s Plan
Jesus
Christmas
Presents
Guitar amps
The fact that I can be six inside
Penguins
Animals in general
Gravity
Solid things
The laws of physics
Philosophy
Bug spray
Lava lamps
Yellow paint
Paper
Coffee
Stars

All of these things are good.

The first few lines of my song go like this:

Do you remember when we built castle walls
With colored bricks to the ceiling of our skies?
Our friends and brothers came and knocked them down
But we built something better from the wreckage somehow.

I won’t say that everything happens for a reason, but often, bad things bring out the best in people. Often, something that just works has to be broken down to build something that works great. Often, we need a problem to create love; to create art; to create hope. That family’s story got out. Families will continue to face these kinds of problems, but amazing people will continue to tell their stories, and something will change. We just have to stay optimistic and hopeful because there is good in things, and there is good in people.

Christmas is supposed to be happy, and I just wanted to post something a little more optimistic today.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Procrastination Holiday Mash Up

Since high school my Christmas list has gotten shorter and shorter. There’s usually one or two things I want that I’m too cheep to buy, and one or two things I need, and that’s what I ask for. Otherwise I just buy stuff myself whenever I need/want it. It’s partly because I learned how to save money, and partly because I’ve had a mini-job for the past couple years so I can do said saving of money. It’s also because since probably my junior or senior year of high school, I feel weird asking my parents for things that I can afford and don’t necessarily need or that I can wait for.

The thing is, my parents like buying stuff for my brother and me. We have an obnoxiously huge beanbag chair (it’s not actually a beanbag chair but I don’t exactly know what to call it) in our kitchen in front of the TV. Our kitchen is obnoxiously huge, so it’s basically part kitchen, part dining room, part living room. Anyway, two summers ago it was ridiculously hot, and because of that (or maybe just because of coincidence) I got sick and projectile vomited all over the nest (that’s what we call it). We went 4 or 5 miserable months without a nest, but our parents surprised us with a new one that Christmas.

Maybe it wouldn’t have made sense to get a new one if my brother and I weren’t home all the time. Sam and I are both in college, but I commute, and he comes home every weekend. We’re both about half an hour from home in opposite directions.

Last year my parents surprised me with a 5 gallon fish tank and a beta fish for Christmas. His name is Raskolnikov because Dostoevsky is a genius. I know we have a ten gallon tank lying around somewhere, so I’m thinking about upgrading and getting a few more fish. I don’t think I’d move Raskolnikov because he seems quite content all by his lonesome, but it might be nice to have some more little friends. I’m weird. I talk to my fish.

I do need a new set of headphones for my computer. Last year my aunt got me a wireless set, and they stopped working. I’ve decided to ask for a set of wired ones for Christmas because wireless anything and I have never been friends. In fact, technology and I have never really been friends, but that’s a whole different story. I know it’s the thing you plug into to charge them, and it’s not the charger itself that isn’t working because I’ve tried a different one and it still doesn’t work.

My brother and two of my cousins and I did ask for the new Pokemon game for Christmas. Yes, I’m 21 and I shamelessly admit that I like and play Pokemon. There’s quite a bit of nostalgia involved. When we were kids, Star Wars and Pokemon were our obsession. That and, gosh darn it, they’re fun!

Otherwise, that’s about it. My list is short this year. It drives our parents crazy, and it drives our aunts and grandmothers crazy, too. I could use a new amplifier for my guitars, but that can wait. I suppose I could ask people for Guitar Center gift cards. I’d like to go and try things out for myself. That upgrade probably won’t even happen for a few years anyway, though.

I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but it seems like Christmas and Thanksgiving are really close together this year. Thanksgiving is kind of the start to our Christmas season anyway. The past few years we’ve gone up to Maine and gone out to eat with our family. We used to have it at our house, but my grandfather got really sick, and my grandmother didn’t want to go far. We’ve just gotten used to doing it that way, I guess. We used to stay for one night, but last year we stayed for two because my grandfather died two days before Thanksgiving and we had to stay for the funeral. This year we’re staying for two nights again just so we can have time to see everyone and hang out. We usually go and get our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, but since we’re staying for two nights we’re doing that just before we go home. It’ll be fun just to hang out in Portland and play with our cousins. I think we’re going to bring the Wii so we can play Mario Kart in the hotel room.

Our family is insane. My oldest first cousin is 9 years older than me, and my youngest second(third?) cousin is 16 or 17 years younger than me. My mom has about 50 first cousins, which means I have over 100 cousins of varying degrees. On my dad’s side I have 2 second cousins who have no kids, and 2 fist cousins. One is my age and one is two years younger than me. For Thanksgiving this year we’re meeting up with 27 people. Some people have asked why we go out to eat instead of going to someone’s house. Part of it is that we have too many people, and part of it is because it’s significantly less stressful. It makes it fun.

I’ve seen posts on Facebook about people stressing about Christmas already. There are ways of making it less stressful. It’s not that hard. I’ll admit that there are things about Christmas that bug me. It’s almost like there are two holidays going on at the same time, and a minority of people remember the real reason why we celebrate it. The point isn’t to have the biggest tree in the neighborhood (we have the 2nd biggest only because our neighbor has taller ceilings). The point isn’t to get the biggest and best presents. The point isn’t to give the biggest and best presents. The point isn’t to have the most decorated house (our mom goes nuts anyway, and it’s fun!). The point is to celebrate the birth of our Savior, and that’s WAY less stressful.

I know some people freak out about the “secular” stuff and say it’s creepy or evil and that Jesus was born in April, which may or may not be true. The same people don’t celebrate Easter for the same reason: it’s become too secular. Honestly, I don’t think it really matters. The point is that we remember the real reason why we celebrate. The other stuff just makes it fun. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have fun. The only thing I might do differently if I had kids is I’d probably skip the whole Santa Claus story. It just seems kind of pointless to me. I’d still get a tree, I’d still eat massive quantities of junk food, and I’d still get together with all the magnificently crazy people.

I think it’s true that people get a little nicer around Christmas, and a little more generous. Maybe the love gets thrown around for some of the “wrong” reasons, but the point is that the love gets thrown around, and I am perfectly okay with that. So have fun. Don’t stress out. Go to church if you want to. Don’t feel bad if you don’t. Just remember why this holiday exists.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Last Night I Didn’t Have A Seizure

Yesterday I didn’t have a seizure. This isn’t out of the ordinary. I don’t usually have seizures. I do have epilepsy, however, and I sometimes get symptoms. I was a little spaced out all day yesterday. For the most part it was fine, it was just a little difficult to pay attention in my first class. I took a little extra medication between my second and third class (which is totally allowed), and I felt better. I was mostly fine in my third class, but I still found it a bit difficult to read. That particular class is from 4:30 to 7:30 PM. By the end of it I was completely back to normal.

Quite frankly, I hate medication. I avoid headache meds like the plague. I don’t like the idea of some unnatural substance messing with my brain. My brain is already screwed up enough. I take the seizure meds because I have to. It’s times like last night when I really appreciate them, though.

I don’t know why, but last night I was thinking about miracles. I keep relearning over and over that miracles aren’t usually what we think they are. I guess I was thinking about this because of Tenth Avenue North’s new album. The main idea of the album is that we are God’s cathedrals: we are the dwelling places of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, wherever we go, that place becomes sacred. God allows people to do miracles. It happened in the Bible, and it happens now. Doctors didn’t make my epilepsy go away, but someone created these ugly little pills so that people like me can manage our problems.

Some engineer years ago figured out how to make powered wheelchairs and accessible cars so that people like me could go wherever the crap we want. I can’t use a regular wheelchair. I can’t push it myself because my arms don’t straighten enough, so it’s basically this or nothing.

There are so many technological advances and happy accidents in our lives that we take for granted. The truth is that all these things are miracles.

If you think about it, it’s a miracle the sun comes up every morning. It’s a miracle that there’s life on earth. It’s a miracle that life continues. So many things had to go right billions of years ago and have to continue going right it’s unfathomable.

For Lent last year I decided that instead of giving something up I was just going to make a point to pray more. I think I sort of succeeded in doing that. I definitely pray more, if not as much as I would like to. As part of this, however, I learned something; or at least I decided something. I try to pray whenever I have a meal. As part of that, I’ve learned to appreciate food more. There are other reasons for this as well. Part of it was learning more about where my food comes from, and part of it was learning more about countries where people don’t have easily accessible food like we do. I’m not saying food is a miracle. I’m just saying that there’s something kind of sacred about the act of eating.

My dad and I watched a TED Talk last night by an author who just does weird experiments and then writes books about them. His most recent book was about his experience with trying to follow every law in the Bible literally. There were a lot of things he learned from that, but one of them was that giving thanks is super important. He talked about how often times, we think it’s changing our minds that will modify our behavior, but it’s really the other way around; changing our behavior is what changes our minds. I think that’s true. This guy was agnostic, and remained agnostic after his experiment, but he realized through doing these Biblical rituals that there really is a kind of sacredness to things–whether it’s related to a higher being or not. Admittedly this was a bit confusing to me, but I think it makes sense on some level. I think sacredness can and should be felt, not simply intellectualized.

I know if I don’t bring it up, somebody else will, or will at least be thinking it: but what about the things in the world that are clearly bad? What about the things that are clearly not sacred? I’m not denying that there is evil in the world. I’m not denying that doing certain things is wrong and sinful. If that weren’t the case, then we wouldn’t have rules about not doing them. However, at some level, all creation is God’s creation. This includes human creativity. We are meant to be co-creators, and in some sense, co-redeemers. Bad stuff happens because we have free will and we derp around a lot, but I think beautiful things can be created even from a mess. Nasty things can be made sacred in one way or another. This too is miraculous.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Independence, Counter-Culture And Christianity

Today is July 4th. Today we celebrate the day that we as Americans declared our independence from the British so many years ago. It’s an important thing to remember for so many reasons as this holiday has morphed and changed and become something new over the centuries. It’s a day to gather with family and eat junk food and weather permitting, watch the fireworks. It’s a day to wear red, white and blue and celebrate what we deem to be truly American. Maybe it’s a day to let loose and behave badly, and maybe it’s a day to remember those we have lost in the various wars we’ve been involved in as a country. Whether it’s fun or silly or patriotic or what have you, today is an important day.

Many people simply refer to this particular day as The 4th of July and forget that it is our Independence Day. Perhaps this is because we have forgotten who or what we are independent of. As Americans, we have been an independent nation for over 200 years. As human beings we are free thinkers, inventors and artists. While it’s true that there is some degree of censorship in the United States, it’s also true that to a very large degree, we have freedom of speech, expression, freedom to organize, and freedom to disagree. The freedom to disagree, particularly with what the government says and does is a very precious freedom. It is a freedom worth protecting and cherishing.

I took a four-week theology class in June. We covered a lot of material in a very short time and it was a lot to process. However, something I remember distinctly is our discussion of Church and State. How dependent are they upon each other, and where should our loyalties lie? I am conflicted on this issue. On the one hand, I feel that they should not be separate at all because the Church offers a stable morality that I think is neglected in our leadership. However, while I firmly believe that Christianity is the only proper way to form a relationship with God, I do not believe that it should be imposed on anyone else. Freedom of religion is very important to me. Freedom of religion is directly related to freedom of choice. If it were up to me, I would not have the United States government be a theocracy, but I would have the Church directly involved somehow. I suppose that in some ways it is.

I also know that the Church as an organization is capable of corruption and atrocities. It is made up of people, and people are flawed. Jesus is the exception, and it was his teaching and example upon which the Church was originally based. Jesus was counter-cultural. He taught forgiveness and love where the standard was justice. He promised life where the expectation was death. By extension, Christianity has often been thought of as counter-cultural, especially in the postmodern era.

When I was a child I developed a thick skin. I was never one of the popular kids, and I was never picked on, but I was usually ignored. Because of this I thought I had to be tough to survive. I had to learn to fend for myself and to be indifferent to what the other kids thought. It worked for a while, but then I developed an overwhelming sense of loneliness. This was partly due to the fact that one of my friends went to a different high school, and many of my other friends became interested in different things than I.

Loving is hard. It’s a lot easier to see people as enemies, but it’s a lot more rewarding to see them as brothers and sisters. It takes humility to look at the people on the other side of the planet who hate you and to pray for them. Many of them want to kill you. They see you as enemies of God who deserve death. It’s easy to say that the Nazis were evil and deserve to go to Hell. It’s even easier, for me anyway, to look at the persecution of Christians in various parts of the world and condemn their persecutors.

I don’t like to be angry. It’s easier to condemn people, but it feels better to forgive them, and if I can’t, at least to pray for them. So what does this have to do with Independence Day? I guess it’s a declaration of independence from cultural norms. You don’t have to get the message from Christ. Plenty of philosophies and religions say the same thing: live a good life and love your neighbors; whether you like them or not. They all say this because it’s something worth striving for. Love is freedom. It’s freedom from loneliness, anger, distrust and fear. Love is the catalyst for everything good. We do and feel everything good because we love something, whether that is a person or simply life itself.

Happy Independence Day! Enjoy the fireworks (if it’s not raining where you are).

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

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!