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Holy Week (Wednesday)

I saw something on Facebook that said today is the day Judas decided to sneak off and agreed to give away Jesus’ location; a decision that sent history and spirituality in a drastically new direction. Tomorrow is the night of the Last Supper, and the beginning of the Passion where Jesus stays up all night and prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. He’s not afraid of dying. God can’t die. He is afraid of the horrible pain that the human part of his nature is going to have to endure, though.

Death is a very weird part of life. My dad and I listened to a story on NPR a few weeks ago about a woman who trains forest rangers on what to do when they find a dead body in the woods. She talked about how people generally want to see the body and say goodbye. For some reason, this wasn’t the case for me when my dad’s father died several years ago. I never saw his body. I chose not to. I’m not sure why that was.

I’m really comfortable with the idea of an afterlife. I never knew my mom’s dad. He died when I was only about a year old. I just figure I’ll have a lot of annoying questions for them both when I get to heaven. The thing is, it’s fun to think about heaven or eternity or paradise, or whatever one wants to call it, but nonetheless, death is weird. It’s weird for the people who are left behind.

My dad’s father was seriously sick and stuck in a nursing home for two years. By the end, though it felt wrong, or strange, or both, I found myself praying that God would take him. Then I found that I didn’t feel as sad about his death as I thought I should. It was, what I would call, an unfortunate relief.

The other night my epilepsy was acting up, and I found myself praying nearly the same thing that Jesus did on the first Holy Thursday: God, if there’s a way that you can get rid of this, please make it go away, but if it’s meant to be for whatever reason, I pray that your will is done. Shortly after that I fell asleep. There is nothing better than sleep when dealing with epilepsy. I am hardly exaggerating when I say it feels like dying and coming back to life. It’s strange and scary, but it induces the deepest sleep.

I try to envision myself as one of Jesus’ friends, and I wonder what they must have been thinking this week, and particularly over the next few days. Beyond the question of whether or not he was or wasn’t the Messiah they had been waiting for, their friend was in a terrible emotional state to begin with, but then he had to be tortured and executed. Just reading or hearing the story makes me angry and sad, and I can’t imagine what they must have been feeling.

I imagine that Saturday was the worst, though. The initial shock was over. Everyone was hiding and waiting. Probably some of the Apostles had forgotten about what was supposed to happen on Sunday. They were probably thinking more about what on earth they were going to do next. Their leader was gone, and with that, they probably felt like their purpose truly was, or may have been lost. On top of all of that, all but one of them had abandoned Jesus, and they now had to deal with the self-incriminating emotions connected with that.

What I do know is that they had hope. Jesus told them that they were going to mess up, but that they were also going to turn back. They didn’t initially know what they were doing, but once they did, they had something to hold onto. And still, death is a weird thing. I may have hope that I’m going to see my grandfathers in heaven, but for years now they’ve been in a place I can’t get to. When I was in middle school, I remember being vaguely familiar with a girl who had cancer, though I didn’t know it for a long time. I was not particularly religious at the time, and all I can remember thinking when she passed was, “Now what?”

Whether we’re talking about the wait for heaven, or the Easter Triduum, there is always this feeling of “Now what?” It’s this strange, irreconcilable jolt of separation that even the most hopeful have to deal with.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

 

 

 

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Winter

In looking through the titles of my last several blog posts I’ve realized that winter puts me in a bad mood. I’ve known that for years, but I’m not sure it’s been so strikingly obvious. I guess it’s just kind of funny. Anyway, at least for now there isn’t really a point to this post. I had meant to work on my mythology when I got home from teaching my CCD kids, but my cousin came to visit and then I answered an email from another cousin, and now I definitely have writer’s block. In other words, I am definitely procrastinating.

I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter books. I’m a little way into the Chamber of Secrets now. I know I mentioned before that I gave up TV and movies for Lent, and I have to say; Lent has never felt so long. It’s also been cool, though. I’m praying more, and even though the waiting is a giant pain sometimes, by now I know that I didn’t bite off more than I can chew, and that’s kind of awesome because I LOVE a good show or a good movie. I also love a good challenge, and as long as it’s not going to actually hurt anyone, I kind of like picking fights, so I figured I’d pick a good fight with myself. So far, it looks like I’m winning.

This past weekend I bought a present for my brother. This past Christmas he got me a present and I didn’t get him anything because we don’t usually exchange gifts, so I figured I’d get him something for Easter. I got him a loop machine. He plays guitar and bass, and after an annoyingly short period of time, he’s a much better musician than I am, even though I’ve been playing much longer. He’s more technically skilled, but only plays covers. I’m not super skilled, but I write songs, so I guess it depends who you ask. I just thought the loop machine would be fun for him to play with.

I did go to Universal with my family last month. There are some perks to Muscular Dystrophy. I get to skip lines to get on the rides. I’m kind of an idiot. I went on all the scariest rides as much as I could. It’s quite possible that my version of heaven is just an absurd never-ending roller coaster madness. Of course while we were there–at the park I mean–I was a huge Potter nerd, too, but let’s face it, if there’s magic or aliens or weirdness involved, I’m all over it, whatever it is.

Lately I’ve been wanting to sing. I just want to sing. I’ve been wanting to be in a band or a duo or whatever for an insanely long time, but I can’t seem to find anyone to team up with. I think part of the problem is that I’ve really wanted to stick to the same or a similar genre that my original album is, but at this point, I just want want to sing. I’ll sing for pretty much anyone. I’ve had serious musical writer’s block for a long time partly because I’ve just found playing by myself boring at this point.

In my world guinea pigs can fly!

 

Politics

I didn’t vote. Many of you will be incredulously wondering “Why?” For me it was a matter of conscience. I did not feel that either candidate deserved my support. Of course no one is perfect. Everyone has some “dirt” on them. However, it seems to me that Mrs. Clinton is far too untrustworthy, and Mr. Trump has said far too many offensive, and quite frankly, disturbing things about far too many people, and I for one, believe that language matters.

What has been more disturbing to me, however, is how this election has affected relationships. Long-lasting friendships have fallen apart because of a presidential race. The fallout has even reached my fourth graders. Truthfully, I don’t know much about Hillary Clinton outside of what I’ve seen on TV, but I thought she gave a really great speech today and accepted her defeat honorably. I can honestly say I’m proud of her for that.

What I would love to see is the rest of society doing the same. I don’t like Trump, but the fact of the matter is, he’s my president. That isn’t going to change now for at least four years, so whether you’ve been a life-long Democrat, young progressive, Independent like myself, Republican, or anything else, it’s time to face facts. It’s time to band together. Our president is not our country. We are our country, and we make America what it is. Quite frankly, I don’t like the party system. It makes politics exactly that: politics. It takes the focus away from real people and real issues and narrows in on the superfluous competition. It becomes a question of who will win and who will lose, rather than, what can be done to make our country better.

What will make our country better? The short answer is: love. The longer answer is uncertain. It’s really up to us. Among other things, we certainly need to be kinder on the internet. We need to pay attention and learn what it means to be good Samaritans; we need to really see people. We need to recognize the significance and effects of language. We need to forgive. We need to be ready to speak and fight for what we believe in, and be kind while doing it. We need to learn how to take a hit. We need to learn how to graciously and quietly accept defeat. We need to laugh. We need to accept that jokes are meant to be taken as jokes. We need to celebrate. We need to read. We need to have fun. We need to stand behind our president and support our government when they make good decisions and be ready to fight when they don’t. We need to recognize, love, and use our freedom.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Say It Anyway

Sometimes I find myself about to write about something, whether it be about God, faith, my family, creativity, writing, or what have you, and a little voice in my head says, “I’m sure people have heard that a million times from a million different people.” Then another little voice in my head says, “Say it anyway. Maybe you can say it a little bit different so that it will click for someone in a way it hasn’t clicked before. Maybe hearing it this time is the last time they need to hear it for it to make sense. Maybe hearing it this time will help them to understand it in a different way. Even if no one listens, say it anyway because it may not matter to anyone else, but it matters to you.”

This happens to me a lot. Have you noticed that good stories never get old? I have watched Lord of the Rings, and the Star Wars movies a thousand times by now, and I could easily watch them a thousand times more. Every time you read a good story or watch a good movie, you pick up on different ideas or different symbolism. Different things take on different meaning and more significance. I don’t mean to sound like I’m bragging when I say I can quote quite a lot from the Gospels because there’s just so much there and I’ve read them so many times.

The other night I was at Adoration at my church, and sometimes while I’m sitting there I just “talk,” and I don’t remember exactly how we got to this, but eventually I just stopped and thought, “You know, you’re a story-teller. You told and tell a lot of stories. Could you tell me a story? It doesn’t have to be anything new. It could be something I’ve heard before.”

Immediately I started thinking about all these different ideas about light. I remembered things like: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then, the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” and “A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Then I remembered that while working on my novel the other day, I had a segment where Aven, one of my main characters is in prison, and he has a weird experience where he sees darkness, and realizes that this is what he’s seeing. This is significant because he’s blind. He realizes that there’s a difference between being blind and seeing darkness. Finally, I remembered a story I’ve been working on recently just for fun where the main characters have to find the Soul of the Light to break a curse that has been on their kingdom for hundreds of years.

There’s a part in Lord of the Rings where Frodo remembers he has the light that Galadriel gave him. He has sent Sam away because he’s been tricked by Golem, who has left him to die in the spider cave. Galadriel gave this to him saying, “May it be a light for you in dark places when all other lights go out.” When Frodo lights it up, he’s in panic mode. He’s desperate. For him, all other lights; all hope, has gone out. I really don’t think Galadriel’s gift is meant to be taken only literally. Hope is often symbolized by light, and light is even sometimes symbolized by other things. At the beginning of the Lord of the Rings trilogy the shire appears bright, beautiful and peaceful. At Bilbo’s birthday, there are fireworks, there is light. When they leave the shire, they are cast into a dark forest, and are followed by the black rider. There are many juxtapositions of light and dark in Lord of the Rings, particularly in reference to specific places. Where there is death, in particular, there is darkness.

Eventually, though, even Galadriel’s light can’t keep Frodo out of danger. Even that light goes out, but Sam comes back. Forgive the sentimentality, but Galadriel’s light could not keep Frodo out of danger. It failed, but Sam’s loyalty didn’t. Sam’s loyalty was a light that really couldn’t go out. For those who might argue, Sam did not leave by his own free will. Frodo told him to leave, and in fact, he held to his loyalty to such a high degree that he obliged. He knew that many of Frodo’s decisions and judgments were wrong, but he allowed his friend to make those choices, determined to protect him while he could. Truthfully, the more I watch Lord of the Rings, the more I think Frodo isn’t a very good friend. He has his reasons. His task is not an easy one. Regardless, Sam is seriously devoted to him, and in the end, it becomes clear that Frodo is appreciative.

The point is, Loyalty has to be mutual, and it takes perseverance. Frodo and Sam do not have an easily relatable or translatable relationship because yes, they are friends, but they have slightly different social status. Sam is Frodo’s servant. By the end, it seems like this slight status difference is gone between them. This is only possible because of what they went through together. At the end of his life, Jesus says to his disciples, “I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from my Father, I have made known to you.” Being a friend of Jesus changes our position in the Universe, whatever that may be.

I took a long time thinking about two things in particular. What does it mean to be full of light? What is the difference between being blind and seeing darkness? I think both have to do with one’s outlook on the world. We spend a lot of time, when thinking about external spirituality, trying to figure out our position on X, Y, or Z, or wondering whether a particular practice is appropriate in worship. Internal spirituality is often much more abstract and simple. We spend our time praying or listening to music or simply musing. I don’t think we spend enough time thinking about how God actually views the world, and how, as his friends and followers, we’re meant to view the world. This is important because our outlook on the world affects our actions in the world, and our internal spirituality. If we have a generally negative outlook on things, we will lose hope. The hope we have; the light we have is, therefore, at risk of going out.

This also relates to loyalty in that our outlook on the world is connected to our outlook on people in general. A positive outlook allows us to be more trusting, more open, and more loving. It allows us to live more freely as God would want us to live. Often, we don’t openly talk about God or faith or spirituality in general for fear of judgment. If we have a more positive outlook, we will be much more likely to trust, and much more able to forgive when our trust is taken advantage of. This obviously does not mean that we should throw caution to the wind in every situation, but being more trusting and forgiving also allows people to trust and forgive us.

To see darkness is different from being blind. To be blind is often a metaphor for being unaware. Seeing darkness is to know that there is light or hope, and not know how to find it, or to see it and refuse it or give it up. I think a tangible example of this might be in one of the final scenes of Return of the King. Sam is trying to help Frodo get to where he can get rid of the ring. He tries to give him hope by reminding him of home, but Frodo says, “I’m naked in the dark with nothing, no veil between me and the wheel of fire…” In response, Sam says, “Then let us be rid of it. I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.”

Sometimes we do have to carry people until they can see the light again, or maybe even for the first time. That can mean a whole lot of different things, and sometimes it just means making sure we pray for them. Jesus says, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Sometimes people can only rely on God to carry them, but there’s no one more trustworthy, no one more loyal, and no one more capable. Jesus says these things with certainty and authority. They’re true and unchanging.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Look At The Sky

The other day I realized just how much I stare at my phone. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but I realized that for the longest time, I had not looked at the sky. After realizing this, I realized just how much I don’t pay attention to as an adult that really seemed to matter when I was a kid. As a kid I would just sit and stare at the sky and think about a million things and nothing. It seemed like there was so much more in the world. I didn’t notice when I stopped doing that. I didn’t notice as the world became smaller and faster.

I’ve been trying to make a point to look at the sky now. I still don’t always remember. I think it’s important. I used to see pictures in the clouds. I don’t see pictures anymore, but I still think the sky is beautiful. I think it’s important to appreciate the things God made. If it wasn’t important, he wouldn’t have made things beautiful. The world could have been black and white. As an artist, I don’t always know why I make things or write things. I just can’t help it, and even though I don’t have an explicable reason for them, I love the things I make. I imagine God feels the same way, particularly about people who can love him back.

It’s funny that a lot of things in the world can keep you alive in one case, and can kill you in another. I like fire. At one point in time, fire was integral to the survival of the human race. In fact, for several years we’ve heated our house with a wood stove through the winter because it’s been cheaper. Fire is something I can still stare at for hours and think about nothing and everything. I like to play with fire. I like to watch stuff burn (yes I know that sounds weird) because it’s interesting and beautiful.

I’ve said this before, but I have over one hundred cousins of various removes, etc, so I just call them all cousins. Anyway, at camp this summer my mom had to explain to one of my cousins who has some form of developmental problem that he couldn’t touch fire. He understood that it would hurt him, but he thought he could run to the lake and put it out before it got too hot. Like me, he thought fire was beautiful and interesting and just wanted to understand it better.

Two years ago, when we had a record-breaking winter, my dad went hiking and made a video. It was snowing and sub-zero on the mountain, but my dad had the time of his life. He loves cold and snow. When I was a kid I liked it. Listening to the weather forecast and hearing seventies and eighties instead of eighties and nineties makes me a little sad these days. At the same time, a part of me is hoping for another record-breaking winter. If it has to come, I’d rather it come in full force. When we got Seamus, we tried to give him some snow to play with. He was afraid of it. He’s a really stupid bird.

I wonder if it’s easier to appreciate things when you think about how you relate to those things, or when you project yourself into a story or an idea or a situation. In my last post I talked about Mythic Island. There was a specific way in which to get there. You had to build a fairy house. Fairies would show up and live there, and in return for building them a house, they would do things for you. In particular, they would create a magical portal that would allow you to get to Mythic Island. A fairy house is a tepee made of sticks and leaves and things. The better the fairy house, the more fairies it would attract. The more fairies you had, the more they could do for you. When we hung out in the woods as kids we would think about these things, and we would build fairy houses just to be nice. We had more of a reason for being there.

I think it’s harder to relate to the world when our worlds are our computers. On Facebook and WordPress and wherever else we “exist” we create the versions of ourselves that we want that particular world to see, and we see the manufactured versions of everyone else. We can look at pictures of clouds and fire, but they’re no substitute for the real thing. When I started playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, it was like going back to Mythic Island. At the time, though, things from Mythic Island would come into the “real world” and we had to help dragons get back home. I guess maybe that made the world seem a little bigger, too.

What I didn’t realize as a kid was that the world is really big. It’s just my little piece of it that’s small. In Mythic Island we could ride our dragons hundreds of miles in a day, we were powerful, and time didn’t make sense. It was our world, and that’s why it seemed so much bigger than the “real world.” I guess I just kind of miss being amazed by the sky. The world really hasn’t changed. I’m just more easily distracted, and ironically, I think I’m less patient in some ways. For the longest time I didn’t want a cell phone. Everyone my age (eleven or so) had one, but I didn’t care. Then when smart phones became a thing my mom practically had to force me to get one. And a few days ago I realized that I forget to be amazed by the sky.

Don’t forget to be amazed. Even if you’ve looked at something a million times, look at it again. Listen to that song you love again. Smell those flowers. Climb that mountain. Eat that cookie. Go back to Mythic Island.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Landmarks

I’ve had a busy summer thus far. I’ll be going camping in a few weeks, which is crazy because camping always kind of marked the end of vacation when I was in school. Time has changed since I graduated. I’m not exactly sure how to explain it. It’s just different. One of my friends is also done with school and he’s living and working back at home, just a few houses away. One of my other friends is still in school, and she’ll be starting up again come September. My other friend is (I guess) working for his cousin or something. My two guy friends, along with my brother, are my D&D chums. My brother will be back at school shortly after camping, so we’ll see how that goes.

I’ve took a bit of a break from working on my book for the past few weeks for a few reasons. Part of it is that it’s summer, and we’ve just had a lot of company at my house. Part of it is that I’ve had a serious bout of writer’s block for a while. Part of it is that my friends are home, Pokemon Go is a thing, and they constantly want to hang out, which I really don’t see as a problem. Part of it is that I’ve been trying to figure out what God wants me to “do,” so I’ve been trying to spend more time with him. I actually think it’s all worked out for the best. My dad and I have been watching a lot of movies lately. At the moment, we’re into conspiracy theory and post-apocalypse stories, and that’s helping. I got a new idea for my book that I think will move my story forward.

What I also figured out, which probably should have been obvious, is that I need to always be at least one step ahead of my characters. Part 1 of my book was significantly easier to write because I had “landmarks” planned out that would get them to Part 2. I didn’t have to get from A to Z. I just had to get from A to B to C, and fill in the details along the way. Part 2 has been harder because, for a long time, I didn’t even know how the book was going to end. Last night, I figured out at least one new “landmark,” which I think will be exceedingly helpful, and I think it will help me figure out what other “landmarks” I need.

Looking at life in the present tense, most things look like a series of happy accidents, but looking back, I see landmarks. Last night I discovered a new one. A while ago I wrote about wanting to belong only to God. Although I haven’t written much about it, I was seriously considering becoming a Consecrated Virgin, but every time I seriously thought about it, it felt wrong. I think this was the case because it sounded very much like I would be subject to the will of the Church (i.e. the will of the Bishop of the Diocese of Boston), and not to the will of God. I would like to make it clear that I like the Catholic Church. For the most part, I trust the Catholic Church. At the same time, there are things I don’t entirely agree with, and I know that the Catholic Church, while mostly good, is mostly led by fallible men.

For a long time, I’ve felt like I’m not very good at praying. At least, I’m not always super comfortable when praying. At the same time, I didn’t want to just use “scripted” prayers, because that felt like removing myself from the conversation. Very recently I found this prayer:

Oh, Sacred Heart of Jesus, to you I consecrate and offer up my person and my life, my actions, trials, and sufferings, that my entire being may only exist to love, honor, and glorify you, This is my irrevocable will, to belong entirely to you, and to do all for your love, renouncing with my whole heart all that can displease you. I take you, Oh Sacred Heart, for the sole object of my love, the protection of my life, the pledge of my salvation, the strength for my weakness and faultiness, the reparation for all the imperfections of my life, and my secure refuge at the hour of my death. Most Merciful Heart, be my justification before God your Father, and shield me from his anger, which I have rightly merited. I fear from my own weakness and malice, but placing my entire confidence in you, Heart of Love, I hope from your infinite goodness. Annihilate in me all that can displease or repel you. Imprint your pure love so deeply in my heart that I may never forget you or be separated from you. I beg you, through your infinite goodness, grant that my name be engraved on your heart, for in this I place all my happiness and all my glory, to live and to die as one of your devoted servants.

As I read this for the first time, I prayed it. It sunk in immediately. This is not the original version. The version I found was written in “ye olde” English. I’ve changed words here and there to make it more personal, without changing the meaning. I think the process was a kind of prayer in itself. Whenever I thought of it, and had enough time, for the past few months, I’ve been looking into how to pray better. One thing that has been emphasized over and over in various contexts is that prayer is a conversation, and therefore, it’s important to listen. I’m getting better at that.

I also came across an argument, which I think is valid, that the Lord’s prayer is a formula for all prayers. The pastor (who was not Catholic) explained that Jesus’ formula was this: Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield (i.e. listen). Admittedly, at least the way I know it, I don’t think Jesus’ prayer is exactly set up like this, but I’ve been loosely following the formula, and I think my version of it works. I use a “scripted” prayer of praise that I wrote, then I do an Act of Contrition, then I say the prayer I wrote out above, then sort of a general prayer for the world, that I wrote, and by that point, I’m ready to “freestyle” it, and more importantly, I’m much more ready to listen.

Honestly, while I do feel like I at least kind of know how to listen at this point, I still can’t say that I’m good at it. One thing that I have learned that’s very important when it comes to prayer is to just sit still. The funny thing is, I learned this from my bird. I was picking a fight with Seamus the other day, partly just to be a pest, but partly because I wanted him to snuggle, and he bit me. I said, “Just sit still and let me love you.” I think this is often exactly what God is trying to say to us. Quite frankly, it’s hard to sit still. Even if I’m physically sitting still, my mind is often going a mile a minute. It’s probably different for every person, but I think it’s absolutely necessary to figure out how to “let him love you.”

I said that I’ve been trying to figure out what God wants me to “do.” I’ve been waiting for him to give me something specific, but I don’t think he’s going to. I found that Sacred Heart prayer by accident, but I think I was meant to find it. That prayer was a landmark. Over the past several years, there have been things he’s “told” me to do: be a bridge; tell the truth; be still, and know that I am God.” What’s more is that I’ve got ideas or written songs that have seemed to come out of nowhere. These, too, I see as landmarks; gifts that God has given me. They’re not mine. In a way, I’m able to draw a map of my life. Some landmarks are obvious; points in time that I can easily identify, like when I graduated high school, or when I released my album. These obvious things don’t define me, though.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I looked up the actual definition of “consecrate” because it was always just sort of implied. To consecrate is to dedicate to a deity, or to make sacred. It was by a happy accident that I found the Sacred Heart prayer, but it was exactly what I needed to find. When I found it, I didn’t think about it. I read it, and I prayed it, and I meant it. I wanted to belong only to God, and he made it happen.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Confessions Of A Gospel Snob

I’m kind of tired of the New Testament. Earlier this summer I decided I would read the Bible cover to cover, so for the past several weeks I’ve been making my way through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and now, I’m in Numbers. It’s been both strange and refreshing. Honestly, I’m just kind of tired of the same old Christian posts on here and Facebook, and quite frankly, everywhere else. A lot of us (I’m sure I’m guilty, too) tend to just cycle through the same old ideas, and while they’re still true, and always will be, they just start to sound empty.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the message of the Gospel. I love Jesus. It’s all good over here. I just think that we need to find some new way of talking about it. Put it this way: it’s not cool. I know that’s not the point, and maybe you can’t express it in a way that’s “cool,” I also think that we need to get creative, especially if we’re going to teach the Gospel to younger people, and especially the next generation. I don’t know whether or not my brother is planning on ever having kids, but if he is, I want to make sure they know who Jesus is. I don’t know if I can trust my brother enough to do that (at least right now). I honestly have no idea what he believes. He’s an enigma to me. I can’t get a straight answer out of him, either. Alas.

What Iv’e read so far of the Old Testament has been interesting. Some things have been surprising. Some of the things God requires of Israel, and some of the things he does are confusing. It’s certainly different than the teaching of the Catholic Church in a lot of ways. I’m very interested to read the New Testament in perspective. I’m enjoying reading the Bible like this. I’m just focusing on it like it’s a story or a text book, which is different from my usual take on it (for obvious reasons). I think it’s actually helpful to view it in this way, which I haven’t done before, outside of school. The last time I did this kind of thing was four years ago, and that was for school.

I want to know God better. I don’t read the Bible enough. Some people read it every day. I think I’m just stubborn. I convince myself that I’m to busy, but I’m really not. I’m finding lately that I’m not very good at prayer. I find it difficult. I think I’ve always kind of had this problem, but I just haven’t noticed it. I probably just think too much about it. I don’t pray about what I’m reading. I probably should.

I trust God, and I love him. I can honestly say that because I’ve made it through some rocky places and come out better for the trouble. I think too much. It’s a giant pain in the neck sometimes. I’m a superstitious person. Before I was Christian I was willing to believe just about anything, and now that I am Christian, I’m willing to believe a lot (i.e. all my eggs are in one basket). I’m stubborn about it, too. That’s why I think we need to change the way the Gospel is presented. We need to make it “cool” while still being truthful. I’m not sure how to do that, but I’m sure we can figure it out. I definitely think music helps. Music is super helpful, actually. We need to exploit every medium we can. Not only that, but we need to invent new ways of expressing things. I know I’ve done this rant before, so I’ll shut up now.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

A Good Place To Start: Review Of Christians In Crisis Website

It is difficult to say exactly what “accurate” news really is. The truth of the matter is, however, that without doing more research than most of us have time for, we’re never getting the whole story. Furthermore, every news station on TV, and every newspaper has its priorities and its politics. To survive they have to cover what is most important and most interesting to the average consumer. News, like anything else, is a commercial product. In general, it seems that domestic issues get far more coverage than international ones, especially when international issues are religious in nature, and particularly violent. The coverage of the war on ISIS, and their brutal persecution of Christians in the Middle East has all but died out, and is only really mentioned again when an American reporter gets tragically involved.

However, this is an ongoing problem. Radical Islam and their oppressive ideals are currently taking over in Iraq and Syria, but the media is very quiet on the issue. Christianity is the largest religion in the world, seconded by Islam. However, in many parts of the world, it is a clear minority. The International Christian Concern released an article on December 11th explaining how Hindu radicals in parts of rural India are going into villages and forcibly converting Christians to Hinduism and their churches into temples. This is clearly a bigger issue than the media is letting on.

In light of that, a blog has been created that specifically focuses international religious relations for people who are invested in it. Christians In Crisis is a small, nonprofit organization that compiles information and news found from internet and print sources specifically about the persecuted Church throughout the world. They do not ask for or accept donations, but point potential donors in the direction of organizations that do. Their main goal is to provide information and incentive to help. They are constantly updating the site and do not simply focus on one area. On December 12, they posted five stories focusing on current events in various Middle Eastern countries as well as one article focusing on Christian missionaries in China.
The link to that particular article is here: Article

This article explains that the Chinese Government seems to be cracking down on Christian missionaries from around the world due to their humanitarian efforts to aid North Korean refugees to that country. Several individuals that were specifically mentioned in the article have been accused and deported for allegedly stealing and illegally sharing state secrets. One theory is that:

“While there’s no concrete evidence for such a claim, the deportations do seem to be part of a larger trend toward nationalization of domestic institutions, particularly Christian churches.”

Furthermore:

“A number of Christian aid groups in the area have ceased operations.”

The article suggests that this increase in deportations is a way for the Communist party to maintain power over an increasingly Christian population.

This is very helpful information for the western Church to know. If the Church is in fact one cohesive organization, then it is important to know what is happening in all areas of the world, and it is the responsibility of those who can help to actually do something if they can. Knowing the truth about these things is the first step toward making change. obviously change is difficult, and there is more involved than religion, such as politics, diplomacy and other cultural concerns. However, Christians In Crisis is a very helpful website and an excellent place to start for those who want to know more.

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!

Super Happy Obsession Type Things

I looked at my music page on Facebook a minute ago, and realized that I am now up to 70 “likes.” Of course a large percentage of these people are close friends and family, but you know what? 29 of them are people I don’t even know, which is super cool! Since a lot of you guys who follow my blog are interested in my musical shenanigans, I thought I’d ask a favor: if you’re on Facebook, would you mind going to my music page and hitting the “like” button? You can totally ignore anything I say, but sometimes I post pictures or YouTube videos or random happy things that you might be interested in.

Here is the link:
Katie Rose Curtis Music

In other news…

I played an open mic on Friday (Valentine’s Day), and I met a very nice young man by the name of Nate. We got talking during intermission, and we’ve decided that we’re going to do a musical duo! Last night Nate came to my recording session and put a viola track on my song “Passenger,” which can be heard (without the viola, unfortunately) here:

We’ve actually done quite a lot of work on it since I’ve uploaded this video, but at least you’ll be able to get a sense of the song.

Nearly all the tracking is done for my album, but there’s still quite a bit of mixing to be done. It’s almost time to start planning for the CD release party, which I’m very excited about. I’m thinking about having it possibly in Portsmouth New Hampshire since a large percentage of my fans are Maineiacs. Then again, it could end up being anywhere between Portland and Boston.

In terms of actual work that still needs to be done, almost all of the songs are finished or close to finished, but they need a little extra help from Brian, who works at the studio and plays keys, or Nate on strings.

I’m really hoping at some point to have a music video made for my song “One,” which is essentially a love peace and harmony manifesto. I don’t really have any great ideas for it yet, but if I get it professionally done (which would be ideal) I’ll probably have to save up for a while first. Hopefully I’ll make a bit of money from the CD release and iTunes sales.

I also really need to look into copyrighting this stuff as soon as it’s finished.

Realistically, though, getting out and performing more will be the most difficult part of this whole package at first. I don’t drive, and I can’t have my parents drive me all over creation all the time. Hopefully that problem will be somewhat solved if Nate and I end up performing a lot together, but getting from point “A” to point “B” is less of a problem than having help with the restroom once I get to wherever it is I’m going.

Another concern is balancing my last year of college with making sure I get out there and perform as much as possible. Ideally I’d like to get signed to a label because that should be a help with expenses and could help solve the travel problem. I have a lot of research to be doing in the next few months, but it’s all very exciting.

Something that I always have to keep in mind is that I’m doing this project for God, and I’ve been praying that he leads me through it and leads me with it. I also hope he will use it to lead other people to him. A long time ago, when I was just learning to play guitar, I asked God to help me have success with music and in return I would use it to glorify him. That deal seems to be working out quite well, so I’m thankful for that.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!