My Very Own Code Of Ethics

A couple things: In this blog I have no agenda other than exposing how journalism has gone from telling the truth and telling stories to certain networks and people distorting the truth so that they have either cooperate gain or more self confidence.

Last year, I had a broadcast journalism class with a pretty good teacher. She knew how to teach and knew broadcast, extremely well. But she told this story: Someone a few years back (maybe 10 years), her brother-in-law (or sister-in-law) was killed, which made for a tragic time in her and her family’s life. And apparently the murder was big enough it made the [national] news. And a certain news network wanted to interview the criminals family. Unfortunately, they had their facts wrong. They came to my teachers house. Which was the victims family. What? Really? How could the facts be this inaccurate? Could it be the fascist assholes that are Fox News? Yes. That is who committed this crime of inaccuracy.

Back in March when Rob Bell released Love Wins, he was interviewed by a lot of persons, ranging from Fox News to Relevant Magazine to MSNBC’s Martin Bashir. And that’s where I derive some of this anger. Martin Bashir. If Fox News is giving a seemingly more “liberal” theological pastor more credit than a typically more liberal news network something is wrong. Bashir did a terrible job at the interview. He would ask Bell questions that I felt had an angle. That would not allow for conversation but rather debate. Martin Bashir continued throughout the interview to have very swayed, argumentative questions. That is not a code of ethics that real journalist follow. Bashir also, in an interview with Cornel West did the same exact thing! He would ask very swayed questions that only allowed for disagreement and not fact.

Jon Stewart has been a leader in pushing “journalist” to present fact and not have debates that lead no where. That present fact to no one. And he is right. What does Fox do? Present right-wing fascist media? Yes. Does Martin Bashir have people on his show to ask paradoxical questions to allow himself to look more intellectual? Absolutely. Is Avi Lewis a systematic, formulated journalist who knows he is less intelligent than Cornel West, so when he speaks to West he only asks question off his sheet? For sure. Will the critiques of “journalist” toward Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert ever cease? Nope.
The reason this happens is because the original Code Of Ethics for journalist has been permanently erased. I wonder if it’s being taught in journalism schools anywhere. The fact that we can’t trust most people is what frightens me. My Code of Ethics is as follows: Tell the truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth. Ask open-ended, no agenda led questions. Seek what really happened. Question interviewees but do it to make sure that the facts are accurate. Be fair. Be balanced. It’s easy. You think that older people (like O’Reilly and Bashir) would concept for two year-old’s. Tell the truth. Don’t lie. It only makes you untrustworthy and hated by most people.
List of Journalist and Stations to NEVER listen to:
Fox News
Martin Bashir
Avi Lewis
Matt Lauer
Katie Couric
Keith Olbermann
Journalist and news networks who have been [for the most part] fair and balanced:
CNN
ABC News
Brian Williams
Dan Rather
Bob Schieffer
Tim Russert
Lester Holt
Tom Brokaw
Peter Alexander
Bob Costus
Ian Williams
Richard Engel
David Gregory
Morning Joe

Secular Sunday Worship: Face To Face’s Walk The Walk

I think for many Christians, we talk the talk but we don’t walk the walk. Yet we criticize and judge others as if we are superior. When in actuality we’re all equal creations. So this song shows us that unless you want to be a jaded person talk the talk and walk the walk. But that seems almost impossible because no one is perfect. So talk the talk of peace and walk the walk of peace. 

Saturday Seinfeld Classic: The Library

For the Saturday Seinfeld Classic the Library Cop gets a mention!  This is one of the best scenes of all time. It is totally worth your time to watch. If you are not familiar with the episode, Jerry has a library book that is overdue by 10 years. So Bookman (the ironically named library cop) comes to find out about the book Jerry never returned! 

Generosity, At Its Finest

So for a while I have had on hold this idea for a book (only one and a half chapters very, very roughly started) for about six months. I want to explore the idea of what it means to be generous.What does it mean? Does it mean self-sacrifice? Does it mean just giving what you have? Or does it mean all this and more? Does it only take one person to be generous or does it take two? What about acceptance? Acceptance from the one receiving the gift or service.

For many of years I have heard it said that generosity is giving. Giving is the wholeness of generosity. Giving to those that have less than you. Which to a lot of extents I agree. But I think that can only be part of it! What about the receiver? Doesn’t it take two to tango? Yes. It also, takes two for generosity to work efficiently.

It takes a receiver and a lover (some one who gives out of love). If the receiver does not accept the act of servanthood or gift it can not be an act of generosity. Not to say the lover is not a generous person. However, no act of generosity was obtained.
When we humble ourselves to let others give, we create generosity. It can be a beautiful thing. However , if rejected can be a very ugly thing.
I have seen a lot of generosity between persons in my life. And the most beautiful have been the one where the receiver, without arguing, accepts the gift or act of the lover. That is when peace and generosity meet.
Where have you seen the beauty of generosity manifested between the lover and receiver? Would you agree that this is a fair assessment of what generosity might be?

Bye Rob, Hi Shane!

  

This past week senior pastor Rob Bell left his mega-church, Mars Hill, in Grand Rapids. Shane Hipps is the new senior pastor. This to most wasn’t much of a surprise. But what does this mean for the mega-church. Absolutely, nothing at all. It means nothing will change. It means the church will not change at all. It just means Mars Hill won’t receive as much media attention because Hipps has yet to release a book as “controversial” as Love Wins. It means Mars Hill is headed in a way that all churches need to be. It is going to be the same church with a different leader. Hipps has been under Rob for quite sometime and has been preaching most Sundays for the past few months. And has also, just launched a new website ( http://www.shanehipps.com ). 

So to say that Bell is ” not credible”  in any way, or egotistical because he wants to have a crowd cheer for him is quite the contrary. Bell left Mars Hill with a leader who leads just as he did. He left some one that shares the same theology he does. Shane makes videos (like the NOOMA videos Bell released) and writes books. However, he is more focused on the church than Bell  has been recently. And Rob left to write and tour. To do what he wanted. To not stretch himself too thin. Not because he was egotistical. 

    If he wanted the applause he would’ve stayed at Mars Hill, and received that every week by his crowd and then gained even more by going on tour. Doesn’t it seem in Mars Hill, Hipps and Bell’s best interest for this move to happen? If Bell has one focus and that is his passion, should he not follow through with that if that is his calling? Will Mars Hill not be in a better place spiritually and communally if their main focus isn’t trying to support a pastor who wrote a controversial book? Wouldn’t it be better for Bell to defend his theological views himself and not involve innocent people? Not to say they can’t support them. Shane Hipps will be a perfect fit for this situation. Hipps has been under the leadership of Bell for a year now. Hipps was the teaching pastor during this time. Bell plans to tour, Mars Hill plans to grow, and Shane Hipps plans to hopefully exceed his creative purposes for Mars Hill more than Bell ever did, thus allowing Mars Hill to love the community of Grand Rapids. 

What do you think? Should Rob Bell have left? Was it a wise decision for Bell, Hipps and most importantly Mars Hill? Is Rob leaving for selfish ego as Warren stated in his tweet earlier this week? 

Godly Men And Why Gender Roles And Submission Is Dumb

 

I have seen my share of couples. Married or not. And when I observe them there are two distinctive factors. Those who are one gender dominate and those that find no dominance in one gender but find equality within both genders in the relationship. With those that find equality I see a better, more healthy relationship. They have less to fight about then those who make gender dominates. They find themselves arguing about one spouse (or significant other) decision rather than deciding as a couple what the best decision is for the both of them. But being a guy it’s weird. It’s odd. It’s “unmanly” to let a woman hold a door open for you, to let a woman buy you dinner on a first date or let a woman have a job while you are the stay at home dad taking care of the kids. What? Who set these rules? Why is a guy more dominate? I’m not sure who set that rule. Maybe it was Paul. Oh yeah, because women are suppose to submit and all that. Maybe? But submitting in that culture was a norm, so how does that pertain to what Jesus said and did? He hung out with the lowest grade women and never asked them to submit? And wait , who are we suppose to look like, Paul or Jesus? Right. Okay. Just checking Jesus was still the Sunday School answer. Why do women have to submit to you? I think if we are suppose to look like an imitation of Jesus then, Paul’s little cultural relevance statements should stand insignificant to how you should treat your significant other. But if guys are suppose to be Godly and righteous, what does that look like? Does it look like domination over the wife? Or does it look like equality in a relationship where no one gender tells the other what to do?

     A few weeks ago I was sitting in the front room of my friends Meredith and Henry. Two of the most wonderful people you will ever meet. While I was sitting there and Reed (there kid) was crying and pitching a fit because he didn’t want to go to bed, I saw something. I saw Godly manhood and gender equality in a relationship. Rather than sitting on his ass, Henry stood up and talked with Meredith about who should go try to get Reed to bed. And for the next hour Meredith and he switched (in equal amounts) trying to get Reed asleep. They both went back there, equally. Henry could have said, “Woman, take care of Reed.” But rather He and Her both went back there and manifested equality.
     Guys, it’s not manly to tell your significant other what to do. It’s not manly to have big muscles. It’s not manly to stand up for your significant other by threatening and not loving another human being, all because they said something to your significant other or put them in danger. It’s not manly to have your significant other submit to you. It’s not unmanly to let a girl hold a door open for you or pay for a lot of dates. It’s not manly to ignore your significant other because there is a sports game on TV. It’s not manly to get frustrated with your significant other when they are in pain and you don’t want to listen to them talk. If you are a real Godly man, you will be sympathetic and empathetic. If you are a man you will allow for equality in the relationship and notice there are no gender roles. If you are a man you will understand that you don’t make the final decsion. Both of you together make the decision. If you are a man, you will not refer to yourself as a man. You will consider yourself the other half to the relationship. If you are a man you will realize that your significant other is God’s creation and you will treat them as so. If you are a man, you are not a man and she is not a woman. But rather you are two beautiful creations that are not identified by sexual identity or orientation.
     It will always frustrate me when some one tells me I’m not being “gentleman-like” to my significant creation. To them I say, I am. I treat them as people, not gender. My significant creation is beautiful and wonderful and I put them on the same level of equality as myself. They will never have to submit to me for anything. And I will not submit to them. But I will love them and care for them and equate them in the relationship, so that they we are one together and not one over.

Secular Sunday Worship: Less Than Jake “Showbiz? Science? Who Cares?”

This weeks secular Sunday covers the question of what if you know all about science or religion, would we still stand about our convictions? So if God presented you with all the facts that Evolution was true. And if you found out from someone in the first known civilization in time that God didn’t exist, would you still stand by the existence that God is real? Are you only standing by your convictions because someone told you they were facts? Science or religion. Know that you’re not 100 % correct. As Peter Rollins says, listen closer to those who you disagree with more. You might learn something new. Enjoy the song!

Blue Mixes

“Blue mixes means to weaken sound turns concert halls to battlegrounds, make us pay to go on tour, marked up t-shirts to match yours”. Sound familiar? Sound like anything you know about? Maybe the marked up clothes you buy? And do they come from some other country (or ours) where people have terrible working conditions and don’t get paid hardly anything at all? But how aware are we of this? I honestly think we probably have more “Blue Mix” clothing and products than we realize. Like all those Chuck Taylor’s in your closet, that are owned by one of the largest scum bag corporations in the world. Or for me, my guilty pleasure. My Apple products. That are made in places where they only use child workers because they have small hands to put pieces together. Is this okay? Especially as a Xian? But how do we avoid it? And who do we trust? How can we be comfortable and be doing the “right” thing?  

The definition above came from, yet another Five Iron Frenzy song. But it made me think about what I have already started and what I need to do more. And about as Americans how unaware we are of the “Blue Mix” products we support (unintentionally for the most part). Why do we wear this stuff? Why is everything that is nice and comfortable made in sweatshops?
When you have people here being paid 22 million dollars to be “the face” of Nike and paying workers in Malaysia less than six dollars a day, something is wrong. Something is corrupt. Yet we just sit by and support this. Or what about the wonderful place that is Wal-Mart. Here (America) we joke about visible ass-cracks on the “people at Wal-Mart.” While in Bangladesh there is a city full of sweat shops. And there are 15 million dollars worth of Wal-Mart clothing being shipped here. While back in Bangladesh kids can only afford a college education by working more hours in a sweatshop for less than 45 dollars a month. We’re also supporting places like the Gap who have 100,000 workers and pay non of them minimum wage? Why?
I don’t write this to be a jerk. Or condeming. I buy Apple products. Try to shop at Wal-Mart as little as possible. And still have Old Navy clothing. So I have no room to tell you, you shouldn’t buy anything from these places. But the next time you do, ask yourself if you need it. Look in your closet and see what you could do without. See who you support. And try to buy from companies like Toms and Macbeth or any other vegan or fair-trade organization. Look up the products you buy. I realize it won’t be easy. I realize it’s difficult to part from your Coach purse that you spent $800 dollars on and the $200 Nike shoes you bought (that you HAVE to have for a sport). But maybe it’s good for you. What if we lived with less? And if you are a Xian (like me), didn’t Jesus call us to live with less on His sermon on he mount? Again, this is not a guilt trip. Just an awareness. You are responsible for what you buy.            (All photos by Justin Pierce)

Identity Crisis

A couple weeks ago I had the amazing privilege to write a story about Meredith Imhler for my News 1 class. We we’re suppose to go in without an angle for a story and figure it out after we started interviewing. It didn’t take much conversation to get an angle with someone so interesting. And someone that has such a compelling story (or as I believe Henry would call it, her Journey, just kidding)! While interviewing her this is what I found out has happened in just the last year:

Meredith left her job with Boone County Bank last year. She said she was a multi-tasker and always had things to do and people to meet with and had employees to manage. But the day she left she had no idea what was going to happen.
She had had this pain starting back in April of last year. She said it went from about her ear down to her jaw almost (correct me Meredith if that’s off please). This pain would come back, conveniently when her and Henry were moving into their new home. So after moving into their new house last June, Meredith felt as though she was having a stroke. After screaming for Henry to come help she said the pain lasted about  5 to 10 minutes.

There would be about 15 trips in the next three months for the Imhler family to the doctor. Which presumably was not cheap. But there had to be an explanation for the pain. 



Meredith would change primary care doctors and yet the pain was still there! She seemed to become extremely frustrated by this. As would I. I mean come on! Clearly there was something going on. And if the pain wasn’t enough the next sign would come soon. The white part of her left eyebrow would loose the elasticity! And even after that her left eye would apparently, swell up and then it wouldn’t be there, of course, when she would have her doctor appointments. So then she started taking the pictures of her eye to prove to the doctor, that she wasn’t on crack and that her eye was really swelling up! 

After that the doctor didn’t know what to do about her pain. So Meredith would be sent to a Neuropathologists, which typically are pathologists who specialize in diseases of the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system), and make definitive diagnoses of brain tumors. There is only one in Columbia apparently. Which really boggles my brain because there are so many doctors here, why only one of those? 
When she was leaving the doctors office, the pain was coming back. So she stayed at the doctor a little longer. But the pain never went away. 
Henry’s mom had been in the hospital that weekend also and they just had other things to do, so Meredith just tried to make it through. Which she did. 


That Monday at work she went into work and said she couldn’t even remember her passwords. Which was weird because Meredith is a multi-tasker and can talk on the phone, type, communicate with employees and change Reed’s diaper (only if it was bring your kid to work day would this be realistic). She knew something was wrong. Meredith said, that her boss just happened to call that day. And she knew Meredith wasn’t acting normal, especially not remembering her passwords. So that day(in the middle of September) is when Meredith would fill out the papers, have doctors sign what they needed to and she would leave her job indefinitely….

The pain was finally diagnosed as Trigeminusneuralgi. 

The problem with this though is that this wasn’t a classic case. Thus, making it difficult to diagnose. The doctors would say that they felt “accomplished” when the pain had gone away 2/3rd’s of the original pain. Which let’s be for real, that is ridiculous! If there is till pain, then why the Hell can’t there be more effort to to abolish the pain completely? 

Meredith feels as though (due to the medications) she isn’t as “mentally sharp” as she used to be since the day she left. 
She feels as though being disabled doesn’t bode well for her personality. But if you know Meredith, you know she is one of the sweetest, most compassionate, loving people you will ever meet. 
Now that she is on the medication she doesn’t feel as though she can accomplished what she wants to sometimes. She used to be a person who found her identity in the things she accomplished. And not small things. But goals that we’re meaningful to her and her family. But now she has to redefine what an accomplishment was.
A regular day consists of getting Reed dressed. Then taking him to preschool. When she arrives back home, she has to take some time to rest because she is already worn out (physically). At the latest she gets started with her day between 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM. She says that feels just so absolutely ridiculous to say because she used to do the same thing and have everyone out the door by 7:30 AM.

 
But now, and this is where the crisis of her Identity becomes true and alive. So now during her days she meets with college students or Henry for lunch, or coffee. And if she feels up to it, she volunteers at Woodcrest. Doing whatever she can. She also says she listens to a lot of sermons and reads a lot of books to fill her time. And Friday’s are her garage sale days! Meredith claims to go crazy when she’s not around people! So if you know she’s alone, visit her so she won’t go insane and I promise you’ll enjoy your time with her throughly! 



And through all of this she has had an identity crisis. But for the better. A crisis where she realizes her self-worth is not all what she accomplishes, but rather the relationships she can now build. Without this crisis she would have been wrapped up in her old self worth. And although she says, she has a hard time not comparing her [now] self to her [old] self, she is much more aware of who she is and that she is worth much more than her accomplishments.

She had a change.

She had an identity crisis. 






Secular Sunday Worship Yellowcard: View From Heaven

I realize it was technically Monday before I put this up. But deal with it. It made it up and it’s an oldie but a moldy! Ryan Key, in this song has had a friend pass away. And he firmly believes that this person is in Heaven. But that the view from Heaven, he believes his friend sees is much clearer than the current Hell he lives down here on earth. Isn’t that so true? We live in Hell, here and now! And when we die we see a better thing. Heaven! A peaceful place. Without war. Without death. That lasts… forever! A place that will be all about love and compassion! This is the Heaven Key speaks of. This is where his friend looks from. But were to blame for the Hell now. So let us have a view of Heaven now.

Saturday Seinfeld Classic “The Pinky Toe”

So I’m starting a new weekly thing, where I take a scene from one of the best shows of all time and hopefully giving people that have had a bad day or bad week, something to chuckle about. This week is from the episode where Kramer saves a pinky toe in a Kracker Jack box. The story is over top. Like usual. But that is where the humor is! Enjoy!

Haiku Contest! (Vote Maya!)

Recently my great, amazingly, artistic friend Maya Terrell has submitted a Haiku for a writing competition! Please do me and more importantly her a HUGE favor and vote for her! She is quite a talented and creative girl who deserves to win! But hurry I’m pretty sure this won’t last long. She will be grateful for all of your votes! Here is where you can help her: http://www.directtextbook.com/haiku/6389

Secular Sunday Worship: Angels and Airwaves “A Little’s Enough”

This weeks song is about the unconditional love of God. And that no matter what the pain is that there is security in the presence of God. It delves in to the idea that God is also present in the earth and that it can come alive and do anything. Do anything with the power and presence of God. It’s a beautiful thing. The story of Jesus turning water into wine is used as a story of the power of the presence God. If we don’t make God present in the world, by taking care of the earth and taking part in creation, and creating peace on earth then we will find God presence in all. So this is where it becomes a worship. 

Believe It or Not: Top 5 Xian Artist

As many people know I have a strong frustration with the Christian subculture, and especially the music industry that has so many regulations, and rules on what is right and okay. Just like the American church. But in that said I do however feel as though there are a few exceptions to the rule. These are the top Xian artist that take the glorification of God, the image of the true Allah extremely seriously! Not making them more Xian or better people. But in my opinion better artist. Showing love to those who don’t deserve it. Artist whose theology is more than superior. This list is to show that outside of Stephen Curtis Chapman, MercyMe, Chris Tomlin and the rest of the Christian music industry that a whole other sect of music that is so prolific, that it is changing the world.

5. Jon Foreman. I don’t know his work on his single acoustic E.P’s as well as Switchfoot, but one song I do know really hits home with me. It captures the American Christian industry perfectly! And it’s a beautiful work of art! It talks about how we need to stop making shows out of worship. But that worship is feeding the homeless and standing up for those who can’t stand up for those who can’t stand on their own. He also talks about how we all close our eyes when we pray and just sing along in worship. And that’s not worship, Worship is the glorification of God. Not monotony. Worship is more than a show. Let’s do something more than a show. Let’s change the world. This is worship.
4.Stephen Christian. Not because of his descriptions of God, but rather the experiences he has been through, and how he illustrates the situations in his life when he could have turned from God but rather he stayed faithful. He continued to love God when “life was in discord.” It shows that he is a human being just like every one else. And that bad things come upon him. But when he realizes that God has complete control, he realizes where his real friendship is. And who he can trust. But the beauty in his life he expresses through his lyrics is what is wonderful! This is worship!
3. Michael And Lisa Gungor.  Wow, where to even start with this band… Well let’s do the first song I ever heard by them, “White Man.” This song is about how we have created God into this man. When He is way more than that. And he’s not an old man. Or a white old guy. And he doesn’t sit on a cloud. And he isn’t American. So what the hell is he? Who knows! That’s the beauty! But one thing he is, is love. And that’s the repetitious chorus of this song. However, it’s not the image of God the world has and that is the point of the song. So the accurate portrayal of God is what makes this worship.
2. Reese Roper. For Five Iron they never wanted to be in the Christian music scene because they we’re for a better words, “preaching to the choir.” Thus, making their lyrics more artistic and more descriptive. By that I mean that Roper always wrote in visions, and imagination. He didn’t talk about that he can “only imagine,” he used the talent God gave him to describe. Most of the songs we’re praise songs, but used vivid description to make you almost feel as though there was something present. And that there was truth. My favorite lyric by them is by far, “how beautiful, how vast your love, you forever, world without end.” Wow! How vast? What an amazing way to explain a love that is unexplainable! And the fact that they used theology in their songs and not just awful repetitive chorus’ that I’m sure God is tired of hearing. The dive into the destruction the church has done through patriotism and nationalism. And the beauty that is the kingdom of God. That is worship.
1.Aaron Weiss- Allah, Allah, Allah in everywhere we look, Allah, Allah, Allah in everyone we meet. This is the song for which I’m using the basis for my argument that Aaron is the best Xian writer, in today’s industry. But think about it, he isn’t referring to just Christians (like most artists), he talks about everyone! Everyone is God’s creation. Even those who you don’t like. Which is hard to grasp Weiss but we we’re all part of the fall. Weiss throughout his “writing experience,” has written songs from Brownish Spiders, and to songs about the earth becoming whole after God takes control of it and makes a new earth (I think but the lyrics might have been more complicated than I thought). But do you see what I mean? Weis doesn’t just write songs about God. He writes about the true, artistic, creator that God is. Not a God that is on a high-horse and thinks He better than every one else’s gods. God wants us to think. That’s the point of symbolism. Worship comes from within. And Aaron Weiss has these lyrical creations down, pat. That is worship.

Secular Sunday Worship: Ingrid Michaelson’s “Everybody”

For this week’s Secular Worship I have chosen Ingrid Michaelson’s Everybody. Very simply this song is about loving everybody. The chorus goes: “Everybody, Everybody wants to love, Everybody, Everybody wants to be love.” Is that not true? Who doesn’t want to be loved? I mean right, people will play off that “they don’t care” or “no one will ever love me so what’s the point.” Think about people who have never been told they are worth nothing. What about the people part of the CAST system in India that are in “The Untouchable” system that are told they aren’t worthless and not even considered people? Don’t they deserve and want to be loved? They do! They are people just like us! We have to love everyone! No what they look like! No matter if they are “evil” or “good.” No matter American or Iraqi. Christian or Muslim (although not much difference). Liberal or conservative. Even if you don’t want to love them, they still want to be loved. Love them! Unconditionally! Jesus said to love even those who persecute you! Let them kill you. It’s okay, they will feel loved. I promise! Enjoy Ingrid!

Freedom Without Condition


More than half the time, when I have time to kill, I will watch(or listen to) Five Iron Frenzy’s last show. I pretty much have the set list for their last show memorized. And have a good idea of how they formulated playlists for most of their shows. I know all their names and where they live, currently, because of the documentary portion of the DVD mostly. I have watched that portion about ten or eleven times. Maybe I have an obsession? Maybe it’s a phase? Nonetheless, every time I watch the live show there is a constant to it. That is the last song of course. For Five Iron that last song is Every New Day. I have always had mixed feelings about how cliche or how “Christian” it is and pronouncing it as a “good” song. Because I don’t support the Christian music industry subculture by any means. But the last time I pulled something out of it that I had heard a million times but it hit me harder this time. It was the phrase, “freedom without condition.”

 What? Isn’t that phrase amazing? The idea of a freedom with governing. A freedom that no matter what you are forgiven! A freedom that isn’t prideful! A freedom that loves without condition! A freedom that is for anybody! A freedom without papers! Without restrictions! Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that a freedom that you want to be a part of? Isn’t that a freedom that you want to offer to all of your friends and family?
My objective shockingly is not to bash on American freedom and patriotism. I refuse to get into that monotonous conversation.
My point is that no matter what you think or believe freedom is, isn’t freedom without condition great? A freedom that even if you screw up you don’t get capital punishment or jail time! A freedom that leads directly to paradise! A freedom of endless love! Doesn’t that sound amazing? It is amazing!
So this blog is for people who want more than a self-serving freedom. For those of you who want to see life at its fullest. Those who love to imagine. Who also, love to create peace and spread love unconditionally. It’s for the people in pain. It’s for those who are alone. It’s for those who are barely getting by. It’s for those who want someone who is a leader not a manager and controller of your every move they make.
Not to be cheesy but there is a true freedom without condition. A freedom that starts now and continues on through your death. And actually get’s better after you die. To quote a friend of mine, “We don’t need to cling to life because we know that resurrection waits on the other side of death.” Resurrection, life and reconciliation comes after you die! It’s known as freedom without condition. And it’s a peaceful, loving, non-wrathful one known as Jesus!

Aside

Secular Sunday Worship: The Flobots “White Flag Warriors” Featuring Tim Mcllrath

In todays segment “Secular Sunday Worship” we explore the idea the idea of making our children martyrs not warriors. In Matthew we’re told to be peacemakers. And to love our enemies. It’s difficult to do both when we’re all becoming violent warriors. So here are the Flobots with friend Tim Mcllrath (lead singer of Rise Against) : 

Bro Hymn : To Two Friends Present, Past and Beyond

Well Wednesday I moved two of my best friends into their dorm room. And in no way do I plan on making this a sappy blog but no promises. These kids have amazing stories and I love sharing and being apart of them!

And I would like to take a moment to thank these two guys I helped moved in today for everything they’ve ever done for me.
Justin, I’m not really even sure how we met. But we did. There really is so much to thank you for but I don’t want this to be a band’s artwork thank you list, so this is what I have…
I really am not sure that there were some points in the past five years that with out your sympathy and compassion I could have made it through a lot of things. It’s crazy that no matter what you always manage to be the peacemaker in our friend group. Which I admire the hell out of! You we’re always the on that would take me out for lunch and offer to pay. Many would claim that’s because you’re parents have a lot of money but to be honest even if they didn’t the generosity flows abundantly from your heart!
Back a few years ago when you were finally honest with me about my “douchyness” and arrogance towards certain friends in our friend group, I realized that maybe you were one of my best friends. I just know that no matter what happens, you will always forgive me (and others). And that is something special.
Finally, Justin now that you are moving out on your own and pursuing a story that you love and that won’t just get you a lot of financial security, I will find even more enthralling to be a part of that story you have start and will change mine and other lives forever.
Oh god, now Tyler… Where the hell do I even start? Umm…well good luck trying to learn to fly? I wish you the best of luck? Just kidding! But seriously, good luck!
Just the mere fact that we are still friends is still amazing, let me say. I wasn’t sure at some points we would even make it out. You have also been the loving, compassionate friend that has only been known for his forgiveness.
However, I have known you much longer and been through a lot with you. So why there are stories that I would love to mention on here I won’t. For a few reasons: One being it has no prevalence to the beauty of your personality. And two I’m a little embarrassed to mention them.
Tyler, I realize that we don’t necessarily agree on everything. But we do agree on the forgiveness and love friends should have for one another. A servanthood love. A love that forgives for any and everything.
There is just so much to be thankful for to you. I mean you know, like carrying the TV up three flights of stairs… all the meals you have covered for me when i’m broke(since that is constantly)… Or all the times you listen to me whine about girls…Or when you came to all our shows, even though we weren’t very good at all… These are only a few.
And when you were the peacemaker in situations when I was not.
When you we’re a brother, even when I wasn’t very brotherly to you.
Just for the record I think it is extremely humorous when you call out someone’s name randomly in a room and then just say, “hi.”
So for both of you guys, thanks for being better friends then I ever deserved or will ever deserve!
This is my Bro Hymn to you guys.

Secular Sunday Worship: Bad Religion’s “I Want To Conquer The World”

In my continuing segment “Secular Sunday Worship” I went a-wall and picked one of the most “secular” bands I know. This song develops the idea that to really conquer the world religious, power-seeking “idiots” shouldn’t be in power. And to conquer completely, we must feed the needy and have global communion. Through this we will become a closer more loving world. Remember that we’re told in Matthew 5:4 that, “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” And if you have given everything away to those who don’t have it, you have conquered the world! And in Romans 8:37 were told we’re “more than conquers.” We’re more than what this world sees as “conquers.” We conquer through love and peace. It’s amazing! So here is the song for you guys! Enjoy! 

The Impracticality Of God And Peace On Earth

 

 

 

My life has been based upon the practicality of God. But is God really that practical? Is the idea of one Being, in control of Atoms and the axis the Earth is on, and is some how worried or concerned about how I live my life very practical? Does any of that even make sense? But when anyone questions this God forbid we say they’re right or at least have a good point? And who appointed God to be so high and mighty? Why is the existence of God just so “perfect” as opposed to the idea of no “higher power?” Why for so many years have we [Christians] got it right? Why do we believe in something or someone so impractical? I mean after all doesn’t believing in a flawed historical book and a God we’ve never literally encountered make us the crazy ones? Not the people who believe in science and no “mythical god?”

Around fourth of July weekend my roommate and I returned from a wonderful trip to Ohio to visit our friend JR. So that night we were hanging out at our friend Tyler’s house and started discussing what if God isn’t real. And the discussion went deeper than that but Tyler’s mom in the middle of the conversation piped in to say that God is a practical thing. To which Tyler and I responded, “really?” “I don’t think He is. Tyler and I defended our points and then not much else was said. Not because we were necessarily correct but because we were all kind of tired.

I had not really ever thought about though. God isn’t practical. What makes him practical? The fact that your family and your fundamental conservative church told you He was? That’s the reasoning? Or have you seen proof?

Rob Bell talks about in his video “Everything Is Spiritual” that the idea of only believing in fact and things you see around you is called a “Reductionist” perspective. And that when we start to use words like hope and faith it scares reductionist because it hasn’t been understood.

So what makes God practical? Nothing. Absolutely, positively, nothing. His existence is extremely impractical. No one man nor women has physically seen God. Jesus, walked the earth, yes , however who deemed him Mr.Perfect? A God no one has seen before? While Jesus did violently disrupt the Roman Empire, He did through peace. And then apparently arose three days later.

What? Does this sound practical to anyone? No! It sounds “fairy talish” and not possible!

But look that’s the point! The impracticality of God is a beautiful thing! The idea that what we’re holding on to is based upon faith, and that we think one day everything will be restored and beautiful again! And that what Jesus did was so amazing and different than anything else in history is such a glorious thing! Our point on Earth is to bring Heaven to it! Not Hell. Maybe that is the reason God isn’t so practical to most people. Maybe that is the reason for Reductionist. Maybe it’s our (Christians) fault that God isn’t practical to others even though He wants to be blatantly obvious to them!

A few thoughts on how Heaven could be brought to Earth and God’s practicality rating could improve exponentially:

 

The most important is the whole, you know, peace thing! God forbid Christians be peacemakers like we were commanded to. And oh man, who ever thought that James could have been right when he said in chapter 4 that wars are only a result of our selfish actions. Maybe when we stop taking part in organizations like the NRA and stop supporting endless wars to hurt our enemies then God will become more practical. Oh and here is a just “revolutionary” idea (sarcasm: the first church, before Constantine of course, had it figured out), but Christians become martyrs not warriors! Jesus was EXTREMELY serious when he said he came to bring peace not by the sword. There is not another implication by that! The sword is only a violent object. It can not be used for “nice” things! Don’t you think God was very practical when people saw reactions like this from Jesus and when they saw one of the most powerful empires brought down by pacifism and sacrifice?


 

Not taking God’s name in vein! And no I don’t think saying less OMG’s will bring more Heaven to Earth. What I mean is when our Christian subculture crams God into our worthless propaganda. When we say that God doesn’t support gay marriage, or that He wants the Ten Commandments in school buildings or that oh dear God, we take out “under god” from the pledge! Just remind me when our nation was “under god” and His true calling again? Right, never. Think about if we stopped using it in vein though! It would be amazing! This nation and this world would not be ran by a bunch of right-winged, conservative, propaganda pushing christians! It would be great! I think if we want Heaven on Earth then we take the name of God and one eliminate it from any “stamp of the beast” we use it for (like the pledge) and we take it to the streets! Meaning, we take it to everyday life as an action. We take it as an act of service! We help the hungry guy on the street. We help the kids whose parents kick them to the street because the kids is too “messed up” to stay at home. How about instead of worrying about where to put God’s name, put it in your actions and people might ask why. To which you can respond “ I do this for the love of the ultimate creators people.” That’s all. God doesn’t have to “be real.” He becomes real through your actions!

Having productive conversations about the will of God with one another. Recently, I have been watching things unfold first with the Love Wins book (that wasn’t blasphemous at all), then the degrading comment that Mark Driscoll made about “effeminate anatomically male worship leaders” to more recently Donald Miller’s fairy land description of what a guy must do to “win a girl.” I’m tired of the “not conversation” that’s going on! It’s all argument! But, I’m also sick of all the bullies like Driscoll, Piper, Platt, and Pfeil who think that their immediate reaction should be to say people are going to Hell, when yeah they are going to Hell when you’ve breathed your first Calvinist breath. But why be a bully? Jesus certainly disagreed with religious people of his time, but rather then CLEARLY making scenes in public about why they were wrong he rather invited them in and suggested his ideas peacefully. Shocking! I know. What if we listened to those with whom we disagreed with even closer than the ones we agreed with? Wouldn’t that open up discussion for the idea of discussion not argument? Wouldn’t Heaven be a discussion not an argument? And wouldn’t God definitely be a lot more present if we learned really to love our enemies and not call them idiots and make videos about their “wrongness?”

So let’s make God a practical thing! He can be, I promise! Let’s make peace on Earth through our actions and through our words. Remember where God’s name belongs, not in our propaganda but in our actions. When you have a discussion with someone, especially, if you disagree, listen even closer to what they say! Make God present. Make Heaven on Earth not Hell.

Calvinistic Love

So I guess it really hasn’t been recently but more so over my whole life, but I’ve always heard from elders that “God has a person specifically for you.” What? He does? Oh I guess that explains Jeremiah 29:11 a little more clearly then! And wait, what is this Calvinistic love you speak of? We were predestined to be with one specific person? And God wasted his time while he created us to create Match.com? Interesting.

 

I find it funny when people tell me or anyone else this. Oh God has a person for you. Or as if we have to be married. Because, and correct me if i’m wrong, but didn’t Paul constantly talk about how being single was better for your spiritual life? Maybe I’m wrong.

When did we start thinking God cared so much about our worldly love? And about our formulaic ways of having marriages and relationships with our significant other. Yes, God did put Adam and Eve together. So I guess that’s an argument? But Adam and Eve probably weren’t real. But that’s another conversation.

I’m just sick and tired of people thinking that God conforms to the ways of the world. And more specifically the [American] way of falling in love. Love to God is unconditional. Everlasting. Love should be ingrained in everything you say and do, no matter what! Love isn’t being mean to someone because you have to be “The Man” standing up for your significant other (cough, cough Donald Miller! ). Love is not predestined.

 

 

 

 

 

We are all beautiful creations of the ultimate creator! There is God in all of us. Some people fit together better than others. That’s why there are break-up’s . There are divorces because relationships are separated from God and the sanctity of love. There are splits, and fights, and domestic disputes because WE WERE ALL CREATED DIFFERENTLY! God didn’t formulate the same person to put with themselves, because they were “meant to be together.” That’s absurd! God definitely made people to like similar things. But it’s part of that whole free will thing where love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage!

 

We [Christians] have commands in marriage to love one another. That is with a doubt. Marriage is a beautiful thing! But it’s up to the person to find someone. Pending that is the path that creates a closer spiritual bond between them and God. It’s not bad (and never will be) to be single. Ever! You can survive without without that  “one person” you think God put you with since the beginning of time.

 

Our Pets Heads Are Falling Off!

 

To the cousin that I memorized every line to Dumb and Dumber with.

To the cousin that almost got kicked out of Vintage Stock with me for undisclosed reasons.

To the cousin who I punched in the face when I was seven because he wouldn’t change it to the right channel.

To the cousin that would would stay up late and make fun of the morons on the travel channel that thought they were talking to a ghost named, Sam.

To the cousin that hid in the trunk of the van with me and tried to hide from Grandma and Grandpa because we thought we were clever.

To the cousin that rode around on bikes with me throughout our childhood.

To the cousin that experienced, Stripes,  as my first R rated movie when I was ten.

To the cousin that would turn his head with me when we watched R rated movies together because there were boobs.

To the cousin that fell asleep along side me in church.

To the cousin that broke my nose with a nine iron golf club.


To the cousin that spent hours outside picking corn in grandpas garden.

To the cousin that still let me drive the golf cart with him in it even after numerous wrecks.

To the cousin that always got to play Batman and always made me play Robin.

To the cousin that always took the blame for my wrong doing and always has[d] my back.

To the cousin that stood me through my white gangster stage.

To the cousin that could and still can beat me up.

To the cousin that is the most talented athlete I know.

To the cousin who always asked what I wanted to play outside first.

To the cousin that always knew how to respond to his uncle’s awful jokes wittingly.

To the cousin who I could always count on to be in a good mood and be pleasant to be around when the rest of the family wasn’t.

To the cousin that always wanted to be on my team when we played sports even though I sucked.

To the cousin that I knew would always take my side even when i was wrong.

To the cousin who has been like the brother I never had.

 

To the best cousin in the world, I love you, happy birthday buddy!

-Robin

Secular Sunday Worship: Goldfinger’s “Forgiveness”

I challenge you on this Sunday and every Sunday to go outside of your Christian subculture and expereience the truth in secular worship. You find out that it’s not all about sex, drugs and drinking. There is meaning and love expressed by those who don’t believe what you do. Here is your challenge! Go and do it! This weeks song is by a ska/punk band from Orange County by the name of Goldfinger. The song is Forgiveness: 

Intruder Alert!

Recently, I visited a couple friends of mine. One friend was telling my roommate and myself about an older gentlemen who told them that they couldn’t have possibly been saved because they we’re too young.  To which my friend responded, “ You have to room to impede your story in mine. I was saved because I had parents and a church family that loved me and told me God loved me.” The old man apparently was speechless after that.

When I was in 7th grade I went on a mission trip with my youth group. It was a camp that we went to just about every year. It was called M-Fuge. Like most youth camps there was a worship team and speaker. One of the nights the speaker was talking about “being-saved.” I mean he was kind of obligated to. It was a youth camp. I mean it was a serious moment but I didn’t think much of it. Then at the end of his talk he used this “metaphor”/ “explanation” thing with markers. Explaining that if you were a black marker you would go to Hell, and to be “saved” you needed to be a green marker. Still to this day, I wonder what the Hell he was trying to communicate. So at the end there was an alter call and all the youth pastors and adults went out to the sides to counsel the youth. And there is a story told by my old youth pastor (JR) that my beloved friend Adam came to him crying (like the rest of us). That is the fear this guy put in us. And Adam told JR that he wanted a relationship with God but wasn’t ready because he had too many questions. But also, didn’t want to burn in Hell forever. Jr responded peacefully and compassionately that God was patient and kind and could wait on him. A few weeks later Adam came to accept Jesus’ love.

I have another friend Tyler. He has lived in a single parent home for most of his life and his mother has been a loving wonderful mother to him and provided for him. I don’t know exactly when he accepted Christ but he did. Even without an earthly father.

My friend Amy who also, has been saved since she was younger has been told she wasn’t completely saved because she had not been baptized. A few weeks ago however she and her friend Emily both partook in the beauty of baptism.

The last couple years I have been in “Journalistic Newspaper” class. While in there I have formulated quite a few friendships I probably wouldn’t have had I not been in there. One friend I made was totally worth spending 90 percent of high school with. Her name is Gaby. She is an aggressive, intelligent, charismatic 5 foot 3 inch “Canubian.” I never tried to ask her about religion. One because it just didn’t seem relevant and we had stuff to create. Or destroy. But one day I did just mention it. And to which she responded, “she was still trying to figure out what she believed.” I left it at that.

Both my parents found Christ love when they were younger. And have followed as faithful their whole lives as they possibly could.

I just finished Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. I know, I behind. But it was fantastic! I think I agreed with about 98 percent of it. In the book, Rob tells a couple stories. One where a guy who had smoked pot for nights upon nights in a row came to find God, when he “heard” a voice. Another story about the women at his church that comes to him every Sunday and hands him a piece of paper with the number of days it’s been since she has cut herself. But she found hope in Christ somehow.

I tell these stories as an illustration of the power of God. To illustrate the picture of Jesus that needs to be shown. And that there is a fundamental perception that the only way to be saved is in a high pressure church situation when you’re young and naive. But I hope it’s painfully clear that God is patient. And when you are given a black and a green marker you take neither. You do what my friend Adam did. You wait. Do what Gaby is doing. Figuring out life on her own. God wants everyone to be saved. He died for the whole world. He wants everyone to accept his love. But it doesn’t have to be this instant.

I bet my friend Amy questioned her “saving” when she was younger because people told her that she needed to be baptized. But then later she came to realize that what those people were saying was irrelevant, baptized or not, God loved her.

God saves in a lot of different ways. Remember the stories in scripture that Jesus forgives the sins of a pregnant woman? Or when Paul tells the story of Jesus being present as the stone that Moses crushed open and water came out? Think about how fundamentally different those two scriptural stories are! And look at what I have and am witnessing in my life of the people who are questioning God’s love because they have strict parent who has forced God on her her whole life or have accepted it even though his earthly father walked out on him when he was younger. Wow! Jesus, saves and delivers love in so many ways!

We have absolutely no room (like my friend said) to impede on anyone else’s story. God is more powerful and loving then we can even imagine! He will redeem creation and the earth however He wants. So to have a fundamental idea of how we’re supposed to be saved, is completely arrogant! Gaby is experiencing God’s patience. Adam already experienced his patience. Amy saw it while she came to realize the beauty of baptism. Tyler saw God’s love through his mother. My friend, myself and my parents saw God’s love because of a wonderful church family and immediate and extended family.

When we all realize that we deny the resurrection every day, and that the only way to be truly saved is through acceptance of God’s grace, and that we have no right to “impede” into anyone’s story unless that is through love; then we will be saved.

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