"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you."
-The Bible (Matthew 6)
This has always been one of my favorite passges in the Bible. It has always bothered me when I see people out in public trying to force their beliefs down other people's throats. A recent thread on Boardix got me thinking about this subject again. It made me remember a story.
On my way from class to work one day, I saw a group of evangelists out on the Quad, waving banners and yelling slogans at people. It was a windy say and I thought the wind might use their giant signs as sails and blow them away. I tend to ignore these kinds of demonstrations because they happen so frequently. I listnen to a little of what these people have to say as I pass, just to make sure that I still disagree with them. (One of my favorite assertions that I ever heard is that the reason people get drunk is because of insecurity.)
On this particular day, the message was that everyone walking across the Quad was going to burn in hell if they didn't "accept Jesus." In reality, accepting Jesus means perscribing to this particular groups narrow definition of Christianity.
As I was just about the walk off the Quad past the Natural History Building, a woman tried to hand me a pamphlet while warning me of my impending doom.
"Not a chance," I said.
"That's what God is going to say when you get to the pearly gates," she said.
"I'm Catholic, I think I'll be ok."
"Catholicism is a cult!"
Now, she's entitled to her opinion. Lord knows I have my opinion of hers. But to confront someone like that so rudly is very out of line with my view of the teachings of Christianity. It wasn't enough for this woman that I do believe in Jesus. I believe he was born of a virgin mother, died for our sins and rose from the dead. She needed me to believe in the exact same brand of Christianity as she does.
When the conversation about fundamentalism came up on Boardix, this little anecdote came to mind, as did the quote from the Bible above.
The Jesus that I know wouldn't approve of this kind of work being done in his name. He was a guy who made friends with tax collectors and prostitutes and all forms of sinners. He didn't try to scare them straight. His method of teaching was living by example and preaching to those who would listen.
It's my belief that Christ does call us to spread the faith. But he does so by asking us to live a good example, to use what opportunities we have to spread his message and be loving and accepting of our neighbors.
I don't usually take my beliefs this public, but I thought the discussion on Boardix provided me with a good opportunity.
Sorry this is a day late. My Dad was in town last night and my brother had a concert. And I spent the time I usally use at work on this doing homework. I'll be back on time next Wednesday. I promise.
SONG OF THE MOMENT:
Handle with Care - Jenny Lewis (feat. Ben Gibbard and Conner Oberst)
Ok, I'd written a much longer post but somehow I lost it. One of these days I'll learn to compose my entries in word and then copy and past them into here.
Anyway, I'll focus this on one small part of what I'd written. It's too bad too. You're missing out on my take on the George Ryan trial, the reopening of Berghoff, the Art Institute possibly introducing a mandatory fee, Greg Maddux's ridiculousness and Barry Bonds asshatry. It was good stuff. If you want to find out more about those things, check out the Trib I guess.
The thing that I do want to talk about was a first-time experience that I had on Monday. It was the first time I ever read any of my work allowed to a group of people that wasn't other writers in a workshop. And it was a phenomenal experience. It was a thrill to hear people laughing at things I'd written and reacting in other ways. It put to rest some of my fears about not being able to be funny on the page. It was also nice to have some of my friends, fraternity brothers and professors there to hear me. Although, I must admit, it was a little odd to have people who are referenced in the poems there to hear them. It's something I hope to be able to do a lot more in the future.
If you want to check out what I read, hop on over to the other blog. I read "Upper Peninsula," "Exploding snakes ... ," "Face" and "George," all in versions slightly revised from what I have posted there.
SONG OF THE MOMENT:
As soon as I have some time free I will be sitting down to digest the new Saves the Day album "Sound the Alarm." I've listened to it once through and like what I heard, but it needs to be given so more attention.
Go see "Thank you for Smoking." You will thank me for recommending it.
There's a scene in American Beauty when, after growing tired of all her lies and pretenses, Ricky (Wes Bentley) tells Angela (Mena Suvari), "... you're boring and totally ordinary and you know it." It reduces her to tears. The power of this scene is that it plays off a universal fear: that our lives might never amount to anything beyond the ordinary.
Over the past few years, I've noticed among my friends the desire for something more than a spouse, kids and a house in the suburbs. Not that we don't want those things. But we also want more.
By nature, creative people have a need to produce. Having an outlet for your creativity and time to pursue it is essential. And this is where my fear comes in.
Through studying creative writing and journalism in college, I hoped to be putting myself on a path toward a career that would also serve as a creative outlet. It's all well and good to have a hobby that allows you to exercise your creativity, but the dream is to be able to do it every day and to make a living at it.
After receiving a boxful of rejection letters, it's hard not to be discouraged. When you're attempting to make it at something that is very based on talent and you get rejected, it's difficult not to take it personally or doubt your abilities.
A guy who is currently a resident at the Chicago Tribune told me, "Be disappointed, but don't be discouraged." It's good advice, but it can prove difficult.
When I look back on my life, I want to be able to say that I did something that mattered to people. I still hold on to my dream of being a famous novelist/poet/journalist/filmmaker(?). But eventually I might have to come to terms with this being just a dream. That box of rejection letters makes it feel as though that day might not be far off.
But it's also given me a great idea for a rejection letter poem.
SONG OF THE MOMENT:
Sell My Old Clothes, I'm off to Heaven - Saves the Day (Bug Sessions EP vol. 1 version).
P.S.: I've decided that I'm going to try to make Wednesday my regular day for updating the ol' blog. So keep an eye out for more substantial content on Wednesdays. And possibly a redesign if I ever have time.
The double deuce.
Some people people call this birthday "old balls." I prefer the phrase "old as hell." Personally, I don't think anyone would consider 22 old if it wasn't also associated with graduating college. Now that can make a person feel pretty old. The fact that I need to start a career is kind of crazy when in so many ways, I still feel like a kid.
I don't really have any profound reflections on the last year or anything. It went by really fast. I've had some struggles that have been resolved, like getting my dual degree approved, and some that are still on going, like figuring out what I'm doing with my life after May 14. It's been a pretty memorable year. I guess I just want to thank my friends and family for helping me make it through another year.
SONG OF THE MOMENT:
Butterfly - Weezer