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Monday, November 21, 2011

¿artistry? 11-21-2011

Something I began in January of this year is to get a song recorded each month. I have accumulated a lot of instrumental tracks dating back to the year of 2007. I also dabbled in rap. For instance this one . I have struggled to accept anything I've written thus far in 2011. 


Anyways, here is the video (click below). It opens with a shot from when I first was in the Middle East and went near the border that is the line between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Then it is just shots of marsupials, a PE field trip, Southern Right whales in Argentina, and a spectacular goal at a Brazilian Soccer game at the Maracaná in Rio de Janeiro to close it up. Enjoy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

split between unconcern & a sense of purpose

I am split between unconcern and sense of purpose. I thought it had to do with personal peace of mind. Personal peace of mind used to be something I struggled hard to keep and maintain. When i lost it, I struggled hard to find it. Sometimes I still entertain the thought and desire it. Scratch that. Many times throughout my days I engross myself in the thought of obtaining it again, of basing my life on my human conception of peace. I have a list of things that I consider my "magic bullet" that will kill my insatiable desire for something más allá that will bring me this peace. The magic bullet is made up of things. Things like ideal jobs, living situations, loves, travels, knowledge, journeys, accomplishments, etc. I either need a bigger magic bullet to kill the desire instead of maiming, or I need to take better aim.

Life gets complicated when trying to construct plans to find my human understanding of peace once again. My composed plans complicate relationships, day to day functionality, or even simple tasks like getting out of bed. Are these my own idiosyncracies? Must I embrace them and just learn to live with them? If so, I am learning slowly and meticulously. I've had glimpses of it working and I've found it hiding in some peculiar places.

The grandiose peace of God. It supersedes my understanding of peace and is hard to swallow sometimes. I don't know exactly where I need to go from there, but that is ok. I will simplify that and be grateful that my direction is rooted in my Father in heaven. But when you worship a God that is everywhere and in everything, direction takes on a new embodiment. This conflict is mostly, if not completely, internal for me. People say i'm laid back. For me the internal conflict between unconcern and a sense of purpose is ardent which makes me feel otherwise.

"If personal peace of mind is the highest good we can imagine, life with other people becomes difficult, especially when we are divided by cultures, values, education, or class."

From The Wisdom of Stability by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Friday, September 9, 2011

Kindly collectin' my thoughts 09/09/2011

Apart from teaching English and Social Studies. The following is a bit of my lately.

Currently Reading:

King A Biography by David Levering Lewis

Martin Luther King Jr. speaking on non-violence

"We've come to see that this method is not a weak method. For it's the strong man who can stand up amid opposition . . . . You see, this method has a way of disarming the opponent. It exposes his moral defenses . . . and he just doesn't know what to do."

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

"People complain about the bad things that happen to em that they dont deserve but they seldom mention the good. About what they done to deserve them things. I dont recall that I ever give the good Lord all that much cause to smile on me. But he did."

La Violencia del Amor by Oscar Romero

"Esa violencia no es la de la espada,
la del odio.
Es la violencia del amor,
la de la fraternidad,
la que quiere convertir las armas
en hoces para el trabajo."

"This violence is not of the sword,
nor is it of hate.
It is the violence of love,
it is the love of brotherhood (community),
It's the love that wants to turn weapons
into sickles for work."

Currently listening to:

Clams Casino (thanks to Bryce for the recomendation)

"Quimey Nequén" by José Larralde

or listen to Chancha Vía Circuito's remix to hear José Larralde mixed with cumbia.

New AA Bondy album, Believers. My favorite track so far is "Drmz"

Some thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head lately:

Upon watching a movie on Oscar Romero 5 months ago I have been on a kick, a non-violent kick. Reading more about Archbishop Romero led me to read more about Martin Luther King Jr.

In an initiative to satiate this new kick I began to listen to more speeches, read articles on King and the Civil Rights movement. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to visit the King Center in Atlanta. During my visit I began to ask a question, "Why wasn't this taught in any of my churches or schools growing up?" I mean seriously! I went to evangelical churches and private schools of the same.

I was overwhelmed with feelings of bitterness, deception, frustration, and ignorance. I realized that I had been kept in the dark and also had been guided down a path to search for comfort and to fight to maintain my privilege.  Yes, I am blessed to have the education and up-bringing that I had. I am not ungrateful. But it is important to look back and challenge it. Ask questions. Hence, my "lately."

Technically, I am from the South, or should I say Texas (Although I was born in the land where true cowboys come from, Wyoming). I am still not 100% sure why my interest in the Civil Rights has peaked this year, but it may have a lot to do with growing up in the South and even more to do with my awesome parents that were able to expose me to multi-cultural environments when I was younger.

Although I have those multi-cultural experiences to look back on, I still struggle with many barriers that are engrained in me because of my class, race, and human nature. I can count on one hand (maybe 3 fingers) the times I have been the only white guy in a church, bus, or room.

One of the latest of these experiences was during my time back in the states this year in South Atlanta. As I rode the bus from downtown Atlanta to the south. I could feel it. The barriers. The history. The brokenness. The racism seething from inside. The depravity of the human. I felt the realness as my uncomfortable situation exposed my own depravity shared with the collective in that bus. The vulnerability distinguished my comfort and disintegrated my privilege. It was overwhelming.

Today, I find myself continuing to wonder.  Wondering why would I want more interactions like that? I am confident that it is because in those moments Jesus' true love for me is so vivid as he reveals himself as superior to the evilness of segregation, guilt, accusations, racism, bitterness, and ignorance. I have been able to eliminate the idea that it is because I fully understand love. Rather, it is because the one who created me has invited me to walk in this love solely by recognizing that I am not able to comprehend or recognize it. We must be open and ready to submerse ourselves in the tensions of our reality in this life.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Balance 02/08/11

I have my hands completely open.  It is both a posture of surrender and resistance
"Normalcy" says I am constantly asking God to show me how to grasp hold of Truth. Truth has many facets and interpretations in my mind and heart.
One truth I patiently hope to discover is the truth of balance. I still doubt its existence and the possibility of finding balance. In my Judeo-Christian upbringing I have learned how God chose to walk on earth and experience life as a human in Jesus to demonstrate balance. This example has been a glimpse of the truth that can offer a balance. Hence, I open my hands in both surrender and resistance to communicate gratitude and struggle. I pray and contemplate the opportunity to filter every thought, word, action, and idea through the balance of God.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Learning how to die 23/06/2011

Then he said to them all:

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it."

The problem lies within humanity. 
Was the creation of humanity an act of love? 
Does God call us or need us? 
Just like we want to be loved, God wants the same.
God is a creative being and we were engendered to be the same.  
Each human being is an image bearer of the creative God. We are intertwined in the act by the great creation
How do we tap into our creative being? 
By dying to ourselves and our false ambitions. Jesus', God incarnate and fully human; shows us this life, its death, and its liberation.

Below is a song that demonstrates this creativity that is essential to the humanity God intended to live fully.  Great musicians created the tune below and through their expression they give us a glimpse of God, the great creation, liberation, and the creativity of it all.

"You have to learn how to die
if you want to want to be alive"

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thanks for nothing 02/05/2011

Personally speaking, Osama.
I have strong emotions within beings.
I am directly connected with your murder. 
Extremism, nationalism, evangelism. Muslim.
Either/or rather than both/and. 
Pridefulness and ethnocentrism. A sense of entitlement
Something I find myself trapped up in often.

What strikes closer to home is not a bomb. For me, the celebration of death is peculiar and unsettling. I do not claim understanding the grandeur of Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, nor if grandeur has been appropriately used in the previous statement.  I do not claim to know the negative impact he had on the world, nor if the militarized modern nation-state is a greater than he. However, I can claim and confirm the concerns and sadness for what I read today in regards to his assassination.  I am confused. The tones and diction of what I have been reading online are at the heart of my confusion. I begin to see words which contain deep profound importance in the life of humanity and the human experience. A few of these words are justice, freedom, and victory– referring to the merit and foundation of the operation led by my country of origin.

Are we capable of deciding death? Moreover, who is to say the degree to which some one deserves termination of life. Where does life seize to be a grace that God gifts to us? When did death begin to satiate the human's sorrow, pain or loss? 
Might we go back to see at what point in history death became a requirement for justice?

There is an unique death. We are taught it was necessary. The Judeo-Christian tradition celebrates it once a year and I remembered it last Sunday.  In this sense, death is still peculiar and unsettling to me, however it is not the termination of life.  It is a death that represents freedom. Real Freedom. A chosen freedom. Not for an ideology or a revolutionary purpose. Not a fearful reaction or a false ambition. Rather a personal sacrifice for another to demonstrate and incarnate a true freedom. Jesus died out of love, not out of vengeance.  Love, he was well well aware and prepared.

Jesus the Liberating King, allow me to die to who I think I am, who we think we are, to ideology, extremism, and flatulent speech. We must live in your unfathomable grace and freedom. You have set us up to experience a life free of fear and false ambition. You are not reactionary so we must learn to resist hedonistic reaction. 

Your peace that
transcends our understanding.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lucas of Bajo Flores 4/01/2011

    April's almost passed and gone. Already I am writing about march. Granted to continuums and lack of faith and belief in time, the things written below are things I am still contemplating and learning. In the "spirit of Easter" this is going to be a reminder.

    Here is a little narrative pulled from march. I was asked to write a narrative for a reflection question on my mid year evaluation for the program I am doing with Mission Year. If you want to support my team and I financially you can do so by clicking here. I looked up narrative in the dictionary. I added which helped me narrow down what I wrote below.

March 2011, Friday night.
Injustice and brokenness.

     These two things seem to be showing themselves more often these days. It hurts. There are two reasons that determine their recent presence. They are becoming more frequent and prominent in my reality or I am becoming less blind to the reality that they are present and exist. The minimal attention I give them brings a good amount of pain. The pain is odd and unidentifiable. I feel so much pain from something that does not seem to have anything to do with me. Maybe it is because it has everything to do with me.
     Like many times before I was walking to get lost in the city. I am sure I was headed to the subway to get away for a bit. I really can't remember exactly, but it doesn't take much to distract my mind. As I was walking down the broken up sidewalk my eyes connected with him again. My eyes rose up and my chin leveled with his as to transmit a reserved nod to warn him rather than greet him in order to leave him with no doubt that I was not in the mood to talk. This is my usual proposal to familiar faces in the street. I've trained myself to allow enough interaction with others to at least alleviate my mind of convictions and feeling bad about myself.

    I quickly realized that I lacked training because he approached me without hesitating. Supposedly my my eyes communicated some type of drawing or compassion. As I anticipated his common run around of asking for money or for food, I began to battle in my head whether I was going to give him a handout or play my "tough love" card so he wouldn't have the means to buy and smoke crack again.

  Lucas is one year younger than me and he did want food. Actually, he wanted ice cream. We went to the ice cream parlor. I spent 8 pesos argentinos and we talked. I listened to him tell me his story. While he did this he greeted the majority of the people passing us by without missing a beat in his stories. Surprisingly to me, I noticed he was receiving smiles and greetings back. During his stories and conversation many things stuck with me. His matted hair. His weathered finger nails. The rancid smell of his pants and his missing teeth. The card board he called his mattress. His common story of a childhood that was blotched with death, sickness, abandonment and deep sorrow.

     Lucas told me to love my Mother while never forgetting the gift of having one. He was never able to meet his. The lady, his adoptive mother, that raised him had died 4 years prior. Lucas also confirmed that people with too much money are not always happy and are probably just as broken as he is. He shared with me his deep sadness over the death of his brother in February and the moments that would not be had with him because of disease and death. He expressed his anger toward cancer. He also shared how he felt worthless and incapable of not being something more than a person living on the street. He pointed out to me that I had shoes. We spoke of injustice. He enlightened me on injustice. His understanding was much more detailed and personal. Dignity. This is what we all desire.

     Two of the girls I live with invited Lucas over for dinner a week later. He gave us a bowl for our house that we moved into last month. He made us laugh. He made us sit in silence. He led us to really contemplate life. He helped me to see and confront brokenness. He showed us how to turn on our oven. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

'Ze Axis // 24_02_2011

"Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes (mind)." Ephesians 4.23

Running. Music. Sensory transmitters in my being. The false-self. We will run, my true-self and false-self grappling over the Over-Soul.
Matt Berninger is singing. False hope and relation to runs through Parque Chacabuco. Running by the football clubs in Bajo Flores is no different.
Reasons my mind have.
A desire to connect.
The unrealizable objects in my reality. We are subject.
Desires scare my being. I am the connecting factor.
I'm the goddam axis.
The mind is powerful.
It is "loose inside its shell."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Creative beings in Villa Soldati 02/07/2011

A month has passed since arriving back to Buenos Aires. The prior month was graciously spent family and friends after growing individually stronger and more distant from them too. It was redemptive time and sad to see the distance. Darkness and light are always present.

January blew by like a gust of rioplatense wind. We are about to start our 4th week of Clown shenanigans in a neighborhood in Villa Soldati. The past 3 have been full of clowns, puppets, football, and narrative.

Last week was extra special for me as the group of older kids (11-13) really enjoyed sitting down and talking about things, even if it was making fun of my Spanish or testing my knowledge of Argentine obscenities. It will never cease to amaze me the thoughts and ideas a lot of these kids have at their age. Tommy, who is 12 wants to be a lawyer. He is hoping to take part in a small-business start up. It will be a little ice cream business. 

On creation day we shared with the kids that we are all created in God's image and also able to create. We are creative beings. It was a great lesson for me. I needed it. Cathy, a friend from my Mission Year group, was discussing with our group the negative/positive, beautiful/ugly things of the world and if God had created both the good and bad. Tommy immediately said no. Tommy went on to say how God created us and how we are broken and have caused the negativity and ugly things in this world.
Listening to Cathy and Tommy dialogue was sobering and profound.

What was hard for me accept was that these kids could not point out any good in their community. Even though we shared that God is everywhere, therefore there is good everywhere, they couldn't see passed the violence, drugs, and prostitution surrounding them daily. What was awesome though was that Ezekiel, another friend from our group, immediately pointed to Tommy as his example for a positive/good thing he saw daily in his neighborhood.