Category Archives: Political (as such)

When is a Birthday Worth Celebrating (And is it THIS Year)?

It always has fascinated me just how much celebrations are connected with music. Maybe it’s simply because I’m musically minded. But I do believe there’s deeper symbolism somewhere in there.

In his first volume, “The Raw and the Cooked” (Le Cru et le Cuit), French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss wrote that music is “the only language with the contradictory attributes of being at once intelligible and untranslatable…” Songs are a story, which is something we know inherently. They’re a musical story of us.

Maybe that’s why we often sing songs traditionally without any thought or regard put into what’s being sung. Songs connect us to something deeper than even the lyrics may convey.

Ever been to a birthday party and someone doesn’t sing “happy birthday” with everyone else? It doesn’t even have to be your birthday for it to give you this incensed feeling. Even though if you were to really think about the lyrics of the birthday song, we’re singing nothing of any value. All we’re really conveying in that song is, “Hey you were born today. Hey you were born today. Hey you, specific person I’ll name by name you were born today. Hey you were born today.”

And you might say, “Well…it’s not the lyrics themselves, but the symbolism. It’s not the lyrics themselves, but the sentiment behind the song.” And so if someone is at a birthday party and REFUSES to join in singing “Happy Birthday” with everyone, we ask ourselves “then what are they even doing here at the party??” Because we correlate their lack of singing as a statement on their part that whomever’s birthday it is isn’t worth celebrating. So why are they even at a party focused on that individual?
I don’t know. This is just a hypothetical.
MAYBE they’re there not for the birthday, but for the rest of you. Who knows.

It IS weird to me though, how we just mechanistically we DO these customs and traditions without even thinking about them.
Or how often we sing songs because of “tradition” without really considering the lyrics we’re singing. But isn’t that…KIND OF what so much of our lives have become? How many (metaphorical) songs do we find ourselves “singing” without even once stopping to consider (or in some cases, reevaluate) the lyrics we’re singing?

…All Show, No Substance…

When you’re out at a restaurant and “Happy Birthday” is sung at another table, do you join in singing? Or do you refrain because you don’t know the person? What if the party is incensed because of your refusal to join in song?
Would it be ridiculous for that part to say to you, “Well if you’re not going to sing and participate in celebrating this individual, why are you even AT this restaurant?”

What makes someone worth YOUR singing about?
What makes someone worth YOU celebrating?

“Please stand for OUR National Anthem”


The song’s about a Spanish guy!

Not really.
The song is about a flag.
It’s honoring a piece of cloth.
Glorifying fabric.
Worshiping a glorified bed sheet, or board shorts, or tank top, or a pair of crocs.

But no…because it’s not about the lyrics, but about the symbolism and sentiment behind WHY you stand and sing it. You’re not celebrating the flag, you’re celebrating “the land of the free and the home of the brave.

It’s not the words, it’s what’s behind them.

“The land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Interesting description.

It’s not about the lyrics, but the meaning behind it. We’re not celebrating the flag, we’re celebrating freedom and bravery.
Whose?

Are we free? Are we brave?
Well..it’s the HOME of those that are. Okay, how many? And how many does it take to make the whole land be known as the “home of”?

What makes it the land of the free? What makes it the home of the brave?
Citizenship?
Is it “The land of the Free American Citizens,” “Home of American Citizens who are brave?”

What’s it take to COME to this “land” and make it “home”? What agency? Autonomy? …Freedom?
…What bravery?

Does THAT still count?

There’s a document we tend to honor and celebrate, kind of like a birth certificate. That says things like “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Who does that apply to? JUST American Citizens? Or was this supposed to be the country where you CAME TO in that pursuit?
Do these rights REALLY apply to ALL, or does “all” simply mean American Nationals…CITIZENS?

…All Show, No Substance…

Another song we love hearing a good rendition of on particular celebrations?
America the Beautiful.” (LINK TO LYRICS) Ohhh. SO Good!

Now there’s a lot to unpack in this song as well, but the question is still the same: What are we singing about in this song? The land itself? LAND? Worshiping LAND?? No? Something deeper?

Alabaster cities…(jars that have symbolism in Christianity of being completely poured out and EMPTIED onto Jesus)

And just what the hell does it mean that “God shed His grace on thee”…?

God crowns good WITH brotherhood (interesting that it’s not “IN” brotherhood, but WITH it…)

 

In 1852, Frederick Douglass delivered a speech now referred to as “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Given in reflection of the Celebration of American Independence (it’s birthday…) the day prior. This was delivered a good 10 years prior to the abolition of slavery.
Analysis of the speech will convey Douglass’ desire to to address what TRULY makes an “American”? Where’s the fight? In a sense, what IS that “American Spirit”?

And yeah, Christianity plays a HUGE part in his speech. Not partisanship. Not the “moral majority.” Christianity. Where Christians SHOULD find their identity. As Americans? As Nationalists? As Republicans? Or as followers of Christ?
And his point was that this “Christian” Nation of ours wasn’t behaving very Christ-like.

This “Christian” Nation of ours ISN’T (currently) behaving very Christ-like…

But Douglass had hope that while he stated we as a Nation weren’t worth celebrating, we CAN be…

 

We may sing hollow songs because of the meaning and substance IN the song. But I like to believe we don’t sing songs that have a meaning we don’t at all agree with and believe.

America. An “Honorable Christian Nation, Land of the free and home of the brave” that currently ISN’T behaving bravely, freely, honorably, Christlike, or even AMERICAN.

I believe in the symbol America stands for, but the substance is lacking.
…A white-washed tomb…

And until we bring back that American Spirit, I may be a the party, but I’m not going to be singing.

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Filed under 4th of July, America, America the Beautiful, Celebrating, Celebrations, Christian Nation, Fourth of July, God stuff, National Anthem, Patriotism, Political (as such), The Star Spangled Banner

Make the World (America) Small Again

I was equally torn between not wanting to fall asleep, and going to sleep but not waking up.

My son isn’t to an age where he has much understanding outside of his family, and his immediate surroundings. So last night as my wife and I were nervously watching the election results pour in, he came into the living room with his tiger and his penguin, rubbing his eyes, with his back to the TV, looking at us. As exhausted as I was, I wanted to get him back to sleep so I could return to nervously flipping between news channels.

And while I was aware that I was facing a choice which extended beyond meeting his needs, it didn’t stop me from still being anxious.

Nevertheless, I fell asleep on the floor next to his bed, stroking his little hand.

My wife woke me up around 1 (without calling Ice Cube the top gun), and as I stirred awake, so did my son. As she took over, I went to bed, now wide awake. I looked at my phone, and discovered Donald Trump is going to be our next president.

And I could not fall back asleep.

I was equally torn between not wanting to fall asleep, and going to sleep but not waking up.

Now, I didn’t vote. And you can feel free to tear me apart for it in the comments, but it’s my choice and I accept all consequences. I didn’t want Donald Trump to be president, not because I wanted Hillary Clinton, but because I felt I had a pretty good idea of just what America would become under his “leadership.”

And between California Proposition 60 and the Presidential Election itself, it’s clear that what America wants to get off to is an unprotected dick.

Hillary Clinton didn’t seem like a great alternative either, and I didn’t want her as acting Chief. But I could at least see a silver lining in a Hillary Clinton Presidency – even if she does a shitty job, I can tell my unborn daughter that she can be President, because that role has finally been pioneered. That’s how I made sense of the country choosing Hillary Clinton. And all I could think about with a Presidency under Donald Trump was that it was going to be just like when in high school, and my soccer coach became Vice Principal.

He was a real dick.

That’s how I made sense of this terrible election, and the state of our country.
That’s what I thought it was going to be.

And then America chose.

And between California Proposition 60 and the Presidential Election itself, it’s clear that what America wants to get off to is an unprotected dick.

I finally fell asleep.

And woke up this morning to my son quietly at the side of my bed.

I feel soft. With a gentle spirit. In the dark.

I got up, started a pot of coffee, kissed my wife (I can’t remember which order), and resigned myself to face just what the world had and will become.

It was as if the lights had suddenly been turned off and I was faced with what seems like overwhelming darkness. As a friend of mine posted on Facebook, the only way I can describe feeling is “soft.” I felt and continue to feel incredibly soft today. Gentle. And it’s a strange place to be. And a strange feeling to have in such a place. To have a gentled spirit while in the dark can only seemingly be described by just saying, “I feel soft, with a gentle spirit, in the dark.”

And my interactions with my son today have been an expression of that. Throughout the morning things have been calm, quiet, and…well, soft. My wife and I both struggled with a desire to avoid the inevitable array of news and coverage and social media. It’s easier for me because I simply have to make the choice to not look at my phone all day.

But even with that simplest of tasks, I still found myself looking at Facebook. And more than looking, I wanted to see people I knew voted for Trump gloating. But I’m tired of being angry, and I’m tired of getting angry. And I wanted to see those that also wished against Trump express their heartache. But I’m tired of feeling shock, and I’m tired of feeling sadness, and I really REALLY don’t feel optimistic.

I feel soft. With a gentle spirit. In the dark.

And it was while I was sitting at the table, finishing my food and the pot of coffee, that my son tugs on my arm again and again, telling me he wants me down. Normally I get frustrated with this, and this morning was no different. I just wanted him to let me be, to go play, and let me absorb myself in the reality that is. I want to make sense of it all. I want to plan out and prepare for all those unknowns that are yet to come. I want to orient myself to this surreal sate of being.

And he wanted me down on the floor, on his level, to play, read books, to color, to sing, and snuggle his animals with him.

Chesterton said, “…if a man would make his world large, he must be always making himself small.

It was a form of this statement that came to mind and my son was whining and pulling at my arm and saying, “down.” There’s a scene in Man of Steel that always gets me to cry (and still succeeded in doing so when I looked up a clip for this post) where a young Clark Kent is overwhelmed by his manifesting abilities and in talking to his mom, tells her, “the world’s too big, Mom!” And lovingly, calmly, and quietly, she tells him, “then make it small. Just focus on my voice.”

 

I don’t have superhuman abilities. But since becoming (not by choice, necessarily) a full time stay at home parent, I’ve discovered that I can be present with my son day in and day out.

I can enter his world.

Which is huge and exciting and unexplored.

A world with countless possibilities, and also dangers. But a world where he knows that whenever he’s afraid, I’m there in his world to hold him and tell him he’s safe. For as long as he needs it.

Chesterton said, “…if a man would make his world large, he must be always making himself small.

My trouble is that I desire to make my world—the world—small. Because if the world is small, then it’s knowable. And if it’s knowable, then there’s a sense that it’s controllable.
I can’t see that when I make the world small, I miss out on adventures, and unknown experiences that can surprise me. I miss out on SO MUCH when I make the world small.

Which is why when things happen that completely deconstruct the world that I’ve made small—that turn out the lights—that make me feel like I’ve lost my small little world and I’m floating in the emptiness of space, I’m faced with some difficulties.

But when I make myself small…
When I enter my son’s world and see it through his eyes…
When I let go of trying to know, and trying to control…

When I focus on one voice and one voice alone…

That big world isn’t so frightening anymore.

One of the most quoted parts of the second Batman film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, The Dark Knight, is the speech about darkness and light. Harvey Dent says, “The night is always darkest just before the dawn.”
When I actually think about this, based on experience, it’s a bullshit statement. The night is darkest when you go from bright light to no light. It makes you feel as if all truly is darkness; as if light has abandoned you. But give yourself enough time to adjust, and you begin to see light—wherever it may be, however dim it may be.
…if you’re looking for it.

There’s a tendency to close your eyes when you get scared. And what’s scarier than darkness?
But if you keep your eyes open long enough, you see light in the most unexpected places, interacting and doing things in the most unexpected ways.

When I focus on one voice and one voice alone…
That big world isn’t so frightening anymore.

I wish I could give answers.

I wish I could say what all of this is for.
I wish I could give something tangible that helps make the world smaller again, more manageable, comfortable.
But I’m realizing that I don’t really want to.

I just want to hang out with my infant son.

I want my eyes to soon adjust to the dark.

And I want to seek the light.

I want to be small. And enjoy the world, for all the good it has.

And it sure does have a lot of good.

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Filed under Political (as such), Tragedy

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Capital…

Stardate 41153.7. While acquainting himself with the command of his new vessel—the USS Enterprise and its crew, Captain Jean Luke Picard and three members of his crew are abducted and put on trial, representing all of Humanity for charges of “being a grievously savage race.”

In order to prove that our past should not condemn our present and future, the good Captain sets out to show the goodness—and more importantly, the progression, of Mankind to his accuser.

In the end, he proves that Humanity has indeed progressed, and will progress, but to what—as the last episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation will tell, remains to be seen.

A universe where all powerful beings who can shape and reshape the fabric of time and space, who spend all their time toying and testing with the intelligent lifeforms of the universe; a universe with beings such as these, but lacking a God, an all powerful being, and the progress of Mankind appears simply to be progression itself.

1963, a hot August day in our country’s capital, a prominent Doctor and Reverend’s speech explodes into a passionate rant about a dream; of talks of freedom, of justice.

And what was that dream?

An impossible one?

Dr. King stood, a man many believed opposed to racial discrimination. I would disagree. He stood opposed to it only for the fact that he stood for something he believed to be right—an equality of men among our nation.

He believed in an absolute right and wrong, in a manner of being that all men can reach, and he believed in a definitive, absolute, ending point of “progression.”

A right and a wrong.

It seems that the United States themselves could be considered a nation which began with the statement, “This isn’t right.”

In England, in taxation, in slavery, and what should be seen in God’s sight.

Dr. King did not say anything new, but conveyed the original, in a new way. “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”

Equal in what?

Contemporarily, it seems as if what once was a fight for something right, and a nation which began by saying “This isn’t right,” has had a paradigm shift to which we modernly say, “I’m right.”

Our fight has turned from what is right, to fighting for my rights.

The government and all those disconnected from us can do as they please as long as it doesn’t impede on our rights to pursue our own individual wishes and happiness. As per my own personal feeling about it, I think, is that a nation in which all one’s wishes were fulfilled would—quite apart from disappointments, be an unpleasant nation to live in. The world would be too like a dream, and the dream too like a nightmare.

The dilemma with this has been, and will always be the absent representation of what is right.

Even in the far distant future, if man was put on trial, the only defense of wrong doing would be progression from that wrong doing.

Yet while progression from is quite clear, it the progression towards that gets murky. For if you begin with a void, to fill it with more void will leave you finding yourself fighting straw horses—of windmills, of an infinite array of human evolution, of progress, of onward and upward. And to what? Who defines human perfection when it’s based on the thing evolving itself? Did the Neanderthal expect to evolve into something superior to itself? Or no, of course not, those proponents of this would say that it hadn’t evolved to the point of recognizing progression and evolution.

For those that believe this, I would posit that what’s to keep us from evolving to a place where we recognize a mystery outside of ourselves that judges just when we’ve reached the end of the road? What’s to say we won’t progress right out of progressive thought?

At least under the frame of a Creator God, there is a clear vision that there is something which “ought” to be. Even if by Creator God you mean to say, “Some great mysterious force which can only be known by making itself known.”

But to say there is nothing at all is to say there is nothing to fight for—save for the right to fight, to progress, which—time may prove to be no right at all. To have a hint at something outside, though it may remain a mystery—nay, the mystery, is to say there not only is a purpose, but a right way of things—and by consequence, a wrong way of things, and thus, something to strive for, and to fight against.

Dr. King seemed to understand this fact. His famous speech is riddled with Spiritual references to a Creator God not because he was a Reverend, nor because he thought it would help drive home the point of the movement, but because they were so intertwined that the lines separating them could not be easily discriminated.

I’d love to be in the hope that the reason there has been none like him since is that all the great causes to fight for have been, and been won. But with Gay Rights, Occupations, Ron Pauls, Tea Parties, and the like, I don’t know how verily that can be claimed. So where has this disconnect come? Why are there no more great Civil Rights movements when it still feels as if Civil liberties still have something to be desired?

What’s lacking before we march on the Capital once more?

What vanished on our way to the Capital?

Could the divine we’ve “fought” to progress past, beyond, be the very thing which progression herein depends?

Here again it seems obvious that all the doubts which legitimately attach to the idea of a progressive humanity are absolutely fatal to the idea of progressive divinity. If the goal, the divine (Kantian humanity) to progress towards is the infinite road of progression itself, you have nothing to judge what is the right road or not.

A man may be progressing from a wrongness to God, provided there’s some faith in the divine, but what is a progressive God progressing towards?

What defined the Civil Rights movement of Dr. Kings contemporary was not just that all men are equal Constitutionally, but all men are equal in a way which far transcends any government document—in that all men are equally created by God, and in the faith of God as Father, none of his children—nor his creation for that matter, has earned the right to be stripped of liberty, of freedom, and of justice.

This is not to say that persecution was something to fight against, but King would say to fight through.

“And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.”

Dr. King saw persecution—tribulation, as a worthy battle to fight through, all the while resting in the hope of something greater.

It was better for him to admit a limit of freedom in existence, if only to be free to progress towards something true, than it was to have the “freedom” to flounder in whatever way “the progression of mankind” deemed appropriate.

Sometime during the Spanish Inquisition, Miguel De Cervantes stood trial amongst his fellow inmates, merely because—well, because no one enters or leaves this or any prison—without being tried by his fellow prisoners.

His charge: being an idealist, a bad poet, and an honest man.

His plea: guilty of all charges.

Of being an idealist, yes; for he never had the courage to believe in nothing.

His defense, to spin a tale of a knight so daft that he fought what others could not see, for a cause which others did not believe in.

Progression?

Yes.

For the sake of itself?

No.

The knight strove to reach the unreachable star.

There was a goal, there was an end; no matter how daft it seemed to reach for it. No matter how hopeless, no matter how far, to fight for the right without question or pause;

to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause!

Time may be the only thing to prove man right or wrong. We may progress to a time of starships, and of contact with sentient extra terrestrial beings; of aliens who have progressed themselves to a life of logic and suppression of emotion, to explore new worlds and strange civilizations; yet time will still be the Geiger of measurement if there is no God, if the divine is ever progressing as we are, if the cause is to move past the past, and on toward the future, time will prove man right or wrong. For who knows what mysteries one may discover, come the future of knowledge, of progression?

Will men like Hitler actually be proved right in his actions? Will Gahndi be proved wrong? Will the future’s heroes of the past sift and waver between the moral boundaries we at present hold them in?

Time may be the only thing to prove man right or wrong. But perhaps man—man may become the only thing to prove God right or wrong—or rather, to prove there even is a right and a wrong.

Materialism says that the universe is mindless; and faith says it is ruled by the highest mind. Neither will be satisfied with the new “progressive” creed, which declares hopefully that the universe is half witted.

In the end though, I would rather fight for the right (without question or pause), than for my rights.

For when this happens—when all fight for what is right, external to themselves, I believe,

“…when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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Filed under God stuff, Political (as such)