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Oh Sh*t! I May Just Be A Hipster…

Recently I’ve become more aware (or perhaps just more sensitive) to my having been given some sort of official stamp of “HIPSTER” administered by an ambiguous but clearly certified/accredited/licensed inspector—employed by the one and only nefarious and clandestine Hipster Labeling bureaucracy undoubtedly responsible for such matters and the like.

Hipster LabelMy reaction tends to go from defense— “Honestly! I have never been able to drink black coffee until I was 28 and not for lack of trying! I’ve tried my whole life to drink bitter unenjoyable beverages!”
Or, “I have two older sisters, I was raised being told how to dress!”
to calling out improper definition—

HIPSTER…
that word means“You know, there’s this sliding definition of this word “Hipster,” based solely on appearances and dress and—ignorantly, I might add, having nothing to do with the actual culture, where it REALLY lies.” And usually I’d direct their attention to an article published in the NY Times and written by a prominent assistant professor at Princeton University:
HERE
which is still a great article, but successful in enlightening people to truth, it (usually) does not.

And when those both fail, I curl up in a ball behind the coffee shop counter that I work and cry.

cryingBut here’s the thing (given my extensive thinking applied to this such topic), more and more I’ve realized that—maybe I’m alright with being a hipster.
*GASP!

As can obviously be inferred, I’ve gotten into many an exhaustive discussion over this word and have come to conclude TWO things about Hipster…coterie, not to be confused with couture, which—as it stands, apparently must be addressed first to understand what Hipster is not, in order to best understand what it is.

THE PROBLEM WITH DEFINING HIPSTER SIMPLY BY STYLE AND DRESS:

I get it, it’s relatively easily and of the least effort to look at someone and—based solely on their appearance, throw out the classification, “Hipster,” quick to forget that YOU aren’t in the employ of the true one and only nefarious and clandestine Hipster Labeling bureaucracy. But it’s here—on even just a basic level of language and word definition, that the problem lay therein.

If “Hipster” were something so easily defined as such, why do we have such a sliding scale when it comes to this word? If to the small town American man, someone wearing a…western shirt with nothing else matching western attire is a hipster, and to that western shirt wearing man, another wearing a scarf is hipster, and to scarf man the guy with a mustache and all of the preceding is a hipster, and to moustachioed man the guy that has all of the preceding AND a vest is a hipster, and to vest boy the guy wearing everything AND suspenders is a hipster, and to suspended boy the guy wearing all the preceding AND glasses is a hipster, and to visually challenged guy the guy wearing everything preceding AND TO TOP IT OFF, wears a tie tucked into his button down western shirt—THAT’S a Hipster, well, then…we’re screwed and will never be able to properly define Hipster.

We’d be as pigeon-holed into improper definitions as, say, I don’t know, the head of a Dynasty of Ducks defining homosexuality as something so simple and obvious as preferring men’s anuses to women’s vaginas…

THE DEFINITION OF HIPSTER.

Well, so I hope it’s evident now that a definition based solely on people’s opinions of other people’s looks makes an actual definition, does not.
So what is a Hipster? And—more importantly, what is “Hipster coterie”?
As I said above, I’ve concluded two factors that seem to define both the Hipster, and the coterie of thus. They can easily be summed up as two basic desires (that—with some self inspection, can be seen as almost inherently human desires): The desire to know that I MATTER; and the desire to convey that YOU MATTER.

I hope you had a chance to go through the NY Times article on Irony cause it not only brings up some valid points, it also helps to define an aspect of Hipster coterie that is very much at it’s heart. Why live in irony? Why pick up weird hobbies?

Self-protection and preservation? YES.

To stand out uniquely in a way so as to know—truly know, that regardless of you learning to play the tuba or perfecting your micro home brew, you ARE unique in and of yourself, and—more importantly, YOU MATTER.
MOST DEFINITELY YES.
I bring this point up first because it is indeed that vulnerable place that I’ve not only noticed, but recognize in myself.
And those that know me know I wear it on my sleeves. I’m a walking example of a desire to know I matter. And—looking back over my whole life, my style choices (even the “what the hell was I thinking wearing JNCO jeans, Nike high tops, a screen print shirt and flannel with a terrible perm, glasses and braces” choices), I can say that everything was done with a desire to be “me” (even if I didn’t know what that me was) and more at the heart, to know I matter. Me. I have value.
Just because it looks differently when it’s a grown man who chooses to look like this:
hipster
do not mistake that at the heart is the same man who—if he truly understood, accepted, and lived knowing at his core that he mattered, that he has value; well…he still may dress like that as a means of self expression, but perhaps not doing so out of a means of discovering love and value and worth.

**This should also be expressed on the flip side of those who bow and bend to style and cultural trends and looks that ebb and flow, they too are looking for the same worth, value and that they matter.

THE DESIRE TO CONVEY THAT YOU MATTER, WE ALL MATTER:

While it can be said that being a Hipster could indeed be a means of self protection and preservation, on a larger scale, perhaps this is sign and not the substance of a much more important facet. Perhaps never taking a strong opinion about anything that really is important, is not only a means of self preservation but a means of innately knowing their own desire to matter, and wishing to convey to others that they matter too. Perhaps what looks like “tolerance” and not wishing to offend is really just the means of a deeper desire to convey to the whole of humanity around them that we all matter. Perhaps to be offensive is to alienate those you wish to show acceptance to—which is ALL. Which also—should be understood that—while not right, the only people unaccepted are those who are themselves, unaccepting.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to say the means themselves are right and should be seen as such. No. Look, I’m someone well aware of their faults to a fault. You will never hear me say that there’s nothing wrong with me. But you will also never hear me say that there’s nothing wrong with everyone else either. And that’s the point itself. I’m not right. And they’re not right. And the whole world isn’t right. And so the means can never quite make the mark.

too slow   (Awww, that close.)

But perhaps there is something to be said of at least trying—even if it’s faulty.

Perhaps the deeper substance behind the flash and mustache should be given a second look and a second thought. That we all desire to know that we are loved and accepted. And if you (even innately) know that about yourself, you desire to show that to and for others. And that may be conveyed with words like “tolerance” and “coexist” and never wishing to call out any one’s faults, or it may come across as an underlying recognition of EVERYONE BEING NOT RIGHT. That we’re all not good, but that’s whyit’s good. Because you cannot truly convey love and acceptance, you cannot truly know yourself that you matter, that others matter if you were perfect, or if your faults were overlooked. It’s in the faults that we know we are truly loved. It’s in falling short that I know I matter.
And it’s he who has been forgiven much that loves much.
Yes. Even to the ones that make big deals out of nothing on Facebook. Yes. Even to the guy that makes it a point that you’re ordering anything but a black coffee and never smiles while serving you your beverage (I’m looking at YOU, *not so* Happy Coffee). Yes. Even the Wal-Mart shoppers. Yes. Even the people that call you Hipster.
Yes. Even the people that preach love and grace but their actions convey anything but.

If being a Hipster means that I not only struggle with mattering myself, but desire to show that others matter. If it means that I know my own faults and that I will always fall short and never make the mark, then I am sensitive that perhaps others are of themselves as well, and I don’t need to draw attention to their shortcomings and so on.
Look, my dad always said that the closer you get to light, the bigger the shadow you cast.
What are you gonna focus on, the shadow? The not thing? Or are you going to recognize that that not thing, that no-thing, that nothing, is simply a by product of YOUR interaction with the light? And perhaps when the light sees YOU, it SEES YOU. And it knows that the shadow you cast ISN’T YOU.

Why continually focus on the things that aren’t people, the things that don’t matter when what’s truer is focusing on the person, on the things that do.

And if that makes me a hipster, then, well, shit.
Consider this my “coming out of the Hipster closet” moment.

I’m a hipster.

And if we’re still simply relying on the appearance of a person to define them as a hipster…
then, well, I do enjoy being stylish. I mean, this doesn’t put itself together…

wink
So stamp away, label this Hipster what he is…
a Hipster.

Hipster Label

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A Dark Night Risen

This morning I wake up to texts and calls from family. Some—who live locally, wish to know if I’ve seen the news this morning. The others who don’t, ask if I or anyone I know went to the midnight showing of Dark Knight Rises where the mass shooting occurred. If I’m okay, alive, or shaken personally by this.

When I’m suddenly faced with a darkness that not only takes me by surprise, but seems to slap me sideways—reminding me that I forgot about evil, forgot that it’s out there, ready to forsake innocence, to steal, to kill, and to destroy,
what do I say?
What is my response?

It’s at times like these it seems, that both Atheists and Theists utter a word they do or do not believe to be real:
“Oh God.”
Further, the question of direction and place is posited, “Oh God, where are you now?” While each of us ask the same question, the meaning behind the question varies contingent on the asker. Some seek to really see just where God is, and why God chose to let this happen. Others seek to see the utter absence of God; they seek to see that God is nowhere.

(Sufjan Stevens’ “Oh God, Where Are You Now?”)

And to be honest, times like these can make me feel this to be the case.

It’s not just in the act of carnage that one wicked man chose to inflict on innocence—looking to be entertained, in whatever way, for whatever reason looking to escape reality, but in the mere fact that for me, for many in the area, life merely goes on.

We respond to loved one queries on Facebook that yes, we’re okay. No, we didn’t go to the midnight showing last night. Aurora isn’t anywhere near where we live and there’s a whole bunch of theaters between here and there that I would pick over going there. No, Aurora and Columbine are nowhere near each other. No, we don’t have any inside information.

And then we go back to our daily routine. Life doesn’t stop. Our obligations don’t stop. So just where is God in that? Where is God in the banal continuation of life when evil has occurred that shocks and shakes us, yet doesn’t truly affect us, and thus, we move on instantaneously?

The hardest thing about my personal belief in God is not the times debating God’s existence, not the times I’m poked fun of as the guy who always has his Bible handy, nor arguing a campus preacher or family about believing that God IS LOVE, and because of that, Hell is not eternal; no. The most difficult times for me are to be faced with the utter mystery of it all. The times where something happens that I can’t reveal my heart, or my knowledge of God. The times that seem to surprise attack me with a slap in the neck and a “where’s your God now?!?!?” attitude.

Because it’s these times where I don’t have anything to fall back on but faith, hope, and love.

Can I explain in clear and precise theological detail what God is doing in the specifics of the gruesome event and why? NO.

And honestly, it would be blasphemous and insulting to the people involved—those that lost their lives, those that lost loved ones, those that were injured, if I (or anyone) attempted to.

Increasingly I’ve become faced with not only the utter mystery of God, but that my true fear in life is that God is not good. I’m not afraid of death. I’ve faced it too many times in too many ways. What I am scared to death of is that there’s no greater purpose to it all. That God—the creator, sustainer, Father of ALL things, isn’t a good God.

So no, I can’t tell you God’s purpose in this attack. I can’t say that it will all work out to good.

I CAN however, say that when Jesus breathed his last breath on the Cross, and ‘released his Spirit,’ the Veil in the Temple separating the Holy of Holies (traditionally believed to be where God dwelled) was torn in two, from top to bottom, symbolizing the outpouring into all the world. (Matthew. 27: 50, 51)

I can tell you that it’s not the sacred that is in danger of the profane, but with the veil torn and the Holy of Holies being poured out, it in fact is the profane that is in danger of becoming sacred.I can say that Jesus has said that He is “making ALL THINGS new.” (Revelation 21: 5)

That is where my faith and hope lay.

As for love, I have not been affected personally by this tragedy, nor know anyone who has, but I am choosing to honor those that have by not attempting to explain away their loss, their sadness, their darkness. And while perfect love casts out, dispels fear, what does it mean when I’m still afraid? What does it mean for those that were afraid? That are dealing with the aftermath of something that caused so much fear and pain?

I cannot say WHAT God is doing, but I can say that I know and trust that God IS doing [something].

And the world will be better for this…

FOR MORE OF MY THOUGHTS ON TRAGEDY, VIEW MY SEPTEMBER 11TH BLOG HERE

AND BE SURE TO VIEW BELOW FOR MY EXTRA SIDE NOTE COMMENT ONE EVIL, GOOD, AND TRUST IN GOD

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I Gave Up Lent for Lent

Very few of us ever see the history of our own time happening. What more of our view of an event that happens outside of time? Of an event which—to us being in time is, at least, ever happening? What then?

I was outside my job a Wednesday morning not too long ago doing carpool—kid drop off for my school, when a number of parents brought to my attention the overwhelming amount of cars in our shared parking lot with the Catholic church next door. It was one of those overcast, grey days which you one can easily find all too uneventful, yet which is a prime environment for “an event” to happen.

“Why’s it so busy?” “I don’t know,” I responded, until—randomly, it hit me an instant later. “It’s Ash Wednesday.”

Then came the questions. Apparently, there’s this view out there that I am the “go-to” source of information on everything Theological.

To be frank, I had no clue what Ash Wednesday or Lent fully meant to Catholic parishioners until I took the time this last week to look it up. The most I ever knew was that Ash Wednesday the day Catholics put an ash cross on their heads to compete (so my mind made up) with the Hindu Bindi.

And as far as Lent was concerned, well, that was the time McDonalds brought back the McFish (Filet O’ Fish) so that it wouldn’t lose money during the 40 day period.

Beyond that, was only jokes I had made in High School to Catholic kids that they seemed to have a little smudge on their head, and need to go wash. And that Lent was where you gave up something you liked but could do without—something you liked, but not so much that it would be a real burden to go without it for 40 days.
So I’d joke about giving up Lent for Lent. I’d give up (in my eyes) the act of giving up.

But as I said, that day not too long ago, was a day ripe with historical significance—even if to me then and now, I cannot [fully] see it. The only thing I have the ability to do, is tell the story of what I saw; while all the while, something went on outside of my scope of view.

There’s a funny refrain which is sung in the background when your life is consumed with the thought of something else entirely. And it becomes quite clear (at least at some point in life or ultimately, in death) that it isn’t a song of refrain—as if life had suddenly been put on hold whilst you figured out what you needed to, but ultimately, that it in fact, kept going despite.

The nerve of such a thing.

I have been struggling personally, with the possibility that I may have Adult ADD. To some, this is a meaningless term shrouded in mumbo jumbo, psycho-babble which actually under all that “white-washing,” really just means that you have issues with self-discipline, or control, motivation.
It has also been assumed that someone of such a stature only wants an excuse and a prescription for stimulant and nootropic drugs, if only to experience a fictional life seen in films like, “Limitless.”

Within this struggle, my mind has been focused on nothing but what I’ve come to believe to be a sense of healing. Knowing that what I thought to be normal, a life personal to me, a struggle I must face, and then coming to a place where I found out it may not be the case; further coming to a place which stressed a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, a treatment, I cannot seem to focus on anything else—not passions and pleasures, not hobbies, not anything.

My eye was too fixed on the hopeful light at the end of the tunnel, and my mind too focused on bringing that light into proximity, that I not only couldn’t see the tunnel itself, nor the things in it I’d stumble over, but that that light wasn’t something at the end of a journey, but something which surrounded that journey, if only seeming to be at its end.

While I’m stuck in a place of dying and rebirth (as the “light at the end of the tunnel” is consistently associated with), life—the light, itself is occurring outside my poorly constructed viewpoint.

So I found myself, waking one day (that’s today!), in to the middle of Lent. As I became aware after searching and studying, Lent is a time of preparation and penitence for the coming of Easter. And, Easter, as is understood in the West, is the time associated with the death and resurrection of Christ. I specify “the West,” because it is apparent that inconsequential of your belief in the mere (small) man known as Jesus, or the God (giant) who is known as the Christ, we are all too close in knowledge of Him to be unbiased in our opinions of Him. This has led to the formation of two great armies—battling not only about the man Jesus, but fighting to the end on the vital point of Easter; whether it fits into the celebration of Spring, or whether the celebration of Spring fits in to it.

I myself, am in the camp of stating that both are a symbol, and that neither do what they are symbolizing [complete] justice. Whatever you consider to be the myth, the error lay in the simple truth that the deliberation of the mythology something more mythical than the myth itself.

It has always seemed the case that ‘people of intellect’ have thought that religion and beliefs to be this way. That while they know the truth of all things, those that practice religions are not in on the truth. Let them believe in a symbol of what is actual and real, to be God.
The truth lay in that Jupiter is no God, but a mere planet. Neptune is no deity, but merely the ocean.
The coming of Spring is no return of a God, but a mere cycle of our planet’s rotation around the sun.

Quite plainly, of course, it is in fact the other way around. Jupiter is a representation of the planet, but the planet is a representation of something even greater. Neptune is a representation of the ocean, but the ocean is a representation of something even greater.

The celebration in that Spring represents the returning of the God, and the fertility in that homecoming; and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead to life are, admittedly, both mere representations of something “no eye has yet seen, and no ear has yet heard.”

Jesus spoke of the coming of Easter—His death and resurrection as the Now. He spoke of it presently, before it even occurred historically. That that extra-temporal event which was occurring was “the time for judgment on this world;” that it was when “the prince of this world [Satan] will be driven out;” and a time when, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” [John 12: 30-33]

I know many to believe and preach that Judgment will occur at the end of time. These are also the same to believe that it’s at the end when evil—Satan, will be finally done away with. But what if this is already occurring? What if it’s an event that is outside of time and thus, taking place regardless and quite independent of what transpires in our lives?

Well then it would mean that it isn’t something which could occur in our lives—as if we choose it, but that our lives occur in, as it choosing us.

And those people that believe it happens at the end of time are at least partially correct, but genuinely miss the scope of it. They see the earth as flat, and that someday, we’ll fall off the end of it—when the timeline ends. But what they don’t see is that the universe—the space we fall in to is all around us, is holding us up, is occurring just outside our scope.

History in the making, outside of history itself.
An event which [seems to] make us; not us making it.
Ash Wednesday is a day of mourning and repentance to God, sacramental in the mythos and doctrine of a return of focus and contemplation of Christ’s sacrifice.
Yet frankly, that sacrifice occurs whether it’s observed or not.

I have not myself been in a state preparation for the coming of Easter. It’s truly been one of the last things on my mind—as it seems all holidays have been right up until their occurrence. Yet Easter has been occurring without my focus on it; and in a sense, my lack of preparation doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been preparing for me.

If Jesus’ words were true, every moment (the Now, and…now, and…now) is a moment where I am not only being judged, but drawn (the Greek word is helko—which is commonly associated with “romance,” thus, I’m being romanced) to Him.

And this which occurs, occurs without me even having the ability to perceive its occurrence.

So this year, I really am giving up Lent for Lent.
I’ve given up attempting to understand a mystery which—by all rights, wants to remain so.
A mystery that I cannot figure out, but seems to me, one that has figured me out.

By doing so, I’ve realized that it is not so much the mystery which I’ve given up, but myself.

And that, it seems, is the true heart of the observance of Lent.

(Part 2…of Sorts)

There will come a time when I—as we all will be, am faced with the Truth, that is, what is real. The funny thing about it will be that I feel it will turn out to be exactly what we all never could completely understand it to be. The mystery of Truth is that even when it will stare into our eyes, we will be no less astounded by its mystery; that is, even when it ought to no more be a mystery that is precisely what it will remain.
For it is not it (Him) who will change, but us.

Many under the impression (dogma) that when the Bible speaks of Justice, of Judgment, it refers to us “getting what we deserve.” Yet this view is inherently flawed for it is still based on our view of what Justice truly is. If this were the case, we would not be in reception of something wicked, but of nothing at all. For what we truly “deserve,” if you want to call it that, is not a bad something, but nothing. We are “deserving,” of neither good nor ill, Heaven nor Hell, paradise nor punishment, but merely non-existence at all. The opposite of God is not Satan, not Hell, but nothingness.

So what is Justice? And ipso facto, what is the “judgment” Jesus refers to? It plainly does not entail humanity, “getting what it deserves,” but must entail God getting what God deserves.

And what is God getting what God deserves? What about, “all glory and honor and praise?” Well what would give Him all glory and honor and praise short of a completion of what He started–namely, the Creation of Man in His image.

This is to say that, while scholars and theologians have got it right, God is good, and we are not (and further, they squabble over which point is more important to focus on); it is in them both which we see the “light.” For God is indeed good, and I indeed am not good–that is to say, my sinful nature “keeps me from Him,” but it is in the very heart of my sinful nature that I come to rightly see just how good God is.

As William James concluded, the only reason for God to create would be out of Love. So why create a man (me, and ipso-facto, mankind) destined to fall short? Why, if for nothing save for the revelation to that man–through falling short, through sin, through never being good enough, never earning it, that He (God) loves him (me, mankind) for no reason at all.
It is in this light which make my sinful nature something to be viewed not as a curse which keeps me from God (though it does, there should be no denying that fact–no remaining on that as the focus should also be avoided), but as a necessity–one in which, through I am able to truly see how much God loves me. And that, at the heart of it all, who and what I am is loved by God for no reason.

With this, the thought of being created with a sin nature, having a story of the “fall,” being set up to fail, fall, miss the mark (vastly) is for nothing but to prove the aforementioned to me (and by me, I mean to include all mankind).

In this, the “judgment” that Jesus refers to occurring “now,” is a revelation to all that we are created for no reason but love, and loved for no reason but being created.

Thus, that “judgment” which occurs can take many forms and even look like destruction. And perhaps it is. Perhaps I am being “destroyed,” but perhaps this only looks this way from my perspective. A slow and steady destruction of the me which—as I get older, there seems to be more and more of, to the point where even when all my mind can focus on is that me, destroyed to see a love of me completely outside of anything I can build up of myself that I deem lovable.

Maybe what is really happening is that I am actually being “created.”
Created in the image of God.
And what to me seems like a lifetime—my lifetime, is to God merely one day.

The ashes placed on the foreheads on Ash Wednesday come from the burnt palm leafs of last year’s Palm Sunday. Traditionally, the palms were a symbol that was laid down when Jesus entered Jerusalem to die; but more symbolically, a symbol of us laying down our lives for Jesus. As such, the act of burning the palms to create the ashes of next year’s observance of Lent can be taken as symbolic of us being burned to ash.

Many can point to the Jesus who said that there are those that God will utterly destroy, basing not only their views of others and their fate on this, but their views of God. Yet this is the same Jesus who says in other places (without distinction or specification as to whom) that he has come to save the sick, the lost—thedestroyed.

Perhaps this-destruction and salvation, is all part of God’s original intention to create mankind in “our [God’s] image.”

Maybe when Jesus said in the Book of Revelation that, “Behold, I am making ALL THINGS new!” This entailed them first being burned, being destroyed.
It is then feasible, that I (and all I’s in this world)—whether we observe it or not, are in Lent every day. Something that does not need to be observed, but something for us to be observed by; something far beyond a 40 day period of fasting and sobriety, but that life itself can be considered Lent. For we are all in lacking, we are all in a missing of what is real, what is true, what is good.

But Easter is coming. And whether I’m prepared for it or not is moot: for it is preparing me. And when it finally comes, ALL men will be drawn to being made new,
to being made [completion],
to celebration,
to thanksgiving,
to truth,
to Jesus.

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