devotions for the day

    So I decided to read the book of Amos today for my devotional time, and one passage particularly struck me – so much I read it over and over again.  I found it from The Message paraphrase, and figured I’d copy it here:

 “I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.”

– Amos 5:21-24

I guess I just was thinking how easy it is to get caught up in all of the silliness and forget to put our faith into action.  Amos was a Judean shepherd who prophesied to Israel at a time when it was wealthy, materialistic, and greedy.  Amos tells the Israelites that a day of judgment would come, and the Assyrians would soon be coming to destroy them.  And I read that passage, and I think of the two things God wanted: to be praised for all of His goodness, and justice to those around us.  Not a weekly Bible study.  Not a capital building campaign.  Not a 40 days of anything, but praise and justice.  None of those former things are bad unto themselves, lest they stop us from the latter.

Much peace.

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welcome back, welcome back, welcome baaaaaaack

So I’ve got a sexy new layout, and I’m back getting ready for the final semester push.  Things a good here – oh, and I don’t want to forget that Erika and I have been dating 2 months today.  Nice!

One of the blogs I’ve really enjoyed reading lately has been fellow CCO staffer Al Barrante and her latest post was especially good.  Observe quotes:

This was our second open Mic, and in all honesty it turned out pretty swell. We had an upright basses play, which was pretty much amazing. And the conversations the rest of the evening were provoking, quite insightful and educational. Now…after this, I would like to blame it on the caffeine, I went to bed and never slept. I was wide awake and full in thought after thought about what to do next. Is open Mic helpful? Does it foster community? Why is music and coffee so good together? Is it? What is missing?

I believe, when it comes to art, that we have lost a lot of creativity. Everyone is an artist, everyone is a poet…we have made everyone confident and left out no one. This can be good. However, where do we raise the bar and call people to be creative and go beyond choice words or simple phrases that can stir a crowd for a second but then cause normality to settle in once the next artists arises. Where do we cause people to think anymore and cause them to ponder the very words that drip out of our mouths and our hands. As I wrote before open Mic I said something to the effect of; art has become colorless and literature has become empty pages upon pages….

We have become so narcissistic that everyone is right and entitled to their words and thoughts and actions. We have the freedom of speech, but not the freedom to oppress. What does this mean? How do we call people to persuade their audience and swoon them, instead of offend them and call them close minded. Someone told me that we have overcompensated for pushing people to have self-esteem and in reaction have caused a lot of individually minded people who are all right. Interesting.

This actually is somewhat related to a post I wrote about poetry a few months back (oh, and I’ve had WordPress for a little over a year now… 10,000 hits… woah woah woah):

I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry. It’s something I can’t help but want to do. I’ve found that it’s a muse hard fought, but so fleeting to catch that when I do finally get around to feeling like I want to write something, I better do it because before long the idea will have passed and I will have lost my muse.
Truth be told however, I piss myself off when I’m writing because I always think about the poetry I read that isn’t good. For every George Herbert and TS Eliot there’s a prepubescent teenager regaling his or her last frenzied love with multiple monosyllabic words and phrases that do not make much sense except they rhyme well. And, unless I somehow get “discovered”, I’m always going to associate more with the latter than the former. And maybe we all should. Maybe that’s when poetry is its most real and most beautiful.

It still pisses me off.

To that end, this is one I’ve been working on (and will be revised I’m sure):

We are all amateurs when it comes to poetry.

Each line, clumsily written, thought, unwritten –

(because lines never endure the

half-smile delivered

while sitting two tables away from each other)

Develop down the page with the fire of kindlingwood.

(and I know more from you at that moment

than I swear I would have in years beside)

We burn brightly with hot heat

Having no consideration to the fuel

We spend until it’s far too late.

(I thought to get up then to see you, but you

were done, looking intently to the door)

Anyway, I really like Al’s last line about that we’ve overcompensated self-esteem and now everyone thinks they’re right.   Which maybe gives us a key to the issue.  If I ever get this poetry thing right, I should probably stop writing, because then that’s the moment I’ll think people won’t get it and then they’re the ones who are backwards and closed minded – I, obviously, am the enlightened one.  If you, dear reader, don’t get something from my blog, I feel bad and maybe it’s my fault, but I’ll probably keep writing.  It’s the creative tension of trying to improve but being authentic that keep we rookie artists in check.  If I become an ee cummings someday, well, then I can probably be a little more cocky.

But I suppose I won’t, because I’ll’ve been doing the opposite for years.

peace.