the God sessions, vol i

Head, Heart, Hands: God

So for the last semester and the beginning of the semester, I’m written about a lot of different things. I like that. There’s a lot of things worth talking about. Whether we talk about riding a bus, dating someone, breaking up with someone, getting mad about laundry, it’s all about life, and the pursuit of living it well. In fact, there’s isn’t much I haven’t talked about, except perhaps one thing you’d expect me to talk about: God.

This was intentional. It wasn’t like I left my Jesus bias at home when I wrote to you. In fact, I think I wrote about God each time I wrote in the Knight, but I didn’t feel it necessary to make mention of Him. That’s one of my favorite things about God, actually, that I think He’s just as obvious in the times you don’t see Him – but that’s another article, and I don’t want to give any of you too much.

Anyway, so I made the decision over the next few weeks to talk about God a little more overtly. But, before I get into some of things I want to talk about, I want to make some ground rules.

First, by and large, when I write to you, I’m not going to try to “convert” you to or from anything. If you are going to choose to make some drastic lifestyle change from a few hundred words in a University newspaper, I’d rather it not be mine. Instead, I’m going try to give you some perspective.

Some of you have been doing the Jesus thing for many years, and that’s great. I can give you perspective from someone who’s right there with you. Maybe you’ve started to wonder how God fits into your daily purchases: does God care about your toilet paper purchase, for instance. Important, I know.

Some of you have been doing the Jesus thing for just a little, and that’s great, too. I can give you some perspective from someone who’s been doing this a little longer, and maybe took the same path you did. Maybe you’ve started to wonder how God fits into your daily purchases, too: does God really care about whether I get five or fifteen beers, for instances. Also important.

Finally, someone of you aren’t doing the Jesus thing. Sometimes it doesn’t fit your worldview, sometimes you were really hurt from someone who said they loved God, but it didn’t seem to add up in their actions. I can give you some perspective from someone who really does love this God person, but loves you too, and would love nothing more than just sit and talk to you about what you think about God. You might not wonder how God fits in your daily purchases, but at least maybe you wonder why it matters to someone else. This is also important.

If you have been hurt by someone who a Christian, let me say I’m sorry, too. Christians can be hurtful and petty and silly. It’s part of being human, unfortunately.

Finally, let me say that I’m not here to necessarily to say what you want to hear. I hope you’re happy after reading what I said, but ultimately I don’t have the time or energy to placate you. Nor do I want to. So it’s possible you love God, too, and still be mad at me. That’s fine. Facebook me and let me know. I’ll buy you a coffee and we’ll talk. I guarantee it.


riding the bus

I like to ride the bus. Erie, for a mid-sized city, does a good job creating bus routes that go to important places. The M buses, for example, all go to the mall from Perry Square, and the 30 bus goes from Perry Square to Giant Eagle on 12th Street. Often, if I’m not on a schedule, I like to take the bus to get my groceries and relax at Panera when I need to read.

When I ride the bus, I don’t see many of you. In fact, I hardly see anyone like me on the bus, either. It turns out most white guys in their mid-20s with a car don’t choose to ride the bus. Inevitably, then, the people who ride the bus in Erie are those who ride it out of necessity. Maybe the person in the first seat doesn’t have a car. The woman in the back can’t afford the car she has, and the guy next to you only has one car and his wife is using it. In any of those cases, something makes it impossible for them to use anything else but their car.

That doesn’t mean they’re poor, though. Right? I mean, many of you don’t have cars, and college students in America have the most expendable income of just about anyone in the world. I’m not poor, either. I own a car, a laptop, a TV, a fancy cell phone, and I have a good job that pays for all of it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was coming back from Giant Eagle on the 30 bus. The bus was turning off of 10th Street onto State Street, and looked to my right and saw the new Erie Bank. Inside was a party celebrating the opening, and the individuals inside were the type of folks you’d expect to be at a grand opening of a bank: older gentleman in nice suits with pretty wives with champagne flutes in their hands. They stood in circles of three or four, and seemed politely interested in each other’s conversations, although not completely engrossed, either. Other people were walking around with hors d’oeuvres, doing their jobs and diligently as possible. As I sat in the bus, however, I noticed that not one of those guests looked outside. They didn’t need care about the world outside of their bank party: everything they needed was right there.

Then I looked to the people I was riding with. Each one of them had their eyes affixed on the bank scene. Sure, it could have been the thing to look at and a stop light, but the stares were deeper than that. Less of a desire of wanting to be in the bank, but more of wanting the ability to be in that bank in they choose to. Yet, they were separated, and sitting on the bus, it was pronounced. Between me and a man in the bank were the bus window, a good 10 feet of space outside, and another large window. So many barriers to people just like me, but totally different from me as well.

In just a few seconds the bus turned, and everyone went back to looking at what they were looking at before.

on ben folds, travis stevens, and their last legacy in my life

Travis introduced me to this album.  I’m a big Ben Folds fan, but at the time had never heard about his album Fear of Pop, Vol. 1.  It’s this side project he made in the 90s while starting out with the 5 (I think their self titled had just been released… maybe Naked Baby Photos too… I’m not too sure).  Anyway, it was as if Ben had a month and nothing to do, and made one gem of an album.

My favorite song?  A William Shatner/BF collaboration.  So priceless.  Here are the lyrics:

In Love

Original Artist: Ben Folds

I remember the night we met,
That night we sat entwined,
Under summer skies,
I looked into your eyes,
And you looked into mine.

You said “You’re not like the rest”,
And I nodded.
“No one understands me” you said,
And I nodded once again as if to agree,
That all men are indeed the same,
Somehow, you say, I was different.

For months on end I maintained a veneer of sincere interest,
As if I was listening as you relived every page of self-help and new age that you’d read,
And I went in for the kill,
I’d read the same books,
I learned to ape the motions of a sensitive human being,
And we were oh so happy,
But you found things to fix,
And I knew it was time to move on.

So now you have me completely figured out,
You feel sorry for me,
I can’t express my feelings,
I can’t tell the truth,
We are all alike,
At puberty I was sworn to secrecy by the international brotherhood of lying fickle males,
I can’t tell you anything,
And I can’t commit,
You’re right,
I can’t commit to you.

I will always treasure our time together,
I don’t feel enough of anything to harbour the kind of disdain that you’ll maintain,
You painted me into what you wanted to see,
That’s fine,
But you will never know me.

well, i’m not sure who i’m going to vote for yet…

…but I’m sure it won’t be Rudy Giuliani. Not only did I not like him in the debates after Iowa, but this might have done it:

Really? I mean, REALLY? You could have said “Yeah, when I divorced my wife that was hard”, but instead it was 9/11.

I’m getting more and more frustrated at the fact that the whole 9/11 thing has become nothing but parody. It’s one half Rudy’s fault and one half ours. First, Rudy has become a caricature. He’s playing the same thing over and over and over, showing that he’s the man who helped NYC through 9/11. Don’t get me wrong, he did a fine job, but consider all the help he had. Ray Nagin won’t be saying “Katrina, Katrina, Katrina”, and here’s the reason in his own words:

We authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq, lickity split. After 9/11, we gave the President unlimited powers, lickity split, to take care of New York and other places.
You mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place so unique that when you mention “New Orleans” anywhere around the world, everybody’s eyes light up. You mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people who have died and thousands more are dying every day, we can’t get figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need.
I mean, I’m not one of those drug addicts. I am thinking very clearly. And I don’t know whose problem it is; I don’t know if it’s the governor’s problem or if it’s the President’s problem, but somebody needs to get their ass on a plane and sit down the two of them and figure this thing out right now.

Exactly. Rudy was given so many opportunities that he could have done nothing and still have been proclaimed as a hero. As a result, he’s running on that alone.

The worst part, though, is that we, as Americans have given him to think that’s a good idea. We want that caricature. Have we really slipped so far as to say “well, Mayor of NYC during 9/11 = good president”?

As I think about it, there seems to be two diverging cultures: the one that refuses to think, and the one that is cynical… I think the natural reactions from the last 6 years of 9/11 and the war in Iraq.

Anyway, before this becomes rambling, one more thing. Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert may be the best they’ve ever been right now, because it’s them. What I love most about Jon Stewart (if you’ve ever read this blog before, you know I love the guy), are the things he says outside of his show. Now, it’s just him, and he’s downright sardonic. Angry in the best way possible.

As much as I love the message of hope and change that Obama Obama and Edwards Democrats everyone is giving now, I think I still need to have someone who tells me that this world is still a little ridiculous.

Put another way, I love God a lot a lot a lot… but have you seen the platypus? Freaking crazy!

I’m going to try to write twice a week.