Archive for the ‘College’ Category

Dear Warrensburg,

Words cannot express the times I have had abiding here. I came to you a naive, confused, self-conscious 18-year-old kid who thought he had his adult life planned out perfectly. I came to you in chains- dragging along my religious, personal, and emotional baggage. It was here, that I gained the closest friends I’ve ever made. It was here that I learned to accept who I am, and be at peace with that.  It was here that the moral-system I upheld so zealously (and blindly) was continually challenged and transformed. It was here that I experienced some of my lowest points. It was here that I realized how utterly broken I was, so that I could accept the grace-rooted life of Jesus Christ. It was here that I laughed, cried, hugged people, ate, played music, sported like 8 different hair cuts, helped people, dated, started protest rallies, drank lots of coffee, philosophized, socialized, made a bazillion Taco Bell runs, and learned how to truly share life with people.

In the last four years there have been a number of people who’ve invested in me and spoke wisdom into my life. These people have had made a difference in my life by how they live and how they interact with others. (Disclaimer: none of these people are perfect, nor would they prefer to be put on any kind of pedestal).  Most notably Roger Brant, Sara Johnson, Mark Bliss, and Carson Conover.

Carson and Roger were one of the first few people I met here at UCM. Carson was a senior and a student leader at the BSU. Roger was the new campus minister at the BSU. (They knew each other before-hand). I always kinda looked up to Carson because he was a few years older than me. It was one of the first times I had met a young Christian who lived the Christian life with a non-judgemental, loving attitude everywhere he went. Not to mention he’s a pretty intelligent dude (though he tries to hide it with quirky humor). Carson, obviously didn’t stick around long because he graduated in 2008. I did however get the chance to hang out with him and chat a handful of times later down the line. Every one-on-one conversation we had was profoundly meaningful and surprisingly casual. This helped set a foundation for many other things to come.

Onto Roger…Roger is a very peculiar man, but one I’ve grown to love and respect. He’s got a lot of deep layers to him, that I’m not even going to begin to tackle. Roger is someone who has seen me from the day I was a freshman to the day I graduated. He saw how I changed, struggled, and grew. He was never someone who tried to spoon feed me all the right answers, but instead tried to ask the right questions. Roger helped me look at my faith seriously and honestly. He is no longer at the BSU, but instead the “leader dude” at Wayfare Church in the Warrensburg. This is another community I’ve gotten the joy of being a part of since Sophomore year (2009). I will dearly miss Roger, and his wisdom, quirky/sarcastic humor, and mandolin skills.

Sara Johnson was my Residence Hall Director/Boss in Fitzgerald Hall and Nickerson Hall, while I was a CA in those buildings. I can’t honestly say that I was always completely open with Sara (til the last month lol). But her humble, hard-working, optimistic characteristics were an inspiration for me. I admire her persevering faith. She taught me to “Choose my ‘tude” daily. She taught me to not overload myself, but to roll with my creative inspirations. She was always a great listener and always someone I viewed as a friend just as much as a boss.

And Mark Bliss…Oh Mark. Dude, I’m gonna miss you. Jam sessions. Waiting on you to show up somewhere. Sociology classes. Solving the universe’s problems inside Java Junction. Though you may not be the most organized person, you are definitely a friend I can count on to lend a helping hand (as long as I call you spontaneously and not ahead of time lol). I admire your heart and respect you like crazy man. Best of luck to you on whatever you end up doing in life.

…like I said there are a TON of other people who’ve invested in me, loved on me, and been a huge part of my life. Every year here (and almost every semester) has been different. It’s been a blast. So thank you to everyone else. It was the people at UCM that made my college experience special and memorable.

So long UCM! So long Warrensburg! I’m gonna miss you like crazy. Seriously.

Next time I return I’ll be Alum… Weird.

Advertisements

This is my Sociology paper for my Sociology Senior Capstone class. I put a lot of effort into it, and I figured it would be blog appropriate (even though I have never posted anything this academic before). If you feel inclined, I’d love to hear your comments and critiques!

How would one describe the hipster culture? It is a post-modern counter-culture that obsesses on ironic individuality, indie and folk music, Urban Outfitters and American Apparel, coffee shops, fair-trade merchandise, and a hodgepodge of vintage fashion trends. Wallace-Wells of the New York Sun writes: “there are the unlikely beards, sure, but there’s also the unusual fusion of earnestness and irony, the religious zeal about creativity and cool, and the bourgeois experiment in slumming”[i]. In a lot of ways this culture adopts the trends of its counter-culture predecessors: the beats, hippies, punks, and grunge.[ii] What is odd is that most people who ascribe to these cultural symptoms won’t even admit to being a “hipster”.[iii] That is because the very essence of hipsterdom resolves around denying any sort of umbrella label by the mainstream (Western modernism). At the same time hipsters try to pull off expressions of individuality while embracing obvious ironic inauthenticities. Even the name- hipster- implies some sort of derogatory tone. Yet in the midst of outward denial by the masses, there is a growing trend in hipsterdom that cannot be denied or ignored.[iv] This essay is an attempt to untangle this complex culture’s fashion, music and lifestyle preferences from the angles of race, class and gender; and offer a critique through a sociological lens.

The gender lines previously defined by Western modernism are increasingly being bent to suit the social agenda of post-modern practitioners. As I mentioned earlier, the hipster culture is a sub-culture wave of an increasingly post-modern society. A large part of gender differentiation within the hipster culture is expressed aesthetically. A typical male hipster can be seen displaying some of the following physical appearance: tight-fitted jeans (i.e. “skinny jeans”) of assorted saturated colors, Toms or moccasins, tattoos, a plain v-neck t-shirt, flannel shirts, a large or messy beard, fixed-gear bikes, wool cardigans, suspenders, second-hand t-shirts, and large glasses. A typical female hipster may express her avatar by dawning large flower headbands, sandals or Toms, vintage sun dressers, tattoos, un-shampooed hairstyles, assorted scarves, large glasses, v-neck t-shirts, vests, leggings, and even skinnier jeans. Hipsters cross recent modernism (1990s-200s) gender roles in a few distinct ways. For males, the tight fitted clothing and presumptively feminine accessories (earrings, scarves, hand bags, etc.) become much less uncommon. In a lot of ways, the hipster flavor of male fashion looks similar to the stereotypical image of a homosexual or metrosexual male. For females, stereotypically masculine things like large tattoos and un-shampooed hair become widely accepted (and even encouraged). This entanglement of modernism’s gender expectations is a reflection on postmodernism’s rejection of expected gender behavior. Hipster culture, and post-modernity as a whole, suggests that genders should be free to express themselves by picking and choosing that with which they most identify. Ironically by doing so, hipsters conform to generating new gender norms relative to their own culture. Though feminist and existential[v] undertones root deep within the hipster culture, they still can’t seem to fully escape the modernist patriarchal behaviors it seeks to move away from.

One thing that is painfully obvious is the lack of ethnic diversity within the hipster demographic. iii Though most hipsters will claim to be anti-racist and accepting of all racial ethnicities, it is relatively peculiar how the population is mostly made up of Caucasian folk. However I think this trend extends beyond race, and also into the realm of class. Not only are most hipsters Caucasian, but most also come from a middle class background. Why is hipsterdom so appealing to the middle class white youth? I think it is a similar reasoning Wilkins[vi] pointed out. Being middle-class white pigeon-holes one to being boring (“vanilla”). In a subconscious attempt to escape from the possibility of being inherently un-cool, middle-class white youth are clinging to cultures that portray them in an edgier light. Though not as extreme as the goths, hipsters pose a reaction that looks like a contemporary mix between 1950s beat poets[vii] and fashion-forward bohemians. One of their biggest aims is to separate themselves from the institutional cooperate-world. John Mayer (who I’m fairly certain is ironically not a hipster) pretty accurately describes the general attitude of a hipster’s view on society and politics:

“Me and all my friends
We’re all misunderstood
They say we stand for nothing and
There’s no way we ever could
Now we see everything that’s going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don’t have the means
To rise above and beat it

So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change.”[viii]

By reading these lyrics, one might get the sense that being a hipster means there is an uncomfortable paradox of apathy and hope. This is very true of hipsters. One is likely to find them a lot in coffee shops, at parks, and in art galleries discussing political and social frustrations, and how they need to change. However, much like its existential roots[ix], these ideas and opinions rarely translate into action. Instead, hipsters would rather play a passive role; one which allows them to party their societal sorrows away. iii These nonchalant, detached reactions to life’s issues are a self-inflicting attempt to keep an exotic (and likable) reputation and do away with the stereotypical boring middle-class whiteness.

A common complaint about hipsters is that they are too argumentative; and come off as self-absorbent elitists. One of the biggest reasons hipsters come off as defensive and argumentative in conversation, is because they want to be separate from the norms of Western modernity.  Haddow describes it well by saying:

“We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.” iii

This generation of youth has grown up in an American society that is becoming increasingly dependant on electronic-communication (texting, e-mail, online chat, etc.). In reaction to modernism’s tendency to compartmentalize and label ideas and cultures, hipsters are separating themselves from a more pragmatic way of life. Ironically this effort towards authenticity via individual freedom portrays them as separatists—which is the very thing they are striving to not be.

This brings up the biggest criticism of hipsters and at-large, postmodernism: authenticity. One of the most notable characteristics of hipsters is their embrace of paradoxes and ironic inauthenticities. For example, one might find a hipster wearing a $30 “vintage” t-shirt from Urban Outfitters, sitting on an eco-friendly fixed-gear bicycle, while thumbing through new applications on their iPhone. Aims at authenticity— extremely over-priced vintage t-shirts (average t-shirt cost at Urban Outfitters is about $25), an extremely mainstream cell phone product, and eco-friendly transportation—seem to miss the target by a long shot. By the same token, hipsters and post-modernists claim to be okay with inconsistent ironies. They recognize these paradoxes as social facts of contemporary life[x]. However, this is also why postmodernism has yet to be accepted beyond the current younger generation (under 30). Modernism and postmodernism have opposing definitions of authenticity. Modernists can’t seem to accept these hypocrisies as authentically valid. Whereas postmodernists want to borrow an assortment of entities to collage together a new entities[xi]. Take for example, the music scene. The current popular choice of music for hipsters is indie folk, which is the blend of ambient electronica beats and bluegrass folk music. If one recognizes these odd mixtures as an art form, that is one thing. But to call them authentic is entirely false. Authenticity implies a budding level of originality. It is not stealing a mixture of things and calling it something new. In that regard, there is very little that is truly authentic in this world. Hipsters and postmodernists have accepted that nothing is completely authentic, and so then move forward with creating from the wide array of existing entities available. It’s a “new” spin on creativity.

So is this post-war counter-culture, hipsters, a sign of the decline of Western Modernity or the rise of a postmodern revolution?[xii] I think neither and, at the same time, both. Rather I think it is a transformational stage from Western Modernism to American Postmodernism. Hipsters are moving into more postmodern ideas and social movement, but they still embody, by way of being separatists, some modernism tendencies. Since postmodernism in essence is the rejection of modernism, hipsters are not completely postmodern. Instead hipsters are part of a greater outcry for social change away from Western modernity.


[i] Wallace-Wells, Benjamin. “Pulp Sociology.” The New York Sun, March 14, 2008.

[ii] Lorentzen, Christian. “Why the Hipster Must Die.” Time Out New York, May 30,       2007.

[iii] Haddow, Douglass. “Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization.” Adbusters, July 28, 2008.

[iv] O’Connor, Maureen. “Sociology Proves That Hipsters Hate Hipsters Most.” http://gawker.com/5633219/sociology-proves-that-hipsters-hate-hipsters-most

[v] Nietzsche. Friedrich. On The Genealogy of Morals. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale. New York: Random House Inc., 1967.

[vi] Wilkins, Amy C. . Wannabes, Goths, and Christians: The Boundaries of Sex, Style, and Status. 1 ed. University of Chicago Press, 2008.

[vii] van Elteren, Mel. “The Subculture of the Beats: A Sociological Revisit.” Journal of American Culture 22, no. 3 (1999): 71-99.

[viii] John Mayer, “Waiting on the World to Change,” Continuum, 2006, Columbia Records.

[ix] Cox, Gary. How to Be an Existentialist: or How to Get Real, Get a Grip, and Stop Making Excuses. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2009.

[x] Allan,Kenneth. Contemporary Social and Sociological Theory: Visualizing Social Worlds. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press, 2006.

[xi] Rose, William D.. “Postmodern American Sociology: A Response to the Aesthetic Challenge.” Contemporary Sociology 35, no. 2 (2006): 187-189.

[xii] McLaughlin, Linden D.. “Transforming worldviews: An anthropological understanding of how people change.” Christian Education Journal 7, no. 2 (2010): 493-500.

Freshmeat Riot

Posted: August 15, 2010 in College

I always look forward to the Fall. School Starts, I get new Freshman Residents (cuz I’m an RA), Football Season, cooler weather, new friends, etc. It’s just an all around favorite time for me. Today was Move-In day at my school. And like always, its been a manageable whirlwind. Sympathies aside, I’ve been up and going non-stop since 5 am. whew! Still got the Dreaded Floor Meeting in a half hour…DON Don don.
Anywho that’s all I really have to say right now. Move-in day is all I can really think of at the moment. I’m enjoying being back in da burg, meeting new people, and strengthening existing friendships. I just hope I don’t get overwhelmed with everything and everybody. I’m only one person. I can’t really fix anybody’s problems, even though for some reason I still try. Dear baby Jesus, please please please let my floor not be the party floor.

just a few thoughts I’ve been having lately:

– Tennessee barbeque rules. well actually, pretty much any food here rules.

– I never want to live in Montgomery, AL. Too much racism there…on both sides.

– I feel like I have an explosion of words to say, but no way to eloquently and cohesively saying them.

– Everyday for the past month seems like a new set of crossroads. All kinds of decisions being made that could potentially be life changing. That is both exciting and scary. I’m  sure most everyone around my age goes through something similar.

– I feel like I’m just continuing down one path (Student Affairs, working with college students as a career), just waiting for God to snatch me up and thow me on a new path. I mean I like college students and student life stuff. Just don’t know if I’m cut out for it long-term. I’d rather be playing music for a living and doing mission work in foreign countries and making t-shirts that raise money for kids in Africa. blah….but I continue on, with a blindfold over my eyes and a forceful hand on my back and an eager ear waiting for the whispering voice of direction.

– Life is hard. For Everyone. Why not ease the load for someone else?…that is if you can handle carrying anymore yourself.

– There are many days when I doubt whether people truly love me. I can see it in their eyes. Hear it in their voice. It’s not hard to tell if someone authentically loves you for who you are. Whether out of pride or shyness, I’m not one to beg for friendship. But, community and friendship so valuable. It provides a sense of home and belonging. I don’t really have a “home”. I’ve moved around from place to place all my life. They say home is where the heart is. Well, I’m not really sure where my heart is.

– I don’t plan on dating this year. Not enough time. I’m leaving town for who-knows-where in a year. Not to mention I’m broke. Ladies, I’m off-limits. Sorry.

– I want to start writing songs again. Unfortunatley, I have writers block (refer back to bullet point 3).

– I want to learn more Blues chords

-I need to read my Bible more. seriously.

-I also need to excercise more. Me and Sam are going to do P90X this semester. Sixpack? naah.

– Sometimes I get frustrated when no one reads this blog. I see the stats. But then, I think “Well, I really hate promoting this blog. Promoting is so vain, and overrated. Plus, I’m more vulnerable on this blog than I am in real life. What to do..”

-Thank God for music, and how it can communicate volumes to me every day. And thank God for skilled lyricists.

I am not a crier. And I definitely don’t like to cry in public. It’s kind of embarrassing to me. If I do feel the urge (which is rare), I hold it in. I’m not some big macho hard-hearted man who is completely against crying. I just don’t do it. My tear ducts must be dehydrated. I have maybe cried 4-5 times since my senior year in high school; and one of those was after my Grandma Lynn’s funeral. The other times were in private. However, the one thing that seems to jerk the tears right out of my face is the Holy Spirit. Just something about the power of God speaking to the depths of my soul makes me at peace to the point of tears, and utterly humbled.

A few weeks ago at Wayfare (church) we decided to participate in Communion (aka ‘The Lord’s Supper’, ‘The Eucharist’). I appreciate the way we do Communion at Wayfare. We use red wine and unleavened pita bread. I especially appreciate this attempt at physical authenticity after being raised on a shot glass of grape juice and a stale fingernail-sized cracker. But apart from the mediums we use to practice this ancient ritual, I’d like to talk about something else we did; something simple but meaningful. Wayfare has a tendency to be very discussional, and our Communions are no different. Roger asked us to share our experiences of past communions; how they were meaningful or not meaningful; and what attitude we’d like to take in the current communion. After the initial awkward silence, a few college girls opened up. As they were talking, I got flashes and images in my head of Jesus’ road to the cross. They weren’t pretty. I was then reminded of the sinner that I am, and the depths of grace it took to save me. I became pretty overwhelmed and grateful. That is when the tears started to whelp up (and like always I attempted to hold them in). I felt kind of stupid too, because I seemed to be the only one reacting in this manner. I then tried to say something about how grateful I was for God’s grace, but I fumbled my words like chopped up play-doe.

So ya…here’s to the ridiculous extremities Jesus went through on the cross and continually now in the pursuit of our hearts. Here’s to celebrating the unexplainable hope he gives in this broken, discombobulated world. Here’s to the new life he gives through his grace, which was exemplified by giving up his physical bread and wine. I can’t thank Jesus enough for his unconditional love. So these Communion experiences are a set aside time were I am summoned to remember and be thankful for his epitomized love.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Well I am now living in Emporia, Kansas for the summer. As I previously mentioned I’m doing an internship with Emporia State Residence Life through ACUHO-I. I’m going to be working on ‘Hornet Orientation’ (week of welcome type thing) and an implementation of programming and assessment called FYRE (pronounced like ‘fire’…it stands for First Year Resident Experience). FYRE is a project of some sort to try to get students to have more positive experiences in their first few years so they stay and feel part of the university. So far I’ve met: my advisers Carol, Josh, and Cass; and the summer staffers (RAs)- Shawn, Liz, Kelly, Jessica, Lisa, Kris, Amanda, and Russell. They all seem really cool, and I look forward to getting to know them all throughout the summer.

Yesterday I started P90X!! woohoo! My chest and shoulders now hurt. My advisor, Josh wants to work out with me. I told him, “Show up at my apartment tomorrow at 8 am.” I think I’m gonna just do the ab workout tonight after LOST (Season 6 Episode 16- “Why they Died”).

Anyways, continuing with yesterday…After going out to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant, Carol and Josh gave me the rest of the day to do whatever. I took the opportunity to go search for a summer job around town. So I set off on foot (yes on foot. I have no car) with my backpack, moccasins, and Cannon EOS 20D (with lenses the 55mm 75mm lenses of course). I ended up applying at different 8 locations and plan on maybe applying for 2 more. Included in my favorites were Java Cat, Wheat State Pizza, and Bobby D’s BBQ. I figured I should apply at mostly food places because I could get good night & weekend hours and I am fairly limited on money and food supply for the summer ;-). I’m also thinking about looking around town for possible venues to play small shows with Natalie and the Jingle Shoe…maybe at the Java Cat. After about 6 hours of walking around town (I probably walked about 4 or 5 miles), applying for jobs, and meeting people, I decided to pack it in for the night.

The town of Emporia shows promise. My apartment is the biggest I’ve ever had to myself (which is not saying much). The people are really down-to-earth and friendly. Here are a few pictures I took around campus:

The bottom right picture is where I am staying; they call them the “Twin Towers”. eek!

Being Yourself

Don’t compromise your values in the name of intimacy. Don’t compromise who you are in the name of love.

Don’t waste your time trying to impress people. It may work at first, but eventually they will catch on to your facade. Live humbly, with a quiet confidence.

Own up to your mistakes. A contrite heart is humble and honest.

Don’t expect to gain anything without working for it.

Love

Center your life around love. Loving people for who they are.

Fill your day with smiles and laughter.

Perspective

(this is one I need to work on) Don’t give advice, unless someone asks for it. If you’re not careful, people might start thinking you have ‘all the answers’. Only God is capable of that kind of infinite knowledge.

In the end we are all fools, jumping from experience to experience, trying to figure out life as we go along. Those who keep the big picture in mind will persevere. Remember who is in control.

Sometimes our dreams can be unrealistic. Figure out if it is worth it to chase after them.

Blessed are those who trust God to provide direction, in the midst of confusion.

Do your homework. Don’t procrastinate. Seriously! Your workload will lighten tenfold.

Life is full of choices. Choose wisely.

Live today to the fullest. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. (ok so I basically paraphrased Jesus on this one)

Life isn’t about figuring out all the answers. Don’t waste your time worrying. Focus more on the questions.

Communication

Most communication is non-verbal. If you pick up on these non-verbal gestures and cues you will be able to read people more accurately.

If you carefully and patiently listen to someone, you learn how to effectively communicate with them.

The perfect message to convey can be ruined by the demeanor in which you present it.

Don’t say or do anything TO someone today that you will regret tomorrow.

The words you speak reveal a glimpse of your heart. Choose your words wisely.

Thoughts on Dating

If it ain’t there, it ain’t there. Don’t force it. The body language of your person of interest says everything.

Confidence is essential. One’s body language says a great deal about their confidence level. Keep that in mind.

Guard your heart. But don’t be afraid to let someone ‘know’ you.

You will likely experience many heartbreaks before you find the person that will piece it back together.

With every heartbreak, grow stronger and wiser.

Physical intimacy can complicate an early budding relationship. Be careful how and when you choose to do so….even kissing.

College Parties

If you are gonna party, do it with people you know and love. Partying with strangers is usually awkward and lame.

Don’t drink alcohol to be ‘cool’ or to ‘fit in’. Those things are foolish endeavors to chase.

If you can handle drinking in moderation, enjoy it. Enjoy the company and friendship. The camaraderies are what are most important. Getting ‘wasted’ won’t solve anything.

Don’t be afraid to cut loose. But that doesn’t mean to have a ton of drinks. Make sure you can still spell your name backwards.

Never come with expectations to score points with a (certain) girl. That usually fails. Just have fun, and don’t have any expectations.

Stay true to yourself. No need to put on a front- trying to be ‘cool’- just because you are at a party.

The best parties are dance parties.

(( Disclaimer: I’m still a fool. ))