(WARNING!! This is a loaded post. Brace yourself, because I’m about to go all over the place.)

So much of my life gets caught up in movements, in ideas, in moral values. I think it’s safe to say that most people around me get caught up too. It’s a certain religious belief, or  a sociological theory, or the viewpoint that ‘being gay is okay’; it’s critiques on society’s increasing reliance on technology; it is  “for or against” a bureaucratic society at large and in everyday life; it’s capitalism or socialism, pro-life or pro-choice, conservative or liberal, radical or moderate, Pepsi or Coke… this list could go on for a long time.

In my everyday life I am confronted with issues in our world, and a large part of me feels incline/encouraged to choose sides. In the midst of all this chaos, may I ask, who is right? What is truth? Who among us can reveal truth in a genuine and humble manner? Those are questions many (including myself) often wonder? I don’t know anyone who does not, deep down, want to know truth.

I often wish I could just be able to sit in the presence of God, and listen to Him audibly explain the mysteries and depths of his kingdom, and of the world. Most Christians will roughly say (and I’m not necessarily denying this) that the Bible emphatically explains the heart of God; and his heart/Word was personified through Jesus (being both God and man simultaneously). Jesus himself had quite a number of things to say about truth. Once he said “I am the way, the truth, the life; and no one comes to the father except through me.” Another time Jesus told Pontius Pilate (the Roman Governor of Judea at the time),”You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Pilate’s response (much like many of us) was, “What is truth?”.

Many of you know where I stand, and what things I have stood up for (if not feel free to ask). However I must confess, it is very easy for me to get caught up in day-to-day discussions (which are not necessarily bad) without keeping into account what (I believe) truth is. It’s easy for me to get into arguments with people about human rights, sociological theories, and musical taste; based on my personal opinions. And it is even easier for me to try to persuade people to believe the way I do. But what do my opinions matter? Do they really hold that much weight? Do they convey any truth? In the context of pursuing truth, how I go about pursuing truth is going to look a little different from how my neighbor pursues truth. Are all these paths righteous? That is not for me to determine. But who am I to judge how someone else pursues truth, even if it is inherently wrong? Who am I to judge is someone wants to ignore truth? These are hard questions to cope with, because it is very easy for me (and others) to scrutinize the journeys of others. We all ask the same big questions: Who am I? What is my purpose? What direction should I take? We just seem to react to these LARGE questions in an infinite amount of ways. In the context of this truth journey, even though I stumble a lot my focus and underlining goal is grow closer to God, and to know/love him better. Given that most journey’s are defined by the object or person being sought after, my journey is defined by God (Father-Spirit-Son). How I’ve gone about that journey, seeking after Him, isn’t necessarily a suggested way or anywhere close to the ‘universally perfect way’ of seeking after God (truth). I also don’t believe there is one cookie-cutter path we should all adhere to. If we are in the pursuit of righteousness (which is only attained through divine grace), and more so truth, then God will guide our individual journey’s so that we can each understand the depths of his love.

I don’t really have a big conclusion or theory to wrap this post up. However I will say this: if I am going to pursue Jesus (truth), I want to pursue it in a loving and humble way. If I have ever tried to convey my opinions or convictions in a contradictory way, I am sincerely apologetic. My heart aches for the injustices and self-righteous judgements I imposed on my friends and peers. The best way I know how to right my wrongs is to show love for the people I come in contact with from here on out. The grace that I’ve been given by God is far greater than anything I deserve; and for me to misrepresent that love Christ has instilled in me, is wrong. So whatever that looks like as I continue my journey with Christ, I can’t predict. I just know  I want to take every step with love in my heart.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
Paul the Apostle (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

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I’ll just do it myself!

Posted: February 7, 2011 in Jesus, Uncategorized

So I was praying this morning, doing my usual confessional opening (doesn’t that sound so self-righteous), when I stumbled upon an epiphany in the form of an illustration. For the sake of writing it down (so I don’t forget it) and maybe creating some insight to confusion for anyone else, here it is…

In my family, my dad is the head-honcho (although furthermore, God is). Growing up in this sort of patriarchal [traditional] mindset I generally decided it was best to do what my dad told me too. In the process of doing what ‘I thought’ he’d asked me to do, I often ended up messing up; which resulted in a scolding. It got to the point that if my dad and I were working on a task together, he’d usually end up getting frustrated and telling me to just go away; he’d do the task himself. It’s funny how I often find myself doing the same thing (now being an adult) in my friend and family relationships. “I just wanna do it myself. I can handle it.” Subliminally what I’m saying is, “I don’t fully trust you will do the job right, but I trust myself and I can deal with the consequences if I mess it up.” (Note:: My dad is a great man, and I love him dearly. I don’t want you to get the impression that he is a bad father.)

Fast-forward to now..
Sometimes I have wished that God would just take over my flesh and fill me with His Spirit so much that it pushes me out of the equation and the job gets done better and more efficient. I’ve never had such an out-of-body experience and I really don’t know anyone else who has. What I do know is that its easy for me to just ask God to take complete control, but that it is hard to completely let go of myself. I’ve often thought of this as a hopeless sin, but what I realized in praying this morning is that maybe I’ve been expecting God to do the same thing my dad does. Just push me away and do it himself.

When I thought of what a loving father (God) would do through examples in Scripture, I thought of a dad who teaches his children how to do things hands on; a father who invites their child to work on things alongside His Spirit. If we are truly His (God’s) children, then this perspective definitely aligns more with my experiences. That God wants to work with me and through me, so that I learn and feel every ounce of change. I’m a hands on learner, if you couldn’t tell. God knows that. And I’m pretty sure He knows that pushing me away and doing the job himself doesn’t help me fully learn His great love and power. I’m also flattered that someone so great as God would invite me to work alongside him.

LECRAE

Posted: November 3, 2010 in Jesus, Musician
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So I’m goin to the Lecrae concert in KC with Melissa on Friday. I’m pretty pumped. Lecrae is my 2nd favorite artist in the game. Switchfoot would be #1, and I just saw them live a for the first time a few weeks ago. I pretty stoked. My 2 favorite artists in a span of 1 months! So in reaction to the upcoming concert, I wanna share some of my favorite Lecrae rhymes.

“All they rhyme about is guns, money, sex, and drugs. 80% of these dudes is fictional thugs.” Unashamed (After the Music Stops)

“What if life ain’t supposed to be gravy. Fulla hurt, pain, death, rape, murder, and craziness. If God made everything good, then why you still gotta live in the hood? What’s really good?” Change (Rebel)

“Jesus felt the pain. He was hated, hurt, slandered, and slain. But his death brought (change). Be a slave to your sin. Hate God, love money, love lies, Christ died so you can be (changed).” Change (Rebel)

“But why would ya die for me? My whole life I’ve been working for Satan, while He fed lies to me.” Take Me As I Am (Real Talk)

“I said I’ll never leave you, but I’m so left. I ain’t right, Lord I’m sleeping with death. I am cheating with death.” Breathin to Death (Rebel)

“It’s like I’m outside in the ice cold weather. The rains coming down and I keep getting wetter. I know I’m getting sick and I could die any second, but still I refuse to let your truth make me better.” Breathin to Death (Rebel)

“The world is so tempting. Satan is a beast! He hypnotizes my eyes to say the least. But Jesus be my treasure to know you is live. I am here dying trying everything there is.” Breathin to Death (Rebel)

“All these rappers say they got guns that spray off 16. I got a Luke 9 that can take all 16”  Truth (Rebel)

“You go to school, get ya degrees, and get a job. So you can make a whole lot of cheese, cuz life’s hard. You never thought of livin to please a real God. And that’s the reason He made you.” Truth (Rebel)

“What is evil though man? It’s anything that’s against God. It’s anything morally bad or wrong. It’s murder, rape, stealing, lying, cheating. But if we want God to stop evil, do we want Him to stop it all or just a little bit of it? If He stops us from doing evil things, what about lying, or what about our evil thoughts? I mean, where do you stop, the murder level, the lying level, or the thinking level? If we want Him to stop evil, we gotta be consistent, we can’t just pick and choose. That means you and I would be eliminated right? Because we think evil stuff. If that’s true, we should be eliminated! But thanks be to God that Jesus stepped in to save us from our sin! Christ died for all evilness! Repent, turn to Jesus man!” Truth (Rebel)

There are soooo many more lines and bars that inspire me. But I think you get the point: this dude is SERIOUS. Lecrae don’t play. That’s why I love him (not to mention that fact that his beats are dope).

FRIDAY 7pm could not get here soon enough!!

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.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the crescendoing academic buzz on social media, texting, and other means of technological communication. We’ve talked about it on more than one occasion in Sociology and Philosophy classes. I’m not gonna lie. I’m very social media-ified. I have Facebook, a MySpace Music page, An Official Music Website, A Facebook Music Page, a Twitter, and a WordPress account. Wow, writing all that down seems a little much. But that is the culture I’ve been engulfed in. Not gonna lie though; I think I use all of these (except for maybe Twitter) as a means for promotions for events I am involved in (my Music, UCM Housing, etc.). As much as I loath the inauthentic cyber-reality of social media, I recognize that it can be pretty useful in advertising for events. Call me old school, but I often long for the return of word of mouth. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that telling someone word-of-mouth about an event or activity creates a MUCH higher likelihood that they will attend.

But beyond promotional endeavors, why do we like social media? I know all the conventional answers- “Because it helps me communicate with my friends better”, “I get to keep up with my long distance friends”, blah blah blah etc. But is that really the answer? Or is our American culture just increasingly becoming more standoffish. Our physical comfort zones, as big as they are seem to keep expanding. Even though we long for personal interaction, we settle for cyber interaction (including text) because it’s convenient, and because we (for some odd reason) feel more at liberty to say whatever we want behind the cover of a computer screen or a cell phone.

Quite hypocritically, I have noticed myself becoming increasingly engulfed in generating cyber-popularity- having lots of Texts, Tweetbacks, WordPress stats, Facebook notifications, etc. I don’t like to talk about it, because it’s really quite pathetic. It’s almost like the inner-high-school Jordan, that was uber concerned with impressing people and getting attention, is being sneakily brought out in the cyber world. There are days, where I won’t get a notification or a text, and I get this strange guilty feeling of loneliness. This is getting really pathetic, writing all this down (I hate vulnerability). I’m really tempted just delete all of it (again…yes I’ve done this before), and live as un-cybernetic as possible. I wonder how many people are also (un)secretly obsessed with their cyber popularity. I wonder how many people would be willing to admit it, and take the steps to fix it.

So, do I hate technology? No. I have a Mac. I just don’t like how my generation is becoming increasingly communicatively relient on it.

Am I becoming Amish? No, but I do admire them.

Here’s the continued delemna, and connection to the first paragraph. I keep needing social media and texting for promotional endeavors. I keep telling myself, it pays numerical (unfortunately not financial) dividends. So I press on, and I pray that I, and furthermore my friends, start becoming (de)progressively concerned with other people’s ‘actual lives’ than our cyber popularity.

“The authentic self is the soul made visible.” -Sarah Ban Breathnach

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.