29 November 2012

10 November 2012

Writing is therapy.

All people self-medicate
Like stepping in front of the mirror
after a dark storm and realizing
you are not who you were
that you are staring at a totally different person
that you don't recognize your own face
that for better or worse, you've changed
can you—do you have the strength of character,
the courage of faith, the audacity of hope,
the foundation of love—to continue to walk
into the deepest cave, the darkest tunnel,
the most frightening place
in search of

truth
hope
light
love
salvation
& rescue?

I don't know
But I'm wiling to bet
I'm willing to stake my life on it

11 September 2012

Teary eyed subway ride.

A man soliciting quarters, asking each passerby, spots me, "It's ok man. Have a nice day."

08 September 2012

The Golden Thumb

Whenever someone fails to understand you, you have almost certainly failed to understand them.

32

I believe there is another world waiting for us. A better world. And I'll be waiting for you there.

05 September 2012

War

Our experience of the pleasures of sin compete with our experience of the presence of God—as to which has the most compelling nature. The fate of the allegiances of our hearts lie in the outcome of this battle.

8

M: Why didn't you call my call?!

Yearn

This is how you resolve the conflict between what you want and what is true. You always choose what you want. The only remedy is to want what's true.

31 August 2012

Rescue is coming.

2 Cor 6:1-2,
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,
“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” 
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Today, He listens. Today, He helps.

21 August 2012

Saplings, and seeds, and such.

What I've discovered in the past year about love is that unless you feel that you're giving the other person more than they give you, you're not giving enough. That is, until it feels unfair, you're not being fair.

T-Minus 2

Open your heart, open your heart, for I have loved you from the start.

05 August 2012

Whose miracle?

I think God intends to grow in us a distaste for death. A distaste so violent that death is only an option—indeed a most desirable option—when it leads to life. Sacrifice of one's life for another's. Losing what you cannot keep in order to gain what you cannot lose.

23

Dottie: "Imma beat you if you break my tofu."

25 July 2012

The Obvious Metaphors.

"Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, then it's not the end."

We have an insatiable need for story. Story is how we understand the world. But our understanding of the world isn't always accurate. The story we tell ourselves about ourselves isn't always true.

"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."

Being in a relationship is like looking into one of those funny mirrors at the circus. It shows you who you are, but you're all out of shape in all the wrong places. Fat belly, wide face, long feet. The only problem is, usually the mirror is just fine. It's me who's out of shape.

23

Like the difference between waking and sleeping, being with you is the life that matters.

We are once in a lifetime.

The doctor wakes up and realizes he has to account for all the things that the mister has done.

23

After brazenly denying the most common reasons I have heard against succumbing to a life filled with lust, Mauriac concludes that there is only one reason to seek purity. It is the reason Christ proposed in the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Purity, says Mauriac, is the condition for a higher love - for a possession superior to all possessions: God himself.

Obedient to the point of death.

Even death on a cross. We are called everyday to take up our cross and follow Christ. We are called everyday to die to ourselves. It is the most difficult task, when you think about it, because crucifixion is the most difficult death. Crucifixion was effectively death by exhaustion, death by suffocation. Being in a relationship has taught me this one lesson more than anything. Our lives are not our own, but we have been crucified with Christ.
and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 
— Romans 5:5-8 
When I reflect on this past year, I see failure after failure after failure. I have fallen short of the expectations of my friends, family, roommates, and co-founders. I have disappointed those closest to me. I have disappointed myself. But there remains hope at the end of all of this, and it is only accessible by death. Death to my passions. Death to my flesh. Death to my selfish wants and desires. Then, when all that is done, a rising to life—an awakening of the Spirit, and the gift of everlasting life.

24 July 2012

"But they're different from me."

"Yes. But you do have an advantage. The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph."

Nightmares, and blessings, and curses.

There are a few things I share with my dad. One is a strong moral intuition. With it a sense of dread at knowing how the world should be and seeing how it actually is. A sense of guilt that haunts. A sense of restlessness that colors the world. When I feel shame, suddenly, all things are shameful. I can't hide the expression from my face. I can't mask the dread in my voice.

I did not have the typical childhood nightmares of running from giant bunnies, or being eaten by monsters in the closet. I remember distinctly three nightmares from my childhood. Recurring ones. One's that stick with me, even till today.

The first is being in the basement of a mall. I can't find a way out. There is an escalator, but it's going the wrong way. I enter it, and begin climbing the steps. But beneath my very feet, they are working against me. I climb, and I climb, and I climb—and I never reach the top.

The second is being in front of a computer. I have the monitor before me, knowing what I am about to enter is heinous and terrifying. I have the keyboard at my fingertips, I double-check it. The escape key at the top left corner. I feel it for its own sake. I mouth the letters, e-s-c. And I reassure myself, if things ever get too overwhelming, if I find myself backed into a corner I can't handle—just press this button and everything will be ok. My own mind won't even let the dream proceed before I go through this little ritual. Before I tell myself it'll all be ok. I press the enter key. I start the game. I'm hunting down a monster. A bigfoot. But when I find him, I find that instead of me doing the hunting, I am the hunted. I scramble for the keyboard, but it's disappeared. I'm stuck in the game. I feel for the escape key. I can't find it. The monster approaches. I hide behind a wooden crate. He corners me. I can't escape.

The third is of the stuffed animals in my room coming to life. At first they are benevolent creatures. Nothing to be afraid of. But slowly and surely they transform into darker creatures. The protagonist becoming the antagonist. How long can you bear with it? How long will you suspend your disbelief before you finally give into admitting that the person you trusted has become the evil one? I run. I run to my parents room. There they are, waiting for me. Security. Comfort. Peace. But they don't see the animals. I tell them, they're right out there. Right outside the room. Knocking. Knocking. Knocking. Grating at the walls. Scraping at the door. My parents don't believe me. They can't see it. The room darkens. The door opens a crack, but my parents are fast asleep, and the little army of evil ones surrounds me. They surround me, and no one else even knows. No one else believes me. I am overwhelmed.

12 July 2012

I'm still a generalist.

I once bought a pair of sunglasses for a far greater price than I had originally set out to pay because the box promised that with each purchase they would plant a tree. I care about the environment, sort of, and so I decided it was a good investment. Months passed, and although I was pretty satisfied with my new spectacles, I was still curious about how much of my money actually went to doing a social good. After some short googling, I discovered that the non-profit the for-profit company outsourced their philanthropy to had reduced the cost of tree-planting to a mere ten cents per unit.

Ten cents. My sunglasses cost 2000x that much. I could've bought a comparably stylish, functional pair of sunglasses for half the cost.. And planted with my own money 1000x the trees.

10 July 2012

Crusoe

"We have all read... the story of the man who has forgotten his name. This man walks about the streets and can see and appreciate everything; only he cannot remember who he is... Every man is that man in the story. Every man has forgotten who he is."

— G. K. Chesterton, from his book Orthodoxy

As if I am about to be torn in half.

I bought a new shirt and jacket. Usually, when I look at my new clothes in the mirror I get excited over what I see as a new skin, but it was different with this shirt and jacket. Though they were new, it felt as if I had been wearing them for years.

— Wim Wenders, excerpt from Notebook on Cities and Clothes, 1989

09 July 2012

Visceral

The journey took me, eventually, to the city of Rome. What I remember most vividly is the fact that the city made me furious. Any building found on any alley leading off any major avenue had a story behind it, an anecdote connected to it, or some sort of meaning associated with it. It made it impossible to relax and simply take in the sights. The entire city was itself a sort of museum, and it made me sick to my stomach.

— Yohji Yamamoto, from his book My Dear Bomb

05 July 2012

If Less Than Three, Check

There are three cases,
  1. I am right and you are wrong.
  2. You are right and I am wrong.
  3. We're both wrong.
He's right.

11 May 2012

On Virtue

“You know, I’ve been troubled by the Cranbrook episode for most of my life, and I feel relieved, in a way, that it’s come out now. I did a really stupid and terrible thing. Teenage boys sometimes do such things and deserve to be punished for them. What I most regret is that I never apologized to John and won’t be able to now that he’s gone, but let me apologize to his family and friends. Bullying is unacceptable under any circumstances. It is especially unacceptable when prejudice — against one’s race, ethnicity or sexual orientation — is involved. If elected President, I will try to atone for my teenage behavior by campaigning against bullying all across this country. What I did back then should be an example of how not to behave. I hope we can all learn from this. I know I have.”

— The Mitt Romney Who Never Was

To Patrons

The first advertisements in The Old Farmer's Almanac featured Dutch quills, penknives, ink powder, writing paper, and various books, including a "cheap edition" of Watt's Psalms and Hymns and "a novel by an American Lady." The year was 1794. Other than in our annual Special Edition (sold in bulk without advertising to companies who give it to their customers), advertisements have been an integral part of every regular newsstand edition of this publication since that year. (Arm & Hammer Baking Soda has been with us for more than a hundred of those years!)

Some people, cynical by nature, may tend to disbelieve those almanac advertisements that, for instance, promise to "drive fish crazy," restore vim and vigor, provide 60 percent more juice from apples, aid your hearing, remove your corns, stretch your shoes, or provide a peek into the "afterlife." Those same people, however, may accept the notion that romance, social status, and financial success will automatically be theirs if, like the beautiful folks in the slick four-color magazine ads, they drink a certain brand of whiskey.

The advertisements in this publication deliver. Those chickens really do lay colored eggs. Last year someone wrote to complain about that particular advertisement, saying, "You can't call the color" before the hen lays her eggs. Evidently he had experimented by loudly shouting "red!", "blue!" or whatever directly at the hen as she was commencing to lay her egg. To no avail. The hen would lay an egg in whatever color she felt appropriate to the moment. We patiently pointed out to the complainer that the advertisement for these chickens has never claimed you can "call the color."

We won't say that Jimmy Carter's ads for fishing worms and "raising instructions" in this almanac during the early 1970s enabled him to ascend to the presidency. That would be silly. But we do know people from all over the country were well satisfied with those worms from Plains, Georgia.

There are lots of advertisements we will not accept. They include those for mind-altering drugs (like liquor), cigarettes, sexual items, or "sex literature," and advertising that, in our opinion, is otherwise in bad taste, dangerous, or deceptive. The latter category occasionally creates argument. However, in our view a metal "golden hand" that promises "good luck" is not deceptive. A pill that promises to turn body fat into plain water is deceptive. Potentially dangerous, too. This year we refused to print a little more than 14 pages of such advertising.

Not long ago, Charles Kuralt of CBS News devoted a portion of his national television program to our advertisements. After describing a number of them, he concluded by saying, "There's not a brittle, sophisticated ad in this whole edition. The Old Farmer's Almanac is willing to leave that market to Playboy and The New Yorker. These ads speak to the real America, the one that is worried about its false teeth falling out or its pants falling down... Publications come and go with their ads for designer gowns. The Old Farmer's Almanac offers remedies for aching feet. That's why it's lasted for over 190 years."

One hundred and ninety-three, to be exact, and still counting! With the help of a few "rooster pills" from time to time, we hope to go on forever...

— J.D.H, June 1984

07 May 2012

I saw something today.

A father walking with his daughter. He was a short, stocky man. He wore brown pants and a faded button up. His daughter like Pocahontas had dark hair that flowed down her entire back. She was probably eight, nine, ten years old. In her free hand she held drawings of sunsets and daisies and unicorns. In her other hand she held her father's hand. I could hear them counting down. Three, two, one. Ready? Ready? Go! Then they burst off in a foot race. The father kept a measured and steady pace, and his daughter oscillated between leading and following. I could hear them laughing as they sped away, and when they turned the corner, I could see bright eyes shining among shared smiles and laughter.

03 May 2012

Hope

Hope is one of the theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not, as some modern people think, a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.

— C. S. Lewis

02 May 2012

Escape

An Oxford student on Tolkien,
Well, I think it's a very basic appeal because everybody likes a fantasy. They like to escape from life when it becomes dull and boring. And you can get this kind of escape through detective thrillers and science fiction stories and spy stories, but you always come back to the real world thinking that it's even duller and more boring than it was before. And you think, I wish I was the first man on the moon, or I wish I was a spy instead of leading the kind of life I'm leading. Whereas when you finish reading the Lord of the Rings, not only have you had a marvelous adventure story and a marvelous fantasy, but some of the magic has been rubbed off on the ordinary, the very homely things of life, like a good meal.

30 April 2012

Oswald Chambers.

If we try to prove to God how much we love Him, it is a sure sign that we really don’t love Him. The evidence of our love for Him is the absolute spontaneity of our love, which flows naturally from His nature within us.

16 April 2012

Subtle

Emphasis mine,
The fighting broke out around 2 p.m. in the neighborhood of Wazir Akbar Khan, as traffic backed up near the diplomatic enclave and police and private security guards gathered on the streets. The U.S., British, German and Japanese embassies all came under fire. Across the city, armed men attacked the Afghan Parliament while it was in session. Both Afghan security forces and lawmakers took up arms to return fire from the roof, driving off the attack.
Imagine McCain, Kerry, and Schwarzenegger picking up weapons and defending Capitol Hill.

11 April 2012

If you aren't failing, you aren't trying.

A: My father always said lean into it.
B: What does that mean?
A: It means that the outcome doesn't matter. What matters is that you were there for it.

12 March 2012

Clarity vs. Hope

With only one or the other, you'll find either doom or foolishness. But at their intersection lies deep conviction, and the slow but sure fruition of steadfast faith.

We were made to love.

Our orientation is full devotion.

10 March 2012

He stared down the barrel of a gun.

Worse, he was forced to listen to a person he did not respect, "You're not human. You don't have an ounce of fight in you." He couldn't respond even if he wanted to. His mouth was forced shut, bound by that strong silver tape. The rest of his body in ropes. He glared at his assailant, remaining defiant in the face of death.

"See, a real man would stand up and fight. He wouldn't give up his life without a fight. You? You're not a man. You're a nothing."

He wanted to say something now, but he knew that it was too late. His fate was decided, right? The inevitable, like his lips, sealed. He did the most absurd thing he could think of. He blinked twice for no. The woman in front of him, holding a gun in her leather-bound hands, burst into uncontrollable laughter. I think she got the message, he thought. His eyes turned to half-moons. He was smiling. But her eyes weren't. She was crying—and then she shot him.

08 March 2012

He woke up to a room full of papers.

The window must've opened itself during the night, and a breeze must've found its way in and blew over the stack of papers which comprised his unfinished novel. It's ok, he thought to himself. It was an experimental novel. The kind that doesn't really have an order. Each page had been painstakingly crafted to be so ambiguous, disconnected, and self-contained that it could be read as a standalone unit, or read alongside with any other page and carve (at least a somewhat) coherent story. He rose from the bed and grabbed the three sheets nearest to him. Each told a story. Together, they told his.

The first was about a woman who never aged. She would live for thousands of years. Her first life, if you could call it that, was as normal as any. She fell in love with a man, a baker, and they had a family and children. But she soon realized that something was wrong when her husband, weak and gray, breathed his last, and she, beautiful as ever, did not look a day older than twenty five. She left her children, when they left her, and wandered the earth. Going from tribe to tribe, the world around her began to develop their own myths and legends about her. The soul sucking woman, the woman from whom all life originated and returned, the life stealer. She did not appreciate any of these stories, and she had no idea why she was the way she was. But she wandered and observed and learned, watching man progress from axe, to bow, to sword, and steel. One day a singular man arrived on earth. She could tell that he was different. Like her. That perhaps, if the stories were true, he could drain the life out of her. So she followed him everywhere hoping that he'd save her from this affliction of everlasting life. That he would, in an act of loving mercy, be able to grant her death at last. He would not, and he could not. So they married, and had a child.

The second was about a boy who while shuffling through discarded books outside of the library stumbled upon the broken spine of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. He examined the cover painted with faded images of brick roads, armored men, red skies, and golden chalices. From day one the boy was hooked. He devoured novel after novel, following each endless possibility in every book. He began to map out the countless universes with their many stories. Characters, lives, and plots were graphed onto paper. One day he found a dead end in one of the stories. A page referenced that was not inside the book itself. He wondered how that could be. He wrote many letters to the publisher and heard only silence. He brought up the issue with his friends, family, and teachers, and no one could give him an answer that he was willing to accept. So he came to the only conclusion he could think of. Adventure wasn't so much the page as the person, and today was the story that he was meant to turn to. From that moment on he lived each day as if it were an adventure of its own, and treated decisions as if segues into new, uncharted worlds.

The third was about a writer who stood by the greased glass of a four-paned window. No one had come in a long time to wash these windows, he thought to himself. He was on the third story of a hotel, and he rubbed his long sleeve on the inside of the window to find some light. To no avail. He wriggled the handle, almost ripping it off, nearly breaking the glass. But it would not budge. He gave up, and looked inward. The room was dark. A lone lightbulb hung from the ceiling, with a pull switch dangling by its side. Furniture was sparse. A bed with a wooden bunk. A dresser hollow looking. And a bookcase full of things, but few books. He thought for a moment and realized that he didn't know where he was or how he had gotten there. There was no traceable path from his last memory—and what was his last memory, now that he thought about it?—to this present moment. It was as if he had just awoken. Shipwrecked, as it were, finding himself washed up on a tiny, cold shore, nearly lifeless. He walked towards the door. A faint purple glow along its edges. It was, like the window, shut. Locked. Wouldn't budge. He knocked, but it made no sound, as if the entire world were mute. Did things vibrate in this universe of mine, he asked himself. He bellowed. Nothing. He shouted. Still nothing. Is this a bad dream? No, he heard someone speak, this is Me. Who are you? he asked, but making no sound. I am You. We.

06 March 2012

Slashdot on Democracy.

An interesting summary,
The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies. The research shows that incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people's ideas. If people lack expertise on tax reform, it is very difficult for them to identify the candidates who are actual experts. They simply lack the mental tools needed to make meaningful judgments... Democracies rarely or never elect the best leaders. Their advantage over dictatorships or other forms of government is merely that they effectively prevent lower-than-average candidates from becoming leaders.
And an insightful comment,
I don't think any political theorist has ever thought that democracy would create qualitatively better governments than other means of choosing governments (monarchies, autocracies, theocracies, etc.). It's advantage, as singular as it is, is that it creates an environment in which a government can be peacefully removed from power and another transitioned in its place. Of course most people are not equipped to judge which party's policies, which run the whole gamut from economics to foreign affairs to social policy, are better or worse. I doubt even most politicians are. Most people either just vote kneejerk for the "conservative" or the "liberal" or the "little guy" or the "wise-looking older fellow". 
No, it's not about choosing leaders, it's about getting rid of them. That's where democracy, when coupled with a tradition of the rule of law, really shines.

On Limbaugh.

Talk about a double standard. Rappers can say anything they want about women. It's called art. And they win awards.   
Rush Limbaugh, radio host, after saying his apology to the Georgetown law student he called a "slut" was sincere
I think what you've said here is true. It does not make you right.

05 March 2012

He opened up his chest

To discover a hollow oilcan lined with black smudge. It had an old, faded label on it, as if it had been exhausted and replenished many times. But today, the can was empty, with few traces remaining of the rare, magic substance that he had once injected into his rusting joints. The tinman was running out of time. His limbs began to stiffen, and his strut began to stutter. He was in desperate need of a heart. And although he was afraid of what having a heart would do to him, he was even more fearful of what lacking it had done. So he set out that day to find life knowing very well the cost. If he wanted to live, he would have to die. But to remain was not an option.

04 March 2012

John 21:15-19.

The conversation (or the wrestling match),
Am I really called to be a missionary? Yes.
Am I just making this up? No.
This isn't selfish ambition, or vain conceit? No.
But why me? ...
Why not them? ...
What do you see in me that I can't see in myself? ...
Why don't others seem to see this in me? ...
Are you sure that this is my calling? Yes, I am sure.
Ok, so then what's next? Same as beforeFollow me.

I've decided.

I'm going camping on my 25th birthday.

02 March 2012

The sublime, implicit note.

I love jazz because it is wrong and broken. The notes are dissonant. The music is off beat. But it somehow remains beautiful. For me, jazz is a reminder. Like shadows and images to light, off beat music reminds me that the beat exists. That the ideal is. That the Great Note is out there somewhere, and it is as wonderful as we all imagine.


A good jazz musician will play around the note, fiddling with our expectations. The sax will play a note, a series of notes, and we will expect that the next will follow in the inevitable progression. But he will not play the note we expect. He will go another direction. Meanwhile, the piano will step into the silence, and re-emerge with our expectation, but later. The timing, and the playing, it all intertwines to point us towards the center. They play the edges. And they play the edges. And they play it in circles. Till we realize, they have just been, like good shepherds, redirecting us towards the center the entire time.

01 March 2012

Clearly.

B: Why do you love New York?
G: I love—
B: I loved it first.
G: You can't just claim rights—
B: I do what I want.
G: —on love for a city.
B: Yes, I can. I just did.
G: Well, then, I claimed it first.
B: No you can't.
G: Yes... I can.
B: That's not fair.
G: Exactly.

29 February 2012

Like Saturn is on His Knees


"For refusing to believe in miracles because miracles are the impossible coming true—and everything is possible."

27 February 2012

The only currency they know is revenge.

It breaks my heart to read the news. To hear of stories of retaliation. Bloodlust. Seeking revenge. I know beneath all of that is hurt and pain. The loss of loved ones. The once vivid world around them collapsing into a broken dullness. A world of repetitive noise: rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat. A rhythm of explosions followed by a chorus of cries. The rumbling of shifting sands beneath their feet. The breaking of mountains above their heads. These mountains are not being tossed into the seas. They are falling in on their towns and homes. They are flattening the landscape, and filling the valleys. They are exposing the great darkness within and blocking the marvelous light without.

And so it is. They seek revenge in an economy of tit-for-tat. An eye for an eye. They feel stripped, robbed, and beaten. Without a possession in the world. With no place to lay their head. But God's economy is of mercy. His currency is grace. And if only they knew that He would turn their world upside down, that these mountains breaking and sands shifting were only the bottomside of an old world order. That God plans to take this world, and like a clay pot with a many cracks, throw so much light at it that it explodes. In a blaze of a glorious fire. In a light show for the ages. The cracked vessel will be filled with so much light, that it becomes light, and there will be no darkness within it.

And so, again, I admonish you—with much love in my heart, and much pain in soul. Look for the crack. In the darkness, there's always a crack. That's how the light gets in.

18 February 2012

Can I have this dance?


Schopenhauer, a pessimistic philosopher, had a theory of human relationships that was about porcupines. And he used that as the metaphor and what he said was that in love and in relationships—whether that be with our families, our spouses, our friends—we are all of us, on this earth, because we are so uncomfortable with our emotions, we are all of us like porcupines who are out on a cold winter's night.

They get cold, and they need to huddle together for warmth. And they crave connection; they crave warmth. So they come together, and then they prick each other because they have these horrible spines and it's painful. And so in order to avoid the pain they retreat, and then they get cold. And so they come together, and then they get spined, so they retreat, they get cold, and then they come together. 

And this dance of intimacy is what defines our relationships with everybody we encounter. There's this need to be close that's followed by this need to be separated in order to protect ourselves from the inevitable hurt that happens when you get too close. 

And Schopenhauer didn't have much a remedy for that. He didn't think that that was every really going to end. He sort of saw that as innate to our human nature. What he suggested was that those who had learned to generate their own warmth were able to keep the safest distance from the other porcupines. Which didn't necessarily mean living a life of isolation. It just meant not impaling yourself on other people so that you have that critical little space in which to be a little bit self contained, to create your own warmth, your own sense of your own humanity, so that you could be close without being stabbed. The path to that is as close a secret to happiness as anything I've ever learned.

— Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

An Open Book


In other words, God is so much more concerned for us than we could ever imagine or be concerned for ourselves. And the goal—the prize of the upward call—is to be more like Him in our concern for others. It is to orient ourselves towards others and to learn to lay down our lives for another.

14 February 2012

Today was a good day.

I like lists, so let's make one,
  1. Our team got accepted to the summer fellowship at Yale.
  2. Finally launched Modest Peach, a freelance project I've been working on.
  3. Our apartment started a Costco membership so we can stop buying from not so great food places.
  4. I cooked the roommates dinner. My most elaborate attempt yet. Chicken piccata.
  5. Brown called me at 7 am this morning to torture me but also to say hi. And my dad called me later in the evening to remind me that he's proud of me—to tell me that the whole family is.
  6. Google's Valentine's Day Doodle made me smile.
Today was a good day :)

09 February 2012

Isaiah 43:19.

I'm doing this new thing where I write in my journal every day.

It turns out to be more honest. It's not just more honest because it's my journal, and it's private, and it's on pages—but it's more honest because I write in it every day. I can't pick and choose between the good days and the bad. I don't get to preselect the interesting parts of my life and shape them for the audience. I must, by necessity, let the story tell itself.

In other words, when writing becomes a daily commitment—a natural fact of life for me—I become less the story teller and more the story told.

07 February 2012

Looks amazing.

Reminds me that I am called to go. I am on a mission and there is no time to waste: Love Costs Every Thing.

06 February 2012

My Second Heart

One of my fondest childhood memories was watching my kindergarten class caterpillar grow. Our teacher had read through this story for us and showed us all the illustrations. We all knew what was going to happen, but we didn't really believe it could be true. The caterpillar lived in a little box, and there were other bugs to keep her company, and there were branches and leaves and rocks. Whoever was the lucky kid that day would get to feed her during recess. Then, one surprising morning, the teacher announced that our caterpillar had made and gotten into her cocoon. We all surrounded the little box and marveled at the silky creation, wondering what was going on inside. The teacher said it would take some time, but she was in the middle of a transformation. We could not see it at the moment, but she would soon emerge a butterfly.

I remember that day vividly. The fat caterpillar cocooned so long from the world, wiggling her way out of her safe place—and she was no longer fat. And she was no longer a caterpillar. She had grown and blossomed and was a new creation. She was beautiful, and I remember feeling, at that moment, that anything was possible.

03 February 2012



I Will Exalt - Bethel Live

Your presence is all I need
It's all I want, all I seek
Without it, without it there's no meaning
Your presence is the air I breath
The song I sing, the love I need
Without it, without it I'm not living

I will exalt You, Lord, I will exalt You, Lord
There is no one like You God
I will exalt You, Lord, I will exalt You, Lord
No other name be lifted high

There will be no one like You
And no one beside You
You alone are worthy of all praise
There will be no one like You
And no one beside You
You alone are worthy of all praise

02 February 2012

Everyday we are faced with a choice.

Follow God or turn to the world.

I often forget that I have a choice. I sometimes think that sin has me all wrapped up in its schemes, that there isn't much I can do other than what I want to do. I fall victim to my flesh without so much as a fight. The truth is, however, that we do have a choice. Every day we have a choice. God gives us the power not just to recognize sin, not just to hate it, but to overcome it. My good friend Piper once said that grace was not just pardon, but power. So when confronted with the many temptations that this world has to offer, remember that you have a choice.

You can choose to follow the world—or conquer it.

31 January 2012

An Analogy

From the first chapter of the book, How to Think about Algorithms,
Using an iterative algorithm to solve a computational problem is a bit like following a road, possibly long and difficult, from your start location to your destination. With each iteration, you have a method that takes you a single step closer. To ensure that you move forward, you need to have a measure of progress telling you how far you are either from your starting location or from your destination. You cannot expect to know exactly where the algorithm will go, so you need to expect some weaving and winding. On the other hand, you do not want to have to know how to handle every ditch and dead end in the world. A compromise between these two is to have a loop invariant, which defines a road (or region) that you may not leave. As you travel, worry about one step at a time. You must know how to get onto the road from any location. From every place along the road, you must know what actions you will take in order to step forward while not leaving the road. Finally, when sufficient progress has been made along the road, you must know how to exit and reach your destination in a reasonable amount of time.
Our iterative algorithm is the basis for the decisions we make when backed into a corner. Sometimes, we can find strength in our rational minds to make a wise decision—but it is not often. Often, what happens is that we fall into our habits. We act out of character. It is then that integrity matters. When the fire heats up and the pressure is on, our true selves are revealed. The inner workings of our own personal algorithms come out.

Our measure of progress is the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. This is how we know that we are getting nearer to our goal. That we haven't strayed or walked in the wrong direction. This is how we know that our faith is really working. That faith isn't a mere abstraction or philosophic orientation, but a real, transformative power in our lives.

Our loop invariant is God's Word. It is how we stay grounded. How we know that we aren't merely rationalizing our actions or making decisions because of desire. God's Word is a mirror—it tells us who we really are. You cannot read the Word seriously and effectively without your understanding of yourself and the world surrounding you being transformed by its mere touch, by its penetrating gaze. God's Word remains steadfast and stable amidst all of the challenges and circumstances that we might come to face. And we can always turn to Him when we feel lost and alone because He is always there for us, to guide us and lead us home.

30 January 2012

1 Peter 4:12-13,

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
And yet, somehow, I am always surprised.

When falling,

It becomes clear what you value most. You will cling to it. You won't let it go. I remember hearing once, don't know if this is apocrypha or not, that the passenger side of a car is most often impacted in an accident because drivers instinctively swerve away from an oncoming collision, thinking only of protecting themselves and actually using others as a shield from the damage. After hearing this, I thought to myself that I would try really hard to put myself in harm's way for the sake of others. But then I had to consider a situation, which I think would make the application of this resolution even more difficult, what if my car is empty but me? Still, I think it is better to think of the other who is not there, than not to think of others at all, right?

Coming down.



How could you not feel when listening to this song? The sorrow? The sadness? The passion of something loved but lost? A fading, forlorn hope?

29 January 2012

Yes, please. Trying.

“Therefore we must not overinvest ourselves in anything besides the kingdom. Though we have possessions, we should live as if they weren’t really ours, for our real wealth is in God.”

— Tim Keller

25 January 2012

I am self destructive.

Like Dr. House. A ticking time bomb that wants anything but to go out with a whimper. But then there is Christ. He says, yes, come and die. Only then will you live. And suddenly, life has meaning again.

24 January 2012

"We glorify what we enjoy the most...

...and it isn't God.

Therefore sin is not small because it is not against a small Sovereign. The seriousness of an insult rises with the dignity of the one insulted. The Creator of the universes is infinitely worthy of respect and admiration and loyalty. Therefore, failure to love him is not trivial—it is treason."

— For Your Joy, John Piper

23 January 2012

21 January 2012

Judges 16

D: Why aren't you shaving?
S: To remind myself that I am on a mission and that I don't have time to waste with inconsequential things.
D: Like shaving?
S: No, like wondering why girls don't like me and what I can do to fix that.

18 January 2012

The Scientist

I used to think that no one around me could die. That somehow, I was the special thing that kept people alive. I'd hear stories, but I had never met these people. Then, one fateful day in late elementary school, someone I knew of had died. I met them. But I never touched them. So I rationalized, it must be my touch. That must be the special key. And then, years later, another died. Someone who I had touched. And another, and another. And I realized, I am not very special at all—or, if I am, not very good at it. That either death was upon us all, or I was a great disappointment.

Death is scary, folks. But, somehow, there is Life.
Breathe it in
And let it go
Every breath you take is not yours to own
It's not yours to hold
Do you love me enough to let me go? 

8 Months (Or Until I Get to California)

That's how long I'm fasting shaving my beard.

I've been journaling lately. It might seem like I haven't been writing anything of substance these days, but I have. It's just become more personal, and it's all been going into my prayer journal. Maybe, if I find the time, I'll come back and update this blog. I have a few stories I'd like to tell. One of them about my mother's love for me and how it is shown by her sacrifice in the little things. Another about how my blog posts about Jesus are like two playing cards propping each other up. How they are a flimsy construction, but when viewed at a certain angle—and the angle here is key—come to be a representation or image of something beautiful. Another, a story about how most people don't really believe what they say they do, but that there's still hope out there somewhere. And lastly, about my grandma who has stage IV cancer and is going to die. How I love her, and have prayed for her, and pray for her still. And how she is a Christian, that they're aren't many in my family, how her courage inspires me, and how her service humbles me. She is a faithful, praying woman of God, and I really don't want her to go. I wish I could spend more time with her, but I'm here in New York, and she is in California. And that thought, sometimes, tortures me.

10 January 2012

The Other Side

It is the most funny feeling. To have nostalgia about constructed memories. To be dreaming and feel a sense of loss for the things that never were. I have this whole other world on the other side of waking. When I dream. It's this self-contrived universe, full of its own mythology and history and workings. When I enter it, it feels familiar. It all comes rushing back to me. I remember things that happened in dreams before. Vague recollections of a distant past. And I get that fuzzy feeling. A sense of heartache. A sense of loss. But these things never were. They never happened. That's what's funny. It feels so real. So real. And sometimes, I wish it were. The good and the bad. I wish it were.

08 January 2012

07 January 2012

No prob, Bob.

I overheard an older man once, while sitting outside of PC East, speaking with a woman around his age. He talked about what was wrong with this day and age, how all of us college students weren't prepared for the real world, couldn't grapple with untidy ethical dilemmas. Then he mentioned something—the one thing about his conversation that really stuck with me—he mentioned that he couldn't stand how young people our age have replaced the formal you're welcome with the casual no problem. He said it insinuated something. That the deed done really was no problem, and because it had no cost, was neither worth doing nor needing gratitude. A thank you he said should always be followed by a you're welcome.

To this day I still say no problem, but perhaps I should give up this pretense of false modesty and change my ways. Old man, wherever you are, you're welcome.

The Romcom

B: Faith isn't about getting what you want. It's about doing what you think is right.
G: And you think this is right?
B: I like you and I don't think it's right to give up without giving you my all.