the map of everything

i drove with my roommate andrew hippie up the 5 to albany today. this is the quasi-suburban post-agricultural community where i grew up. anymore, big fields full of soggy sheep make up only 5% of the town's staggering sprawl of grass seed fields, department stores and bowling alleys.

as soon as we got off the freeway, i started giving hippie directions, pointing out the turn he should take to get to his destination and gesturing toward the starbucks where i would study while i waited for him. i realized in this trip that i know the town pretty well. i know good shortcuts, cheap restaurants and chill coffeeshops. i have the much-coveted skill of being able to get around albany, oregon.

that said, i don't think i could draw a map of it. what i have is a ground-level knowledge, a hands-on appropriation of the information required to travel around a rather limited slice of human civilization. i can't begin to tell you all the street names.

the world is a big place. if you look up at night you might infer that it's just one world in an even bigger place. since i can't map out albany, mapping out the universe would be pretty difficult. if i had to guess what the world was like, based on my experience of albany, though, i guess i would do alright.

i would first mention that it's cold and rainy (9 mos. a year). i might also be able to conclude that the main export of the universe is grass seed and that most of the people are christians, but they sure don't act like they talk. i could then conclusively say that the universe is filled with hypercaffeinated, materialistic, fast-food munching hillbillies.

i feel like trying to get at absolute truth through personal experience is a bit like me trying to map out the universe from my personal knowledge of traveling it. there's just too much, and in many ways i'm just too small. i don't have sufficient experience or the right kind.

what is and what isn't? that question always confuses me.

as ever,




i am so ever-presently confounded by my dealings with the fragility of life. moments and momentous hours seem to pass in my struggle for meaning. i am at war with a gripping but implausible hopelessness. how can i deal with what might be the illusions of time and space?

i can be either pushed to embrace the moment wholeheartedly for what it is, or to reserve judgement, wary of my notions of past and future. how can i know which tact wisdom is taking, which stone should make the humble trip and fall?

i can only look for Jesus.

historical jesus is a traveling rabbi in the desert of antiquity. he proclaims enigmatic prophecies, dispenses cryptic sayings and a gives a different answer for everyone. he brings not peace, but a sword, before marching in to jerusalem to take it by peace and surrender his claim to be its earthly king.

"but small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

culturally projected jesus, from era to era charges cities conquers continents, taking jerusalem by force. he spends his days lobbying for the republican party and holding the line against the invading huns. he wants you to take your hat off and pray before your meals.

he hates walmart. he drives a cadillac.

"in this name, conquer."

in honesty: i can only look for Jesus; the Final Word, the Liberating Truth. i can really only look for God With Us. without the knowledge of the glory of God, life on earth is a lonely reality.


in God we trust

our national god. (lifegatefellowship.com)
in my last post, i talked about how a culture of people living unexamined lives that didn't differ from those of their parents is dangerous. i made the claim that people within societies that champion this perpetual negligence might have very few qualms with owning other people.

though that sounds fairly sobering, what i want to warn you about today is much more serious than slavery. it is the notion that one people could have a national god, whose every whim they would serve with absolute devotion. that seems kind of barbaric and unsophisticated. however, this practice is not only repeated throughout antiquity, but has been known to go largely unreproached when history is taught.

the modern movement has taken the idea of having a national god to the next level. it seemed absurd the in light of our intellectual progress to invent a new deity to be our patron, so we instead attached fresh coats of paint to an existing god. like the romans re-worked the greek gods and the chinese expanded and marginalized india's buddhism, the americans have now enlisted jesus to enlist them.

this practice of re-writing mythology, history and theology developed into something remarkably sophisticated in the last few centuries. it has become frighteningly common and devastatingly effective. we can corporately use god to use us to do a lot of things - from social reforms to imperial military conquests. and we often do.

in many parts of the world (indonesia, egypt, plymouth rock, jerusalem, new york), people are told by god to violently destroy their neighbors. now many of us "rational" people would object that those that hear god tell them to harm or take from another human being are mis-conceiving Him, and would try to stop them. would we do the same for the instigators of a "morally justified" armed conflict today? we need to be more consistent.

contemporary pseudo-moralistic wars are only the beginning of the things that people can do, will, do and have done with god's authority. personally, i don't care what my national god instructs. i won't toe his party line.

it has been famously said that "hell is other people." (philosopher jean-paul sartre) even if you believe in a physical hell, you might still agree with the sentiment that we have an incredible capacity for inflicting pain on one another. we seem almost destined both to suffer and to inflict pain. arthur schopenhauer said that "if the immediate and direct purpose of our life is not suffering then our existence is the most ill-adapted to its purpose in the world."

i think we can all agree that pain is universal. schopenhauer concludes that our suffering should lead us to "tolerance, patience, forbearance and charity." i like that. it's true that we are able to injure, but we are so much more well fitted for compassion.  maybe after all, we can, as paul encouraged, "be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."

as ever,



when God makes cookies

its my life, and i can do what i want.

i might counter that fool-hardy and hopelessly cliche assertion with the old saying "no man is an island." do we profoundly and inherently affect each other? yes. are we interconnected beyond the scope of our the average person's observations? no doubt. are we able to ascertain in which ways we affect the world and it affects us? not likely.

not being an island makes you responsible for yourself and the ways you affect your neighbors
socrates proposed that "the unexamined life is not worth living." because i'm not God, i can't say whether that's true or not. however, i would like to suggest that the unexamined life doesn't bear repeating.

why are you living and believing as you're told?

its not that your parents hate you and they want to ruin your life and that they just don't understand (though that is a viable possibility). no matter how much they love you, you have a responsibility to think for yourself. you have an opportunity to seek for the truth with all your heart. good, kind, self-sacrificial people are often wrong.

if from generation to generation we led unexamined lives, and simply believed what our loving parents told us and made it our own, we would never make any progress. never.

i know that a lot of people don't see a need for "progress." however, if everyone through these last centuries had adopted the standards and convictions of our parents, it would still be legal to own other people. it might also be considered ethical to wipe out other people groups.

on that note, there is a long-standing tradition passed down from generation to generation of spending your life in devotion to the faith in the bible, and declaring that as faith in God.

i sincerely hope to suggest in the strongest terms possible that our cycles of assumption and presumption are dangerous and destructive to us and our neighbors. maybe we're right to look with our whole hearts for something worthwhile, for something more true than convenient.

as ever,



such a drag, u of o

the university of oregon announced its plans today to go completely smoke and tobacco free by 2012. not only that, but money has been set aside to help students, faculty and staff with smoking cessation during the "transition period."

"we have the obligation to provide a healthy, smoke and tobacco-free environment for our students, employees and visitors," remarked uo's senior vice president jim bean in a press conference today. "this is a great statement about our commitment to a healthy campus."

we have been hijacked. we will all be "free" at the expense of our freedom.

our right to walk around and not smell other people smoking has just become more dear than our right to smoke. our prerogative to continue smoking has been judged by the authorities as a less sovereign than their right to spend our money to help us quit.

let us shy away from all but the most necessary and justifiable encroachments on other people's freedom. we have a nearly unprecedented opportunity to perpetuate and expand our freedoms. let's not squander it on our pithy ideas of what's best for everyone. the greater good will never exist as it is determined by man.

to those who comment: i won't delete, but will loath reading poorly worded discourses on how smoking is bad for you. context is the chief qualifier for truth. if you go back and read a little more carefully, you'll see that this article isn't about smoking.


the 5 best ppl 2 follow on #twitter

a note before: this is a listing of some fascinating twitter-ers (pronounced tweetas). i must express my disappointment that arnold schwarzenegger (@schwarzenegger) didn't make it on the list. the former-terminator-turned-politician insists on tweeting informative political updates oriented toward his constituents. bo-ring!

5. jon foreman (@jonforeman) insightful quotes from writers and political figures are actually attributed to their authors on musician and songwriter jon foreman's twitter feed.

4. adam young (@owlcity) the eccentric singer behind the synth-pop project called owl city has a wealth of funny anecdotes to share. "i'm adam" he begins, "reality is a lovely place but i wouldn’t want to live there."

3. jesus christ (@jesus) ironically, twitter's jesus is almost as americanized as darth vader (see below) and twice as profane. jesus tweets song lyrics and witty one-liners. "i totally missed the world series," he quips, "did america win again?"

2. darth vader (@darthvader) "evil orphan annie" brings his snarky star wars jokes and avid baseball fan-ship to the twitter-sphere. classy.

1. kanye (@kanyewest) international rap superstar kanye west has an ego. this, and his propensity for drunk tweeting up to a dozen times in a single night make him a thoroughly enjoyable soul to follow on twitter.

kanye's more coherent tweets range from defiantly cliche ("never put me in a box") to classy and relevant ("i specifically ordered persian rugs with cherub imagery!!! what do i have to do to get a simple persian rug with cherub imagery uuuuugh")

he also apparently learned the hard way that its bad news to give out your twitter password to a bunch of foreign co-eds who will take the opportunity to post lengthy tweets in swedish.


how to autmun

this post is expressly intended to comprehensively instruct the reader on how to behave in the autumnal season : )

step 1: eat cereal.
step 2: stare out win-dow.
step 3: repeat.

picture by jordan tunstill.

poem, november 3 by joeldevyldere


then it fell on me like bricks

i am so ever-presently resigned to the notion that God is a person who lives inside me.


i am so ok with that.
(by andrew)

Light of the world
its darker than hell inside my head


faith vs.

i have a strange case of wanting to believe in the christian God more than all the things that i encounter in this post-modern universe. i have a back-of-my-mind cosmology that spits in the face of my murky experiences and blurry determinations. in some ways, sometimes, i'm still black and white on the inside.

can faith coincide with an honest search for truth? i've asked this question in a thousand times in at least as many phrasings. i can't seem to work out what mixture of faith and reason i should use to answer it.

ironic, eh?

i would like for my life to be a dramatic of good versus evil, a constant struggle of finding the strength to believe in the midst of heartache and doubt. that particular method of interpreting life experiences would eliminate the worry. maybe that'd be good. then again, maybe the right-and-wrong good-versus-evil worldview is a convenient illusion, a fuzzy wool that i intermittently pull over my search-weary eyes to feel better.

well, i don't know. but i'm working on it.
as ever,