Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm not your buddy.

"Hey, buddy." Smile in passing. Keep walking. Ummm... hi?

There's a trend on campus, or rather, just about everywhere, to call me "buddy." I don't have a problem with my friends calling me "buddy." I accept it as a term of endearment, and I allow certain people to get away with calling me that. But for the rest of the world, I have a question for you:

Do you just not know my name?

"Heyy, buddy!" As if to say, "I think you're important, too! See? I'm talking to you!"

Why is it that only certain people exude this "vibe" that almost seems degrading? Oh, surely, they only mean to be uplifting and friendly, and maybe it's not their fault that they really think they're being uplifting. I mean... really think it. As if my day relied on it.

It seems that I get this certain vibe more from those certain students who consider themselves in high-ranking positions. Either they work for Student Life, or for Admissions, or are just in general full of themselves in some social service club leadership role. The mentality that radiates from these individuals is more along the lines of "Hello, young student on whom my guidance may be blessed," rather than "Hey, friend!" Which one would think to be the typical meaning behind the term, "buddy." If you work for Student Life, that's wonderful, but don't look at me like one of those students that you are "helping" with your job, as if I'm somewhat lower than you. Am I one of the hoi polloi, a dullard peasant in your eyes merely because I don't understand that the inner workings of what you do somehow affects my everyday life?

I don't buy it. Just as I didn't buy that Student Government Association meeting I attended when the president swore up and down, multiple times (for emphasis) that it was he, and the association, that encouraged OC to begin a nursing program. How they came up with the idea that they, the majority of whose majors were far removed from science, were the first ones to contemplate our university having a nursing program in the face of many interested students and a culture deplete of workers... I'll never know.

But again, some of them are apparently my "buddies."

Also, if you're last name is as popular an OC chain as McDonald's is a food chain... that also doesn't make you my "buddy." I wouldn't care if your grandparents built the Bible building itself, that doesn't make you my "buddy."

If you don't know my name, learn it. Don't smile at me in passing and call me "buddy" and think you're cute and mature, because more often than not, I'm three or four years older than you.

And I've probably experienced a lot more.

Again, several of my friends call me "buddy." They can get away with it, because I am their "buddy." But if you don't know me? Don't call me that, because chances are, you're not my buddy, and probably don't even want to know me anyway.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

He's Coming

He's coming.
Splashing through the hills
like muddy waters parting
peace stepping lightly from clouds
like sunlit rain
falling on the thorns and the flowers;
He's passing through the thickets
and every bramble that catches his ankle
is an old woman touching his cloak
and he bleeds out a smile and a blessing
until there's enough blood
to run down in rivulets like the wind
through the leaves
as I sit in the trees, absorbed
and ready to receive him.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Distraction II.

I run my fingers through you
like coarse hair,
tugging with anticipation as I
try to blend, to consider,
to understand,
why that graspofyourgreen
in my fist revitalizes me -
coarse, smooth, you fit right between
my fingers and
I let our bodies connect
as I lounge with you in the
amber light of our sunset
next to our gurgling fountain.

Mild and Fanciful Distraction.

How seamlessly my colors blend into the earth;
the same palette of browns,
as if from the same acrylic tube
or maybe watercolor,
if God used water to form me from birth,
but I can't paint the feeling
of the bristled grass in my fingers,
or the pop of the weak greens
that stand out against my hand,
my hand, strangely muscular, almost foreign
as if after twenty-three years of life I only
just realized I was a grown man
with the pop of iridescent blue glimmering
underneath my tanned skin,
veins a phlebotomist would enjoy.
I can't paint this feeling, or even
capture it into words,
gracefully lowering the sunset onto
my parched notebook paper
quenching its thirst
that plagues me into trying, anyway,
as grass, the browns and my tans,
the greens and pricks of fall and
sunset air
fold themselves between the margins,
before I set my pen down
and once again take up my book -
a mild and fanciful distraction from my reading
put into writing once more.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Integration of Faith and Learning?

As a senior, the English department of OC demands I write a cohesive essay on the topic of "The Integration of Faith and Learning," and express my feelings on the two ideas, and how they do or do not function together. This is the revised draft of my response:

As a Christian, it is impossible, and perhaps misleading, to write an essay on the “integration” of Faith and Learning. To use the word integrate, or “coming together,” would reveal that we’re talking about two things that we consider separate, that only for a time are “coming together” during our education, when, in fact, as Christians, what we’re talking about are two things that are completely blended together from the beginning of Creation.Hebrews 4:12 states, “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” If we, as Christians, do believe what the scriptures say about the living, breathing, word of God, then how could we possibly be able to separate the ideas of “Faith” and “Learning”? To denote any sort of separation would reveal doubt on our part to understand that we, as communicating, sentient beings, are made in the same communicating, sentient image of God. Even if read metaphorically, the beginning of Creation, in the book of Genesis, relates a God who “spoke” the world into existence: “And God said, ‘let there be light’” (Genesis 1:3). Likewise, God asks us to communicate to Him through language, perhaps correlating one of the aspects of His image, in which we are created, to be that power, or mastery, of language itself. The idea of an integrated Faith and Learning emphasizes the importance of language as God-given in our world of communication, and our world as a “text.”

We live in a world of symbols, and signs, and each radiates a different meaning. Post-structuralists such as Barthes, and his work on cultural sign-systems, and Louis Marin’s examination of space as a “text” in his Utopics, truly underline the importance of the written word, not just within the pages of a book, but as a living, breathing entity that extends beyond syntax and grammar to include semantics on much larger-scale levels. Our contemporary world is coming to grips with what most consider “cultural studies,” in which the text, as we know it, has exploded outward to include a closer study of how large groups of people relate within the context of a given text, such as the schools of Gender Studies, or Queer Theory. If there is room for these groups of people to have their interpretations, or views, of different texts, or “texts,” than why not Christians? The scripture from Hebrews, quoted above, also denotes the idea of a “living” text. The Word is alive, and not merely being left on the pages of the book itself. If Paul can write to the Hebrews and reveal this extremely postmodern idea, relating to things many contemporary linguists and literary theorists have related to within contemporary texts, how could we possibly see the idea of “text” any differently, than working hand in hand with our Faith, or with the power of God through words?

Faith and Learning, as a cohesive unit, have helped me grow tremendously to understand the world around me. The education I’ve received at Oklahoma Christian University has allowed me to see the different inspirations of God through different texts, and has helped me see each text as “alive.” The philosophies of other authors have helped me view the world from several different angles, and I’ve appreciated the guidance of the faculty in pointing out the different points of view of the world we live in, and how to harness those views to enhance our own. Exploring texts such as the Baghavad-Gita, or the Chuang Chou, in World Literature, has certainly enhanced my appreciation for the world at large which God has created, and the different cross-references I find in each culture’s religious texts gives me a broader understanding of the different ways God has possibly manifested Himself to other cultures, and urged me to ask questions of myself and develop my own beliefs, and my own faith. Each text I’ve read, through my education, has become its own living, inspired entity. The philosophies of authors such as William Wordsworth, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, also have truly enhanced my understanding of a cohesive “Faith and Learning,” with their understandings of a motivating force known mysteriously as a “Universal,” and “over-soul,” or as Coleridge puts it, an “Incomprehensible.”

The scripture from Hebrews 4:12 emphasizes the Word of God as “living,” and I think it’s important to realize through education that we can come to see all words as “living” texts, and also, as Christians, see our Faith as a type of literary theory to break down and understand these “texts” in the context of our spirituality. God has revealed himself with words, has given us a gift “in His image” to use words to communicate with Him, and with each other, and given us the opportunity to explore our world through words themselves. Faith and Learning are truly inseparable.

It was September 16th

I forgot your birthday.
Purple flowers from my aunt, and I still didn't know it
until two days later when my wife read me the card
and I recognized the date. Two days later
and I realize that two years later, and I'm soon forgetting
the features of your voice and the warmth of your laugh,
and soon I might only remember your face, and your movements
as one remembers a favorite movie, replaying the same scenes in their head
until they're romanticized, out of proportion.
You've become out of proportion,
and my brother and I couldn't understand
why they all got flowers that weekend,
until two days later,
and there's nowhere to address my card, there's no where
to hide my face in that shame that follows,
because you wouldn't care. You don't care anymore,
because where you are, there's too much happiness
to care for anything like purple flowers
and belated cards from your faithful children.
Strange, too, how knowing that could still be such a comfort.

Imaginary Courses and Non-imaginary Grad Schools

I sometimes get a kick out of thinking up interesting courses I'd like to teach as a professor. I thought I'd try to write some of them down, and make them sound interesting:

Satire and the Media: 1700's - present

Introduction to Romantic Poetry (of course)

Feminist Approaches to Gothic Romanticism

Textual Faith: Spirituality as "Text"

Texts in Performance: Survey of Dramatic Literature

Theatre and the Text: Performative Aspects in non-Dramatic Literature

Literary Theory and the Theatre: Applied Methods



In other news, I'm continuing my search for the perfect Grad school. Here are some that Dr. Lamascus and I listed:

Rice University, Houston
University of Illinois, Chicago
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Notre Dame University, Indiana
George-Washington University, St. Louis
University of Texas, Austin
University of Missouri, Kansas City
KU (okay, Brandon, this was only mentioned in passing)
Baylor University, Waco
OU, Norman
Abilene Christian, Abilene

Of course, this is only the starting place. Onward and Upward!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Regina Spektor

I originally posted an entire song lyric on this blog, but then felt that was a little cheesy and high-school. I hence posted the entire song lyric on my livejournal, but decided to only share a portion of the song on my blog.

On the Radio

This is how it works
You're young until you're not
You love until you don't
You try until you can't
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else's heart
Pumping someone else's blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don't get harmed
But even if it does
You'll just do it all again

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Brother

Am I supposed to take something from that,
from that sweat you dripped
onto the upholstery of my car?
The breath, perfumed with beer, dancing
robust words across that silent space,
The space I had wrapped around me
all my childhood
like my own umbilical cord, though now
with no mother to be attached to?
It's true, I radiated myself through
time, like rainbows and daisies,
shining through rose-tinted glasses above
that which you would call labor, a man's work,
that hint of dirt and rippling muscle.
But that which you form as
"masculinity" eludes me -
eluded me in birth, and still yet
is somehow outside my reach, the
sphere of my silent spaces,
and you, with your sweat, and your tan,
and your work, you embody
something to me untouchable,
like a god, and the language you
spoke that mocked me all my
waking hours of childhood was in reality
my own voice,
mocking me for my insecurity, as I
tried my hardest to bathe in your masculinity
and stop disappointing
no one but myself.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Memoir

New Writing Project! Not to be melodramatic, but to avoid typing it out again, I explain it in that link.

I'm not going to be self-righteous and say that I've gone through more than most people, but I think sometimes we're hit with things because we're meant to do something with them, so I truly want to tell my family's story. I have no idea where to begin, or when I'll even be able to sit down and start writing it... but I want to, and that's the first step.

Faith is a Text

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12

I don't think Christians realize just how much Faith, and the Bible, plays with literary theory. Hell, I don't know if Christians realize just how much Faith is literary theory. It's odd to think I feel closest to God when I analyze His Creation as a "text," or understand the application of Derridian "play" in understanding the essential meaning of the world around me. If we break things down to the core, what is left? If we chisel, or deconstruct, the Word of God down to its basic element, what is it?

If we deconstruct the world down to its basic element - where would we be left? We'd be left with God, wouldn't we? I was told of a famous author, Elie Weisel, who survived the Holocaust, and how he viewed "silence." "Silence is the space that holds words together" (not a direct quote, it sounded much more thought-provoking than that, I promise). But, isn't that a profound thought? Not only is silence the space that holds words together, but inherently, holds meaning together. And I'm not sure if Weisel said this himself, or if it was suggested by the person who told me of Weisel's thoughts... but isn't God in the silence?

God takes an active part in our words, in our language, and in our communication. To see the Word of God as alive is to see all of His Creation as a language, or a "text" that can be opened up, deconstructed, and fully appreciated in the light of God's wisdom. We keep saying things like "having an experience with the Word," or "grasping the Word," as if the Word itself was more than just a word, just a text. And it is! The "Text" is alive! It is moving, and it is shaking, and it is powerful! And Literary Theory shows that to us, more than anything else, (I think) in this entire world!!

We are living in a text. We are a text. God is alive and active through his Word, and the Word will never, ever, be just a book, or just a collection of words, or even just thoughts and ideas. The Word is alive!