Can’t think of a title right now because I don’t want to be late

I don’t know what my problem is. First I’m annoyed by workaholics who take a little too much outward pride in being workaholics. Then I’m pissed off because people who clearly have ability don’t make any effort to hone their talent. I include myself in that group sometimes.

And most recently, most prominently, I get so very irritated with the pious few who can’t seem to keep their obsession with God in their pants.

Let me rephrase. Is it really necessary to put Bible verses as your facebook status? Because let me just say, as someone who’s pretty impartial most days, you’re not going to inspire me to start up Bible-reading or hardcore prayer just because you’re John 3:16ing away in the social media. Seriously.

Is it really that important that you dress conservatively or treat everyone else with a heightened sense of “I’m better than you because I have a religion that is the right religion and you can be better than everyone else too if you give up your sinner’s lifestyle and join me”? Is it really that mandatory to wear blingy cross jewelry or carry your Bible around?

I thought the whole point of having a relationship with God was to use his love to love others (and okay, repent your sins and go to Heaven and all that jazz). But if the current mentality is “be obnoxious about your faith and see how many people like it and join in,” I hesitate to ask how many new followers you end up with.

Personally, it’s not appealing to be part of it… Christianity seems way too much like a clique, an exclusive group that you can only be part of if you’re willing to piss all of the nonbelievers off. I don’t want to join in, I don’t want to hear what you have to say because you are, quite simply, annoying as hell (if you’ll forgive the turn of phrase).

And maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just close-minded and a bitch. Maybe I just can’t accept that this religion IS actually better than all the rest. Maybe I can’t just face facts: that you have to discriminate and be an obnoxious witness in order to have a successful relationship with God.

Or maybe, there needs to be an adjustment. Because I’m pretty sure that I’m a very open-minded person and although I admit to the bitchiness a great deal of the time, it takes a lot to really piss me off. And this cliquey Christian nonsense? Yeah. It pisses me off.

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Little rant about Christianity today

There. I’ve said it. “I don’t even consider myself a Christian any more.”

Lucy and I have these discussions pretty frequently. About what we believe, about the Christian group at Eastman, and about modern belief systems. It made me think about Brendan, the only stable Jesus-loving presence in my life (besides, well, my grandma), and about his organic, true-to-love way of communicating about his faith. The kids here are NOT like that, and it drives me crazy. Okay, being judged is part of life. Fine. But as I actually know a few true, down-to-earth, Jesus-loving people (who love everyone regardless of who they are or what they’ve done), I think I’m on the right track by saying that being judged by a cliquey pack of self-proclaimed, over-churched snobs is not really in anyone’s plan for their day.

Is it really important to take others’ sex lives and drinking habits and potty mouths into consideration? Doesn’t it matter more how they feel about themselves and about others? Or maybe God really doesn’t want people who like alcohol or physical pleasure. I’m sure that whenever someone tells God to “Fuck off,” that he actually says “Okay” and puts their name on a list for hell. That’s what the Good Book says, after all. RIGHT?

Give me a fucking break.

I consider myself someone who loves people (including the kids I’m currently ranting about, weirdly) and loves the idea that there is something out there that’s taking care of us. That gives a shit, you know. But I’m not about to turn my nose up at my roommate, who doesn’t believe in anything. She’s one of the most accepting people I’ve ever met. But she still feels excluded from our local cross-wearers. Because she’s unaffiliated, she’s not welcome.

I have to say, I don’t really want a ton to do with a pretentious sect of people that struts around excluding everyone from their fun and games. Not that I actually consider sitting around bashing others’ beliefs and lifestyles fun. Or game-like.

The 2006 Jeremy Brock film “Driving Lessons” sums up my feelings on modern Christianity in a few sentences.

“How is a person truly free, until they can think and act for themselves. If you say to me, ‘Am I a Christian?’ I say to you, if you strive to do good, then you’re a Christian. If you don’t seek to hurt or betray others, you’re a Christian. If you’re true to yourself, and treat others as you’d have them treat you, you’re a Christian. 
The more a person parades their Christianity for the benefit of others, the less I’m inclined to trust the Christianity they claim to bring. God tells us, ‘True faith is the freedom to choose truth.’
Now, how you express that: the way, the manner, the means at your disposal, these things are of no consequence be you Christian or atheist, unless in your heart you are true.”

I don’t think that making yourself out to be a member of God’s Special Club speaks of love for others. I don’t think that avoiding people who have sex and drink and cuss will have any effect on your so highly valued purity. I don’t think that pretending you’re not human and are all distant, fake smiles forever, even to the lowly un-religious (like myself), makes you a Christian. And I certainly don’t think that proclaiming your love for church and the Bible and other devout Christians puts you any closer to divine salvation, unless you can come down off your self-constructed throne and mingle as one of the masses. Rub elbows with the filthy and share with the downtrodden and the gleeful sinners. Not as an emissary of Christ, but as a fellow human being. Love is the dynamic force that will change this world. Not self righteousness.

In the first spinning place

I’m sick today.

But it’s okay, because it’s just a head cold. Praise Jesus. Although granted it feels like a hippopotamus is sitting inside my brain, chillin’. But it’s okay! I only have two exams to freak out for this week, and I’m singing in studio tomorrow with Orlando accompanying me and no Joong-Han and crappy Italian and OH I feel like crap.

But it’s okay. I get to sit out of Women’s Choir tonight, by order of my Professor (who basically runs my life, and it’s great). I’ll go to River Campus and get some food and do some work and take Robitussin and decongestants.

Perfection (a reflection)

To be honest, I never usually have so many ideas I can articulate in one day. Occasionally they’ll hit me, quickly and suddenly, and I’ll have to get them down somewhere, somehow immediately or lose them forever. Others drift as remnants, half-formed and vague, until later. Or until never.

But today is just a good day for thinking and writing, I guess. It’s also strange that I’m blogging now because generally by 11:06 pm on any given evening (weekends excepted) I am either sleeping or wishing to God I was sleeping, so hey. This is cool.*

But back to my stream of consciousness at the moment, why don’t we?

I think a lot about perfection.

We all try to be perfect. We all want the 100 on our theory homework or the A in ed psych. Obviously we all want to perfect our skills, especially at Eastman (like, DUH, hello). And there are other ways in which people strive to perfect themselves: religiously/spiritually, physically, emotionally. Still others strive to behave perfectly or respond perfectly in social situations, perfecting their image.

I have tried to perfect myself in all of these ways. Possibly more, I guess. But over the course of the past few years, and especially here, I have put myself at a level with other, more “normal” human beings– and by that, I mean the kids who don’t try as hard, or the kids who aren’t at an advantage socioeconomically, or even the adult working class. I think working at Tim Horton’s all summer and this winter break reinforced my relationship and tie to the everyday average person. And while I refuse to lower my sights or adjust my previously-set goals, it’s humbling and enlightening at the same time to have a glimpse into the real world. It was also a learning experience– an incredibly motivating and meaningful one.

I guess it gave me a glimpse into a life not filled so much with lofty aspirations of a perfect fellowship with Christ and the church, or a toned and physically disciplined body, or straight As.

I mean I’m not going to alter my own goals– I have a shady outline of what I’m here to do, and I plan on filling it in. But there are manners that some adopt that make having goals seem like something pretentious and disgusting. Like, “I’ve got these plans and nothing is going to get in my way.”

It sounds okay, but in my opinion there need to be some priorities. Right? Like, family? Friends? Relationships with people, meaningful interactions with others, your teachers, your peers? What about living life? I don’t mean getting drunk (although hey, sometimes it’s a perk) but enjoying yourself and taking time to reflect on the happiness in your life. Little things, like having a ridiculous discussion with my roommate about Barbie and Ken, or talking to my grandmother about Criminal Minds, or savoring Starbucks because I don’t have it at home– or even staring into the sun and feeling it touch your face because it’s the middle of winter– those things are valuable to me. They are, in a way, much much MUCH more important than behaviors I’ve noticed, such as…

Biblical facebook statuses: I mean I guess people quote meaningful song lyrics and that’s similar, but please, do you really need to shove your faith in everyone’s face? I mean, I can say I love Jesus because, well, I do. But in my opinion and experience, it’s better to show your love for him through your actions. It’s really not how often you talk about your prayers or your youth group or “how you can spread the Woooord.” How about, you just go show it? Loving people without judgment is going to have more of an effect than a club at college where all you do is chat about how to add more people to your club. It feels exclusive. And it feels like bragging, and an exaggerated attempt to make oneself into someone others should seek out or respect.

Physical perfection: I understand that gyms are awesome. I have a membership. But those that get carried away, and do a freakout if they miss half a warmup or a stretch or something stupid? That’s ridiculous. The world is not going to end if you miss Pilates, dude.

Academics are overrated. Isn’t it enough that we kill ourselves to achieve proficiency at our art? The added pressure of grades just screams “give me migraines.” Some overwork themselves to the point where learning the material is secondary and the letter grade is most important. Isn’t the acquisition of knowledge the goal? Not the skill with which one takes tests.

Or, maybe I’m just overthinking this, and it’s the attitude with which one seeks perfection that is the really irksome thing. Maybe I just place too much value on not being an obsessive lunatic. Maybe I have a thing against acting like an overeager or scarily-driven know it all. Hopefully, though, I’m capable of pursuing my own goals with a passion for life and an enthusiasm that’s contagious and considerate, not obnoxious.

But that’s all I know for tonight.

Also, Lucy and I were just having a discussion while I wrote this… for her benefit I’m supposed to mention that Zulu thatchers were hired to thatch the roofs of all the gift shops in Disney World so that they would look legit.

 

* I mean, undoubtably this also has something to do with the fact that, YES I’M GOING HOME TOMORROW.

Crescendo to a thought

As always, Brendan’s blog got me thinking.

I wish I could say it made me think about how great people are, and how humble I strive to be, or even how much like Jesus we should try to be.

Instead, it got me thinking about three separate things.

One: a behavioral pattern I see here at Eastman.
Two: ideas that have been swarming in my brain lately.
and Three: that Brendan needs to write a book.

Relating to one, which I think is the most trivial of the three…
I see a pattern between the “partiers” here and the “religious kids.” The religious ones either keep it to themselves or go to extremes to invite people to their well-behaved events. We have one group, called InterVarsity (it sounds like a sports group but it’s a Christian organization here) that holds all kinds of events. But somehow it kind of seems like they’re in their own little bubble. They’ve extended information to the non-affiliated kids (like they mentioned a gathering to me once, I think) but to me (the non-affiliated), they seem a little upper echelon. A little too good, if you know what I mean. This may or may not be true (I don’t know) but that’s the vibe I get.

In addition to these Christian sects here (and they do separate, we have more than one little club for each denomination), there are the party-goers. The weekend warriors, if you will. It does get incredibly intense here during the week and to me, an outing seems like recreation to release stress (even if it becomes an unhealthy behavior eventually). Now I don’t see any of the partiers in the Christian groups. I could be overlooking someone, but I don’t think I am. In fact, there almost seems to be some animosity between partiers and groups like InterVarsity. I do recall on Ke$ha night being asked in the car if I was a member of InterVarsity… if I was my new best friend (whom I was, uhh, like laying on) was going to kick me out of the car, regardless of our shared sports views.

Back on topic, though. So. My friend Katie here said the other evening to another friend, “When’s church in the morning? I think I’m going to try to go.” This surprised me, because A.) Katie and I were going to the River Campus that night with the intent to find somewhere to dance (to the uninformed it looked like we were going to get smashed), and B.) Katie had never seemed the “type” to go to church.

I realize this is silly thinking on my part (slap on the hand for stereotyping) but to be honest she hadn’t fit the mold for kids I know here that go to worship services. That got me thinking, why can’t I try to go to church? Granted I would love to sleep in on Sundays… but maybe I could even go to a youth group thing or something here. Who knows? But then again, I’ve been known to be out late on weekends. That doesn’t make me any less of a follower of Jesus, though, does it? Then I thought perhaps some of these groups needed a reminder that, first of all, drinking isn’t a sin (hello, wine in the Bible). And secondly, most importantly, Jesus loves the sinners, too. I’m not saying that I go around getting wasted, swearing and having wild monkey sex with everyone I know (because obviously that’s not really my game plan here). But someone who’s not to hip to the holiness thing (aka me, or anyone else, really) is just as loved by God and (if they’re doing it right) should hopefully be just as loved by the little clumps of Christians floating around here with their wooden cross necklaces and conservatively buttoned shirts.

That about rounds out topic number one for me.
Topic two? IDEAS.

Liz Shropshire will be the speaker at next Tuesday’s Colloquium. I. Am. So. Pumped. I really want to get involved with that. In case you haven’t heard of the Shropshire Music Foundation, the link to the site is here and I blogged pretty extensively on it here, because man, am I excited. It’s finally a window (dare I hope, a door?!) into using music to make a serious difference in peoples’ lives. Children’s lives, more specifically.

That brings me to ideas. I haven’t even heard Ms. Shropshire’s spiel yet, and I’m already planning what could be done back in my hometown to bring more revenue to the Foundation. Then (it’s ambitious) what about starting something similar of my own? Maybe a mix between School 17 here (it’s a huge string instrument program for younger kids, but in a city school, if you’ll believe it) and the Foundation. The ideas are still molding themselves, shaping like silver ore in the forge that is my mind, but it’s exciting. To think that the training I receive here won’t restrict me to performing for the elite (if I ever get that good)… it’s really cool. I could use my degree(s) to pour the salve of music into the bleeding gashes of the world.

That said, here’s a poor segue to topic three.

Brendan needs to write a book. Yeah buddy, if you’re reading this… I feel like now’s the time. Okay, maybe in a few more months. But soon. Use your blog and some other topics, get them edited (Jordan and I did offer, oh so long ago…). I’m not trying to flatter you, I’m being honest. Reading words from someone so young in the scheme of things, who’s really trying to connect to his faith and figure crap out is really inspiring. And it makes your audience think. Or at least it makes me think. It’s so real, too. Like God is giving you words with which you can poke at someone’s thoughts. Little nudges. And they show that you absolutely don’t have to be some godly snot in order to have a real relationship with Jesus.

So, whenever you’re ready sir…

On that note, this post is so done. I have theory homework to do. But those are just some thoughts before studio class that I feel needed to get put on a webpage.

Your mission for the day? Listen to the song 'Why do they shut me out of heaven?' It's a Copland tune with words by Emily Dickenson. The Barbara Bonney version is pretty decent.