Purely Fiction

Woah, I haven’t posted here in months. I’ve been pouring my heart out into my comic horror/superhero series, so that has taken most of the time I could be writing here.

Anyways, my professor brought up an interesting concept the other day. Poetic faith. The idea that we believe an author for the amount of time for the reading, but not afterwards. I think it is an important concept, since as humans, we tend to become what we read/see/here. Therefore, I’m going to suggest that “poetic faith” doesn’t actually exist. We are either all in or all out, as far as beliefs go. Our belief in a story, or its concepts, does not stop after we close the book.

For example, I got into the TV show Supernatural a few years back, which in turn got me into horror movies, which led me to the belief that seeing ghosts, demons, etc. was commonplace. I had to much faith in the genre. I spent a whole year exploring ghosts, etc, in the real world. I never saw one during that time.

My belief went beyond the show ending or the movie’s conclusion. I wanted a purpose, kicking butt as a sort of “holy ghostbuster”. The darkness consumed me, and I saw entertainment as reality.

Maybe that’s the point of poetic faith. You are supposed to be able to separate fiction from reality. The belief in the book stops at its conclusion, not continues out into the real world. For example, if you saw a show about a serial killer, you should know that his experience felt very real to him/her, but to not take it as a lesson on how to act in the real world.

In other words, yes, what you watch/read does influence you, but it is important to learn what to take from the show and to just leave as purely fiction.

Escaping the Dream-State

I remember when I first got saved. I remember feeling so inspired and consumed by this new lifestyle. The thing is, though, as time went on, no matter what I’d do, my passion for my faith would die.

Maybe the reason for this was because the world would not spoon-feed me Scripture or something like that. Or maybe, just maybe, my passion was not about faith, but was entirely about my self-consumed self. In other words, when your Christian faith begins, you generally go through a period where you are on fire for this new lifestyle, often being mistaken as a fire for God.

As I grew more mature in my faith, and honestly, more recently, I realized that even though I was on fire at the time, everything was still burning. Fires are destructive. Fires generally wipe out whatever is in their path. The fire I had back then? Absolutely. Maybe I was not really on fire in my faith, but seeing idealized delusions of how the world could be. Yes, God does have dreams for this world, but He also sees reality.

I believe that as we mature in our faith, God shows us the reality of the world we live in. It’s still broken, just like it was before. Christians generally feel like they can save the world during the dream-state fire. When God wakes us from the ideal vision He has granted us, He shows us how the world really is.

In other words, we can’t control the variables of the world like in the dream. We are called to reach it as it is, not as it could be. Heck, if Jesus wasn’t accepting of who I was back when I first got saved, then there’d be no future changed man to look forward to. We must see reality for what it is if we are to reach real people.

Wake up. The world needs His everlasting light.

Haters: The Blog Post

Woah, I don’t post here very often. How times have changed.

I’ve been super conflicted lately, as people seem unwilling to relate to each other based on politics or other differences of opinion. It’s not that I’m staunchly against people of either side; it’s the fact that they seem to be against each other.

In news classes in college, we are taught to be strictly objective in our writing. Thus, my outlook on the world in which we live is somewhat objective and removed.

However, all I see in the world is people getting up in each other’s faces screaming, “No! You’re wrong! And you are a terrible person because of your ignorance!” The thing is, we are never all gonna agree. That’s just the way the world is today. And that’s okay. God created us each differently.

The lesson to be learned, though, and one that I’ve discovered that personally helps me, is to be accepting of each and every person that God has created and sends into our lives for a season.

I am this way because I wasn’t accepted as a part of many crowds back in high school. Hence the lyrics in my song Witch Hunt, “cliques are stupid; just elusive.” I wasn’t accepted, but instead of becoming a victim of that period of my life and shutting everyone out, I treat them like I would have wanted back in the day.

Yes, I know I’m a senior in college. Yes, I know I need to move on from high school. I mostly have. However, my life has been short so far, what can I say?

In a polarizing social climate of people either being against each other and mad, or for each other and cliquish, we must make the decision to love those who are jerks to us and those who are not accepted into our own group of close friends.

The fact that Jesus said to love those who hate us is why I choose to love the unaccepted and those who are not and do not like us.

Thus, I have decided to love the haters.

Not a Robot

I remember back in the early days of me being a Christian when I was taught to witness by preparing to answer for any number of questions that the other person might have. I remember dreading walking up to someone and asking them out of nowhere if they wanted to be a Christian. I remember getting shot down a few times, not because of what was being presented, but because of the method. The simple fact is this: people don’t like being treated like a project. People are created in God’s image and thus, deserve respect. By treating them like a project, you strip away their humanity and objectify them as a problem to be solved.

Last time I checked, God created people in His image. Thus, they should be treated as such, as someone God loves even if you cannot. Regardless of their religious beliefs, God loves them. Sure, we all have different ways of expressing ourselves. I have learned, however, that people are less likely to answer a question unless it is specialized for them. This is the whole reason why most of us hang up on robot telemarketers-there isn’t even a real person on the other end of the line with whom we can converse.

Witnessing should be the same way-we should be willing to tell our story to prove that there is something behind said interview rather than just a shallow piece of paper that we are doing for a project (and ultimately, an ungraded grade). Yes, the “paper” way is easy and often times thoughtless, but how would you feel if I asked you the exact same set of questions week after week? Sounds a bit mechanical to me. I’m not a robot. I am a person trying to reach out and share my story.

Ideally, people would accept the message we give them the first time through, but again, that makes the message we give them seem shallow and not a big deal. If you wait to share the big message until later (like A LOT later) in your friendship, then the idea seems more personal and less generic.

In the words of Shrek, people “are like onions.” In other words, people have layers that cannot and probably should not be accessed after first meeting them because the things they hide a far too personal to handle right off the bat. Fun fact here, it kinda freaked me out when I first got my cat, as I barely knew her and suddenly, she depended on me for everything from cleaning her eyes each day to clipping her claws every week. But we’re pretty attached now because there is a past between us: she trusts me to feed her and stuff and I (somewhat) trust her to keep away from the tortoises and to not destroy my schoolwork. In other words, I built trust with her over time. People are so much more like this than animals. We need to trust each other before we share our deepest, darkest secrets because then we will know when to talk of shallow things and when to speak of deep things and to not confuse them for each other.

I’ve been told in the past that witnessing isn’t a matter of the method we do it, but what actually works. It does a lot of good for the kingdom of God when we talk to “nonbelievers” but none of them believe (sarcasm intended). That’s why Christians have a bad rap; we say things to people that they don’t want to hear her. Yes, some of that is persecution, but also, some of it has to do with our method of presenting. Persecution we can’t change; presentation style we can. This is why back home at my home church, we don’t go “witnessing” every single day or outwardly proclaiming our faith to people who could care less. We go about our work back home and if someone has a question about our faith, then we share it. However, not every conversation with the person has the same goal; otherwise, you fall back into objectifying the person for a set goal.

Yes, we are tasked with growing the kingdom of God. However, we are not given instructions off how to do it. Thus, we must adapt with the times and do what actually works, not what has worked in the past but isn’t received well anymore.

I See the Light

Back when I was little (4-5 years old), I often wondered what my life would be like if I hadn’t been in the car wreck that nearly killed me and killed my mother. I thought the changes would be significantly different. I still think so.

If I hadn’t been in the wreck, I wouldn’t have the quality of being diligent. I have to work extremely hard to get stuff done because my brain was injured. My comprehension of things is a bit slower as a result. I would probably have gotten accepted to some of the big universities in Texas had my brain not been injured-my mom was Vietnamese and she was a genius. My dad was a chemical engineer back in the day. My sister definitely inherited her brains from both of them. I did too; my brain just takes forever to process complicated bits of info. Kind of like a computer.  

 But I’m not sure what that would have done to my pride level. I still struggle with it. But that’s neither here nor there. 

Further, I don’t know if I would have gone to a Christian school if things hadn’t ended up the way they did. I am very thankful for these Christian roots-they’ve helped me out a lot, to grow in my faith and mature me. I was at CHS from K to 1st grade and 7th to 12th grade. In between my times at Christian Heritage, I was homeschooled. 

I may have been a very different person than I am now. That used to worry me, but I see now that I don’t get to change my past (even though my sci-fi buff side cringes). We don’t get to change our past. We only get the lives we have now. That’s why, over the past 4 years, I’ve been running full speed from my past. I don’t want to remember it. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. That’s why I often skip over this part of myself when I meet new people. I just want to live a normal life like the next guy or gal. Yes, the wreck was when my life changed forever, but that’s not the only defining thing about me.  

People always feel bad for me when I tell them about this part of myself, but I just shrug it off; it’s been so long, it’s kind of a waste to go back to the state I was in then. I only tell my good friends about it, sometimes not even them. 

I barely remember life before I was 4. But memory doesn’t begin until then anyways. 

So my life basically began right after the car wreck. I’m not really sure what happened then; just that I was sleeping in the backseat and my sister woke up afterwards outside of the car on the grass. I was out for 2 weeks after the wreck.

I woke up in the Baylor Children’s Hospital at the end of that time, and spent about a year in rehab trying to get down motor functions and walking again. 

At the end of that time period, my life went back to normal as a kid. So the present me is the result of this process. 

Sure, I came from this dark past. But that doesn’t mean that tomorrow is dark. I see the light! 

Carbon Dating

The Bible says nearly nothing about dating. For this reason, to be a Christian and to date is very controversial. I keep hearing different things, e.g., wait for God to bring you the right person, be looking for a woman that fills all of the Proverbs 31 criteria, dating is wrong…the list goes on and on. 

First, let me address the thought that you should wait for God to bring you the right person. This idea is incorrect because it says that we should not take action until the right person comes. I lived a lifestyle under this motto all my grade school years. I waited for God to bring her. And waited. And waited. And waited.

Main reason my original statement is wrong: Nothing happens if you don’t act. God has called us to be a people of action. If we don’t act out His calling, He’s not gonna act either. Sure, maybe in the beginning of our Christian walk, His actions first were sort of necessary as a type of ground keeping. But if you’ve been a Christian as long as I have (8 years strong!) you’ll know that waiting around doing nothing isn’t even remotely related to how to live. 

I remember a few years ago helping at a youth prayer retreat at my church. One of the phases we went through was called, “waiting.” During this hour-long phase, we took a break and played games, waiting for God to say something, anything. I heard nothing but the sound of my body calling me to enter the dream realm. But my point is that we can’t sit around waiting for God to do something. We must be in action in the meantime. We were actively playing games, etc, while we waited. 

If we listen to all of these opinions, we’re bound to never find someone. I remember reading one time that if a woman were to fulfill all of the Proverbs 31 criteria, she would be extremely tired. All the time. No one likes being this way all the time. I wouldn’t wish that life on anyone; I know what being exhausted is. I’m okay if you don’t fulfill them all. Just strive for it, that’s what I mainly care about. 

Opinions aren’t actions. They’re just preconceived notions of how to define the world. We must not let people’s well-intentioned opinions solely govern our actions. The reason for this is because we live in a society of pluralism. As a Christian, I’ve been at odds with some ideas shoved down my throat by other Christians. But that’s besides the point (look at two posts ago if you want more on this topic). 

We must actually act, not just sit around all day gathering intell on how to act. We must actually  date, not just sit back and listen to people saying how we should and should not date. God said that it’s not good for a man (or woman) to be alone. That’s partially why feelings are a thing; God wants the best for us, so the deepest desires of our hearts are from Him. 

Yes, yes, I know the verse about the heart being deceitful above all things. But God can also speak to our hearts. In other words, don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. God created our hearts; He has as much or more access to them as sin. 

The Bible may have nothing about dating in it, but it still has verses that can be applied to it. Further, He knows that dating is a necessary thing to get married these days. Not that that’s what you should aim for outright when you go on a date; please don’t. You scare people that way. But I believe that God is behind the whole system and that He is fine with it as long as you walk with Him in it. 

Teenaged Philosophy

Back when I was in my mid-to-late teen years, I had some interesting thoughts about God and about the world we live in. I present them to you now as a way to show what has stuck for me and what not. 

As a teen, I was highly, highly influenced by music. But not just any music, just the music that I enjoyed. Basically, I would say forms of music I didn’t agree with were awful and not deserving of being called “art.” I didn’t like worship music back then because most of it is played with about three chords. But as I have grown, I have noticed that there is beauty in simplicity. For example, if you just wanted to eat a slice of cheese, you wouldn’t want to be given a cheeseburger. Sure, you could pick the cheese off of the burger, but it’s too much for the occasion if you aren’t that hungry. Cheese is represents simplicity; cheeseburger represents complexity. I’m gonna now go on to my next point; if I gave you how I came to listening to the genres I do now, you’d be reading a lot more. 

But one final thing about music: I had a music project (“on the side,” as I always said) that shaped my philosophy. I thought, “If it sounds good in the lyrical format, it must be right. In the words of a certain politician, WRONG. We as humans are gifted with brains to put preformed ideas into lyrics. 

I thought as a kid that I could legitimately change the world completely; essentially, this led to the idea that my generation was the best one that ever was. 

Meh. I wasn’t right. I was a bit cocky, as you can see from this overinflated sense of importance. We can change the world, as long as we do it together; we are not able to function without help from those who are older than us of past generations. That’s the idea behind studying history at school. 

My generation, come to find out, wasn’t as great as I thought. I was stricken by this idea since I lived with an all-or-nothing mentality. I thought that since we weren’t great that we all were terrible people. But I was wrong there. We live in a world of nuances. So come to find out, the world actually has decent people in it. Not great, not terrible, but decent. I think that’s the truth for all of us. 

Another idea that I struggled with then and I still struggle with is why is darkness so undefined by Scripture, yet everyone is looking for (and seemingly have) answers about them. Sure, I was told back in high school that they aren’t mentioned because they aren’t that important. But what about those who will only come out of the dark once you truly understand it? It is indeed important in that instance. And further, why is it not important? It’s strange, somewhat unpredictable and affects all of our lives, whether we live in denial of it or not. 

I’m a Christian. But that does not mean that I have everything figured out. I don’t plan on figuring everything out; that is why our lifestyle is one of faith. 

Controversial 

I remember reading somewhere in the Bible that said that we should not cause controversy. Maybe the reason behind this idea is that we are to be a people of peace; controversy causes conflict and other damage to people. 

In a society of pluralism, it’s getting hard to not cause controversy. As a society, it seems as if all beliefs are accepted, yet all beliefs are at odds with each other. I’ve been paying attention to different pages of social media and noticed that even the most innocent of comments can stir up controversy. I remember making a comment on the page of a show I watch. I was just trying to ask a harmless question about the show. I got an earful for the question, with the other person ultimately asking me if I even watched the show.  Duh! Why else would I have liked the page? It seemed as if the conversation would be hopeless, so I quickly deleted my comment before it could inspire copycats to comment similarly. 

I think the main problem is that we all think our beliefs are correct, so we are constantly arguing (aka, creating controversy) for our own beliefs with no regard for the other person. This system is known as the marketplace of ideas. 

The marketplace of ideas is a system where all ideas are valid, and the ideas that are actually valid will ultimately win out. But it seems like this system is flawed. If you get easily intimidated like I do, then you probably know that, even when your ideas are correct, they get walked all over by those who are more assertive, even if their idea was wrong. 

Controversy seems to be unavoidable. Yesterday, a page I follow posted a comment about a new album. I commented something to the effect of, “I haven’t heard the entire album yet. I’ll have to finish listening to it!” Someone else on the page commented on my post, saying simply that I shouldn’t be listening to it. A third person then rushed in to save me, saying that I’m an adult and I can make my own choices and something in defense of the album. I said thanks to the person who defended me, but then quickly took my original post because of this. Another similar incident happened yesterday as well. Maybe these experiences were God’s way of giving me an inside scoop on the issue of controversy

The system’s broken. We need to be able to tell between when there is a need to correct someone and when we just want to “because they’re wrong and we’re right.” Controversy is conflict, so is it really worth it to stir up more? 

Time Travel Through Prayer? 

You can thank all the sci-fi shows I watch for this post. And please keep in mind that I’m not a scientist in the slightest. 

We all know what time travel is: either an instantaneous progression or reversal of time. We know that this phenomenon cannot happen in the physical world. What about the spiritual world? I remember hearing a few songs about people talking to a younger version of themselves. This message probably won’t reach the younger version of the person because music is physical property. But can you re-enter your past via prayer? Maybe so.

I remember thinking a few months back, “Hey! What if prayers I’m praying for that little teenager in me are being answered, just in a reversal of time?” As in, I may have just now prayed for myself as a kid, but that prayer was answered long ago. I may have been the one whose prayer was answered, 4+ years ago. Yes, I know this is weird. But if you know me, you know I love these weird questions that cannot be answered. At least not yet. 

Have you ever felt the younger version of yourself accessed through a song or words spoken? As in, that younger version of you is still available, buried deep down inside yourself. But this type of time travel is natural. We steadily progress forward in time. But maybe prayer can be done backwards. Yes, prayer can be done for the future as well. This is a simple remembrance of that period of your life. 

In other words, you can pray for who you will be. But you may also be able to pray for the person you were. God hears all of our prayers, through time and space. I guess it’s really all a question of predestination because one progression enables another progression of life. But your current progression of life may be able to help an earlier progression. Maybe all it takes to get there is prayer. You still carry around this younger version of yourself, yet it has changed and morphed into someone new, but with the same genetic makeup and same experiences. I sure could have used a firm talk from future me during high school. 

Perhaps all it would take to physically get back to that version of yourself is to pray. I’ve prayed pretty often to get back to a similar spiritual state as I was in when I was younger. Perhaps prayer is the key.