Distance is our greatest barricade, and the diligence to meet and succeed that distance length for length, and hour for hour, is our most successful plan of attack. Without persistence in this plan, there is little, if any, hope in containing the threat of distance, and the enemy will have formed a barricade as imposing — but also as penetrable — as Hitler’s Atlantic Wall.

Just the other day, I was hanging out with Jimi and Alison at Abebe’s house. The driving conditions were abysmal, and, even though I am 19 and can assert my independence from the guardians, my parents shouldn’t have let me out. It took me four attempts to back out of the driveway, but in my defense: 1) My side mirrors weren’t any help. 2) I kept turning early because my side mirrors were useless.

Despite the driving conditions and horrible experience in the driveway, I made it safely to Abebe’s house, and Jimi and I proceeded to watch the end of Star Wars Episode 1. We watched and hoped Qui-Gon wouldn’t die, I realized Darth Maul’s light saber doesn’t break until he fights Obi-Wan, and Jimi recited some of the lines moments before they were uttered on screen. Then we went to the mall — despite the abysmal conditions. Then we came back with Alison and we watched a movie until 2 AM.

Was that foolish? In hindsight, no. I wasn’t snowed in, but I did have tons of snow to shovel back home. This was the first sloth, the first barricade. He was beckoning me back to the warmth of my parent’s house, and into my bed. At this point I was rather energized from seeing two good friends, and I acted on impulse. I didn’t want to sleep so I took out my light saber (color to be determined, but I guess technically you have to find the rare crystals that will determine the color of your saber, so it won’t be I who determines the color), and drew a nice line laterally along the sloth. Then I started to shovel as the sloth lay on his side, bleeding his mucus-greenishyellow interiors onto the driveway as it seeped into the wet and heavy snow.

Ours is a circle driveway. Often, if you read my 100 Things, I pretend I am shoveling for Hitler, and if I don’t shovel fast enough, Hitler will step out of his car as he arrives and give me a case of lead infection in the cranial area (#87). I finished shoveling the drive that we use the most. Then I started the secondary, the circle part of the circle driveway. It was tough — so tough that I broke our oldest shovel, but in my defense, this was going to be its last winter anyway. I returned to our arsenal of shovels, ceremoniously placed the former shovel to rest, and then picked up a smaller shovel so I could toss the snow further, and proceeded with that strategy on the secondary drive. Then, as my Michael Jackson playlist had exhausted itself, I thought to myself, “What the heck? I can do this tomorrow.” Sloth number two.

I began to multitask, shoveling and staring this sloth down. This one was a female, and she was seductive. I have never ever laid with a sloth, but — this one, man — this one was enticing. She lazily drew closer, her body dragging her extremities, and her extremities dragging her body. I squinted the sexiest squint I am capable of, and drew closer as well, albeit more cautiously and upright. As she raised her right arm and curved hoof to draw me in — in order to, I am supposing, give me a sloppy kiss — I threw the shovel to the ground between us, and dictated, “That’s enough!” and proceeded to draw my light saber to slay this one in the fashion that she would no longer have a head. It was a clean incision, and she stood there motionless, a very common characteristic in this species. Then her head slid off to the left, as I had made the incision at an angle from the upper right down to the lower left of the neck. I gave my eyes a dramatic roll, and then proceeded to boot the head across the street into the neighbors yard. I let the body rot in the driveway, as I hastily finished the secondary drive.

The point of this entry is rather simple: Slay the sloths. The thing that keeps us from achievement is the sloths. They encourage us to put the shoveling off until tomorrow, and then tomorrow the sloths will catch us and turn us into one of them. Then we will do to others as the sloths did to us. There is, however, the story of when I did become a sloth, and how I came out of that dreary spell. I should save that one for later, though. In the meantime, you should simply seek to slay them. May the force be with you.

In some respects, if you find compliance with the Wellhausen Theory, ((In very simple terms, this theory, held in consensus by many biblical scholars, holds that the Old Testament consists of four different sources that a final editor (redactor) used to produce the text.)) then you will find the deuteronomistic historian’s favor for specific qualities in Israel’s king to be present in our lives as well. He feels that all must worship at the temple in Jerusalem. The temple, however, was not built until the reign of Solomon. When we read of Solomon in 1 Kings ((1 Kings 3:3)) we note an uncomfortable exception by the redactor. He seems unfair in expecting all kings to worship in the temple when it doesn’t exist, and likewise, in some parallel, I am unfair also.

I oppose smoking because it is, to speak of it kindly, unhealthy. ((To my knowledge, it kills you. Correct me if I am wrong.)) Circa 1940 and perhaps earlier (or later), the ill effects of smoking were unheard of. When I see Audrey Hepburn or Humphrey Bogart luxuriously exhale, like the Deuteronimistic historian, I pass an uncomfortable exception. This exception is made in empathy of the circumstance, yet in also holding a desired standard.

Final Note: This entry, if for anything, was just an interesting appreciation for the deuteronomistic historian. I’m currently taking a Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament course for my major, and I’ve developed a new revere for these words. I always thought the New Testament was where the meat of the Bible lay, but as my professor clarified, in order to understand the New Testament, you have to understand where the New Testament authors were coming from and who they were writing to — those familiar with the Old Testament. Endlessly fascinating. My goodness, I love theology.

And it makes it a hard sell to teenagers who are, at least in part (an indispensable part), driven by sexual attraction.

from The 9513:

I pre-ordered the new Relient K album, Forget and Not Slow Down, which awarded me $1 in free mp3 downloads (which is just one song). ((I ordered a textbook from before school and Amazon awarded me $5 in free mp3 downloads.)) So in my very rare freetime (10:15pm on Tuesday night) I’ed Taylor Swift since she is re-releasing Fearless with 6 new tracks. I was going through the results and I saw a Tyler Dean with a song called Taylor Swift.

Hmm. Initially, I figured it to be a nice play off of Taylor’s fantastically romantic Tim McGraw, ((I wish that song was about me. So pretty.)) and that excited me. However, after listening to the 30 second stream, I was unimpressed; I didn’t hear Taylor Swift mentioned. I googled the song to find the lyrics, but instead I found a website that wrote a review about the song.

Hmm. I’ve never seen a review written about a song, save for those crazy lists of the 100 Most Influential Songs, etc. ((I’m fathomed at the thought that Michael Jackson is around place 20 or 30 on those lists. I’m rather biased, and perhaps my perspective is skewed in light of his recent passing, but he was the spearhead for black America’s music — and even beyond black America. He made Billie Jean!)) I skimmed the review, and I lingered down to the part that is quoted above.

Now, the song might not be great, but that doesn’t bother me. What ticks me, irks me, tugs my nerves (axon from cell body), is that they assert the unavoidable fact about American media today: if it’s not sexy, doesn’t talk about sex, doesn’t fantasize about sex, it’s not worth your time. It’s not so much that I’m mad at them; it’s more that I’m mad that what they wrote is true.

And then they highlight that teenagers have “an indispensable part” that cannot be ignored. If I could lecture the entire American teenage population, I would lecture them on the topic of sex. It would be fire and brimstone, qua Jonathan Edwards qua Nathan Bounyong meet southern revivalism. ((Not sure if I used qua properly, but it’s a venture.)) I’m sick of the sexual influence in our corrupt culture and degenerate generations. Wake up, America. ((Miley Cyrus reference. I used to be proud of the way she carried herself, but I just saw the Party in the USA music video the other day, and I am now rather disappointed with her. Perhaps I am prude in my judgement, and I hope so, but in Miley there is another example of the sex in American appetites.))

Don’t write me off as a hopeless, star-eyed romantic (though I think, in someways, I am one — but not entirely). Don’t write me off as a staunch and ignorant Christian or a sexual claustrophobic. If you feel with the way that America has delivered sex, you’ve made sexiness messy. You’ve turned something beautiful into its antithesis: a mockery of love, attacking and repulsively turning one of love’s most intimate facets upside down.

An aside: I’m looking forward to Relient K’s new album. Matthew Thiessen is so witty, but I especially love his dramatic and melancholic works; the new album is entirely that. Buy it? I’m also looking forward to Taylor Swift’s re-release. I’m so happy that she’s doing as well as she is. I have this feeling that Taylor is making music — music that can be timeless. Her craft with her lyrics is phenomenal, and I think that is what will keep her tunes ripe as they weave into eternity. She’s my number two celebrity crush, and I’m not ashamed.

My dad lived in Northern Laos, controlled by the Communists. School only went up to the 4th grade, and when my dad met that capacity, he was sent to the only school left: Military school. Essentially, he was taught to be a reserve for the Vietcong.

My dad does not know his biological parents. All he knows is that his parents gave him up to my grandparents. His brother, my uncle, is “adopted” as well.

My dad lived in the jungles of Northern Laos as a teen. Everyday they would move deeper into the jungle because they needed more wood for their fires. Everyday he lived with death holding a threat to his throat: A mine, an IED, an accident, a mistake. He navigated grounds littered with inches that, if perturbed, would have eliminated any chance of my birth.

My dad had a friend at the military school who invited him to have a sweet potato, a delicacy in that environment. Unwantingly, my dad declined in lieu of his duty to fetch water for the day. While he was filling his pail, he heard a thud in the distance, a morbid indication of an explosive device. His friend died, and had my father been with him, so would have he.

My dad did not have an easy life in the jungle. He severed leeches off of his leg with his knife, and he has scars that leave a reminder of his time in the jungles. He stresses to me that I — we — have life well off in the United States. He doesn’t want me to take this life, opportunity, and gift for granted.

My dad fooled the Communist government. He, and my grandpa, led the Communists to believe that they supported Communism, so that they were allowed to stay in Laos — and perhaps allowed to live. They did not plan to stay in Laos.

My dad escaped to Thailand early in the morning. My dad crossed the Mekong river with my grandparents, uncle, and cousins. They hid in the jungle the day before their escape, and paid off their river transporters with gold because money was worthless. The escape carried the risk of kidnap, and death from either the transport or the government. They arrived on Thai soil at dawn, turned themselves in, sat in jail for a day, were sent to a camp, and then were free; this was the normal protocol for escapees.

My dad became a Christian because of Catholic missionaries that supported him and his family. He was an atheist in Laos, but he grew to know the Lord because of the missionaries’ dedication to the Lord’s commission.

My dad is not alive because he navigated life skillfully or luckily. Of skill, quite the contrary. Of luck, there is no luck, but there is purpose. My dad believes, and I do too, that he survived the jungles of Northern Laos, the void of never knowing his parents, the military school, the explosive infested grounds, the Mekong river, the Communist government, and corrupt transporters because the Lord has a purpose for my dad outside of Southeast Asia.

My dad raised me with Christian values as a single parent. He instilled discipline, love, and time. I inherited those values, but did not seriously consider or value them until my sophomore year in high school.

I exist — the Nathan that you know and read — because my dad lived in Northern Laos. Why do you exist?

Honor your father and mother, and fathers do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. (Exodus 20:12, Colossians 3:21)

Epilogue: Regardless of your belief in God, God has a plan for your life. Whatever you are experiencing right now is purposeful. The Lord will finish the good work he has started in you, but you can refuse that completion. You can choose to finish your own work instead of God’s; I pray that you don’t.

Learn about your family history. Always remember where you came from. Leave your legacy with your children. That is the most important thing you can leave in this world when you leave.