To celebrate the start of my summer reading program, I read an excerpt of “Remember The Time Protecting Michael Jackson In His Final Days” via a Slate retweet. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much because I don’t really expect much of anything released post-posthumously. However, to my surprise, I found myself enthralled in the memoirs of Michael Jackson’s two bodyguards. Their recollections are unlike any others simply for the reason that, besides Michael’s own children (and perhaps their nanny), they were with Michael day in and day out.

After having grown up in the spotlight, headlining hundreds of shows globally, and commandeering a generation of popular culture, it was time for the King of Pop to return to Earth–except he couldn’t. When you look like what Michael looked like and when you did what Michael did like you can’t just fade into obscurity and live a normal life. He was at once extraordinary and “abnormal”. He developed on the stage, in the studio, and under our gaze. Thriller doomed Michael into an eternal cosmic orbit. Though a relic of esteem, Thriller was also a jail cell. Everyone wants to know what happens after you reach the top–and usually everyone just wants to see the fall. See also: Lebron James.

So as June 25th rolls around once again, I’m writing this blog to confess that I killed Michael Jackson. You killed Michael Jackson. Collectively, our stifling appetite to see his moonwalk and to hear his voice killed him. He was an artist that had an incredible gift for creating–and that’s precisely what I think killed him. Celebrity doesn’t care so much about the art as it does about the artist giving themselves to all of us. We all just wanted more and in the midst of that wanting we forgot that Michael had wants of his own. One day the King of Pop wanted to retire the crown. He wanted to be a dad and watch his kids grow up. He wanted to go shopping during normal operating hours. He wanted to walk into a bar and tell the bartender, “Give me a beer!” He wanted all of this and it was impossible.

This is all to say that I am trying to temper my appetite for celebrity culture. It’s perfectly fine to be a fan, but how do we separate fandom from idolatry? I hope that I never gush over a famous person if I ever meet a famous person. I want to treat them like I would anyone else: a handshake, maybe a hug, a few polite words (including “I’m a huge fan” or “I appreciate what you’ve done/created”), and then I’d be on my way–if any of this at all. All of those adoring fans outside of airports and hotels on Michael’s tours? They killed him. As an artist he loved it, but as a human it drained and dehumanized him. When all the world wants one man and that man gives all he has, Michael Jackson happens on August 29, 1958 and ends on June 25th, 2009.

On a side note: I am particularly skeptical about anything released after Michael’s death. In the first place, he had no part in the production of those releases. In the second place, those releases are simply the vultures circling Michael’s corpse. Michael had absolutely nothing to do with his family when the family band disbanded. It was cringe worthy when his brothers did the backing vocals to the posthumous release “This Is It”. Yes, it was touching that the family would do something so sensitive, but it also reeked of greed. I loved watching “This Is It” over and over and over, but in the back of my mind I knew This Is It seemed kind of forced. I really don’t think Michael wanted to do those 50 shows in London, but I wanted him to. I killed him.

Addition of Apples and Bananas

This is how I learned math.

Mary has 3 apples. Bob has 4 apples. How many apples do they have together?

Examples make an abstract thing practical, and for some reason they make understanding the abstract more possible.

As Christians, we still learn by example.

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. 2 Timothy 2:3-7

In this passage, Paul employs the imagery (and example) of the soldier, athlete, and farmer. These three occupations are used as a means to living a better Christian life. He extracts the idea of a soldier aiming to please his commanding officer, an athlete training to compete for a crown, and a farmer’s diligence in the fields and infuses them into the idea of Christian living. The abstract idea of Christian life is made more real by these examples.

But what about the examples themselves? We treat them as a means to our end, but we never acknowledge the examples as ends themselves. Consequently, we are susceptible to consider Christianity in terms of something else. The soldier “does” what a soldier does. The athlete “does” what an athlete does. The farmer “does” what a farmer does. What does it mean for the Christian to “do” what a Christian does? What does a Christian “do”?

The Christian life is an abstract idea, and we’re just trying to figure out what it actually looks like. And my Chemistry professor during my freshman year was convinced he solved the mystery of the Trinity via example of the material phases of water. “Father, Spirit, and Holy Ghost? Well, there’s Solid, Liquid, and Gas. So there you have it. Go and tell your Theology professors that.”

In Matthew 6:9-13, we have Jesus telling us how to pray (emphasis mine):

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

Later in the gospel, we are given audience of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night of his betrayal. He walks further into the garden and falls to ground as he wrestles with the impending events: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Emphasis mine).

I was at a friend’s church when the pastor was expositing on this verse. My creative juices suddenly started flowing and I may have totally missed what the pastor was trying to explain. For some reason, like many of my other creative impulses, I started to think about Kanye West.

Kanye killed it–and then he dropped the mic. There really was no better way for him to end that show. Maybe if he had suddenly dissipated before our eyes, but that’s humanly impossible.

So here’s how I’m connecting the Lord’s Prayer with Yeezy’s “New God Flow” performance on BET Awards 2012. When Kanye dropped the mic, he said, “It’s done. I killed it. I said what i needed and you can’t say anything back.” When Jesus was in Gethsemane he begged for his burden to be lifted, but followed that up with, “You’re God. You already did it. You have planned what is necessary and it is perfect. There’s nothing I can really say to you.”

So what if “Christian” rappers dropped their mics after their shows? It would be corny to just drop the mic after each rap, but I think a show could capture a “redeemed” meaning of dropping the mic with good flow of energy throughout the show. I told my friend this and he said the first thing he thought of was pride and how dropping the mic might direct the crowd’s praise to the rapper instead of to God. But I’m convinced that we could train ourselves to see the act of dropping the mic in the following way:

1) It symbolizes that what was rapped is not the rapper’s own, but actually God’s. The mic is dropped symbolizing dispossession of the message conveyed via the lyrics.

2) When the mic is not in the rapper’s hands, who do we look to? Personally, I think about what just happened, what was spoken. Kanye’s rap was infinite, ripe with sick metaphors and allusions. When he walks off stage, yeah I suppose I could still cheer for him, but I could also cheer for the rap and marvel at what it spoke about (which, in the case of New God Flow, is Yeezy).

My hope with this idea is that we can further demarcate prophet and message, person and celebrity. Is this far fetched? Am I just dreaming that every rapper can be as cool as Kanye West? I mean, “Ask any dopeboy you know, they admire ‘Ye”.

I took Honors Physics in high school and it was easily the most despised course of my high school career. I was left behind as the entire class progressed beyond basic Newtonian physics. “Wait, change in velocity means there is acceleration, and a constant change in velocity means a constant acceleration?”

My teacher did this whole Socratic teaching thing AKA give the students a problem and let them fail miserably in groups of people while you say they are actually learning. I was a rather shy kid in high school–even more if I had no idea what I was doing–so the Socratic teaching method was lost on me in my youth. I wonder how many shy youths Socrates failed with his teaching method.

We were doing a problem that related velocity and acceleration and my teacher tasked us with ordering the results we found. For some reason my mind excited as I worked the problem through my head. “We’ll call this mild change in velocity, this one moderate change in velocity, and this one fast change in velocity.”

My excitement was short lived as the first group shared and quantified the changes in velocity. “This graph shows a change in velocity of 5 m/s which means the acceleration is 5 m/s^2.” Not a moderate change in velocity.

I’m a subjective man in an objective world which means I don’t measure quantities when I cook. Try my cookies. They’re different every time.

47th and North Avenue

47th and North Avenue. Neighborhood advertisement.

I title this entry as such and have taken care to choose the word “firearm”, but lack greatly in my choice for the word “abolition”. That is, “firearm” is chosen to set boundaries on what objects I intend for “abolition” to act on, but “abolition” is lacking in that it acts legislatively–not necessarily via heart, desire, or will. More specifically, “firearm” is to mean any fashionable device or object that can be managed by an ambulatory individual (and his or her partner in a direct supporting role) to execute physical harm or death upon another individual.

Aside: I highly doubt definitions will actually matter in this post, so you can basically skip the first paragraph.

My best friend in college had some unique ideas that I might accurately describe as outrageously founded in love. He once suggested that, organizationally, we might express apology and love to a certain member through a “love” tunnel (I forget if he actually called it a “love tunnel”). The idea of the love tunnel was that every member would line up–one person across from another, each pair adjacent to another pair. Each pair would lift their hands and join them with their partner’s. The idea was that a certain individual would come into the room, see the tunnel, be invited into the tunnel, and would feel the cheesiest yet (somehow) most genuine expression of our love for him or her. When my friend shared the idea, I gawked. I did not want to be associated with such a juvenile act.

But now I sort of do.

I was walking out of the mall parking lot onto the sidewalk near Panera the other day, and I saw an armored truck on the other side of the street. My beautiful twisted dark fantasy mind began to think about how I might rob the truck, what kind of living I could manage if I entered theft fulltime, and whether I would have the audacity and character to pull off a heist. Then my moral conscious took a turn and begged that I consider the moral implications of such activity, that I consider how an armored vehicle might exist in an America of firearm abolition.

Thieves would reign. Armored vehicles and their staff would have no defense against individuals that somehow gained inventory of firearms. This, of course, is why armored vehicle transporters require firearms–for defense.

But there is another defense–founded in outrageous love–and I completely imagined my friend suggesting this as the new minister of the Department of Defense: instead of a love tunnel, armored vehicle transporters would employ the “love wall”. The love wall is a wall of individuals committed to non-violence. Any and every time an armored vehicle must make a collection, a wall of individuals would join elbow to elbow and enclose the armored vehicle and their staff, creating a closed tunnel of sorts (I suppose the “love wall” is the daughter idea of the “love tunnel” literally) for the armored vehicle transporters to safely travel through and make their collection. The idea is that this wall would deter individuals with hot red hands–and hopefully those with a violent inclination.

Threatening or killing an individual guard is not as intimidating or easy (in any sense) as threatening or killing a mass of individuals. The love wall demonstrates true non-violence. Too often, I think we are misled by the idea that non-violence means being the weaponless armored truck driver and carrying boxes full of cash, hoping that we won’t be the helpless victim to a firearm wielding thief. That’s hardly non-violence. That’s being a stupid and ignorant dweeb. Non-violence requires that we be outrageously creative in love.

If more people were committed to the idea of non-violence and were willing to actively (non-violence is NOT passive) surrender their lives for this idea, maybe the love tunnel and love wall would not be such a cheesy idea. Perhaps my friend’s outrageous ideas would be the norm in a firearm free world. And maybe I would owe my friend an apology for gawking.

Ahh Motherland!

Ahh Motherland!

I must have been listening to a story on public radio when I began to think about this. I don’t know if it’s worth anything, but munch on this.

We, the citizens of the United States of America, have stolen the idea of defending our country from countries that actually have to defend their countries. I suggest that the rhetoric of “defending” is more appropriately applied to countries’ whose soil has been invaded. In this definition, the American Revolution is the only instance in which America has truly defended herself. Yet, we continue to employ this rhetoric and romanticized notion of defense, this idea that our fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters are bred with a patriotism that would seek to die in defense of all things American.

Is this an example of neo-colonoialism, neo-imperialism? Are we yet again re-appropriating what is not ours to claim as our own? It is rather odd if you consider the idea. We employ the rhetoric of defense which is stolen from countries America has often pressed to use. I think immediately of Vietnam and of Laos, and then of Iraq. In each country, America claimed to be defending democracy, if not the homeland. And in each country, the native constituents were defending their country as well. I suppose I argue that they more deservedly own the rhetoric of defense than America, and that America ought to drop further use of “defending America”.

If this is, in fact, a thievery of such rhetoric, I then ask, “Of what gain or use?” If my arguments and thoughts stand, then it is a very subtle and overlooked vice of American “virtue”. We steal and we don’t even know it. We are blind thieves, stealing as if it were ubiquitous and justified.

The recently resurrected quotes by Abercrombie’s CEO are merely the spoken Unspokens about the fashion industry. If you’re upset about the marketing strategy, then you ought to be upset at the whole industry because A&F is not an isolated incident. A&F will thrive despite the hateful comments because sex appeal wins and we are her oblivious teammates. If you want to boycott A&F, transform your mind instead–it is the only way you will ever truly protest the blatant hate: Desist from shallow thoughts and comments, rise above and rethink “sex appeal”, and begin to believe that EVERY person is beautiful.

As a heterosexual Christian male that has bought into the sex appeal industry, I especially make these appeals to my brothers for the sake of our sisters and women globally. I think we can appreciate beauty, but it quickly becomes sex appeal and lust.

“because beauty it fleets and charm: it deceives. but a real woman for the lord is the one i can keep.” – proverbs 31:30 as paraphrased by Gowe in his track “Coffee Tables” as above (0:50)

Me doing some organic chemistry in front of a cross

Taken by my friend, Amanda, probably after we finished Biochemistry lecture for the day. I’m sitting in front of the St. Joan of Arc chapel at Marquette University.

I keep a diary. That’s no secret. Nearly every single entry in my diary (which dates back to January 1, 2005) ends with a salutation addressed to myself: “Love to you,”.

I first saw that salutation on Jason Mraz’s (now defunct) blog. I thought it was very clever. In the first place, it’s not the typical salutation like, “Sincerely,” or, “Love,”. Secondly, it reminds me that love is something that is sent which necessitates that it is an active action. I cannot love you if I do not do anything. Further, I cannot love you if my impetus to love does not come from within. I must first love you in abstract before I can love you in some material or tangible manner.

I also anticipate that love is something we never grow tired thinking about (says the single man). The other day I was driving home after work thinking about a patient that had come in for a pre-surgery evaluation. As the doctor and the patient began to discuss the surgery, the dramatic phrase came up: “Money is not an issue. In this situation, we have to do it.”

In my car, I began to think about that phrase and the relationship of cost and security. Generally, we pay a premium for goods we desire. Then I thought about how I and others buck the trend by taking pleasure in cheap goods. An example is the marriage proposal with a plastic ring purchased from a 25 cent vending machine, or eating McDonald’s on date night instead of a steak at a steakhouse. Then I thought about expressing love through the purchase of material goods. I think I show my little siblings my love for them when I buy them movies that we can watch together. Those movies aren’t expensive which indicates that spending a lot of money isn’t proportional to the amount of love expressed.

OK, good. Seal the deal. More money doesn’t mean more love. But for some reason that idea lingers. For some reason we seem to romanticize expense. If I may flaunt my (7+ years of) German, we romanticize the Teuer (expensive) and not the Billig (cheap). Is there merit to this idea? Let me suggest yes and use Christ as my example.

Christ paid an incredible expense to demonstrate his love for us. At the risk of being brief, let me put it clearly: Christ loved me and died for me even though I didn’t love him (Romans 5:8). What greater expense is there than giving up our lives for those that we love? Isn’t this what parents do for their children? Isn’t this what the brothers in Tae Guk Gi demonstrated? We rarely give up ourselves to the extent that Christ did for us, but we do give away parts of ourselves in different ways when we love each other.

So the next time you end a letter remember that your “Love,” actually means “Love to you,”. And when you think about “Love to you,”, remember that you are loving by sending some part of you.

And if you are a Christian, the next time you say that you love Jesus, pray that you mean it to the extent that Christ meant it. “Christ, I love you,” seeks the company of those desiring to pay the greatest expense.

And remember that a single man once told you to always think about (Christ’s) love–because that’s all single people ever think about.

Oscar Wilde is quoted as commenting, “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”

At my local church, we often hear our pastor and prayers start with a remark about the weather. If it’s pleasant outside, we’ll thank God for appeasing to our desires (sarcasm). If it’s rainy, we’ll make a cute comment about how we wish it were warmer, yet nonetheless are thankful for the nourishment of the rain. If it’s snowy outside–well, I’m not sure what we say about snow.

My point is that conversation about the weather is so superficial. As Wilde says, it is the last refuge of the imaginative. It takes no skill or thought to make a comment about the weather. I always think it as a conversation killer because what else can you say after a, “It’s such a nice day outside”? Only, “Yes. It is,” because if you express a contrary opinion, you are breaking rule one of small talk: Avoid conflict and/or confrontation.

By the time someone begins to utter something the weather, I am thinking two things: 1) Golly, I’m going to have work extra hard to resuscitate this conversation. 2) I hate small talk, and now I’m pigeon-holed into talking about outdoor activities or missing my chance to engage in outdoor activities–way to put a choke hold on small talk–UGH I hate small talk.

Weather-talk is superficial and shallow. I will rarely evoke that subject unless I have every intention to elaborate and pursue an imaginative conversation about the weather. Perhaps I’ll talk about a particular cloud–like the cumulonimbus. Now that’s a tasty conversation.


I promised a friend that my next blog would be on this subject. This isn’t to say that I’ve gated myself from blogging otherwise; I just thought you would like to know. In fact, I haven’t really had the impetus to write about anything–personal, thoughtful, or otherwise.

But now I am ready to write about profanities–once again. I will introduce two ideas that I find to be very persuading, and then I will provide one counter-argument. I have no idea what I will conclude. This is total stream-of-consciousness-esque.

Idea 1) My friend suggested that, within Christian circles, we have become legalistic in banishing profane and “unwholesome talk” from our lips, that we have become shallow with legalism. What sorts of Pharisees have we become, demanding that our youthful ears nary receive bombs of the f- and s- variations? Are we basing our righteousness or practice of it on those terms? As my friend suggested, we ought to be questioning whether our language is “wholly glorifying to God” instead of questioning, “Can I use this word?” (See this link for part of our Twitter exchange) Consider and reference Romans 14:17 which reads, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…”.

It is certainly an interesting thought to entertain because it really does feel like our parents tell us not to say bad words because… they’re just bad. We’ve adopted the anti-Nike sentiment: Just Don’t Do It. What of the logic behind that command? Why don’t we do it? Where my friend would point you back to his question about wholly glorifying God, I might take this chance to segue into the cultural formation of expletives and profanities.

I don’t know much about the etymology of these words. There is internet-lore that FUCK stood for “Fornication Under King’s Consent” which I think is complete hogwash (or bullshit). Ass is an archaic name (used in a number of Bible translations) that identified the Equus africanus asinus, more commonly known as the ass–I mean, donkey. I don’t know man. These words have a history, and I think we’d be remiss in banishing these words without a stronger knowledge of their origins. Which leads to…

Idea 2) If we knew the etymology of these profanities, we would be better informed on how to use them. This is to say that my second idea is that these words have a proper use. Certainly, we’ve appropriated some of (if not all, I suppose) these words for more demeaning intentions, but I’m persuaded that we might be able to return them to their glory days. I imagine a day in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could have added a well placed “fucking” in any of his righteously upset speeches and texts because that’s what the word was supposed to do.

Plainly, my second idea might be imaged as such: In order to describe the size of an elephant, a child might claim that the elephant is “really big”, whereas I might claim that the elephant is “outrageous in stature”. In order to describe the defecation of a mammalian species, a child might name the feces “poopoo”, whereas I might call it “shit”. Thus, words are specific to the author’s desire and intentions, which is to suggest that these profanities had a more innocent origin than their current usage suggests.

Also related to my Idea 2 is that I once suggested to a friend that these words have power and are powerful tools for the rhetorician. I now understand his argument when he pointed out that profanities only have this power (in my estimation) because of their cultural taboo. His maxim: Remove the taboo, remove the power. This is yet a curious idea to pursue within my second idea. Suppose we return to a proper usage of expletives. Would they retain rhetorical power and emphasis, or would they become just like any other word?

Counter-Argument) Profanities simply have acquired socially negative connotations and it would be moot to desire change. As Christians, perhaps we are allowed to use them (much to the chagrin of my friend, we are still stuck in the mode of “Can I use this word?”), but they ultimately serve for a bad witness.

I don’t know how I feel about this counter-argument. I mean, to me, the argument boils down to “Be holy by not swearing.” And then that reverts back to my friend’s idea about shallow legalism. Additionally, I might take the liberty in assuming that God is in the business of redemption and reconciliation, and argue that as workers of God’s Kingdom part of our duty (however minuscule or “trivial”) is to redeem the meaning of these profanities (Idea 2). Yet, as formidable of an intellectual and theoretical foundation as I have set out here, I still feel weird saying profanities. Why is that?


I guess my stream-of-consciousness ends here. Our ultimate goal as Christians is to glorify God in whatever we do (1 Corinthians 10:23-33), and the rub isn’t necessarily in whether we can use expletives, but rather in how we use them.