Sunday, November 02, 2008

Bittersweet Me

Busyness is starting to set in again. My mind goes through this cycle of having brilliant flashes of ideas and events that I should do because it would be awesome. I agree to do speaking and acting engagements at the drop of a hat. That last one's not true. The people have to offer me free food and then I'm in. But I realize that I have once again potentially overloaded myself. Aside from having a full-time job, I am in the process of producing a new "24"-day extravaganza (which I am hyperexcited about), creating a special Saturday night service for my church, writing a new episode of Mr. Chapel, and I have agreed to speak at a camp next summer and if a new May long weekend event happens in the Covenant, there is a good chance I will be asked to help and because of the Covenant usually offers free food, I would most likely agree to it.

Really, it can cause me a lot of stress which is completely my fault because I am the one that agreed to it. It's not like any of it's an obligation per se. I just want to do it. I don't want to disappoint anyone and besides it's a great creative outlet.

But I was thinking about these creative flashes I get. When I have a lull, it's usually after I have just come off a marathon events that were booked back to back to back and I am simply recovering. And then I go through this stage of trying to get back and living life. Keeping up friendships and trying to become pseudo-mature by attempting to pursue my Renaissance Man ideal. And then I just find myself falling into the same trap of looking around and realizing that I don't like being around people. As I get older, I am getting more uncomfortable around people. I either don't know how to hold a normal conversation or I rather not talk to anyone about the same inane topics or I rather just shut myself off from the world. I feel like a stranger in a strange land with no money to leave. But then my creativity then kicks in and seems to be inspired with a whole bunch of events and activities to plan for. Suddenly, I don't have to worry about all that stuff. It gets shoved to the fringe of my life where I only have moments of reflection. It's kind of funny though, because all these things that I plan revolve around other people. Either entertaining them or encouraging them or teaching them. I love performing for them as long as I don't have to worry about figuring out how to draw close to them. It's just easier at arm's length.

Don't get me wrong, I love having friends and spending time with them. It's just even with friends, I have a wall that I don't let down very often. I have isolated myself from them and it kills me some times. I guess the question becomes what is more painful? The grinding isolation of my self-created cage or enduring open vulnerability and the confrontation with my disconnect with others? I'm too damned emo.

"I'd sooner chew my leg off,
Than be trapped in this
How easy you think of all of this as bittersweet me
I couldn't taste it
I'm tired and naked
I don't know what I'm hungry for
I don't know what I want anymore"
- "Bittersweet Me" from R.E.M.'s New Adventures in Hi-Fi

Monday, October 27, 2008

You Can't Always Get What You Want

David wanted to build the temple when he was king of the Israel. He was a great military leader of his people and for the most part did many good things because he followed the path God laid out for him. However, the Lord did not permit David to build the temple because he had too much blood on his hands. It was not his role. It was not his place. He was a great man, but that didn't matter. It wasn't for him.

Now, I'm not sure of how David felt about that. Coming to grips with the concept that not everything was up for grabs. He faced the consequences to that when he sent a man to his death in order to take that man's wife as his own.

The fact is that in our lives, there are things that are off limits. Not because it's bad necessarily, but rather its not meant for us. We cannot take everything we want. We cannot pretend that we can. Some things are meant for others.

I was talking to my friend, Aaron, about the nature of mankind and some of the gruesome, terrible things that we as humans are capable of doing simply because there is a lingering dark, selfish side that is there. It's undeniable. Some of the greatest works of the arts and literature comes from a place of recognizing that darkness inside of the human soul. As Aaron said to me, these pieces of art are so shockingly truthful because it taps into something inside of us that we try to pretend is not there. It unnerves us and disturbs us. Although I think it is important to recognize that evil inside, it is also important to strive and fight with all our strength, through the grace of God, against that darkness. Against the evil selfishness that creeps into our psyche. It comes down once again to remembering our place in the world. It is about God and others first. That is the ideal that we push and strive for. We need to have this idea of the good of the community foremost in our goals, because if we are too individualistic, too self-focused, then we will start to think our role and place is more important. We will believe we deserve things when it is not necessarily our place to make that call. We will begin to ascribe that self-service trumps upholding a communal reciprocity. If we dwell on ourselves, we will not only potentially destroy ourselves in some form, whether it be physically, mentally, or spiritually, it can bring harm to others. We need to know our role.

That all being said, it is tough when you come to the realization that we cannot take whatever we want. It kind of hurts knowing that something would be nice and comforting, but also knowing that it is not for you. That something is for someone else. Solomon was supposed to build the temple because he was a man of peace. As much as David may have wanted to and perhaps even deserved on a human level, it was not for him.

It is just tough to accept that we cannot change everything. Sometimes life is the way it is and that is that. And although we cannot change everything in the world, we can always try to change ourselves more into the person that we are meant to be. It's just too bad that that is easier said than done.

"I love myself better than you
I know it's wrong so what should I do?"
- "On a Plain" from Nirvana's Nevermind

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

If Facebook Does Not Go Back to the Way It Was I Am Going to Burn This Mother Down

People on Facebook are funny. For some reason there have been a lot of people who are for some reason upset with the new Facebook layout. Everyday I see in my feed a couple of people signing up for groups like "I Hate the New Facebook!" or "The New Layout of Facebook is Making Me Mad! Poo!" or "If Facebook Does Not Go Back to the Way It Was I Am Going to Burn This Mother Down!" That last one is probably the most confusing because why would you burn the building you're in down because of something intangible on the Internet. But then I realized it doesn't need to make sense because these people are upset because of layout. Layout. Not the fact that Facebook has a bunch of your personal information and literally uses it to send targeted advertisements to you. I can see some people getting upset over all the Christian dating site ads and Foo Fighter concert tickets and meeting Christian girls at Foo Fighters concert sites. I can find my own dates thank you very much Internet! Bordering on invasion of privacy is something that I think is something that is ok to get upset over. I mean, just don't sign up. But people who are upset over the layout of your personal information is the problem.

"This website is impossible to navigate now that it's been moderately rearranged how the heck am I supposed to encapsulate my life in a cyberspace bubble on a website if I have to click on a tab every once in a while! Aaargggh!" And then they throw the keyboard across the room and spontaneously transform into their werewolf forms. But don't worry, these werewolves won't literally attack anybody, they spread their virus on Facebook. If you are worried about a social networking site not being conducive to the ultimate experience of your poking, pirate/ninja-battling, chump-biting, anti-new Facebook group joining then you should probably just drop the whole thing and just go and hang out with the people that you use Facebook to avoid actually spend time with. At least pick up a phone and call someone about how you hate the new Facebook and then never use Facebook again. I have this funny suspicion that very few people that have joined these groups actually have vocally expressed their reasons for their hatred of the layout, because if they did do that instead of arbitrarily joining groups and crying about it, then they would actually hear what kind of ludicrous idiocy it is to care about that.

Monday, September 15, 2008

If Faith Covenant Church Could Choose a Modern Day Prophet, It Would Be Rob Bell

At church a couple of weeks ago, the topic was service. What was interesting to me was from a Rob Bell video. It may just be me, but it seems like if Faith Covenant Church could choose a modern day prophet, it would be Rob Bell. Which I would be fine with. Anyway, Rob was talking about how Jesus was going from town to town, preaching and healing and in one town, they wanted Jesus to stay. But Jesus keep heading to Jerusalem. Of course, Jesus could have stayed and done many good things, but that was not what Jesus was there for. Jesus had his sight set on Jerusalem. He had chosen his path and had to say no to the things that would take Him away from that path. In the same way, we can't take up everything that comes our way. We can't because there is too much for us.

Rob goes on to talk about about this idea of Kierkegaard, about willing the one thing. Focusing our energy into the thing we're supposed to be doing. If we are going to say yes to everything, we're not going to be able to do the thing where our strength lies. Of course all of these different things can be good things, but we don't have the capability to do all things. We have to choose wisely.

So the question came up, what should I be focusing on? What should be the thing that I focus on? What has God given me the ability to do? And I simply don't know. I mean I do have a plan of how I can take care of myself financially and everything, but that is not anything special. I mean, my skill set is weird. I can sort of write. I am better than some average schmuck with public speaking. I am funny to a degree. I would like to think that I am very adaptive in my thinking. I would like to think that I am objective in my approach. I should point out that whatever my focus is, the one thing I will, I don't see it as my job. Maybe that's my problem. But whatever my job is or will be, it's just the thing I do for money. It seems like there should be some magnum opus that I am supposed to be working on that I'm not while I wasting my time doing other things that are just in the way.

It's odd, although I believe that I am handling work well and that in some ways things are right, it feels like the whole ship is following the wrong current, and I am unsettled. It's like I'm meant to be a wanderer but I'm too busying setting up shop and trying to be responsible. I'm torn between some unknown dream that I can't grasp and a life of duty and hard work because there's no safety net. If I try to 'go find myself' and not find me, I am going to pooch myself doubly. Yet if I let myself get older, I may discover myself too late to be what I am supposed to be.

Unsettled is basically the summary of this post. But we'll all float on ok, we'll all float on alright.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Quit Stating the Same Phrase Over and Over Again As If It Were a Legitimate Form of Debate

The topic in church today was solitude. One of the disciplines that I probably do the best at. When I actually take time to reflect is probably one of best things I can do to refocus. Since we were out at Bird's Hill Park, we were given the chance to actually spend some time alone. I decided to take a walk down the road which is the method I normally take for solitude. The thing I revolved around was the idea of my relationship to God. I have such a weird struggle with that concept. Relationship to God. What does that even mean? It seems like it's supposed to be so important to have a strong relationship to God, which is important I suppose, but as I listen to people talk about relationship to God as if it's the same as friendship with God. That you need to have a friendship with God. That He's your buddy, your pal. You stay up watching movies and rassle around and play pranks on each other.

I don't want that kind of relationship at all with God. Some sort of invisible friend. I mean, if we're supposed to be friends and yet I have to feel bad about missing prayer time and that I'm letting my friend down or being a terrible friend to Jesus or something, but I can't complain that He's never here to go play catch with. Or that I can bum a ride off or go get Slurpees with. Because that's what I do with friends. Some people would probably argue, "Well, isn't God there when you go do those things? Isn't he there?"

"I guess. In some form. But it's kind of got some weird peeping tom feel to it."

"But isn't it more like He's there though."

"Well, no. I'm saying it's not the same as a friend. Most of my friends are not invisible, omnipotent, omniscient beings."

"But the Bible tells us that He can be."

"Ok, yes, I get the idea that He has mercy on us and that He doesn't have to. But He's not actually here. Like a friend would be in the traditional sense."

"But wouldn't you want God as a friend?"

"Not really. I mean, it would the same kind of thing as spending time with the Queen of England and then saying that you're friends with her."

"It's not the same."

"Of course, it's not the exact same, I wasn't trying-"

"Because God is more powerful and He loves you."

"Yeah, I read John 3:16, too. But it's not helping your point. God is a mighty being that created the world, created me, created a way of life that would the best way to live life. He's given us everything."

"So doesn't that make Him your friend?"

"No, that makes Him God. Look a friend's not going to give you life, purpose and meaning. But when I want to go and play some Rock Band, I am not expecting Jesus to show up and do vocals. Why? Because He's God. He's got important things to do. I understand."

"But He's always there."

"Yes, but as God, not as my buddy."

"You're making Him sound like He's just some authority figure who's here to make sure we're not doing something bad."

"No, you're assuming that's what the role of authority figures are. God fits better into the role of authority than into the role of drinking buddy."

"Of course, He's an authority, but can't He also be a friend?"

"No! Not in the same way!"

"But can't He?"


"But can't He?"

"Quit stating the same phrase over and over again as if it were a legitimate form of debate. I know in some Christian churches that would fly but not here in the realm of reality.

"...But can't He?"

"...Look, God offers us a life and gives us guidelines and a philosophy. If we are living that out and doing what we're supposed to be doing, then we shouldn't need God to be our friend. We need God and His scriptures as a way to gives us encouragement, a source of strength, a way of life."

"Like a friend would."

"...sort of? Except for that last part. That's why God as my friend does not work."

"Ok, so then what does having a relationship with God mean, smarty pants?"

"First of all, can we get rid of the term 'smarty pants'? It is ridiculous. You're a grown man, pretend person I am supposedly talking to. Secondly, I see the whole relationship of God more of a business relationship than a friendship."

"That's making God distant."

"Ok, yes, it's not a perfect metaphor. But just hear me out."

"I don't do that."

"Alright, listen imaginary Christian, I've listened to your garbage for the last 20 years, let me talk for once."


"To me, the walk of a Christian and the relationship to God is in some ways similar to a corporation like Roger's."

"Are you suggesting that the place where you work is God?"

"You're an idiot. I have barely started. Can you just shut up? Anyway, Roger's is one of those lifestyle corporations. You can, in some parts of the country, get Roger's cable, internet, wireless, home phone and video rentals. It is up to the consumer to embrace as much of the Roger's brand and the goal of the company is to promote the Roger's lifestyle. In some ways, a Christian walk is like one of these lifestyle corporations. While a Roger's lifestyle does not encompass all of life and focuses on communications, connectivity and entertainment, a Christian lifestyle does have a complete picture of a lifestyle and focuses on discipline, goodness, and faithfulness. God does not force us to take up a God lifestyle, but it works together so much better if you do. With Roger's, you can get a consolidated bill, you get discounts. With God, the whole of the teachings work better together and it up to us how much we buy into the Christian lifestyle. Some only like certain parts of the lifestyle, but it works together so much better as a whole. The more you run under one philosophy, one ideal, the better your walk with Christ. But you have to buy into it. The more you have to be devoted to Christ."

"So are you suggesting I have to join Roger's to be a Christian?"

"...You're a fucking idiot."

I'm sorry about that last f-bomb. I get frustrated, even in fictional arguments with made-up people. I have just been thinking about what my relationship with God should look like. It seems like a more and more popular idea that Jesus should be one of my friends or something and that if I don't that I'm not a good Christian. But that doesn't seem to fit. It seems to be that if that our goal is to be God's friend, then it makes things like the fact that Jesus died for my sins look like as if it was like a rich kid buying expensive gifts for others just so that they'll be His friend. And then when we do something bad or don't spend time in the Word or neglect our prayer life that some how we're hurting this wiener of rich kid who was just trying to buy our friendship off of us. God doesn't need to be our friend, but the fact is that He loves us. He wants us to follow a certain code of conduct, not because it will make Him happy, but rather it is the way we should be living. The choices we make to embrace God or reject God is not some friendship, but rather a mentorship that we either buy into or leave. God doesn't force us into it or is trying to make us feel guilty about not embracing Him but giving us the tools so that we know what a good life looks like and what will bring us closer to Him.

That pretty much explains my most recent revelation, but this is already pretty ridonculously long so I'm going to go. Peace? I guess. I don't know how to end this one off.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy...

This past week I had a kind of a bizarre experience. I was reading the paper and I got agitated to the point I wanted to yell out in the middle of the Burger King. I was reading back to back outrageous stories of tragedy. Both of which took place in Manitoba. What the hell?

First off was the news that the good old Westboro church of crazy was going to descend on the funeral of Tim McLean. Who the hell do these people think they are? Spewing such vile, hateful speech about a person they do not even know and taking his memorial as an opportunity to spread their message of crazy and then slapping God's name all over it as a way to justify their homophobia and disrespect for a person that God created. Anyway, I don't want to dwell any more on them, because this is the exact thing that gives them power...damn it.

Secondly, I was then reading the editorial letters of people writing in about the atrocity that happened on that bus and I was appalled even further. Now, I should establish that I clearly believe Vince Li should be locked away from society so as to not harm other people. What he did was terrible and horrific. It is quite evident that he is a disturbed mind who has given way to a violent irrationality. But what caught me off-guard was not that. What got me was the reaction of people to this crime. People want to brutally eviscerate this guy. And the disturbing and ultimately disheartening part of this whole thing is that people who are supposedly rational and good citizens would love to see this guy have his fingers ripped off or some how brutally punished so that he suffers in the most incredible way long as it was legal. If one of these civilized barbarians was given the opportunity to do whatever they wanted to Vince Li with no legal repercussions then they would unleash the worst possible torture on the guy that they could imagine and feel no remorse. What the hell is that? Can't they see the sickening irony of how these people are not that different than the mentally instable mind they want to utterly want to cut, mangle, burn and the only fucking thing holding them back is the law? They are the thing that they apparently hate with a light smattering of law glazed over the bloodlust. And they are sane. I may not be a psychologist, but I'm pretty sure that Vince Li is crazy, deranged and all that, but the people who want to do the same to him are sane? That is what I find far more disturbing about humanity. That civility is the mask of the worst, hate-filled minds.

Lastly, the situation with the Winnipeg Police in the shooting death of Craig McDougall. The frustrating part of this whole thing is that if an aboriginal armed with a knife doesn't obey an officers orders to drop the weapon and after an attempt to use a tazer on the suspect, the guy still doesn't back down and then the police shoot him that the police is accused of being racist? Even if he was holding a cell phone like some people claim, it doesn't mean that the guy should not have listened to police officers who were telling him to put it down. And then some people claim that the police shouldn't have used such unnecessary force. A gun versus a knife is unfair. So you want the police to go use knives to take down knife-wielding suspects? Or is that too much for law-enforcement? Maybe they should use wiffle bats? "No, that's too much! Have you ever been hit by one? It gives you a nasty headache for like 10 minutes! Police should use candy to take down suspects." That all being said, there should be an inquiry when someone is they already do.

I wanted to yell in anguish and frustration and anger so badly. I didn't because I didn't to be kicked out of the Burger King. I mean, I wasn't finished with my Whopper yet. Why does the world have to be like this? I guess I will have to crank up the awesome level and try to spread joy and hope more to a humanity in desperate need of healing.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ecclesiastes is the "Nevermind" of the Bible

I love Nirvana. The band, not the state of spiritual enlightenment. Wait, is that enlightenment? I mean, it's about nothing. Nirvana is the Seinfeld of spiritual states. I do like Seinfeld, so maybe it's not so bad. Although I have a feeling nirvana has less observation quips and crazy, one-word summary characters.

Wow, I really got off-track right off the start with that. Back to Nirvana, the band, not the spiritual state. Even as I write this, I am listening to "Scentless Apprentice" as it talks about isolation and alienation from those around me. For some reason, I can't help but enjoy their music despite the fact that it is pessimistic and the dwells on the scum that lies on the underbelly of humanity. The elusive and despair-filled lyrics and rather simplistic music might be distasteful to those who appreciate a certain level of technical skill with their music, but I find that their music is so imbued with emotion and a stark look at the pathetic nature of humanity that it is somehow irresistible. Although I cannot say that I am negative or even can really comprehend his world view, I find his perspective and music intriguing. It gets me in the gut. I connect to it in this strange way. That if I did not fight the demons of a selfish humanity and the seemingly overwhelming power of dark humanity that I struggle against, that I would view the world in the same way. Especially in these last couple of weeks of some of the worst tragedies of recent Manitoba history.

I almost look at Kurt Cobain as some sort of bizarro twin. I should qualify that not with some sort of assumption that I really know who he was and what he thought, but rather my perception of him that I gathered from his music and from what I heard of him. I guess I should say that I look at the legend or image that I have of Kurt Cobain is my bizarro twin. I am trying to respect his memory here. Some how I see a part of myself, the deep down visceral part of me that identifies myself with him.

For some reason, I am drawn to that pessimistic side of myself and while simultaneously trying to react against it. I have a hope in a God that imbues hope and purpose into my life. I specifically try to react against that side of myself that looks at the world as a disconnected, isolated place with little to offer the human soul. Rather I try to give the world what I think God has called us to and that is to share the grace and hope. Without God, the world is a world where Nirvana makes perfect sense.

I think that's also why I love Ecclesiastes so much. It may very well be my favorite book in the Bible. It is almost the "Nevermind" of the Bible. By the way, Psalm 88 would have to be the "In Utero" of the Bible. Ecclesiastes shows the pointlessness of a trying to pleasure oneself, the pointlessness of gathering wealth, the pointlessness of knowledge. And life is pointless without God, because otherwise everything we do is just us occupying ourselves until a day where we waste away into dust.

I find Ecclesiastes strangely reassuring. That as a Christian, I can recognize the despair of a life without God not as some sort of alien mindset, but rather the thing that I am trying to overcome in myself.

In the end, I connect to Nirvana and their music because it is a connect to a bizarro version of myself, the self I would be without God and it makes me thankful for the hope I have.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Start a Trendy Heroin Habit

I just finished the wild card match at stand up and I have plunked myself down at home and I can relax. This has been a long, tiring month. It's been more of a tiring season. It just never stopped. Well, never stopped is the wrong phrase. I guess it ended now. But it's good to know that I don't have to cram and have a script ready or a speaking engagement or more stand up. I can just rest. Which is a relative term. I have to work until Thursday before my first true day off. I don't know what to do with myself. Business has become the norm. I've had no time to reflect or rest or hunt for a girlfriend or keep the apartment clean or continue my search for Abe Vigoda. It just seems like I'm trying to do everything. Chasing my dreams, being responsible, finding the path God wants me, maintaining relationships. I'm trying not to miss out on life, but somehow life has sucked out all the life out of me. No, not really that extreme. I just really to say the part about life sucking the life out of me. But really, I have a hard time taking in life. I'm overdosing. Too much is going on. I'm not really enjoying any of it.

Hopefully, I can take this time as a respite. Just go to work. Catch up with people. Sleep 10 hours a day. Start a trendy heroin habit. Join a fight club.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm Hoping that at Some Point I Can Rate a Movie as "Shit Sandwich"

So I was on Breakfast Television today and it was a good experience. I've never been on TV or anything, and it was all so new. I had no idea what to expect, and I was feeling a little nervous about the whole thing, that I was going to trip on a cord and unplug everything, or accidentally fight the host until only one person walks away alive. But it was good. Jon made me feel right at home and as the segment went along I did alright for my first time. I even made the guy laugh a couple of times out loud. He asked me if "Definitely, Maybe" was a chick flick and I said, "Yes, it definitely is. It was a little awkward watching it with the roommate" and he lost it for a moment. That felt good. Afterward he was saying to other people that he found the new permanent movie review guy. Mind you, he could be just saying things as passing comments, especially since I was so close to fighting him. He had it coming. But with me now pacified, I think he may had been legitimate, so I might be back. I'm hoping that at some point I can rate a movie as "shit sandwich". I don't think it will happen though. It would be funny, but won't happen. Now, I have to focus on writing scripts for videos. Oh, man. So much to do...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Delusion of Michael Scott

I was in a book store yesterday while I was on my trip out west. I was reading an article from a book about philosophy and the Office. The article was really interesting, talking about Michael Scott's delusion of being the popular, smart, funny, handsome guy despite evidence to the contrary. He ignores this evidence for the most part and lives in bliss. However, if ever confronted directly by the fact that he is not those things, he falls into a depression. He needs the delusion. While other philosophers and theologians say that it is important to discover and know oneself, it may actually hurt an individual such as Michael Scott.

I've been finding that I would like that delusion. Just keep pretending that I'm witty, fun, a heart-breaker, despite evidence to the contrary. Live in a blissful ignorance and not get wrapped up in my inadequacies. It would be be great. I wouldn't get caught up with things I can't seem to change anyway.

So far, I have been very good at maintaining the delusions for other people. People believe that I'm funny, smart, popular. The fact is that I'm just good at lying and bluffing. My humor is borrowed, my intelligence based on guesswork, and popularity assumed. But every once in a while a person finally realizes after they spend a decent amount of time with me that I am no more than an illusion I have created. And that is when I feel the worst. I know they see through the veil and that I am no more than a bumbling, crass fool. And you can't trick them again. They already know. Unfortunately, as of late, more and more people have seen through the illusion and I feel like crap.

My ongoing delusion of perceived connections to girls in my life is continually pulled back by the reality of the fact that they are just nice people who are nice to everyone. Nothing is better than starting to fall for a girl who you think you are connecting to and have the potential to date, only to find out that they have standards.

My continuing struggle to be original with sketches, comedy and talks is non-stop. I'm always on the brink of having nothing. And I still can barely perform them with the skill that they require. And of course, my grand failure at the stand-up competition. It's a little much sometimes.

Yet, people still ask me to do stuff. All because of the illusion I always promote. I keep pretending my stuff is good quality and advertise it as such and continue to fool people into accepting a lower quality of presentation. But even this illusion has started to fall apart and people will move on.

Hopefully I can maintain it long enough to actually produce something that is genuinely good. Something that I will be satisfied with. Something that I will be truly happy with and not something I pretend to be happy with.