Saturday, November 28, 2009

In Case You Were On The Fence...

Most of my friends I've talked to, not all, but most don't want to take a vocal stance against Scientology. I'm sure they all have "good" reasons, but to me none of them are "good" enough, not when there is so much at stake.

So in case you were still on the fence about this issue:



Until next time,
De Facto

Monday, November 23, 2009

What Our Fathers Really Meant Was...

It amazes me how very few pictures there are of all the Founding Fathers, in fact I couldn't find one. The one here to the left is actually historically inaccurate since some people paid the artist to have their face in the picture regardless of the fact that they were not there when this event occurred. The painter and his skills were the prehistoric Photoshop. Unfortunately, I didn't conjure up the idea to write about phony pictures and the lack of quality images that display the faces of all our founding fathers. Instead, I've decided to talk about an issue much more pertinent to today and our lives daily.

As a Christian, there is a lot of stigma behind that title. Fellow protesters of Scientology have jested about certain dogmatic aspects of Christianity attributing it to religion as a whole. The biggest stigma is that Christians are suppressive. Christians have a history of suppressing all sorts of things which include sexuality and the discussion thereof, critical thinking, dissenting speech, controversial literature, opposing theological viewpoints, atheism, science, and anything that might have the potential to threaten the mainstream Christian-held beliefs. With such a negative rep, I'd like to be able to tell my friends and fellow protesters that that was all in the past and that that was stuff Renaissance era religious blindness, but I can't because it's all happening today. Human sexuality is still being suppressed in the form of imposing our Christian views on others. The same is true for most of everything else I listed previously. It a huge grievance for me that many millions of Christians have bought into the lie that Christianity is all about right and wrong; sin and virtue. It is a big heaping mess of hypocrisy to assert our moral, cultural, and political values on others when Jesus did not impose His Way on us. The tragedy of liberty is the freedom for groups to invent reason to suppress each other over fabrications of nothing.

Some Christians, the most vile and hypocritical of them all, are more crafty than to blatantly label their organizations as Christian organizations, but instead pose as followers of such high and lofty ideologies as liberty, virtue, and truth. They cite the Founding Fathers intentions as justification for censorship and religious favoritism. America is not a Christian nation, regardless of what some "patriots" would like you to believe. Yes, this nation was founded by men who listened to God, and quite very likely helped found this nation because of strength from God, but they did not found a Christian nation. To say that America is a Christian nation defeats the whole purpose of America. America was an escape from the cruel oppression of the Church of England, and later from the tyrannical King George. Some Christians think it is their business to impose on others their own interpretation of the Constitution, as if they have some divine connection to our long dead Founders and can therefore express the true meaning and intent of the words which we hold so dear.

Stupid Christians, always thinking their better than everyone else. I can't stand the arrogance of my own family, that is my spiritual family. And I'm not picking on one denomination over another, Catholics have a very bloody history, but the Baptists are known for their hellfire and brimstone sermons that only turn people away, while charismatics and their over-spiritualistic attitude towards everything has turned people over little things like Harry Potter and Twilight. Do you know what I think it is? I think it is Christians who have not had a real relationship with God, who don't read their Bibles without a judgmental filter, and who have nothing but contempt for anyone or anything that doesn't conform to their picture-perfect idea of a world that doesn't exist but in their twisted little mind.

Honestly, the freedoms we have today are not meant to be interpreted as a license for Christians to skew it in their favor. The freedom of speech protects the rights of Neo-Nazis and Christians alike. It protects those who want to say, "fuck" every other word with those who want to say, "Merry Christmas." The freedom of religion ensures that a Buddhist can live out his life without being subjected to Christian standards and expectations of how he should act. It protects Christians from being hunted down, raped, tortured, and killed because of their faith. It also protects an atheist from having to participate in any religious activity or adhere to any tenets of faith which he does not volunteer to adhere to.

I propose another freedom be added specifically for those who might want impose their views on others without their consent, the freedom to find a hole and die.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So Cold

If you are expecting to read something profound, enlightening, or otherwise thought-provoking then I suggest you abandon all hope of it here and now. This entry is a long and possibly exaggerated rant about how much I hate living in a cold state of freezing coldness. Nothing in this post can seriously be taken as a joke, honestly it is really quite absurd.

I live in the northernmost region of the Midwest, USA. In my state we have a saying that we have four seasons: almost winter, winter, not yet over winter, and construction. Despite Al Gore's persistent nagging coupled with the popular trend to go green, it's actually been colder these past few summers and I've noticed. This past summer I could hardly tell what season it was considering that I barely sweat. I actually begged my dad on certain occasions to let me use a space heater in my room, in the middle of July. I fortunate to spend most of my summer touring the lesser known parts of neighboring states performing at summer camps.

I am the self-proclaimed "biggest wimp in the state [when it comes to the cold]." I think that over time my self-proclamation has turned to self-evident truth. I remember when my ex-girlfriend told me she wanted to live in Alaska I began to ask myself if God intended love to hurt that much. Apparently God didn't intend for love to hurt that much because I'm not with her anymore. Just so anyone who's real sensitive and wants to get all guilt trippy on me, I want you to know that I would have gone to Alaska and lived out the rest of my life there without one word of complaint if it had meant I was going to spend the rest of my life with that woman. She is a one in a million kind of woman, but not my one in a million woman, and that's all I have to say about that.

Now this issue I have with cold... I think that December would just not be December without snow. I can't imagine anything other than a white Christmas. However, the snow and cold doesn't come and go in December... No, it likes to come as early as October and sometimes doesn't leave until the first week of April. What kind of crap is this? This is madness! (You may now insert your most epic version of the infamous, "This is Sparta" line here.) Seriously though, I can't understand the logic of calling a period of time that spans for more than five months long a season, it's more like one very long nightmare. Most of my friends, admittedly they are female, have said that they wouldn't leave this frost bitten hunk of ice for much of anything. It's a running joke among what most would call my "family" that I will have to move down south to find my wife, but I'm thinking more along the lines of just marrying a volcano. That should be warm enough, right? I mean, volcanoes are women too, look, you start talking to them and all of sudden they just blow up in your face. You don't even know why they did, but they blew up at you and somehow it's all your fault.

Now that I have thoroughly insulted all the sensitive ones with my off the cuff remark about my ex-girlfriend and all the women with my comparison of them to volcanoes; my rant can thoroughly be concluded. I hate being cold. Besides the fact that I'm the only one who walks around in August with a black sweater simply because I need it to stay warm, my room is equipped with a space heater capable of heating my whole room in less than 20 minutes as well as an electric fitted sheet that can warm my bed in about 15 minutes. If that wasn't enough, I have enough winter weather clothing that I can't simply don't have room to keep both summer and winter clothing together. Fortunately, I usually layer the two and wear a lot of my winter weight stuff in the summer as well as the colder months. I guess I can be thankful that I was born into a middle-class family in America, because otherwise I'd be a miserable child with a bitter attitude and a most cynical yet intellectual outlook on life.

Until *brrr* next *sneeze* time *wraps self in blanket*,
De Facto

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Trivial Matters

Ever since I joined the theatre company nine months ago, I have gradually pursued a deeper relationship with Yeshua. Before that time, I was pretty complacent in my walk with God. I had no reason to go forward, because where I was people thought I was such spiritual guy and looked up to me as a leader. In truth, I was the furthest thing from a leader and hardly spiritual. When I joined the theatre company God showed me that I had to make a choice. The spiritual warfare was too intense to be on the fence about my spiritual walk. I had to decide who I was going to serve; myself, or God. I chose God, and I'll be honest that when I first made that choice I was making it more as programmed response than because that's what I really wanted. God took my complacency and trampled on it with His awesome righteousness and showed me what I could have if I only lived my life completely dedicated to Him. It was then, after a spiritual kick in the behind that I began the process of surrendering everything. I put it this way because I feel like sometimes when someone talks about when I first started in the ministry, they don't have the full story. Even after I had made the choice to surrender everything, it wasn't until a couple months ago that I was able to surrender one last thing that was so important to me.

In more recent months, I have come to a point in my walk where I feel like God is actually right beside me, and I know that is there for me. I don't have to read Scripture to reassure myself, and even though I still need read Scripture, it's not to reassure myself of these truths which I feel are now self-evident. I call on God and He answers, because I have complete faith in Him. I have wanted this, at least a part of me has, for most of my life. I have always wanted God to be the center of my life and the source of my strength, now I finally have it. This is not to say that I am perfect, because I'm not. I still have free will and still make choices at times that are wrong, but 1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. This is verse I don't need to quote for reassurance, I quote it to validate what I know. I am at a point in my life where my faith, belief, and knowledge are equally balanced to the point that no matter what happens, I know that God will somehow bring about a glorious outcome.

In Proverbs we're told not to lean on our own understanding, but instead acknowledge Him and He will make our paths straight. Lately I've found myself in situations where I have clearly heard God tell me to do something and it sounded so ridiculous in my own mind that I just didn't do it. For example, one day I was just about to leave for the Ministry House because we had a show that night. God distinctly told me to bring my iPod after I had decided I wasn't going to take it with me. I hesitated after hearing God tell me to bring it. Why would God tell me to bring my iPod? Why would He even care whether or not I bring my iPod? Unfortunately, I didn't bring it, but of course there was a reason God told me to. We were five minutes on the road in the company van when our director pulls something out of a compartment and says, "Hey, look at this, now you guys can let the whole van listen to your iPod. We can plug it in with this deal..." In his hand the director had a cassette adapter for an iPod. My jaw literally dropped as I realized the significance of this. Never in a million years would I expect my director to buy one of those adapters, considering that I never thought he'd tolerate the kind of music most of us actors listen to. God gently chastised me by saying, "You could have unified the team by worshiping Me."

Another time, which actually just happened last week, I was on my way to the Ministry House. It was extremely early in the morning and I was praying up a storm for strength and that God would help us all make the three performances really awesome. I was grabbing all my shirts that I needed, specifically the ones that were on hangers and I heard God say to me that i was supposed to bring my white collared dress shirt. I was really puzzled, since my collared dress shirt wasn't apart of any of my costumes and I had already picked out a different dress shirt to wear en route to the school we were performing at. I shrugged it off and didn't bring the shirt. Sure enough, about ten hours later during our technical rehearsal one of my fellow actors asked me if I had a collared dress shirt. Apparently he had forgotten his and no longer had the appropriate shirt for his costume. I grunted and told him the whole story of what had happened at 4:30 that morning, and I apologized to him and to God for not listening.

Funny thing that I trust God with my finances, or lack thereof, and yet when He tells me to bring an iPod or a white collared dress shirt I have a problem just saying, "Yes, Lord." I'm one of those people that wants to trust God completely, but at the same time I don't want to be unrealistic like some Christians who run around without their glasses saying, "God is going to heal me!!!" Stupidity and blind (yes, blind) following of the doctrines and dogma of some ultra charismatic preacher will get you nowhere. Anyways, that's off topic, I just have to laugh at myself and wag a finger (not the finger) because of how silly I am. I'm sure God doesn't get mad at me when I do this, because He knows what goes through my head, and at the same time I bet it does kind of irk Him that I've come so far and yet I won't just trust Him with trivial things. Samuel told Saul, "I desire obedience rather than sacrifice." I could exhaust all my energy worshiping, dancing, and singing to Lord but God would rather me take my iPod to a performance when He tells me to than doing all that other stuff.

I guess the trivial matters. Until next time,
De Facto

Thursday, November 5, 2009

J.O.Y.

"J is for Jesus, our Savior and King. His love and kindness are the reason we sing. O is others, the people we meet. We'll lead them to Jesus by meeting their needs. Y is for You, and though it seems odd; the last shall be first in the Kingdom of God. First, Jesus, and Others, and then there's You; the secret for a JOYful attitude..." - Star of Bethlehem play

It's funny that I remember this tune from the musical play in which my acting career really began at the age of eight. My church at the time was obsessed with childrens plays. Every Christmas time someone would rise to the occasion to direct a Christmas play with sets, props, and lots of cute little girls dressed as heavenly hosts. It's funny that I remember this tune because the message in it ties into what this blog entry is about. Jesus, Others, and You (Self)

On Wednesday, November 4th, I got up at 4:00am to go get ready for the day. Unfortunately, by got up, I don't mean I woke up, as I didn't sleep a wink that night; too excited. I got to the Ministry House, the place our theatre company has its office and our official meeting place before shows. All the props had been loaded the night before, all that was left was our over-sized tech case that holds a mixer, CD player, DVD player, and microphone antennae affectionately named, "Steve." After having to pick up one of our members in a downtown area, getting into a minor car crash (literally the vehicle clipped us at an illegal speed), informing the teachers at a faculty meeting of what we do, and spending hardly enough time in prayer with the rest of the cast of the show we were about to perform; we hit the stage. About 100 little junior high kids from sixth grade to eighth grade were in the audience all watching us with their precious eyes glued to the stage.

The show went off without much a hitch, and that's not to say it was perfect, but considering that we didn't rehearse for the show beforehand with one performance of the show a week prior; it was still a professional show. After going into classrooms and disseminating and reinforcing the concepts presented in the play, and then a light lunch (I try not to eat too much before performances or else risk a severe stomach ache); cast readied themselves for another performance of the same show. Most of us were already tired, but we had to be more energetic than the first show. The second show was much better than the first, and our director thought that it was proof that if you put on a high energy show that even the cheesiest play can attract a senior high crowd. When we had finished performing the second show we had to go into the classrooms and talk with our peers about what was going on. We had mixed feelings about how well that went. We rested for a few minutes, I spent most of that time praying and talking to my director about several things, not least of which were some of the choice words I used in my testimonial speaking to get the point across. When the rest of the cast had arrived for the evening show we had to get to work setting up.

We were in such a crunch to get everything ready for the show that we almost missed dinner. We were supposed to be met by a local church pastor who would take us over to his church and feed us with his youth group. Unfortunately, there was some kind of miscommunication and our director ended up going to the church to pick up whatever leftovers might have been there without knowing whether or not there would be any. Fortunately, the church had three boxes of pizza, two bags of apples, a few clusters of grapes, and double sided generic brand cookies. The whole cast ate quickly, and I mean that within a matter of minutes the two pepperoni pizzas were almost gone except for two pieces we saved for a member who was one the phone at the time the food arrived. It was at this time that I was grabbing food for myself and eating as fast as could that I didn't realize what was happening. I wasn't just eating fast because we had little time to eat, but I was eating quickly to ensure that I would be able to eat enough so that I was not hungry on stage. Truth of the matter was, anyone who hadn't been with us during the day had been at school and went straight from school to the auditorium where we were getting prepared to perform. In others words, we were all hungry and what I had gone through during the day was more or less legitimate of a reason to be hungry than my friends.

Now I'm pretty sure that most people would not blame me for what I did, especially since I didn't hog the pizza to myself and I ate plenty of fruit to help get some natural sugar in my body. But when I think about it, as a leader I have to set the example, and even better leaders look out for the rest of their mates before looking out for themselves. It wouldn't bother me, this whole thing with the dinner we ate, if it weren't for the fact that I've had opportunities in the past as well as this most recent incident where I could have waited for everyone else to eat before eating myself. Some might think that, since my director and his wife among others were present, the only leadership I needed to demonstrate was by eating a "well-balanced" dinner by combining apple, grapes, and pizza instead of just eating cookies and pizza. To that I say, "Yep, you're right." I know that it really doesn't matter, that I did nothing wrong by just about anyone's standard, except my own. Why am I so hard on myself? I'm hard on myself so that I can become more than what I am. When I get down on myself about eating with others, I'm not thinking about what I did wrong then and there, I'm thinking about what I would be doing wrong in the future when the highest authority of man is me.

That tune, J.O.Y., really reminds me of the way I should think. My friend wrote in a correspondence letter a quote from Max Lucado's book, A Purpose Driven Life, "It's not about you." It truly isn't about me, even when I am a leader. A true leader knows that his strength doesn't come from himself, but from God. Keeping that in mind, it's Yeshua who deserves all the glory, honor, and adoration for the things accomplished. He's the first person we should acknowledge. Then others, not only does this mean people other than myself, but the tune was more specifically referring to those who have not yet found their Way to life. Even the hardest of hearts eventually see when a person is truly humble and giving of themselves, putting others before themself, and it's that kind of humility that I pray I can learn to demonstrate. Finally there's you, and that's the self. No life is insignificant, not even oneself, and the principles brought up in the tun are not meant to demean the importance of oneself, but to remind those of us who want to lead the way that we must remember who comes first. John Maxwell points out that true leaders are the leaders who serve others, who are not waiting to be served by the people under them. True leaders are waiting to serve those under their authority. I hope and pray that I can be that kind of leader.

Until next time,
De Facto