Tuesday, April 27, 2004

my favorite song quote

while surfing the web (it just makes me smile, over and over and....)

"The most remarkable thing about you standing in the doorway is that it's you/and that you're standing in the doorway."

-John Darnielle

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Things I Would Do If I Were Rich: Part B


Something of note. I've noticed that the word "heh" is increasingly becoming a part of everyday written vocab. I'm not real sure how to pronounce it out loud though. Is it the sound you make when you're out of breath or someone punches you in the stomach? [heh! -- instinctual expelling of breath.] Or is it a sort of half laugh, at something maybe not really funny, but obliged to show that the person was trying? [heh. i get it already.] Or a real half laugh, at something that's funny, but not ha-ha funny? [heh. that was a clever pun, but not like, "I'm Rick James, Bitch!" funny.]


Something else to note. I've been traveling every weekend for the past five weeks. (Not counting two weekends ago, where instead of traveling, I painted playground equipment and raked leaves. But we'll count that as traveling, just because.) I have been to California (and back), Wyoming, the playground, and Missoula. But I'm not tired of driving. Is this a sign? Does God want me to drive trucks? Or sell vacuums? Yesterday, I considered being a security guard or a librarian. There are openings for these things in Wisconsin.

Boom! Then I Found Five (-gazillion) Dollars.

Next item on the list, with my imaginery money, I would buy a bicycle and spanish leather sandels. I would also buy the island of Borneo. Where is Borneo you ask? Here. It is composed of the nations Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan. (Malaysia and Indonesia have some sort of claim, but the people will love me like a long-lost brother.) I would rule them all, but not with an iron fist. Rather, with a warm heart and an open hand. I would start a yearly film festival to be held during the rainy season. Also, we would grow pineapple and invent our own version of chilli, to be eaten with flatbread. We will call it Frellain and Cheya. All churches, mosques, and temples will be converted into hospitals and clinics. Or at least be expanded to provide medical services. People will eat Frellain and Cheya (or Frecha, as it is more commonly called) with fresh pineapple, getting the medical atention they need. In the next year, I will formulate a national education plan to teach each people group in their own native launguage. Tonight though, late as it is, we shall digress.

Black ink, smeared. Holla Hovita!

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Things I Would Do If I Were Rich

Just thinking....I would really like to see a bunch of good hip-hop in one day. This will only happen if I become digustingly rich. So, without further ado, here is the first thing I would do if I found a million-gazillion dollars on the sidewalk.

I think I would sponsor a hip-hop tent at Cornerstone. We might have to be in another field, away from everyone, and not actually part of the festival, because of content and langauge. Maybe I would dig a huge cavern underneath everyone. And not start until midnight. And have lots of fresh pineapple. Here would be my lineup (in no particular order):

Mos Def
Talib Kweli
Lauryn Hill
Jurassic 5
The Roots
Erykah Badu
Kanye West
Busta Rhymes
Aesop Rock
The Pharcyde
Mary J. Blige
Pharoahe Monche
Wyclef Jean

That's that.

Monday, April 05, 2004

A Death In The Family

Today marks the ten-year anniversary of the death and two men; men whose deaths made an incredible mark on the world. One of these men was Kurt Cobain. You can't turn your head without being reminded of the man who made rock'n roll cool again. He's been on every magazine cover and entertainment show for the past month -- pretty ubiquitous for a dead guy. To be honest, I didn't really get into Nirvana until after Cobain's death, so I was pretty late to the party (For instance, I don't remember where I was when I heard Kurt Cobain died. In fact, I probably didn't even care when I heard). Their Unplugged album was the first that really made me take notice; and I'll argue with anyone that In Utero beats out Nevermind for their best studio work. Cobain's death said something about rock'n roll culture that we tend to forget sometimes: Drugs and rock'n roll don't always mean partying; they can sometimes mean depression. We knew Kurt was screwed up from the beginning, we just hoped success might help him find fulfillment. In the end, it might have driven him to an earlier death.

But for the all the attention on Kurt Cobain in the media, there was another man who died the same day, whose death was the catalyst for the death of hundreds of thousands of people. But because these people didn't speak English, no one really cares. The same day Kurt Cobain shot himself, Juvenal Habyarimana died when his plane was shot down in Africa. Juvenal was the president of Rwanda; to this day, no one is sure who murdered him. But his death allowed extremists to take over the Rwandan government, allowing them the free reign to massacre some 800,000 Rwandans, who were part of a different tribe than their own.

There were 247 Americans in Rwanda when the president was assassinated. By the time the U.S. began mourning Kurt Cobain's death five days later, all but one American had left Rwanda. A small U.N. peacekeeping force was already located in Rwanda, to keep the warring tribes apart from each other. But since there were not any Americans in that force, the U.S. had no reason to stay. The U.N. force warned us what was going to happen. One of the tribes was planning on exterminating the other tribe. But just a few months earlier, the U.S. had been caught up in a similar situation in Somalia (the events that inspired the movie Black Hawk Down). Since that time, the American public (and Congress) did not have the patience for another peace keeping mission that would put American lives in danger. So we pulled out. We left. The Rwandan government killed over 800,000 people, mostly through roving bands of men, armed with only machettes. They would hack at their victims until they died, then move onto another area. It was planned to a "T", systematic in a way that would have been the envy of Hitler. It lasted for 100 days, before the tribe being massacred could stop the government with an army of their own. During that time, three quaters of the U.N. force was recalled, and only one other American civilian came back to help.

Most of the assistance given to Rwandans during that time was in the form of medical aid. The Red Cross saved 65,000 lives during that time, and the U.N. was able to protect a few thousand more. But because the peacekeeping force was so small, and the U.S. refused to send aid, there was little they could do. The U.N. force was so under-equipped that some of the U.N. safe zones were protected by officers without weapons. Simply their presence was enough to keep the death squads clear.

For weeks, the U.S. refused to call what was happening genocide. By the time it was over, there was no way to deny what it was. In the first two weeks, 100,000 people were killed. One journalist pointed out that the Rwandan government killed at a rate three times faster than the Nazis.

As of today, only Koffi Anan (the head of the U.N. at the time), has publicly apologized for not doing more for the Rwandan people. Bill Clinton made a visit during his presidency, but never apologized during his speech. His visit lasted three and a half hours. While he was there, Air Force One never turned off her engines. The Pentagon, under Colin Powell at the time, never issued an apology. Congress did not either. The American people never realized that we needed to.

This week Rwanda, there are events marking the ten year remembrance of the tragedy. To represent the United States, we did not send our President, our Vice-President, our Secretary of State, our Under-Secretary of State, any member of the House or Senate, any member of Bush's Cabinet. Our representative is the US Ambassador for War Crimes (who knew we even had an ambassador for that?). Only one head-of-state from a Western nation will be making the trip for the ceremonies.

In 1994, the U.S. turned a blind eye to a small African country where as many as one million people were slaughtered, while mourning the death of a tragic rock'n roll star. Ten years later, we're still doing the same thing.

Rest in peace, Kurt Cobain. Because the people of Rwanda never will.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

We've Got All The Time In The World (No Wait....I'm Dying)

Into The Void

Time is a funny thing. This past year has been flying by (yes, I still measure years from September-August), and I just don't get it. In school, I had all these false measuring sticks in the form of deadlines for papers, exams, and holidays. When I knew I had an impending project due, time just seemed to drag by. The five years I spent at college seemed equal in length to the previous 18!

But now, things are just breezing by; events flash by like street lamps from car windows. I can barely hold onto moments before they become memories. I hope this isn't how life after school is like, because I'll be old in two or three "school" years.

Time is such a fluid measurement, and so subject to interpretation. Before global Westernization, cultures had very different ways of telling time (and some still do). Most of these relied on nature based measurements for time: the rising and setting of the sun, the phases of the moon, the changing of seasons and how that affected plant life and animal migration. We've "scienitificied" (a new word!) these measurements, so that sunset happens at a different "time" every night. Sunset is now an event, not an actual time of day. The second is a precise measurement that now has something to do with atomic oscillation (don't ask me). As little as two hundred years ago, we had little use for the second. Now it's what drives our work, our competitions, our entertainment, our everything.

That God Guy Is Always Showing Up Late To Meetings

I wonder what God thinks of all this. Sure, Biblically speaking, God "invented" the 7-day week, but before that.... Were there heavenly weeks? Did it matter? Will it matter in eternity? Funny questions, sure. But as far as the present goes, how does God relate to our sense of time?

We often talk about God being outside of time and space, as if he were cut off from the limitations that they present. God is bigger than space, because all the matter and empty space in the universe could not contain him. God is bigger than time, because he existed before it existed, he exists eternally in spite of it, and he will continue to exist after it (if there is an "after it"). But I think we're missing something when we talk about God and time in this manner. Mainly, God probably doesn't experience time and space like we do, because he doesn't understand them like we do.

Think of how children understand time. Seconds, minutes, hours, even weeks and months don't mean much to a child. They experience everything in the now; concepts of past and future are hard for them to grasp. Five minutes from now might as well be five days from now in their convoluted sense of logic. Now, if you're okay with me doing this, let's suppose just for a second that Jesus' love for the little ones extended to their understanding of time as well as faith. Remember, for eternity past God the Son never worried about time. But as a human, people were constantly demanding for his presence at a certain time and place. Adding to the urgency was his own sense of mortality that would come to fruition not three years into his public ministry. "Jesus, come heal my son before he dies." "Jesus, come sit with these publicans before tax season." "Jesus, come talk to these prostitutes before the next night comes." "Jesus, meet me here tonight so that my fellow Pharisees don't find out who I'm meeting with." "Jesus, come die before Passover." Even the Trinity could not escape giving time-based commands to one of its own. Excluding all the other difficulties that came with becoming human, this alone would have been enough to drive any normal person insane.

Christ might have related to children quite a bit on this level. They ignored time because it didn't exist in a concrete sense to them. They cared little for it, and never expected to change their opinion of it in the future. Let's suppose, once again, that this is just a little glimpse into how God views time. Maybe God doesn't so much exist outside of time, than he just doesn't understand time like we do.

Can't Fight The Fever or Why Doesn't Anybody Really Understand Me?

Now hold on. I'm not saying we get something God can't, I'm just suggesting that we experience time in such a way, that God really has no use for it. Think about it, we wouldn't say that God knows what it's like to pinch a candy bar from the local grocer, because we hold to the belief that God has never done such a thing. We also wouldn't say that God knows what it's like to physically consummate a marriage, because God's never been married, let alone had a girlfriend. Couldn't we also say that God doesn't get our understanding of time because he doesn't understand time like we do? Maybe?

I don't know. Whatever you feel, I think it's interesting to try to understand that God doesn't really exist outside of time as much as he understands time in a radically different way than we do. If we met someone who existed from all eternity past (and guess what, we have), we'd probably think his way of going about things crazy and impractical (maybe even unjust or unfair?). God is outside of time, not because he physically resides outside of its sphere, but because he probably "gets" time in ways that we cannot even fathom.

God and time? To be frank, who cares? I'm pretty sure he doesn't. (God that is, not frank.)