Someone to hear your prayers, someone who cares

I'm turning in a paper tonight on the cultural icon of Jesus. I posted it right before this one.

I have a problem with anger. At least I think I do. The other day I was driving in the Citrus College Parking Lot, probably going a little too fast, and a man walking towards me stumbled into my lane. I slowed down a little bit and as I passed him, I heard him say, "Get off the phone!" I slammed on my brakes, came to a squealing stop and paused for a moment. It was at this time I realized that he had intentionally stepped into my lane to teach me a lesson on how to drive. This hurt me, because I'm the best driver in the world.

I yelled back "WHAT?" (Like I was going to step to these...)

He kept walking away and I stepped on the gas like any angry person would. It wasn't not very dramatic because my car takes 8 miles to get to 50 miles an hour, so the effect wasn't very intimidating, but I was pissed. And I kept thinking about it and wishing I would have stopped and kicked his ass.

And that's not nice. I think it was the realization that it was only pride that kept me angry that humbled me the most. This pride stuff, man, it's gonna get me. Booooo. What if I had just kept going and smiled at him? I guess that sounds simplistic and probably not very realistic, but I was a very ugly person in that car, and that's not helpful.

Time for class. Peace to all.

Pick up the receiver, I'll make you a believer

Your Own Personal Jesus: How an Icon Can Be Lord of Your Life

On their 1990 release of their album Violator, Depeche Mode included a song titled “Personal Jesus.” The stiff funk/hip hop beat and simplistic guitar chords are reminiscent of a tribal song as lead singer David Gahan tells the listener how they can own their “own personal Jesus/someone to hear [their] prayers/someone who cares.” All the listener needs to do is “lift up the receiver,” which will “make [them] a believer.” The album is considered to be one of Depeche Mode’s finest, and “Personal Jesus” has been remade by everyone from goth-rocker Marilyn Manson to country music legend Johnny Cash.

It seems odd, at first glance, that a song about Jesus would thrive in popular American culture. Fundamentalist Christians often claim they are being persecuted by the secular culture, while the secular culture decries the agenda of those who seek to marry church and state. Controversies erupt over prayer before football games, Ten Commandments in courtrooms, and evolution in classrooms. There does not seem to be an arena in which the controversy over religion has not reached unless, of course, it is in the marketplace.

Jesus sells records, books, t-shirts, and trinkets all across America. The epitome of paradox in American thought (religion mixed with capitalism, the sacred and profane) finds fruition in the icon of Jesus. Although Jesus remains a pillar of evangelical faith, the marketing of Jesus in America as an icon has diluted the transformational character Jesus could be to the secular community.

Why We Sell Jesus

The phenomenon of marketing the faith is decidedly “new” in comparison to the chronology of the Christian faith. “A century ago we didn’t have Christian stores in shopping malls selling rock music, diet books, and T-shirts. After one hundred fifty years of Darwinian science, a succession of scientific triumphs that have enabled human beings to create life in a laboratory, a sexual revolution, and a generation reared without school prayer, nine out of ten Americans say that they believe in God.” But a question must be asked, how did a man who lived in 1st century Palestine come to mean so much to so many people living in America two-thousand years later?

One must first consider the formative years of the country to truly comprehend the impact the foreparents of this country had on religion and the marketplace. Prior to the foundation of the United States, religion and state worked alongside one another—albeit grudgingly in some cases. In the words of R. Laurence Moore, “[t]he state grew powerful by encroaching upon the church, but the church responded by filling the state bureaucracies with its men.” However, when the United States formed its government, those who composed the Constitution and the Bill of Rights included a clause that guaranteed that the state would never make a law that respected “an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Interestingly, some of these same framers wrote in the Declaration of Independence that men held certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These two documents ensured one thing: that an individual had the right to decide what was best for him or herself. This mindset spilled into the economy, which developed into a free market system based on Adam Smith’s ideas. As such, capitalism was born in America. “Beginning with the French Revolution and the American Civil War, the ‘common man’ became convinced he had as much to lost or to gain in a war as did a king, so it was not unreasonable for him to die fighting for the nation. After all, after the Enlightenment and the nations produced by it, the ‘common man’ was king.”

However, this approach did not come without cost. Capitalism bled into the church, where suddenly an individual held as much “pull” in a congregation as any leader in the church. “Capitalism thrives in a climate where ‘rights’ are the main political agenda. The church becomes one more consumer-oriented organization, existing to encourage individual fulfillment rather than being a crucible to engender individual conversion into the Body.” In essence, the church had to compete with popular culture for the attention of its members, and the easiest symbol to cling to and market was Jesus. “The ‘science’ of modern advertising encouraged Protestant churches to differentiate themselves by something other than church doctrine. For example...Methodist churches did not sell themselves as a surer way to heaven than Baptist churches.” Instead, Methodist churches began to look similarly to their Baptist brethren as they each chose to compete in the same marketplace for the same patrons.

This does not mean that the Church’s intentions were flawed, and it is too easy to blame (or credit) 18th and 19th century Christians for the state of the evangelical church today. Most likely, church leaders were simply trying to survive in the free market system. “[M]any Protestant religious figures were enormously inventive in adapting religion to American democratic culture. Trying to make religion enjoyable was a lot better than trying to impose religious conformity by law.” Religion in the formative stages of the United States transformed from being an institution (e.g. the Church of England) to being a personal decision based on preference. This description of religion—and as a result, religious symbols—fits well into current theories regarding icons. “…[R]eligious symbols and stories are, like so much else in contemporary culture, cut loose, free floating, fluid. They do not disappear. Rather, they reappear as culture resources.”

Who Sold Jesus

If Jesus can be viewed as a “culture resource” instead of a culture shaper, the Jesus sold in this environment will match the culture and values of the respective eras, whether abolitionist, prohibitionist, civil rights, or Victorianism women. And if Jesus looked like the era, the prophetic value of the church would be limited to the understanding of Jesus as he fits the culture. Rather than preaching against the potential ills that accompany capitalism and individualism (or any social structure, for that matter) which might offend the “customer,” Protestant churches instead looked to the needs of the people. It was not the miracle worker Jesus that made logical sense, it was the powerful moral teacher (see Thomas Jefferson’s The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, Library of Congress, 1904). It was not the judgmental Jesus who spoke against the wealthy that people wanted to hear about, they wanted to hear that they had a friend in Jesus (see P. P. Bliss and Ira Sankey’s “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs, 1875). It would appear that depictions of Jesus reveal more about the era in which they appear than they reveal about Jesus of Nazareth. Though Jesus can be traced through the history of American culture, two different periods best depict his adaptability to culture: the “sweet savior” of the 1800s, and the Jewish Jesus of the early 20th century.

Sweet Savior

For a large part of the 1800s, American Protestantism found commonality in Jesus. Christian leaders such as Henry Ward Beecher (brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe) found “the very genius of Christianity” not in the organization or institution of Christianity, but in the person of Jesus. According to Beecher “the fruit of the Bible is Christ. The rest to me is just what leaves are on an apple-tree.” It was because of this emphasis on Jesus that the churches in the 19th century could remain united despite denominational differences. Similarly, “Jesus piety also emerged out of the dynamic of the new free market in religion.” This free market allowed churches and leaders to market Jesus as a friend to parishioners, a marked difference from the relationship Jonathan Edwards envisioned in his famous “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon in 1741.

A new “friendlier” Jesus was portrayed as a child in Christmas hymns such as “It Came upon a Midnight Clear” (1849) and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (1868) but also having distinctly feminine characteristics in other art, such as Bernard Plockhorst’s Christ Blessing the Children (1885). According to Prothero, the inspiration for this piece came from European paintings of the Madonna and Child, but in this piece, the baby is sitting on the lap of Jesus. Even when Jesus was portrayed as an adult, the images of him are “softer” than prior representations. In 1889, Heinrich Hoffman produced a painting entitled Head of Christ (see figure 1). In it, Jesus is not looking directly at the viewer; instead he is looking down (in submission?) and to his left. The unassuming pose evokes almost a sense of pity, which fits well into the view of Jesus as a humble friend. Not only did art pieces of the era echo the soft humanity of Jesus, popular literature about Jesus also reflected distinctly 19th century themes.

The first Jesus novel published in the United States (William Ware’s Julian: Or, Scenes in Judea) found shelves in 1841 and depicted a skeptic who followed Jesus, got to know him, and eventually became a believer. This was not a distant faith the main character experienced, it was a familiar man who became a friend. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), replete with abolitionist themes, emphasizes Jesus’ self-sacrificing love through the lives of Little Eva and Uncle Tom. The two protagonists “exemplify the feminine qualities attached to Jesus . . . They are pious and passive, submissive and sacrificial.” Numerous representations of Christ were made in this time period, but Jesus meant more to Americans as a “sweet savior” than anything else. In the years that followed, liberal Protestantism and an increased emphasis on historical accuracy and scientific proof ushered in an age that saw Jesus not as a Christian, but as a Jew.

The Jewish Jesus

The understanding that Jesus was Jewish did not happen overnight. Instead, there was an increased emphasis on the historical location, time, and setting of Jesus’ life that scholars began to appreciate in the early 1900s. Prior to that, most representations of Jesus depicted a fairly European face with dark hair and this was the image that was exported around the world (again, see fig. 1, Hoffman’s Head of Christ). “[A]lthough Jesus himself lived in the Near East, it was as a religion of Europe that his message came to the nations of the world and the islands of the sea—a religion of Europe both in the sense of a religion from Europe and, often, a religion about Europe as well.” Scholars—and popular culture—recognized this at the turn of the century and began to study further Jesus’ roots.

On Christmas Day in 1925, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise remarked that Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian, and Jews should accept him as one of their own. His comments sparked a controversy that ended in a rift in Jewish circles. Although Wise was not saying anything new (cf. Emil G. Hirsch’s “The Doctrines of Jesus,” 1894) the appearance of the debate in America shocked some Jews and caused others to reassess their understanding of Jesus of Nazareth. Joseph Klausner was one of the Reform Jews who wrote that Jesus was a Jew “to his fingertips,” and as a result, Jews had the unique ability to truly understand his teachings. It was within this era that Jesus came to be appreciated as a rabbi.

Two years after Wise made his remarks, filmmaker Cecille B. DeMille directed the 1927 blockbuster The King of Kings which critics felt unfairly blamed the Jews for Jesus’ death and feared it would ignite feelings of anti-Semitism. However, DeMille argued in his memoirs that the film portrayed Jesus as “the greatest Jew who ever lived.” The significance of this is that the director of a movie in Hollywood, if nothing else, sought to accurately portray his subject, not as a redeemer, not as a friend, but as a Jew. Whether he succeeded or not is for debate, but if DeMille’s words are truthful, the fact that Hollywood responded to cultural understandings of Jesus is monumental. Quite suddenly, it would seem, the shapers of popular culture discovered that how they portrayed Jesus garnered a reaction from the consuming public, Christian or otherwise.

Other movements certainly influenced this understanding of Jesus, but it was within these movements that Jesus gained a foothold in America as an icon. Other movements existed at similar times and will likely follow, but in looking at today’s understanding of Jesus, one can see the preceding understandings of Jesus distinctly influenced our current era, the iconic Jesus. This is the Jesus who is all things to all people, and yet meaningless at the same time. He is an icon that can mean the world to the faithful and be nothing at all to the non-Christian.

Jesus on the Dashboard

In 1966 popular musician John Lennon said that his Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” While Lennon’s comment might have been the most blasphemous thing a lot of American Protestants heard that year, it underlies an important idea: Jesus is an icon. “His comment certainly first brought the idea of Jesus as a celebrity to wide public attention.” No longer was Jesus someone, he was something. He was a celebrity who competed with other celebrities for fame. The American treatment of celebrity had now been bestowed upon Jesus and he would be featured everywhere as a marketable asset. What Jesus had that other celebrities didn’t, however, was the endorsement of the status quo.

Elvis was counterculture, Marilyn Monroe was counterculture, but Jesus was the mainstay in American culture and in some ways still is. It is much easier to use the icon of Jesus for shock value than other celebrities. And so now, Jesus can be used as a countercultural icon as well as supporter of the mainstream. “Today, when most people are used to seeing the flag or Jesus Christ on T-shirts, they nevertheless object strenuously to a photograph such as “Piss Christ” (an image of a crucifix, obscured and illuminated by urine, see fig. 2) or “Yo Mama’s Last Supper,” Renee Cox’s depiction of a nude female Christ dining with her twelve disciples displayed at the Brooklyn Museum in early 2001.” Jesus does well as an icon of the profane and sacred. However, it is his icon within the Protestant community that profoundly reflects our current era.

Quite literally, there is a Christian alternative for virtually every “secular” merchandising product. “The Christian Booksellers Association started organizing commercial outlets for religious reading material in 1949. Now their outlets stock Christian-style Harlequin romances, Bible-based diet books (More of Jesus, Less of Me), lovemaking guides, and exercise books.” Music marketed as “Christian” can be found in Wal-Marts and Christian book stores alike. Along with the Christian alternatives to products, books about Jesus, shirts with his likeness on them, bumper stickers that quote him, movies that and more can all be found virtually everywhere. The nation of America has become increasingly Christian as the logo of Jesus spreads across America.

A distinct effect of this on the Protestant faith can be seen in the increased use of imagery in private worship. “Art historian David Morgan contends that American Protestants from Calvinist traditions…have largely set aside their historical fear that praying in front of an image of Jesus puts his Word at risk…By the mid-twentieth century, Morgan suggests, large numbers of Protestants, mainly women, had adopted the Catholic practice of venerating Jesus images.” According to Morgan, many Protestants had some type of image of Christ in their homes during the nineteenth century, but what was new in the twentieth century was the use of those images during prayer and meditation. Perhaps the most famous portrait of Jesus is by Warner Sallman (see figure 3). His Head of Christ (1940) is one of the most popular renditions of Jesus. In it, Jesus is looking slightly upward, head lit from behind but also maintaining a sense of orthodox glow about it.

On an experiential level, this makes sense. Americans like their celebrities to have faces. One only need look in an average supermarket in America to see the number of faces on the covers of magazines and tabloids featured at the checkout stands. If Jesus were alive today, the paparazzi would likely follow him around, too. The proliferation of icons in American life demands a faith that competes, images and all.

Another distinct effect of the exposure of Christ as an icon is that Jesus has become more a personal icon unlike any other in history. Jesus is one of the few marketable icons Americans can claim to know, defend, and base their religious values on. Within Protestant Evangelical circles, the question of salvation is boiled down to one question: “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” He is not just an icon; he is a friend whose face just happens to be the most exposed face in human history. As a result of his exposure, evangelicals proceed to purchase more “icons” and continue to perpetuate the marketability of Jesus.

Richard Wright Fox points to a Republican presidential primary debate in 2000 as further evidence of America’s odd relationship with Jesus. In this particular debate, presidential hopeful George W. Bush named Jesus Christ as the “political philosopher or thinker” he “most identif[ied] with” because “He changed my heart.” Bush went on to further explain himself, using highly personal language (i.e. he turned his “heart and [his] life over to Christ” and “accept[ed] Christ as savior” and as a result it “chang[ed] his life”). His response contrasts sharply with other responses from the debate (John Locke, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, et al) and yet seems to resonate deeply with many people. “A majority of Americans would answer the question just as he did, in the same ‘heart’ language. Jesus is their hero, their staff and support, their personal savior, as he has been for most Americans…”

The primary problem with the perpetuation of Jesus as an icon is that he means too much. Unlike corporate icons (which have paid staff devoted to the protection of their image), Jesus can be claimed by anyone and used as an endorsement. In 1998, Kevin Stacy took an existing engraving of Jesus kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane and placed the corporate slogan of Apple Computers (“Think Different”) over Jesus’ head. The image of Jesus praying, face illuminated with eyes looking skyward, with a popular slogan so close to his body deftly portrays the paradox of Jesus as a Fifth Avenue ad campaign. There does not seem to be a more fitting bridge between the sacred and profane. And it is not limited to popular culture; Jesus is now a bridge between science and religion. As evidence, one could look to the “newly” discovered field of psychology and Christian counseling.

Fox sees Reverend T.D. Jakes as evidence to the “bridge-like” quality of Jesus. Jakes, pastor at Potter’s House church in Dallas, TX, operates a successful (from an economic standpoint) ministry which creates members who can step “out in force, inspired and spiritually armed by Bishop T.D. Jakes to help others in their communities and across the world,” replete with books, movies, seminars, and concerts. He “urges preachers to target their congregations psychological and material as well as spiritual needs.” This is unique because of its attempt to marry psychological thought (a thoroughly twentieth century endeavor) with spiritualism and faith. This was not a concern of churches prior to Sigmund Freud (d. 1939), Carl Jung (d. 1961), B. F. Skinner (d. 1990), and Erik Erikson (d. 1994). “Nothing could be more American: coming up with a new way of thinking about and marketing Jesus. Jake’s ministry starts with people’s everyday problems, sheds gospel light on them, and mobilizes people to draw on all their powers—including the power of Jesus—to solve them.”

Looking Ahead

Evangelical Christians still stress that they possess the true Jesus. Editor of Christianity Today George K. Brushaber said that “We [Christians] hold the franchise. We have a monopoly on the only sure word of salvation, revealed in Christ Jesus and demonstrated in his work. This good news can top the sales charts in every region. No church, no city, need lag behind in ‘consumption’ of the gospel.” What is odd about this quote is the decidedly business language he incorporates and though some of it is tongue-in-cheek, the idea of Jesus as a marketable asset is not a new idea. This is the language capitalists use, and as previously noted, this is a result of centuries of individualism and the free market system. However, this does not seem to be a productive state. As mentioned earlier, Allistair MacIntyre said that dying for the state is like “being asked to die for the telephone company.” Because Jesus has been distilled into such a both palatable character and comfortable icon, trying to ask him in your heart is akin to asking McDonalds into your heart. When Jesus means everything to everyone, he means nothing to everyone. “It is highly unlikely that Americans will ever come to any consensus about who Jesus really is, but they have agreed for some time that Jesus really matters.”

The evangelical answer to who Jesus is is a good answer, but unless evangelicals clearly delineate any type of differences, he will just be another option in a sea of icons. There must be something transformative about Jesus, or the message evangelicals espouse will just be another voice. Evangelicals may find hope in the fact that America recognizes the founder of their religion. As Jaroslav Pelikan remarked “[t]he sun never sets on the empire of Jesus the King, the Man Who Belongs to the World.” The downside of this is that because he belongs to the world, the world might end up defining who he truly was, and is.


It's come to kill us all

In class we're talking about plausibility structures. Apparently this phrase is allowed to define something within our minds that gives us the ability to find something plausible. I don't get it.

In other news, I hope the Pumpkins are coming out of retirement. There's an odd site up that talks about some new album. And there's a rumor floating around that the Pumpkins will play Coachella. Hahahahaha. The plot thickens.

Danielle and I love each other very much and are still working out things. There are just distinct layers of vulnerability that she and I haven't breached before and though it's liberating, it is raw. It's like coming out of the cave and being blinded by the sun; it's worth it, but it stings.

I am becoming more vocal in the office about theology. I'm starting to understand that there are certain things I can bring to that office that others simply cannot. Today George and I talked about a sentence he threw into a letter that said "The spirit enters at the point of salvation." We had a chance to discuss that for a few moments and I felt like he listened to me. I've always been intimidated by him, mostly because he's a louder voice than I am. However, I'm starting to realize that all we are just people. who are right sometimes and wrong sometimes, and it doesn't matter who likes me or doesn't like me. I can enter discussion, emerge wrong, and still be whole. I don't like being wrong, though, and I pray that I find humility.

Time to learn. Peace to all.


This is the new me

My friends just recorded a great song. It makes me laugh. And cry. Kind of like Blackhawk Down, except without the tribal warfare.

Danielle and I were talking the other night and this thought came to mind: Our role in life is to work with God to repair the enormous tear that ruptured in the Garden of Eden. I'm not sure how theologically sound this is, because I think that our role in life cannot be entirely summed up in "doing" something but could be summed up in oneness with God, but I appreciate the grandeur of the thought that there is some quest we are pursuing in an eternal sense. Who knows if it's entirely true, but I think it informally captures a part of what we are to do in this life, namely to recapture the "goodness" of first creation.

I am a prideful person. I mean, really, really rottenly prideful. And what's funny is that feeling too much shame about it (or pride in it!) feeds the me that places itself better than others. Shame and pride are inextricable linked and I don't know that I've ever known that as much as I do now. It is a big mistake to confuse shame with humility and I think I've spent a lot of time feeling shameful instead of seeking humility. For example, if someone were to find out that I were a habitual liar, I would feel shame, because in my culture it is not acceptable to be a liar. But instead of telling people about this deviancy, I would keep it a secret because I wouldn't want people to think less of me. When I do get found out, all I feel is shame. But in my case, I don't think I ever moved from shame to humility.

I guess a main difference between shame and pride is that shame is cultural, while pride seems to be inherent. I should have capitalized on a cultural marker (shame) to identify the root cause of my problem (self-interest, pride, etc.) and replace it with a characteristic which brings life (namely, humility). I know that a lot of this sounds ethereal or something, but I've been thinking about it and have felt more convicted about shame and seen that I operate out of shame because I am prideful. Sigh. And I want to be whole instead.

I think I should start going to counseling for this. It's a serious issue. And someday it would be nice to say I'm a recovering selfish.

The whole dying to self thing is much more significant to me when I realize that self-preservation is the very reason I live. I can't say, honestly, that I live for others, oh no, I'm much more interested in living for me. My schedule, my time, my appetite, my life, etc. It is SO ingrained in me that it makes me want to throw up. I think that's why the whole faith thing is much larger than me. It goes against everything I do. It must be true; it's impossible.

That much and more, going on in my head. Peace.


Please could you stop the noise, I'm trying to get some rest

I'm tired. On Sunday night Wayne and Denise came over and I was introduced to my archnemesis Red Bull and vodka. That crappy drink made me stay up until 6:30 the next morning. I can tell you this: it should be outlawed because of the effect it can have on people. It made me sleepy and wired at the same time. I'm composing a letter to Antwone Red Bull right now to register my complaint.

I've been thinking about individualism and its impact on faith. It rules everything we do but we summarily fail to recognize its damning effects on our faith communities and individual understandings of God. As Americans we are so ingrained with the idea that our sole reason for existence is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that we forget that these things are only cultural relevant. Everyone has an opinion and we are told that we must listen to it all. We learn that we have "rights" to certain things, namely freedom. I think it is this spirit which has divided the Church into countless factions. Because I don't have to listen to a pastor I don't like when there is another one who might be saying something I like better. Because if there are people I don't like in church, there's another church with people I like better. Because if I don't understand what is being said about God I can go buy a book that tells me what to think about Him instead.

It's eye-opening for me to recognize that the pursuit of me (my rights, my freedoms, my will to live, etc) has been the most important thing to me for my whole life. And what's even more odd is that the culture which gave me this belief structure is not Christian, but instead American (and a result of the Enlightenment).

(And as an aside, isn't it funny that those who lived after it called it "THE" Enlightenment, as though the movement was what we needed to finally come out of the dark. It seems to me after the next Enlightement we'll call this age the dark ages. We're so pompous in our understanding of ourselves...)

I know I'm not the only one who has thought this and there are a number of books and thinkers which I'm pretty sure I'm stealing my thoughts from, but it is still a significant paradigm to see myself in. Is there hope? I hope so. There had better be. I bet it has something to do with God...


Thesis for 1/16/05

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things.


Look at the stars, look how they shine for you

Today I met with the director of the master of arts in religion at APU. I think I'm going to go for it. I'll have to drop a couple of classes that I'm currently enrolled in, and a pair of classes from last semester will essentially disappear and count for crap, but I think this degree will be better for me. It seems like it will be more marketable wherever I go and that if I do end up in a church or ministry, it will still be applicable.

I feel like I should pray about it, but all I feel when I pray is a sense of empowerment to make my own decisions. Does a sense of empowerment mean God has given it to me? Or does it mean I am numb to God? My Pentecostal friends would say to use the spirit of discernment, but I really don't know what that is. This feels right. But lots of other things have felt right, like buying a mountain bike I've rarely used. I guess if I look back over my life, the big decisions were ones that I wanted to happen and found confirmation of God's involvement by the way they turned out. On the other hand, I truly don't think we can do things out of God's control, so maybe it doesn't matter what I do. If I want to do it, I will.

It's settled then. I'll waffle a little more and then decide to do it. Gooooo me!


We must rip out all the epilogues of books we've never read

I cut my finger today on some glass and as I was getting a bandaid I noticed that it pretty well matched my skin tone, which made me think: what would I do for a bandaid that matched if my skin wasn't a peach brown color? Clearly, most bandaids are designed for "white" people, which made me wonder about the history of the bandaid. So I did some research. Apparently, there were a couple of doctors (named Johnson and Johnson) and some guy in their company didn't like his wife bleeding when she cut her hand. Blah blah blah. From the pictures, they are clearly white people. But I imagine that the first bandaids where made of something even more white than their skin tone: medical tape. It wasn't until the 60s that they changed make-up to the vinyl surfaces we see today. When did they change color? Johnson and Johnson don't really advertise it, but I bet that no one really liked having a bright white bandage taped to their arm or head or knee where everyone could see it so they changed color as they learned who bought their products. Why peach? A greater percentage of peaches would have had access to the money that could be spent on a luxury like bandaids. No one before that time spent money on something that would make them scar less and their wounds to heal better. For that matter, I imagine that there was a lot of folklore that had to be dispelled first before they caught on for use by anyone (ie "air lets the wound breath," "scabs are helpful," etc.) Everyone just scarred a lot.

And who would be concerned about scars? Those who didn't do physical work. And who wasn't doing most of the physical labor in the 30s and 40s and 50s? Whites. Scars and wounds don't look so hot next to a new dress or fine derby hat. So there are cultural reasons scars are not desired, and I bet that those who dominated American culture in the 1930s to the 1950s were the ones who bought the bandaids. Which is fine. And I imagine that in the post-war boom of the 50s and through the second half of the century everyone started to get more bandaids, mostly because a slew of imitators pushed prices down (the same thing happened to kleenex).

All that to say, the shade of my bandaid looks to be another indication that society is guided by the haves. Besides, bandaids have to be SOME color, it might as well be peach. The only downside is that if you are a non-peach, your wounds are a lot more evident.

Just a thought. Peace.


Jukebox hero

The writing is not going so well. I wrote once and stopped. But there it is. I still want to be an artist, and it was piqued the other day when I was driving. I was stopped at a stoplight and saw someone drive by. I mean, actually saw someone, as a whole person with a story who was traveling somewhere with a purpose. She was a little Asian lady in a maroon 4Runnner with glasses. But she was a person. And it made me feel closer to something.

Anyway, I think I might change my degree from christian ed to religion. It just sounds better and is about the same amount of work, and I think it's more applicable to a type of vocation I want later. Like teaching.

Time for more class. Peace to all.


These chicks don't even know the name of my band

I want to be an artist. It would be incredible to take words and put them onto paper and have them convey art to people. That would be neat. Two nights ago when we were driving around after DATH's show, I realized that I wanted to take a character through the sacred and profane and see how he emerged. I have my own ideas, but I just don't think that its pure enough without actually doing it. So I might start writing. Maybe I'll use this format; it seems less formal than an actual jaunt into the literary realm.

My artistic thought for the night:

When I'm walking on grass, I step on countless worms but I only feel guilty when I squish them on the sidewalk.

Peace to all. Here's a good blog to read, when it's updated: Emergent Latino