Category Archives: The Discount Bin

Who doesn’t love the Discount Bin at Best Buy, WalMart, and Target? It’s an assortment of flops, hidden gems, and everything in between. This Discount Bin is the catch all of the everyday. Here’s hoping all of us find some joy in the simple and some excitement in the ordinary.

Wedding Season: Let’s Talk About that Garter Toss

Wedding season is upon us in full swing! Several weeks ago, my wife and I attended a wedding. It was a blast, as any wedding should be. The bride and groom are both wonderful people. There was food, drink, and dancing. What more could you ask for?

Like most weddings, the festivities included the bouquet toss and garter toss. If you’ve been at a wedding reception in the US, you have more than likely seen this ritual. To begin, all the single ladies are asked, encouraged, then cajoled onto the dance floor to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”. The bride throws the bouquet in the air, before a mixed multitude of eager and reticent single women. And according to wedding lore whichever single lady catches it is the next to be married. This is a ritual in which the DJ has near complete control over, and often times this person is a stranger working the crowd for all they’re worth. How can this ever go wrong?

For the next phase of this custom the bride takes a seat, and her groom slyly removes the garter from her thigh. Now the single fellas gather on the floor and the groom tosses the garter. In this particular instance it was wrapped around a football, rather than shot as a sling shot. A single guy catches it, and (in the final phase of the ritual) now he must place it on the leg of the bouquet-bearing single woman. There are usually cheers, and perhaps whistling, surrounding the activity.

At this particular wedding, a couple of guys in their late twenties hoisted a 14 year old boy into the air to catch the garter. There was cheering and high-fiving, and I confess, I thought it was funny. Then it came time to place the garter on the leg of the young woman with the bouquet, who was at least a decade his senior. This is when stuff got uncomfortable. The boy slipped the garter over her ankle. Then he continued up her calf with enthusiasm, milking as much cheering from the male voices in the crowd as he could. Then he passed her knee. The young woman’s eyes went wide as he continued sliding the garter up her thigh! Once the boy was a third of the way up her thigh, she looked to the groom (a generally decent guy, I insist) who was laughing with the rest. She put a hand out towards the boy to stop him, but he didn’t stop sliding that garter until he was two-thirds the up her thigh and well under the hem of her dress. (And how vociferously could she protest when the crowd was cheering their approval?) The crowd hooted and hollered (especially the groomsmen), the 14 year old boy offered her a handshake which she reluctantly accepted, and he sauntered off the dance floor. The young woman, on the other hand, walked back to her table visibly uncomfortable and ashamed. The sense of violation was plain on her face.

My wife and I walked away from an otherwise enjoyable night feeling queasy and angry that this wedding game had played out as such, (my wife in particular was horrified and furious, feeling sick to her stomach) and that no one had intervened. More importantly, the whole scene had been encouraged, right down to the DJ telling the boy “Jimmy, today you start becoming a man.”

We indulged this custom at our wedding too… It was my idea, and my wife was willing to indulge me, even to the point of surprising me with a Superman garter. When a minor nabbed the garter, we insisted the teen who caught it choose a friend over the age of 21 who we were confident would be respectful of the woman who caught the bouquet. It was a decent contingency plan, cooked up on the fly out of sheer necessity. And yet, the game was played.

And as I watched this teenage boy slide the garter with gusto up her bare leg, I felt my own sense of shame and remorse. At our wedding (not quite 4 years ago) a small crowd of teenage boys looked on as I removed that Superman garter (using my teeth no less…). These young guys composed my small group at church and many I had known since they were 12. What message did I send them? What did I hope to prove? That I was cool? That since I had been open with them about my commitment to abstinence until my wedding night that then I could go ravenously wild in public?

As we were trying to unwind in our hotel after this recent wedding, my wife commented that it would be abhorrent if a group of women encouraged a 14 year old girl to caress, or even touch, the abs of a young man in his mid-twenties. There would be an outcry, and the young man would under no circumstances be tacitly expected to allow such a spectacle. Yet, this boy was encouraged to “go for it!” Had she protested, resisted, or removed herself from the game, I suspect that would have been frowned upon. After all she caught the bouquet! It’s like entering a social contract, right? And women catch the bouquet first, so whoever catches it has no idea who the “lucky guy” will be. If the garter toss happened first, at least then these women would get have some consent in who touches them.

Have you ever watched the single ladies as they’re ushered on to the dance floor to catch the bouquet? The majority of them look completely disinterested or even reluctant. I suspect this is because they know that one of them will have to expose a fair amount of leg in public and let a stranger place an undergarment on said leg as a high as his pleasure may be. Here’s a reminder that garters are an undergarment.

If any of the guys from my small group read this, I am sorry that I set such an example. You all deserved better than that, as do the women you may pursue.

And to everyone else, when we celebrate at weddings, what are choosing to celebrate? Rest assured, at a celebration of two lives becoming one before God and their community, no one should feel violated or humiliated. As a Church, we need to reconsider the garter toss.

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A Year Later

Holy guacamole! Noggin Squall has been live on the world wide web for over a year! Honestly, I’m a little surprised. I have the unfortunate tendency to dream up cool ideas, then abandon them rather quickly, and then regret that project’s indefinite hiatus and/or death six months later. But not here! I’m still blogging strong (ish) since May 24, 2016.
When I started this blog, it had no clear focus. On the About page, I describe the blog as “my attempt at reflecting on my integrated, scatter-brained self on the Internet.” It was what spawned both name and the tag line- “More chaotic than a brain storm.” Noggin Squall has been nothing more than my creative experiment. For a year it has been my place to throw stuff against the wall and see what stuck. I’ve enjoyed it, and having the relative accountability of a blog has kept me writing. I think my writing has sharpened significantly since my first post. I learned very quickly that Noggin Squall was just as much about my own self-discovery and pilgrimage as it was about blogging. And I hope that shows and will continue to show.
Within this experiment have been several smaller experiments that yielded varying results. I’ve really enjoyed writing Minor Spoilers, and yet they don’t draw the same attention as my more self-reflective pieces. The Life and Times of Jacobs Travlers was my first endeavor into serial fiction writing, and damn, I was surprised at how challenging keeping up such a project would be. I was quite naive about the planning and forethought required in writing a continuous narrative from one month to the next. There have been moments when I’ve been a touch more political than I had expected, and there have been posts that you all loved when I thought I spewing nonsense. It has been a fun way to sharpen my writing skills, and my written voice. For being part of this process, I thank you all.
However, the blog has very quickly become more than a mere splattering of random thoughts and mental rabbit trails. My first series, Why Christians Should Write Genre Fiction, started bringing a focus to the blog. Or perhaps a fulcrum is a more appropriate image. Or in the interest of keeping with the storm imagery of Noggin Squall, I have begun to recognize the eye of the storm.
The eye at the center of all my mental wind and debris is the role of the imagination in engaging the spiritual life. For my part, this is largely reflected in my love for narrative as it plays out in a host of nerdy mediums. Frankly, being a geek and being a person of faith feels like inseparable pieces of myself. It reminds me of a soft-serve ice cream cone that is twisted chocolate-vanilla. Have you ever watched a younger kiddo try to lick away one flavor first? It can’t be done.
This feels like a revelation, friends. With the discarding of my cerebral veil (at least in part), I am very excited for the future. Here is some glimpses of what is blowing our way.

  • The blog is about to undergo some aesthetic changes in the coming weeks. Some renovations, or a facelift, if you will. Along with this, you can expect some revisions to my “About” pages.
  • I’ll be expanding my social media presence. As of now, you can find me on Twitter. But soon you will be able to track me down on Facebook and Tumblr. Both platforms will be additional avenues for you to keep up with the blog, but even better, we will be able to converse and share with each other. You can see what I’m excited about, and share with me what you’re excited about.
  • The Life and Times of Jacob Travlers will no longer be featured. It is a story that I will keep crafting and writing, but I’ve decided the blog is not the place for it at this time. I will be sure to let you all know when and where my fiction shows up.
  • The pseudo-syllabus for Imagination as Resistance will be revised and edited. I fear I wrote that from a place of greater frustration and anger than maybe was helpful. I stand by the concern and mission of that series, but I’m sure I could articulate it in a more dialectical fashion.
  • Finally, I am in the midst of writing a book. I actually have an outline. The book is turning out to largely be about identity, and the experience of growing up a nerd and a preacher’s kid amidst the evangelical youth subculture at the turn of the millennium. As I scrounge up the courage to share those wounds and reflections, I’m sure I’ll post some chapter samples. The goal is to have a completed manuscript come September.

I can’t thank you all enough for being my faithful and/or casual readers. I hope a little piece of me resonates with a little piece of you. I pray that this summer, you all find time to read good books, take long walks, and drink cool beer.

As always, peace be with you.

DRG Edwards

 

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Anime and the Biblical Narrative

I’ve been on anime kick lately. I tore through Durarara!!!, and ate up One Punch Man. Check them out. I stepped back from the medium several years ago but now I’m back in it. I’m not sure if anime had a dry spell or if only the lamest shows (except Gurren Lagann!) were imported from Japan after 2010. But now… it’s like I’m experiencing an anime renaissance. It’s pretty rad.

I was sucked into anime fandom at the ripe age of 6. Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon aired at 6am on Saturdays before the western cartoons such as Animaniacs and Batman: The Animated Series came on. I woke up that early just to cram CocoPuffs into my mouth while Goku learned to kamehameha and ride a flying nimbus. It was captivating. The art style blew my mind. And 6 years old, I learned that these shows were telling a long story that dictate I had see previous episodes to know what the heck was going on.

This stood in stark contrast to the western shows I was watching on Saturday mornings, or the shows I noticed my parents were watching. Those were all episodic stories. The narratives only lasted for the length of 24 minutes. Next time you’re perusing some of your old favorite late 80’s or early 90’s television, see how many stories carry from episode to episode. While shows like Friends or Cheers may have had larger seasonal arcs that culminated in 2-part season finales, the meat of these season were still composed of a series of plots that changed from episode to episode.

I’d argue that it wasn’t until J.J. Abrams brought us Lost in 2004 that mainstream network television began airing shows that required viewers to be invested in a season/series long narrative. Sure, the “will they/won’t they” Ross and Rachel plot beats of Friends kept many a fan intrigued and guessing. But if a casual viewer first watched an episode in season 4 rather than season 1, that viewer could still enjoy that particular episode’s plot even if he or she didn’t pick up on the subtler details of that season (Chanler and Monica are dating in secret, etc). Drop a viewer into the second season of Lost, and later Breaking Bad or 24, and he or she would only have the slightest inkling of what was occurring on screen.

Anime was ahead of the game when it came to this long-form story telling. And I soaked it up. The worlds were so large and the plots so thick with tension from week to week.

My interest in anime, and Japanese culture in general, continued well into high school. For over a decade, long-form narratives were what captivated me. Japanese RPGs offered a similar narrative structure.

Did you know the Bible contains a long-form narrative? I didn’t know this until I was in an Old Testament Survey class in college. Up until the age of 19, Scripture had never been taught to me as a whole. Rather, sermons and Sunday school lessons were like sitcoms: each week a different biblical episode. I could gather some distinguishing features (Jesus was in the New Testament, the kings and Moses were in the Hebrew Scripture). Yet most passages were presented as individual stories and they were almost never connected to the broader narrative at play from Genesis to Revelation.

Imagine my joy to sit in a college class and find that what I loved about anime was not only present in Scripture, but integral in understanding the weight and glory of God’s redemptive work in history.

Boom. Mind. Blown.

All of a sudden, the Bible turned into an epic; it became God’s epic. To truly understand Jesus, I had to understand the Old Testament. To understand anything the prophets said, I needed to understand Moses and the Levitic Law. If I really wanted to grasp half of what was at play in the four gospels, I needed to know what occurred in in those obscure (to a Protestant) books known as the Apocrypha and learn about this thing called the Second Temple period.

To this nerd, Scripture became alive! It was like a coming into Game of Thrones at the Red Wedding and realizing I had three seasons to go back and watch. Confused. Captivated. Thirsty for the rest.

Now most major networks having primetime shows that are season/series long narratives. Over the past decade or so, the west has really grown to love an complex and intricate epic tale.

And yet sermons that seek to tell the grand narrative of Scripture, in my experience, seem to be the minority, Stories of the Israelites, of Jesus, and of the Apostles are preached as if they occurred in some vacuum apart from Scripture as a whole. They often lacked any context or “Last week… in the Gospel of Mark”-style prologue.

Leave it to a National Geographic television mini-series, The Bible, to give many church folk their first real taste for the broad narrative of the biblical text.

When Scripture is portrayed as largely episodic, then many of these stories became more like fables preached from the pulpit. They become cautionary tales with a moral lesson, rather than a witness to God’s redemptive work in thousands of year of history.

So if any of my pastor friends want some anime suggestions, direct message me on Twitter or comment below. Or just watch Breaking Bad for one of the best long-form narratives in television history.

 

 

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The Week After Easter

I really didn’t have anything to write this week. This is the week after Easter Sunday, so I feel like I should have something profound to write about. Frankly, I don’t. No Easter reflections formulated to be typed in a coherent manner. At least not yet. We shall see what next week brings.

But not this week. Holy week is a busy week that often leaves me relieved it’s over. Holy week is a emotional rollercoaster that doesn’t stop moving for seven days! Seven days of highs and lows, victory and defeat, life and death and life again! And that’s not including how intentional or disciplined one was about engaging in Lent (confession: I wasn’t).

We start with the joy and seeming triumph of Palm Sunday, then by Thursday we are reluctant and expectant as Jesus is betrayed by his own and arrested. And on Good Friday, if we are fortunate enough to be in a church community that is willing to dwell on and in Good Friday, we sit in mourning as Jesus is tortured and executed under the Empire. Saturday is full of ominous silence, for God may truly be dead. Finally, on Sunday we celebrate ten-fold that Christ is risen (He is risen indeed!) And we eat chocolate bunnies and fellowship with one another.

What. A. Week.

So it’s no wonder many of us, especially clergy, find the passing of Easter to be a relief. I wish it wasn’t that way. Yet here I am.

Although I’m sure the disciples were mighty relieved after Easter too.

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The More I Go to Cons… The Less I Like Church

The more I go to comic-book conventions, the less I like church. And it is not just because the best conventions conflict with Sunday morning services. No, I’m afraid it is much more essential than that. I like church less because these and similar cons seem to excel where many church communities in the U.S. miss the mark: they create a space where a wide variety of people feel at home in their own bodies.

Two weekends ago, I was one of 25,000 folks who attended Anime Boston 2017! And it was an absolute blast. This particular convention usually occurs on Easter weekend. Thus, it has never seemed prudent for an aspiring pastor like myself to skip Easter Sunday, which is arguably the most important day in the Christian calendar, to go to an anime convention. Since Easter is coming later in the spring this year, I jumped at the chance. For three days, thousands of otaku (anime watchers) like myself gathered over a shared love for this medium of story telling. It was quite special.

 

Nerd culture has come a long way in the last decade and a half. Thanks to Disney’s juggernaut marketing and an unfathomable budget, comic book movies are all the rage. Iron Man has ceased to be a lesser known, alcoholic Batman. The pervasiveness of video game consoles and mobile devices has turned nearly everyone into a gamer with slightly addictive tendencies. Even the popularity of Harry Potter and A Game of Thrones has made sword-and-sorcery fantasy fairly mainstream. It is a great time to be a nerd! The vast majority of U.S. Americans are wading in the shallows of comic book fandom and itching to visit the Wizarding World at Universal. The stigma that crammed many a geek into a locker, or made him or her miserable at the thought of crossing the threshold of a high school, has mostly been washed away. (Now teens have found new reasons to make their peers unbearably miserable. But I digress!).

Yet, even today, otaku have remained largely on the fringes of the nerd world. Anime remains a subject with its own stereotypes and stigmas, even in the medium’s native Japan. Somehow, in the heart of Boston, 25,000 anime fans gathered. Cosplayers, artists, YouTubers, bloggers (yours truly), and other Japanophiles sat in on screenings, met voice actors, or simply sat and chitchatted with new acquaintances. Wonderful.

It was a convention that insisted on perpetuating an environment of respect and safety. Signs such as “Ask before you take pictures!” and “Cosplay is NOT consent!” were prominently displayed. Here was a space where everyone was encouraged to be comfortable in their own skin, and to be comfortable that others were doing the same. Many cosplayers dressed as their favorite characters with varying amounts of exposed skin, both male and female. When I considered how many cosplayers did not fit the stereotypical body type of these characters, I found I was immersed in the most body positive environment I have ever witnessed.

For my readers who are protesting my condoning of cosplay and want to discuss modesty at cons, let’s please have that conversation. But in that conversation, let us to agree to refuse to body shame young women who have developed according to their biology, and instead tell young men not to ogle. Convincing a 15 year old girl that she is responsible for the leering eyes of her hormonal male peer who can’t bring himself to look at the floor or ceiling is unjust and nothing short of body shaming.

As I embarked on my 6-hour drive home after spending three days knee-deep in Japanese cartoons, colorful costumes, and J-Pop, I found myself frustrated with one thought: I have never been present in a church community that was as safe or as welcoming as this anime convention. I had never felt as relaxed and vulnerable in a church as I did for those three days. And I’m sure I’m not alone in that experience.

For those of us who grew up in the Church (and I for one had a largely positive experience) telling someone in our faith community that we avidly viewed anime was often met with fear and concern. The assumption that we must have been watching animated pornography was also not uncommon. If you want expose the ethnocentrism of your fellow church members, I know from experience that sharing your interest in Japanese culture and media will do it. “Well if they had Jesus, they wouldn’t have a culture based on honor and shame!” Well if U.S. Americans had Jesus, they wouldn’t have a culture that thrives on the myth of redemptive violence. 1-1, game is tied.

I am not writing this post to advocate for an outreach ministry to an otaku subculture. Rather, what I am trying to illustrate is this: A community that has gathered over a shared love for a format of film and television may very well be a safer environment for people to be themselves than a community that professes to have gathered over a shared love for Christ. This is the same Christ who did nothing short of creating safe spaces for prostitutes and lepers, and such a disparity should convict us. We who believe in the transformative power of the Holy Spirit and the role of Christ’s Church should actively pursue the nurturing of such an environment.

But if my brothers and sisters in the faith decide, through their actions and their fear of the strange and unfamiliar, that the community of faith is not about creating places of safety and vulnerability, then our churches will continue to decline and die. And rightfully so. If churches, whether evangelical or progressive, continue to tell the communities they inhabit that they are not concerned with fostering spaces that allow individuals to feel at home in their own skins, then they will find other communities that are. How do we expect people outside of the Church to be open to the transformation and mystery that only the Spirit can bring when we are not open to them? Honestly, I would rather spend my time at conventions praying to find other Christ-followers who, like me, have found more comfort surrounded by costumes and cartoons than choir robes or worship teams.

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Let’s Be Done with One Night Stands: Christmas and Our Divine Love Affair

Confession: I am a Christmas music junky. Halfway through November, I begin to patiently wait for Black Friday when it becomes socially acceptable to blare the season’s tunes ad nauseam for a month, including the occasional Hanukah jam (shout out to those Maccabees). I really love Christmas music, whether it be cheesy crooner songs about being snowed in with a lovely companion, or the richer, more vibrant hymns, like “O Holy Night.” If there is one thing that causes me to stumble through contemplating the sober Advent season, it is all that cheery Christmas music.

So imagine my disappointment as I climbed into my truck to leave my in-laws’ house at 10:34pm on Christmas Day: I turned on what had been my Christmas radio station for over thirty days, only to hear a late 80’s pop song that wasn’t WHAM!’s “Last Christmas.” That’s right, folks. December 25 wasn’t even officially over and the radio had moved on to its normal programming. How quickly we rush past Christmas…

It is almost as if the Advent season acts as four weeks of pent-up, Yuletide foreplay in which we try to open presents early (but not too early!) because we just can’t wait for Christmas morning! Then comes the climax of Christmas morning and with a flurry of wrapping paper and spilt coffee, it is all over and all we want to do is go to sleep. As my dear Grammy used to say every December 25 around 7:30am, “You wait this long, and it’s all over in 20 minutes.”

Our one night stand with Christmas is sad. For those churches in the Christian tradition that abide by the Western liturgical Church calendar, there are 12 Days of Christmas (go on, sing it to yourself). Christmas morning is only the beginning of a longer celebration. After all, if we’ve spent Advent waiting in contemplation and anticipation, why burn up all of Christmas in a half hour?

Not only does the Christian Tradition celebrate Christmas for twelve days, but Advent marks the beginning to the Church calendar. That’s right–Christian New Year begins with contemplation and longing for four weeks. Yet Christmas marks the end of that anticipation and the new beginning of God’s indwelling in Creation, physically present in the Cosmos in the person of Jesus Christ!

Christmas isn’t a one night stand with prolonged waiting and climactic release. Christmas is the beginning of a year long love affair with the Divine! And that love affair brings with it the stillness of Lent, the pain of Good Friday, the joy of life and reunion at Easter, and the invigoration and passion of Pentecost! The incredible beauty of the Church calendar is that it encompasses the rhythms of our relationship with God. Not only that, the rhythm is a seasonal glimmer and reminder of all the redemptive work that is soaking and permeating all of Creation, from planet Earth to the farthest unknown reaches of the universe and beyond.

Yet if this rhythm is a reminder of God’s redemptive work in history, why do we experience or witness so much pain, suffering, grief, and horror? Is this rhythm detached from the way the world is? Is God good or is the rhythm a lie?

For those of us of the Christian faith, I think the Church calendar from Advent through the Ordinary Time is structured to remind that God is good, and that God is at work. It isn’t there for us to evaluate if God is fulfilling His promise, but to prompt us to return to the movements of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love that occur in spite of the trials and tribulations of our lives and times.

Maybe Advent introduces us to these essences over four weeks not because Christmas means the end of anticipation. Maybe Advent walks us through Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love because Advent is a summation of the rhythm that we move to, well beyond the season of Christmas. It is a prologue for the whole of the Western Church calendar!

Christmas is only the start of our journey with Christ. Nurture the Divine love affair.

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Things that Must be Said

This week, many of us will sit down with our families and consume copious amounts of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pie. With the 2016 presidential election only 3 weeks behind us, there is a great likelihood that the Thanksgiving family gathering will be tense at best or, at worst, ridden with hateful words and divisive political talk. Maybe I should edit my previous post to be “On Thanksgiving Day, Hug a Family Member Who Voted Differently from You” and post that.

No. There are things that must be said.  If this post seems disjointed and disconnected, it is because each of these things deserve their own post.  Still, these things must be said.

First and foremost, it is contrary to the Reign and work of God for ANYONE to live in fear. Christians, regardless of political affiliation or whose box they checked on a ballot, are mandated to advocate for those who experience fear in the face of oppression. This is the case whether they be illegal immigrants, people of color, low-income anglos, LGTBQ individuals, adherents of a religion different than yours, or women. When we ignore the fear of our neighbor, we ignore Christ. According to the gospel writer of Matthew, our Lord said “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (Matthew 25:45).

It must be said.

Rest assured, Church, the prospect of a US president being advised by Steve Bannon should fill us with unease. Gatherings held by the likes of the National Policy Institute with speeches like that of Richard Spender should set righteous anger in the heart of God’s Church. And when we look to our Muslim or Jewish neighbor and see their fear, we need to feel that. We need to empathize with that. We need to inhabit that fear with them, and then fight for hope. We should be advocating for the protection of our brothers and sisters of color. We should defend the dignity of advocate-notesthe LGBTQ community. We should stand firm in the face of rubber bullets and tear gas with those who protesting non-violently against the Dakota Access Pipe Line. When the cities are no longer sanctuary cities, our churches must be sanctuary churches. We should fight for the safety and equality of women. Pastors, how will the young women in your pews ever feel empowered to press into their gifts for pastoral leadership if you do not lift them up into leadership roles, including preaching and teaching?

It must be said.

Here I am drawing the line: If you believe that you have more in common with a non-Christian because of the color of their skin or the language they speak than with the dark-skinned brother or sister in Christ facing deportation, you have failed to grasp what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

It must be said.

If you are as puzzled, and at moments infuriated, as I am by the record turn-out of white evangelicals who voted for a man who is one court case shy of being a registered sex-offender, then lay aside your political ideology. Lay aside your political ideology and take up the Cross and the Incarnation. We are commissioned to be live in community and suffer along side all those who we call neighbor.

It must be said.

Make no mistake.

The desires and agenda of the Alt-Right is Anti-Christ: It is a movement whose rhetoric reflect that it is in opposition to the work of the God who, in Jesus Christ, entered into God’s own Creation, to be executed at the hands of a “superior” people, only to be resurrected on the third day.

IT MUST BE SAID.

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On November 9, Hug Somebody

Why, hello November. When did you show up? October feels like a blur. I’ve been busy. Work, school, and what not. My posts haven’t been as timely as I would have liked, but such is life. As many of you are aware, we are several days away from the infamous election day. Soon the mantras, chants, and verbal challenges of the season will come to an end. “Trump for President!” “Clinton for President!” “Never Trump!” “Never Clinton!” “Break the system with Johnson or Stein!” “A third party vote is a waste!” “Wait, who’s Evan McMullin?!”

So much to keep track of. So many divisive issues. So many scandals. A media mish-mash of he-said-she-said political debate and slander. Tis the season. I’m not here today to add my two cents to the political discussion. I’ll vote on Tuesday. I won’t share with you for who. Someone will be elected president. And life will continue on with challenges, old and new.

But I want to offer one very cheesy idea for November 9, 2016. Hug someone who did not vote as you did. Seriously. Once you’ve watched the poll results get broadcasted into the darkness of Tuesday night, have a good cheer, sigh, cry or what have you. Get some warm milk, hot tea, glass of wine or whatever suits your mood. Then go to bed. Do your best to get a good night’s rest. And on Wednesday November 9, hug someone who did not vote for the same candidate as you did. Do not apologize for the loss of his or her candidate (because you’re not sorry. Don’t be a disingenuous ass). Do not hug the person and whisper “You’ve doomed us all.” Just hug the person. Start with the hug. If you feel gutsy, maybe offer to buy him or her coffee, then ask how the family is, or how is working treating him or her. Maybe ask about their hopes and dreams. And leave the election out of it. Not forever. The political discussions have their place.

But on November 9, 2016, remember the humanity of those who did not vote as you did. That person is still bears the imago dei, the image of God. They are still people cherished by the Creator. They are not monsters, regardless of who they voted for.

Aren’t we all hurting? Aren’t we all concerned with the state of of world? Don’t we all vote according to our conscience? Let us remember that even if you find the voting decision of another person heinous and beyond logic, that person may think the same of you.

You have needs that you thought this candidate would meet in some fashion, whether directly or indirectly. And so does your neighbor. Because that “short-sighted fool who voted for [candidate]” is your neighbor. That person is my neighbor. What are your neighbor’s needs? How can you help? How can I help? But we need to bridge the divide. We need to heal the animosity and the hurt feelings. We need to share our fears. Because our fear is not “If Trump is elected,” or “If Clinton is elected.” Our fears our for family and friends. They are for our livelihood and provision. They are for the safety and security of ourselves and those we care for. What if we feared for the wellbeing of those who disagree with us? What if we had mercy?

Jesus was asked by an expert of the Law “Who is my neighbor?” There’s a great story there in Luke 10:25-37. Maybe read that with breakfast on Wednesday, November 9, 2016.

Then go hug someone who voted differently than you.

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Coming attractions

Hey everybody!

My sincere apologies.  I don’t have a post for this week.  I’ve been spending that last few days working on other projects., both personal and professional.  All good stuff.

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But have no fear!  The Squall is brewing up to some awesome content (at least I think it’s awesome).  Here’s a taste of what to expect over the next few weeks (in no particular order; titles subject to alteration):

 

  • Minor Spoilers: Stranger Things
  • Genre Fiction and the Prophetic Imagination (a 4-part series)
    • Beyond a Wardrobe: Why Christians Should Write Fantasy
    • Space Oddities and Aliens: Why Christians Should Write Science Fiction
    • The Fear:  Why Christians Should Write Horror
  • Minor Spoilers: Kubo and the Two Strings
  • The Other, Much Older Woman: Teresa of Avila
  • Probably some poetry.

Also, my wife and I celebrated our third anniversary last week.  She’s pretty great, not going to lie. LoRes-188

Catch ya later.

 

 

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A Morning by the Lobster Tank

Do you know what is one of the coolest looking creatures on planet earth? The Lobster. Lobsters are pretty frakking cool (as well as delicious, but I digress). I had forgotten just how bizarre they look. The shells, the claws, the antennae! To think, I had to be reminded of these crazy crustaceans that seem to fall right out of a 1930’s pulp sci-fi series by a three year old. Here’s a play-by-play.
I am going about my weekly grocery shopping when I pass a gentleman and his young son. All I hear from the boy is “Dad, I don’t think the lobsters are in their tank.” He sounds a little sorrowful, and is shuffling in his pint-sized crocs staring at the tiled floor. His father guides him along with a “Well, let’s take a look.” I keep eaves dropping because that’s what I do in grocery stores. If you’re near me and words are coming out of your mouth, I’m probably invading the privacy of your conversation with my ears. I’m sorry but grocery stores are only so interesting. (Just be glad I’m not trying to improvise the other half of your phone conversation because I can see you talking into your Bluetooth in the deli line).
Here I am checking the market price on black beans and taking my sweet time because I am hooked. Are the lobsters in the tank? So I wait. I hear the kid’s feet shuffle on tile. I pick up another can of beans to read because I’m making chili tonight and I feel invested in this kid’s anticipation. Finally, before store security gets a report about an unshaven man in faded cargo shorts who’s lingering near the organic canned foods and seems to be following a father and son, I hear the kid shout “Dad, the lobsters are in the tank! The lobsters! They’re in the tank!”
Because he’s a good father and isn’t inclined to say to his child “No shit, kid,” even though he most likely noticed the occupied tank three yards earlier, I hear him say “Oh wow, they are!” At this point, I need visual confirmation myself. I look over my shoulder and the kid is almost pressed up against the tank, which puts him on eye level with these beaded eyed shellfish. No joke, the kid might as well be at sea world for all he cares. He’s at discount aquarium with his dad. The joy and fascination springing out of this kid was infectious.
I resisted the urge to go look at the tank myself. (I also had a small breakfast and didn’t want to risk bringing home a $12.00/lb brunch). The boy was very vocal. Every few seconds there was another “Woah…” or “Did you see?” And all of sudden, I was walking through a different grocery store three states east with my mom and dad, looking at a lobster tank, on my own discount aquarium trip. It was small grocery store in my hometown that I could walk to from my house. Across the street from a liquor store-turned-Chinese buffet. In the time I grew up there, the space had been occupied by three different grocers, in fact. And the lobster tank was always on the customer’s left as he or she walked through the automatic doors. It was a huge tank. Maybe it’s because I was young and everything seems bigger when you’re four, but I swear the lobster tanks I see now are tiny. This one in my home town should’ve charged admission. At age three, or even five or six, lobsters were fascinating!
And then they became common place. Of course my new grocery store has a lobster tank with a dozen lobsters in it. It’s a grocery store. And the lobsters lost their mystery, their wonder, their awesomeness. I spend more time trying to avoid looking at them because I can’t afford a lobster bake rather than watching these bizarre, armored and clawed, pint-sized sea monsters. Seriously, write down a description of a lobster without using the designation “lobster,” and tell me you didn’t just describe a Phoenician sailor’s nightmare.
What else would blow my mind if I saw it like that kid at the lobster tank? Where else would I rush to get a look at the seemingly common place?

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