All posts by ajatom

About ajatom

academic, business, law, financial writer; line, developmental, copy editor

(no title)

Have you ever noticed that when you buy something new, you begin to see it everywhere? Particularly a large purchase, like a car. I know when I bought mine I began to see them everywhere. I suppose they were always there, but your level of awareness for them is higher because you’ve experienced them in a new way. I’ve noticed that feeling a lot lately, particularly with events surrounding my community. I suppose they were always happening, but my level of awareness of them is higher because I am experiencing them in a new way. I’ve heard many people saying it isn’t as bad as it seems and that what is happening is proportional to what is happening in other communities all the time. Which is fair, I don’t have an exact measure of the atrocities other communities have experienced. However, I am having trouble reconciling within myself the idea that somehow, because it was always happening and because other communities experience it too, it is okay that it is happening. No one seems to have made that connection clear to me.

Honestly, I may be resistant to the idea of condoning suffering. Condoning that idea that a significant, although minority, number of people do not feel safe in their own country, a country that was built on the principles of freedom. That the minority include all types, and that “minority” and “inferior” are somehow synonymous. Self-preservation as a way of life is not freedom. It is simply surviving. It is steeling yourself for what is to come next and trying desperately to hold on to the glimmer of hope that this time, maybe this time, the ending will be different. It’s exhausting work. It’s hardening work, work that strips away at your very being. And if you are willing, you spend a significant amount of time working to bring those parts back. Forgiving and praying and rationalizing. Anything to keep that glimmer of hope of a day when you don’t wonder what is next.

I think, as people, we all deserve that right. To prosper more than persevere, to hope more than hurt, to live more than survive. I think that should be fundamentally engrained within us, in our very genes, because we have evolved to the point that we have the capacity to place value on intangible necessities. In honesty, however, I do not believe we truly understand that we should at minimum respect one another as human beings. Empathize with the pain we ourselves have experienced, sympathize with those we have not. And I am not sure what it will take to get there. But at the end of the day, I suppose if you have nothing you have hope. Abandoning hope is leaving the one thing no one can take away from you. So I am hopeful. For what, I’m not sure. But hopeful nonetheless.

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Cleaning Out My Bookcase, Pt 1.

Found a set of poems I don’t remember writing…storing them here.

The Session.

warm tones beneath and enveloping/ soft yet insightful conversations/ life, art flows from melody to voice to story to melody/ gentle pauses and low crescendos build moments, hesitations even/ of peace, echoed with full, idle breaths/ an overwhelming liftedness/ my thoughts still drawn to you/ you never leave me/ reflective moments, smiles nearly etched/ these are friends and loves and family, such union rarely experienced/ beyond these four walls a comfort/ pulling, drawing from the loose circle/ a picturesque twinkling of the eye/ I need you most at night/ I am most certain I need you

Untitled I.

I know you all too well/ the story you tell I helped you write/ the smile you wear I placed/ and yet we are still here/ our outsides not reflecting how bitterly we are in love/ we treat it like a sickness/ on constant search for cure/ you comfort yourself in her/ I cry the tears for us/ you seek a refuge for me from my sadness/ I seek an eternal spotlessness, a delete from our memories/ time to move on, I count the days/ and you strap tight to maybes and ifs

our chapter’s closed, my schedule’s open/ dining with him, drinks with her/ my bed’s still warm/ it’s less lonely here alone/ you text, you call, I smile quietly/ let the voicemail do the talking/ wait til the sting goes before the words start/ and laugh; I’m doing better/ and sure you can too/ or try to/ I’m kind of feeling myself/ reflections don’t lie/ and every window I pass stretches that ego

so we pass, I smile/ you stop, you stare, you remember/ at night you feel where I once was/ pillows faint with my unremarkable, unforgettable scent/ no, you won’t forget/ yes, your heart will always skip/ and I will always smile

Untitled II.

I want to hide in you/ nestle myself in the midnight of your locs/ curl myself in the hershey of your skin/ shelter myself in the place your aspirations and inspirations dwell/ my peace and torment arise and falter with you/ my soldier, my strength and weakness all drawn from you/ you are my paradox, my heartbreak and heartbeat/ twisted and blended as one/ you make me lose my words in the most eloquent of ways/ I fucking love you

I hate that you taught me longing/ and independence/ and codependence/ and, fuck it, dependence/ I get… I find… I lose…/ I lose what fleeting grace I can muster with you/ and yet you… / there are no words for you/ just cliches/ and the overly obsessive desire to give you every atom in my being/ til time itself draws her last breath/ I fucking love you/ that’s really all there is to it/ and despite myselves/ you love me too/ and that says it all

random- late night mental rantings

Dear Scared of Change,

                I am a 28 year old college educated African American female in support of gay rights, the right for a woman to choose, the right to bear regulated arms, the repudiation of violations of civil rights, the legalization of marijuana, federal and state assistance to the needy, taxation of the wealthy, an increase in minimum wage, universal healthcare, increases in the funding of education, and legislation to make financial influences of businesses within the government illegal. In other words, I am what your nightmares are made of.

I know you are scared. I am scared too. I am scared that I will bring children in this world and have to teach them the love of Jesus Christ as well as the reason why that love seems to have very little places to thrive in this country. I am scared I am going to have to teach them to be brave and stand up for their classmates who are bullied because they (or their parents) are gay. I am afraid that I will have to explain to them why others feel their aunts and uncles who are gay are somehow less of a person than everyone else. I am afraid I will then have to explain to them how this is different from historical legislation that counted African Americans as 3/5 a person.

I am afraid I am going to have to tell them that their bodies do not belong to them, but to the laws of the state in which we reside. I am afraid I am going to have to tell them that unless they are wealthy they will continue to struggle and that while wealth is attainable in this country, some wealthy are doing all they can to prevent others from the financial freedoms they experience. I am afraid that I will have to explain the difference between welfare and entitlements, although I can’t seem to find one. I am afraid I am going to have to tell them that the only way they can get the education they deserve is by my own continued financial support of their education, as funding public schools is considered less important than the 13 year long war we’ve been losing. I am afraid that I am going to have to tell them that it is okay for people who cannot afford healthcare to remain ill or die because a bunch of people feel they are just trying to “mooch off the system”.

I am afraid I will have to tell them that their brown skin will be a hindrance as every single person they meet will have a preconceived notion of them as “hood”, “ghetto”, “thug”, “welfare queen”, or (the most despicable) “well-spoken (for a black person)”. I am afraid I will have to tell them that anything they accomplish in their black skin will be celebrated like they became president, instead of accepted as the norm. I am afraid I will have to tell them that in certain places, upsetting people unintentionally by being black could cost them their lives…and their killers may or may not see justice. I am afraid I will have to explain to them why the deaths of tiny school children in Connecticut (as well as the 44 school shootings resulting in 28 deaths since) were not enough for legislators to place regulations on semi-automatic and automatic weapons, even though no one has been able to justify to me why a civilian would need that kind of weaponry.

In essence, I understand your fear. I see your fear. And I say to your fear, “Fear, you are not alone.” I guess I am just inherently selfish, wanting only absolution from my own fears. Yet, there is something that might help us both. It’s called compromise and you and I can make it the biggest trend since the Miley Cyrus Twerking Controversy of 2013. See, we sit down to a table, preferably with snacks. Then we talk about each side. Then we talk about how we can meet in the middle. Maybe you give me an end to discrimination, and I give you the benefit of the doubt that you aren’t some kind of ignorant bigoted civilian who should have never been given a voice to begin with. Okay, maybe that’s not a fair trade. How about you give me a little regulation on civilian weaponry, and I will give you…okay I can’t really think of anything, but I am sure there is something. I make a mean lasagna, complete with homemade marinara sauce (because I come from the school of thought that any problem can be solved with a good meal… and a good bottle).

In all earnestness, I am here for you. I will wipe away those tears for you and teach you the lyrics to “We Shall Overcome”, although I do not think it would be an appropriate use of the song. We would just have to be careful. Meet in private or something, so no one will accuse you of making an effort to try and see things from opposing perspectives. If you are interested, let me know. I’ll be here, praying for the children I don’t have yet and the humanity of which our world is quickly losing grasp.

 

Sincerely,

AJ Chestnut

random- I may be a sociopath, but I’m not a killer…

Each morning as I awake, I spend a few moments working strategies for the many battles I will enter during the day. I have been at constant war with myself for as long as I can remember. Though the battles are waged internally, the effects are very visible. The battle between my id and superego is an ongoing constant, leaving me in search of peace for a much ravaged soul.  The battle with my body has been in oscillation between varying extremes, leaving me constantly seeking the best way to balance my health. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve played both sides of this war. My diet (or lack thereof) and exercising habits fluctuate depending on what stress I feel is tantamount to my body’s needs. Sometimes the treadmill will do it; other times a beer hits the spot. My decision making skills are sub par, though I am a great lover of knowledge and its applications. My ability to see past myself to the greater picture comes and goes-sometimes I pull from the philosophies of Ghandi, while other times Mae West seems more appropriate. I used to say that I had an emotional Rolodex, a term used in an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent to describe the behavior of a sociopath.  I often wonder if I am indeed one of these people, and according to Hervey Cleckley’s 16 key behavioral statistics to identify the personality defect, I am.

While no clinical diagnosis for me is on record, the descriptions of antisocial personality disorder (the official classification for sociopathy by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM), fit me to a T, which brought me not great alarm, but relief. The first step, after all, is admitting you have a problem. So why, then, was I so terrified before of the truth? The stigma. Sociopaths tend to be associated with serial killers, violent con artists, torturers, etc. I did not feel I was any of those things, nor had I exhibited any of those traits, so I held on to the belief that I was just being my overly excited self, emotionally ill-adept at conquering the world as we see it. Moreover, I had no intention of becoming violent, torturous or murderous, so it couldn’t be me. More research. And I discovered that 1% of adults over 18 have the condition. 1%. Meaning that of the 600+ Facebook “friends” that I had, at least 6 of them could possibly be considered sociopaths. Doing the math, I realized quite easily that none of the people I knew were murderers, torturers or con-men (to my knowledge), so there had to be some other logic behind the stigma. I soon realized that I was being sucked back into my philosophy course, reviewing conditional statements. All serial killers are murderers. All serial killers are sociopaths. Therefore all sociopaths are murderers. See the fallacy? I began to question many fallacies I’d been presented with over the years, only to realize that significant portions of my life, and the lives of those around me, were predicated on fallacies. Which brought me to the question: Is sociopathy a genetic condition, or a result of environmental fallacies that cannot be fully processed by the mind?

Sociopaths are inherently selfish. The world tells us that selfishness is bad. So sociopaths are bad. But the world also inundates us with ways to make ourselves better individually. To promote ourselves past our peers. To compete vigorously and with complete disregard of our competitors, who happen to be the rest of the world. Selfishness. So could it be that sociopaths, those with antisocial personality disorder, are just taking their secular training to new levels? Or is it that they are unable to suppress the selfishness we’ve all been conditioned to exhibit. I began to think that sociopathy is more closely related to an addiction than to incorrect mental programming. Alcoholism of the mind. Society tells us there is nothing wrong with drinking, even though medical research demonstrates the destructive nature of alcohol with ease (with the exception of red wine, apparently). Alcohol is often a centerpiece of frivolity, an indicator that “A good time was had by all”. Alcoholism takes that inhibition to a detrimental extreme, tearing the person down internally and externally and hurting those around them. Remove alcohol, insert selfishness. Everyone at some point in time has advised someone or been advised to be a little selfish. Splurge on yourself. Treat yourself. A little selfishness is not bad. Extreme selfishness, well, that puts you in the cute coat that buckles only in the back.

So how does that reflect on our current social treatment of individuals with antisocial personality disorder? To me it says the approach may be a little off base. I’ve never seen adverts for Sociopath Anonymous meetings, no sponsorship or special chips for going one month without manipulating the hell out of a situation for personal advantage. Perhaps the mental health community could research such an approach. Til then, I suppose there will be more me’s. More people incessantly Googling “10 signs you might be dating a sociopath” and rating themselves. I suppose there will come a time when a community is born, the problem is embraced and studied, the world begins to look at itself differently…or, as seen with alcohol, the world will find more ways for us to be selfish. I propose for the 99% to mull over it a while and get back to us. Don’t worry, we’ll be waiting, probably battling it out in our minds between plotting our next manipulation and doing the good that seems to come so easily to the rest of the world. God speed to us all.

random- the beatitudes: an exegesis

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” ~Matthew 5:3-12

The Beatitudes: Historical Context

            During the time of Christ (~4-37 A.D.), the prophet of Christian text, the majority of the world’s population was spread across Europe, Northern Africa and Asia. Large monotheistic cultures were limited to Judaism, which often alienated Hebrews from other cultures who were polytheistic in spiritual beliefs. At the time, the Roman Empire dominated much of Southern Europe and Northern Africa, including Judea, an independent Jewish kingdom that lay between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan. Due to the spread of Jews to Rome, Emperor Julius Caesar would put laws in place that protected Jewish worship in the city, laws which were applied throughout the empire (Duling, 1982). While the Roman conquerors did place restrictions on the practice of Judaism, the religion was generally respected with limited exceptions. Jews were also required to follow the Roman practices. However, Roman governing in the territory was inefficient at best, which would eventually spring a mid-century revolt among the Hebrews. At the time of Jesus’ sermon, tensions between the Romans and Jews were moderate and can be seen in the first 5 texts of the New Testament of the Bible.

The timeline of Jesus’ life as suggested in the Bible places his “Sermon on the Mount” sometime after May in 29 AD. Nearing the time of the sermon, the prophet had selected his twelve disciples, who followed him as he traveled across what is now known as Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. The sermon took place on a hillside in Capernaum, a city on the banks of the Sea of Galilee in present day Israel. At this point in Jesus’ three year tour, the prophet had performed over 30 noted acts of teaching, healing and preaching (Duling, 1982). In similar fashion to the prophet Moses, who is estimated to have received the commandments of the Hebrew God Yahweh 12 centuries before Jesus’ birth, Jesus instructed a large crowd of people on the tenants of Christian living. Within these tenants were the Beatitudes- eight virtuous ways of life that were looked favorably upon by Jesus and Yahweh. The Beatitudes marked a significant shift in Hebrew law; where before focus in the laws of the religion was placed on the condemnation followers of Hebrew law would experience if they strayed from the path directed by Yahweh, the Beatitudes focused on the supernatural commendation followers would experience if they stayed on the path defined by Jesus. Historians note a softening of the perception of Yahweh after the birth of Christ. Whereas before, the deity commanded his followers with fear, post-Christ Yahweh encouraged compassion and mercy in his followers.

The Beatitudes, like many of the accounts of the actions of Jesus in biblical texts, are recorded twice in the Bible. They are first introduced in the book of Matthew. It is disputed among scholars whether Matthew the author of the text was indeed the Matthew the apostle of Jesus described in other sections of the Bible; however the text is still considered the oldest of the accounts of Jesus placed in the Bible, and there is a notable amount of evidence to assert that the two were one in the same. Under that pretense, Matthew the author and apostle was a tax collector who was commanded by Jesus to follow the Christ on his journey. During the time, tax collectors were reviled for their role in taking money. Moreover, many of the tax collectors in the Bible were portrayed as motivated by greed or other self-serving purposes, and were therefore viewed with disdain. This follows a trend throughout Judaism and Christianity – the calling of the lowest of society to do the work of Yahweh and Jesus. Matthew is attributed with collecting the speeches of Jesus and organizing them; it is believed that these texts were later used by the New Testament author Luke, who also records the Beatitudes in his text (Turner, 1992).

The Beatitudes continue a theme within Jesus’s sermons where he makes a call to his followers to observe and act as those considered to be the lower members of society. The weak, the figurative poor, the meek, the persecuted, those isolated for their convictions- all of these were uplifted in Jesus’ speech as the models to which the rest of his followers should conform. While the blessings received by the groups listed differ in nuance, within his sermon is his continued promise of life beyond the physical realm in which those who have suffered on earth can flourish and find peace for an eternity. It can be asserted that Jesus opened his sermon with these blessings to take hold of the attention of his listeners and to set the tone for what is to follow- the commands he has for his followers (Turner, 1992). These commands varied drastically from the laws of Judaism, where reprimand and punishment were emphasized. It can also be asserted that the Beatitudes were a method of foretelling what was to come for his followers, particularly in the form of persecution. It can be argued that part of the influence for the last Beatitude came from the experience Jesus had with the loss of his cousin John the Baptist, a prophet who had baptized Jesus and had been beheaded for his devotion to Jesus sometime before the sermon. The connection between Jesus and John the Baptist within the texts is great- John prophesied the work to be done by Jesus – Jesus’ respect and admiration of John the Baptist’s work is noted throughout the first 5 texts of the New Testament. It is therefore not a leap to believe the influence existed.

The “Sermon on the Mount” serves as one of the most widely studied text of the Christian religion. It clearly defines Jesus’ mission and the shift in values he represented, and therefore has great value to the faith. While the Beatitudes do not directly command the behaviors listed, they do encourage them, a method of teaching widely used by Jesus throughout his 3 year tour. It can be asserted that the Beatitudes provide the foundation from which the entire faith was built- a list of what Christians should do, rather than what they should not. This shift would eventually cause a rift in Judaism, which was exacerbated when the religion was embraced by the Roman Empire. The Beatitudes serve as an excellent tool for comparison of the two faiths, and is often used by scholars for just that purpose. Though the text is ancient in origins, it serves the role of providing a method by which contemporary speeches and sermons can be structured, and demonstrates the power of the spoken and written word.

The Beatitudes: Literary Analysis and Reflection

            While many of the writers within the Bible dedicate their passages to explaining the will of Yahweh, supreme deity within the text, some writers, like Matthew, take a historical approach to the religion, accounting the laws written in the text through actions of the many characters that shaped Christianity. Matthew’s work document the life of Jesus in biographical form, with very little analysis offered. Most of the Book of Matthew has descriptions of different significant events in Jesus’s life, as well as excerpts from his speeches, including the Sermon on the Mount, from which the Beatitudes are taken. Within the Beatitudes, themes of love, mercy and the triumph of the good over evil are portrayed as prophesies of the future in efforts to offer the reader downtrodden by the circumstances beyond the control hope that God will overcome the adversity seen in their lives. Modern applications of the Beatitudes can be seen in their indirect reference to the current socioeconomic state of the US.

In his book, Matthew accounts both the lineage and works of Jesus as part of a historical perspective on Christianity. Matthew takes both a biographical and mythological approach to this account by chronicling Jesus’s life as a series of divinely inspired acts and prophetic speeches. At the time of the Beatitudes, Jesus was nearing the end of his life and would soon be crucified by the very culture that would later bring Christianity into international prominence. This foreshadowed death sparks a series of prophetic speeches a genre seen throughout the first five books of the New Testament of the bible often associated with epitome, an instructional genre dedicated to teachers of the Bible in which Jesus tells gathered groups of the times to come once his life ends (Zamfir, 2007). While much of Matthew’s texts focus on the superhuman feats accomplished by Jesus, it is the impact and implications of Jesus’s prophetic speeches like the Beatitudes that allow the Book of Matthew to stand apart from others.

As with many of Jesus’s prophetic speeches, the Beatitudes carry within them a theme of persecuted and oppressed good overcoming rampant evil with endurance. Vulnerability, which is often portrayed in the secular world as a weakness which causes those who possess it to ultimately fail, is found to be paradoxically triumphant over the weight of the circumstances in which it can be found, and an underlying theme of persistence in spite of circumstance can be felt within the text. Within this speech, Jesus provides particular detail about those persecuted because of their beliefs in him and Christianity as a whole. It can be asserted that in this section of the speech, Jesus alludes to and foreshadows the persecution of past and future followers respectively, suggesting that the path through Christianity includes persecution from non-believers (Turner, 1992). The prophesies Jesus speaks on rely on hope and enduring faith as part of their implied message- those who believe and work toward or are afflicted by these states of vulnerability will, in due time, receive their reward which exists outside of this world.

While no specific characters are named, character types are found throughout the passage. These characters have come to some sort of crossroads within their lives that employs them to be humbled, by choice or circumstances, which allows them to be open to the promises and gifts of Yahweh. It should be noted that it is implied that the choices and circumstances addressed by Jesus within the Beatitudes are difficult ones that are often avoided because of the varying levels of discomfort they give the individual (Zamfir, 2007). It should also be noted that the characters identified in Jesus’s speech are somehow connected to him in thought, word or deed, which further supports the perception of the speech to be one which, in its subtext, prepares Jesus’ followers for the persecution and subsequent rewards of their faith in him.

The Beatitudes provide comfort to those disillusioned with their own diligence to be of moral fiber and good judgment. The scripture is often used as an example of the will of Yahweh being more powerful than the physical, spiritual and emotional destruction his followers experience in this world (Turner, 1992). The text is also a crux for Christian’s looking for hope in times of dire and uncontrollable circumstances. The most recent collapse of the economy has increased the vulnerability of many individuals suffering from the greed and selfishness of others. The Beatitudes also provide motivation for action in time of distress that is selfless. Reflections of this can be seen in the ways in which organization have bonded together to strengthen fights for causes that encourage equality and mercy.

It is with great ease that the majority of people slip into self-pity and denial of their own enduring spirit. Texts such as the Beatitudes provide even the secular reader a context to perceive their life and the implication that something greater than themselves will reward the work put in during times of strife to better oneself and the lives of those around oneself. For the author, the Beatitudes provide a measure of comfort against the pain of being disadvantaged. It allows for hope to be built firmly in faith with tangible promises of intangible rewards. While it is unlikely for society as a whole to be meek, merciful, righteous or persecuted, we as individuals have all experienced the aforementioned in some form or another with wavering hope as to whether or not the storm that has created this emotional state will pass. The Beatitudes provide resolve within its believers, to do in spite of with faith that there is a greater reward.

The Beatitudes: The World in Front of the Text

            At the time of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, in which the Beatitudes are included, there was a continual atmosphere of tension and fear. While the presence of Jesus brought comfort to those who believed in his gospel, disbelievers were shifting toward violence beyond verbal abuse in response to his prophetic claims and restructuring of the currently dominant religious tenants. Jesus uses the Beatitudes to appeal to their underlying morality, highlighting the most difficult aspects of their beliefs as virtuousness to be rewarded on a higher plain. Though the Beatitudes are literally spoken toward a specific audience, their universal nature transcends specificities, appealing instead to the attitudes and thought processes that shape Christianity. For this reason, the interpretations of the text also follow a more universal pattern; while they can be applied to time-specific circumstances, their universality allow them to be applicable regardless of time or place. In contemporary applications, a connection can be drawn between the meaning of the text and its ability to speak to the universal nature of the human condition.

The care of the indigent by the community was a highly regarded tenant within most Mediterranean cultures during the time of Jesus. Research conducted by McCown (1927) suggests that this tenant reached through the aristocracy of the time, as noted by the numerous proclamations of works done for the poor found in the tombs of leaders from Egypt. It was therefore not a new concept that the indigent of society should be helped. Jesus’s sermon on the Beatitudes would then more likely be seen as an extension of the security the society itself sought to extend. Jesus’s goes in depth about the types of spiritual indigence experienced by his followers and the help, or blessings, that were to come for those in need who believed. The imagery would align with the experiences of the people of the time; it was the duty of the leaders to ensure the welfare of their citizens, so it would therefore be relatively easy to fathom a leader of spirituality extending this same benefit. It can be asserted that this sermon would be perceived more as a political speech assuring followers what was to come under Jesus’s leadership. However, the Beatitudes also speak to each follower’s individual struggles with spirituality, specifically the unique circumstances that test their faith. Because these circumstances were not limited to specific socioeconomic conditions, they were relatable to all who listened and who were being shaken for their belief in the new religion.

Contemporary times sees us in a place similar to those experienced by Jesus’s original audience. There is a great deal of tension within the world as it becomes increasingly aware of the happenings within it. Christianity is again at a struggling point in which a great deal of doubt has been cast on believers. However, contemporary views of Jesus place great emphasis on Jesus as a healer rather than a leader, lending current audiences to view the Beatitudes less as a political speech for following Christianity and more as a promise to be fulfilled for a weary world. While before Christianity was establishing its grip within the world, Christianity now struggles to maintain it. Still, as an individual experience, the perceptions of the Beatitudes have not changed. They still provide comfort for readers in doubt and struggling in their beliefs, allowing them to believe that their reward,  or rather relief, is found in the blessings, or healings, given by Jesus.

It can be asserted that Christianity is heading toward a new valley, yet one not unlike those seen before. The philosophies within the Beatitudes seem to predict a continual struggle between the believer and their environment, which has been proven by time’s treatment of the religion. While the religion itself is evolving, certain foundational truths such as the Beatitudes find themselves still firmly positioned and applicable, demonstrating their universal nature. Moreover, these enduring truths allow the religion to progress in spite of adversities posed by those both outside of and inside of the religion. The Beatitudes, then, are one of the most significant passages of the religion, and will continue to demonstrate their resilience in the dynamic nature of Christianity.

Duling, D. (1982) The new testament: An introduction (4th ed.). San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 4-35

McCown, C. C. (1927). The beatitudes in the light of ancient ideals. Journal of Biblical Literature, 46(1/2), 50-61.

Turner, D. L. (1992). Whom does god approve? The context, structure, purpose, and exegesis of matthew’s beatitudes. Criswell Theological Review,6(1), 29-42.

Zamfir, K. (2007). Who are the blessed? Reflections on the relecture of the beatitiudes in the new testament and the apocrypha. Sacra Scripta 5(1): 76-108

relevant- racism, convenient activism, and the true issues with race relations in the US

I am black/African American/Negro/Negroid/butter pecan brown…you get the point. If you are not any of the above things, it probably baffles you as to why distinctions like these are important. But those of you who are get that each one represents a different aspect of black perception. Confusing isn’t it. You aren’t racist if you think so…just highly aware of a disparity of which you are not allowed to speak. The definition of racism is nothing static, so no person should feel comfortable calling anyone of African ethnicity anything. And emulation of the African American culture? There are lines, though invisible and shifting, and you will become highly aware when you cross them (see Caitlin Cimeno). We as black people are extremely quick to call foul when we feel anyone other than us is devaluing who we think we are. Note the “anyone other than us” part. Because it is perfectly acceptable to be a black racist. Just in case you aren’t sure, let us take a look at the lead actor of the film “12 Years a Slave”, Chiwetel Ejiofor. Ejiofor plays a career defining role of a freed black man who was kidnapped and forced into slavery for 12 years before being rescued by the combined efforts of his wife, activists, state and federal legislators. It can be asserted that most people were not familiar with the story and that it demonstrates the sheer cruelty within the US past. So, what headline sprawled across social media today about our valiant actor? “You Know That Actor That Played The EDUCATED SLAVE . . . In The Movie 12 YEARS A SLAVE . . . Well Have Y’all Seen HIS GIRLFRIEND????“. You see, Ejiofor’s girlfriend does not share the same skin tone as him, which is a thorn in the side of the black community. A racist thorn. The irony, however, is that most people in America label black people as those who have ancestry in the US slave trade system. Black, in the US, is then synonymous with African American. But here’s where education meets racism…Chiwetel Ejiofor is not, by that definition, “black”. He’s not even from this country. He’s British. British by way of Nigeria. And if you ask any “comfortably racist” black person, they will tell you that Africans are a completely different ethnicity than African Americans, and are therefore not expected to follow the cultural rules and regulations of the black community. So why the exception for Ejiofor? I comfortably assert my belief that the individuals angered by his choice in mate have no idea he’s British. Racist fail. To add to the enduring complexities of the black racist psyche are articles like The 30 Most Beautiful Black Women in History. Nearly a third of the women listed are from mixed parentage. So what does that mean? We love the results of mixed parentage but do not like the couples themselves because they aren’t the same race? Don’t think about it too hard- you will certainly end up with a headache. 

Which brings me to our phrase for the day- convenient activism. Convenient activism happens when an individual takes a temporary active stance against what they feel is injustice. Note “temporary”. This activism only lasts as long as it is popular to be active. True activism does exist (see Adrienne Alexander, Shaunte Henry, Derick Bowers just to name a few). But the bulk of vocalization comes from bandwagon followers of cultural trends. They aren’t angry so much as they want to be seen as angry. And that type of activism is harmful to the causes themselves. I would not dare to venture to suppress anyone’s First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of the press. And I will not say you should stand for nothing. I will say that aligning yourself so staunchly with a cause only to abandon it for the latest trend weakens the foundation of your position.

Racism is an addiction in its worst form. Those afflicted with it have no motivations to recover. And it isn’t a mild addiction either. More like the meth of immoral thought processes. Only it’s free. And any addict can tell you that the best kind of drugs are free drugs. So what is the solution? Mental reform, it seems. I suggest the “responding with love” technique, as the “screaming at the racist” technique is generally ineffective. It is quite difficult to respond with love when confronted by racism, but practice will aid in the technique being mastered. I petition us all to respond with love, to ourselves and to others. To embrace the differences. To ALLOW PEOPLE OF OTHER RACES TO ASK YOU QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR RACE. Do not allow them to float on in ignorance. Correct assumptions and perceptions with active dialogue. Remove the fear within race relations. It works- I know this first hand.

Short Story: A group of students in Georgia sat together in a home economics class in 2003. The girls in the group, from various cultural backgrounds, were talking about hair and morning routines. The African American girls mentioned how their routines took longer and how washing their backs was probably the most annoying part of the routine. To which a Caucasian girl in the group replied, “You don’t just let your hair do it?”. The comment sparked a class long discussion in which girls from several ethnic backgrounds weighed in on hair routines, showering, and the misconceptions they had of other races. The open dialogue was filled with “Aha!” moments and laughter. And clarity.

Note clarity.

I suppose ranting does nothing more than allow me to blow off a little steam about the things I try hard not to read, but I also hope it causes people to talk to one another. Just talk.

random- silliness and such

So I was requested to write a how to essay on basically anything- not a good  topic to dabble in at 1 in the morning. Still, I dabbled…and cracked myself up in the process. Funny things are healthy and should be embraced. So, giggle a little with me…

 

Gone, Gone, Gone Again: How To Lose Your Keys Three Times In One Day

       The key to any great how-to project is having the right ingredients necessary for the project to be a success. When it comes to projects in which you lose things, stress is vitally important for the project to run smoothly. A lack of sleep will only enhance your project, so aim for 3 hours or less before you begin. Now time is also a factor in successfully losing your keys multiple times, but this ingredient can be tricky. The less time you have, the more likely you will be to lose your keys. It’s a fact, but Googling it is not a suggestion. It’s best to choose a day where you a) have multiple destinations, b) have overbooked yourself in tasks, and c) absolutely must meet a deadline at some sort. The combination of these ingredients will naturally produce a lack of time, overcoming that obstacle. Now that you have assembled your ingredients, you will need to ensure you do not find your key piece of equipment: your keys. Since it is best to begin this project shortly before sunrise, it is best if you put your keys in an obscure place the night before. A pocket of some sort is suggested; further success will come if that pocket is attached to something you rarely use.

            Once your preparation is complete, you are ready to commence the project of losing your keys. If you have followed the instructions thus far, you will likely begin when you leave your home. It should take about 20-30 minutes to search for your keys, depending on how obscure your pocket selection was. When you find your keys, you should note the added ingredient of frustration to your project. This will only increase as the project continues. At this point you should be able to make it to your destination safely, albeit 30-45 minutes late. Sometime in the afternoon you should be distracted by one of many tasks. Select tasks most pressing for this part of the project, as you will be more likely to absentmindedly pick up your keys and place them in a second obscure location. A drawer works well for this part of the project; be sure to close the drawer once the keys are inside to ensure a difficult search. When it is time to leave your destination, you should once again notice your keys are missing. At this point, anger will result from your mixture of ingredients, and the volume and irritation levels of your voice should be elevated with nearly everyone you speak- all of whom should have no idea of the project on which you work. The search in this section should take approximately 15 minutes, depending on how large the area in which you have worked is. You will then proceed to your next location, and arrival should be 30 minutes later than expected.

            Your final stage of the project will combine frustration, irritation, and confusion with exhaustion. Upon completing your task at your destination before home, you should have worked longer than expected, approximately an hour. If you have completed the project thus far, this stage will come with relative ease. Your keys will, as if by magic, make their way away from you without prompting. You should search, fruitlessly, for 10-15 minutes before a kind stranger returns them to you. At this point you should notice laughter building in your chest as a result of your disbelief in the day. Disbelief is a natural reaction to this project and should be embraced heartily. In cases in which laughter also results as a natural reaction, it can be used as a recovery method for the project.

            For further explanation and a list of additional projects, please refer to Murphy’s Law: The 26th Anniversary Edition, by Arthur Bloch.