I went to go watch The Thing over the weekend (review forthcoming) and I caught an interesting preview that I noted to re-watch on Youtube when I got home. The preview was for the movie “In Time” starring Justin Timberlake.
Do the makers of this movie actually believe that they can substitute time for money and critique the capitalist system without the American people catching them on their little sneak job? They probably do, and they probably aren’t wrong for thinking that way.
We see early in the trailer that time is the new currency and a cup of normal coffee costs about four minutes. A minor fee compared to the 32 ounce energy drink which will take off about 9 minutes of your life. When Olivia Wilde’s character runs out of time and appears to die, we hear a voice that claims, “The poor are meant to die, it’s how the system works.” It’s the “poor” that are stomping around on Wall Street today attempting to break the “system”.Shortly after we get another voiceover stating, “No one should be immortal, even if one person has to die,” echoing one side of the health reform debate we have in our country. Although the cuts are short, as they are in any trailer, we often catch glimpses of tickers with numbers going across like they do in the stock market. Except this time, it’s not references to money going across your screen, it’s time sliding across.
I can’t say this movie will be all that good or that it has the makings to be a box office success from this trailer, but within the two minutes and thirty seconds, I have seen many interesting analogies to the real world. It might be worth a watch to see what sort of parallels they can make given feature length. Hopefully they are able to infuse the movie with some powerful social and political undertones without making it too cheesy.
As if it were being chased by a bunch of religious extremists, Red State wastes no time getting started, and so I will do the same. After two quick title screens the movie introduces the setting and a character. Along with the abrupt start, the first few lines of dialogue are a bit awkward and poorly delivered which creates a bad tone to start the movie. The audience also learns with haste that this movie is not going to be shy, as we immediately see the Westboro want-to-bes on screen with their hateful signs. Many Kevin Smith fans were hoping for a comeback film, and I think to a degree Smith delivers this. The film is often categorized as a horror film and therefore is not the greatest platform for Smith’s humor to come through, but the film isn’t without any laughs.
The trailer doesn’t exactly give a lot of details about the movie, but it gives you the general idea. To be fair, I can’t really think of a trailer that would be completely fitting for this movie. However, anyone who follows the news and has heard about the Westboro Baptist Church can put the pieces together. Westboro Baptist Church is mentioned in the film, but the movie revolves around a church similar to Westboro that is just as extreme. The movie introduces three high school friends who are sexually curious. The trio uses the Internet to seek sexual services where they find someone who lives nearby and wants to meet them. One of the boys borrows a car one night and the three of them drive out to the country side to meet their mystery partner. The mystery partner happens to be a lure set up by the extreme church and chaos follows. The focus then turns to the church and their mission to clean the world of evil and their desire to earn a seat in heaven.
The movie carries many social undertones, religion being at the forefront. Religious extremism and blind faith are the main topics being discussed, but the movie takes a look at law enforcement and public relations as well. A more distant discussion might be the discussion on gun control.
This movie is not for everyone because of the topic being discussed, but it also isn’t for everyone because it’s not a film that offers a whole lot in terms of what the general movie audience seeks. Movies watchers these days expect to see robots from outer-space, beautiful women, and lots of explosions. Red State is a good movie that brings up very important and relevant topics, but I can’t suggest it to everyone. The movie may start off on a strange beat, but the movie closes with a great Kevin Smith touch, which left a good taste despite how grimy the movie is.
Although I haven’t had the chance to catch a lot of movies this year, 50-50 has to be in the top tier for movies I have seen in 2011. It’s not entirely my fault that I haven’t been able to see that many new releases in 2011. I spent the first quarter in Korea, and then everyone who knows me knows summer blockbusters aren’t my favorite kind of movie. 50-50 has been on my radar since late 2010 and I was very excited for the first of my anticipated fall and winter movies. I am a fan of Joseph Gorden-Levitt and of Seth Rogen, so I was very excited to see this duo to hit the screen.
The trailer suggests this movie leans more toward comedy than drama, but the movie does a great job combining both. The drama and comedy don’t conflict with each other but rather enhances each other through contrast as well as seamless meshing. When the drama begins to become dense, the audience is bailed out when the film shows that awkward moments in life can be full of humor. The comedy in the film is grounded by the drama giving it a sense of believability and something to work off of. This movie is what Funny People tried to be, but much better.
The movie is based on the life of Will Reiser, who wrote the movie. Reiser is a friend of Adam Goldberg (Producer) and Rogen who also helped produce the movie and plays the role of Kyle. In the movie, a 27 year old Will is diagnosed with cancer and is given a 50 percent chance of overcoming the cancer. The movie follows him around as we witness how this cancer affects his life and the lives of the people most close to him. Although not all of us can relate to what it feels like to have cancer, the movie does a great job of showing us how each relationship is affected, and relationships are something we can relate to. The audience is given an opportunity to find a bond that they can relate to whether it be the relationship to parents, friends, or intimate partner. The movie also gives us some insight in the psychology of a cancer patient. It makes sense that the movie is founded on true events because it’s easy for people to relate to the movie.
Another aspect the movie did a good job of showing the audience, while keeping the humor, is the interactions between patient and doctor. The film shows us that too many times people are often one dimensional. In the movie, mirroring real life, we see that doctors are very knowledgeable, but lack the general communication skills, or skills to speak in the layman, to clearly communicate with patients. With the therapist, played by Anna Kendrick, we see that her overly zealous textbook approach doesn’t quite work either. We see that when she applies textbook theory in a fluid and interpersonal fashion, the relationship and work with the patient is greatly improved. The movie also does a great job showing that when someone battles cancer, it not only affects them, but the people around them immensely. Without giving away too much, I felt this aspect was best shown in the film when Will drops off Kyle after a drunken night to find a book in Kyle’s bathroom (You’ll have to see the movie to fully understand).
I highly recommend this film, especially to fans of Seth Rogen’s humor. The humor is not lost in the attempt to tell a great story. As mentioned in the introduction, the comedy and drama are evenly weaved throughout the movie and perfectly timed. Great movie to kick off fall.
This blog that I’m suppose to write at the beginning of each year gets pushed back later and later every year. It’s so fitting of the person I am lately; lazy and useless. I don’t have any grand plans for 2012, and not a whole lot of momentum from 2011 carrying over. 2010 was a ship wreck for me. The latter part of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 was a period I just needed to focus on myself. It was a time to heal, a time to find myself, and a time to build. It was about mid 2011 when I started to feel like myself. In fact, I like my new self better than I liked the pre-2010 Min. Unfortunately, not a lot happened towards the end of 2011 and it feels like I wasted most of that time. I feel as though I am more articulate, I have a new confidence in myself, and I have more conviction behind my philosophies than ever. This is mostly due to the emotional turmoil I went through in 2010, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m hoping my growth in 2012 is as or even greater than the growth that occurred in 2010. I am hoping this is the year where I find a professional track. Gain some traction and power my way to a more successful life. I think I need to let go a bit because I’m the type of person who tries to control everything. The future, to a degree, is out of my control. That might be difficult for me to swallow, but it’s just the hand the universe has dealt. I’m hoping when I write my 2012-2013 blog, I can brag a bit. Say that I am completely happy with everything in my life (Yeah right, with my personality, I don’t think I’ll ever be content or complacent). My main missions in life right now is to better my knowledge of the world and universe, use what I know to help other people, and hopefully in about 5 years be able to pamper my parents. I’m sure there are parents out there that have sacrificed more than my parents, but I owe everything I have to them. Am I being completely subjective and bias? Absolutely. Is that okay? Nope. But cut me a break just this once.
I hope 2012 brings great things to everyone! Wish me luck too!
The first thing I want to do with this blog is wish everyone a happy 2012. I hope 2012 brings everyone many great things and much progression. The title of the blog isn’t me asking you the question, but rather a question that was asked to me at a New Year’s Eve party. The question was an easy one for me to answer as a heterosexual male, but afterwards I thought about how it might not be as easy for everyone. There is no unnecessary pressure on me to ever question my sexuality. Whereas for a homosexual, the pressure of judgment from others might influence them to repress and question their sexuality. This pressure from the outside that forces individuals to question their natural self seems entirely unfair to me.
When I was younger and discussed homosexuality, I really couldn’t decide whether homosexuality was a force of nature or nurture. At that time, I argued that we most likely have to be born with a gay gene encoded, but that the environment triggered it. I ran with that idea for a while but never seemed to be completely satisfied with my answer. However, one night I was asked a question that really rattled me and made me rethink my position on the topic. A young heterosexual woman asked me on that night when I chose to be heterosexual and it occurred to me that it was never a choice for me, but rather I was born this way. It wasn’t as if I sat around with my family over dinner and discussed the benefits and disadvantages of a heterosexual life and a homosexual life. It wasn’t like picking the best college for me to attend. It simply wasn’t a choice, and so why would I ever question it? Why would anyone ever question their sexuality? Yet, it is still a question we are forced to ask because of this unfair treatment toward homosexuals. So, to me, a question like “Have you ever questioned your sexuality” is an useless question because I was born a heterosexual and I’ve never felt any pressure to question it because I live within the norms of society. However, this unfair question is asking homosexuals to choose between the person they actually are and being ridiculed, or choosing to live a lie and be accepted.
There is no denying that racism still exists in America and around the world. The argument that racism is dead is tremendously stupid and an argument that should be extinguished. To be fair, I think some people can claim ignorance on the topic. Even as an ethnic minority, I might have been blind to the fact that I was a victim of racism. I ignorantly believed that it would never happen to me or that I was somehow immune to the poison of racism. I only realized I was a victim a few years ago. It took someone I knew and respected to open up my eyes and be more aware of the venomous words and actions of racism. Racist actions probably aren’t as prominent these days which is most likely the reason some crowds assume racism is dead since acts of racism are explicit. These days we need to be much more aware of the words and propaganda of racists.
I became aware that I could be a victim of racism when someone I respected and worked with thought my level of intelligence was lower only because of my ethnicity. My friend’s family owns a business so I went in every summer to make some extra cash while school was out and to help them out. The grandpa of the family is now retired but stops in every summer to help out. The shop uses a lot of temporary workers who are often ethnic minorities. While working I heard the grandpa of the family claim that my friend, his grandson, needed to show that he is smarter and superior to the other workers since they are of lower intelligence only because of their ethnicity. He made no effort to shield his comments from the other workers and it took an open and very blunt comment from someone I respected and thought held me to the highest of standards to open my eyes. This isn’t a detailed report or meant to be a life changing article. I just think minorities of any kind can also be blamed that racism and other acts of hate exist if they are tolerant of it. I wanted to bring that thought to attention.
It always brings a smile to my face when people criticize you and then proceed to show with a condescending how-to-actually-complete-this-task instructional session. This situation occurred the other day at work with a supervisor. I work at a restaurant and it was my turn to clean the dishes. Anyone who has cleaned dishes know that when food is allowed to dry onto the bowl, plate, pot, or whatever once carried the food, it is miserable task to scrub the now crystallized remains. It seemed as if my co-workers were all pulling a prank on me that night because none of the dishes that sat in the back waiting for me were soaking. When an unknowing manager saw how long it was taking me to wash the dishes, he suggested that I pick up the pace. If this were the Oregon Trail, this particular manager was looking for a pace above grueling. When I explained my situation, he exclaimed that he had the perfect solution to my problem. He pulled out a brush, where I was using a tiny green scrubby, and explained this is the key to all our problems. He grabbed the large pot that once contained the soup-of-the-day and proceeded to explain that this brush works miracles on dry build ups and that he is full of a bunch of other useful tips. When he rinsed the suds out of the pot, we looked inside the pot and along the walls remained much of the residue that started before the miracle brush went to work. My manager also had the benefit of scrubbing a pot that had been soaked for 15 minutes as I poured water in the pot when I started doing dishes. Fail.
I learned that dried soup is a bitch to clean, there are no such thing as miracles when it comes to cleaning dishes (or ever), and that when you allow someone to show you the correct way to do something and they fail, or have no idea what they are doing, it’s great fun.
Here is a good rule in the Bible: “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.” -Deuteronomy 22:28-29 of the NIV.
If we can take a moment to ignore all the psychological and moral implications of this law the Bible attempts to teach us, I think we should take a second to convert shekels and see how much rape costs. According to this website (http://coinmill.com/ILS_USD.html#ILS=50) 50 Israeli New Shekels converts to 13 dollars and 50 cents. A mighty steep fine for any man to pay. With his newly acquired $13.50 and his daughter’s psychological state in shambles, the father could take his daughter to the nearest Subway and enjoy a couple of those $5 foot-longs. Or better, he should pocket and save the $13.50 because he has a wedding he will need to help support.
Rape victims often suffer from psychological trauma afterwards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_trauma_syndrome). To force the victim and victimizer to marry is not a penalty to the rapist, it’s penalizing the raped. To force the two people to a lifelong bond is salt in the wounds for the victim.
Foreword: I started this blog about a month and a half prior to its posting. I had a bunch of chores come in between and general laziness. If the blog seems a bit disconnected, I do apologize. I thought about scraping the entire thing, but in the end my what-the-hell attitude got the best of me. It’s not like I have a journalistic reputation I must upkeep or anything. These are just private scribbles.
I didn’t write at all during the month of July. It would be a shame if I let another month go by without opening up Microsoft Word to punch the keyboard with my pointless rants.
I thought I moved on from being irritated by religion, but over the last few weeks, religion has managed to aggravate my already unstable mood*. This last weekend we had a guest pastor give a sermon. This sermon was of interest to me because sermons are usually in Korean at my church, but being that the guest pastor is a Caucasian pastor, he gave his sermon in English. I would fully understand what he was saying and I would be able to dissect it myself. At first I was excited for the sermon, but my excitement quickly changed to anger. His sermon was titled “An Awesome God We Serve” which I had nothing against. He would soon go on to describe how god (The Christian god in this situation) has made everything very simple for us, and that he is so awesome for creating such a simple life, world, and rules to live by. He went on the praise creationist and attempted to pick apart the theory of evolution. He claimed that the universe is simple and that it could only have come to be by a designer. How arrogant to believe that the cosmos is simple. It is light-years from simple. Life is not simple. If it were, we wouldn’t have so many problems. The pastor also claimed that the government should change all its complicated laws to 10 simple commandments, because life is that simple thanks to Yahweh. How difficult it would be to govern the most powerful nation on Earth with 10 simple rules that came to be thousands of years ago. People often make the mistake of applying old traditions that don’t apply to today. Then later, the pastor hacked down the 10 commandments to 2 to make it even simpler. It reminded me of a part of one of George Carlin’s acts where Mr. Carlin deconstructed the 10 commandments. The clip can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwNow966px4
Mr. Carlin also broke down the commandments down to 2 simple commandments
Maybe I’m still young and I have some revolt in me, but it troubles me that people are so comfortable living in these traditional ways, slipping into their neat cubicles without any thought. I am being pressured to actively date and potentially find a marriage partner. Although I have no issue with finding someone you love and trading promises of eternal loyalty, marriage seems like such an outdated practice that many of us don’t need in the 21st century. Marriage seems to be an old practice that had many benefits long ago, but might not make sense today. For example, people are often shocked when they see a couple who has been married for 30 years have a divorce. If the split is mutual, it shouldn’t come as such a shock. Humans did not have as long of a life expectancy back when marriage played a prominent role in society. People were not expected to be with someone for 50 years. Marriage, like religion, is a false security blanket we no longer need in the 21st century.
I will end this blog by saying that “The God Delusion” is not a good book to carry around in public. Unless you are looking for a discussion and having to defend a position.
*At this point in the blog, I go off on a wild tangent that I felt distracted from the main point of the blog. I didn’t want to waste the babbling I already jotted down, so I thought I would insert it as a footnote. After reading this footnote, you can thank me for taking this portion out.
My mood is unstable these days because I’m looking for a place I can call home. Some place where I feel like myself and I look forward to going to. This humble stack of lumber and nails that sits on the edge of Plymouth served me well when I was in junior high. I think I wasn’t always comfortable here in high school, but that’s because I was a high school student. Most normal high school students could have everything going for them, and they would still rebel and still would be discontent. College was a turning point in my life, and so I wouldn’t say I felt most comfortable at home then either. I think to an extent, I had a home in Korea my second time around. I hated how small my place was and that most of my rooms were community based, but I was able to situate myself the way I thought was best. Work was great because I felt appreciated and I did something that I felt was important. However, Korea is not a country I can feel fully comfortable in because of the language barrier. I am extremely strict on myself when it comes to communication, so to have a handicap is unbearable at times. I am doing some soul searching (it seems I’m always doing some sort of soul searching) trying to find my place in America. Right now, I’m jobless and I don’t have enough money to pursue anything. My parents consistently give me a difficult time and treat me like I’m 14. I understand I sound like I’m 14 by writing such a statement about the state of my relationship with my parents, but there is no other way to describe what’s going on. I’d like to get my own place, but I am too financially insecure to do anything like that. I don’t know what I want to do with my life to chase anything whole heartedly. I’m hoping something clicks into place soon.
“What is love? Baby don't hurt me. Don't hurt me. No more” *
What a great question it is that Haddaway (Alexander Nestor Haddaway) inquires. In Haddaway’s scenario, although he is not sure what love is, he knows it can hurt and later informs that it is not fair. I am most likely safe assuming we all have a definition of love, even if it is not a perfect definition. Here are the first three definitions given on Dictioanry.com:
1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.
Certainly working definitions, but I’m not sure there is an all encompassing definition of “love”. I should also note that when I talk about the use of the word “love”, I am talking from an American point of view and the way we use to word in English. I feel this is a note worthy because I know Koreans do not use the word “love” the same way we do. Because of this knowledge, I must use caution and assume that other languages might also not use the word as loosely as we do in English. Koreans do not make claims such as, “I love that book!” or “I love pizza!” where we in America throw around the word “love” at every opportunity. This also proves that the three definitions from Dictionary.com do not apply to all situations. The definitions have no mention of, for example, the love for nature, or the love for knowledge. In this case does “love” stand in place for the word “passion”? Of course we understand that both the words might have overlapping qualities, but this is the tricky thing about language. Languages are only as good as the consistencies we give them. For example, an individual might break every rule of grammar in a statement, but we might still be able to understand them. This does not give license to ignore grammar, as grammar is the hope that we do remain consistent with our language, but language certainly is above the laws of grammar. Intrinsically the word “love” is only a syllable of sounds or the contrast between scribbles on its medium. It is the consistencies we give these sounds and scribbles that partially gives the word its value. I say “partially” because I believe “love” gets its other half from the feeling of empathy. “Love” has many characteristics. Passion was mentioned above, and often we hear that love can be unconditional. I have a difficult time making a distinction between the general, store brand, form of love, and the unconditional, Louis Vuitton, version of love because I think love should be unconditional as is.
Of all the characteristics, empathy might be the most important of them all. Empathy gives us the capacity to understand, or feel, another individual even with the limitations of language. There has been a time in most lives where we wished that there were some sort of invention that would allow another person to dive into our minds or the deepest parts of our heart to show them clearly the way we feel. Empathy is that mechanism. I think it can be argued that we can have empathy without love, but I find that it might be difficult to have love without empathy. I cannot say for certain whether women are inherently more empathetic than men, or if the social gender roles have allowed women to grow into a more empathetic role, but I believe a point can be made that women are generally more empathetic than men. At this point in the history of human beings, the phrase “the history of man” applies better than, “the history of human beings.” The world we live in is certainly a world created by men. It is bewildering that women were (are?) treated as inferiors for much of our history. Although conditions are not perfect yet, we have made vast improvements. I believe had it been “the history of woman” the world would be a much different place, and might have been a better place provided that women are inherently more empathetic, and not just empathetic as a reaction to the gender roles that were created by man.
Lately, I have been contemplating a lot about the meaning of love and this constant search for it. I am beginning to learn that the important thing is not to let “love” consume you. Like with many things in life, you have to take it as it comes and in the portions nature rations. I have a love for many things. I have a love for people, a love for knowledge, lately I have discovered my love for nature and the cosmos, I have a love for my family and friends, I have a love for animals, I have a love for art, and I was lucky enough to experience a love for a woman once. There is plenty of love out there to be discovered, to be shared, and to be given. Our responsibility is to keep “love” in motion.
I've been in love with the library lately. It's such a great place, full of resources to enhance your mind and life. I'm afraid that with all the budget issues, libraries might soon be on the edge of the cliff. I surely hope this is not the case, as education is the great equalizer. Institutionalized education isn't the appropriate system for everyone. Some people would rather pursue an independent education, and the library is a great place for people with that preference to go.
Anyways, I'm not using this entry as a plea to keep the libraries a vibrant place. I checked out a book titled, "The Atheist's Bible" before my road trip to Denver. I originally wanted to borrow Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion," but the two copies at the Plymouth library were checked out. Located near where "The God Delusion" would be was "The Atheist's Bible," so I grabbed it and thought I'd check it out on my way to Denver. The book is simply a collection of quotes about religion. Some quotes are serious and others very humorous. I took notes on some that I liked and I thought I'd share them. At points I got lazy and didn't mark good quotes, so this is not a list of the best from the book.
"They say God is everywhere, and yet we always think of him as somewhat of a recluse."
"A tyrant...should always show a particular zeal in the cult of the gods. People are less afraid of being treated unjustly by those of this sort, that is if they think that the ruler is god-fearing and pays some regard to the gods; and they are less ready to conspire against him, if they feel that gods themselves are his friends."
"You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep-seated need to believe."
"I get letters constantly from people saying, "Oh, God will look after it." But he never has in the past, I don't know why they think he will in the future."
"If God listened to the prayers of men, all men would have quickly perished; for they are for ever praying for evil against one another."
"The Way to see by faith is to shut the Eye of Reason."
"In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that has happened in politics or religion."
"If absolute power corrupts absolutely, where does that leave God?"
"Travler: God has been mighty good to your fields, Mr. Farmer.
Farmer: You should have seen how he treated them when I wasn't around."
"When I was a young boy, my father taught me that to be a good Catholic, I had to confess at church if I ever had impure thoughts about a girl. That very evening I had to rush to confess my sins. And the next night, and the next. After a week, I decided religion wasn't for me."
"Morality is of the highest importance-but for us, not for God."
"It was of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a person God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
"I believe in God, only I call it nature."
-Frank Lloyd Wright.
"So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospel in praise of intelligence."
"What is it the Bible teaches us?-rapine, cruelty, and murder. What is it the Testament teaches us?-to believe that the almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married, and the belief that this debauchery is called faith."
"If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities."
"If someone were to prove to me-right this minute-that God, in all his luminousness, exists, it wouldn't change a single aspect of my behavior."
I decided to review chapters 5 and 6 of the book of Matthew in the New Testament. We have been reading through Matthew at one of the churches I attend, so I wanted to go through it one more time and hash out my thoughts into text.
I will start by copying and pasting the New International Version (NIV) translation of the chapters, so if you are familiar with the chapters, or if you only care to read up on my thoughts, please move on to the bottom half of this blog. I will list the specific verses before I share my insight, so you can conveniently and quickly reference the verses.
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 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.
Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
The Fulfillment of the Law
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Eye for Eye
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Giving to the Needy
1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Treasures in Heaven
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[c] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[d] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Before I being my deconstruction of the two chapters, I will apologize for any formating issues that might have occurred when I copied and pasted. I went back and corrected any of the issues that I could see will skimming through.
From what I was taught, the words in Matthew are the direct words of Jesus, but written by Matthew. I don't know why Jesus couldn't have just written these words himself, but there seems to be a lot of middle men in The Bible. Maybe Jesus was a poor writer, perhaps he couldn’t afford any papyrus, maybe he was too lazy, or maybe he was too proud to write his own thoughts. Regardless, the words are Jesus', but only as Matty remembers them. Defining the source becomes a bit more difficult when you look up the Gospel of Matthew on Wikipedia (my go to source). Wikipedia states that, “The Gospel of Matthew does not name its author.” And no, I will not provide a footnote and link, because I’m lazy and I don’t want any more formatting issues. I think I post to 5 different blogs, so it might become a hassle. It’s on Wikipedia, it’s not that hard to look up. Continuing. If anyone has any more knowledge on the source of this book, please educate me.
(Chapter 5:13) “You are the salt of the earth.” That Jesus sure does have some great metaphors. I personally think that calling your troops “salt” isn’t the greatest term to motivate or unify them, but hey, I can’t even get my own mother or brother to follow my philosophies. Now, I’m not assaulting salt in anyway. Salt is great, and has historically been great. One day, while waiting in a hotel room for my friends to wake up from their drunken night in Busan, I quietly watched a Discovery Channel segment on the importance of salt. People back in the time of Jesus might have appreciated salt a lot more as it was a much more precious commodity during those days. We have an abundance of salt now, whereas it was harder to come by in those days, so I don’t think people will take the words, “You are the salt of the earth,” the same way the desert dwellers did in Jesus’ time. Sure, it’s important to keep a more direct translation of Jesus’ words, but this is the New International Version. Perhaps I should have gone with the Contemporary English Version (CEV) translation to see if there are any changes in language. If I ever master The Bible and I feel confident enough, I think I might pump out a few of my own translations. I want to make a criticism immune version and name it The Hip International Version (HIV), or an overly flamboyant version named The Famously Awesome Gloze (***). I think there is some money to be made in making The Bible into a hip book and appealing to a wider audience. It would get the children back into reading The Bible; a demographic many religious groups are highly concerned about. Anyways, the point is, if you’re going to be the New International Version, get with the times.
(Chapter 5:17) “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Nice, a little friendly competition. I have to be louder than you, to take your spot in heaven. I criticized Jesus for being a poor motivational speaker above, but he quickly made up for that. Plus, Revelations chapter 1:1-7 makes it sound like only 144,000 people get into heaven anyways. “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.”
It sounds like heaven is a pretty exclusive club. After reading that, I thought about abandoning this blog and immediately getting to work so I could claim my spot in heaven. Then I realized all 140,000 vacancies are reserved for Jews. That’s very confusing because you can ethnically be a Jew, and you can religiously be a Jew. I can convert to Judaism to better my odds of getting into heaven, but I can’t choose to be born a Jew. I’ve been taught this Jesus is a pretty fair guy, so I’m going to have to assume that the seats of heaven must be reserved for people who practice Judaism. I was raised a Seventh Day Adventist, so I’m pretty damn close to being a Jew without actually being a Jew.
(Chapter 5:23) “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Please, please, please, make sure you leave your gift at the altar before you go to your enemy to smoothen things over. We wouldn’t want you to come back empty handed and make an extra unnecessary trip across the desert a fourth time just to go back and get your offering. We’re just looking out for your best interest.
(Chapter 5:27) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Looks like after I complete this blog, I will be one right eye and one right hand less of a human being. I don’t about the rest of the world, but I have a bunch of hormones pumping through my body and sometimes it’s awfully difficult for me to battle these hormones. If there are any drug companies out there that would like to tackle these hormones, I’m sure there is some good money to be made here. Lastly, can women not commit adultery? Well, unless you’re a lesbian looking at a woman lustfully. The odds of me getting into heaven are looking slimmer with each verse. Not born a woman, and not born a Jew.
(Chapter 5:31) “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Women have no say.
(Chapter 5:38) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Man, getting into heaven is seriously going to cost me. It’s also going to cost the members of Seal Team 6. Good job on getting Bin Laden, but good luck getting into heaven. Let’s say I’m walking down a dark, isolated Minneapolis alley one night, and someone jumps me for my new high end cell phone. During the assault, this thief breaks my arm and shoots me in the leg (this is America; the thief most likely posses a gun). This passage tells me to pull myself up with one arm, onto one leg and tell the criminal, “Hey, my iPod Touch is in my other pocket and my wallet is in my back pocket. Oh, while you’re at it, can you break my other arm and shoot me in my other leg, please? But can you please wait until I sit down, because if I fall over when you shoot me in my other leg, and I land on my cheekbone and break it, you’re going to have to put in more work. Thanks dude.”
(Chapter 6:2) “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” I don’t even know how to play the trumpet, so I think I’m safe in that regard. Didn’t Matthew and Jesus tell us in the last chapter not to criticize our enemies? Yet they call the people in the synagogues “hypocrites.” Now I’m really confused because they are now breaking the laws set by them only a few verses ago, and they are making fun of the Jews, who have exclusive rights to every vacancy in heaven. And what is with that max capacity of heaven? May Day Stadium in North Korea, which has a max capacity of 150,000, can seat more people than heaven. Apparently this global economic depression has hit Yahweh’s wallet and has hit it hard. Kim Jong Il has more in his bank than the Yahweh.
(Chapter 6:16) “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” I’m not here to question the wisdom of Matthew and Jesus, but I’ve done research on well being and nutrition over this last year, and fasting is not a healthy lifestyle. Let’s pass on fasting.
(Chapter 6:22) “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Finally, some good news! I have perfect vision, so I can say with confidence that my body is full of light. And why such hate for having more than one friend? I’m all for quality over quantity, but if you make two quality friends, isn’t that better than only having one?
(Chapter 6:25) “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Man, chapter 6 is so much better than chapter 5. Lately, I’ve been very concerned about life, and what I eat and drink, and about my body, and what I wear and look like. I suppose if we don’t need to worry about our bodies, we should try fasting. These are tough economic times, so if we can slash what we spend at the grocery store, that will equate to more money in our pockets. Wise, wise words from Matthew and Jesus yet again. They had the foresight to predict these tough economic times and were willing to share great money management tips. I’ve been revolutionizing the way I eat over the last year. A lot of people go on “diets” for a month and revert back to their normal diet, but I’m trying to make a permanent lifestyle change by changing the way I eat. It’s been tough because I’m not that great of a cook, although I’ve been learning. It’s a relief that I can stop my pursuit of searching for great tasting and healthy recipes, and just eat whatever I want. I cut out a majority of sugary drinks, but you better believe I’m buying a 24 pack of Mountain Dew this weekend. I’ve also been enhancing my wardrobe, because I’m hoping to land an interview soon. People have always told me you want to make a good first impression and go into the meeting looking sharp. Well, Matthew and Jesus make a great point about the flowers burning. Looks like I can stop spending money on fancy clothes. Yet again, another great money management tip. However, the line about flowers does generate a question. Does heaven not have any flowers? Yahweh plans on burning all plants? That’s kind of a bummer, but I’m sure there are better things in heaven. And lastly, I’ve realized PETA and PETA 2 hasn’t read The Bible. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Jesus and Matthew suggest that we are more valuable than animals. So, I suggest to PETA and animal rights activists to conserve their energy and not get so riled up about the rights of animals. They aren’t even that valuable! All those people concerned about polar bears losing their habitats, and all those people concerned about Colony Collapse Disorder (CDC) need to chill out. It’ll take care of itself.
This is my first entry since returning to America. I’ve been meaning to write for a couple of weeks now, but writing always got pushed back for chores that needed more immediate attention. I just got back from gym where I didn’t go for my run tonight because I forgot to bring a spare shirt and I didn’t want to wear a drenched gray shirt on the way home. Because I didn’t go for my run, I came home and I had some spare time. I juggled the options of watching Real Time, playing Tetris, or writing with my unexpected time. I figured I had put off writing for far too long, and I told myself even if I don’t get all my thoughts into text within the next hour, at least I will have purged some of my thoughts. So, even if my thoughts here are incoherent, scattered, or just plain stupid, I owe it to myself to sit for the next hour and just talk to myself.
2010 was not an easy year for me. However, I think it might have been the best thing to happen to me. It took me a while to find myself, but when I did finally emerge from my metamorphosis, I found myself much more composed, confident, and able. I’m not exactly sure when I did break out of my cocoon, but I can guess that it was shortly after I arrived back home. I needed some time to settle in, analyze, and crystallize when I got home. Everything seemed to be stuck in a giant magnetic ball, and I needed to pull each hunk of metal and put it into its place. I had so much fun in Korea this time around, and I met so many people that I hope I can stay in touch with. I don’t see these relationships growing because of the distance and language barrier, but I appreciate meeting everyone I did. However much I’d like to be optimistic, my realist side speaks louder. I found that in the last couple of months, my senses of analyzing myself and the people around me have greatly heightened. I don’t just give my friends, family, and myself the benefit of that doubt anymore. Again, maybe it’s the realist in me that wants to kick and scream. When objectivity doesn’t get its Captain Crunch, it’s going to make a scene in aisle 6.
I’ve realized I haven’t done the best job of putting intelligent, articulate, and sincere people around me. When I was younger, I thought loyalty was the best thing I could offer anyone. I was willing to blindly go into battle for anyone I felt was close to me. It was always about putting someone else ahead of me. Someone asked me a long time ago, “If you knew your parents were wrong, would you still defend them?” At that time, that was an easy question, however, I can’t say I feel the same way anymore. I focused a lot on myself and developing myself via various avenues after my heartbreak. I was so depressed, I searched and searched for anything that would help me break the grasp that depression had on me. I focused on what made me feel better, what made me a better person, what made me a more productive member of society. I haven’t found an absolute answer as I am still in the middle of my escapade, but I have picked up bits and pieces along the way.
One thing I learned is that you need good people around you. You can take this journey alone and you will need a good crew to aid you. So I looked around and I didn’t see a lot of people. The lack of people didn’t bother me because I believe that quality conquers quantity. So I looked again, and I noticed that I had neither quantity nor quality. I noticed this more and more towards the end of my trip in Korea. One of my favorite ways to spend my time is over a meal with people having a great conversation. For me, nothing makes me forget about time like a good conversation with great story tellers. I noticed that I could spill out my thoughts just fine, but if there is not a comprehending audience, it’s hardly worth my breath. It really hit me hard when I couldn’t even explain the elementary terms “bad” and “sad” to one of my friends. I don’t think it was because of a lack of articulation on my part, because some of my other friends understood my stance. However, I wouldn’t completely discredit that reasoning either. It very well could have been my lack of communication. Call it arrogance; call it confidence, I still think it’s unlikely. This same friend still doesn’t understand that Europe is not a country. So I started stepping back during conversations with people to see what else I could see, to see what I might have been missing. I realized that when some of my friends talk, the only response I can generate inside my mind is, “what the fuck is this guy talking about?” It’s strange to think, and a bit horrifying, to think that it might be time to break away from these people you have spent so much time with. By “break” I don’t mean completely cut any sort of connection with that person, but that I don’t need to be around that person as often as I used to be, and that I don’t need to go to these people in times of crisis or when I have something I need to bounce off of them. If this were pre-2010, I don’t think I could have broken away, but I think because of what I went through and the independent development I focused so much on, I am able to do this comfortably and confidently. I’ve learned loyalty is much like pride. It can be used for good, but like with anything, too much will make you blind.
It is still a bit unsettling to look around and see that I am pretty much on my own island. That’s not to say I don’t have anyone I can trust. I actually had a very good dinner and conversation with two friends a couple weeks ago. They allowed me to get a lot of things off my mind and helped me refine and reshape my thoughts. I feel like I’m going through this identity crisis, where I need to figure out where I fit in. I’ve changed a lot, and the people around me have changed a lot. I’ve noticed that when I share my ideas with my peers, they usually shake their heads and smile in agreement, but really never move forward. It wouldn’t bother me one bit if they didn’t use my idea and moved forward, as long as they are moving forward. I’m not so naïve that I think I have all the answers or that I’m so progressive. It wouldn’t bother me if we all moved forward at different paces, but some people to me are just too complacent. So again, it comes around to this identity crisis and wanting to know where I fit in. I can’t be the only person like this. Where do I go to find other people like me? Who do I ask?
Another element I seem to be struggling with is my family. I’ve noticed I’m a lot different from all the members of my family, and that’s okay. You can choose your lover, you can choose your friends, so when I’m upset with my friends, I only have myself to blame. However, you can’t choose your family. You have to learn to live with them. As I mentioned above, I learned not to blindly defend my family. If they share some ignorant line like Sarah Palin is their writer, then that’s something they have to be responsible for. All I can hope is that the people who are listening to them don’t automatically attach me to my family member. I’ve learned that my family is not very good at communicating. They would much rather just assume that the other person knows what they are thinking and feeling, and then when they realize that the other person doesn’t know, they resort the yelling. I tried to remedy this issue by bringing up issues before it got to that boiling point in a calm and friendly tone. I wanted to be able to discuss before emotions rise and no productive discussion can be had. Just last week, I was told to be quiet on 3 the separate occasions because I was “being annoying” for bringing up issues I knew were present. A couple of times I was told that it wasn’t the right time. That response confused me because the topic had already come up, and I was just putting in my thoughts and thought it would be worthwhile to dig deeper into the subject. When I asked for a clarification, (again, in a polite tone) of why the conversation had to end only when I spoke, I was told because it wasn’t worth getting deeper into at the moment. I asked when would be an appropriate time, and I was told, “Later.” “Later,” most likely means when the issue is flooded over and is too late to prevent. I’ve realized it is so typical for people to lack foresight and completely skip on prevention. I don’t mean to make it sound like I have infinite foresight, but I do write foresight into my agenda. Not thinking about the next few steps makes me nervous. I need to know that my next step will be on solid ground. So I learned that I am not allowed to speak freely, or at least as freely as I want around my family. This paragraph is not an attack on my family or to say that I don’t respect them. They are my family and I know when I need them, they will be there. There is always a level of blind loyalty when it comes to family. I’ve just learned that my choices don’t match with the choices and ideas of my family members. I tried teaching my family how to recycle. We drink bottled water, and it hurt me to see all those plastic bottles going into the trash. My mother has been pretty good about recycling, and so has my brother. However, my father doesn’t believe in recycling and thinks it is inconvenient. I can’t see how the system I created for our home is inconvenient. I added an additional receptacle near the trash bin in our kitchen where most of the trash is collected. The two bins are about 4 feet apart. So, it isn’t inconvenient to him in terms of physical distance. Well, I guess it could be, but you have to be a real piece of shit person to let 4 feet stop you. Sometimes the recycling bin I added is even closer depending on which side of the room you are coming from. I assume it is mentally inconvenient for my father. Having to break out of a habit, and having to spend an additional 5 tenths of a second to determine of the object in his hand is recyclable or if he should dispose of it normally. A good thing that has finally come from years of discussion is I finally talked my mother into trading that lousy Chevy Suburban in for a more eco-friendly vehicle. She had the opportunity make a larger leap than she did with her Santé-Fe, but at least it’s an upgrade. What really confuses me on this issue is I had the foresight as a 7th grader. In 7th grade, a neighbor of mine drove a Geo Metro. One day while my friends and I were walking, someone pointed out how tiny that car was and another friend of mine informed us that although small, the car gets about 50 miles on a gallon of gasoline. It occurred to me that if the Metro is safe, reliable, and affordable, that it would make a great vehicle because at that time, there was nothing that could compete with 50 miles per gallon. Not only does that help the environment, it makes sense financially for the owner as well. If a 7th grader can understand this idea, I don’t understand how this philosophy doesn’t make sense to adults. Now I get that the Metro might have been inconvenient, loud, and plain un-sexy, but we really can’t make that excuse anymore with the hybrids that are out now. Sure, the aesthetics of these hybrid vehicles might not appeal to everyone. I certainly believe what is beautiful depends on the person. However, for the most part, these hybrids are slick and generally appealing. Although the number of these intelligent vehicles is growing, you still see new models of Suburbans on the road. These new model Suburbans and Tahoes comes with these Flexfuel labels that make the buyer feel like they are doing some good. I’ve been tracking this electrical car movement, and I know it doesn’t solve everything, but it is very exciting to follow.
So, I think I’ve fully entered phase one of an identity crisis. I don’t know if there are phases and levels to be achieved like a role-playing video game, but to benefit this blog, I’m going with it. It’s kind of a painful place to be in, but on the other side of the coin, it’s kind of a beautiful position to be in. I feel like I’ve been given a canvas and I am able to do with it what I feel. I do not want to paint the next picture of my life alone. I have been contacting new contacts, old professors, friends, and anyone who I can bounce ideas off of. The largest obstacle I’m having to hurdle right now is being able to craft my thoughts so I can express them in a way others can understand. The other person has to be able to understand my position, before they can help me out. I’m hoping that once I find a job, an opportunity, or a platform, I will be able to fill in these gaps and find out where I belong in this world. The goal is to leave this place in better shape for the next batch of thinkers and lovers. I do not want to be on the wrong side of history. Please help.
This blog is a bit late. I usually write this blog on the first of January, but my life hasn't exactly been "typical" since about February of 2010. I actually just pulled up and finished reading my blog from January 1st, 2010. The author of that blog definitely sounded like me. Lots and lots of babbling and run ons. This blog will most likely be the same.
I remember I challenged myself in 2010 to push my boundaries. Try something, and to be afraid. I imagined that my 2010 would include some hurdles, but that I would ultimately overcome with only a few stumbles. I had no idea that I would fall on my face, get completely broken down, and would need to rebuild myself. 2010 has to be one of the toughest years in my life, but I guess that's what I asked for. I think I'm still in the phase of reconstruction, but I've put enough back together where I can think straight. I wasn't unhappy in early 2010, but I was coming out of college and I couldn't help but think I needed to do something. My parents were pressuring me, my friends were leaving me, and it just felt like I needed something. That's not to say I wasn't grateful, 'cause I'm always grateful for what I have. So, in late January, I decided that I'm going to take a leap and try teaching English in Korea. I put my information on the Internet, and immediately the offers started to pour in. I now know why it's so easy to get a job in Korea teaching English, but of course at the time I was completely naive. Most people don't care about the quality of people they are hiring, and there is a large demand. If you appear to speak English well, and they can make money from you being in Korea, they will hire you. It took me about 2-3 weeks to filter through offers and finally settle on something that sounded decent. Looking back, there were so many things I did wrong, and so many signals as to why I was headed for a shitty situation, but how could I know at the time? I still can't decide that if given the chance, would I do things differently in 2010, or would I have played things the same way. Maybe in a year or two, I'll be fully healed and I can look back, laugh, and I'll fully appreciate the lessons I learned. However, as of know, it still stings a little so I can't be sure. I think I can comfortably say that I'm over J.L.S. Fuck that place, fuck the people running that joint, and fuck the 3 months I was in Jeonju working there. I'm more angry that I wasted 3 months of my life there, the time of my family and friends, and a lot of money. The poor families that pay that shitty institution hoping that they actually care about their children. They don't give a fuck about the kids that come there to learn. They actually wanted me to lie and tell the parents that I have 2 years of experience teaching English to Korean students. I didn't have an ounce of experience. What I did have to offer was a lot of passion, and a genuine love for people. I came to Korea fully expecting to bust my ass and to try to improve the lives of other people. Not only my students, but hopefully everyone around me. I just wasn't given the opportunity. I learned some valuable lessons, so my time there wasn't completely a waste.
It's no secret, but the biggest thing that made my 2010 a storm of confusion, anger, depression, and many other emotions was my interactions with a girl. Again, looking back, I don't know if would change going in Korea, and I don't know if I would change ever meeting Jinlan Song. It's stupid that a girl could have this type of impact on someone. It's really, really, stupid. I still don't think I understand how I could feel this strongly for someone. I wrote in plenty of blogs before, that I don't think I understand what "love" is. I still don't think I understand what "love" is. I am, however, starting to think there are different types of love. I love my parents like crazy. I love my brother like crazy. I used to love my friends like crazy, and I think I still do love them, but my definition of loving friends has changed a lot. If I really did love Song, then that is the most frightening, up and down, depressing, happy, confused, fuck-shit-fuck-shit-fuck, what a fucking bitch, flavor of love ever. Now again, I don't know if I what I felt for this girl was actually love. My little 24 year old mind thinks it is, but I can't be sure. Either way, that saying of losing love than never to have loved makes a lot more sense to me now. It's stupid that having someone could make you that happy. It's really, really stupid. At the time, feeling that fragile and vulnerable feels great, but you feel like trash when you're falling, and then when you hit the ground and you're broken.
I can't say that nothing good came out of heartbreak, because plenty of good came out. I learned a lot from that lying bitch (Haha, I'm still bitter, sorry!) I learned that I need to treat my parents better, and that I should appreciate the people around me and I trust that much more. I'm also a lot moreof health conscious because of Song. When I learned that everything she told me was all bullshit from her little whore mouth and that she actually had a boyfriend (again, a little bitter), I immediately started to search for answers why she would lie to me. One of the first responses my stupid little mind made up was that I was a fat piece of shit. So, I started to focus on my health a lot more. I completely reshaped the way I ate, and I hit the gym everyday. Eventually, I got to a point where I was going to the gym twice a day for about 6 hours a day. I was obsessed, and it helped me get my mind off of her. I dropped 25 pounds in 2.5 months, and I put on some muscle. This lifestyle change is something I practice today. So, thank you, Song, for changing that part of my life.
I'm still a little confused as to why someone would tell you that they have all these great feelings about you, tell you they care about you, never tell you that they had a boyfriend the entire fucking time, and then just abandon you. Well, I understood the whole abandoning thing after I learned about the boyfriend. I actually learned he wasn't even a boyfriend, he was actually her fiancé. Again, I just don't understand it. But, whatever. It's over with now, and the experience has really motivated me to improve my life. There's a part of me that still wants the best for her. I mean, I really cared for this girl (and I have to refer to her as girl, she's definitely not a "woman" yet). There's also a part of me that wishes that her stupid ass has a serious case of karma and steroids. And when that happens, I want to point and laugh.
So, now that I've hashed out my feelings about 2010, what about 2011? I really have no idea. I'm writing this blog sitting at my desk in a tiny little town in Korea. I've given more than a year of my life to this country. I have a month left here, and when I go back I'm not sure what my next move is. I'll continue to improve my health, I'll definitely need income, and I'm hoping to continue and find some avenues for art. This summer, I'm really excited to start my own garden and learning how to cook tasty and healthy meals. I eventually want to go back to school and continue to enhance my mind. Lately, I'm obsessed with health, and I'm obsessed for knowledge.
This is a very poor blog, haha. So much of it was just me bitching about my 2010. It has nothing to do with 2011. I guess that's what my problem is, I'm looking backwards a lot, and not forwards enough. Oh well, it's time to go home, and I don't want to miss these awful country side buses I have to take to get home.
I probably won't have a lot of time to blog until I get home, but I'm hoping to squeeze one or two more in soon.
This shitty essay was written about 3 weeks ago. I was asked to write an essay for a workshop. I pretty much wrote it all in one sitting (I was told one day ahead of time) and revised it once. I haven't read it since or changed it, so it remains shitty. I thought I would just post in anyways. Some thought did go into it, so I may look back at it in a year or two and laugh or appreciate it.
An American Story Teller In Korea.
A Personal Story.
Teaching in Korea for any native English speaker is going to be a life altering experience regardless of background or where one comes from. Every individual story is going to have its own unique wrinkles. My story certainly has its own characteristics that set it apart from another teacher’s, and that is what I’m hoping to share with this short essay.
When I was asked to write this essay, I was not given any parameters and with only a day’s advance, I did not have much time to write a polished essay. Luckily for me, my tendency to procrastinate during my college years has prepared me for writing last minute essays. At first I thought I would write an in depth analysis about the differences and difficulties an American would have to adjust to when coming to teach in Korea. I wanted to prepare a quick comprehensive guide that future Americans could use. I quickly threw that idea out because I would not have enough time to get enough research gathered to write an intelligent paper. I needed to think of a paper topic that would be intriguing enough to hook a reader’s attention, without having to condense hours of research into an already busy work week. Then I thought of a great idea while taking my one and a half hour bus ride to work in the morning. I could just write about my experience and my philosophy. With this topic, the only research I would need to do is search my own soul and hopefully have enough eloquence and time to write an articulate and interesting paper.
“Story teller” is basically what a teacher’s duty is. It is the job of a teacher to infuse his or her personality into a story; mix it with enough creativity and life so that his or her students will absorb the moral of the story. That is how I viewed my teachers during my high school and college years. I graduated in 2009 from the University of Minnesota with strange little degree called Studies in Cinema and Media Culture. People often ask me to clarify what that translates to, and as I do not have a concise answer to that question, I find myself typically giving an extended explanation. Basically the major skill my department wanted to teach us were critical thinking, being able to understand our surroundings, and having enough skill to take that information and turn it into something. This is why I think the job of a story teller and teacher is such an important job.
My story is unique in that I come from America with a Korean-American background. I had a slight understanding of how difficult it would be for an American to come to Korea and live here. America is land of many luxuries that allows Americans live in excess. I knew there might be obstacles that I would have to overcome that maybe some other foreign teachers might not face because of my Korean-American background. A big part of me did not want to come to Korea because I was afraid of the challenge. However, I had a powerful encounter with a Korean student during a short stay in Korea earlier this year. I visited a hakwon one of my cousins worked at as a special guest. I did not have much prepared for the visit, so I simply asked the students to ask any questions they had about America. Most students asked me simple questions about Hollywood and if I like the Simpsons. However, one female student caught my interest as she asked critical questions about the current social situation in America and how it differs from the social situation in Korea. I was more than happy to answer those questions, give her some historical background, and compare Korea and America with her input. It was about as pleasant a philosophical conversation I could have with someone who I did not speak the same language as. After the students left the classroom I let her teachers know how intelligent the student seemed to me. To my surprise, her teachers informed me that they consider her one of their lower level students. I asked them how that could be and they replied that her math and science scores were too low for her to be considered a high level student. The news stung when I heard it because I am someone who never excelled at math and science, but was always able to keep an intelligent conversation going with my versatile knowledge and the power of free thought. The ability to think creatively and outside society’s boundaries is not a skill that can always be taught. Sometimes it is a natural gift, and I felt strongly that the student I met that night had that gift.
I returned to America in the spring completely changed from my time in Korea. I wanted to leave my comfort zone, and my journey gave me more than I asked for. I was crushed by the cultural differences, I was left bruised by the isolated feeling I had everyday, and Korea even supplied me with my first heartbreak. I wanted to shake off my depression and so I continuously searched for something that would lift my spirit. I made many dinner and lunch plans with friends and met a lot of new people. I hoped that during those meetings, I would get to share a story and get a good story in return. I reconnected with some old high school friends and during those times of conversation is when I felt like my happy self before my trip to Korea. One of my friends that I reconnected with had just gotten back from China where he taught English. I shared my story about the intelligent student with him and he informed me that he saw the same thing happening in China. He told me that he was thinking about going back to China to give students with the ambition of free thought an outlet to express their creativity. His words made in impact on me as I wished the same for the student I met, but I did not know what I could do for her. I slept on my friend’s words for a couple of nights, and then it hit me that although I might not be able to help that specific student, I could go to Korea and try to give other students that are in the same situation a platform to express their creativity.
I am still trying to find the person I was before my first trip to Korea, but during those few hours I am working and interacting with my students, they become my main focus and I am able to put my issues into the periphery. I am their story teller for the forty minutes I have them and to strengthen their minds is my task. I have had the chance to meet other native English teachers since arriving in Korea and not all of them are here because they feel that education is the path to a better future. Most of them are here to make a few extra bucks with taking advantage of a free vacation. I, however, am not here for a vacation as my initial trip to Korea taught me that this is not a comfortable place for me. I am here for one reason and that is to promote critical and free thought. I do not know if I will make an impact, but I will never know unless I try. If I can make an impact on just one life, I will have accomplished something great as a story teller. If I can progress the lives of a couple of students, I will have paid back the debt I have to the story tellers that came before me. I still have some time left in Korea and I do not know where this time will take me or what sort of difference I will make here. My hope is that I can return to America and feel like I have accomplished something, and hope that my students can someday become story tellers and pass on our story to the next generation of thinkers and dreamers.