Since the Adams have been indisposed as of late and I feel a little awkward being the only one posting on a blog titled “Singular Spectrum”, I’ll be stepping away from the Spectrum for a little while and focusing my efforts on launching a new blog with my older brother, Andrew. He’s an aspiring fiction writer just like me, so we’ll be using our new site at http://newtonandnewtoninc.wordpress.com as a place to host all of our assorted stories and excerpts. He’s working on a fantasy novel right now that’s going to be fantastic, and I’m going to relocate my renovated Short Story Spring project over there, so I definitely recommend taking a look. I bet you’ll find something that strikes your fancy!
Yesterday, myself and many others around the world disappeared from social media for a day to draw attention to the 27 million people who have disappeared into slavery. We spent one day in silence of our own free will, and today we’re back to life as it’s always been, but for those taken into slavery – victims of sex trafficking and labor trafficking – the silence is oppressive, and it is inescapable. They’re trapped in a dark place, without hope, and hundreds more are pulled down into that darkness every day.
They have no voice, but we can speak up for them. They’re kept in shadow, but we can shine a light on their suffering. Go to http://enditmovement.com, educate yourself about the reality of slavery and what people just like you are doing to stop it. Find out how you can join them, whether it be by donating money or volunteering your time to groups like Not For Sale and the International Justice Mission or lending your voice to the End It Movement by drawing people’s attention to the horrors of slavery and urging them to step up and do what they can to end it.
Together, we can drag this issue into the light for all to see. Together, we can bring down the structures and institutions that perpetuate this injustice. Together, we can end the slave trade and rescue each one of the 27 million human beings who suffer under it.
Let’s get started.
Tomorrow, the End It Movement aims to shed light on the reality of slavery by encouraging people all over the world to disappear from the Internet for a day in honor of the 27 million who have disappeared in slavery. We’re changing our profile pictures and backgrounds to a simple black-and-grey version of the Movement’s logo and abstaining from all social media for the duration of February 27th, and we invite you to join us. Go to http://enditmovement.com to read about the devastating reality of slavery in our world, download the disappearing kit to help bring this issue to your friends’ and followers’ attention, and dare to think and pray in big ways about what you can do to help bring an end to slavery – not just tomorrow, but from here on. If slavery’s ever going to end, we have to be the ones to end it, and we have to start now. Join in, disappear, and come back on Thursday committed to shining whatever light you can on the desperate plight of those who can’t simply come back out of the shadows where they are chained.
Some days I try to write and the words seem inauthentic, like my brain is trying too hard to sound thoughtful and intelligent and all that nonsense and won’t let me just say what I want to say. Today is one of those days, so I thought I’d dispense with the formalities up front and declare that this is not going to be an eloquently-worded, heavily-edited post. These are just a few quick thoughts about growing up and getting older from my first day as a twenty-one-year-old.
First, some age-old wisdom that bears repeating: change doesn’t happen in an instant. Milestones of age are not moments of revelation or upheaval, they pass just the same as the minutes and days before them did. If you want to be a different person in the future, start being different now, or that next milestone is going to be remarkable only in its disappointment.
Second, don’t let the past weigh you down. Let it inform you, certainly. Let it encourage you with the memory of your triumphs and teach you not to repeat your mistakes, but don’t let it define you. Don’t get stuck in the lie that you cannot be more than what you’ve done before, or what others have done to you. You can always grow. You can always change. God has redeemed murderers and thieves, brought unimaginable good out of death and injustice, brought the victim and the perpetrator alike into new life. Your story isn’t over, He’s got great plans for the chapters to come. Accept his invitation get up and keep writing it with Him.
Lastly, expect great things from your future. I’m not talking about visualization and the power of positive thinking, I’m talking about finding something that needs doing, something that gets you fired up, that you feel you were made to do, and going after it. You matter. Your actions can and do affect people’s lives daily, and if you make it a point to do good to those people you can make a tremendous difference. Befriend the lonely, uplift the discouraged, love the undeserving, stand up for the downcast. Give because you can, be kind in the face of hate, be the first to forgive and the last to lose your temper. Treat people the way Jesus treated people, and watch what happens. You’d be surprised at what incredible things arise from the simplest of actions.
In the end, all my thoughts on turning twenty-one come down to this: no matter how old or how young you are, we are all living in the present together, so it seems to me that the only age criterion for making a difference is being alive right now. If you fit that description, you can change the world, so let’s get to it.
I wrote this as a weekly journal assignment for my Intro to Communications class and really enjoyed it, so I thought I’d leave it here for you guys to read and interact with, too. The question for the assignment was “Do you think that Philippians 4:8-9 should serve as a guideline for the type of media we view? If so – why do you feel that this verse is helpful in guiding believers through the world of media. If not – what verse(s) or biblical principles do you find helpful and why?” This was my answer:
The way our evangelical community tends to use Philippians 4:8-9 is a lot like a man taking a baseball bat to the country club to tee off – we have a basic idea of what to do with it, but we’re not going about it in quite the right way. Yes, a baseball bat is made for hitting a ball and Philippians 4:8-9 makes a great standard for how we interact with media, but the kind of ball you’re hitting is just as important as the kind of standard you’re using the Bible to justify.
The way we look at Philippians 4:8-9 is far too often as a checklist against which we must measure the content of our media choices. Is this movie pure? Is this song lovely? Is this book commendable, this video game morally excellent, this article praiseworthy? We count the swear words, rate the violence on a scale from 1 to Quentin Tarantino, dissect the motives behind every turn of phrase, and try to draw a firm line between the dark and sordid world of secular media and the Dove-approved, family-friendly, Christian alternative.
The trouble with our approach, however, is that Philippians 4:8-9 doesn’t concern itself primarily with what we watch, listen to, or read. No, the operative verb in Paul’s exortation is “think”. He urges us to think about things that are true, just, honorable, pure, and on down the list. We get so caught up in whether it’s okay to watch movies in which characters speak and act like real people – e.g. not always truthfully, justly, honorably, purely, etc. – that we don’t consider what message their story is intended to convey. What does your mind linger on when you’ve finished watching, reading, and listening? That’s what Paul wants us to consider: not the content so much as the intent.
And yes, sometimes when the content is excessively violent, sexually immoral, or in any other way unwholesome, that can affect our thinking in ways that we’d be best to avoid. But what about films like Blue Like Jazz, which takes place at Reed College and features characters who swear, drink, and get high and includes a lesbian’s crush on a classmate as a central plot arc, yet leaves viewers mulling over such true, commendable, and praiseworthy subjects as forgiveness, grace, and what it looks like to be an authentic Christian in a world full of hypocrites, Christian and otherwise? I’d suggest that to dismiss honest portrayals of humanity because they aren’t squeaky-clean makes us into the golfer with a baseball bat – ill-equipped and ineffective. Instead, we ought to step up to the plate and tackle the media that challenges us to turn on our minds and think about what is true rather than just spoon-feeding it to us in its simplest form, and in so doing fulfill the command of Philippians 4:8-9.
“Hipster” is one of those strange words in our modern parlance that has been tossed around so much that it has lost virtually all meaning. Music, clothing, books, and even attitude can be and often are described to me as being hipster. I, myself, have even been called a hipster, and this hasn’t happened just once. It’s an appellation that makes little sense to me, but that’s probably largely because the very idea of the “hipster” is one that’s fairly nonsensical. Read more…
I guess it could be considered cheating to copy-paste something I wrote on Tumblr (http://thewriterkid.tumblr.com) over to here, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and something I’d like to put before as many people as possible, so here it is:
“Wars are bloody and violent. They produce innocent victims. Are evangelicals warlike? Yes, according to the culture-wars rhetoric. Mainstream media repeatedly depict evangelicals as frightening people with scary agendas. Evangelicals respond by playing the part: the tribe assumes an us-versus-them mentality.
What would happen if evangelicals invited others to dinner rather than challenged them to war?
Pope John Paul II said that Christians should not impose their morality on others but propose a more excellent way. Martin Luther King Jr. said we must love people if we want them to change.
Jesus used peaceful metaphors. He spoke of God as a farmer scattering the seed and as a loving father searching for a lost son. He invited himself to dinner at sinners’ homes. At the dinner table, each member gets to speak, be heard, and be considered family.
Suppose evangelicals approached those they disagreed with as their neighbors and friends, sharing the common goal for a better community and society. Jesus said that his followers will be known by the way that they love others. Bury the hatchet and come to the table.”
- Elizabeth W. McLaughlin (emphasis mine)
I’ve never heard of Elizabeth before but she’s kind of my hero now, because I’m a Christian and it kills me to see so many other Christians take that war-on-this and war-on-that us-vs-them mentality that she describes. The Bible specifically says that our struggle isn’t with flesh and blood, and yet here we are declaring war on the people around us. Reminds me of that Jars of Clay song – “Lay your weapons down – there are no enemies in front of you!”
Suppose we did treat those with whom we disagree, even the ones who are rude or hostile or standoffish toward us, like our friends instead of our enemies. That’s what I try to do, and I’ve found that most of the time the fight just dies down if you don’t strike back – if you offer to listen instead of retaliate.
There’s a lot more I could say, but I’m rambling already. Point is, I’m really happy to read something directed toward my community that addresses one of our greatest shortcomings with such tact and positivity. Because let’s be honest, there are some frightening people with scary agendas among us, but we don’t have to let them be the ones who define us. They’re doing it wrong. Let’s do it right.
Let’s be known for our love.