Once Upon a Time in the Early Morning Revelry

wet horizon

I’m staring at my shoes again. I am a footwear aficionado. It’s the butter-colored laces that define me.

I’ve never been more alone.

The analog skin of my 44mm ceramic Apple Watch Series 5 is frozen at 4:04. Tiny hands holding my future hostage. Rage retreats behind a trembling terror.

Stop crying. Remember how to breathe.

Recite mantra: you are more than where you are. Erase the memory of how I got here and where I thought I was going.

This nightmare will never end. Eyelids beyond my strength to lift.

Wet soil swallows me to my ankles. Primordial parasites feast on my middle-aged flesh. It will be a slow inconsequential death.

Immediately overtaken by the impluse to cum but the thought of mud-drenched tennies turns the blood in my shaft to liquid nitrogen.

This is not a dream. Today yet another cheap remake of yesterday. Diminishing returns deposited daily into a vast neural network of vainglorious self-loathing.

I haven’t always been 41 but as long as I can remember I have been:

Untrustworthy with a weapon unable to hunt can’t fish have a blog I don’t write in shop at natural grocers drive a financed Subaru watch porn meditate vote Republican cry at the movies fuck single moms with high body counts go to therapy to cry about the movies I cry at and the women I can’t fall in love with.

I swear to Christ I have no idea who did this to me but I know I can’t do forty more years of grandiosity suspended in lethargy.

I’ll drag the razor across my wrist on Denali in the spring. Sacrifice my flesh to feed grizzly cubs. No search and rescue will be deployed. Life insurance will pay my auto loan. FMLife insurance lapsed I’ll have to postpone till next year.

I’m breathing normally now but I once held it for 37 years. Then, one afternoon, violently exhausted a seething vitriol in the direction of my 75-year-old father casually sitting across the dinner table from me at the time. It was a fatally slow burn. His heart stopped four years later pulling him unnaturally from his bike onto his neck. He died almost instantly.

I was jealous when I got the call because he died poetically painlessly.

I am going to die on the shitter with perfect abs watching my only two bitcoins go to zero staring blankly into the fertile faces of every woman I failed to love.

This is reality. Reality is an abstraction. Especially her, the one who got away. She appears to me now in grotesque twilight while I grope to caffeinate her from my consciousness.

She’s wearing a flower print dress with a small mustard stain on the shoulder strap, a sunflower in a field of poppies. Supple ladies lactating in biological response to the crying toddler holstered on her back.

There’s a sprinkler. I look down. Shoes washed clean.

I roll over and pen my plan to win her. It doesn’t sound grandiose against the chorus of crickets outside the aluminum-framed bedroom window.

Renounce all other women retain all semen write this manifesto buy a gun enroll in BJJ surgically remove my tear ducts quit therapy stop going to the movies get a hobby that requires other men but doesn’t require their wives’ approval – maybe fishing, pay off debt get insured edit my blog into the next great American memoir of early morning revelries.

What do you think?

My First Father’s Day Without You, Pops

No son thinks of a day when his dad isn’t there. For a young man, his father is a fixed entity who will go on forever – whether he likes it or not – moving the world to make it safe for the tribe.

A son imagines growing to be the man his father would be proud of, stepping either into his shoes or over them, but never absent his influence. His father is like gravity to his young consciousness, inescapably drawing him into the form he must become.

And now my dad is dead and I am left to finally answer the question every father demands of their sons:

‘Who are you without me?’

-fathers to their sons-

But without you here, the answer I worked all those years for now eludes me, leaving behind a mixture of anger and desperation in its wake.

Like the man who traveled a long distance to end up where he began, holding only a map to nowhere.

I started working towards autonomy around the age of twelve when I landed my first five-figure job. Around that same age, I began regularly testing my physical limits via manual labor, various athletics, general fitness, and diet. As a sophomore in high school, I weathered my first ‘La Noche Obscura,’ with a half-dozen more to follow over the years, each time emerging more spiritually whole. Mentally and emotionally, I have done my fucking work wrestling my shadows.

Bike Crash

Relentlessly I strived,
getting up early to grind. 
Even sat on the cushion and cried, 
refusing the instinct to hide. 
And now you rode off and died
leaving me untied.

Yet, beyond the burning horizon of my anger, I know there’s more to our story than a dead end.

I know a man’s journey is helix shaped, stretching out as we circle round, and that I am neither lost nor defeated. I know that your passing has indeed brought me home, that this is a good thing and brings with it another, richer perspective.

I know that I can now hold a looking glass to our history and absorb whatever it is I see without a point to protect.

I can now see how you maintained a silent steadiness about you, consistently working away like a windmill to deliver power to those nearby. I see how you would engage with almost anyone who rode your bus but chose your circle carefully. I see where you would measure a man’s intentions against his contributions, weighing his character in the balance. I see how you searched for the truth behind the facade and freely shared all you could discern. I see that you pressed on down the trail of life, striving for inner stillness through tireless motion. I see whenever you fell, you got up.

All except this last fall from your fat tire Specialized. The fall which claimed your life on the banks of the Minnesota River at age 79. From this fall it is I who must get up on your behalf.

So get up I will.

Rest in peace pops, Happy Father’s Day.

Commemorative tweet from the location where he was found, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge


This is a passion piece. No links. No sources. No pics. Just you, me, and what I believe.

I believe in speaking truth to power. I believe in freedom of expression. I believe in the innate goodness of the universe and human beings. I believe that everyone alive is pro-life for that very fact and that life itself is sacred. I believe that whatever the question, more freedom is the answer.

I believe that the greatest men and women in history have bled and died in service to these principles and that rescuing our future from its dark trajectory now rests on our ability to follow suit.

I believe that Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) is both a mirror and a looking glass, reflecting and projecting our darkest tendencies and greatest potential as a single race of living beings.

Historically, such visionaries have been crucified by the masses at the behest of the ruling classes in service to the status quo – Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King. And, although 3000 years of recorded tradition is yet to teach us this lesson, beauty, truth, and love cannot be killed by murdering the messenger.

But enough abstractions, let’s get specific.

Despite what you choose to believe, Ye is not a racist. He is not trying to start a second Holocaust. He is not crazy, off his meds, or dumb.

Ye is a 45-year-old black man born in Atlanta, raised by a single mom on the south side of Chicago who rose to the top of the creative world in several industries. Under Ye’s belt lies 22 Grammys, 10 consecutive #1 albums, a presidential run, Yeezy brand apparel which has rescued two companies from financial and cultural obscurity, the accomplishments of becoming the wealthiest black man-wealthiest recording artist-wealthiest designer-in history, his own academy with sports teams, and on and on. All this without selling out or compromising his vision. Not once.

No one in the music industry believed in his vision to be the best-dressed rapper in the game, that his beats and lyrical ability could wrestle the culture from the death grip of gangsta rap. Ye did that.

No one believed that he could survive putting on the red hat, that his vision of freeing African Americans from the democratic plantation of block-voting which has delivered decade after decade of diminishing returns would alienate him from his base. It didn’t. Rather he gained a new one, empowering the likes of Candace Owens and others to elevate their voices in the fight for family. Ye did that.

No one believed that a prominent rapper could sell a gospel album. Jesus is King hit #1 on the Billboard top 200, and in over 100 countries worldwide, creating an entire Sunday Service church choir in the process. Ye did that.

No one believes that his current commentary on the evil embedded within the entertainment industry will lift a finger in the direction of freedom. We would rather nitpick his language, his approach, his tone, and his timing in order to cheer on the ruling class as they collude to crucify him and everyone he loves. We say he deserves it. He says he can take it. Ye does that.

We are witnessing a Dark Knight moment in history where we get the hero we need, not the one we deserve. The hero we need, of course, is the one willing to address the pain of the present, rather than hide behind the pain of the past.

Even if we choose to believe that Ye is an anti-semite, that his comments were inspired by hate and not love, and that he should be punished for saying them in order to protect the collective from another Holocaust, even from this perspective, we still have to ask ourselves, what cultural conditions caused the Holocaust? Slavery?

For if, in order to preserve the present, we have to employ the worst tactics of the past, what future do we deserve?

Teetering on a Precipice: Soar into the Golden Age or Slip into Darkness?

In their book, ‘The Fourth Turning,’ William Strauss and Neil Howe outline a predictive framework for the United States which is well summarized by the Michael Hopf quote:

‘Strong men create good times, good times create weak men, weak men create bad times, bad times create strong men’

G. Michael Hopf
Vote on the poll to see where you stand relative to the rest of the OSM community

Unpacking the idea we learn that every 20 – 25 years, as a new generation comes of age (referred to as a ‘Turning’ by the authors), there is a predictable shift in the national zeitgeist. Each Turning has identifiable characteristics rendering the theory ripe for extrapolation. The book, written in the mid-’90s, estimated that we would enter our next Fourth Turning (bad times) around 2008, the previous Fourth Turning kicking off with WWI, roughly 100 years ago. Strauss & Howe go on to describe, in general terms, a large-scale disaster that sets off a dramatic series of events, effectively pushing our society into a generation-long era of significant, irreversible change. To see us through, a ‘grey champion’ emerges as an unlikely and largely unsung hero.

Was the 2008 mortgage crisis and resulting Great Recession the event that kicked off a 25-year national rebuilding phase? Are we behind schedule and perhaps it is the COVID19 global pandemic? Will history recount Donald Trump or Joe Biden as the grey champion of our time much as Woodrow Wilson was in his? We can’t know for sure at present, but it would certainly be hard to argue that, as a people, we are experiencing anything other than a significant and rapidly changing cultural-political moment.

Tensions flare in the wake of 2020 US Elections amidst allegations of voter fraud

But let’s walk through the argument together to make sure we are on the same page, starting with the understanding that civilized society is held together by its shared culture, defined as:

The arts, beliefs, customs, institutions, and other products of human work and thought considered as a unit, especially with regard to a particular time or social group.

American Heritage Dictionary of English Language, 5th Edition

Borrowing a biblical allegory, if culture is the language we use to describe and navigate in the direction of our shared future, we are at the Tower of Babel, confused and dispersing. The more fractious the culture, the more prime the society for decay, revolt, and/or takeover. Or as historian Luke Kemp puts it in his 2019 BBC article:

Collapse can be defined as a rapid and enduring loss of population, identity, and socio-economic complexity. Public services crumble and disorder ensues as government loses control of its monopoly on violence.

Luke Kemp

And if scrolling thru twitter comments or tuning into any political commentary isn’t enough to convince you of the eroding culture, take a look at the current state of two of the most influential cultural players in the US, Government and News Media.

Image Credit: https://medium.com/trust-media-and-democracy/10-reasons-why-americans-dont-trust-the-media-d0630c125b9e

And while this moment of cultural decay isn’t entirely unique in history, the wealth, technology, sheer population density, and diversity sure are. Translation: the spectrum of possible outcomes, both constructive and destructive, is measurably wider than in the past. Therefore, we have both more to gain and more to lose than ever before; one might say we are teetering on a precipice of epic proportions.

Image Credit: http://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/fulcrum-810×420.jpg

Staring over the edge and down into the abyss, we can imagine a darkening future where the worst elements of the current moment, enhanced by the greatest weapons, communications, and transportations technologies mankind has ever known, erupt on the scene and swallow us up, ushering in a modern-day dark age. I really don’t like delving into these types of doomsday scenarios as so many other outlets do, but do want to point out that it would not be the situation itself, rather our inability to communicate, compromise, and come together that would ultimately doom us to destruction.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We could step back from the precipice, turn, and open the gates to the greatest Golden Age that mankind has ever known, fueled by all the same drivers. But what is a Golden Age?

The idea of a Golden Age first appeared in the Five Ages of Man, an 8th-century BCE creation myth composed by the Greek Hesiod, an epic poet the likes of Homer. Hesiod’s vision of the Golden Age – supposedly imparted to him by the Nine Muses while he tended sheep – describes a time when Man was indistinguishable from the Gods. In this age of peace and plenty, there was no suffering, no toil, no death.

Image Credit: https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse1.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.CLBULDqUbfM_lWbigI_gjgHaDE%26pid%3DApi&f=1

I’m not talking about immortality, omnipotence, or any other supernatural phenomenon, but I did grow up hearing that I could achieve anything I put my mind to and I can’t help but wonder what would happen if enough people did that collectively.

So how do we get there from the mess we are in now? Stay tuned for the next article but I’ll leave you with a hint: as you likely have figured out by now, I’m a strong advocate for the Jordan Peterson school of thought, ‘fix yourself, fix the world.’ Put another way, we can’t sit back and expect broken people to fix us, or blind people to lead the way.

Time to lace up our shoes, open our eyes, and get to work on our own Golden Age.

Staying Healthy During COVID19/Coronavirus Pandemic

Image Credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/B93uZPvThKc/maxresdefault.jpg

I live in an apartment complex and was at the dumpster yesterday taking out my trash. As I came around the corner, I saw someone else arriving with several bags. Looking closer, I noticed the items were mostly unused perishable food. My blood started to boil as my mind jumped to, ‘You’re throwing away food that others could use.’ My attack impulse was triggered.

But before I could open my mouth, I noticed a combination of fear and shame on his face, he wasn’t expecting to be seen. I shifted gears, ‘These are interesting times, you and yours doing ok?’ From there the conversation evolved into a back and forth about fear and what to do about it with one line from him especially resonating with me;

‘For me, my panic is worse than the disease itself.’

dumpster guy

Walking away from the exchange I committed to fighting and winning my own battle with panic and sharing my strategy with you.

Here’s my strategy compressed into a Top Four List:

  1. Stay Appropriately Informed – selective news sourcing and social media strategies
  2. Stay Physically Healthy – healthy bodies when health care unavailable
  3. Stay Mentally Healthy – mindset training and educational resources to weather the storm
  4. Stay Emotionally Healthy – enriching relationships while practicing social distancing
Image Credit: https://images.idgesg.net/images/article/2018/01/overwhelmed-man_stressed_analytics_information-overload-100745862-large.jpg

Stay Appropriately Informed – selective news sourcing and social media strategies

The starting point for appropriate action is always accurate information, but how do I get reliable COVID19 info without getting overwhelmed by contradicting reports, scorching politicization, ridiculous memes and/or misinformation? This is the first question we are collectively attempting to answer.

I have been using this time to filter my social media feeds for content that is helpful, positive, and substantive. Crisis brings out the best and worst of us, both off and online, and in the midst of the madness I can’t afford the worst. I’ll leave you a sampling of what has survived my digital cleansing:

  1. For raw stats on the infections, deaths, recoveries and serious COVID19 cases, see this link: Coronavirus Dashboard
  2. Not a huge fan of government agencies, but there is a ton of good info on the CDC Homepage
  3. For an hour long episode of everything you need to know about the virus, check out Dr. Paul Cottrell’s YouTube Interview – for more on Dr. Cottrell, see his webpage
  4. Stefan Molyneux’s SubscribeStar feed has lots of coronavirus content and updates several times per week
  5. For a list of positive coronavirus happenings see my recent Facebook post
  6. For social media philanthropy, there is none better than Bill Pulte
  7. For uplifting memes and web content I like Kevin W
  8. For reminders on how awesome people can be check out People are Awesome on YouTube

Each of these links has actionable information that has helped to both keep me informed (I’m not hiding from reality) and active (I need productive things to do to keep my mind occupied). From a foundation of informed action I can build the rest of my practice.

Image credit: https://blog.mass.gov/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/179032177.jpg

Stay Physically Healthy – healthy bodies when health care unavailable

Our healthcare system is likely to be overwhelmed with patients and in some areas, already is. Test kits are hard to find and effective treatments still in development. Since I’m not a doctor, I will focus on prevention rather than medical cures and since hygiene and social distancing practices have been widely circulated, I won’t attempt to add to those conversations.

First and foremost, exercise. In most areas, gyms are closed but thanks to the advent of CrossFit, equipment-free core exercises are commonly known and readily available. If you’re like me and refrained from joining the movement, see the Seven Minute Workout video for a great daily routine that you can use to get your home fitness routine started. You’ll be amazed at how much of a sweat you can get going utilizing only items you already own. Physical activity while quarantined will feel good and help keep more than your body in good shape.

A close second, eat a healthy diet. Even though there has been a run on food items, I have still found most produce and common staples to be available. I would expect this to be the case throughout the pandemic as perishables are not good candidates for hoarding. Here is a list of a few recipes that convert fresh ingredients to meals that store well in refrigerators/freezers, mix and matched with various fillers (potatoes, rice, noodles, etc.) and taste great. Invite your kids into the kitchen to help you cook, make it fun.

A few miscellaneous items I’ll leave here for good measure include:

  1. Vitamin Regiment – this list includes both everyday health supplements as well as homeopathic remedies to carry inventory of in the case you become sick and health care isn’t readily available.
  2. Intermittent Fasting – this practice has helped me stay at my ideal weight for over a year, and will help ration food over a longer period of time. Not to mention that, if combined with basic healthy food choices, keeps you out of maintaining complicated diets and calorie counting. I prefer the 18/6 method described first in the article.
  3. Cold Showers – I’m not saying every shower has to be 100% cold, but the health benefits are plentiful. I’ve been doing them several times/week for over a year and can speak to almost every single one of the positive outcomes listed in the article.
Image Credit: https://blog.lafitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/MentalHealth.jpg

Stay Mentally Healthy – mindset training and educational resources to weather the storm

Your mind is an integral part of your health and garbage in equals garbage out. If the first couple months of this crisis are any indicator of how the rest is going to play out, rest assured that we will continue to be bombarded with negative news cycles, doomsday predictions, political infighting and all kinds of other mental poison. On top of that, we are likely out of work and home with kids, trying to stay positive and active with the outside world mostly shut down.

In no particular order, here is a list of content to keep your mind positively and productively occupied for months on end:

  1. A list of 50 of my favorite books, almost all available as ebooks or audiobooks
  2. The best mindset book I ever read because it was the most practical and easy to apply is Gorilla Mindset, and there is even an online Master Class
  3. Looking for good online self-work, see Dr. Jordan Peterson’s Self-Authoring Suite
  4. The always great Kahn Academy has partnered with Disney to create Imagineering in a Box if you’re looking for some supplemental online educational content for kids of all ages
  5. Piper company has posted a list of helpful resources for parents looking to try homeschooling either temporarily or for the long haul
  6. The man who introduced me to peaceful parenting and who has homeschooled his daughter since birth has published a YouTube video with several insights from his experience as a homeschool dad
  7. Tuttle Twin books are great reads for freedom lovers and have content for almost all ages
  8. If you are looking for classical Christian educational content, there is none better than Dr. Duke Pesta’s Freedom Project Academy
  9. And, if all else fails, try putting the TV on mute and turning on subtitles – at least you’ll be reading!
Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1893054450828030&set=a.703318293134991&type=3

Stay Emotionally Healthy – enriching relationships while practicing social distancing

If you’ve taken any of the advice above and created some positive habits, you’ll be noticing improvements in your emotional health. Maybe, like me, you’ll be frequently surprised by positive emotions that sneak up on you like the gratitude I experienced for all the people who had come together to deliver essential food to my local Aldi’s in the midst of this crisis. Instead of scrambling through the store in a hurry to elbow out my fellow shoppers, I moved slowly through the store, gathering the items I needed and making casual conversation every chance I got. This was just the positive experience I needed to help prepare me for the dumpster interaction at the top of this post; who knows how that interaction would have gone without the positive setup. Without the dumpster interaction, I may not have written this article, and so on.

Thing to remember is that emotions are mostly an output of behavior, but also act as input into decision making. Keep your emotional energy positive, see below for a few examples that are especially applicable in this time of social distancing and sheltering at home:

  1. Write a letter to anyone you know in a nursing home, or call if you haven’t already
  2. Call a different loved one everyday and tell them 3 things you cherish about your relationship
  3. Create a gratitude journal and write one thing you’re thankful for in it everyday, post your favorites on social media – this growing list will help combat the negative news cycle
  4. Double down on your prayer or meditation practice – but as little as a few minutes each day can do wonders
  5. Spend quality time with those you are quarantined with – board games are a great option

That’s all I got for now, hope you found it helpful. Stay safe & healthy out there and leave your comments below.

Thank you.

Teams at Work

image credit: http://mysportsmentor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/MSM-815×380-sprintStart.jpg

2020 bolted out of the starting block and has not looked back. At the office, after nearly two months of productivity-killing but life-enriching vacation leave at 2019 year-end; the first six weeks of 2020 have included heavy ramp up for two separate multi-million dollar project launches, a site visit from senior leadership and a customer audit. 75% of our team has less than 12 months’ experience, not to mention our day to day workload is up 5% y.o.y. and getting more complex all the time.

The setting is a rurally located 24/7/365 Distribution Center for a Fortune 500 CPG company – blue-collar America at it’s finest. The operation is kept alive by 200 employees who work shoulder to shoulder, day in and day out to ensure high-quality paper products are delivered on time and in full to your favorite retailer’s rain, snow or shine. The work is demanding and the market highly competitive requiring continuous cost-saving, value-adding innovation to stay afloat.

I entered the scene at this location roughly a year ago taking a lateral move as a team leader in order to gain new experience and prove to myself prior success was something more than dumb luck. My philosophy was simple: business results are a bi-product of human relations. High functioning human relations are measured in units of trust, which act as a lubricant, reducing relational friction as it increases.

My approach was even simpler:

increase trust wherever and whenever possible

leadership 101

But it’s more personal for me than business. Rather, this business is personal for at least two reasons: my team lost a good man, friend, and grandfather, to a fatal workplace injury in late 2018 and I lost my younger sister in 2013. The lesson in both tragedies being that life is both too precious and short to be taken for granted. Plus, life is better enjoyed and more fun with others, even at work, and fun is only possible where trust lives.

Thankfully Daniel Coyle had, by that time, published a landmark study on workplace culture, what works, what doesn’t and why. In Culture Code, Mr. Coyle outlines the blueprint for successful groups in terms I could understand. Over the last 12 months I’ve worked to employ the principles in the book, measuring success according to the following characteristics outlined therein:

  • Everyone in the group talks and listens in roughly equal measure, keeping contributions short
  • Members maintain high levels of eye contact, and their conversations and gestures are energetic
  • Members communicate directly with one another, not just with the team leader
  • Members carry on back-channel or side conversations within the team
  • Members periodically break, go exploring outside the team, and bring information back to share with the others

The healthier the group, the more its members exude the traits above and the more individuals in the group feel safe to take risks, safe to make mistakes and safe to not get hurt. It is then we relax around one another enough to have fun, the paradox being that is the exact moment we are most productive.

image credit: https://i2-prod.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article6447328.ece/ALTERNATES/s1200/MAIN-children-playing-outside.jpg

I call it focused fun, think children on the playground improvising a new game, simultaneously and spontaneously negotiating the terms, enforcing equality, competing fiercely, creating relentlessly. If you never had this experience in youth, it’s not too late to start.

Take one last nugget from Mr. Coyle before I wrap this up:

‘Individuals aren’t really individuals. They’re more like musicians in a jazz quartet, forming a web of unconscious actions and reactions to complement the others in the group. You don’t look at the informational content of the messages; you look at patterns that show how the message is being sent. Those patterns contain many signals that tell us about the relationship and what’s really going on beneath the surface.’

Daniel Coyle, Culture Code

It is with this perspective I embrace the many challenges that 2020 has in store. I look at them as opportunities to have fun with people I trust and respect. I look forward to celebrating both the successes and failures along the way, knowing that we are building greatness as measured in friendships and memories that will, doubtless, last a lifetime, if not longer.

Thanks for reading, let me know what you think in the comments below.

My Night Sky – A Devotional on Kanye’s Jesus is King Album

Image Credit: http://en.es-static.us/upl/2017/10/minnesota-northern-lights-e1506729594708.jpg

I am alone in the woods in McGregor, MN. It’s late, maybe 11:00p, and I am yelling up at the star-filled sky, ‘Why won’t you talk to me? What is wrong with me?’ The glow from the worship hall at Covenant Pines Bible Camp visible up the path from the clearing where my 9 year old self is lamenting. Seemingly everyone except me is full of the Holy Spirit, singing God’s praises with arms upraised, and I can’t tell if they are faking it or if something is wrong with me. Hence, under the guise of using the restroom, I make my way to a quieter place in search of an answer from above.

25 years later I would first hear the lyrics;

‘Yeah, you’re lookin’ at the church in the night sky; Wonderin’ whether God’s gonna say hi,’

Kanye West, Saint Pablo

The chorus bringing me to tears as I reflected on all that had transpired since that fateful night in my youth. It was only a few years before Saint Pablo, at age 30, that I had all but given up the search for God, taking the position that if He wanted me He could reveal himself, but I was no longer going out of my way to look for Him. I was, by all intensive purposes, an atheist. And yet, at 34, Kanye brought a tear to my eye and stirred a longing long buried, but not yet at rest.

Now at 37, Kanye has released his first gospel album, Jesus is King, and this unlikely disciple is again rustling my spirit against my will.

Album cover image credit: https://exclaim.ca/images/kanye-jesus-is-king.jpeg

See, back in the woods at age 9, I decided it was me. I decided I wasn’t doing it right and that God would reveal himself in His time. I hiked back up the trail, rejoined my peers and counselors in the pews, and resumed worshiping, intent to walk in the light until I found the Way. But, as I journeyed in the years that followed, my light dimmed and, try as I did to remain faithful, time and time again I wandered astray. My valley of the shadow of death was full of struggle, loss, heartache, bitterness and pain.

Not sensing the presence of a higher power to guide me through, I learned to believe in my own strength as well to draw from others immersed in the struggle. I leaned on the philosophy of Stefan Molyneux, the savvy of Mike Cernovich, the stories of Ayn Rand, the industriousness of Elon Musk, and the fearlessness of Kanye West. None of them saints, they all share at least two things in common:

  • an unrelenting pursuit of greatness
  • an uncompromising search for truth

Like me, my role models refuse to take short cuts or water down their reality. In short, we find freedom in the fight.

Image Credit: https://d2gg9evh47fn9z.cloudfront.net/800px_COLOURBOX1580110.jpg

Back when I was still in the church, it was these same attributes which I admired in Jesus. I was drawn to the story of His battle with Satan in the desert and His persecution from the powers that be much more than His resurrection. I dismissed the miracles and mysticism as pure parable, knowing that life didn’t really work that way. I was more interested in the practical wisdom, in continual search for some sort of pragmatic balm to soothe my perpetually wounded soul.

Yet, in my encounters with the purveyors of Christianity, I found a strong tendency to fixate on the salvation story and the riches offered from a faithful life. It felt like the theology of some great cosmic transaction, where the journey could be skirted and the destination was the reward. What I kept hearing was something like, ‘Just hang in there and it’ll get better,’ or worse, ‘It’s you, get your shit together.’ I didn’t find either message useful and both came off as dismissive. I continued to attend service, but at an increasing distance.

While the pastors would proclaim the power of the pending glory and sing hymns of redemption, I would search out the stoics and the story of Job. When I read of the redemptive joy espoused by St. Francis, it was as the result of traveling the long hard path, not the reason for taking it in the first place. As I left the church at age 30, I took with me the spirituality of Dr. Gerald May and Father Richard Rohr, who understand the dark underbelly of humanity, openly explore it and, like my secular heroes above, refuse to whitewash it. Bound and determined to find my own path, I committed to journeying for journeying’s sake and not for promise of future reward.

Merch from Kanye West’s #SundayService at the Fox Theater in Detroit: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EFg-rIHXUAY6sNI?format=jpg&name=medium

Fast forward to last Friday, October 25th, 2019 at 2:00p CST. Kanye dropped his first gospel album, Jesus is King, his 9th solo album in his illustrious career as a rapper, in which he has been awarded 21 Grammys to date. He began work on the album in true artistic form with a full spiritual immersion starting in early 2019, as displayed in his Sunday Service performances in Atlanta, Jamaica, Detroit, L.A., Chicago, New York and many others. I was intrigued, something special was happening. The Prodigal Son has returned home to the Father 15 years after dropping Jesus Walks, millions of listeners on his heels with millions others up in arms.

The spirit of the album summed up on track 8:

‘All my idols let em go,

All the demons let em know,

This a mission not a show,

This is my eternal soul’

God Is’, Jesus is King

And for Kanye it’s more than the album. He’s giving it all to Christ; his music, his fashion, his business, his life. He tells BigBoyTV at the 27:00 minute mark in this 10/25/19 interview, that he wants to be a, ‘Christian innovator.’ He goes on to describe the journey, completely raw and unfiltered as only Kanye can. Not perfect, not scripted, not linear; both the interview and the album metaphors for a life fully lived, full of passion and the constant renewal of purpose. For me it’s a sermon I can relate to.

And, as I sit here ready to push publish on an article I’ve written and rewritten over a dozen times, I can’t help but think that I might have finally found the answer I’ve been looking for in the night sky. The answer that has always been there for every honest pilgrim, still and silent like the cool moonlight: God Is.

So as I close my eyes tonight, I hope you join me in the Prayer of the Journey:

Credit Deacon Allan Barrow, St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, Tulsa, OK

People ARE Policy

Image Credit: https://molacantidubi.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/human-1602493_1280-1024×682.jpg

Ann Coulter recently came out saying she’d support Bernie Sanders For President 2020 if he was strong on immigration.

Here’s my take:

First, let’s be clear: opposing open borders is a position of love.

First and foremost a love of the American Ideal which represents a unique and supreme recognition of both individual sovereignty as well as the sanctity of free dialogue between them. On a metaphysical as well as experiential level these values have manifested the biblical idea of logos into the civilization we know and love today. 

For more on logos and the relationship between the human pursuit of truth and language, see this excellent uncut interview between Dr. Jordan Peterson and Filmmaker Mike Cernovich.

But I digress, back to the topic at hand…

The last 50MM migrants to US overwhelmingly support a collective ideology rooted in pathos, elevating a more emotionally centric group identity over that of the individual.

A pictorial (below) and practical example of this divide is in the differential between migrant and native welfare usage.

The problem is that collective, pathos-centric belief systems pose an existential threat to human existence, as countless historical examples have repeatedly and without exception resulted in escalating power struggles, censorship, violence, totalitarian regimes and mass murder.

We see examples of these same dominos falling around us every day as any comments section will confirm within a moments scrolling.

What I understand – largely due to the influence of great thinkers like Ms. Coulter and others – is that People ARE Policy and, therefore, demographics trump politics.

Simply put, there is no America, no freedom, no future if we won’t protect our borders.

Image credit: https://amac.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/american-flag-1024×683.jpg

Consequences Create Culture

Stefan Molyneux, in a recent international speaking tour with Lauren Southern in Australia and New Zealand, was de-platformed in NZ and has since decided to offer the content free of charge at the link below:

“The Banned New Zealand Speech They Didn’t Want You to Hear!” Stefan Molyneux, http://www.freedomainradio.com, 8/10/2018

In the talk, Stefan makes a case as for why the speech was banned as well as why the ideas are so threatening to the current ruling class.

He argues that freedom requires equality under the law –  no matter the race/identity/class – and is synonymous with consequences (ie: to be free to win means to be free to loose). Consequences are the incentives which reinforce common morality.  A common morality forms the building blocks for a healthy culture. Healthy culture delivers peace, prosperity and increased freedom.

In contrast, he claims, the US and other western societies have created policies which remove consequences for certain groups based on race/gender/class, thereby inverting incentives/morality, destroying culture and limiting freedom for all.  The end game of this dangerous government experiment is national decay and ruin.

An example of government removing consequences would be that every man/woman/child on earth is financed to the tune of $30,000 – meaning I haven’t had to face the consequences of at least $30,000 worth of mistakes. Think no-fault divorce, health care policies which don’t screen for pre-existing conditions, quantitative easing, etc.

I’ll leave the rest for you to ponder, worth a listen or two – almost guarantee a perspective you’ve yet to hear.

Is it possible for government to remove negative consequences from everyday life?  Many modern political systems have been working towards this goal for decades with mixed results.

Millennial Identity

This period in US history will be seen as a coming of age from a national adolescence into into a (hopefully) more mature civilization.

The transition will not be easy and the future is not certain. We as a nation are tasked with bringing only the best forward, shedding the rest and building a better future for our children.

As millennials who have been told what and how to think by government schools and PC dogma, who have been sold the empty hedonism of post-modernism, who have seen their prosperity squandered and culture dismantled, who’s families are broken and institutions are crumbling – we are the ones this country will turn to for its salvation.

It will be upon our virtue, our values, our vision and our resolve that all will depend.

Millennials – we haven’t found our voice, we haven’t come of age as a generation, but the time is coming.

We have been labeled snowflakes and blamed for problems we inherited.

Will we live in to these labels or will we rise up to be more?