Sunday, December 25, 2011

Passion 2012 Pre-Primer

On this Christmas day, I ignore Christmas completely. I am gearing up for something in eight day's time. Passion 2012 is a large conference that attracts over fifteen thousand 18-24 year-olds to the Georgia Dome for four days. Every year it gets better, and this'll be my first year being exposed to such an event. I will have a camcorder with me, and will use it to take video logs multiple times every day at the event.

So, what do I expect from this event? Well, Chris Tomlin will be debuting two new songs at the event, “White Flag” and “Lay Me Down”. I have heard these two songs live at Passion City Church, and they are very engaging and amazing tunes.
Passion 2012 will be the David Crowder* Band's last performance before they break up. The band's 11-year running has been nothing but joy for millions, and I am proud to say that I was at their last performance.
Louie Giglio will enrapture the audience every day with his stories and sermons. Though the sermon may be shallow, and a touch corny, I do not grudge him for it, for he shows everything in a different light, one that is sure to keep the people wanting more.
The crowds will be insane. Fifteen-thousand college-age people in one dome. The seating goes out onto the field. It'll be an experience I won't forget.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gaming (Draft)

So, today I will do a post I should have done a while ago. Before I dive into the topic, let me first give my regrets in about two weeks, as the topic of this blog will quickly change to Passion 2012, as I have an obligation to do something so that we can be satisfied I am getting an amount of school time equivalent to two weeks. I'll delve into that in the next post.
Today, I speak of a “hobby” that has taken at least 187 days of time from my life. It has been controversialized due to the overdosing of such activities, and has been directly linked to several disabilities. I speak of gaming.
First, a quick recap of my gaming history, which closely mimics my real life. First was Kal Online, which was as broken a game as it could be. Basically, the publishers decided to release the Korean version in America, forgetting to translate anything. The Americans who got the game, sadly, were shoddy translators. I played this game until even I, with my closed world and innocent eyes, became disillusioned to the worthlessness of it all. Half the game was a box icon.
I moved onto Hero Online, a game I got hopelessly addicted to right about the same time my parents realized I was addicted to video games. Many nights were spent up, hoping nobody else was awake.
After my hard drive crashed, and forgot what the game was called (yes, I really forgot), I went onto Trickster and Maplestory. Trickster (made by Ntreev, or GE Interactive) was a fun little game, though the developers changed several beginner areas quite frequently. Every time I come back to that game, I find myself in a place where everything is overpowered, and sondering how come, since those same entities were beginner monsters a year ago. But I digress; I still consider is a very high quality game, and recommend it to anyone. The graphic and bloom lighting in this game is fantastic.
Another game by ntreev, Grand Chase is an incredibly fun dungeon brawler. You pick one of (I think 13) different characters, each of which starts with a quest line designed to level you up fast. I have yet to see an uninspired dungeon in this game, and playing through them is fun and shaves an hour fast.
Maplestory, though, I consider terrible. It might have been what I played with, or maybe I was doing something wrong, but I went everywhere I could in that game, and was forced to level up by just going around the countryside murdering things. This was an aggravating game, and I left by level 25 (out of 500, I think).
Let's see, where did I go from there... I delved into Guild Wars, and the only thing keeping me from obsessively playing that game is the sheer fact that I can't find the physical disks to install it again. A great game by a great developer, and I can't wait for Guild Wars 2...
After a while, I saw an advertisement for Runes of Magic. It was said to play up to World of Warcraft, as a “free WoW”. Now, as a person who's seen that phrase thrown around quite a lot, I found myself skeptical as I downloaded the game. And I got so unthinkably attracted and addicted to that game. On the one character I have played on that game, I have logged 3, 597 hours of total gameplay. That's 150 days. Almost half a year in three year's time. Sadly, the game didn't do much to warrant my affection. If you look at the business behind it, Frogster America died after three years of uptime, and the European counterpart has assumed control of the American servers. FA seems to have done the worst possible job it could. Now, knowing people inside the company, I know they did what they could. But the game's history is a litany of across-the-board nerfing, mistakes, deleting things on accident, crashing, more crashing, downtime, etc. It is a really terrible game, and I want a refund on my days missed.
Onto greener pastures. I have rediscovered Kongregate, an online game publisher, and have found glee in the game Gemcraft. Also, Nexon made a quite enjoyable game called Vindictus, though I find the game quite unfairly balanced.
So, why do I keep playing Runes of Magic? Well, at the moment, I don't, because all the nerfing has finally caught up to my class (in my eyes, when you nerf one healing class and leave another one alone, and that one you leave alone is already quite annoyingly overpowered, I’ve have enough), but when I did, I only did so because of one word: social interaction. I know most of you are now crying over me, but I have an explanation. I don't mean I find true, fulfilling friendship online, I mean that I simply find that computer games provide a promise of interaction—all I need do is say something and I'll get a response. The game's a giant chat program. Real life provides a suggestion of interaction, though, whereas the interaction online gets only so far (you can't hug, or punch someone online)m the interaction offline can go anywhere. This means, as consistently in my life, the interaction when I present myself to an offline event, I commonly find myself at odds with the real world. Whereas I can sit and think out a response in typing, I cannot in real time. I find myself almost lost.
Though, worry not, I am fast overcoming this. Small talk still evades my mastery, though, which leads to hellish misunderstandings. Oh well. At least the usual physical debilitating effects of gaming aren't seeming to affect me. I thank a metabolism equivalent a bird for that. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Exam Week

Exams. A joyful event where the students of the school of 400 fit neatly into their separate rooms, and take an hour-and-a-half test. The teachers are skipping down the halls, happy and jubilant to answer the student's insightful question in a way that would satisfy the student, yet bring them no closer to understanding the problem. The proctors roll out the mats, as these days are known by all to be “paid rest days”, as there would be no cheating, for it IS a Christian School. The students themselves are calm and collected, as they have spent every moment from when the final exam ended last year til their head hit the pillow the night before the exam today. These attentive children are the most pure, innocent souls God has ever placed on the earth, because He did. They all have their two #2 pencils (and two blue ink pens, just in case), two extra sets of batteries for their calculators, and several extra sheets of loose leaf paper.
Ah, yes, I can feel the calmness and the joy in the air. I wish Exam-mas came every year!
Yes, yes, you may now bludgeon your monitor after reading this.  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

An Observation on Hatred

Today, I delve into the strange methods of my mind again, though simply with an observation of a happening with a classmate in the lunchroom.
As I sit down at the lunch table, one of my good friends turns and asks [censored], “Would you rather have JHBlancs or [redacted] sitting at the table next to you?”
Pause, and rewind a bit. I need to provide some background. [redacted] and [censored] used to be very good friends, as far as anyone could know. During the summer, though, they allegedly engaged in a fight over some man, and have since enjoyed a peaceful ignorance of each other. This is complicated by the fact that they both have practically the same friends.
With this in mind, let's hit the play button on the flashback. [censored] thinks for a second, and responds: “Actually, I’d rather have JHBlancs sit next to me. Congratulations J— wait, wait, you're actually HIGHER on the list than someone else? Wow, good job!”
If you know me closely, you'd understand when I say that I cannot tell you what I said next. Rest assured, I was incensed by this. I even left angry, seconds later.
I can honestly say that those words I said, for what is maybe one of the four or five times in my life, were simply made to hurt. I walked away amazed at my action, whether or not it was earned by her words. I don't understand the use of them. If I was trying to achieve some goal, I’d be justified, at any rate. But the words were simply hatred for the sake of hurting.
The reason I do not engage in such speech is that it never leads to peace and kindness. A bitter thing always leads to another bitter thing, and if I go any further in explanation, I risk using cliches. Just know that my further explanation involves the golden rule, something churchy about Jesus, and kittens.
Another thing I cannot stand is when someone puts me above someone else. If it is an award, or something I put my time into, I will accept it with glee, for I take it in the hope that I earned it more than the other people who did not get it. What is worse is when a [censored] puts a [redacted] lower than me as a slight. This is not to say I am offended by being used to hurt someone else, Though I hate how this harms the other person. I am quite content with my station in life as the less popular person, and when someone puts somebody lower than I with their words, I hate it. Not only does this make said [censored] feel like the master of two souls, but it places [redacted] in a location they are not used to. Note that [redacted] was not present at this time.

[censored], though, seems to get her high from doing just that. In anyone in my high school life, I hadn't met someone so grounded in hatred. For most everyone, I would refrain from giving the word “arrogant” to their personality, though I believe she already has it stapled to her, so the point of calling it her own. If saying this puts me on the spot for being arrogant myself, so be it.
Now, as to why she doesn't enjoy my presence, That is mostly my fault, as I usually say things before I have thought them through. True, if I were to speak this post to a crowd impromptu, I would not sound nearly as intelligent. Unfortunately, I have had many, many opportunities to exemplify this to my class.
[censored] may be considered evil to me, though this is not to say I do not see greatness in her. The reasoning behind it escapes me, but she has definitely a great future ahead of her. If you know who [censored] is, please help me understand her. And, not intending to sound weak, I could use some help to get her to stop, for she has done this far too long, and I grow tired of her.

On a lighter note, I'm going to a rocket launch on Saturday, here's the link:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Many Songs of Christmas (Or, Why My Christmas Spirit will Always be Dead)

Let me tell you what occurred in my car on the way home. While flipping through radio channels, I rested on 104.7, “The Fish”. First words I hear are, “Sir, can I buy these shoes...”
I cannot tell you what I did next, for fear of legal and parental retaliation. Rest assured, my rage was infinite at that moment. When I got home, I was listening to John Lennon, singing Merry Xmas. I thought it was an enjoyable enough song, until I looked it up on YouTube. Here's what I got as the first result.

Rest assured, the weeping African montage did not lighten my mood. I turned on the radio upstairs and listened to the most overplayed Christmas songs on earth. Santa Baby, Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, the First Noel... I could go on, but I wish to keep my sanity in check. While surfing the net, I found myself assaulted by Black Friday, Christmas, Cyber Monday, even a few Hanukah advertisements. Eventually, I logged into my online social gaming, where I was lambasted by my e-friends because I didn't share their Christmas spirit. I feel some pretense is needed to truly explain this.
I never was into Santa. As an inquisitive and curious child, who keeps track of patterns, I realized that there was an inordinately large amount of Santas around. By age six, I was completely disillusioned to Santa, though nobody really knew until two years later.
My family, until I stopped it, would have the Christmas music playing at the start of Thanksgiving at the latest. This is where I began to get disillusioned to Christmas. I also learned to gain a distrust of happy-go-lucky style things, as such aren't to be as great as thought. This isn't to say I didn't enjoy some of them, but if the repetition continues for a month, for ten years, you get tired of it. I would boycott life whenever I heard an annoying Christmas song.
One thing I did, and still do appreciate, are creative ways to celebrate the season. New Christmas songs I enjoy, as do I Christmas Lights. Even seventeen years young, I will yell “I see Christmas” whenever we go by a new string of Christmas lights. As crass as it is, a certain song I cannot repeat by LonelyIsland, about certain appendages in a gift box, which is attached to your hip. Such imaginative songs make Christmas refreshing. Other songs such as this are...yet to be named, but I'm sure they're out there.
Then there are classic Christmas songs, which are classic because they are amazing and have a penchant for being epic. Carol of the Bells is one of these, as is any Christmas hymn (though this one is subject to the overplayed nature of it, and how much it's been changed). I guess when Christmas songs get too annoying is when it gets too patronizing, either in the overwhelming happiness or the undercurrent of depression. For an example of the latter, there is “Do they know it's Christmas 1984” by Band Aid.

I know, after this song finishes abusing your ears, all you wish to do is burn all your liquid assets and donate all your money to oil companies. Don't worry, just go downstairs and leave your oven on as your house's internal heating for a few hours to get back in touch with your wasteful, horrible, worthless life, you evil, evil consumer. Shame. My sources tell me I should not let the prior sentences stay in the post... which I respond with hope that my precious readers keep their valuable breakables well away from their computers.
The rest of Christmas is just annoying. It's become a consumer pit, and the very statement “the true meaning of Christmas” is cliched to the point where saying it instantly garners eye rolling from anybody. This holiday would not be nearly as annoying, if I was not part of the minority on this mindset. Apparently, I am.
Today, I walked into a classroom, which had a Christmas song playing, Carol of the Bells. I like d the arrangement, so I was calm. Then, someone put on Christmas Shoes. It was all I could do to stay sane. Here's the conversation that occurred:

“Can you please turn that off? I don't enjoy it.”
“Oh, but why JHBlancs? It's a classic Christmas song!!! you should enjoy it!!!”
“It's not a classic, it's a depressant. I mean, play something happier, at least.”
*changes to “Baby it's Cold Outside”*
“Nothing. Hey, do you think that window is sturdy?”
“Uh, yeah, it really is, actually.”
After she switched to Chipmunks Christmas song, I made an attempt at the window. Sadly, she was correct about the sturdiness of the window.
I feel the whole of the holiday season's been perverted, and I will have no part of it's merriment. At least, not in the way that most people have. I'll take my Jesus to the corner and be merry with him, without the sounds of Christmas screaming in my ears.
But I cannot even relax with Jesus, knowing it's his birthday. This happens when you were born the day before, the birth of our one Savior and Redeemer sort of casts a shadow and blots your birthday out. On the bright side, I get “double presents” from my parents, though on the downside, I celebrated my 12th - 16th birthday party two Junes ago. I'm not bitter, it's just one more nail in my Christmas Spirit coffin.
By the way, if you are wondering why I was listening to songs I despise, I promised myself I’d spend a day listening to nothing but Christmas songs. And yes, my blood pressure and rage are unthinkably high right now.
And yes, I enjoy being Scrooge here. It's cheaper this way, believe me.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Poem For Today

Since I need to post something, having not done so in several weeks, I seek to do so. Understand, though, that I have not been inspired as of recently to write anything but poetry. Here is a sample. It is the theme poem for Mount Pisgah's literary magazine titled, “Defying Gravity”. I was one of the voices against such a name, because I feel it is cliched. But I digress, here is:

What if..
To defy gravity was to turn around,
to jump off a cliff and never touch the ground?
To go up and never get down?
To go right, when they go left,
the straight and narrow, whilst they cleft,
to be right when they are wrong,
and you both knew it all along!

Once you were asleep; now, awake,
free yourself, see the day,
the world is affected by the choices you make,
so stand up, stand straight, and walk the way,
walk in the sky, liberate!
Bump shoulders with the showman fate!

God will see you, though you not him,
his son gives you wings from the great I AM,
though these not be wings of flesh and bone,
these be wings of a mind well honed.

tell every city, meadow, and glen,
that they are forever forgiven,
the cyclic wrath, the cyclic hate,
with that one word, it dissipates!

Defy the norm in human sense,
aim yourself for godliness,
that high road we can never reach,
but still aim brothers, I beseech,
for in that search, one may find,
perfect union with the one divine,
and in this godless city and age,
that is truly a remarkable change!

(Also, I never knew I could center align something in Blogspot. Learn a new thing every day.)
(Note: I will do commissions and requests for poetry, depending on the subject matter.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Judgment Series: Humanity's Role, and Why and How We Judge

    Continuing on my intrigue into the nature of judgment, I next inquire about the human judgment. Specifically, how we judge, why we judge, when we shouldn't judge, and the irony of judging someone who judges. Considering myself a Christian, I will answer from that perspective, though you may find this explanation would resonate with Atheists. Sadly, upon noticing the prior statement, I can understand if more than a few subscribers without a God refrain from reading the rest of this.

    First though, I must supply a background to my point of view. Being a well disliked person in my high school, I understand the concept of judgment, and forgiveness (check the post on that one a few weeks ago). Many, many people judge me fast, and I accept their judging, for much of what I do is without explanation; The bank robber, in this case, truly does not know how or why the money got in his car. I see every judgment as a way to improve upon myself.

    Put that on the shelf for the moment, and consider: Why do we judge, as Christians? (Warning: digression in progress) As I stated before, in my previous post, Christians are seen as incredibly hypocritical, because we shun people who we judge, and stereotypically despise those who our faith tells us to love. I cite the Westboro Baptist Church, and Terry Brooks as such people (After much thought, so as to be as full and complete in my analysis of each of said party's actions and motives). Another thing, below, speaks volumes about how Christians are viewed:
    The above link leads to an Islamic believer who has posted three videos testifying the nation's general view of Christianity. He created that YouTube page to prove that the Christian's tenet of “love your enemy” is a null and void statement in the Christian eye. The three videos he has posted are quite vilifying. But this man doesn't notice one thing: he states in his youtube page that, just because of these few Christians' hatred, the “loving” Christian religion is null and void. Just because that one pastor could not answer that question, must mean that nobody can. This type of fallacy is called the Straw Man Fallacy, where someone finds a weak mockery of their opposition, and attacks it to the point of making the stronger opposition seem weak and worthless. Sadly, both parties throw these Straw Man into the debates, and these few extremists' points of view are stretched across the whole.
    But I digress.
    I asked, why do we, as Christians, judge? Didn't Jesus say, “Thou shalt not judge”? Or, if not those precise words, some translation of those words? Well, put the Jesus part on the shelf, let's start from the beginning. Flip your bibles open to the Garden of Eden. The world was whole, complete, perfect. Everything was as it should be, and man had complete union with God. Two people could do whatever they wanted to, save for one single thing. The tree itself, I feel has no serious religious importance. The act of disobeying God, that one act, symbolized when mankind fell from perfection, is the focus of the story. The rest of the story consists of both Adam and Eve blaming the other for the eating of the apple, and I cannot say enough how infantile that part made me feel. The first two humans, blaming so fast and stupidly.

    Ever since then, we have been disobeying God consistently, hundreds of times a day. In the Bible, it reads: “Every sin is equal in the eyes of the creator” (paraphrased, check out 1 John 3:4-5). Sin can be simply identified as anything you are involved in that excludes God. Depending on your interpretation of the bible, this can range anywhere, from a thought about a nice girl in your class to murder. As Adam and Eve show, humans judge each other to keep them on the straight and narrow. It's necessary.

“But wait JHBlancs... didn't you say Jesus himself told us not to judge?”

    Yes, yes, thank you for reminding me. This is where some context came in. Jesus was throwing a quick jab at the Pharisees, the holy men. Pharisees and Sadducees were all about judging. They, considering themselves above anyone else, holy men with no mortal equal, handed out judgment like candy on Halloween. Jesus says further down the red letters, “If you tell someone they have a speck in their eye, while you have a log in yours, you kind of need to get rid of the log in your eye first. Otherwise, if you rail them for their speck, it makes you look really bad. Just wanted to let you know.” (paraphrased, and I'll do a post on Jesus' treatment of the Jewish authority of the day, later)
    Jesus never meant to say, “As a Christian, you should do absolutely nothing when you see someone doing wrong, if it means judging someone. Just be passive. Good Christian, good Christian... want a cracker from Christ?,” he meant to say, “Do not judge like the Pharisees do. They're not that fair, you see. Instead, try to judge them as you would judge yourself. Think thoroughly before judging, and keep in mind that you possess the same flaws as they do, sometimes more so than the person you judge.”
On a related note, I hear Christ crackers are delicious. Never tasted one, though.

    This ties back to the irony of a Christian who judges. This is a fun one. Try calling someone arrogant, and count how many times you think, “wait, aren't I being arrogant saying that?” To me, at least, saying this is the human equivalent of telling a computer, “this statement is false.” I just can't handle that statement. Why? Because calling someone else arrogant is telling that person that they judge quickly, with little regard to their own standing. Calling someone that puts you above them, at a level where you can judge the judger as if you are better. So, when I feel it necessary to relate this, I first get away from the person in question, so as to not offend the person, then my statement sounds like this:
    “First, I took a while to think about this... and I’ve come to the conclusion, realizing that I am in no way fit to legitimately make this judgment, that [insert name here], though he may have a lot of qualities, [list out qualities], I feel he is somewhat arrogant. I'm not saying that he is, but it's how he rubs off on me, I guess I just don't like him.”
    Of course, as soon as I say this, someone says, “wouldn't that make you seem arrogant, by saying that?” In response, I slap the person.
    If I would have to weigh my two cents on it, I’d say we judge because it's necessary. God and Jesus are okay with it, so long as we take into consideration that God set standards for both parties in question, and no mortal party is greater than another. Take into consideration all about the other person, the reasons for their faults, the justification for their wrongdoings. Never call someone out from a position of higher authority, always seek an equal debate. And, paramount to anything else, make sure you keep in mind Jesus' teaching, and the word of God when you see a fault. For, if you leave God out of your mind, then your position is only backed up by your loose mortal standings, and you fall. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Judgment Series: God's Judgment (Work In Progress)

(Note: I still have yet to pass this with my biblical authorities, so take the religious truth of this with a grain of salt)
If you've read my post of forgiveness, you'd understand me when I say I am not quite the most popular student at school. People often pass judgment on me, and most of the time I judge myself much the same way. The most interesting part of this is when you take in to account that I attend a Christian school (though we refrain from daily prayer, which is strange).
      Many people today scoff Christianity because, amongst a mountain of other problems which I will address later, we come off as extremely judgmental. They look at our judgments and then say “Well, if you are Christians, and you say, 'only God is fit to judge, since he's the only perfect being', yet you judge constantly!”, then they throw the hypocrisy card, and Christians as a whole cannot combat their accusations.
      I do have an explanation, though I must add a disclaimer before hand. You'll see the asterisk for this disclaimer later in the explanation, though I feel I must make it know beforehand, to increase the likelihood of someone actually reading the rest of the post.
*JHBlancs realizes this is an incomplete description, as it does not address the actual reasons behind judgment. In order to truly grasp the concept, JHBlancs (hereafter referred to as I) has agreed to add another post in short time about other aspects of the topic. I will only speak of God's judgment today, so as to clear up misconceptions. Later, I will speak on human judgment.

When one accuses a Christian, and said Christian balks as he realizes the accusation is true, both parties misinterpret the word in question. “judgment”, I (and many of my mentors) believe, has a double meaning, though they are similar. There is the human judgment, where one man tells the other he has done wrong, and then seeks to punish the man. Then, there is God's judgment, which is more complex.
Allow me to paint a picture:
     “A man walks into the small, rural gas station. He planned everything out: kill the clerk, cut the phone lines, rig the place to blow, then get out of there with the safe. Once the police figure out, he would have been miles down the road, dropping the safe off in a lake. Then, he'd run into the wilderness, where he stashed enough supplies to live to months.
     “As he looked around, he instantly recognized problems. There was a family with three children in there with him, and one child screamed when he saw his handgun when he shifted his coat. The father came up to him and inquired about the handgun. In response, the man panics and punches the father in the face, throwing him on top of the little-most child, suffocating her. The wife let out a scream, which the man cut short with two bullets. The clerk brought out a shotgun, but the man was too fast and killed the clerk with two more bullets.
“The two remaining children were breaking apart, their lives completely destroyed. The man decided to leave them as he opened the register, finding less than eighty dollars in there. The man went for the safe, which was too large for him to lift. Still in a panic, he ran out into the vehicle the family came in with, stole everything of value, and, being close to the Canadian border, escaped to Canada.
“The search for the man was fruitless. The two children would never return to normalcy, despite the therapy heaped upon them. The family of the killer, already in shambles, fell completely apart, as this was the final push to shove them all apart; none of them would ever speak to each other again
“As to the man himself, after making it across the Canadian border, pawning off everything from the vehicle,and driving hundreds of miles from anywhere, in the freezing north of the Northwest Territories, the ghosts of what he did still plagued his mind. He stopped his car and walked for miles into the cold. Finally, he took his pistol out, put it to his mouth, and pulled the trigger.”
     Now, I will not judge this, though I can tell you where God was. God was there, God gave the man the choice to buy the handgun, to execute the plan, to kill, to steal, to run away, to suicide. God was there. I believe that God gives us choices. That is the first part of his type of judgment. Adam and Eve were both given the choice of whether or not to disobey God, and they did.
     The second type of judgment happens when the bullet ricocheted through the man's brains, killing him painlessly. I will not speak of the man's verdict, though I will say, “that Jesus was the defendant's lawyer, and God was a merciful judge. They went through all the choices God let him make, not in the last days of his life, but his life as a whole. The prosecutor, Satan, put in his expert witnesses, all attesting to the man's damnation, though God already new their testimonies. The man himself was frightened and awed. When all was said and done, judgment was passed.”
I will speak on heaven and hell later.
     God doesn't hand out judgment in the human sense, he hands out judgment in the way that ultimately makes sense. He wants humanity to come to him by their own volition, and if he plays any part in our salvation, he feels we have been cheated out of our true heaven.
     For, if we come to know God and Jesus by meeting Him halfway, when both parties know that God forced the mortal into the immortal's path, then the temporary man does not truly understand salvation.
More to come on this topic.

(For interesting insights into Death, Time, Hell, Nature, and other themes, look for Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series. Don't expect it to be biblically accurate. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Remembering the Dead

Ezekial Stephens lived between 1793 and 1872. In 1812, he fought in the war of 1812, as a private of the Tennessee militia. Years later, the children would run up to his porch, and be enraptured by his endless tales of the war, many of which he did not have to exaggerate for dramatic effect. The children would then promise they would never forget him, and then proceeded to spread the news of the man. He was a local legend, some say he charged in at the head of the cavalry, though close friends of his would tell you differently.
I found this man at Garrett Cemetery, formerly known as Old Holly Springs Baptist Cemetery, in Cobb, Georgia. It was between a Shell gas station and a salon. The church that was once attached to it is long since disappeared, most likely the salon possessed it. God's acre itself was only identifiable by a wrought-iron gate. I would've never known about it, if my father hadn't pointed it out while we were walking by it. A thick cloud of shrubbery and trees hides it from the public eye, and, despite the exorbitant amount of traffic going by on highway 92, the air inside the eternal home was cold and silent. The sky was bright blue above, yet everything seemed muted.
I stood at the entrance, feeling as If I had intruded upon a symphony, or a meeting in which everyone present was raptly at attention; I felt forty-two stares. I couldn't say anything, for fear of disturbing the marble markers more than I already have. There were two boxed in sets of graves, with “GARRETT” and “FOUTS” on them. The Stephens were arrayed on the opposite side of the acre-sized grave site. One tombstone, almost ten feet from the entrance, was unintelligible.
Ezekial is simply one of forty-two internments at this cemetery. Each one of these people had a rich history; I put Ezekial's name, and my description above of the man is directly referenced from
How many people are forgotten within a hundred years of their death? I would have never brought the memory of those forty-two back to the light had it not been for a comment from my father. Do not try to be remembered in this life; It is a futile attempt. Only a few select people may be remembered for eternity: Jesus, Plato, Newton, Aristotle... Even Shakespeare is slowly dying, the light of his glorious penmanship weeping for lack of someone reading it.
So, I challenge you not to work for remembrance in this world; even a million years of your place in history is nothing in the annals of time. If you work for the achievement of those million years, then what have you truly gained? Sure, you'd be respected, you'd be remembered. For one million years, people would say, “What would you do?” You would be a faux god in people's eyes. But what would you have lost in your reach for those million years of remembrance?
As I typed this prior paragraph, I realized that I am describing Jesus' impact. He will be remembered, hopefully for much more than a million years. Though, does this mean he spent too much time trying? I believe he did. Though, since he really was (or, for the Atheists in the crowd, “believed he was”) God, I think he's justified.
Rather, work for making other people be remembered for millions of years. Ezekial Stephens may not be remembered, though he helped Andrew Jackson defeat the hostile Creek Indian tribe, which allowed Jackson to go to New Orleans to repel the British from the city.
Plato and Aristotle both had some inspirational person they refer to. George Washington, also. Truett Cathy cites his father as the source of his perseverance. Every major cultural icon, people who will be remembered for a million years, will remember one or two people as the people who helped them to the heights of history. I aim to, and I challenge you to try. Because if you're the one person the man with a million-year legacy remembers, Then you've been remembered for more years than he has. For, when you commit a man to memory, you also recognize the people who brought him up to memorable mention. You also find life much easier to cope with, free from the desires of the world. The Bible is full of wise words, and one verse demands representation here. I will close with this verse:
"So the last will be first, and the first will be last." -Mat. 20:16

Friday, September 16, 2011


Yes, a serious post for now. I'll think of one with more whimsy later.
My life has been a series of mistakes since my first grade. As a child with ADHD, I was naturally introverted, and missed most of the social lessons, many of which I am still learning now. With each small mistake comes a lesson, and it feels as if the former stacks up much higher than the latter, against me.
Along with each mistake comes a slowly growing list of people who I have offended. After seventeen years, this list has grown colossal and crushing in size. For the longest time, I searched for relief.
It was in this search that I found forgiveness. Forgiveness is not pardoning people for their wrongdoings; It is telling them it is acceptable for all to do wrong, though the fact does not liberate them from taking accountability and responsibility for the action. Indeed, I deal with behavioral disarray due to a mental disorder, though I understand that this is a part of me, and I need to own my actions, not my disorder.
Forgiveness also helps the ones who hurt others. A bitter enemy of mankind, regret, works in mighty forces here. It manifests when the offender never gets to ask for forgiveness. This kind of sadness works as a depressant; it eats at you. You can live off of hatred and bitterness until the day you die, but regret will poison you until you weep.
Forgive while you can. I have a childhood ruined because of the lost ability to make amends. Many instances I remember shameful, completely backwards things I’ve done mindlessly. I am not saying one should be absolved of all wrongdoings and set free; one learns nothing through such. Instead, understand the reasons the person made said wrongdoings, and seek to understand the person better.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Autobiography of ADD in Me

Until the early 90's, and even stretching past Y2K, ADD was a darkly lit, undiscovered path that few understood. Up to that point, a kid with ADD was just restrained, told to calm down, misunderstood. Being born in '93, I'm one of those children that grew up in this changing world of mental renaissance. The first five grades of my life ('96-'01) consisted of me being asked to leave my elementary school, because the school did not have special help for “mentally insecure children”. Even at the private school I then decided to go to, I was unique. So many stories keep rising, stories I would deign to keep hidden. But I remember being told by my teacher that I see patterns nobody else does.
“The first time he heard of me was in fifth grade, when he and I left Shreiner Academy (a black mark upon schools, I would recommend quarantining the place) to Mt. Pisgah Christian School, where they looked upon me with disdain. They looked at me and said “yeah, we haven't dealt with this before, can we have the trial version?” In response, my family attempted to change me. Social skills groups, medications, beatings, punishments, the whole laundry list. Queue 1600's Catholic church school images. I was that kid on the rack.
“Taking it into account, the kid did pretty well. I still got him nailed. He was asked to leave before the first semester even ended! Best part about it is, his friends still remind him of the stuff he did! This was my heyday, that kid had no idea. I was getting away with murder. Oh, there was this time I threw his binder across the room. Then I threw a chair, he was so pissed! Best part was, my parents tried to treat him! They were still blind to me, they were going after the wrong guy! I made sure none of it stuck, though. The only downside were those medications the kid was taking. Eventually, they overpowered me. I’d catch him at the end of the day, though.”
Then we went to Mill Springs Academy, and I learned that I had to both take responsibility for my ADD. The ADD needed to be both embraced and controlled. If you watched any X-Men movie, it follows the same principle. MSA was the best two-and-a-half years of my life.
“So, the kid went to MSA, and from there on life sucked for me. The medications got on the right amounts (finally), and he was slowly normalizing. Don't worry, though; I still managed to mess his life up on multiple occasions. Oh, and the best part? He barely remembers any of it. Moving on from this dark moment...
“After two and a half years, we returned to Pisgah. He accepted me, and took a happy view of the world. I no longer threw things (as often) or did inane and foolish things (actually, that one didn't change). He stopped taking the medications because I was repressed to the point where he was no different with or without them. I still get out, but I’ve been leashed.”
By the way, another telling thing about me? I have used the word “I” most in this post, double any other word.  

Friday, July 29, 2011

How to Hear God's Calling

So far, I have six letters. Nineteen thousand nine hundred and ninety-four to go.

In news related to the beginning of this post, I feel it pertinent to share how exactly God called me. It was just at the end of the third day at Bigstuf Camp Retreat, and I ran out onto the sand. I forgot all the cynicism I had. I used to think, “When God calls me, I'll miss the call.” God had prepared me for this; For the last two months, I have slowly been giving more and more of myself over to Christ, asking him to say something. I woke up that day, without a second thought as to what it would hold, but there was that physical feeling in my chest. That feeling that told me, “something'll happen today. Just be sure not to get hurt by it.” Only physical, so I brushed it off as sleeping awkwardly.
   After the evening service, though, I definitely understood the need for a one-on-one moment with God. I ran out onto the sand and looked up. Clouds were thrown into relief by the lights of the city alone, but a dozen stars still punched through the light pollution.
   As I looked into the sky, I began speaking fast, I knew something was coming. What I said was unimportant, for soon after I began speaking, the thought was pushed into my mind “Ten Thousand Letters.”
I did a double take on this, then asked what- no, is that all? I asked that, unaware that God told me. See, In my eyes, God calls you as a thought. He rarely ever goes into burning bush mode. He calls everyone once or twice a day, but we aren't ready to hear him, so we brush it off as our own thought. But, when you're prepared, and shut the world away for a second, you can hear his voice.
   It's sort of like this: on a computer, when you type a button the program is not set to register, it ignored it. But it still comes from the keyboard (or, your voice.). In real life, God's voice is that button you're not programmed to register. The button is like a capital “I”, instead of a lowercase “l”. to me, they're synonymous. But some times, when you switch your fonts, you can make out the difference. Then you just have to open yourself up to register that one letter,and close off all the other buttons. Even still, you may just say, “Oh, I pressed an “I”? huh. Strange.”
   But God told me “10,000 letters”, and I realized that wasn't much. I told him I'd give him 20,000. Refer to my prior post for more info on that.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

20,000 Letters

So, today is the start of the most important and vast undertaking in my life. More on this later, a quick recap of the life of JHBlancs:
I type this message hours after I returned from the greatest days of my life. Bigstuf Camps put on their annual retreat in Panama City Beach, Florida. 1,497 people bathed in God's glory, and only one got stung by God's little blue jellyfish. God's little child who was stung by said Godly Jellyfish will survive, though. Bigstuf Camps partners with 410 Bridge to make the retreat a chance to raise awareness and get children interested about helping them.
Here's where it gets amazing. The third day,t hey revealed that the Daraja choir of Africa could not come this year. They described the choir like this:
“410 bridge wasn't even looking when they found them. The teacher of the school saw great potential in them to sing and dance simultaneously, and taught them how to. 410 Bridge came across them and realized their potential. They organized the choir, and brought them to America, where they exploded. They were called “Daraja”, meaning “Bridge”, because they were bridging the two countries.
“Now, they couldn't come this year because of some stupid politics. The minister of Education isn't letting them come, because he thinks they'll stay in America. He keeps throwing up worthless excuses, but we need to konnekt (the theme of this year's Bigstuf Camp was “Konnekt”.) with him. So, we can't do anything top extreme, so we'll just ask you to send letters to him. They can be as long of as short as you want, anything would help.”
Now, about this moment, I heard the God beacon go off. He was knocking. As soon as the worship ended, I bolted for the beach, and, on the sand, I said, yes Lord? He answered:
I've been called on the Lord to help these children of Daraja. I need twenty thousand letters. If you know anybody in ministry, or anyone who can help me, OR IF YOU JUST WANT TO SEND A SHORT LETTER, I will graciously accept anything. Send any help to:
"Dear MoE of Kenya:
<something about Daraja's want/need to come to America, along with reasons why. throw anything suitable into the mix, i will not augment it>
sincerely, ____"
I will need over forty churches to help in this endeavor. You can write more than one letter- write forty, please. God's given me something I cannot do alone.
God be with you. Amen and Amen.  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A word on the Humble Front

Today, I take a look at something that, once brought on the table, instantly scandalizes everyone at it. It's been used as an accusation that inevitably falls back on the accuser, and I myself cannot laugh at anyone who blunders so. I speak on Humbleness.
Being humble is not something you strive for, and, if you are, then you go about the goal wrong. Being humble is a state of being closely related to subservience, mainly because that's a key part to being humble. The thing that sets humbleness apart from servitude is that you enjoy the latter in silence. You can strive to be humble, though I feel you truly attain this quality when you stop looking for it.
Obviously, you can't just walk up to somebody and tell them that your best quality is that you are humble. You also cannot walk around with a sign declaring you being humble. It's one of those non sequitors in life, when used by yourself about yourself.
It's interesting, how much we come across this word, or variations of it.

That's it. What, you were expecting something you haven't heard before? I'm too tired for provacative writing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vacation Bible Brainwashing

First, I want to ask anyone who has the talent to contact me about putting eight or so songs I have onto sheet music. I would like to have them sung at church and other like events.
Second, I talk today on a short topic that many parents will find angering.  I speak out against the brainwashing corruption that is Vacation Bible School. Through the use persistent repetition of the same phrases over and over again, I feel that the children of good-willed parents are being brainwashed to believe in Christianity. Ever since I was in third grade, I tried to botch this program, and was expelled every year for my conspiracy.
Even then I did not sway form my goal; every year since the fifth grade graduation of the institution, I infiltrated the ranks of the compulsors, to attempt to master their ways to better know how to take it down.
I realized the mask of the program was simple: to give parents one week without children. Forget the thing about God and such; that was the bonus of the daycare. The parents just thought it was innocent and pure; I knew different.
Honestly, I am not alone in this conspiracy. This year, as lead speaker for VBS, I related hackneyed expressions from the bible to hackneyed expressions in the culinary industry. Sick clichés mixed with the most banal bible verses to create a monstrosity of a soup. Of course, the only type of chef capable of such evils is Italian.
So, one more day I will subject myself to the position of “brainwasher”. The clichés and terrible songs will continue, a mix of terrible dance style mixed with sign language coming together, making anyone who partakes in the activity feel brought to shame. The arts and crafts, mixed with a lead who’s just too happy to be sane, may kill me.
If I post something in the next week, you’ll know I made it. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pastors and Reassignment

Today, Wesley Chapel and Christ United Methodist Churches lost their pastors. They didn’t die, or quit the religion, no. They were called to other churches. In the United Methodist tradition, pastors are seen as invited members of the church, and they sometimes get transferred. This is by a process known as the Methodist Trail of Tears. The congregation and the pastor stand at the altar, and, when they are ready, they release the floodgates in their eyes and the resulting tsunami launches said pastor to his next congregation. The congregations need only about a year to build up enough tears, but Christ UMC’s pastor had three. Rest assured Reverend Keith Lawder had no shortage of gifts to float on when the dams broke.
Reverend Bocian, as of sixty-five minutes ago ex-pastor of WCUMC, chose to go out happily, though I wasn’t there for his last service; I was too busy wearing an apron at my own church. I feel awful for saying so little, but I only went to WC’s services for about two months, and I hadn’t built an attachment.
Keith Lawder, though, impressed me every service with the depth and humor of his sermons. He has a story for every day of the year, and more besides, and he used them masterfully to paint wonderful examples of the written word in our minds. I could spend many feverish letter-types to talk about all he’s done, but I would rather not, and leave the mind to conjure an image of the man. Just a hint: he can play the William Tell Overture with his teeth.
At the end of the service today, we did the customary tradition of preparing the charges to blow the dam. We all got around Rev. Lawder, and, after the pleasantries, the unpleasantries, and the send-offs, the dams started breaking. I myself was mentally scrolling through my playlist of memories, and two or three would repeat, so I focused on those.
Reverend Keith in the confirmation class, talking about how he loved teaching this. I could tell he wanted to be asleep, though he would tell you he wouldn’t.
Reverend Keith stating how we would always be in his heart. He told us this the month before he told us that he was told he was to be reassigned to another church a month ago, but couldn’t tell anyone. At the time, I wryly thought, “yeah, but how many churches have you told that to, and forgot?”
Reverend Keith, falling in the frigid dunk tank at our fall festival. He wore his wetsuit inside out.
As the film of this last memory tapered off, and the credits began to roll, the skies clearly let loose on the congregation. Then I detonated the charges, and buried my face in the man’s chest. After clearing drenching his nice coat in my tears, I stumbled out of the church, into my car, and kept weeping. Though my mouth would not contort into a smile, I was weeping for him.
The great thing about being a Methodist is, after a while, if you live in the same area, you can come to a different church and inevitably meet friends who had followed one pastor to his new church, then decided to stay there. Furthermore, pastors have the most friends out of anybody I know. The weeping for the loss of a pastor is never seen as weakness, or looked down upon. In fact, if your levees don’t break in the hurricane, I personally feel you haven’t paid enough attention. Because, if you weep uncontrollably, you recognize the great man of God you have just lost, the priceless wisdom suddenly gone. Back when Reverend Chuck Savage (who in my eyes will never be equaled by another man) left our church, Reverend Keith knew that the congregation knew that nobody would ever be as great as he.
Honestly, even through these three years, I think Rev. Keith could’ve caught fire in mid-service, and yelled his message through the flames, and he still would not have equaled the passion exuded by Rev. Savage. Rev. Savage, though, could’ve caught fire in mid-service, and yelled his message through the flames, and he would not have equaled the passion exuded by Rev. Keith. Furthermore, if one were to compare pastors, one would miss the point of the Methodist reassignment. The point is that the congregation listens to the message, not the pastor. When congregations listen to the pastor, there is the legitimate and proven fear that said pastor may influence said congregation’s beliefs. I doubt though, that such events are the case for the majority of pastors.
Though I think too much on a heartfelt topic. May the road rise to meet you, and may the wind be at your back, Reverends. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Model Rocketry

    Today I turn my eye on my favorite hobby, and one that I feel has a bad reputation. Decades of stereotypical destruction has diminished this valuable and wonderful hobby to one reserved for the estranged of society. It is a hobby of long waits and exciting minutes, a hobby of patient preparation and sound-fast ballistics. I speak of the hobby of Model Rocketry. In today’s world, this hobby has been pushed to the sidelines, the stereotype of a rocket being used more than the observation of the actual product to base judgments upon the hobby. Sadly, the truth cannot be more opposite. Though Model Rocketry is seen as a dangerous, lethal hobby based on the stereotype of the rocket, it is actually an intriguing, unique hobby that teaches values of community, consequence, and ballistics.
    Bombs bursting in air. Air raid sirens. People running from something so fast they can’t see it. Entire sections of forest in Vietnam disappearing in a haze of fire and pressure. These are still prevalent views in society when somebody says “rocket”. Let me paint a different picture.
    “The summer is already half burned away, a trail of bliss in its wake. The monthly launch is this Saturday, bring your friends. It’s over in Hoschton, only an hour out of town. It’ll be hot, and it’d be a good idea to bring waterproof boots. On the day of the launch, a row of cars parks toward a runoff creek, which drains into a river bordering the field. The smell of soil hits my nose as I leave the truck, and begin hammering stakes into the ground on the right, 15 feet away from control panel, two feet apart, in groups of four . I put four more stakes on the left side, then walk out another thirty feet, where I put eight more in the same manner. four larger setups are placed farthest away. Then, people attach the pads and  launch rods, blast deflectors, and wires. As this occurs, people catch up on how they were doing, laughing and making mistakes while laughing, then quickly fixing said mistakes. After everyone helps set up the myriad of wires, the event can begin. people sign the cards, and put them on the signboard. After a wish for luck, they slide their prize down the rod, hook it up to the igniters, and go back to the line. when all is ready, the first sweat beads would have been dancing down their faces, heralding the start of a hot summer day. As the first dozen rockets arc for the sky, the day continues to build. rocket after rocket goes to its altitude, a symphony of smoke and heat,  on an already beautifully hot day.”
    Okay, did anyone believe that? To be honest, it sounds romanticized, and, since I am advertising rocketry in this post, I might as well tell you it is. One day, we had to carry everything a quarter mile because the park rangers wouldn’t let us drive on the field. Did I mention the heat index was in the 90’s on this day? But I digress.
    Let me give you an example of the disjointed view of rocketry:
“My father went into my middle school principal’s office and asked if he could post up flyers for the rocket club. He explained the safety measures, the $2 million in liability coverage, etc. The principal was ecstatic, and said he’d pass it by the board. One day later, the principal called him into his office and said ‘The board said that what you’re proposing is way too dangerous, and could harm the children. If you were to propose a more family-oriented activity, I’d run it by them again’. At this time, an eighth grader walks by, her leg in a cast. My father asked her what she did to herself, and she replied, ‘Oh, it’s just a break from soccer practice. It’ll heal in a couple weeks’.”
    If you don’t see the irony in that statement, you can take your computer and give it to a river.
    The thing that keeps this hobby from progressing is its stereotype. When I say “rocket”, most people see the V2, or the Apollo program, or a smoke trail leading into a mushroom cloud. Any and all of these are correct assumptions, though I’d beg to append “lethal”, “large”, and “explosive” to the front of these examples. In my basement, my family has over twenty-five rockets, but of a much smaller scale, and of much less deadly intent. The rockets in the hobby of Model Rocketry are flown with much smaller motors, are made from wood, plastic, and varying strengths of fiberglass (NEVER metal), and are required to come down less than twenty-two feet per second. In order to accomplish this, we employ ejection of a parachute or streamer (a sliver of cloth or plastic). The motors are prepared professionally in a way that inhibits any malfunction, and there is a minimum radius from the rocket that must never be breached while the pad is live (such radius is formed by calculating how far a piece of shrapnel can fly from a rocket, then adding a large percent. It’s specific to each motor). Each rocket is screened by an experienced person in the hobby, and if said person does not see the rocket as fit for launch, he can point the applicant to someone to help him.
   If the rocket passes all of above said statements, it gets set onto the pad, the igniter is set up, and That Moment happens:
    Now, whereas rocketry is easily the most thrilling hobby I can think of, it also teaches consequence of improper preparation. this is the same rocket, but the launch happened much differently:
    Rest in peace. As far as I know, the men who built that have rebuilt it completely since this video’s post. I will NOT miss its next flight. I do not believe I have seen it fly. At least, not successfully. I digress again...
   The rocket above was, if the motor was built commercially, worth at least a thousand dollars. My father had a stake in that rocket, and when it CATO’d (CATastrophic Overload (of the motor)), he lost upwards of a hundred dollars. In any size rocket, as in any hobby, you run the risk of it getting damaged. Rockets, though, just break more often. A broken fin when it lands, or, if ejection does not occur, the rocket breaks into a thousand pieces on impact with earth. My father always tells audiences that rocketry helps kids get unstuck from their computers and “Nintendoes”(thanks, dad); he also tells audiences that it teaches responsibility and consequences. “If you build it wrong, it won’t be allowed to fly. Sometimes, we let it fly and it still doesn’t fly right. Rocketry teaches people [consequences of their actions].”
   Time to end this. Model Rocketry has been obscure and ridiculed for too long. I can’t exactly say the stereotype is undeserved because, most likely, someone’s been killed by explosive missiles today, or at least this week. The distinction is made between the lethal and model varieties of rockets. The model rockets are, well, models of the actual thing. You don’t see model boats casting nets, or model submarines sinking model warships. It’s just a hobby, much like any Varsity sport. Also, Model Rocketry’s track record is much cleaner than any Varsity sport’s. Ever since its inception, nobody has died, or been severely injured by a model rocket malfunction, including said rocket coming in from altitude (or, Lawndarting), the motor exploding (a CATO), or anything else. (three people got severely injured, and none of them were following procedure: one man fell out of a tree, and two others got electrocuted recovering their rockets.) The hobby is growing fast in North Georgia, and I hope to see it grow much, much larger. In Southern Area Rocketry (SoAR, NAR # 571), the membership was less than thirty ten years ago. now it’s over 150. How much larger can it grow? I promise you, most schools in Georgia have never heard of Model Rocketry before. It’s one of those exceptions. I’d like to see that flip. More on this topic later. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Religion and Not

A few days ago, the best army in the world finally put a bullet through Osama’s head. New York is still celebrating, and the West Pointers are in their highest euphoria in decades. Even with an unlimited budget, and an endless flood of religious fanatics, one man cannot hide in this world. It took seven or eight years, but a great feat’s been accomplished.
Springboarding off of that topic, I turn an eye of introspection upon religion’s place in today’s world. Today, people find religion to be overrated. Atheism, in any form, is the fastest growing worldview in this world. There are many doubters about religion’s effectiveness.
Honestly, God doesn’t do too good a job of giving us something to believe for. Believing in a god that doesn’t help is what most people see believers as, and that viewpoint leaves much to be desired. Why believe in a God that lets millions of cancer patients die, after years of pain and agony? That’s how my grandfather went. Why would you believe in a God that allows this to happen to his most devout believers? I keep being told I will be asked these questions one day, and I myself could probably explain my way through an answer only after much confusion and blasphemy.
Before I jump into that mess, though, let me strip this down to the basics. Religion was, is, and hopefully will be an attempt to explain the world round us. It gives us an answer to most questions in everyday life. Throughout the years, with the absence of an explanation for anything else that could be mistaken for a rational answer, people turned to the mythos of the world to explain. With the advent of science, people started to believe that religion couldn’t answer everything. Science does provide rational, realistically based answers for pretty much anything, and the questions we all have are one by one being answered by this new god.
Also arriving with science was the advent of rapid communication. When one student in Washington, D.C. got kidnapped on the way to school, parents in Georgia started panicking and demanding more bus stops to reduce the walks. This was mainly the result of the media omitting “in Washington, D.C.”, making the event happen in your backyard. Communication similarly spun the few stories of Catholic Clerical pedophilia to make it seem like all Catholic priests followed suit. Suddenly, every God-fearing pastor is secretly molesting the altar boy.
The most popular worldview is the movement of Secular Humanism, which grew out of the post-world war clean-up. An entire religious race was all but wiped out, and much of Europe was in shambles. People who asked where God was asked louder, and many answered the question themselves. Secular Humanism tells that truth is relative, subject to change, fluid. It focuses on the person: YOU are your own God, and the world is your fishbowl. Truth is what you make of it. There are many inherent problems with this line of thought. First being that, if truth is relative, then the line of fallacy is very blurry. The murderer felt the deed was obviously okay, though the jury found him guilty. The second problem is that, if you’re the god of yourself,  you’re obviously not bulletproof.
Even if the movement of Secular Humanism claims to have “universal values and truths” that came to be from thousands of years of civilization, such views still leave much open to consideration. With the thousands of years in mind, are we speaking of the societies of the projects, or of Hollywood, or of Capital Hill? I don’t aim to assume any of those value sets. Also, in a community without set boundaries, such as secular Humanism, even these truths and values are subject to interpretation.
So why do I harp about the values of religion? Why do I speak of this nebulous, nonresponsive being called God? Why do I believe in a worldview that restricts me to one rigid way of life?
First, I would like to make a disclaimer: In speaking of God, I do not mean the God of any but the Christian doctrine. Though I say this, I am defending all religion. Don’t worry though; I’ll attack all the religions later.
Okay, onto the rebuttal. Let me get my bible out…
First off, the major religions are solid. They each have doctrines which have stood the test of time. If nothing else, they are a great way to grow your family. Nothing brings people together like religion. Well, except soccer, football, hockey, NASCAR, skydiving, school, doctor’s appointments, (etc, etc, etc.).
Religion brings people together because it gives them guidelines to live by. I can’t say religion prohibits interpretation and self-explanation, but in the Christian Bible, I find it difficult to interpret “love your neighbor” as irrelevant and wrong. There are many values that, when left to personal introspection, leads to many different opinions that clash. Again, the murderer disagrees with the jury. The reason you can’t just go on your on tangent with religion is that you run the risk of having a God’s wrath. Sure, many people are having the best time on Earth without their God, but no matter what you believe in, you still run that risk of some sort of Hell. Thus, religious people keep themselves as close to good as they can. This keeps them in line.
So, for nothing else, you can manipulate religion much more easily than non-religion to make people believe you. In Fahrenheit 451, Jesus was used to promote the government’s products. The television would show Jesus Christ telling the population how he loves using a certain type of detergent, and the population would follow. It really is a beautiful strategy.
Now, I defend my faith. Christianity today is seen as extremely hypocritical. Whether it’s the story of one priest’s molestation of the altar boy, or the Westboro Baptist’s hate-filled view on our soldiers. Terry Jones’ burning of Qurans leads people to believe the exact opposite of Christians: that we are all hate-filled people. Sadly, the reputation of the church leaves much to be desired. A thousand years of baggage bogs down the Catholic authority.
Christianity, out of all the religions, is the only one that speaks of loving your neighbor—AND your enemy. It’s a great ideal, though it doesn’t mean that you can let your Christian brother off the hook every time he kills someone. Nope, you can still go to prison (though I feel like, if anything, the judge should be afraid of his soul the most.) if you blow away the next guy.
On Earth, you receive the fruits of your labor harshly. The same does not apply for salvation, though; you can believe that anyone can reach heaven. My youth minister always says “you’ll be surprised at who is in heaven and who isn’t.” We all expect Osama Bin Laden to burn in Hell forever. A friend of mine, though, walked up to me and asked me for his opinion on something.
“JBlancs, when I heard the news that Osama was dead, my first thought was ‘I hope he met Jesus before he died’. Is that okay to think?”
Obviously, Osama isn’t the first person you’d expect to find in heaven. Neither is he the person many would expect to, upon expiration, rise to heaven. I personally believe he’s roasting quite nicely, though it’s not my place to play judge.
Speaking of death, I leave you on a note of death. Religion, at least my religion, allows mourners to mourn less; instead of you losing your mother for your entire life, you lose her until you kick the bucket. I have been to two Christian funerals, and the one I remember was much less somber than most others have witnessed. You cry a lot less when you feel like your loved one is with Him who you both love.
I get the feeling I’m going to go deeper into this topic later.
So, let’s wrap this up, because I’m starting on my third page and I wouldn’t read more than three and a half. Religion is a great controller. It (Christianity) also makes your life easier, because you know that there’s something after death. It makes deaths easier to suffer. I guess I could call Christianity “the counterbalance to Capitalism”. Atheism and Secular Humanism are both growing about as fast as the national deficit, and people are paying about the same attention to each. The problem is that, just like the deficit, these worldviews go nowhere, and are self-destructive. Religion keeps you grounded, reliable. It gives you a larger family to help and to lean on. And religion is dying faster than Osama with a bullet through the eye. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Love, Sex, and Friends (with benefits)

First, a BIG shout-out to my now one-thousand views! Here’s to another thousand!
Secondly, my youtube channel is starting to get some notoriety, mainly because of the spectacle: Rocketry.
Thirdly, a public disservice announcement:
Affections are at the top of any high schooler’s mind, and I am no exception. Whether it’s staying on the top of the current rag gossip, or trying to climb the social ladder, people generally love to take an account of who they are interested in, and who they aren’t. I myself tend to take into account as my interests anybody who knows me more than the census bureau. Strangely, anybody who knows me better than the census also knows I am about as open to love as I am to census agents.
Love comes in three general types: friendship, romance, and sex. Friendship is like love, but more openly polygamistic and mellow. It’s obviously a much-thought upon topic, since it’s the basis of everything. You won’t form an alliance with your worst enemy, unless you happen to be in a world war and in need of some considerable dictatorial muscle. Civilization didn’t form from enemies bonding. It formed from friends with a similar interest in a better life. Though, when it breaks, people don’t like it, and find the other person responsible. See: Middle Ages.
 Friendship is like boat tape… when it splits, you come away with much less skin.
Common interests (or, CI’s) are the foundation. They’re what make everything else work. Yes, school does find its way into this group, and if you disagree, ask yourself how much of your time you spend ranting about how much aid teacher sucks. Friends without common interests don’t last long. They devolve into acquaintances. Not that there’s anything wrong with such… as a rocketeer, I find myself with many acquaintances. I’d like more friends…
Another way these relationships can go, in the absence of CI’s, is straight to sex. Nothing wrong with that, but what happens when that gets boring? Then one of the two parties decides they need to break up, and the boat tape . Teenage romance often leads down this dark, sticky road. Sex is like Elmer’s glue… it keeps stuff together on a good day, but if you put too much on, then you end up with a pile of white, crusty stuff that smells bad. Also, it doesn’t work on plastics at all. Again, nothing wrong with a sexual relationship, unless you happen to be carrying around a religion, which I do…
But, with the right combination of mostly CI’s and an attraction to someone else (that I’ve only felt maybe twenty times; the feeling was reciprocated only three of those), a deeper relationship can evolve. This is somebody you trust, somebody you care about, and, if you want a clinical description, I’ve heard Wikipedia has a reliable page about it. Google has 4.46 million answers to a query on love. Bing has less. Also, don’t type “love” into the image query without a filter. Big mistake.
Love, just like friendship, won’t last based on sole romance. In this example, I guess love = sex.
A subset of this reason is the nature of the two. Both have been hailed for as long as humanity has walked and humped on the earth, and it doesn’t look like either are going to step off the pedestal. But, religion has also been spoken highly of. Most religions hold sex outside of marriage to be unwise, for good reason. Generally, religions carry good warnings—but such is the mettle of another post, later.
The other reason why sex and love don’t work out alone is much more physical. Ya see, every month, there’s this thing girls have called a “period”. I won’t go into details, but basically the girl transforms into this angry, six-headed monster that doesn’t want to even think about sex, or romance. She gets crabby, and… other synonyms of crabby. Most guys don’t understand this. Then they get their boat tape ripped to pieces.
Love, unlike sex, or a friendship, is a struggle. With friendships, you don’t have to work at it, because you aren’t about to get all jealous if one of your friends is bored of you, and decided to chill with someone else for a while. Unfortunately, something called morals and ethics (cough-religion-cough) restrain you from feeling the same way if your lover does the same. Both ends of the relationship are locked in a constant war to on the other’s heart. 
At least, that's what my pastor, my father, my youth leader, my principal, and every old couple have told m

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Sometimes I have a hopeful post. I don’t rant, or berate, or vent, sometimes. Most of the time, I do. But recently I’ve realized that, in order to fool people into thinking I’m a half-decent individual, it’s required of me to lend you some pleasant advice. I hope you can refrain from laughing long enough to read this.
As the above paragraph suggests, I am moving onto a lighter topic, one that inspires hope. It’s powered advancement since life existed. It’s been the sole purpose of a couple of world wars. It’s seen the fall of nations and the rise of just as many. I speak, if you haven’t guessed by the aptly named title, Winning.
For some people, it’s the center of their life. Winning becomes a religion, and only utter defeat will squelch their insanity. For others, they feel all possibility of victory, even in the smallest feat, is impossible.  The rest of the world, those considered… “normal”… are just trudging through.
If you consider yourself part of this normal caste, then here’s a hint: pressing alt+F4 will make your computer so much faster. So would throwing your computer off the side of a ten story building.
Okay, are they gone now? Good, that makes this post so much easier.
To the winning-obsessed people: I would throw in a Charlie Sheen joke here, but that man has had so much limelight he glows in the dark. Instead, I say that, if you treat victory as your god, then when would you stop? Case in point, Josef Stalin, in order to keep his massive power, imprisoned seven million people. Adolf Hitler lit the Roman candle of war for power, for victory. The Cold War was just for “winning”. So, unless you want to be a GE CEO, put down your scepter, hang your cloak and crown, and chill.
To those who feel life is impossible, I first must ask you to earnestly stop having yourselves featured in "New Paranormal Teen Romance" novels. Twilight was bad enough (Even though the book was slightly entertaining(that topic is for another post))
I have a quote from Muhammad Ali.

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

He speaks of victory as gained before you meet the other person. Ali was such a great boxer, people were terrified of him. His fists were lethal in the ring. He used this to his advantage. “When people get in the ring and they see me, and they know they’re gonna lose, they’ve already lost half the battle”, he would say.
I walk into school and, right before going up that first painful flight of stairs, I’d tell myself, “If you tell yourself it’ll suck, it’ll suck.” I relate this to my friends, and they cling to their fatalistic guns. It might just be because I told them.
Anyway, victory shouldn’t be something avidly searched for. I also don’t believe it should be avidly avoided. Rather, Victory is meant to be a culmination of events and your effects on humanity. And, like anything that just happens, your effect will increase if you keep at it. It’ll ripple, and even a small ripple will eventually show in the whole lake. Of course, if you keep dropping bigger and bigger stones in the lake, the splash will be huge.
And there the analogy falls apart. I was going to say they the bigger the splash the better, but the 9/11 attacks were a pretty substantial splash. Somebody took a car into the lake at highway speeds, and it skipped a few times before breaking apart. On the other hand, the Golden Voice man made a substantial splash, as does every celebrity.
Now that I wasted five minutes of your time, you can go on to your substandard existence with the uncomfortable feeling that I know exactly what you’re thinking. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cloud 9

Sharing a building with an urban karate dojo, a small, quaint shop has set up, since last year. The front is all glass, with a high grey McDonalds-style countertop braced to the window panes. The seats assigned to this countertop, so high my legs dangle a foot off the ground, are four in number, backless, white and chrome. Walking in, though, you first notice a sign saying “Start here” in sloping, curving letters. The poster is blue. The second thing you notice is that the shop is nestled in a giant, blue-tiled U-shaped wall that funnels everyone through its bow.

Upon inspection of the dispensers on the wall just past the sign, and the small mountain of large, bowlish cups, I felt for a second that this shop had stolen the Golden Corral’s yogurt machines. Upon pouring some of the chocolate yogurt, just one of ten or twelve flavors there, I notice a consistency in the yogurt that told of greater quality than the yogurt I used to want to go to Ryan’s solely to eat. After dumping half of the condiments available into the cup after the yogurt, paying for the yogurt, and having it skewered by a spoon, I notice the other half of the available delicacies. Cupcakes with the largest tops I have ever seen dotted the landscape behind a glass pane. The server, who, according to the receipt, was named Michael, told me about the cupcakes. He was loading twenty of them into a holder, “for the people who’re fixing my car. This is just a little thank-you”, he said. Touched by this, I went to sit down at the aforementioned counter-top.

Before I sat down, I noticed the lights. They hung from the ceiling, all white, layered like a tight Sydney Opera House, or one of those pink wildflowers, except white as anything. If ever I wanted to shoplift, I had the most incredible urge to. Those lights are maybe the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.

As I ate, I noticed the bear I had left there, for donations to a cancer society. The bear was purchased at the Super Target just five hundred feet from the shop, the animal crackers inside eaten, the container washed out,  a hole cut in the top, and a sign asking for change taped to both sides. This bear was slowly being filled, and last I’ve seen of it, it’s eaten maybe a modest sum of kindness. I spoke to the bear and, as I ate the yogurt, he and I had had a very nice conversation. He had spent most of the day being watched by nearly everyone who frequented the place, weighing down several issues of Snap! Roswell, a couple of flyers, and, of course, the kindness inside. The bear and I moved onto other topics, and as I finished my yogurt, I asked if I could get m good friend, the bear, anything to eat. In polite response, he told me he helped me quite enough. What a bear.

I bid Michael adieu, leaving the shop in a great mood. As I went to my car, I turned to look at the name of the shop: Cloud 9. A vernacular used to relate moments of great elation joy, and peace. When you’ve reached the highpoint of your life, when you’ve just gotten married after winning the lottery, when you sink a hole in one for all eighteen rounds. When you get an A in every final, and get that scholarship that nobody ever gets. Then, you’re on Cloud 9. Purchasing a cup of yogurt and only paying six dollars gives you much the same elation, apparently.

Then I realized I forgot to get my punch card punched for that purchase. You owe me a punch, Mike. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oreos, Views, and Writer's Block

First, I’d like to bring attention the “reduced fat” Oreo cookie. To the producers of this bastard son of the famous product: what were you thinking? Take the pitch you always used and kill it?!? Have you tried soaking a reduced fat Oreo in milk? You can’t. It’s about as absorbent as a rock and about as hard as one too. FIX THIS. My grandmother buys me those by the truckload, it seems, and I must please her by shoveling them down my throat. After I eat them, I must go back and rehydrate my throat with more milk. It’s worse than sea salt.
Secondly, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed an increase in traffic to my blog. Last week, it broke three hundred views. I have some rocketry forum for promoting my “Georgia Rockets In The Sky” post, though I had a small international flood of secondary traffic. I have a few views from Poland, Greece, Italy, Australia, Denmark, and Brazil. To those six people, I love you more than anyone else on this blog. You crossed the border. To the two people from Japan who looked at my blog, ありがとうございます。.
I don’t currently have any inspiration for a post today; Writer’s block has been known to be the commonly misunderstood cause of suicides in young writers. People don’t look past the angsty exterior to realize the source of the angst: the fact that, at some point, everyone loses the sharp wit they write with. It’s a fact of penmanship that, if you lose your edge for a day, obviously you lose it for a while. I feel like I just lost my edge.
Back on track. Writer’s block occurs when you can’t remember, or can’t think of, a way to continue the story. It’s what happened to Michael Bay during half of his Transformers titles (guess which one had no plot). Today, this phenomenon happens to me.
From the onset of WB, writers experience rage, confusion, befuddled minds, and thoughts of suicide. The fact that they have a pen in hand makes that last symptom much more lethal. The obvious answer is to strap the writer down to their beds until their train re-rails itself. The longer the writer stays free, the longer he or she is volatile to the world.
This has been a public service announcement.
If you have any suggestions for future posts, please send them to

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