Category Archives: Strange Confessions
There is a film I have come across in my time here in West Plains that seems to fit into a theory I have regarding a connection between food and the spiritual life, and it doesn’t always fit for some but I consider it a general rule. If you are happy with your bland, tired, same old, subsistence of foodstuffs, then you’ll be happy with your bland, tired, same old, subsistence of church life. “Babette’s Feast” is the tale of two sisters whose father founded a spiritually austere church in a small town in Denmark, and allow a well-known chef (unknown to them) to cook for them for many years. When the chef, Babette, comes in to some money she wants to present the sisters a feast they have never experienced, in return for the kindness they showed her. The sisters allow the feast but promise each other that they will not enjoy it or proclaim the sumptuousness of it all. Only one person at the feast for 12 people, recognizes the beauty and luxury of what is presented in each course as it comes. Soon, all participants give in to the flavors and repast, intoxicated with joy they find the emotions they had denied themselves all their stringent lives.
I have had the ability to visit a few churches here and there in the past couple of months due to our 4:30 meeting time at TLC. One thing that surprises me about what is happening here is that people are unsatisfied with where they are and choose to go someplace of seemingly the same presentation. That is to say, there isn’t much difference from one church to the other that I can see, admittedly acknowledging that one or two visits cannot reveal the heart of a people. The last church we went to was an Assemblies of God church. I was of high expectations due to the rumors of the Spirit moving throughout these people. Sad to say though, these people were completely lifeless. I could see the leadership and worship team desperately trying to excite the church once more. I recognized that this was once a place where He moved and flowed, but the people have forgotten to taste and see how good God can be. There is a reason God uses so much of our senses in experiencing Him, and tasting Him is a provocative thought. God has given us many good things to tantalize and please the senses and food is one thing we can metaphorize to who He is. In other words, I see a strong connection of flavor and taste of food and appreciating and savoring it compared to appreciating and savoring our Lord. I don’t want to get heretical here, so we’ll just leave it there. And I just expect you’ll understand… or you won’t.
Restaurants come and go in West Plains, and most of them are just the same offering of a different locale. People get all excited and then they just go back to the same old, same old when the feeling has worn off. Much like they are with the church offerings in town. It is of an individuals expectations to flavorize their own life if they miss what they may have known; like my wife and I have done as we find ourselves among people satisfied with the plain.
As I said before, there are exceptions, and my wife and I and my family try not to be snooty when it comes to what we find at potlucks and such and we truly are grateful for just being invited, for the people are spicy enough for us.
I miss really good pizza. And there is an okay place here in West Plains, although it has changed locations three times and management more than I can count, but they keep going, which is appreciated. One place that I will insist on going to on our supposed trip to Salt Lake City is, The Pie Pizzeria. The Pie as it is affectionately called, has been a staple restaurant at the University of Utah for as long as I can remember. You access The Pie by going down a dark stairway just off of 2nd South and East of 13th East, right near to the University Pharmacy entrance. The walls are covered in graphittied up brick and the tables are big; big enough to fit one of their 23″ giant pepperonis! Covered in cheese and hidden underneath are big slices of pepperoni, that any well traveled kid such as myself could enjoy 5-6 slices. Although it was later in life when I came to enjoy the delight of the Combo. There is nothing hidden about the Combo, everything is there for you to see.
Strange Confessions: We once smuggled a back-pack full of beer into The Pie and sat at one of the back tables, hiding and consuming our seriously illegal brews for at the time we weren’t even of age. But I don’t think the staff much cared about that, and it was so dim nobody could see any which way, besides we only had eyes for the pies being brought out and set on the tiny stands over the little candles every pizza place use to have.
The Pie used to be a place where you had to do some planning to get there and get yer pie. But for 10 years or so now, The Pie has sprung up in several places in the valley including Midvale and *gasp* South Jordan. Which is kind of a good thing, but also kind of a bad thing… if you know what I mean. And, in the intervening years of “fancy” pizza, The Pie has diversified even more. But the one thing you can always count on when visiting The Pie, is an exciting array of flavors, and loads of cheese.
Just you wait my friends. Just you wait.
Strange Confessions: I was dreadfully afraid to get sick in the car while I was growing up, because I didn’t want to get fined for littering if I threw-up out the window.
I have a vague recollection of a conversation with one or more of my parents regarding those signs you see on the freeways warning of fines if you littered. All sorts of scenarios went through my mind regarding string, rice, ice, apple cores. But the most perplexing thing that was given birth in my brain was, “Is vomiting out the car window considered littering?”
I sincerely put forth my query and they told me that, yes indeed, throwing-up out the car window was littering. “Who has to pay?” I asked. I was informed that they would pay but they would expect remuneration for the foul fine. I doubt if my parents ever said remuneration to me, and I never considered an upset stomach coating the black asphalt speeding perilously by, to be a work that they had done for me. Who were these policemen who would hate a child enough to watch them speeding by as the green faced warrior of warning and chaos spewed forth its venom and then pursue them to the ends of the earth just to make sure fines were distributed to the innocent? It was just an undigested bit of beef or blot of mustard or an underdone potato that caused all the mess anyway… how could they consider fining the poor sick lad who didn’t want to be slapped for mussing the car all up?
My mind pondered this for some time, and then I ingested the information, took it for what it was worth and vowed never to get sick enough to vomit out a car window.
As some trigger in my brain released this long forgotten information, I wondered at its genesis. Did my dad, for as the more I write the more I recall, tell me this just to have a bit of fun? Or did he tell me this because his dad told him? My Grandfather died before I was born and the only thing my dad told us about him was that he owned a spaghetti factory by the union station tracks near downtown Salt Lake, and that he punished him once for messing with a dishwasher and broke his arm. I also recall a picture of him someone, somewhere had of him strolling down the streets of downtown Salt Lake City in finely pleated slacks, polished shoes, double-pocketed button up shirt and a straw hat perched nonchalantly on his noggin. Did he tell his son stories to mess with him? My dad was an only child. I am the middle.
Perhaps I recall this story to purge it from who I am. Many people find it a ridiculous notion that our relationship with our fathers drives our relationship with God. I many times feel as if I am God’s comedy release. Even now, with so many things frustrating and mocking me because of my own fate, makes me feel that God isn’t angry with me… He just likes having a good laugh at me once in a while. Purge it. Purge it. Purge it. Thank you for the recall of such innocence of youth, brain, for it is to purge bad theology that effects my heart. Nonchalant hat tips to my God.
Back when I was in High School I would have to set my own alarm for the waking up in the morning on time bit. I didn’t have a parent who came in and pulled of the sheets or turned on the lights to make me get out of bed. Apparently they figured I was responsible enough to rouse myself, shower, break fast and make my own lunch. I became amazed at the amount of parents who still babied their babies well into their college years when I grew older and heard stories about all the coddling that goes on. I thought that I would have done well with some coddling every now and then, but then I think it was probably good for me.
One of the biggest fears I had was the alarm not going off in the morning. I try to remember a time of disaster that my have happened as a result of me not getting up, but as I rack my brain, it comes up empty. As usual. My concern became such a huge factor that I believed that I had some sort of trick or spirit arm that could maneuver in any way as long as it connected with my elbow. If I set the alarm and moved my hand away, the spirit arm could switch it off if I allowed it in the area for too long. It was quite the trickster of a spirit arm, was it not? If I didn’t move away fast enough the arm could ruin the entire day for me. I would lay there wondering if my arm got the alarm off. I would check if it was on. It was on. Then I would wonder again. Then check again. This would happen up to 8 times. It drove me crazy, my spirit arm. How did I have such responsibility, yet such a great ability to sabotage myself? Yet that is the question isn’t it? I am the greatest saboteur of myself.
I come back to wanting to publish more “Strange Confessions” but make it difficult to understand by my stream of thought speaking. Sorry about that. I will be doing this again, but maybe only occasionally as an audible. Some other new segments on Stranger In Rebellion will be introduced soon.
Strange Confessions: This opportunity in Denver and the subsequent reactions of my church family here in West Plains has affected me greater than I first thought.
I have been part of a discipleship group with three other men here for the past month, and have been discussing many things with them. The congregation that I am a part of now does not see discipleship as I always imagined it: sitting there with a book of doctrine in your lap or on the table and going over again what we have known but occasionally forget, forcefully trying to slam it into your brain for good. We take walks, and talk. We ask each other questions about what we would do in certain situations. There is discussion about how we are leading our family and ways we can do it better. We talk about long term relationships, careers, and ministries. We consider the immediate and grasp the consequences of the past. The Holy Spirit flows through our assembly as we do our best to honor Him in all our contemplations.
“Why do you call your blog ‘Stranger in Rebellion’?” I was asked the other night. I am quite proud that I came upon that name and all its connotations, stemming from the “Strange Confessions” and other strangeness that encompasses who I believe I am. Earlier that night I told them about my difficulty in writing over the past few weeks. I tried writing about the sermon regarding Friendship three different times. It seems as if I’m stuck in trying to convey the importance and value of what being a true friend in the full biblical sense really is. I get caught up in thinking about how I was so interested in getting out of West Plains, that I forgot about… relationship: family and friends that I’m not sure I’ve really had until these last couple of years. I don’t want to devalue our church family in Utah in any way, but this is so much different from what I knew back West. We also discussed the Youth Group that is starting up with me at the helm, and how I want to go beyond what is the other standard fare offered here in West Plains. I think about all the “wasted” time that has rushed by in the past and how now I see the world, God, and the gospel in such a brighter light, and I want to share that with these young adults so that they at least have the opportunity to understand all that before their life is in their sun’s declination phase. There is a passion inside me that wants to reveal the God that I now know, the gospel that is all about freedom, and glory that shines in us every day. I’ve missed the times when I taught Sunday School years ago, that is when I fully got into the Word. Yes, I struggle with giving my God the time He completely deserves, yet in teaching the desire comes fully alive.
The question posed to me lied more in the fact that I am no longer the “Stranger” I once was, and might be part of the reason I am struggling to write. They say people don’t change. We know, as Christians, that this is completely false. Others understand this in some superficial way. Sure we change our minds, our habits, our style, but fundamentally we are the same. I am new. In many ways I am the same. I stay quiet when I don’t feel what I say is important enough or smart enough or considered enough. I get very opinionated and loud when discussing our societal woes. I enjoy movies and pop-culture. I love my family and I miss the ones I am related by blood, who are far away. Yet, I am new. There has been a switch that went off inside me that I need to explore. This something is more… mature, you might say. It is more willing to Be where God has me. Resolve is changing to contentment.
I think my friend hears all this in me and, considers the Stranger to be no more. And to tell you the truth, I believe he is right. Change is inevitable. This considered move to Denver revealed how much I am attached here. Prior to these occurrences, I saw us moving and forgetting about all that we knew here, in West Plains, deleting contacts in our phone and on that one site. Now, as I ponder these possible actions, it almost brings me to tears. This place has become so much a part of what I am, who I am, that I can no longer consider forgetting it all once we are geographically gone, if that ever happens.
This change is not a new idea in my mind, for over the last few months I have thought things needed to change about the blog. Make it more about life and the gospel and our culture as it relates to us all and step a little bit away from it being about my experiences. Not stepping away entirely, because my experiences are about who I am, but in a more… generic(?) way. I don’t know, perhaps you’ll understand once I start going on the new name/site that I will develop… eventually, when I am ready. Writing is a desire in me that I can rarely contain when the spirit is upon me. So after 125 posts to this site, farewell. I will post a link here when all the newness comes about.
Thank you all for reading Stranger in Rebellion, I hope to see you all in my future endeavors.
Strange Confessions: If I was one of those environmentalists who felt very strongly about their convictions, I’d be the kind that would want the whole human race eliminated. Like all gone. By disease or forced voluntary death/evacuation. However you do it, it is going to be a difficult task and you couldn’t be entirely sure everyone was gone.
So enters my review on Noah. I didn’t generally feel it was that bad… Perhaps it is good I rebooted my that one site account, for there were posts and opinions about it where I might get the snarly-lip thrown at me. I knew enough about the film that I just realized it was Darren Aronofsky’s fevered dream about how horrible the human race is and that the environment above all is what should be preserved. There is some truth in it too. I read once that within all stories is a story that reflects the gospel, and you don’t have to look that hard to see it here in Noah.
The beginning reveals, in a very well done/classic stop motion way, creation and the first murder, and angels showing empathy toward humans and the Creator cursing them. The earth is a barren wasteland with very little growth and people roaming around committing violence and looking for meat to consume. Noah and his father wander in isolated areas away from what they call “humans.” When they are gathering, or whatever they are doing, and they hear other men coming, they say with disdain and fear, “Humans! Hide.” Noah later does this with his sons. I did not comprehend what they thought of themselves, perhaps they thought that as a group or collective, influenced by each other in violent means, that these were “humans.” As a boy Noah witnesses his father being killed by other men.
So, to the main story at hand. Noah has visions of floods, him at the bottom of this flood and bodies all beneath him. In reality, incidentally it is hard to tell the difference between what Noah is really seeing or is having a vision of, Noah sees a harsh, violent, irredeemable mass of people eventually covering the earth. Noah takes his sons to see Methuselah to find out about his visions. On the way there they rescue a girl from death among the dead, and are chased by humans bent on violence. They seek refuge in the land of the Watchers, the fallen/cursed angels who helped the humans. The Watchers are mostly suspicious and fear humans. They are giant rock creatures made using stop motion animation. I really like the way these looked. Of course there is obvious disdain for these creatures by the Christian community, because it is really a stretch for Aronofsky as the Nephilim mentioned in the Bible. When they see Methuselah, he gives them a seed that will help him in his endeavor to save the animals from the cruel humans by building an ark.
Other stuff happens, but let’s get to the point. Noah is planning on preserving his line on the ark until he goes to find Ham a wife among the humans. This is where Noah truly sees humans. As he wanders this camp that is planning on taking the ark when the flood comes, we are disturbed by the stealing of human children by bandits to exchange them for meat that the crowd tears apart and shreds with their teeth. The crowds are getting out of hand and meat is thrown to calm them, but it only throws them more into a frenzy. They are bloodthirsty fiends that Noah has never seen this close. As he looks around from a high vantage point of all the chaos surrounding him, he sees his father tearing at an animal, thus seeing himself and if his line is preserved he and his family will carry on the bloodthirsty rages that defines the humans he sees. I can see his point of view and it is a biblical view, whether or not it was Noah’s. Noah begins to become violent and fearful to his family as he tells them about how his line, the whole of people will end with the death of Japheth. There is another remarkable scene that uses stop motion, where Noah tells his family the story of creation and how animals were first and it was only when humans came about that things truly fell apart, which for the most part is true.
I use to go to parties or dances or clubs where there were lots of people and the music was loud and people were stupid. For a time it was fun, but eventually I got claustrophobic and had to get out. It always ended that way. I’d get out depressed and feel as if the whole world was dark and disturbed for giving in so much to themselves; and this was before I became a Christian. I hear people talk about how we evolve and we are getting better, but I didn’t ever see it. I see the whole environmental movement as a failure. We’ll never get it right, because no matter what we do to make things better, I believe for the most part it will only get worse. Yes, I have a pessimistic view on the human race, which is why I believe our only hope is Him, is Christ and His coming back and making all things new. Every effort we make for ourselves will fall. Things might seem better for a time, but we will only find better ways to bring about earlier destruction. Dark, I know, but that is how I see it, but it is one of the reasons I was drawn to Him. Which is totally why I could sympathize with the way Aronofsky portrays Noah in this.
I haven’t seen any Aronofsky since his very first film, Pi, but I have followed his career. Most of the stuff I haven’t watched for personal reasons, but I must say I admired his stance much more than that ridiculous made for TV version starring Jon Voight several years ago. The Jon Voight rewrote the story to garner more action and “story,” it considered the audience dumb. Aronofsky does not consider his viewers dumb, but in seeing much of the criticism for this film, I would not be surprised that his perception of Christians was brought low in his creative story telling. I admire him for that. And I liked his film.
(Writers note: These are the final transfers of facebook posts that I’ve wanted to keep. I am speaking to you now within a parenthetical statement, because of some commentary I want to say, so as not to confuse the post from any comment regarding it therein.)
December 6, 2013 – So, I just got a call from a security company wanting to see if I was interested in free wireless security in exchange for putting up a sign in my yard. This thing I was talking to was totally a computer with computer responses to things I said. It said it’s greeting twice in the exact same inflection and wording when I pretended like I didn’t hear it. I told it, it was a computer, and it said, “I’m not a computer.” Later on, I said it was a computer again, and it said the same thing: same voice, same inflection. I told it to prove to me he (it) wasn’t a computer. It said it was calling to find people who are interested… I interrupted and told it to tell me a movie it has seen recently. It went back to telling me it was looking for people interested… I yelled, “You’re a computer,” into the phone and hung up. Ha! Take that computer pretending to be a person. The revolution will be on us soon people. You better learn to recognize what is a real person and what is a machine. Have a conversation with that too perfectly sounding voice, their programming can not handle your awesomely, organic questioning.
(Following is three statements that I was intending to turn into “I believe” commentary. It was going to be much like my “Strange Confessions” and I may continue it on my new page.)
February 20, 2014 – I have to realize that I’m am not working on the same plane of reality as most people. My reality borders on fantasy bordering on weirdness bordering on self deprecation bordering on the outer limits.
February 20, 2014 – I believe child prodigies are people who were able to access the part of their brain that can do time travel and they came back into their own baby bodies with full knowledge of the life they just lived, and are doing it all over again with obvious advantages.
February 21, 2014 – I believe some telemarketing companies make background noises that sound like hundreds of other telemarketers quietly mumbling their business to hundreds of other potential customers. Think about it: Why don’t you ever hear something like, “Jack, you want to got to Joinkies for lunch today?” or “Who drank all the coffee?” or “Susan, I want those human recipe reports on my desk in five.” or “I just got another human to sign up to join the collective, it’s going to be quite a day when we reveal our final plans.”
(Another commentary I found hilarious enough to keep. You gotta make yourself laugh, right?)
April 27, 2014 – Facebook: Bringing families together that you never knew existed to the ultimate family reunion. Then they sit around showing you all their photos of dogs, cats and other plethoratic materials with the quirky sayings and such that they’ve collected over the years, while there is a great softball game to participate in and the cold fried chicken your grandma makes only once a year sits there, unconsumed by you, but you can’t get away.
(This one is just comments from a link I shared about this article. It was regarding witnessing to Mormons, and a friend from Utah asked me something and I knew what she was thinking so I answered her. She is a conservative so I was trying to appeal to that, but she kept coming back to saying I sound like a Mormon, in thinking that I have truth and you don’t, which is true, but we don’t necessarily come out and say that. You discuss matters, and she wasn’t willing. It is a reminder to me how even those who are attacked for their beliefs are not disqualified from doing the attacking. So, you’ll see.)
Her: So, are you saying that everyone who is not an “evangelical Christian” is not a Christian at all?
Me: Since I know you are asking from a Catholic perspective, to me a Christian in this reference is of the Protestant tradition. I understand that many religions and/or denominations believe in a partial biblical understanding and sometimes mythical tradition of Christ and still call themselves Christian. I’m not sure your stance on Mormons calling themselves Christian, so as to be accepted more by the mainstream, but I would not call them Christian. In the same way and in my adherence to the bible alone I would not include Catholic in that reference, but that is not to say many Catholics aren’t Christian… Does that answer your question? Feel free to ask follow up, I’d love to discuss it.
Her: I see what you are saying but I disagree for the most part. No, I do not think Mormons are Christians… But THEY think they are. They also believe that they are doing the absolute best thing by Christ as possible. But to exclude and/or dismiss anyone that blatantly, well it makes you exactly like the Mormons. They too like to think they are the only “true”church, the only ones who got it right, and the rest of us are screwed. It is not your place to decide who will or will not make it to the top.
Me: I understand what you are saying and I want you to know that I am not the one who make the decisions. I don’t want to say anything that would divide any further so I have a question, you can answer here or pm, Do you know the difference between Catholics and Born Again/Evangelical Christians? If you do and think I’m an idiot for asking, just say, “Duh!” but I want to make sure of semantics before I go any further.
Her: To answer, not really. But I can also tell you, I don’t care either. If you want to attempt to convince me that salvation and Christ’s love is an exclusive club that only a few can have will be a waste of your time and mine. I am sorry you feel the Catholic church let you down. I am quite happy and I feel no need to judge anyone.
Me: Fair enough, and I’m sorry if any of my words have made you angry. You must sometimes know how it feels when you post something conservative and your liberal friends don’t understand. You’d like to convince them of your intent and how logical the conservative viewpoint is, but they won’t hear you. It has happened to me and I very rarely post anything political because I don’t want to hurt or alienate anyone. I realize that I won’t convince anyone of anything but I want to make sure at least that they understand my semantics. I appreciate my Catholic upbringing and never feel as if it let me down, but that it is fully realized through my understanding now. This format is not the best way to discuss things, I enjoy one-on-one relationships best, but I must be true to what I believe and write, and have an answer for those who disagree, just like we both do when our liberal friends say something,,, (for want of a better term) in ignorance. If we sat down on a park bench or for coffee, without the world watching, we could discuss freely and understand each other better.
Her: It’s funny, I know you mean well, but you have no idea how much like a mormon you sound. I think we understand each other perfectly. You really don’t need another format to explain better what you believe. I also don’t need A different format to have my relationship with Christ explained to me by anyone who thinks that by it’s difference, it is somehow wrong. Your “label” is no different than any other human created label. There are many paths to salvation, and much like the mormons, you think you are on the only one. I think your work would be best directed towards atheists and their venomous need to not just not believe, but to destroy the belief and freedom to believe in others. The need to rank and file your fellow Christians is misguided.
Me: Well, I guess you shut me down.
Her: I didn’t mean to shut you down. I was/am offended that you would dismiss so many really good people as not Christian simply because it doesn’t fit they way you believe. Our God is a tolerant, loving, God. He knows His children are screw ups. There are many paths, I am glad you found yours. If you save one you are doing good.
Me: Part of my blog name is “Rebellion” and one of the things I am rebelling against is that we no longer (if ever) really share with each other our lives, our ideas, our faith, ourselves. We assume things about each other in order not to overburden our minds with compassion or empathy. I don’t ever want to be that way. Since I’ve been in West Plains I’ve had lots of opportunity to find out about people by asking them about their motivations for what they do and what they believe. I assumed since I was from SLC that they would be interested in me. I became disillusioned about relationships, but through love and care of some great people, I have realized that it is part of my burden too, to know and love people no matter who they are. In writing, and seeing others write, political positions of the conservative side, those in opposition just want to silence you. “Don’t give them the opportunity to speak,” is the liberal mantra, so I rebel against that in really trying to find out why they believe. Most liberals believe that even questions are an attack on their ideology. It is a sad world we live in. So even though some of the things you say about me are correct, many of the reasons you may assume I got here are wrong. I understand you not wanting to have a conversation, that I’m just trying to convert you, but there is more to it than just what you have seen in the world, I’m deeper than most representatives of my faith that you see portrayed in the media. Either way, I am glad we are still conversing.
(For my last, I was saving this “Strange Confession” because I wanted to post the story I wrote, but haven’t gotten around to it. Perhaps when I find it, I’ll post.)
May 26, 2012 – Strange Confessions: I read a lot of Stephen King when I was younger, sometimes still do. Although now, I think he’s more deranged now then he was then, but that is another story. Anyway, I wanted to write like him and when I took took a creative writing course in high school I wrote a couple of short stories in honor of my creepy dark side influenced by King. The first one was called, and I still remember, “Killer Born from a Barbecue.” The narrator was a man who married an “ugly”, unsympathetic, rich woman who had a sister married to some other guy possibly for the same reasons. He was thinking how awful his life was and what he could do to get out of his situation. How his life led up to this point of thinking so much about money that he married for it and so disliked his wife, her sister and husband. The dialogue was him answering curtly to her vacuous questions as he barbecued and her sister and husband were out in the hedges playing croquet or something. Suddenly the husband of the sister emerged from the hedges with a bloody ax(mallet) screaming and coming towards the narrator and his wife intent on killing them. Whoa, dark stuff, yeah?
The other story was this same killer years later living in a culvert near a park and coming out to listen to some people playing classical music. A sweet old lady took hold of him and brought him to her house so she could feed, bathe, and give a homeless guy a second chance. I remember thinking would he kill her or would she be actually evil. But I actually ended it with him running out of the house screaming because she was killing him with kindness.
I liked both stories and remember them fondly because it reminds me of where I came from, who I am now, and how hard it is to reveal who you were to people who know you now and what will they think of you. But, we need to remember where we came from, because that is what formed and shaped us into who we are. I believe I still have those stories somewhere, and wish I would of kept all of who I was but, alas I’m really not that sentimental.