What is Art?

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My mother and I have made many trips up to the Bay Area, but on one trip my mind was open to a new perspective on art. On the trip in junior high school, I dared to put The Eminem Show, my favorite CD, into the car stereo. You see I made youthful error with my mother, we were already late, I had already been obnoxious for an hour or two, and of course she was in a bad mood. My mother is an understanding product of the 70’s and does her best to be patient of her children’s interests, but I caught her at a bad time. Only 30 seconds to a minute into Eminem’s song “White America” she turned the dial down to 0 and said “Andrew, what is that noise?!? It’s giving me a headache!”

What is art? When does a sound with heavy bass transcend noise and become music?

 

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. – Aristotle

Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together – John Ruskin

The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke – Jerzy Kosinski

I didn’t have nothin’ going for me… school, home… until I found something I loved, which was music, and that changed everything. – Eminem

 

 

Art is the beautiful physical expression of emotion.

 

Growing up riding in my parents’ cars I would be constantly flooded with country music, so therefore it would only be natural for me to grow up identifying with cowboys right? That may have been the case if it weren’t for my sister handing me my first CD that I to put in my Walkman, my sister handed me the Eminem Show. One listen through the CD and I fell in love with this beautiful art. This art touched my soul, made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the midst of a messy divorce. This art gave me the confidence to be angry. This art gave me the ability to laugh at pain. This art touched me, but not everyone would agree that this was art at all.

 

During my childhood that noise was my friend, my best friend. That noise was there with me when I was angry, when I was sad, when I needed motivation, and when I wanted to laugh. I see the flaws in that noise; it is vulgar, abusive, objectifying, rude, and sinful. I see the flaws, but that noise reached my soul and brought me away from the place of self-destruction and misery. That noise gave me the confidence to know that this wasn’t how life was supposed to be. I wouldn’t be a Christian today if it weren’t for that noise. I may not be alive it wasn’t for that noise.

 

Art tries to be an inclusive club mostly to make money. I struggle to label any piece of art as noise, because I have no idea what person’s life it changed. The Eminem Show changed my life, and affected the ears of more than 8 million listeners. There are a lot of people who connected with that noise.

 

I see art as the beautiful expression of emotion, but I am a foolish 21 year-old who thinks way too much and asks questions that I may never answer. My only hope is that by asking ‘thought fool questions’ I may spark a conversation with you, because thinking alone is not really thinking.

 

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What Is Joy?

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First of all, I apologize for the delay in post. I try to post by Saturday night, but I failed. It is also a longer post, but I think if you stick with it you will enJOY it

I was in my college’s chapel at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany Oklahoma on Thursday at noon with no plans for the weekend. Fast-forward 60 hours and I am sitting and laughing in an ice cream shop in Houston Texas with seven of my friends. As I am basking in a consuming feeling of fulfillment, I see the “Chocolate Bar’s” slogan written across their wall: “Where every hour is happy hour.” This slogan caught my attention and inspired me to ask a Thought Fool Question, “What is Joy?”

 

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Here are a few quotes on Joy:

 

Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.Joseph Campbell

 

As selfishness and complaint pervert the mind, so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision. Helen Keller

 

I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy. C. S. Lewis

 

The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy. Jim Rohn

 

Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods. Plato

 

Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment. Tony Robbins

 

Joy is not in things; it is in us. Richard Wagner

 

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. Leo Buscaglia

 

Joy is the fulfillment of one’s heart. Joy is the overwhelming feeling of unconditional love. Joy happens when one wraps their arms around life’s thesis.

 

1 Peter 8: “You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious inexpressible joy” (NLT).

 

A look back in my phone notes, brought this poem I wrote on September 19th to my attention:

 

 

 

Dear Lord,

 

Thank you for your grace 

 

Lonely as I am, I thank you for the space

 

Lord if I search for love, what is it worth?

 

Lord if I search for peace what is it worth?

 

If I wait for provision, how endless is the bounty?

 

Lord your gifts are like honey

 

My achievements are waiting to be forgotten

 

My rewards are rotten 

 

Lord I pray that you keep me alone until I put you before them

 

Your embrace is worth more than the praises of a thousand men

 

Lord thank you for your grace

 

Lonely as I am, I thank you for the space

 

 

 

As of September 19th, I had been at SNU for a month and I was distraught with dissatisfaction for my life. I came to SNU for two reasons, to continue my collegiate athletic career and build a community of believers that I could call friends. After a month, football was going poorly, and I had no strong friendships to speak of. The circumstances of my life left me in pain. I was unhappy.

 

The word happy is derived from “happenings,” or in other words, circumstances. One is happy when their circumstances are what he/she desires. I was unhappy because my circumstance did not match up with my desires.

 

Fast forward to December 11th when I was in the car with two of my classmates about to drive back to California. That day I was content, but not as happy as I expected to be. I hadn’t seen California for over 7 months, and I felt uncomfortable. That day I was leaving SNU and I was not sure if I was ever coming back. I was no longer playing football at SNU, and I had an opportunity to play football at three other great schools. Why did I feel uncomfortable? SNU did not have the ability to provide the circumstances I desired anymore, so the choice would be easy.

 

Fast forward again to January 10th, that day I was getting back in my car, and saying good-bye to my pursuit of happiness. I had decided during my winter break to transfer to Campbellsville University to play football under two former professional Quarterbacks. I got there and the school had all the tools to give me the circumstances of my dreams, but yet something was missing. I prayed and prayed, and then realized I was giving up joy for happiness. At SNU I had felt loved, I had began to build genuine friendships and I felt more loved by the Lord than ever before. I decided to leave Campbellsville so that I could spend the next two and a half years basking in the love of the community at SNU, and to continue growing closer to the Lord.

 

Now lets go back to Sunday morning February 16, 2014 12:00 am, that night I felt more absorbed by love, more absorbed by joy, than ever before. Why? I felt joy because I said no to circumstantial pleasures, and said yes to unconditional love.

 

In that chapel I offered a few of my friends a quick suggestion, “If you guys find me a ticket, I will drive.” That one suggestion did not launch a thousand ships, but an even more powerful army. That one suggestion launched my friends onto social media in the hopes of finding tickets to Passion 2014 in Houston Texas. We got the tickets and 12 hours later I was at the gas station about to drive back to my dorm in the hopes of getting 6 hours of sleep before the long day of driving, but then my car wouldn’t start.

 

I got someone at the gas station to give me a jump and I got back to school. Once at school I called my friend Chris, and we began to look at my car to see why it wouldn’t hold a charge. We did some investigating and assumed it was the battery, and at this point it was closing in on 1am. So I had two choices love, or happiness; Passion 14 or staying in Oklahoma. I chose love. My friend Chris, who wasn’t even going with us, went with me and helped me get a new battery for my car, and then install it. I got back in my dorm at 3:30 in the morning. I was unhappy, but excited for the impending Joy.

 

During the next 42 hours I was loved by 7 of my favorite people at SNU, Eric Smith, Tyler Ray, Lindsey Fudge, Mallory Redwine, Nathan Martin, Katie Cosper and Felipe Simões. We laughed, talked, loved, and worshipped our Lord and Savior together. During those 42 hours I got 2 hours of sleep and spent 18 hours in worship amongst those same 7 people and 18,000 other college-aged Christians. The Joy in that arena was inexpressible, so here is a picture.

 

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I came back to SNU in the pursuit of deep joyful friendship and a relationship with the Lord that’s joy is inexpressible. On Saturday February 16th, 12:00am the clarity of love assured me I made the right decision. My heart was fulfilled, I was overwhelmed by unconditional love, and I was embraced by life’s thesis. I attempted to argue with life’s thesis, but I failed and gave in. I now realize that every hour can’t be happy hour. I realize circumstances will fail me. I realize that joy will never fail me. I realize that love can comfort me at 3:00 a.m. changing a battery in a Wal-Mart parking lot. I realize that worshiping amongst 18,000 people was more fulfilling than throwing a touchdown. I realize that friendship is worth more than fans. I now I realize the Lord’s bread tastes better than the world’s chocolate.

 

I see Joy as the fulfillment of one’s heart, the feeling of unconditional love, and the embrace of life’s thesis, but I am a foolish 21 year old who thinks way too much and asks questions that I may never answer. My only hope is that by asking ‘thought fool questions’ I may spark a conversation with you, because thinking alone is not really thinking.

 

 

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What is Culture?

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During the SuperBowl Coca-cola released an ad showcasing one of America’s most noteworthy songs, “America The Beautiful”, sang in several languages other than English. If you didn’t see the ad you were probably not watching the SuperBowl, and thus are not American.

So for all you international readers here is a link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MEsOzzunPQ

All jokes aside, this commercial sparked outrage on twitter, inciting tweets such as:

Coke having a commercial with an American song in other languages… not cool. Coke. GTFO with that”- @KYBlackout

Nice to see that coke likes to sing an AMERICAN song in the terrorist’s language. Way to go coke. You can leave America”- @tylerwyckoff24

Still confused as to why they were singing about America in all those foreign languages in the Coke commercial. We speak English…” – @annalangleyy

because of that commercial I’m switching to Pepsi. In America we speak English !!!” – @raiderbgirl

F*** outa here you communist liquid” – @RompahStompah

When did coke get bought out by terrorists?..” – @ckaufman21

Unfortunately, these tweets speak not only for the people behind the words, but also speak to “America’s” cultural issues.

I see culture as one’s unique expectations on how they, and others should live.

My other grandfather, Richard Jencks has made an impact on my life also. Some of my fondest childhood memories include going to Fallen Leaf Lake near Tahoe California, watching UC Berkeley win the Stafford Axe, and my first hike underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Not only do I have these memories to thank my grandfather Richard for, but I also have to thank Richard for all of the great conversation. I would not be the same person, nor thinker, if Richard Jencks had not contributed to my life.

I do have one memory with Richard that is relevant to the question “What is culture?” One year when I was visiting my grandparents over Thanksgiving break, Richard said to me, “get your feet off the couch.” When this happened, I was somewhere between eight and eleven years old. At that time in my life I really enjoyed watching TV while having all five and a half feet of my adolescent body sprawled across whatever furniture was available. At home I never got in trouble for laying down on the couch, so I did not think twice before I started to get comfortable. Richard is a stern and confident man, and when he told me to get my feet off the couch I felt as though I committed treason against my homeland. My shoes had been off and my feet were clean; I could not figure out why Richard felt so strongly about my feet not being on the coach. I trembled in fear around Richard because I did not understand what I did wrong.

Now that I can look back on it with a little more maturity, I realize that Richard felt disrespected. I imagine when he was growing up he was taught not to sprawl on couches out of respect for the owner of the couch. He expected me to live that way and was frustrated that I was ignorant of my responsibilities as a human. I failed to assimilate to his culture. I had no idea that I was being disrespectful. I was not intending to disrespect Richard, I was merely making myself at home.

When I reflect on that day I begin to wonder, when have I told someone, “get your feet off the couch”? When has my culture got in the way of relationships? When have I took something as disrespect when it was merely just someone making themselves at home? When have my unique expectations on how I and others should live deterred people from being my friend? I like to think that everyone is going to live by my set of rules; but like language, people may share a common space, but not everyone is going to speak English.

I see my culture as my unique expectations on how I, and others should live, but I am a foolish 21 year old who thinks way too much and asks questions that I may never answer. My only hope is that by asking ‘thought fool questions’ I may spark a conversation with you, because thinking alone is not really thinking.

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What is Maturity?

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I initially planned my first blog to be a light hearted discussion of my perspective on maturity. I was looking forward to telling humorous stories recalling my immaturity, but other circumstances dictated otherwise.

 

What do others say about maturity?

 

  • Having reached an advanced stage of mental or emotional development characteristic of an adult” – Oxford Dictionaries
  • Maturity is the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner” – Wikipedia
  • Maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others”- David A. Bendar
  • When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” – C.S. Lewis
  • Spiritual maturity is not reached by the passing of the years, but by obedience to the will of God. Some people mature into an understanding of God’s will more quickly than others because they obey more readily; they more readily sacrifice the life of nature to the will of God.”- Oswald Chambers
  • Relationships are the hallmark of the mature person.” – Brian Tracy
  • The rate at which a person can mature is directly proportional to the embarrassment he can tolerate” – Douglas Engelbart

I see maturity as a combination of:

  • Awareness
  • Clarity

When I was young, somewhere between seven and ten, my grandfather brought me with him to an alumni family weekend at Cate High School. I enjoyed spending time with my grandfather, he was fun and loved me very much, but unfortunately my most accessible memory of that weekend came on the campus obstacle course. This was a huge obstacle course with a ropes course, a swings course, a telephone pole to climb and a rock wall, if my memory serves me well, was the height of the Empire State Building. I spent the day climbing the different obstacle courses, but I steered clear of the telephone pole. To complete that obstacle challenge one was supposed to climb the pegs all the way up then stand at the top. Each person was properly harnessed in and falling would just mean a steady drop to the bottom. My grandfather encouraged me to take the challenge and so I began climbing. I remember like it was yesterday, my eyes were staring up this pole and with each step I took the pole shook more and more. Even though I had seen other people conquer the telephone pole, I was still trembling in fear; I was afraid the pole may fall over, I was afraid my harness wouldn’t work, and I was crying. I pleaded to my grandfather to let me come back down while I had tears pouring down my face. And I can still hear in my memory my grandfather yelling at me to keep going and to face my fears. Even with my continued pleading he still kept telling me to be courageous. This eventually turned into an embarrassing scene and a family friend climbed up the pole and brought me down. I resented my grandfather for the rest of the weekend and did not want to be around him. I was angry that he was not there to help me in a moment of intense need, and this resentment went on for months and years. My relationship with my grandfather was damaged because of my immaturity.

Awareness is the ability for one to perceive and understand others’ expectations and intentions. We all have expectations for how people should act and interact. Some may define that as our culture. Each person has a slightly unique set of expectations, and understanding that person’s expectations and acting accordingly is what I understand to be maturity. This can be as simple as understanding the appropriate time to say please and thank you’s, and as complex as understanding when is the appropriate time to crack a light hearted joke in the midst of heart ache. One’s ability to understand other people’s expectations is a key step in the maturation process.

My grandfather had good intentions. He wanted me to be a strong and courageous man. My grandfather pushed me to be the sort of man I wanted to be. I was not ready for this strong of a push, but my grandfather had limited time with me and did not want to miss an opportunity to get me going in the right direction. My immature eyes saw only the actions, not the intentions. At the time, I assumed my grandfather was trying to embarrass me and did not care about my life. He was seemingly pushing me to the brink of death and putting me in a situation where everyone was laughing at me. I resented him for that. I wish I had an ounce more maturity, and had known his intentions, so that I may have not missed out on quality time with my grandfather that I wish I could have today.

Clarity is the ability to execute the priority list one builds their life on. Often our wants, desires, fears, and insecurities cloud decision making, which can keep a person from executing the priority list they have built. Wednesday, January 29th, I received a call from my mother telling me that my grandfather’s health declined rapidly and he only had days to lives; also my mother alluded to fact that my grandfather may never recognize me again. It was in that moment of intense emotions that I received the gift of clarity. All other stresses and worries disappeared. Because of this rude awakening my priority list was reestablished, even if only for a brief moment. I jumped on the plane at the crack of dawn the next day, hungering for my final moments with my grandfather, and thirsting for any extra moments I could get with my mother, father, aunt, uncle, cousins, and close friends. As I am writing this I am so thankful for each and everyone I love, I am basking in warm clarity.

As I reflect on my life spent with my grandfather and my family I am ashamed at my immaturity. I often chose working out, cheap friends, stupid girls, and other wants and desires over my family and loved ones. Though I regret my poor decision making I am comforted by the fact that I realize my mistakes now. I am comforted by a new found clarity.

I see maturity as awareness and clarity, but I am a foolish 21 year old who thinks way too much and asks questions that I may never answer. My only hope is that by asking ‘thought fool questions’ I may spark a conversation with you, because thinking alone is not really thinking.

 

 

 

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