“BF”, Consumerism, and Breathless Idols

Here goes year the second of the american thanksgiving tradition.

Having placed aside the yearnings, I have to see my family, has made this Thanksgiving a more enjoyable experience. Dinner was amazing, and I most certainly loved spending time with Sara’s family. However, this year a new experience was added to the holiday; Black Friday shopping. My initial reaction was, why not? We would have Thanksgiving dinner, we would watch a movie, sleep a few hours, and at four in the morning we would head out to the one and only mall in Mansfield, OH. So we tried to stick to that initial plan, but a new piece of information completely changed out plans to sleep for a few hours. We though the mall opened at five in the morning, so if we left the house at four then we would get all the good sales at the mall. We were mistaken. The mall did not open at five in the morning, it opened at midnight on Thanksgiving night. We were rolling through several episodes of The Walking Dead (first season) when we got a phone call from Sara’s cousin, who we were heading to the mall with. It was two thirty in the morning, and we would be leaving in ten minutes, ’cause we were apparently behind on the sales by now. We put some jeans on, and thew on a t-shirt and a hoodie, and we headed to the mall.

As we were driving to Mansfield, I felt really pumped. This was something I had never experienced before, but that I had heard many times about.

We arrived to the mall, and from all the bags in the parked cars, I could only imagine how demented and crazy people were as they shopped from store to store. Our first store  was Hollister. There some semi naked models to attract the female shoppers; okay. Then we moved into the heart of the store. I can’t even decide whether it had a heart or not, ’cause I thought it lacked a lot of organization. It took me a long time to find their clearance rack, and when I looked at the prices I became disillussioned with the store. However, it seemed that nobody else around the store shared my same sinking feeling. There were people moving around everywhere; Grabbing as much as they could; Paying without even trying things on. To be honest, it was kind of catastrophic to see. There was barely any cash, most of them swiping their plastic keys to freedom and individualism. My heart sunk when I saw crowds and crowds of people spending money recklessly; their behavior went against all that I was taught as a child. I would probably be bankrupt, if I had not been brought up the way I was. The behavioral pattern did not change as we walked from store to store. How could these shoppers not see that these were not real sales, and that the prices were not that different from their regular prices?

They were finding comfort in man-made items that were “breathless”! As I read my devotional with Jeremiah this morning I realized that I had come into culture shock with a side of America I hadn’t yet fully been exposed to. This was consumer America at its fullest. On Jeremiah chpt 10, God, through Jeremiah, warns about idols and the effect that they have in our lives,

“For the customs of the peoples are worthless, they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold, they fasten it with a hamer and nails so it will not totter. Like  a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good” (3-5).

The clothes we buy cannot speak to us or walk with us. They cannot guide us. The most they can do is make us think higher of ourselves because our confidence is boosted by a cute, new outfit. But they’re not even capable of doing that. We shouldn’t fear such items and think that they can tell us what kind of person we are. At the same time, they don’t do us any good either because the confidence they give us is but a mirage.

“Everyone is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. His images are a fraud; they have no breath in them. They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish. He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, [including us]” (14-16).

I love buying scarfs, and bags, and jewelry, but my life should not depend on these things that “have no breath in them”. My spirit should be revived and awakened all my days, by the Maker who gives us breath and breathes into all he makes.

Growing Up: An Artist’s Vulnerability

According to Robby who co-teaches my Lit seminar, it is painful to introduce one’s favorite books to others and have people disregard them or give negative feedback about them. However, I believe negative feedback, which I prefer to call constructive criticism, can be something good for both the artist and the writer.

A friend shared with me this morning how hard it is for them to do independent study because even if they read the material and finish the homework, there’s no one to give them feedback and tell them whether they are doing things right or wrong. Their concern serves to support my point of view on criticism: We need it. Anyone who creates needs an audience to present the creation to. It’s true that many times we create just to please ourselves, but it is necessary that we have an audience if we intend to grow as artists and writers.

Whenever I am given negative feedback on something I’ve written or created, I don’t frown upon the world and hide under my bed covers. Instead, I hear what they have to use, and look more into what I’ve written to find find evidence that will refute their argument. Sometimes, it will even make me more convicted of my beliefs upon a subject, or the reasons and emotions behind my writing and writing style. If I did not have people telling me how they feel about what I make, then my writing and art would be stagnant. I wouldn’t be able to write any better, or to mix more appealing colors, or to tell more vivid stories.

My audience’s criticism is what make me grow as a writer and artist. Making myself and my creations vulnerable to the public is part of a process. Without that process, I’m pretty sure, my writing would be mediocre; or would improve at a much slower pace.  It is because of this desire to grow in my abilities, that I’ve searched for criticism. It is probably because of this same desire that I’ve decided to continue blogging; Forcing myself to create a healthy habit and making myself vulnerable, before the vast web, so I can continue growing.

 

*Having written on criticism, please feel welcomed to leave comments and feedback on how I blog.

Savor the Raw Reading

I can’t call myself a writer. I can’t call myself an artist.

Therefore,

As a person, I find nothing more enjoyable than tasting what I’ve just cooked, or looking at what I’ve just drawn or painted, or reading what I’ve once written. If there’s ever another spectator to my creations, I expect them to do the same: contemplate. No, not contemplate, but maybe delight or savor. After I’ve made something new, or even fixed something broken, I step back and walk away to later return and sit in contemplation of the completed work. It brings me such peace, that It has become something I expect forward to doing after completing a task. Maybe it’s sometimes the reason why I make something, just so I can sit back and look at what I’ve finished.

This behavior has become another sentence in my living manual; I’ve written it under the section How to Delight in all that you do. But, it isn’t something that I only apply to what I create. You will never see my face glued to a museum work. The tip of my nose will never be within five centimeters of the painting before me; it’s rude. Whenever I go to a museum, I keep in mind that a human like myself created the art work. So I wonder, how would they feel if they knew that I was tearing their creation apart with every blink? And it is the same principle that I’ve applied to literature.

And it is because of this rule of enjoyment that I’ve become slightly annoyed with my literature seminar.

Yes, literature should be analized.

No, we should not intrude into the emotions of the writer through their works.

Almost every time I go to my lit seminar class I get papers telling me about the novel I’m currently reading or about to start reading. This may be rude, but I usually disregard the papers. Someti

mes I read them once I’ve finished the novel. It just seems to me as if I was about to meet someone, but my friend tells me what kind of person they are before I get the chance to create my own image of them. I’m about to meet a set of characters,  or about to meet someone’s inner-child, and I get sheets of papers that tell me who they are and what they feel before I can reach to those conclusions myself! I find it just a little annoying.

There’s a more pleasant ways in which I like to develop my relationship with books. I like to wake up on a cloudy Saturday morning, run to a coffee shop and get a cup of white chocolate mocha, find a comfortable couch, curl up and take a novel out of my backpack, and then I give my full and undivided attention to the story before me.  Get my own impressions from the characters, have conversations with them. Take a step back, contemplate and savor the book in my hands.

Lamentations and Hope

There is a character that I have a special relationship with. I can identify myself with him because he is so human, and that is the quality I strive for. He is not human in the negative perception, that we nowadays, hold of that  word. He is human in the way God designed us to be. He rebelled, because he was able to feel and choose. But at the same time, he had this constant connection with God. What impacts me the most about this man is his heart. He was a reflection of God’s feelings towards us before Jesus walked on this earth. He lamented along with God. He saw this world, and the ones around him, through the eyes of the Father. Most amazingly of all, he lamented along with the Father. And through his message he carried despair, but more importantly hope.  I had only read the book of Lamentations once before. But because I need to write about my relationship with this character, I wanted to read this book one more time. I understood that this man shared and channeled God’s compassionate spirit, but I always read his words and life as a message of despair. But a book that’s meant to show Judah’s lament and the Father’s pain for his people, I found a message of hope that emerges.

The word came in perfect timing.

Tomorrow is a day of elections in my nation, and my soul despairs. I fear for the future of my country and for the future of my family. I know thsi is my time to lament and pray for God’s rescuing mercy. But through the words of God, through the lips of this character, my soul has found hope.

I know tomorrow will be a decisive day for the future of Nicaragua, but I know that my heart and my spirity will wait and hope in the Lord.

“Because  of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therfore I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the onw who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord… Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust- there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men” ~Lamentation 3: 22-33

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” ~Habakuk 3:-17-18

In every season, my hope is in the Lord.