Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Political Animal

Yes, it's a school, I'm not appolozing.

Man is by nature a political animal
Humans have been engaging in politics time immemorial. What is politics? The Merriam Webster dictionary defines politics as: "the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government" Now, political systems and issues have come and gone over the years. The advent of the information superhighway (better know as the net) has added new dynamic to the way people connect. Solomon got it right when he observed that "there is nothing new under the sun." The internet is just the latest instrument to join the chorus in the age old symphony of politics. Not a single issue faced by the America at large is truly new, indeed the tune is an old one. Yet because humans are stubborn and quick to forget, the song appears unfamiliar.
Technology and several other issues shape America's political landscape today. There is (paradoxically) an enormous connection over age old issues because of technology and a splintering along ideological lines.

Cable television has provided a shiny new soapbox for political detractors. Men like Glenn Beck (on the conservative side and Keith Olbermann (on the liberal) pull in millions of viewers. Their goal has nothing to do with actually helping anyone. Instead, such men tap into the anger of the respective audiences, blasting the opposition for the problems faced by all. The logic is simple, nobody is going to watch a political show centered around bipartisanship and progress. It is much easier to gain a viewership by appealing to negative emotion and demonizing those who are wrong or don't agree with you. Brutus did the same thing when Caesar was murdered. The only difference is Fox is able to reach a much wider audience with cable TV, and they aren't interested in murdering anyone.

This point about cable news networks leads directly into the second point, namely the 24/7 365 nature of news. To be sure, things have come a long way from the printing presses of Benjamin Franklin. Now, with the click of button, HLN, CNN, FOX, and MSNBC are accessible. News stories are cycled through like pez out of a dispenser. Once the public has munched one for a few seconds, the anchor tilts back the little head and ejects another thirty second highlight. Long gone are the days where weeks passed before states knew who the new president was. Instead of having adequate time to process a story, people are expected to have answers immediately. After all, the story is breaking right now, shouldn't an answer be available simultaneously? After any major news story breaks, the cable news networks are faithful to gather round the proverbial campfire with a few experts favorable to their cultural paradigm and hash out exactly what is going on.

Yet, even the idea of a Television news network is bit Archaic in light of the new media. With the advent of the net, the press went digital. As with any technological leap, the traditional sources of news are fading into the background as younger, more nimble outlets supplant their elders. Trains, once set in their course, are not easily rerouted, and the internet represents a totally new set of tracks. Such a fundamental shift in the way Americans consume news and information, shapes the way they interact with politics. Sites like the Huffington Post, the drudge report and even Arab news network Aljazeera engaging technology, helping to define how people interact with politics. Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" would probably be abbreviated into about 5 pages, and even that would be pushing it. After all, it's hard to sit down for an intellectual three course dinner when your mental diet consists of pez and fast food. It would be posted on Paine's blog, googled by revolutionaries, posted on Facebook and retweeted like a bouncy ball. Then, in all likelihood, it would be relegated the digital dustbin in a month's time. 

Now, more than ever before, politics are a global concern. What Columbus believed and WWII solidified, technology has only continued to affirm. It's a small world after all, and America has a very big role in the story. People are able to experience news as it's occurring. Protests in the middle east, earthquakes in Japan, protests in the Capital. Imagine having a modern video camera during the sit-ins or Nazi persecution of the Jews, or Jesus ministry. Voters are able to see and hear first hand, how the actions of their leaders effect the rest of the world. Today Al Jazeera is the most watched news channel on You Tube, receiving 2.5 million views per month. Launched on April 16, 2007, the Al Jazeera English YouTube site has more than 10,000 videos currently live on the English channel. SITE

This historic deluge of information makes for the most informed and ADD voter base in history. It remains to be seen whether the free flow of information which technology permits will generate serious negative consequences by causing voters to lose focus. It must be noted that people have always been selfish and near sited when it comes to picking leaders. Look at Israel's old testament cry for a King; it didn't go over well.

Technological advances have have been tremendously impactful in political campaigns. Suddenly, it doesn't matter very much that you bought every 30 second slot during prime time. Now, it matters how many people follow you on Facebook and twitter. It matters how many hits your youtube channel gets, it matters how much money you can raise from small donors via the net. The under dogs have been given a golden ticket.

In the words of King Solomon, "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." The internet, even though it may seem new, is really just a fancy tool, helping humans accomplish things they have always desired. Things like better communication, information collection, and a voice in politics are attainable through technology. Just as with any other tool, it may be used for good or evil. Prayerfully the internet will continue to serve as a way for people to engage in the political process, not because they have the most money or a large organization backing them up, but because they deserve to be heard. The Greek city state where very voice had a place is not such a distant memory after all. 

ESV Bible

Webster's pocket quotation book

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Beauty & Truth

Beauty is truth in tangible form. All truth holds beauty and all beauty reminds the soul of the Creator's majesty. 

God is love. Love is the supreme truth, the supreme beauty. 

Beauty is tangible love.When God smiles, when He laughs we hear it in the song of birds and the happiness of 

children, the roar of oceans and the howling wind.

It is seen in sunsets and fire and snow and couples in love. 

If such fractured mirrors reflect his glory, what must his presence be like?

Grasping, trying not to be incinerated. My heart reveling, as all the beauty is revealed at once.

 Pain and time melting away like wax, fading into eternity past.


Show me what it means to bring beauty, your beauty, into this finite world. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thoughts on Art and Writing

I've decided to no longer allow myself to feel guilty for doing something I love with my time. I've had a productive day today. Tomorrow will be productive. There are things which must be attended to, but I refuse to feel guilty about allocating time to things that I want to do-provided they are productive. I can't make excuses for movies or facebook.

Spending time working in areas where I can make improvements in my life is worth the effort and the time.

Last time I went on vacation, I spent the time the way I wanted to: reading, writing, hiking, listening to my iPod and watching more TV than I'd like to admit. Aside from TV, those are all ways I love to spend my time. Obviously it's neither realistic nor healthy to make that my whole world, but none of those things are bad. As Dave Ramsey points out so often, “we’ll be the same people in five years, except for the books we read and the people we meet.”

For the longest time I've had some vague idea that I'm going to do all these fun things in High School, then another semester passes and I just haven't taken the time to" smell the roses" as it where.

With greater age comes greater responsibility. Sometimes I fear the prospect of the responsibility, sometimes I relish it. Part of shouldering that responsibility is being wise with finite resources such as time and money. Better do develop a habit of spending time on things which grow me into a better person.

“Taking time to smell the roses,” may look like a number of different things. Mostly, I think it looks like focusing on God. How I got to thinking that attending to eternal matters would somehow resolve it beats me. Studying scripture can’t be outsourced, you’ve gotta hunker down and read.

Focusing on writing is another component I feel compelled to give my attention to. I know I'm not particularly good at composing prose, but some part of it feels to right to me.

As one of my favorite authors Don Miller puts it:

For this reason, a creator distrusts emotion. Certainly a writer can turn a scene in a novel with a tear on his cheek, but the tear also causes him to question whether or not the page will be thrown out the following day for too much sentimentality, because a book is to the writer like the house is to the builder, it’s right fitting boards and plumb windows, not a feeling of love for the boards or the windows.

Don doesn’t discount creativity, nor does he hate his job; he’s simply making the point that writing is work just like anything else.
When it comes to writing, I want to wait for an emotional high or a creative spark, but those moments don’t happen all the time. A boxer trains every day, his canvas is ring and the tools of his trade are sweat, pain and fast fists. What he creates in the boxing ring may look natural, but in reality has been drummed into him until his very bones reverent with his craft.

The art of writing is a struggle, like boxing and all other worthy pursuits. If only for those occasional moments where I feel like I've gotten it right, its worth all the effort expended in the endeavor. In those moments I love writing, Jon Foreman describes it the creative process as an archeological dig. We don’t create the city we’re uncovering; we simply expose it for the rest of the world to admire.

As a male I'm driven to create, to conquer and to compete. As a male I am incredibly insecure about my performance, myself worthy is deeply tied up what I achieve. Every time I experience really good art, there is a sense of both admiration and discouragement. “Wow,” I think, “That's so beautiful and true.” Then everything goes downhill, “I wish could be that good, I bet it took him/her years of hard work before they were talented enough to create that. Do I have the potential to express such genius through my writing?

How on earth will I know when I'm great writer? Aren't most of the best writers dead? Great, so now I'll never know if I was good, regardless of my effort, I won't be famous and I'll probably be poor if I try writing as a career path. Oh, so now it’s about being famous? Really? You're so freakin vain…..

What do I have to offer the world which hasn't already been brought up?”

At this point I'll turn back to whatever I'd been doing before, Like Leonardo DiCaprio and his top; I'm not quite sure what reality is supposed to be.

Honestly, I'm not sure how much I believe in genius or his stepbrother talent. After reading portions of a book titled “Outliers,” I have doubts. Essentially the author's premise is that people are good at those things which they devote the most time to. Bill Gates is where he is today (in part) because he was working with computers years before most people. Mr. Gates extra experience is what gave him the edge when it came to starting Microsoft. So people become proficient at what they love, not the other way round.

The earlier you start, and the more time you commit the better you become. Ten thousand hours represents the threshold separating amateurs from professionals in a discipline, whether physical, or mental.

Ten thousand hours...

Welp, there's no time like the present!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

You Did What!

I deleted my Facebook account.

Yeah, how's that for radical my friends?

One week ago today I unplugged my life from the greatest leap in human communication since....well at least the invention of e-mail. I'm quite sure facebook doesn't qualify as "better than sliced bread," because sliced bread is pretty freakin awesome.

Why you may ask? Read on.

I've used this blog to vent my frustration over a lack of direction in my life. Even if I'm unsure of the college I'll attend or the vocation I'll pursue, there are still skills and habits I can embrace NOW, to ensure I'm a more prepared person THEN. Facebook, for all of its advantages was simply getting in the way of that goal.

I wish I had the will power to simply log in two or three times a week and communicate when it's important. But, if there is one thing I've discovered about myself in 17 years, it's that I'm deficient when it comes to willpower.

Facebook became an escape from school work, a distraction which chipped away at my productivity five minutes at a time. After two hours I would look up and realize I was no closer to completing the task than when I sat down.

Facebook was always the first thing I went to upon arriving in from work, classes or the gym. Though I browse other sites, the majority of my traffic went straight to Zuckerburg's brain child.

Facebook became (inadvertently) a way to feed my narcissistic tendencies. I measured my popularity (at least to an extent) by the number of notifications I had upon signing in. Of course this doesn't eliminate the problem of self-absorption, nor was it really Facebook's fault.

Facebook caused me to feel as if I was missing something interesting. In reality all I was missing was the fact that three of my friends had completed a survey which cleared up for them once and for all what Star Wars character they were most like. Was this and earth-shattering revelation? Not really.However it seemed like a justifiable reason to stop writing the paper I was supposed to be working on and check every fifteen minutes.

Facebook was turning me into someone who had to absorb information in status size blurbs. I was (and am) having trouble maintaining long periods of concentration on anything. Again, this is problem I don’t wish to foist upon Facebook. Such ADD absorption of information is a defining characteristic of 21st century communication. Personally though, Facebook made this worse. I want to be a deep thinker, you just can't tweet/post/update some things. Too often the medium is insufficient to carry the message adequately.

I don't think these things are evil, any more than I think guns are evil. Both are tools, it's up to us to decide how to use them. I abused Facebook. I voluntarily gave it up.

While I can recount several memorable moments on Facebook, none of them compare to actually connecting with people face to face. I want to use time I'm given wisely. Often, I'm a very poor steward. But I think by saving a few minutes here and there, I'll more easily be able to focus on people I'm around. By shutting off the computer, I'll be able go and do instead of passively watching other people's lives float by in status updates.

I don't have the emotional capacity to sustain relationships with all of my Facebook friends. This is why the site only shows you updates from the people you talk to most, it knows you don't have that kind of time or energy.

Actually, I don't have the time or energy for the vast majority of people. It's only by the grace of God I'm a civil human being. In much the same why I want to be a deep thinker, I also want to be a deep friend and a true companion. Such things are not obtained by attempting to absorb the day to day lives of some 200 individuals.

Eliminating Facebook helps me focus on writing. More and more I think that writing is a part of who I am.

So, the long and short of it is, I don't hate Facebook, but I need a chance to step back. I don't think it's wrong; in fact Facebook is a wonderful thing when used correctly.

I can't seem to use Facebook correctly; therefore I shan't use it at all.

What about you? What are your feelings on the matter? I'm interested to know what you think. Also if you should ever happen to see an error/flaw in my writing grammatical or otherwise don't hesitate to point it out.

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Defining a Generation

I’d like to thank John Traughber and Raja-Man for following.

Where are you going with your life? It’s the question we’re all preoccupied with as young people. I’m half way through my junior year, where did high school go guys? I don’t know. It’s speeding by and sometimes I feel like I’m missing something and I can’t put my finger on what it is.
Where are you going to College? Isn’t it the question everyone asks? What are you doing with your life? Hahaha, sometimes they’re rude, sometimes their curious and often judgmental. What gives them the right to try and define who I’m supposed to be, where I’m supposed to go?

Do you realize our generation, generation X is unique in the whole of human history? We’re the first digital natives, and where living in a world where social structures which have been installed in Civilization for millennium have been drastically changed. The Western definition of marriage, of womanhood and family are all changing. The family is the most basic structure of civilization, it is the nucleus from which all human interaction is created and sustained. People are defined, for better or worse by those they grow up with. Western culture doesn’t have ‘normal’ definition of family anymore.

Humans are also defined by the world in which they live. Yet we live in a world where things are drastically different from even our parent’s generation.
When you combine our ability to be anything we want in this world (a pretty new phenomenon due to rigid social strata throughout world history), and the incredible power of the net, ours is a fascinating generation. We are capable of choosing our own direction for our lives to a greater extent than perhaps any generation before. We are, paradoxically, defined by our ability to define ourselves.

A true visionaries is misunderstood by his contemporaries, perhaps even killed, take Socrates for example. Who will be the Socrates of this era? Whoever it is, we probably won’t know it because our glasses are tinted too much by the cultural paradigm already hardwired into us. Perhaps the biggest visionary will be the man who embraces the structures of our ancestors. If he’s actually figured something out he’ll probably be hated for it, people much prefer the shadows on the wall.

I know I’m a very blessed person; I live in the top two percent of the planet in terms of wealth, and have the opportunity to become anything I want with hard work and determination. I’ve been cut more breaks and given more luxuries, than most of the world in this century or any other. Luxury makes me soft and lazy. The problem with having everything is figuring out what to do. Have you ever walked into a restaurant and been stumped by the menu because it’s chock full of choices? Once you finally pick an item there are half a dozen questions about how you’d like the meal prepared. I love options but sometimes they are confusing.
I’m sitting here, with my whole life ahead of me, and all the roads I could ever want choose from open for me to pick. Now what?

Hahaha, it’s an exciting and paralyzing place to be. There’s a voice in the back of my head going, “don’t screw this up dude, you only get one shot and then it’s off to see Jesus!”
I look at my grandparents, and see how they already knew the direction they wanted to go by the time they were my age. Conversely, I’m stumped about which road is for me. I’m on a big interstate, speeding ahead, desperately attempting to pick the right direction. I’ve ruled out where I’ve come from and those things I don’t enjoy, but that still leaves me an intimidating haystack to sort through.

Conjecture aside, I know the first place I need to go is to the foot of the throne. I need to pray. Frankly I’m sometimes reluctant to pray about the future because I have a rebellious heart which would rather chase worldly things. Here is the root of my confusion. Now God isn’t guaranteed to answer my prayer with a College name and a job application but that’s fine. God is God and whatever He gives me is what I need, even if I’m not happy about it at first.

Regardless of where He puts me it will be my job to hold forth my candle into the vast black abyss of this world and cry out. I’m not the answer to the blinding darkness; I just know where the bonfire is.
This is how I want to be defined. History may name me howsoever it chooses (assuming I’m considered significant enough to mention). Clinging to the cross is all that matters.

What about you guys? Do you unsure of the next step? Or perhaps, do you know exactly where you’re headed?

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A letter From Me to Me


Recently Kendra mentioned on her blog that she writes letters to herself in the future. I thought that sounded like a cool idea. I wanted to put my own spin on the concept, so I'm going to write as if I've just graduated High School and am addressing this to myself two years in the past Marty McFly style.


Greetings Younger Levi!

Allow me to dispense with the small talk and get right down to the important stuff.

Concerning Words:

There is a line between being well spoken and being pretentious, unfortunately you don't even approached that line in the next couple of years, much less cross it. If you so desire, employ the full power of your fairly extensive vocabulary. Make use of it around people who will understand you, even if they amuse themselves by making fun of you (lightheartedly or otherwise). Reveal in what your creator has given you, but do not find yourself there. Understand you are capable of demeaning those around you (intentionally or otherwise) by that which proceeds from your lips. Use the words God has given you sparingly and with the intent of building others up. The pen is mightier than the sword. A tongue is a spark which may set the whole course of a man's life ablaze in much the same manor a forest is consumed.

Concerning Money:

Whatever it is you are considering purchasing, stop and rethink it. In my mind there is only one thing upon which all men can agree (although exceptions may exist), even History's great philosophers would not contest this point. YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. Shocking I know. Honestly all of your decisions should be made in light of this news. You cannot take any material possession with you into the grave (although you can certainly fill your coffin). All of it will amount to nothing in the end. Yet, that which you give to others or bequeath to those who come after you, those things might very well have an impact for God's Kingdom.

Buying things for yourself isn't inherently evil, but don't get attached. Make the world a brighter place instead of making your house bigger.

Concerning The Body:

Please exercise more, or I will personally reach through time and space and smack you upside the head! What on earth is your excuse? I'm tired? I'm full? I don't want to? I don't like like the cold/hot? GROW UP! You can sit on the coach and veg when your legs have ceased to function and your diapers are being changed by a person who's name you can't recall. Yes, vanity is a sin, but so is intentionally wasting a perfectly healthy body which God as so generously blessed you with. Also, broaden your definition of exercise-yes Crossfit is exercise-so are working in the yard and throwing the football with your little brother.

Concerning Others:

Again you are going to die, so start living like it. It fascinates me how much time I/you (we are different people I suppose) invest time in the trivial. I don't know where the idea of "spending time" originated but I think it one of the single most preposterous concepts of all time (poor pun intended). We do not "spend time" we float down a river and try to grab things as the pass by. We may catch hold of floxum and jetsom in the current and cling to them for safety. Ultimately, we're all dashed against the rocks. Our souls leave the forceful watercourse but our body's float on, decaying as they go. Cling to people while you yet reside in the current, and treat them well, ever mindful of the fatal rapids ahead. Follow Jesus' second commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself.

Concerning Work and Learning:

Work hard, in all you do, I know it has been said a thousand times, but all truth bares repeating. Whether cleaning a toilet or reading Plato, strive through the help of the Savior to do it well and with a good attitude.
Always be learning something, never ever stagnate. Expand what you know by reading those men and women who know the most.

Concerning Worry:

Stop, it never did the human race an ounce of good, so just stop. I can assure you now you'll make a royal fool out of yourself more than once in the next two years. Crow will not be an unfamiliar flavor to your ego driven pallet. When you sit down to write this letter, you will at least, be the wiser for it.

Concerning Girls:

Oh I can imagine how much you'd love to know if I'm currently in a relationship of any sort. HAHA! You cannot honestly expect me to tell you these things, after all I have the butterfly effect to consider. Sending you this letter in the first place is likely to land me in a great deal of trouble, without telling you how your/my life progresses. But enough of my rambling.

Actively and carefully engage in friendships with the fairer sex but DON'T WORRY (See there it is again) about serious relationships. Put girls first, particularly your sisters in Christ. Indeed remember to always treat them as sisters and not meat available for consumption however easy or appealing it may seem. Beauty is fleeting and charm is deceptive. You already have some idea of what to look for in a spouse. Obviously you will seek a believer. However, the quality which is perhaps most valuable beyond that is a heart receptive to growth and change. Better to marry a somewhat immature woman with an ear to the heartbeat of Jesus than a religious one with no fruit and not desire to grow in her life.

Concerning Your Relationship With God:

Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and all these things shall be added unto you. Focus on your relationship with the Creator, He loves you and wants the best for you and all his children. Embrace Jesus as your brother/advocate, his Spirit as your guide/translator and God as your father/Creator. Jesus is the way, the truth, and life. Did you catch that? Jesus is truth!
Making reading the Bible and prayer your bread and water. Heck, here's a crazy concept my friend, fast. From food certainly but also from those things which distract you from the Cross. Remember salvation is a gift. You can never repay your own debt, nor does God require you to. Live out of gratitude to your savior, and share the love he has freely given. There is lyric from a song you enjoy. Free is not your right to choose/it's answering what's asked of you/to give the love you've found until it's gone.
If God is preeminent in your life story, then everything else will fall into place.

Peace to you,

May you make it to this place in the river a bit wiser than I.


I'd love any feedback you guys have, positive or negative.

Thanks for Reading!


Friday, November 5, 2010


If you are not not familiar with Crossfit, it's pretty much the crem-de la creme of exercise. These guys (and gals) don’t spend six or eight hours in the gym beefing up and becoming totally closed off from the rest of us. No they're totally wacky for a different reason. Crossfit doesn't have a magazine or lots of press surrounding them. It's got followers, loyal followers.

The Crossfit mission isn't to give you a beach body. There poster boy is not "The Situation" from Jersey Shore. They believe in functional fitness to help you live well.

They also have a trainer named pukie who you will meet should you attempt to brave one of their workouts. Yeah, it's that intense. However they do scale their workouts down (or WOD's as they call them Workout of the Day) for the average man. I'm grateful for their kindness.

There is also a diet, but they don't make any money if you eat the way they suggest. That is a big reason why I trust them. The only thing you pay for is the advice, which comes in the form of an e-journal, although you can find it other ways. My point though, is that this program isn't snake oil and it's not a get fit fast fad. Crossfit is a lifestyle. A lifestyle I want to embrace.

I am however, rather lazy. I attend to everything before exercise, or at least that's how it's been for the past few months. Before that I'd worked out pretty faithfully for several years.

I got my black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and didn't feel like going in further in the sport, so I gave it up.

Often I would supplement my TKD with things outside the gym.

My favorite form of exercise? Running. I don't know why exactly, but I love it. Most people hate running, they think of it as dull and difficult. I'm guilty of making it that way. An expression of the human soul, this is what running should be.

I can still remember running when I was 12 in the subdivision I used to live in. My technique was terrible, my distance was nothing and I'd run after dinner in the summer time. It sucked. Yet, yet some part of me enjoyed those runs. Setting goals and making them. Another mailbox, another streetlight, always making progress.

Though never got very talented then, I know I am capable great things today. I am, however to apathetic to try. I have the tools and the money I need, all I lack is the motivation. So what should motivate a person to run in circles?

I used to want to be Buff Guy from Every Movie (you've seen it right), he always saved the day in an oh so cool fashion and always gets the girl(s). It took me a long time to figure out I had a vanity problem (guys have them to, shocking I know). Don't get me wrong, there were other reasons I worked out, but that was a primary one. It's amazing how early you'll get up to meet your own ridiculous expectations of yourself.

Now, I'm going to run because I enjoy it, because it keeps me healthy and enriches my life. Crossfit has just what I need to be the athlete I wish to become.

So here is my goal: Run a Marathon.

Conventional wisdom says I'd need to train a year to do this. With Crossfit and some real dedication I expect to be running an ultra-marathon by the end of a year. Can you imagine running 50 miles? : ) I can. My heart rate jumps every time I think about the finish line.

So, I'm going to use this blog to track my progress. I'm setting a goal, the wildest goal I've ever set in my life. With this blog I plan to track my progress, it will be my accountability partner since I have none at the moment.

You, my small but devoted readership are welcome to join me. Hope you enjoy the ride!

Thanks for reading!


P.S. My goal for this first week is to get three workouts in. Also here is a link to Crossfit endurance. Heads up it’s a bit confusing at first. There is a legend on the right hand side.