Jesus v. Religion

Now this doesn’t seem like this would be something that should be an issue: Jesus v. Religion. You’d expect them to go hand in hand, right? Well after the following viral video…well watch it for yourself.

Link: Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus || Spoken Word

Now, I’m born and raised Catholic, and I love my faith. Yes there are some things where I don’t see eye-to-eye with the Church, but nothing will ever completely fit anybody’s view 100%. But there were a lot of points to this video, where, taken at face value, are to some degree inaccurate in their accusations.

However, I still really liked this video. Why? Because it’s not a thesis paper on the Catholic Church and its flaws. It’s poetry, a form of art. You don’t go up to a painting by Picasso, and think “That person didn’t look like that! The face is all wrong!” No. You say that out loud, and anyone within earshot will think you’re an idiot. So why treat this video as such? I mean, judging from the description of the video on Youtube, I’m sure there are plenty of misunderstandings of the Church and religion. However, the extreme nature of this video served the purpose he probably intended, to get people to think about their religion and their faith…to make people reanalyze what they’re doing.

I’ve been looking at my Facebook minifeed for the last few weeks, and this video’s gone viral. Great. Good for him. Unfortunately, many of those that have shared this video (many of whom are my Catholic friends) have taken this video at face value. If you’re going to take it for what it is, do it right. It’s art.

Plus, if you expect to get respect for your own beliefs, you should probably respect other people’s beliefs as well, even if they don’t necessarily line up with yours. I mean if I posted something about Catholicism, I don’t want a bunch of Baptists, Muslims, Jewish people, etc. raining hell down on me. Why should I do that to someone else?

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Enter the Dragon

To explain the title, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon…well technically it doesn’t start until January 23rd on the Chinese New Year, but close enough. It makes for a cool title, if nothing else.

After reading up on the symbolism of a dragon from various sources, I’ve surmised that it is a totem of true power…and not just power in the sense of strength and fortitude. It also encompasses the ability to see things clearly, see the big picture, as implied by the panoramic view it can take in from above according to the winged depictions from European mythology. Even in the Orient, they are symbols of wisdom and longevity. It also includes a sense of balance: the breath of fire from a dragon may both potentially be potentially life-giving or destructive. And as western mythology depicts the dragon as a larger-than-life malevolent being that must be conquered, the dragon can also serve as a symbol of the faith, along with the strength and courage, required to accomplish such a feat.

I find it appropriate that the dragon resurfaces at this point in my life. In about 5 months, I will be walking across the stage of Bass Concert Hall at graduation. And (ideally), not long after that, I will be on the job hunt and beginning the final step of my transition into adulthood: a feat that requires strength and courage, wisdom and the ability to think clearly, and the faith to remain committed to this resolution.

For this reason, I thought it was important for me to not only make New Year’s resolutions but to commit to them for longer than the one to two weeks that I usually do…if I even make them to begin with.

And the overall encompassing theme of these resolutions is something along the lines of remembering and holding true to the basics and cutting out the rest of the unnecessary bullshit.

The first resolution: Appropriately, it’s to take care of #1. If I’ve learned nothing in the last year, or even in college, if I don’t take the time to fill myself back up, I will soon not have anything left to pour out to others. This includes taking care of my own body. I will take the time to go running once a week, at least. I will make time to hit the gym at least once a week as well. In addition, I will spend at least 30 minutes a day doing some form of workout in my own apartment on the days that I do not go to the gym.

In addition to caring for my body, I will also make sure to cultivate my mind and spirit. At least three times a week, I will step away from the schoolwork and social life, and take one hour to read and/or meditate. Maybe in this time, I can learn that new language I have been wanting to pick up. Or even teach myself how to play the guitar or reteach myself piano. Whatever I choose to do with that time, it will be off the grid: no Facebook, no GChat, and texts and calls to only what requires immediate attention.

The second resolution: Stop wasting so much time. Create a to-do list of non-time sensitive items. When I get downtime that I would usually use to veg out on Facebook, instead, I’ll begin to chip away at one of those items. This is no short list of tasks and they will not likely ever be fully completed. But I won’t even be able to think about finishing if I don’t start.

The third resolution: Start saving money. By using cash instead of my card, I will be more conscious and start making cash decisions. In addition, I saw a clip on some show about using whatever denomination you want, but if you get a hold of a $5 bill, put it aside and save that. It seems easy enough and is worth a shot. But either way, if I withdraw a specific amount of money from my account at the beginning of the week and stick to that for my personal expenses, I may actually build up a decently-sized savings in a short amount of time.

And as a sort of love child of #1 and #3, cook or eat in as much as possible. As evidenced by the dinner I threw together on the fly last month, I am able to throw an at least halfway decent dinner party. Instead of going out to eat, maybe encouraging a potluck or just cooking dinner for people. It’s a little more work, but with several benefits. First, you start to learn how to prioritize and balance your tasks. If you don’t want to waste your time and take half a day to make a dinner, get better at organizing your tasks. Second, you start building an arsenal of recipes that you can whip out with less effort, and with this proficiency, it allows you to be more creative with other things…which is helpful when you have a limited stock in your fridge and pantry. Finally, you still enjoy that fellowship that you would get at a restaurant, but you don’t have to tip. That and you’re a little more free to let down your hair if you’re not in public.

The fourth resolution: Cut out the drama. After having a relatively drama-free semester, I’ve come to the conclusion that drama is the result of a lack of willpower. The only reason why those situations even come up is because the party or parties involved know exactly what needs to be done but for some reason or another refuse to let themselves solve the issue at hand. A quote I saw today on a buddy’s minifeed actually fits this scenario perfectly: ‎”We prefer to experience the same comfortable pain rather than face the new unknown.” Instead of taking on the task of getting a little messy cleaning up the situation, most people (myself included) simply engage in the unhealthy activity for the sake of not making many more waves. But that’s why this is my resolution. It will give me something to work for. If you have positive feedback for someone, say it. If you love someone, tell them. If you have a problem with somebody, let them know in private and give them an opportunity to fix it. If a relationship is not even close to being a 50/50 split of effort, then step away. But no matter what the situation, go with your gut and fix it. Tactfully and respectfully, of course. But just man up and do something about it instead of bitching to people that can’t do anything about it.

The fifth and final resolution: Remember the people that got me to where I am. After the Thankful Status Month I participated in on Facebook, I realized that even with 30 days, I had too many things that I wanted to list. Many of which involved the people around me. I am surrounded by the best group of people I can ever imagine (and don’t tell me that you can do better, you’ll never convince me), so at the very least, I owe them my appreciation. By stepping away to start establishing new friendships with my nursing friends, I have started losing touch with some old friends. To make this a more specific goal, I will make sure to take time each week to engage in some form of communication with at least one or two friends that I don’t get to see very often anymore.

This list seems like a little bit of a tall order, but just like anything else, I’d rather set my standards high and fall short making a strong effort instead of starting low and not accomplishing anything at all. And I don’t expect myself to be perfect at this, especially at the beginning. But hopefully by the time the next year rolls around, I’ll be that much closer to becoming the man I want to be.