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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Are you relevant?

Because, if you aren't, you are apparently a terrible Christian.
Does anyone beside me feel like an outsider who is misunderstood by everyone, especially by people that think they "understand" you? I'm sure someone out there feels that besides me.
And maybe, like me, there is something, something you can't articulate, or even fully understand that pisses you off. Well here is one of my "things" and I'm going to try to articulate it here. You are warned. Here goes:
A year ago, I got a subscription to Relevant Magazine (and bear with me here, this whole thing ain't about a magazine). It seemed cool. They were all "counter-culture" and such. Their motto is "God. Life. Progressive Culture." Relevant seemed like something I'd like, but something weird happened. Everytime I read the magazine I would get really angry, and at first I couldn't figure out why. Then, after the second or third issue (out of six), certain things began to dawn on me. At first, it was surface issues. I got tired of seeing the fashion models standing next to the article titles. They all had perfectly gelled hair, and slick mall bought clothes. I have uncontrollable Mediterranean hair. The only stores I enter in the mall sell video games. Also, the Relevant models were very good-looking. Damned good looking, if you get my drift.
Next, the writing started to aggravate me. First, in the music articles. Here is an example, taken from the opening of an article on the band Explosions in the Sky, written by Jesse Carey. Opening paragraph, "The artist Peter Brooks once said, 'We live immersed in narrative, recounting and reassessing the meaning of our past actions, anticipating the outcome of our future projects, situating ourselves at the intersection of several stories not yet completed.' Explosions in the Sky provide the soundtrack to an uncompleted narrative. Their brand of indie rock depicts an epic without words with soaring guitars, haunting bass and theatrical drums." ...
Okay. Maybe some of you thought this was fine writing. Maybe it was. Personally I thought it was not. That is not my point. My point is, who cares what Peter Brooks says? I'm sure Mr. Carey and the cadre of Relevant music writers put time into thinking of cool quotes to open their pieces with, but what do they think, (cliche time) I was born yesterday? Do they think the praise of some artist I'm obviously not cool enough to have heard of is going to wow me? This music article sounds like it's being written as a high-school essay. I'm not picking on this guy in particular, a lot of Relevant's articles start off in this fashion, but again, maybe this is just personal taste. My own paragraph here was a bunny trail, I'm sorry, here is my main point:
When I was five years old, my mother gave me a book. I don't quote it to be cool or anything, I do it because it has everything to do with what I'm saying. In fact, if not for this book, I would have nothing to say. Plus, it's really good, and I heard it was a best seller. One of my favorite passages reads:
All things continue the way they
have since the beginning.
The same things will be done
that always have been done
There is nothing new here on
earth. (under the sun)
Anyway, since Relevant magazine would not exist without the afore-quoted book, I figure this quote is pretty pertinent. Here is the issue I take with Relevant, and several others. Okay, wait, not yet, one more hippity-hopping trail:
For a while, I thought I was searching for something: Some truth that would make everything make sense, something to make my faith easier to live for, simple, more effective, more..."relevant." I read in message boards that people were disgusted with fellow Christians, and were no longer calling themselves Christians, but "followers of Christ." For a while, this seemed cool to me. I thought, "if I could just find some cool Church on the Internet that gets what things are supposed to be about, that gets the way things are today. If someone was just with it." Then, something dawned on me: (yes friends, this is a colon party!)
All the things I found on this search seemed cool at first, but then got really, really, irritating, including my Relevant Magazine experience. All of these supposedly new, cool things, weren't anything new at all. They were the same trendy kaka that most of us (certainly I) get sucked into. There really is nothing new under the sun. Christianity isn't going to get any easier, or more "relevant" for us. All of this supposed "new way of thinking" is just fresh bullshit from the same old cow.
Something that has nothing to do with bullshit (or cows): God came to Earth as a human being in the guise of a male Jewish carpenter named Jesus. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and then rose again. That's it. Yes, there are a whole lot of things that go with this, but when you dig down to it, this is the simple unchanging truth. You can dress Jesus up in A & E. You can give Jesus some dreadlocks and jump in the air and piss your pants everytime someone in the*gasp* gangster rap community sings about Him (and get all excited about those cool "Jesus is my Homeboy" t-shirts). Guess what? Nothing has changed. You're not going to find some trancendant truth or understanding by being "relevant."
Forget (In the editing of an R-rated movie on T.V. sense) "relevant."
Be yourself as God created you to be. Besides, if God wanted you to be "relevant" he wouldn't have given you such unmanageable hair.
On a side note, though I am not continuing my subscription, I must say some things in defense of Relevant Magazine: (gotta squeeze in one more colon, don't I!)
a. There actually is some good writing found therein (I really like Winn Collier)
b. They do champion good charity causes and suggest ways to get involved
c. Their heart really does seem to be in the right place, and I am sorry I picked on them so much here. They really do have some good things to say. I just don't need to hear them anymore.
Now, I am going to go back to my imperfect life, trying to live as God wants me to live, failing, rising up on Christ's shoulders, and trying again. If you can live with this "harsh" reality, as I am doing, go for it, there really is nothing like it.


Anonymous said...

Wow. This is the most irrelevant thing i've read.


No, this is the most relevant thing i've read (In a good non-pooting on girls, non-magazine kaka way)

Keep living. It's all about Him.


Anonymous said...

the life u lead with or without christ is ur choice. the important thing is that we as human beings make the right choice for us and not because of outside influnces. the bottom line is look inside yourself and listen to your heart. and dont listen to those dumb words for they are a strangers words at that.

Nicholas said...

Dear Anonymous,
As much as I respect your opinion, I don't completely agree with it.
When I look inside myself, all I see is a cold black heart, that when followed, only leaves a trail of misery.
There is another Voice beyond everything else, and this is what I choose to follow, this is what makes my heart new. This is (what was once to my chagrin) an Outside Influence, but One which lives inside me now. All these capitol letters are ruining my subtlety, aren't they?

Anonymous said...

Whose words should we not listen to, stranger?


Nicholas said...

Is this Duffy? Because, if it is, how are you stranger? If it's not, then the answer to the question is don't listen to whatever you don't want to listen to. As you said, it is your choice after all. I guess.

Nicholas said...

Is this Duffy? Because, if it is, how are you stranger? If it's not, then the answer to the question is don't listen to whatever you don't want to listen to. As you said, it is your choice after all. I guess.

Nicholas said...

Wow, not only did I double post, but I forgot the comma before the word "stranger." Apologies. I'm slippin. Just ego trippin.

Anonymous said...

i dont know who the first anonymous was but the one who asked whose words should we not listen to was me.

Me being Jo. Jo being Jordan. Jordan being some guy you knew and know.

: ) peace out brotha Nic o

Jon said...

Wow, you sure did get a strange assortment of comments. That was surely an interesting rant, pure, unadulterated Nic. If I do say so myself.

Quintessential, new world rhetoric fabricated for the self indulgent rituals of the pretentious.

Is that the kind of writing you were talking about? ;)

I get your drift man, and I enjoyed reading it a lot.