Dear Son, On Thanksgiving

Dear Son,

Right now, your mom is giving you a bath. You like baths. You splash around in the water and smile up at us while we attempt to clean you. You still try to look at everything and end up making it difficult for us to try to get our goals accomplished. This is going to be one of my fondest memories of your early years. Today is a day of memories and taking stock of all we have. We look at what we have to be thankful for. For us, your parents, that is a lot. It may not seem like it to us right now, but we have a lot to be thankful for.

I remember a long time ago when I was little, your Nanna K and Abuelo, would cook together. We lived a long way away from the rest of our family so we often had our thanksgiving meals at our home in south Texas. One of those years I remember being really warm. In fact, I think there is a picture somewhere of your Abuelo in shorts and a t-shirt, standing on the sink opening the bay windows in the kitchen to air it out a bit. I remember that we always had wonderful food for thanksgiving: Turkey, Tamales, shrimp, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, chips and salsa, sometimes guacamole, sometimes that salad your Abuelo would make with jicama and oranges, and pecan pie. We always tried to have  our family with us. Thanksgiving was a time for family. No matter who was around the table at dinner, they were family.

Food has always meant a lot to me and my family. Your Abuelo was a cook for the Navy. That’s probably why he loved those cheesy Steven Segal movies… He loves to cook. Your Nanna K loves to cook. She made experimental dishes. She shows people love through food. That is something that your aunt, uncle, and I  try to carry on in our own homes and families. We show our love to other people through food. You may have noticed by now that I try to do the majority of the cooking at home, it’s because I love you and your mom. That whenever we have people over, I try to make food for them. I want them to know that I love them no matter who they are. Thanksgiving is the time of the year when that idea shines the brightest and boldest!

Son, Your family will change over the years, but one thing I want to impress upon you is that no matter who is around our table at any time they are family. When you are grown and no longer living with us, I want you to continue that tradition. No matter the menu, no matter the meal, no matter the company when you break bread with someone they are family. Especially at Thanksgiving no matter who you bring to our table, or who you invite to your table when you are older, they are loved and family.

Love,

Your Dad

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I may be young, BUT…

More and more I’ve been seeing people accuse us millennials of being whiners or just plain coddled. Oh, and just so we are on the same page here this is what a millennial is. That’s right if you were born 1980-2000 I hate to tell you, but you are a millennial. You may not think you fit into the “mold” of a stereotypical millennial, but since when does anyone fit the stereotypes placed upon them? I’m not going to talk about why we millennials are great, I’ve already done that. I’m going to talk about why we can’t stay silent any longer.

At thirty-three years old, the last word I would use to describe myself is young. I don’t feel young. I’ve been through enough life to last a few lifetimes, and I know that I have a lot more life to go. The word is thrust upon us in an attempt to dismiss us or dismiss the ideas, and ideals we hold dear. The worst thing is those who are thrusting this word upon us are our loved ones, our parents, our teachers, our extended family. Now there is nothing wrong with the word young. In fact, I don’t mind being called young. I just don’t like when people use a word to generalize or dismiss a large group of people because they don’t think the same way. (See the last few weeks and last few years of news stories blaming millennials.)

I get why people want to dismiss us right now. We make up the large block of protesters and people who are upset at the election results in the United States. It’s easy to dismiss us as whiny, or angry. Heck, we are even doing it to each other. Half of Millennials voted democrat while the other half was mostly republican and third party. We’ve been pointing fingers at each other and calling each other names because we happened to vote for the “Hateful” or the “Corrupt” or the “Seriously, Him?” politician. Our nation is deeply divided and one of our favorite things to do as human beings, instead of actually sitting down and talking, is to point the finger and blame someone else. A lot of people, on all sides, are angry right now and somewhat rightly so.

Millennials are a generation that was raised to be accepting, to be tolerant, and try to get along no matter the differences. We grew up with tv-shows like Saved by the Bell, Family Matters, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Doug, Boy meets World, and so on. All shows that tried to be inclusive, some failing miserably and only having token minority characters. We grew up with books that were highly inclusive, Harry Potter (to name the major powerhouse). We were taught to believe in each other. That our differences of culture, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs didn’t matter that much. We grew up believing that “All men (and women) were created equal.” In fact, the overwhelming majority of the population believe that phrase came from the Bible,  it doesn’t. We were raised to believe that this is what America stood for.

America, the land of the free, and home of the brave. We believed in that freedom, we believed in that inclusivity, we believed in our bravery, and we believed in each other. Until we discovered differently. This election brought to light a lot of horrible things that were already happening in this country. These things didn’t just start happening, they aren’t going to begin happening under the new presidential administration, they already have been happening. Granted, many millennials are upset without knowing why, but I think this is why we are upset. We are angry because the veil has been removed and we can see that the better world we were taught to believe in as children was a false nicety, and now we are called whiny for not realizing it sooner. The problem is we turned on each other and point fingers at each other because of this realization. The truth is it’s always been there. Here take a few minutes and listen to the man that became the most trusted journalist of our generation, despite the fact he’s a comedian:

We voted, great! Our civic duty was done. A lot of us didn’t vote, and yet still complain. Okay, I guess there is that too. But the last thing that we need right now is more division.

Just an aside to millennials now: Shape up! Grow up! A lot of us are in our 20’s and 30’s now. It’s time for us to stop fighting with each other over who’s fault it is that one candidate got elected over the other, the truth is we still would be if it happened the other way around. The truth is the ideas, and ideals we were brought up to believe in, are just that ideals. It is time for us to rise up. We are adults now. Let’s be adults. Let us see the injustices done to our fellow human beings and work to stop them. The hard disgusting truth is that we have never been the home of the free, and land of the brave. We have been the home of the marginally oppressed, and land of the perpetually terrified. So now we rise. We fight. We proclaim as one that we hold this truth to be self-evident that all people are created equal. Stop pointing fingers at each other, start sharing a table. Stop calling each other names, start calling each other on the phone. Stop engaging in arguments about who got us here in social media, start being social in the community and get to know your fellow man.

To the rest of you, non-millennials, stop dismissing us because we are young. We may be young, but we know a thing or two. We may be young, but you were the ones who raised us. We may be young, but we, like you did before us, are now fighting to make our world a better place for our children. We may disagree on how to get there, that’s okay. We may be frightened by different things than you are, that’s okay. We may be angry now, but we are rising soon. We are turning that into action, and if you want to help us in making this world a better place, join us. Get to know why we are angry, don’t dismiss it. Understand our point of view, and help us understand yours. We can’t make the world a better place without you. We need you. You’ve been here longer than we have. You know a thing or two. Help us, let us help you too.

I may be young, I may be upset, I may be many things, but I’m only getting started. I’m going to fight for the ideas and ideals I was raised to believe in. I’m going to continue to believe and fight for a world where we can see our fellow human beings as equals. I’m going to fight to make the world a better place to live in, for myself, my wife, my son, and you. Won’t you join me?

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The Weight of Words

When I was young, my mom took us on a lot of road trips. We lived in the deep south of Texas, so you needed to road trip if you were planning on traveling anywhere. We saw a lot of the country on these road trips. We did a lot of things on these trips: played games, listened to audio-books (Side note: Did you know that you can buy an audio book at any cracker barrel and trade it in at a different cracker barrel for a different audio book for like a dollar?), read, slept, talked, listened to classic rock (Thank you very much for the education in good music, Mom!), and stopped at interesting landmarks. I’m not sure how my mom managed to do these without going completely insane.

On one particular road trip, I remember that we had stopped at a bookstore. I found a book that I really really wanted. It was a blue book with a lot of clip art graphics on the front of it. I’m not quite sure I remember the title of it, but it was a book about the history of words. It was in the style of a dictionary. My mom was not at all convinced that I was going to read this book, but I insisted. She bought it for me. Whether out of spite or actual interest, I honestly can’t recall, I read the book. I remember there were interesting little stories about the origins of each of the words in the book. Ever since that time I’ve been fascinated by words, and how they derived their meaning.

This helped a lot in my theater training and acting projects since. Every word is placed on a page by the author. Those words have meaning. I can remember, more times than I’d like to admit, a director giving me a note to go over my lines because I missed a word. This taught me that every word carries weight. Small, large, complicated, compound, simple, flowery, or grandiose every word mattered.

Our words have weight, they matter, they came from some place, and we meant them in one way or another. This idea was especially significant when I was working with teenagers. I worked with a group of teens who would often lash out at each other “in jest” or sarcasm that they didn’t mean. So we had a discussion one youth group evening about the power of words. We talked about how even if you didn’t fully mean the thing you said about someone you were joking with, that it still kind of hurt that person. We decided that we needed to start holding each other accountable for those things. I admit I offended as much as they did. I never realized how much my jokes were sometimes at the expense of another in an attempt to be endearing.

I was taught a phrase to repeat when I was being bullied as a child. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” No matter how many times I repeated that phrase, the words always hurt me. Maybe it was those experiences that taught me the weight of words. Words have the power to give life or take it away. Words have the power to create worlds. Words can take us on incredible journeys or stop us dead in our tracks. Words have weight.

I could go off and make this another political post about the horrible words used this year by all political candidates, media outlets, social media posts, etc. I could do that, but I won’t. I am not going to rehash all of that bluster because you know it all already. You have heard it, read it, lived it, or tried to ignore it. This isn’t about those words, this is about your words.

I know that many people are tired. We have been worn down by this campaign. No matter the side you backed, you know what I mean. This has made a lot of people irritable and spent. Whether you happen to be victoriously irritable and spent or defeatedly so, I imagine that most are. It makes it very easy for anyone to lash out at another. I have seen a lot of words being thrown around by these spent people on social media, in person, and in other ways. These are not light words either. These are things that carry weight. A lot of weight. The things we say, type, or otherwise put out into the world matter.

I just want to ask this question: Have you thought about your words?  ( Where they came from, what it is you are saying, are you hurting someone else and why, are you giving life or taking it away, are you trying to build something good or bad, what is it you are trying to do with what you are saying, why are you doing that)

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Other Creative Projects

I’ve been rather quiet on here for a while. I’m still around, though. I’ve been working on a few other creative projects in the meantime. I am trying to consolidate and put everything in an easy to view spot (right now it’s just a facebook page go like that page anyway “Honest Faith”), until that time here are the things I’m working on.

Interfaith Pub Theology: If you are in the Cleveland Ohio area (we are trying to expand to be in more places digitally, but haven’t quite got that figured out yet), we have a meetup group that gets together every other week to talk about faith, life, and everything in between, you can find us in a couple of places: Meetups, Facebook, and YouTube

Expressive Spiritual Readings: I really enjoy reading with feeling. I believe strongly that words have meaning, and bland readings tend to take out so much of the meaning. So I have been endeavoring to read the Lectionary each week. I will be reading other things from time to time, but for now it’s the lectionary. You can find it on YouTube. Here’s a sample video:

 

Honest Faith Interviews: I started another film project because I was tired of people dehumanizing each other on social media. This has shown up more and more in recent months due to the political climate in this country. So I figured the best way to combat this was to interview people and get to know them as human beings. So I started Honest Faith Interviews. I won’t share the video just yet because I’m still working on more stuff, but go check it out on YouTube!

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