Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Forget not Fairy Tales

Today, while I was in the library, I set down St. Anselm's Cur Deus Homo, and went to the children's literature section- a tiny portion of a small division of a single bookshelf. I was contemplating whether I wanted to check out The Hobbit or look into The Tale of Despereaux, when a girl walked up to the same section with a copy of The Hobbit to return the bookshelf.

We were both embarrassed to be discovered among the fairy tales.

"Oh... excuse me."

"No worries... I'm glad someone else uses this part of the library"

"Yeah! I love children's books... I mean... not that The Hobbit's a children's book"

"Oh, yeah, I love The Hobbit"

"Yeah, I need to put it away, otherwise I wont get any homework done..."

I relate this chance encounter to you, reader, because I think that in the rush of our lives, we ought not forget fairy tales. Infinitely greater minds and far more poetic souls have argued for the relevance and importance of myths and fairy tales, so I will not burden you with my attempts to replicate them.

I feel like, at least for my generation, returning to children's books is fairly normal, so that understanding their importance is not the pressing need- the pressing thing is to be reminded of the wonder and goodness that fills the best fairy tales.

Too often, I am tempted to read my weathered copy of A Farewell to Arms because it looks like the type of book a mature, artistic English major would read; when truth be told, I would rather be reading a Narnian chronicle. This is not to belittle Hemingway; quite the opposite. It is to belittle my selfish motives for reading him, the same selfish motives that prevent me from reading him as he ought to be read. I will never read Hemingway well if I cannot read Rowling well.

So this week, forget ambition, and forget the appearance of intellectual maturity, but forget not fairy tales: literary insight cannot be divorced from the prior delight of stories.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Memoriam

May God have mercy on our souls.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Praise be to God

Terry Jones has cancelled his plans to burn a Koran on September 11.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Our Daily Bread

When I woke up this morning, Roy was in our room, giving Gabriel money with which to purchase a loaf of sourdough. Seeing I was awake, Gabriel asked me if I waned to go with him to Panera bread. I told him I would go to the caf. Then I started thinking about Broccoli Cheddar soup. So I told him I would meet him there.

I went through Biola’s back gate and traipsed about the slight inclines and valleys of the La Mirada neighborhoods to the La Mirada town center. It was already 12:30- I had slept in, given that the night before had been prolonged by discussion of theology and film.

When I got to Panera, Gabriel was sitting right next to the door. I set down my satchel and went to order. When I returned, I noticed that Gabriel’s plate and bowl of soup were empty and pushed aside, and he was munching a piece of sourdough bread.

“I paid for a third of it.” He said, by way of explanation. I nodded. Son enough, I was preoccupied with half a Bacon Turkey Bravo sandwich and a bowl of Broccoli Cheddar soup.

After a few hours of studying, Gabriel suggested we migrate to Dr. Yeh’s house, where there was an open invitation for the day to come and study, with coffee and tea provided by the great Allen Yeh himself.

Shortly, we arrived there, and after a cursory tour of Dr. Yeh’s very smart new residence, we settled in at the kitchen table with books in hand, cookies on a plate, and a pot of coffee bubbling nearby. Somehow, the loaf of bread had made it’s way out of Gabriel’s backpack and onto the table. I reached for a slice. Panera makes good bread.

I spent some time reading Romans for class- I listened to some lectures this summer by Dr. Knox Chamblin of the Reformed Theological Seminary- he referred to Saint Paul as “a Christ-intoxicated person”. Indeed he is. I used to think I didn’t like Paul. I can only assume this was a grievous consequence of a willingness to be told about Paul without an equal willingness to read him. I love Paul’s epistles. I shall be glad to spend more time in them in the coming semester. Already, Thessalonians has changed my view of Eschatology from a vague, discontented negation of “Left-Behind-esque thought” into a joyful affirmation of the hope we have in awaiting Christ’s return- even if I still feel uncomfortable attempting to solidify any details other than what is explicit in scripture.

When we left Dr. Yeh’s house, we realized that we had successfully eaten most of Roy’s bread. Gabriel needed to get to his parents’ house, so I just had him drop me off at Panera to get another loaf for Roy and simply walk back to Biola.

When I went to purchase the bread, however, the cashier informed me that there was no more sourdough. I decided to get Roy a thin loaf of Asiago cheese bread. When I got back to the room, I gave the loaf to Roy.

Several hours later, Roy walked into the room with a large loaf of Tomato Basil bread and a small block of cheddar cheese. Gabriel had just returned from his parents’, and Sam had been studying in the room. Roy offered us bread, and we partook together. It was very good.

I think the Church is beautiful; even in this fumbling of college students buying bread, there is an echo of the love of the apostles, sharing among themselves. Today, our comical failure to fetch bread for Roy turned into a running demonstration of Christian charity and generosity, taking joy in the benefit of others. Today, I partook of the communion of saints.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some Poetry

Two unrelated poems. Feedback?

If these dark hills were all the world, the world would not be small.

This infinite and endless sky, the lengths that light must fall,

The lamps that hang outside men’s doors, and fill the hills with stars,

The symphony of sweeping winds, the noise of passing cars.

At times we must recall ourselves, by journeying to see

Things not ourselves, things we could never even hope to be

“This then thou art, this neither then thou art” is well and good

But surely thou art not the wind, and thou art not the wood;

The length and span of human heart cannot the world contain,

And none can hold themselves sans martyrdom and pain.

If I am everything, the stars from sullen skies will fall

When I am all the world I see, the world indeed is small


Let’s light the beacons on the hills,

The lanterns on the windowsills

Impelling roving sons return-

The time has come, at last, to learn,

The things most easily ignored.

Diminished things, at last restored

The King returns from Avalon

To sing a hymn in Albion,

And we, the children of the day

Will be made whole, as prophets say

And walk upon a windswept shore

Divine, but discontent no more.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Handbook for the Sellout chapter 1

So I was browsing iTunes today, and saw a new single by Anberlin... turns out they have a new album coming out in september.


Contrary to the cynical title of this post, I'm very excited. The album is entitled "Dark is the way, light is a place"

So emo.

So brilliant.

I've listened to the two main tracks on YouTube ("Impossible"[the single] and "We Owe This to Ourselves"). To be honest, I thought the single was excessively poppy and repetitive, though the guitar riff was nice. The solo was classic Joseph Milligan- which means it was awesome- but I swear he does those same climaxing 3 bends in every solo. I'm not sure if this is bad though; better to be a bit predictable and brilliant than experimental and awful.

The next song was just brilliant- all in all can't wait for the album- but I'm disappointed that they haven't returned to Aaron Sprinkle for production. Yeah, I know it's cool to get your big name producers now that you're on a major label- but seriously, all that does is make you sound produced- which isn't really all that great.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Finally- a post!

So... it's summer.

...and I haven't written much.

Some English major I turned out to be.

But! I have in mind a project- a series of poems and short stories meditating on the concept of meanwhiles and in-betweens... stemming from an assignment from Dr. Sanders last semester to write about the Meanwhile-ology of anything in the light of protology and eschatology.

Most stories focus on significant and astounding events- yet those events are few and far between in real life. Most of our days we spend in between significant events- between matriculation and graduation, between falling in love and getting married. Between birth and death. All things told, it is in the meanwhile that we live, breathe, love, and spend our days.

So- anyway, I finally pulled one poem together, and it's kind of loose- I hope to expand it later- anyway, here it is:

A Worker takes his Daily Bread

The summer’s sliding days are slow and slothfully inclined

And hours from hours are seldom known, for all are like entwined,

When light let fall from heights above collides with blackened ground-

My teachers said light makes no noise, but I can hear the sound;

It rings and roams the skies about the sun-burnt workers head

As he walks slowly up the hill, to take his Daily Bread.

(My father spoke to me today, with frenzy in his eyes

“The World, the Flesh, and Devil three- are shadows and are lies)

The music of the spheres soaks through his green abundant sleeve

As he the hill ascends all to the Sacrament receive

The Holy See is surrounded is, and Switzerland has chilled,

Constantinople still recalls when Patriarchs were killed.

And all the three, unto this day, have Holy Martyrs lost

There will no peace on earth be found when Rubicons are crossed.

Yet all these wars that kingdoms cleave, are not of Kings alone

They shake as stern our dearest loves, as any Monarch’s throne.

The trembling, soil-encrusted hand, that drinks the Cup and prays,

Is all that ever mattered in these slow, inconstant days.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Finals week nonsense...


Listening to Beirut.

The clacking rimshots work well with the tom beat.

Writing about my past and current misunderstandings of Jesus Christ, and the Spirits constant work of correcting them. 

The night is still outside my window.

The world is beautiful.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The End of a Good Story

Lost is ending.

Six years of the most head-spinning, heart-wrenching story telling to ever grace a cathode ray tube.

I can't wait. I'm typing this while sitting in the Sigma Chi Lobby, waiting for the 2 1/2 hour finale to start.

I know that the end will be disappointing to some degree. There can be no perfect ending... but there can and will be an AWESOME ending. 

Here's looking forward to it.  

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

And the People Rejoiced!

The City of Angels has been in need of a new shepherd for a while; and it appears it shall finally be getting one- Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Jose Gomez as the next Archbishop of Los Angeles.

Jose Gomez is not only strongly conservative regarding abortion and gay marriage, he is also an advocate of immigrant rights. He was born in Monterrey, Mexico (which just happens to be my father's home state), and has served as the Archbishop of San Antonio (which just happens to be my favorite city in Texas) since 2005. And, as the Archbishop of Los Angeles is traditionally admitted into the College of Cardinals, Gomez will become the first Hispanic Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, reflecting the changing demographic of Roman Catholocism.

Suffice it to say, I like the guy. I look forward to seeing how he deals with Los Angeles- and I hope that the Protestant community will recognize him as an ally. I hope and pray that God works through him to bring healing and reconciliation to our troubled city. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Introducing the iFlop

I couldn't resist...

Now, I'm a Mac guy all the way- my family has loved and used Mac computers since before I was born- and while they're far from a perfect company, the innovation and the quality of the machines makes me stand and applaud... most of the time.

I can't help but feel pessimistic about the iPad. Let's be honest- most Mac users already have a Mac laptop that they carry everywhere... I just can't believe that people need another device (and one that appears so cumbersome). It's too big to be really portable, too small to do any serious work. Try writing a paper or an article on that thing- no go.

Sure, there are times when an iPhone is too small and a laptop is too big- but those times aren't worth $500. I already feel like having an iPod touch as well as a laptop is kind of superfluous... and Apple is telling people with an iPhone and a MacBook to get an iPad too? I can just see the guy in Starbucks, putting his iPhone in his pocket and nudging aside his MacBook in his messenger bag to pull out his iPad, just to do something he could have done just as easily on either machine. 

This is the model Steve Jobs put forth: three devices- I can't think of this as anything but absurd. Still, Apple may see greater sales from those who don't own an iPhone/iPod or a Mac laptop, and want a way to access the internet, movies, music, etc. on the go. To me, this purchase would make sense: If you want to pay $500 to surf the web and play games on the go, good for you, really.

The problem is with the urge to Mac owners to use three mobile devices... it seems obscene to me. I don't think Americans have that kind of money to throw around right now. Furthermore, I don't think Americans should be spending that kind of money. We spend far too much on things we don't need already- to be honest, who needs an iPod? We are hard pressed to justify so many of our purchases, especially when it comes to gadgets that we think are necessary that really aren't. Given this, why would we go out and spend more money on a device that offers essentially nothing new to the customer?

I think Americans will see these problems with the iPad...and while I think the iPad will sell, I don't think it will go as far as Apple hopes. I must admit, though, they look very cool, and in spite of myself, I think it would be a lot of fun. 

But come on: in reality, the only difference between the iPad and an iPod is one letter. That's not worth $500. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ginsberg, Kerouac, and all that Jazz.

While looking through the Scriptorium links the other day, I came across an interesting article on the links page- a review of Fred Kaplan’s history of 1959 in City Journal. The review is interesting enough, but the following paragraph jumped out at me:

Nor is it clear that the cultural revolutionaries always succeeded, even on their own terms, never mind the bad theory and bad social consequences. Beat writers like Ginsberg saw themselves applying to literature the techniques of the bebop jazzmen. But it’s unlikely that “Howl” is as worthy of our admiration as are the compositions of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. Is the difference merely a matter of mass appeal? Or does it reflect something in the nature of the forms themselves? An arrangement of notes can convey a feeling or a mood; an arrangement of words must convey a meaning as well. How can dissonance, while often exciting in the former, fail to be merely jarring and unpleasant in the latter?”

The connection between the beat writers and Jazz has always interested me- inasmuch as I enjoy Kerouac and Ginsberg, I cannot bring myself to believe that the beat poets quite understood Jazz. I’m sure they listened to the music and were far more familiar with it than I could ever hope to be, but I feel they missed something essential about Jazz- the beauty and goodness of it, to be blunt. The reckless improvisation that is freedom to Miles Davis is despair to Ginsberg. All throughout Howl, the images of Jazz and of Harlem read like some popular reimagining of the Inferno- suffering, torment, emptiness, the absence of God.


The madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown,

yet putting down here what might be left to say

in time come after death,

and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in

the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the

suffering of America's naked mind for love into

an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone

cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio


You can see it in this passage- people say that Coltrane’s saxophone cry would speak to God- but according to Ginsberg, all it says is “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Still, I think it is fair to say that Kerouac got his attempt a little better- I think his improvisation works much better than Ginsberg’s precisely because it is prose, not poetry: Kerouac is always forced to keep his wandering in check and come back to the narrative. However disjointed he is, and however frustrating and wearisome this eventually becomes, he comes a little closer to success than Ginsberg. In all my wrestling with free verse, I have come to believe that most free verse poets are often better suited to narrative prose than to poetry. The best free verse poets are focused enough to keep their poetry unified, and of course, should keep on writing poetry. But I think a good many mediocre free-verse poets could make good novelists, if they could make the switch.


What were we talking about? Oh, yeah: Jazz!


In the end, the beat poets fail to capture the style of Jazz in writing. Read Howl (which is an amazing poem, just amazingly evil) and then listen to Charlie Parker and Miles Davis for an hour.  The beat poets cannot compare. They wear Jazz’s “ghostly clothes”, while Coltrane and the rest are clothed in its robes of splendor.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Check this out!

Food Review! Yeah!

Rafael Chavira and I have embarked on a journey to review fast food joints... so check out our blog!

Oh, yeah: and you may gather that, from the fact that we ate Chinese food, I'm off the Daniel Fast- I decided to ease my way into it, and go the full 21 days once I get back to Biola. Oh wow... Interterm is almost over... I NEED TO GO READ ARISTOTLE!!! 

Friday, January 15, 2010

In which I find a loophole...

So, depending on how you look at things, I have already broken my New Years Resolution. If, by “posting at least every week”, I meant posting every 7 days… then I have obviously failed. If by “posting at least every week”, I meant posting at least once in every 7 day period (from Sunday to Saturday), then I still have a chance to make this work…barely.

I am setting out on a twenty-one day Daniel fast with my church…I mean, with the church I used to attend… I mean, the church that I currently attend when I am not attending the other church that I attend when I’m at Biola… I mean…

Well, the point is, I’m fasting. Daniel abstained from all food other than vegetables at least twice.

The point of fasting, as a good friend reminded me, is to remove something from your life, and allow God to fill it. Otherwise, there’s no point to it.

So here’s what I am removing from my life (as per my church’s instructions) :

1. All animal products.
2. All Dairy products.
3. All sweeteners.
4. All leavened bread.

Ideally, I am supposed to be filling my life with prayer and Bible reading, but in all honesty, I’ve done none too well at that in the past few days… just the same as I’ve done with blog posting. Hopefully, I’ll do better at both this next week… hopefully, I can use this blog to share my “profound insights” from these three weeks as a wannabe ascetic…

In all seriousness, though, I’m looking forward to the rest of this fast. I’ve reconciled with tofu, and I’ve developed a new appreciation for the state of Idaho and all their potato farms, but I hope to gain far more than this. I hope that through this experience, I will indeed learn to follow in the footsteps of Daniel, and others, saints and prophets both famous and unknown, who so loved God that they neglected other, lesser goods in order to better know and love He who alone is Good.

Jonathan Diaz

Saturday, January 2, 2010

One Year


It's been one year since I started this blog... And I have sadly neglected it.

I've never been much for resolutions- but I think the sorry state of my writing demands some sort of action. I have chosen to pursue an education in English writing- which leads me to believe that I should probably spend more time writing. This has been a dry year for me as a writer, unless you count term papers.

I therefore propose to post on this blog at least every week- which is not really all that significant, but I think I'll start with that, and hopefully step it up from there.

Once again, Happy New Year everybody!
-Jonathan Adriel Diaz

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Fare thee well, 09...