Archives: Write-Ups

A Starting Place for #BlackLivesMatter

A Starting Place for #BlackLivesMatter

#BlackLivesMatter. In an era of timelines and feeds, this statement and its various representations can easily be misunderstood. I wanted to help anyone who is interested in understanding what this statement means and the context that holds it. With full humble disclosure, I must say that I am still learning and understanding. Still, I thought it worthwhile to put together a few resources that may help anyone wanting to open themselves to perspectives they may not have to consider on a daily basis.

Please Note: You may have to put some preconceived notions (prejudice?) aside in order to truly listen. Similar to when two people are in discussion, the listener’s ability to listen well is impeded by them only thinking about what they will say in rebuttal.

This is not intended to be a thoroughly comprehensive or exhaustive list of resources. It is difficult to estimate how long it would take to process through the items below, but it seems that if a person dedicated the next week, or month, or season in their life to broadening their perspective, they certainly would not be wasting their time. Sometimes listening and being able to hold the pain of the other is an initial step that simply cannot be skipped over.

I am observing that some people are in a stage of slumber, where the only way they might consider these things is if the unrest forces them to, or Facebook and Twitter alert them. Once jolted on a Wednesday evening, or for a week, these people may ask, “Now what? What is even going on? How do I process this? Who is a safe person to ask? I don’t want to say the wrong thing.” Given my background, I extremely empathize with this position because I was in this state up until recent years.

Other people may consider themselves #woke, and are able to sympathize, or even empathize. The pain and outrage this past week does not utterly surprise them. To some degree, it hurts them too. The dismissive comments frustrate them too. They message their closer brothers and sisters in private or call them to let them know their thoughts and prayers…that they are aware. That is a start, but if you are in this position, you need to speak out.

You need to talk to your communities, and I will even say especially your white brothers and sisters. There comes a point where empathy alone falls tragically short. Would you stick your neck out as well? Would you stand as an ally? The resources below may all already be things you’ve internalized. Perhaps it is time to move beyond just listening. This is a people-pleaser’s nightmare, I know, but I pray you consider it.

I am learning how to do this and mess up often. To find my mistakes, you may have to look no further than somewhere in this post. I know I am listening and talking about race imperfectly, but it is better than not trying. Still, by God’s grace and through other gracious brothers and sisters, I am growing. Take heart.

Again, it is on purpose that I have placed just a few items here in hopes that it may be a launching pad for some. I invite you to be awakened to the challenges and injustices that your brothers and sisters face today, and to not stop there. I pray that fruitful and loving conversations emerge and systematic racism against African Americans would be more broadly exposed, uprooted, and eliminated.

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This is a 10-minute smattering of wokeness. The crash-course-esqe style may be helpful for immediate help.

The video mentions two books currently available for free during a trial-run of Audible. These are considered must-reads, so I encourage you to read/listen to them in some way, shape, or form.
     

It may be helpful to read this pastor’s response to Coates’ book and other writings. Thabiti Anyabwile infuses more hope into these situations in his article A Call for Hope in the Age of Mass Incarceration.

As you are reading the two books above in coming days, you could begin listening to some of these programs.

Episode 34: Black and White: Racism in America (1 hr, 38 min)

 

Is Black Lives Matter the New Civil Rights Movement? (47 minutes) 

 

Pass the Mic

Pass the Mic is the official podcast of the Reformed African American Network, which addresses the core concerns of African Americans biblically. As a former staff member, I know the hosts personally and I cannot emphasize enough their love for the gospel. Their grace and love to me has changed my life. Here is a list of episodes and also two recent episodes I will highlight below. This is a conversation that you want to continue listening to, pray for their work, and even support financially.

Tamir Rice Settlement (50 min)

How to Be a White Ally (41 min)

NPR: Code Switch Podcast – Ever find yourself in a conversation about race and identity where you just get stuck? This episode is a response to the week of July 4, 2016, The podcast is definitely one you want to follow each week. (26 min)

Millions March NYC - REIMAGES

Some might say the events that transpired in Ferguson during the summer of 2014 turned the Black Lives Matter “moment” into a movement. I have collected the blog posts of Thabiti Anyabwile, a minister who wrote regularly as events transpired. This will help give more context to the week of July 4, 2016. Download them here (ThabitiOnFerguson) print, study, and mark them up. Hopefully, you can bring questions into a real conversation.

Just a start. Please get in touch if you have comments, concerns, questions, etc. I would love to hear from you.

Alicia Joy

@alicia2joy  |   reimagesblog@gmail.com

 

Episode III

Episode III

Anakin: Love won’t save you, only my new powers.

*She steps away when she sees that he has changed.

Padme: I don’t know you anymore. Anakin, you’re breaking my heart. You are going down a path I can’t follow.

*Strangles her.

*Obi-wan intervenes.

Star Wars III - REIMAGES

I tear up each time I watch the ending of Episode III. Is that lame? This scene with Padme and the following fight and epilogue is reason enough to watch this movie. I know there is generally more hate on the prequels, but Revenge of the Sith is a must-see. This is profound loss, and you need to feel this if you are engaging with the storyline of Star Wars.

“People don’t actually realize it’s actually a soap opera and it’s all about family problems—it’s not about spaceships.” These were some of the words of George Lucas regarding his separation from the Star Wars franchise. This is just one sentence that could quickly be misused if one is not familiar with all that the series has accomplished for science fiction and “spaceship” movies. But the words lingered with me. Yes, this is a spectacular story surrounding a blood-tied family and a Jedi family, and I love it so much. Hence, tears and feels and such.

If you take a look back at the closing dual between Anakin and Obi-wan, it is definitely a fight between brothers. At this point, we have watched for hours and waited years as Obi-wan poured into Anakin since he was a little boy. We knew the betrayal was coming, but we got attached because we saw good people like Padme and Obi-wan get attached.

Obi-wan: I have failed you, Anakin.

Anakin: [shouts like a demon] I hate you!

Obi Wan: [affectionately] You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you.

Gruesome burning of Anakin’s flesh.

 

What would have happened if Obi-Wan had just killed him then? It’s like he is hoping for some form of reconciliation or resolve even though he knows that this cannot happen. And as if this isn’t enough to sink your ship, the audience immediately views several juxtapositions of life and death.

Padme and Anakin die. Luke, Leia, and Darth Vader are born.

To see her funeral and then his unapologetic-can’t-mistake-it position and stance towards the Death Star…it just feels sad. It feels so wrong to watch her funeral and then see Darth Vader take his position next to the Sith Lord. Anakin is lost forever. Anakin and Padme are separated forever.

I find this unraveling of Anakin absorbing. There is a scene when Anakin is looking up through his hood, now in essence Darth Vader, and he looks beyond disturbed. He looks like a demon child, hatred and evil boiling in him and evident in his red sullen eyes.

I could boil this story down to a hero turned evil. A character we have grown attached to (cautiously since we know what is coming), becomes something that betrays the others we are rooting for. We all know the story of Darth Vader, yet if a movie could simply be “boiled down,” then there’d be no point in making it. What I am saying is that this story of unraveling is one worth watching. Episode III can’t be boiled.

Revenge of the Sith is worth the time to refresh your mind on the tragedy of the dark side. Padme embodies relationship and reminds us that you can’t separate intimate relationships from war. Maybe it is because I think in relational terms, but I always seem to ponder and feel the gravity of collateral damage in war-type movies. Even if the film’s direction skips over showing how a supporting character might feel, I naturally ask that question and feel the possible answers. I identified naturally with the two women in Anakin’s life. How on earth could they bear losing him? How could he betray them? I know the Force plays the driving role in this whole dark transformation, but it doesn’t take away from how the separation is awful. Padme’s life left a lasting mark for me, clear back in 2005.

 

Anakin’s betrayal of her is heartbreak at its deepest. Not only does he choose to destroy their relationship, but he attempts to destroy the larger principles and causes that it stood upon. And this happens in a way that makes everyone else feel sorry for Anakin. Something has pulled him and devoured him. He has been consumed by the dark side. We all feel that he is in bondage but that it is still his fault and choice. Such are the realities of darkness and free will in the world.

But Episode III also allows us the opportunity to consider the events surrounding the birth of Luke and Leia. These are the seeds of hope in the midst of gross tragedy. Nobody can stay too depressed when they see the sandy pure landscape of Tatooine.

//

Star Wars III - REIMAGES

Darth Vader is an iconic villain if there ever was one. And we do well to remember that he was once just a boy who loved his mother dearly, had some cool hobbies, excelled beyond his peers, became the pride of his mentors and the shining hope of an empire, fell hopelessly in love, started a family, and brought devastation to all of it. No one had more promise than him, and it seems like he is able to burn all of that up. It is fitting that the final scenes contain so much lava and fire. The emotional landscape had been torturous. And that is the main point of Episode III.

And as we know, he ultimately fulfills the prophecy of the chosen one. His wife’s final words echoed the beliefs that he would destroy the Sith. “There is still some good in him. I know it.” And he does eventually, but at what cost? His son’s love finally awakens the good in him and enables him to finish what he should have executed in these moments. But this is only many deaths and tragedies later.

It takes a lot of emotional stock to consider the Darth Vader of Episodes IV-VI and then remember his beginnings as a boy with a mother who loved him. It is confusing actually and feels like a dark mystery I’ve experienced before. Something inside of me knows it is the worst kind of tragedy to watch a glimpse of great promise turn and move the opposing direction. Is it easier to see and accept the final evil product and villainize it, rather than watch the grotesque morphing and their ugly descent? Anakin is graphicly possessed by darkness. His fate is to be sealed off and separated as a calculated vessel for the purposes of evil and wrath.

Anakin, you’re breaking my heart.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron Goes In

The Avengers: Age of Ultron Goes In

It has been a long time since I have been in a theater where people clap at the beginning and end of the movie, and wildly engage in all of the banter and action along the way. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back I now know. Those were not just pumped-up movie folks, they were Marvel people. I’ve come to realize there is a breed of you out there. Not sure if I’ll join, but I like you all.

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Wanderers - a short film by Erik Wernquist from Erik Wernquist on Vimeo.

Endeavor

Breathtaking.

There is something about the reality of outer space that demands mad feels. It puts a person in their place, all the while inviting them to endeavor beyond what is known. It taps into the potential of humanity while making declarations of our frailty and great need.

Outer space is so… other-than. It pushes past the limits of what we think we’ve comprehended, reminding humanity that it is at the mercy of something greater. Yet, that greatness wants to be known. It must be known.

And we keep endeavoring to know. This film charms its viewers with hopefulness. More exploration is on the horizon.

Watch Wanderers.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

“Life begins when the world doesn’t.”

There is something about Kimmy Schmidt that is contagious. This is a character I am delighted to have had experienced. Her spirit is a familiar vision of what a truly free soul should be. She is also extremely odd, and I appreciate that. I’m always happiest when I’m around people that express their oddities freely. Inspiring, to say the least. I loved this character and hope to see more of her story in the future.

Over at WaPo, Alissa Wilkinson captures the kindred spirit in Kimmy Schmidt that will not easily be forgotten.

Futility Has A Point

Futility Has A Point

I came across a write-up on Scott McCloud, a genius of comic theory, of which I know nothing about. Apparently, he recently published his first graphic novel in 25 years, The Sculptor. I like stories, so I was interested.

Take a look at the whole piece when you get the chance. Here is an excerpt that reveals his worldview at play. I really enjoyed seeing his approach, and was intrigued by his version of the “meaning of life.” I look forward to getting a copy of The Scultpor and seeing his ideas of beauty illustrated.

Here is his interaction with the main character, David, a struggling sculptor in New York. He faces the universal tide of time. Is there even a more important tide to consider?

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The Depth of Makers

The Depth of Makers

“Culture” is such a loaded word. As cited in Frame’s book, Ken Myers defines culture as a “dynamic pattern, an ever-changing matrix of objects, artifacts, sounds, institutions, philosophies, fashions, enthusiasms, myths, prejudices, relationships, attitudes, tastes, rituals, habits, colors and loves, all embodied in individual people, in groups and collectives and associations of people (many of whom do not know they are associated), in books, in buildings, in the use of time and space, in wars, in jokes, and in food.”

All the things that Myers lists are occasions for knowing God. Everything is tethered to him. Sure, while new revelation has ceased, and truth is a finished work, we still continue to see more unfolding and reimaged through this finished work. A new culture.

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What does ‘Reimages’ mean?

What does ‘Reimages’ mean?

I may know a couple things about love, but I am sure that I will learn more about it as my life goes on. People, stories, experiences and many circumstances will reimage the meaning of love for me. Or, maybe a story or photograph will totally rewire my understanding of a character trait, like perseverance. A good author may work hard to bring to life a strong and persistent character that animates the trait “perseverance,” reimaging such a principle for the reader. Great teachers will repeat themselves in a variety of creative ways to convey their messages, coming at it from several angles to make sure their students thoroughly understand.

There is more than one way to learn, and I see this illustrative knowledge everywhere. Knowledge reimages; it resonates colorfully all around us.

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The Real Ride

The Real Ride

Maybe you caught the film adaption of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. There is an impression that it leaves with you.

Since viewing it, I’ve been stuck on the closing credits and the photographs that accompanied them. The photos were good photos, but they had a profound impact because of what they represented. The quick glance at the longboard photo was solid in its own right, but it really struck you in a profound way because of the story you just witnessed that included this board.

It had meaning because you had something of an experience with that board. The image is just a reminder of the real ride.

 

Open Letter to Maria

Open Letter to Maria

To: Maria Vega

The morning of your death was a few days ago, December 19th, 2013.

This is so unreal to me. UNREAL. So unbelievable. I can’t believe this. I can’t. Not you. Not you little Vega.

You are so real in my mind and heart. This is insane. I just hugged you on your bus and you told me what you wanted for lunch. Pizza. Pepperoni. From Costco. You had your pinkish hoody.

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Friendship: Whatever It Takes

Friendship: Whatever It Takes

How’s it coming? In a previous post, I elaborated on a certain kind of friendship. In theory, encouraging your friends towards their calling sounds like a great idea. In light of the Great Commission and Christ’s radical call, this kind of friendship makes sense. A strategic and intentional approach towards growth and betterment of my friends makes sense. In theory.

Since this kind of work has eternal dividends, we can expect it to be challenging. Real relationships are simply not that simple.

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The Word Will Run

The Word Will Run

“The Word is pictured as an athlete running in a race to attain the prize of glory. An athlete is glorified when he wins and is recognized and acclaimed as superior to all others in the race. So the Word of the Lord is running in the world. It will one day win the race of words – the race of philosophies and theories and world views.”

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Friendship That Makes Sense

Friendship That Makes Sense

Have you ever given much thought to what it means to be a good friend? Sure, friends and relationships are familiar realities to us. But have you ever given some intentional thought to this question? Ever strategized for… say 30 minutes, on how you could be a better friend to a specific person? I, personally, have given a ton of thought towards my own future, calling, and personal development. Yet, friendships are a reality of my every day, and I can’t say I have planned nearly enough to make them the best they could be. Sometimes I am amazed at how little preparation and investment I have placed into these core components of daily life. I am wondering if anyone else shares the same sentiments at times.

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My Family Looks Different

My Family Looks Different

“So what are you,” a new acquaintance asks. “If you don’t mind me asking…”

“Well, what do you think I am?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m not sure… umm,” stares intently.

Silence.

“So… are you going to tell me?”

“Well, give me your most educated guess. And then I might tell you.”

In past conversations, the guesses that follow have encompassed a wide variety of races. Sometimes, people tend to think that my race is mixed with something identical to theirs. Others try to think as exotically as possible. Some do not think I am a mixture of multiple races.

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Why War Stories Inspire Womanhood

Why War Stories Inspire Womanhood

Growing up, I was intrigued by stories related to war, battles, and good versus evil. I was never allured to the blood, gore, and violence of such circumstances, but something about war stories in literature, films, and documentaries would stir me deeply. Being part of an important mission and helping a cause that was much larger than myself sounded like an incredible endeavor. It easily plucked my passion-strings and I knew life would tragically be missing something if I was not part of an “epic story.” As a young female, I remember the disappointment I felt when faced with the repeating correlation of war and for-men-only. I thought to myself, frankly, I want to be part of a great cause, too! I want to help!

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How Friends with “Disabilities” Have Saved My Life

How Friends with “Disabilities” Have Saved My Life

I work at a Day Program for adults with developmental disabilities, of whom we call members and friends.

I was texting my co-coach, Scotty, one evening about a music video we were trying to put together for our members. By this time, we had spent months going on adventures with them, learning, laughing, struggling, making mistakes, and just doing life together. He wrote to me something so simple, but it sums up my entire time at this job.

“Every person in this video saved my life.”

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Tolkein’s Splintered Hues

Tolkein’s Splintered Hues

Read slowly to enjoy.

“Although now long estranged
Man is not wholly lost, nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet not dethroned,
And keeps the rags of lordship once he owned:
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted Light
Through whom is splintered from a single White
To many hues, and endlessly combined
In living shapes that move from mind to mind.”
J.R.R. Tolkein

Man, the Sub-creator, in this case would be the author of an imaginary world in text form. This is Tolkein’s poetic response to a critic who had described writing a fantasy story (such as Lord of the Rings) like “breathing a lie through silver.” Similar to many who have yet to discover the treasures in fiction, this critic does not see that the very means used to write something into existence is a replication of God’s own processes.

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Fiction Helps You Build Dreams

Fiction Helps You Build Dreams

I’d like to think that reading fiction literature improves my faith in Christ.

There are several reasons for why I believe this to be true. And when I really get to thinking about it, the explanations turn into a seemingly unending list. But let me start with one of my favorite reasons.

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