28 January 2014

Be My Valentine

You've probably seen my video regarding the choosing of a valentine this year. If not, watch it here. Here is the application. You can submit your application via Facebook message or by emailing to TheJRMY@gmail.com.

Remember that I need at least five applications in order to actually run the contest, so feel free to pass it along to all of your friends. Be sure to submit your application by 12pm Pacific time on February 2. Good luck!

1. What is your name?
2. How old are you?
3. Where do you live?
4. Do you currently have a significant other (spouse, partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc)?
5. What is your favorite book (excluding the bible)?
6. What is your Briggs Meyers personality type?
7. Mac or PC?
8. What is your favorite food/type of food?
9. If you were a dinosaur, what kind of dinosaur would you be and why?
10. Who is Heisenberg?
11. Who is your favorite Simpsons character?
12. In 100 words or fewer, why should I choose you to be my valentine?
13. Is there any additional information you would like to add?

22 May 2013

On Nicknames

[This blog post was somewhat inspired by a YouTube video I did as part of a series called PIKnIC. Click here to see that video.]

Nickames are an interesting thing. Sociologists say that we assign them to the people we care about most, whether that be a strong sense of like or dislike. I don’t know whether or not this is always true, but it’s certainly something worth thinking about. I mean, really, what’s in a name? We often speak of names as expressing someone’s character, but in our day and age people are frequently assigned names based on the way they sound, resulting in this not being true. More likely, a name simply is a way to get someone’s attention, and a nickname makes that process a little bit more fun.

There is a biblical precedent to nicknames, or in some cases total renaming. There are many examples, though we are not going to take the time to look at all of them right now. One great example is Jacob wrestling with God all night before God changes his name to Israel, literally meaning, “He strives with God.”(1) From him come the Israelites and, more loosely speaking, the modern nation Israel.

My personal favorite example is when Jesus changes Peter’s name from Simon to Peter(2)(3), then tells him that upon himself as the rock he will build the church(4). Of all of the examples, this could probably most be said to be a nicknames as he is frequently referred to by both names throughout the remainder of his life. Further, Peter was impulsive and headstrong, but later freaked out when confronted by a young girl – calling him Rock was akin to the biggest guy around being called Tiny.

The third and final example I want to very quickly look at it is found in the book or Revelation. #scary (#not really)(5) In addressing the seven churches scattered throughout Asia Minor (a much bigger discussion than this blog post allows, though something I would love to discuss with you) Jesus promises to give the one who endures a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”(6) This shows once again the use of names that I mentioned in the first paragraph, dictating character, showing our new nature at glorification(7).

Throughout my life I’ve had a lot of nicknames, whether things I liked to be called or things people called me to give me a hard time. Let’s just hit a highlight list here: Pete; Jerm; Jhirmack; Funky Joe; beaNie; Moscow; Jem. I want to talk briefly about the one I used the longest: beaNie. It was juvenile, but it lasted for about 10 years. Back 1997-ish I went to Charlotte, NC on a mission trip with my youth group. We went with another youth group, in which there was a girl named Jill. She loved Mr. Bean. She decided I looked like Mr. Bean, which I did much more back then. She began calling me that. And it stuck. And now you know the proverbial “rest of the story.”

I don’t think I know a more interesting nickname than my Aunt Pete. She and Uncle Butch (actual name John) of course have two children, Hank (again, actual name John) and Sis (actual name unknown). Welcome to central Pennsylvania. Pete’s actual name is Melinda. Her father wanted sons but instead had three daughters. He gave them all as nicknames the names he had chosen for his sons. Interestingly her sisters share nicknames with her husband and son, Hank and Butch.

In reality, what we call each other is of little significance. I will never understand
Ray J. Johnson Jr. or Carley Ray Jepsen’s choice of “Maybe” as what she would like to be called, but in the end that doesn’t determine who we are.

(1) Genesis 32:22-32; 35:1-15
(2) Sometimes the name “Cephas” is used instead. This is a language difference between Greek and Aramaic, much like Jose and Joseph.
(3) Petros/Cephas is Greek/Aramaic for “Rock.” Either way, the exact word used here refers more to a small rock or even a pebble. The word used later refers to a large rock, such as bedrock. As such, Jesus is not referring to Peter as the rock upon which the church will be built, but instead himself. This argument for the papacy simply does not hold water.
(4) Matthew 16:17-18; John 1:41-42
(5) Did I really just hash tag my blog? I’m sorry about that.
(6) Revelation 2:17
(7) This is once again a topic for too broad for this post, but a summary can be found here</>.

27 April 2013

First Date

[I know I haven't posted in a while. I'm sorry, but I will not make excuses. I've been posting primarily on my YouTube channel. My intent has never been to neglect this. Please bear with me as I strive for balance.

The forthcoming post is a part of the February in March series that I started at the beginning of last month and am still working to complete. This is based on the concept "Words." Further, it is based on a poem originally posted here in August of 2010, one of my earliest posts.]

Those of you who have known me for a while know that I wrote a lot of poetry several years ago. That being said, I scarcely write so much as a stanza anymore. It simply doesn't happen. Occasionally though something will move me in that manner. The verses flow in unison with the blood in my veins. My heart races as I see the words materializing on the paper. It's a beautiful thing.

I've never been a fan of form. Emphasis has always been difficult for me, leaving meter as the bane of my existence. The only real exceptions to my hatred for form are the Sestina and Haiku (which is arguably not a real form in the English language). Occasionally, in order to push myself out of a box, I have to make an exception to this rule.

There is an ancient French form called a Paradelle. It includes a very complex pattern of line re-use, followed by a large amount of word re-use. The first poem ever written in this form was Billy Collin's Paradelle for Susan in his 1998 book Picnic Lightning. Yes, you read that right - this ancient form has been around for a whopping fifteen years. In actuality Collins coined the style in order to critique heavily formulaic poetry.

About three years ago I decided to write a poem inspired by the form. It was two stanzas long, with each stanza using an identical list of words. The goal, which I never accomplished, was to reach 54 words. This one is 15. I got up to about 25 before I stopped. This particular one, entitled first date, is definitely my favorite. I hope you enjoy.

You and I.
The date.
The chairs and the table.
Under the surface? A mystery…

Table and chairs date under a surface mystery.
The you. The I.
And the the.

While I'm sure some of you do not like the second stanza, I feel it is an accurate definition of the awkwardness that surrounds a first date.

17 March 2013

On Saints: Valentine, Patrick, and More!

::A very similar post to this was written and never published on February 17. I have repurposed the post, almost unchanged, for St. Patrick's Day.::

St. Valentine's Day is obviously over. As such, this post is over one month late...or just under eleven months early. My friend Brett posted the drawing to the right on Facebook on February 15, which is some of the inspiration behind this post.

Unfortunately, Brett is not big on self-promotion and the like, particularly with regards to his drawings. As such, he does not have a website to which I can send you to check out his other stuff, which is pretty great. When we were in high school his notebooks would become comic books, and he still posts to Facebook some wonderful (but much shorter) comics. This is of course a self-portrait, one of my favorite series that he has undertaken(1). That being said, let's get down to the matter at hand.

As you probably know, I'm Protestant, not Catholic. We do not venerate anyone as all who are in Christ are saints. Even so, I find the tales of the classic saints interesting, especially those with holidays bearing their name, as they are cultural institutions about whom I know nothing. How did they get holidays? How can I get a holiday(2)? And what do cards, hearts, and candy have to do with Valentine?

Honestly, no one really seems to know a lot about him. Nearly all of the history surrounding Valentine comes to us from later hagiographies. Fortunately, there are a few constants.

Valentine is by all accounts promoting Christian marriage in some way, generally by performing them. Christianity was illegal, and consequently helping Christians in any way was illegal. Some say that he restored the sight of the blind daughter of Judge Asterius while imprisoned, resulting in Asterius being baptized and Valentine being released, only to be re-arrested by Emperor Claudius for performing the sacrament and later beheaded.

Outside of this we have little but rumors, conjecture, and variance. Such is unfortunately the case with many of the saints. While I love a great story, true or false, the inconsistency irks me. In that his story is rather filled-in and consistent, St. Nicholas is a bit of an anomaly.

Another drawing by Brett? Don't mind if I do!
I wanted to do a series on the saints through and possibly even beyond St. Patrick's Day (aka tomorrow, or maybe today depending on what time it is right now). I really did. Was Patrick really a total lush? No, Alfred Guinness had not even invented his elixir yet, and Patrick was not a heavy consumer of uisce beatha(3). But what else do we know? What do we know about anyone historically?

History is an interesting study. The "good guys" always win because the story is told from their perspective. We make up the rest. We as a society come to pathologically believe it. I'm sure each of the saints had a lot of good qualities, but they were not perfect. They were merely humans. Most of what they did has been forgotten, and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

(1)Series is not the correct word. Really, it is just a collection of drawings that happen to follow a theme. Either way, I very much enjoy seeing Brett's drawings of himself in various circumstances and guises.
(2)Just kidding - I hate holidays.
(3)This Gaelic phrase, from which we derive our word whiskey, literally means "water of life," which is also what distilled spirits were called in Latin (aqua vitae).

02 March 2013

My Favorite Photo of Myself (February in March)

::I can't believe I've let it go this long. Apologies. Anyway, yesterday I started a project called February in March. I took a photo of the day thing for February and am now making something (whether it be video, blog, or other) about each day. Today is my first blog post in the project. Expect a post explaining a bit more soon.::

Somewhere out there, probably in my grandpa's house, is a photo of me that is pretty well-known in my family. It is a photo of several firsts for me. It's the first time I met my sister Amanda. It's the first time I held a baby. It's my first memory.

Obviously this is not the photo in
question. It is, however, a photo of
Amanda, grandma, and me.
Those of you who know Amanda know that she is almost 3 years younger than I am. When this photo was taken she was at most a few days (though more likely a few hours) old(1). I was of course not actually holding her - no one lets a two-year-old hold a newborn. My grandma was holding us both. I had no idea of this at the time.

Since I couldn't go to the hospital for the delivery, I stayed with my grandparents when Amanda was being born, as I did for the birth of my two other sisters as well. I waited very impatiently for my new friend. I was quite disappointed when I discovered that babies do little outside of sleep, eat, cry, and poop. She had no interest in Legos except putting them in her mouth, and Transformers were even less fun to her. When I eventually found this out I was ready to send her back, but I didn't know any of this just yet.

Sitting in my grandma's lap someone handed me the baby. Excitement and pride beamed from my face as someone snapped a photo. This was it, the moment I became a responsible older brother: I'm helping by holding the baby!

Here we are 28 years later. Amanda and I have not always been as close as we thankfully are now. But that one moment when we first met sitting on our grandma's lap is to this day my favorite photo of myself.

(1) I always tell people that I've been holding babies since I was a baby myself, and it's true.