Monday, May 23, 2011


Congratulations Robert and Joyce! What a great experience, thanks for asking me to officiate! Ten minutes before the wedding started I had a welt in my throat and butterflies in my stomach, but when I saw my friends walking down the isle, it went away and I couldn't stop smiling. Besides the groom saying his vows while looking into my eyes instead of the bride's, everything went swimmingly. The parents were very happy, so I think I did okay. They joked that I could start a side business. It really is a lot of work though and I think it's only worth it for close friends.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

love as we know it

I am convinced that the core of the human heart contains an inherent desire to be known. This need is independent of culture, class, wealth, religion and race. The entire basis of social interaction rests upon this compulsion and every relationship exists in its pursuit. To strangers, we express ourselves with what we wear, what we drive, where we are seen. To acquaintances, we express ourselves with shared interests, favorite books and movies, with knowledge. As friends, we share inside jokes, experiences, and struggles. As spouses, we share everything. The more intimate the relationship, the more we allow ourselves to be known. The more we allow ourselves to be known, the more potentially satisfying the relationship.

Love as we know it balances between being known and being accepted. We are ever gauging whether or not we will be accepted for what we reveal. As imperfect and sometimes ugly people, there is always a fear that we will lose the acceptance of our friends, family, coworkers, etc. Our past, our flaws, our weirdness, are sources of shame to be hidden from the world. We hide behind attractive masks so no one else would know how we really look. Yet what resides in the dark recesses of our hearts yearns to be brought into light. The pinnacle of human relationship is one in which sinful people fully understand and fully accept each other in all their ugliness.

Still, there are physical limits to crawling inside the skin of another. Only in a divine relationship can we be fully known inside and out. Only in a divine relationship can we be fully loved under the light of our faults. But only in a divine relationship do we have to relate from opposite sides of heaven. Anyone who has wrestled with God understands both the potential satisfaction and terrible difficulty in being loved by Him.
“I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Isaiah 6:5

Friday, May 20, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

last week

After three years, eleven months and ten days of employment at Marshall Electronics, I am entering my last week here. Resignation handed in, letter of recommendation requested, cards getting written, happy hour being planned. I cannot believe the amount of hours I have spent in this building, behind this desk. Goodbye's are always bittersweet and difficult for me, but this feels good man. At least until the new job starts.

Monday, May 9, 2011

the fast and the frivolous

Went canyon driving with a friend the other weekend. Fun stuff.

I don't think I have debuted my new (to me) car on here yet. 2002 Mazda Miata. Less roof, more fun. So much better on windy roads than crawling up the 405.

I also got my vanity plates in today. Yep, pretty dorky.

Friday, May 6, 2011

vengeance and reconciliation

It has been nearly a week since the FBI's most wanted terrorist was found and killed. Along with the drunk college students pouring out of DC area bars following President Obama's address that night, most of the country seemed to be celebrating the news. And why not celebrate? After ten years, billions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of lives, we located the man who became the face of terrorism worldwide. A man who coordinated the most devastating attack on American soil in history. A man who took the lives of three thousand innocent men and women in one morning. We got him. Good job America. Justice has been served. Time to party.

Except that attitude didn't sit right with me. The phrase that came to mind was Pyrrhic victory. But looking beyond all the political, financial and personal baggage accrued over the last ten years, essentially we were celebrating the death of a human being. It felt wrong, no matter what atrocities he committed. It is easy to compare this week's pictures of cheering Americans to the pictures of cheering crowds in the Middle East following 9-11. Justice is such a convoluted concept. Who has the right to claim life in exchange for another? There is no changing the past. We should be better than that. We should substitute reconciliation for vengeance. That is the only path toward peace in this world.

A day later I posted a status update to Facebook:

After thinking over replies from friends in very different situations, I saw some validity in the search for justice. It is easy for me to downplay it because I am so far removed. For those who have seen the war first hand or lost loved ones, it must be infinitely more difficult. Ideally, we would be able to completely forgive those who trespass against us, but when we have been deeply wronged or hurt, the desire for justice is nearly insatiable.

I received a couple of emails yesterday which reminded me of a deep wound, one which I have all but learned to ignore. One which has shaped the last ten years of my life and my view of God. One which leaves me gasping for air at times. One which I still dream about. Without resolution, there remain residues of helplessness and frustration.

I want justice. It is an immature, irrational desire, but recognizing it doesn't suppress it. Even if reconciliation were a viable option, I don't know if I could follow through. I know that forgiveness is an open door to the cage of bitterness, but I do not want to forgive. I want to be avenged. I'd rather watch the source of my pain go down in flames than bring healing. It is all kinds of wrong, but the desire for justice is stronger and simpler than the desire for reconciliation.

I imagine it is similar to what America is experiencing. After a decade of fear, fighting, and ridiculous airport security, we have destroyed the perceived source of our troubles. Unfortunately, close and personal pain does not see reason, it seeks relief. It is our weakness that bids us to seek justice, but I would be a fool to think myself above it. Sometimes we as a country and we as individuals are unable to be any better. It is up to the best of us to resist those urges. Lead us with strong hands.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

faith and mental illness

Fantastic account of the reality of mental illness and its devastating effects by someone who is living it firsthand.  Recommended read.  Here is an excerpt:
I have been asked many times, "Was it worth it?" Each time I wonder what people mean by the question.

The treatments cost $300,000. My parents paid almost $90,000. Insurance covered about $100,000, and the government paid for the rest. The hospital didn't eat a penny.

But more than the money, I have been asked whether it was worth the pain and the stigma. I don't know.

My mom survived cancer twice and spent time in reverse isolation because a simple cold could have killed her. She told me she has never seen pain more intense than my two months of treatments. She spent many mornings shouting at God. Nevertheless, she always supported me. She would rub my head when the headaches were unbearable, offering scant physical relief but much emotional consolation. My father was angry when I first became ill but quickly adapted. He was ever-present during my darkest times. He just sat and waited with me. I didn't like being alone.

I talk about my family because I learned that those around me often saw more clearly than I did. In the midst of my suffering, nothing made sense. Reason and logic gave way to instinct and fatalism. Pain is a powerful drug. It altered my perception and was an indelible part of my reality.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

festival of books

They moved the LA Festival of Books to USC this year. It had been at UCLA for as long as I've been in West LA. I haven't been on campus for quite a long time. Interesting memories. Also got to do a little casual portrait shooting. Fun!

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Winnie Cooper!

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Madeline is kinda creepy in 3D
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Hanged for stealing cookies

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Dinner at Papa Cristo's
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Exposition Park

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Full set on Flickr as usual.