Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Institution

What is the church? How is it relevant to society? How is it relevant to me?

These questions have been spinning around my head for so long now it seems. In the past, I have been a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church and I have been heavily involved at various times with that community. More recently my attendance there has waned to the point of not having gone in several months now and I have been asking myself questions of who my community is and how the church plays a role in that definition.

As a part of experiencing different modes of worship, I decided to attend a church service, but not one of my normal church. A friend of mine invited me to attend the Imago Dei church down on 15th and Ankeny. It was definitely an experience. One that in many was resonated with my past experiences at my old churches. To this, I was greatly disappointed. It was the same old, same old as far as I was concerned. The only thing that I felt comfort in was that I was able to be lost within the congregation. The first time I went, it was with the friend who invited me. The second time I went alone. It was a blessing to "blend in with the pew" and not be forced to be happy, or excited to be there. I was there to worship. Worship is something done without words. I had no words those days. What I had was anger, frustration and a desire to not be a part of this "pack of conformed people."

What is church? Church represents a community of people that gather together to praise God and presence with each other. If that is what church is, then why do I need to go to a 'bring and mortar' place to experience this praise? So much of our spirituality is a personal thing. Beyond that, what is the purpose of a church? It is a place of belonging. And it is a place of belonging where a person much act and dress and believe in a way that conforms to the ideals of that institution. If you do not act, dress or believe in that fashion, go somewhere else. Every church will implore you that they accept all people... and they will do their darndest to convert you at the same time. They are not O.K. with you being O.K. There is a need for the church to make you feel as though you belong to it.

Lover of My Soul FbG6

During the stage of the Warrior, there is a transition that is made. In the language of real life, we find those places that allow us to escape from the mundane. To escape from the battle. These places are so important because they help teach our soul how to live. As we step into the shoes of the Warrior, we also step into the shoes of the Lover.

Through the process of Boyhood to Cowboy to Warrior, there is an undercurrent that pulls at our hearts. It's something that we at first don't recognize because we are in the thick of whatever it is we're doing. But by being where we are; being, exploring, or fighting, there is always this concept of beauty.

As life moves forward, the boy becomes the teen who becomes the young man. Beauty is so often seen in the woman. The woman is important yes but it is what's beyond the woman that is so important. She is the embodiment of beauty but if that is all we (men) see, then we are treating her as a commodity, not as something special and so much more than that. In fact, I would go so far as to say that so often it isn't the woman we see at all the first few times around, it is the mystery of the beauty.

This concept of the mystery I feel is so important and really takes hold of whole idea of beauty in and of itself. It isn't just something that can be bought, it's something that must be discovered every single day that we walk on this earth. For we are not just looking for the beauty or love of a woman, but also the beauty of love of God. And it's only by looking for that beauty, God's beauty, in every moment of every day, that we can find it. Everything in life seems always to come back to the idea of the process, well this is no exception. An individual cannot simply find love, the real thing, on the first go around. It's something that must be explored and fought for before it can be experienced.

So we begin to understand how this process all fits together and supports itself. We cannot transition through these stages, leaving one unfinished and expect to move forward as men in a healthy way. Yes, many of these aspects can be experienced simultaneously and grown men might need to be boys, but the understanding that we do this is what's so important.

In the end, the lover cannot give what he does not have. If he first does not love himself, then how can he give love to another. You see, if he doesn't love himself, he can't know true love of God. That can only be experienced, together. To do this men must be vulnerable with themselves and vulnerable with God. Share in the mystery of God's beauty and learn from his example as a Lover who is pursuing you with every fiber of his being. May that be your example, your template for being the Lover.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

This is not the time... FbG5

"The Lord will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies."

Isaiah 42:13

Does this not speak to you men in some way? Maybe on the surface, maybe deep down. I'm not sure how it speaks to me. I guess part of that confusion stems from the notion that I have, during my entire life, been told of how passive and meek Jesus/God is. He is an entity of peace and calmness. We are always told not to fight, not to be aggressive with people around us. But as men, as warriors, we are made to fight. We are made to have passions and to let them be expressed. Instead, we are told that good Christian little boys don't get angry, they don't feel anything beyond love, peace, joy and happiness. I'm sorry, those people that have built that paradigm are wrong. It says so right up there.

Throughout the Old Testament there are multiple figures that are chosen by God, given the Spirit of the Lord and have gone to battle. Othniel, Gideon, Jepthah and David to just name a few. A key point here though, is that they were given the Spirit of the Lord. Outside of that, they were nothing. Take Sampson for example. Who was he when he wasn't the strong Sampson we think of? We see this fight in our everyday lives. I believe men try to capture this idea of the fighting and being warrior in sports. By watching sports we vicariously participate in a gladitorial type system of defeating those us. I don't believe that is a good thing. The reason that John Eldredge promotes for why we must fight, why we must be warriors is spiritual. "Our God is a warrior because there are certain things in life worth fighting for, must be fought for. He makes man a warrior in his own image, because he intends for man to join him in that battle." We are meant to be warriors with a conscience and a purpose. We are fighting for something. Not just for ourselves.

We are given the opportunity to be warriors ever day and beyond that, many times within every day. But we run. We hide. We are passive and it is passivity that kills the warrior, not the scars we acquire through battle. Suffering, for some of us a mainstay, is experienced as a result of not being willing to fight. For many of us, we choose not to recognize when the battle cry is being made. We choose to hide our heads in the sand before the battle lines are even made. In this way, evil is allowed to win almost without even trying. And it is a choice. Each warrior makes a cognitive choice to turn and flee. Why do you make those choices though? I believe this builds off all the previous stages and how men are wounded. We aren't taught or shown how to fight nor how to have the courage to even don the armor. As Eldredge says, "Passivity has no place in the lexicon of true masculinity. None. And to overcome passivity, God has set his warrior heart in every man."

So how is the warrior made? Through hardship. Through trials and tribulations. By proving that he can and will overcome the evil that is so pervasive in every moment of every day, that is how a warrior trains. Discipline. Training. Every experience in life can be seen as training for the day when the skills are needed. When the passion and the adventure come together to serve a purpose. It is through the training and the discipline that the passions are harnessed and allowed to manifest deep within ourselves so as not to be deterred from our mission, from our purpose.

How then, is a warrior unmade? Abandonment. By not having a purpose. Eldredge says that a warrior is wounded when there is "no king to give his allegiance to and no cause to fight for." My questions then are; what am I fighting for? Who is my king? What is worth shedding my blood, both spiritual and physical? How am I a warrior every minute of my day? Because when I do find things that begin to boil my blood, I need to be ready to fight with everything I have. I believe this concept speaks directly to what Paul meant by saying, "fight the good fight."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sing it!

Over time, man has experienced many different ways of worshipping their deity. These forms of worship have take various shapes and styles to create unique experiences to honoring that deity. I have embarked on a relatively short journey to try and experience various forms that worship so as to broaden my horizons in how I worship my deity as well as to allow for a better understanding of how others worship their deity.

These first few weeks I have spent specific time singing and playing my guitar. I'm not doing this in front of anyone, except maybe the apartment mates who share the auditory space. This is actually a form of worship that I have been partaking in ever since I learned how to play the guitar. Through it, I can express myself through the singing and music created by the guitar itself.  Through the music, I can get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and have time to just play. I don't have to think about it too much which adds to the enjoyment. Just to get lost in the words and the chords allows for a semblance of peace to descend and rest on my shoulders.

Also, taking the time out of what I am doing in a day to pursue God and to view God through a different lens then what I normally do allows for a freshness to my approach to God.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bring It On FbG ch4

"He wants to learn how to do things - how to drive a car, to hunt birds, to build a loft in his room. And now the Question of a man's soul begins to present itself in nearly everything the boy-becoming-a-young-man does: Do you have what it takes? In the cowboy stage the answer comes partly through adventure, and partly through hard work."

-John Eldredge

What does this quote mean to you? Do you remember being that age? When the work and play started to become one and the same? Or play become something done after work? It seems to me that this is what this stage is all about. Adventuring on a grand scale. As a boy, we adventure and push the limits that we have but as a cowboy, those limits begin to fade into the glory of being independent and aware of the world we are now inhabiting.

Eldredge mentions the hard work that gets experienced at this stage. I feel that for me, this is a true statement. I have spent many long days working and learning how to do things that men do. And I have been taught by men. A teacher from high school asked me one spring to help him build a house... a straw house. So we spent the next five summers doing just that. His property is in Central Oregon in a little town called La Pine. It's a three and a half hour drive just to get there and once you're there, you are almost nowhere. During the nights, you can see more stars than there are hairs on your head. The days are hot and long and the nights are cold and beautiful. When we first started the house, we slept in the pump-house. Mornings were cold but we had to get up to go to work. And we had to work to finish the house. This man, now a dear friend, worked with me, coached me and taught me. He taught me the process of building a house (a straw house at least), he taught me how to use certain tools and other building techniques. And then he let me work. And it wasn't just the work, it was working with him that made such a difference.

Another friend of mine was building a house. He is retired and is a vet. We were building his and his wife's retirement house... just the three of us. I think it was here that I learned the most about getting the job done. There were days where we would start at six because of the heat. I learned very well the idea of working hard to play later. I also learned the tangible benefits of coffee! It was learning from a master, being taught how to do something and then being expected to do it. It was here I think that a good foundation was laid that allowed me to believe in myself, to have confidence that I can do the things other men can do.

"Life is hard. While he is the beloved son, a boy is largely shielded from this reality. But a young man needs to know that life is hard, that it won't come to you like Mom used to make it come to you, all soft and warm and to your liking, with icing. It comes to you more the day Dad makes it come to you - with testing, as on a long hike or trying to get en exhaust manifold replaced. Until a man learns to deal with the fact that life is hard, he will spend his days chasing hte wrong thing, Using all his energies trying to make life comfortable, soft, nice and that is no way for any man to
spend his life."

-John Eldredge

Ya, life has been hard. I have struggled. Who am I kidding though, everybody's life has been hard. We all have our own relative struggles that weigh us down and give us cause to turn tail and flee. I believe the crucial variable at this point is having interpreters. My definition of an interpreter in this case is someone who has been through this process and, for the most part, inhabits a further stage than yours. They are someone who can look at what you're doing and see the potential paths, forks and turns you will experience. We each need someone who we can talk to and trust. This doesn't have to be our biological dads but it has to be a man who understands the process and a man we trust. If there's no trust then the structural criticism will be ignored and there will be no growth, or at least it will be much more difficult to attain.

As Eldredge points out, so many men get lost or stuck at this stage. They get addicted to the feelings of freedom and have no grounding principles that bring them back to reality. I think these are men who needed the adventure and maybe got into it with another man, and interpreter, who didn't understand the process and offered a false image what is important. Because it's not the adventuring that's important, it's how we are changed in that adventure. What do we come back with, what do we process when we are in the rawness of the moment. When we are laid bare to the world and to the elements and yet challenge everyone for more. Test me, let me show you I have what it takes!

So go adventure. Go experience your limits, find them and then break them. But come back, talk about it, process it. Share it with those men around you and listen. Listen to their experiences and listen to their wisdom. Then go test it again!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Every Little Boys' Dream FbG ch3

In the book, "Fathered by God," John Eldredge walks through six stages of manhood. It is my journey, and yours if you are reading this, to ask the hard questions in each of these stages. This book was meant for a male audience but I believe that it could have deep meaning for women too because our journey involves them on so many levels.

The first stage is Boyhood.

What images pounce through your mind when that word is spoken. I know for me, a smile begins to show at the edges and I think of Montana. That house made such an impression on me that to this day, I swear I could tell you every square inch (and the last time I was in it was when I was six)! The house, the property, every boys dream! Our house was big and rustic. At this point I would say it was a classic Montana house with huge amounts of acreage to play in and get lost. I would go on adventures to find dinosaur bones (bleached branches) and bring them back to a special tree who's roots made a small hollow that I could hide them in. I remember going exploring but never worrying about finding my way back home or of finding the odd cougar or mountain lion that was seen on the front porch of the house down the road.
When I think of boyhood, I think of when my family moved into the house we occupied for 18 years. We lived on two acres. The house and the managed yard were on the first and a wild expanse of blackberries, doug firs, alders and maple trees enveloped the rest. That was my kingdom. I would venture down as far as I could go. Make trails and campsites that would never be slept in. I would make up stories about slaying dragons or hunting beasts of indescribable ferocity! And always I would win.

"When a boy has this confidence, this security and safety created by masculine strength over him, the whole world opens before him. He is able to live as a boy - an explorer and adventurer."

John Eldredge

There, I was a boy. But life isn't always that simple. Eldredge speaks of being wounded. Every man has experienced this. Some of us know what it is, others haven't yet identified the source of pain and heartache in their lives. When we are wounded, we end up living out a terrible lie that has settled deep into our hearts: you are on your own (pp53). Just think of those words. I am on my own. You are on your own. No one is there for you, no one cares enough to be there for you. No one has time for you. It is now live and let die. There are many things that happen at this point. The naivety of the boy is lost. My naivety was lost. I began the long arduous process of growing up, but it wasn't long anymore. It was every day. I got a job. I went to school and participated in school sports during the week and then worked on the weekends. Soon enough, I got two jobs, then three. No longer was life fun. Sure there were and are fun things about it. But the adventure, the peace, is gone.

Growing up, dad worked. He worked all the time. Ya we'd play catch, and rough-house on Friday nights. But the affirmation that Eldredge speaks of wasn't there.

"Without this bedrock of affirmation, this core of assurance, a man will move unsteadily through the rest of his life, trying to prove his worth and earn belovedness through performance or achievement, through sex, or in a thousand other ways. Quite often he doesn't know this is his search. He simply finds himself uncertain in some core place inside, ruled by fears and the opinions of others, yearning for someone to notice him. He longs for comfort, and it makes him uneasy... A young place in his heart is yearning for something never received."

John Eldredge

Now, today, I feel that some of that affirmation has come. Just the other day, I was in class and got a call from my dad. When I got out of class to answer him, he said he just wanted to check in, see how I was doing. "It's been a while Greg." What he was really saying was, "I love you and I have been thinking about you because you are my son." Eldredge claims that, "the heart of a boy can be resurrected." It's a process. It doesn't just happen over night and we have all experienced enough life to have mistrust be a reality. But it is a process that continues every day in my life. I have begun to better understand the love my dad has for me. The pride he has in the way that I lead my life, the choices I make. Deep down, this is all I want. I want to be a little boy again with dad, except this time, he won't go to work, and we'll play catch all day and go camping, and fishing and work in the hard together. Or do remodeling on the house together. But I don't get that wish. Instead, I get to understand the love he has for me now.

Eldredge asks a question that I believe all men should attempt to answer every day. "How would you love to be fathered these days?"

Saturday, February 16, 2013

We Are Unfinished Men FbG ch2

"The deepest search in life, it seemed to me, the thing that in one way or another was central to all living was man's search to find a father, not merely the father of his flesh, not merely the lost father of his youth, but the image of a strength and wisdom external to his need and superior to his hunger, to which the belief and power of his own life could be united."

Tom Wolfe
"The Story of a Novel"

How true this quote can be for so many men. Just a little later, Eldredge points out that in Hebrews, God is about finishing his work in us. We are a work in progress and should take that into consideration as we walk the walk and fight the good fight.

Throughout this chapter, Eldredge uses the example of fathering found in the movie "Kingdom of Heaven" where Balian, the young man who has recently lost both his son and his wife, is told by a traveler that he is his real father and he wants his son, Balian, to join him. He wants to give him a purpose in life. In my own life, this calling is something I could experience. Maybe I have and I was just not able to recognize the words. But to be called to a great purpose, my purpose in life, is what I have been searching for these past many years.

My question is then, who is calling me? Is it God who will call me and I must listen for the voice that cannot be heard? Or will be a man of flesh and bone here in this world that will somehow pull me to action, pull me to be the warrior and to fight for something I believe in? I have a father of the flesh, and I love him and respect him for what he has done in his life as well as in mine. I have mentors who challenge me and push me places I couldn't go on my own. And I have a concept of a God who is supposed to transcend both of these and who will satisfy this deep, craving hunger that is present every day of my life. But as Eldredge says at the beginning of the chapter; perhaps the hardest thing is for us to believe from the deepest, darkest Jungian pools of our hearts that that I am the son of a kind, strong and engaged Father who is there for me in my journey.

So how do I cognitively believe in something that doesn't exist?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fight the Good Fight (Spirituality of Place)

Throughout my life, there have been many places that embodied what spirituality meant to me at that time. For a long time, that place of spirituality was on the pitch. Soccer was how I expressed myself and I was good at it. It was where I could be all the things I dreamed of myself being. It was also a place where I had to face many fears to achieve excellence.

As I have gotten older, that place has changed. I spent a month in the hills and mountains of Nepal. In the months before that I spent a lot of time hiking the trails available in the gorge and in Central Oregon. They have become a place of peace mixed with turmoil, camaraderie and isolation, happiness and despair. My travels to Nepal really nailed home the idea of the mountains being a place of spirituality. For starters, they are geological formations that people in the United States can't even imagine. It was hard enough for me to imagine them while walking amongst the giants. Their foothills are our mountains and to be in such a place where grandeur, glory, fury and a feeling of being utterly small, has left me near speechless about the wonder those alluring mountains possessed.

Again, my place of spirituality has changed. It has been brought to what I would consider a concept of infinite; my mind. I am best able to experience this place when I run. It is through doing the motions of running, where my body takes control via a rhythmic cadence taking me from point A to point B that my mind is allowed to "let go" and transcend the wiles that are experienced every minutes of our lives. It is almost as though I am regressing to more basic and primal emotions emitted from the lower brain. Whether it be a 30 minute jog or a 3 hour epic, the only word to describe what I bestowed with is "oneness." Not clarity, not discernment per se, but oneness. Where I again feel the connection between my physical body and my infinite, ethereal mind.
Imagine a journey to a mountaintop. On that journey, a pathway must be made. Life experiences whether good or bad cause landslides that choke the pathway with rubble and chos. Every step I take while running, is like removing one rock from my pathway. Each stride brings me closer to clearing my way so that when I stop running, when I get back to my life, I can walk clear and open. Not just in body, but in mind as well. Because for me, those two concepts, body and mind, are viscerally connected to the point where you can't be healthy in one without being healthy in the other.

This spirituality that I have described, probably is not what one would typically describe as spirituality. But it is the closest thing that I have found on this planet that can come anywhere close to a truly authentic, spiritual experience. True, I am in the city with cars to dodge and streets to cross, but when I hit my stride, all that fades away like as if into a mist and all I am left with is myself, my legs and my head, slowly clearing my pathway one rock at a time.

My spirituality does not come from overused devotions or from the words of other men. It comes from a connection that I have with God or whoever, that brings a clarity to my path. What I learn about myself every time I put my five-finger shoes on is that I can do it. I can go out and back. I can do what other people can do and I can do what other people can't do. Beyond that superficial attitude, I can do what is me. I can do what allows me to appreciate this body I have been given and to appreciate the place I have been put. Because without me, this place would not exist. Without this place, I could not be.

Someday in the near future, I intend to mix my love of the trails, with my need to run. To put my mind and body against all the might and majesty of the earth and stone. To test myself against the universe with my strength of will. Some days I will pass the test, some days I will only pass by a gasp. What is important, is that I strap my shoes on, and be willing to fight the good fight.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fathered by God (FbG) Ch1

God is initiating us as men. The wording of this quote implies that initiation is a process that is currently happening this very day with every aspect of our lives. It's not something that will happen, or that has happened or that happens sporadically... it's happening with every breath I take and every decision I make.

John Eldredge's book "Fathered by God," is designed for men. It looks at where we are in society today and some of the issues that have resulted due to the lack of real men and the subjugation of the rite of passage in American society to materialistic and superficial. We lack real men who have the ability to initiate the boys. This imbalance can be balanced! There is so much potential for the boys of this society to intentionally pursue manhood and to bring dignity back to our kind. This process requires tough questions to be answered and Eldredge presents them to us. As I go through this book chapter by chapter, I will bring those questions out and discuss them personally as well as with the theory that I have learned in my educational experience. Sometimes there will be many questions, sometimes there will be only one. The point is not in the number of questions and not even in the answer. It is in the process of thinking about the answer that the value is found.

As I journey through this book, I personally challenge you to answer the questions I am asking. This isn't my problem, it is our problem. We, the men of society, have the choice to continue to be adolescents and be egocentric or to be responsible, initiated men who are ready to journey with others and bring about a change in our society. A change that will return it to a culture.

What is the greatest gift my dad has bestowed upon me?

Early on, my dad was gone a lot. He worked long hours and traveled across the country for days at a time. Thus, my childhood was a journey led by a woman. A very strong woman. My mom was all that a child could wish their mother to be. Dad was there though. One distinct memory that dates back to when we lived in Montana (I was younger than six). I remember getting a bike for some occasion and was learning to ride it without training wheels. There was a small slope as you entered our front yard from one side of the house and it opened up into the wide expanse of the front yard itself. By dad stood behind me, holding the seat so that I could get a good start... and off I went. I don't remember how many times I tried and fell but I distinctly remember falling down and saying I wanted to quit at one point. My dad said no. Keep trying. And so I did, and was successful!
I remember playing catch with my dad in the front yard of the house we lived in for almost 18 years. What i don't remember is the amount of time we spent chasing after baseballs that had been over-thrown, under-thrown and widely-thrown! We would play with balls all the time! Outside, inside, footballs, baseballs, basketballs. All the time testing each other and showing off how hard we could throw or how accurately.
But dad wasn't there to teach me to build a house. He wasn't there to tell me about girls. He wasn't there to help me answer some tough questions at a time when I was asking tough questions. My childhood and adolescence was a time of short clips of dad, but mostly a dad who was working. And he worked hard.
As I look back and struggle with the idea that my dad wasn't there, I wonder if that is true. The older I get and the more clear my understanding of what actually happened and who my dad is, the more I realize who he is, has stuck with me on a deeper level. My dad is not a man of fanfare and wide acclaim. He gets done what he's supposed to get done and looks on. He is a compassionate man who never expects a thank you. He works with his heart, and gives with his heart.
The gifts that my dad has bestowed upon me are not necessarily the gifts of the hands or the feet. But the principles behind those gifts. Dad has showed me how to use those gifts with my heart and with a principle that does leaves little room for egocentrism and selfishness. Dad's gifts to me are ones that allow me to pull everything together and give back to my community with the purpose and conviction that promises growth and development.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Big Stride, Small Dip

Music is one of those things that we all experience. For many people, it's an experience of feeling and to others it's an emotion that is evoked. I believe music to have emoting qualities. I don't know how, that's something that will be learned in more detail through another class. But here, I will express the feelings I have about a lecture given February 5th at Warner Pacific (feelings are thoughts about emotions).

I am a minority when it comes to music. The music that speaks to me is not looked upon with awe and respect by the average person. Country music is seen as nothing but a lament about loosing the girlfriend/wife, trucks, my dog and beer. I will admit, there are a few songs that fit that criteria and then some, but I never understood why people dislike it with such vehemence. When I look to myself and my own visceral distaste for Hip-Hop and rap music... I suppose I could understand a little.

The lecture given by Dr. Adam Bradley was very insightful. He mentioned a Hip-Hop culture being learned and adopted in five different ways:

  1. DJing
  2. Breaking (break dancing)
  3. MCing
  4. Graf (graffiti)
  5. knowledge
Bradley's approach to the culture of Hip-Hop was through the fifth avenue, that of intellect. I appreciated this approach very much because I have seen or experienced the other four and clearly it has made no connection to me what-so-ever. The last approach however, piqued my interest because it brought to the table something more than just the bling, sex appeal and fame. It brought a quality that I could connect with.

A strange connection that Bradley made was that of American writer Emily Dickinson to the Wutang Clan. Now I have no idea who the Wutang Clan is but I know Emily Dickinson is and lets be clear, she ain't Hip-Hop! What was so awesome about this connection for Bradley though, was that it was his connection. He was able to make a connection between words written by Dickinson and a song by the Clan that brought one very important component to the forefront; lexicon.

In one of my classes, Personality Theory, we discussed the lexical hypothesis. It is basically the idea that language is how we express personality. At least it's how we quantify personality. Thus, if an alien race were to visit earth and learn our lexicon, they could decipher our individual personalities (kinda sorta, you get the idea). So it is through language that we are connected. There is disconnect because of the various languages on this globe, but each lexicon has it's own nuances and specificities. We get lucky in that both Dickinson and the Clan speak through the same lexicon of the English language. Through that, Bradley was able to make the connection and thus allow me to make my own connection between Hip-Hop, beauty, the human condition and myself. 

The last thing that Bradley discussed in his lecture, was a three tiered approach to the poetry of Hip-Hop. There was rhythm. He stated that the human voice has a unique rhythm that transcends the use of instruments. It is this instrument of the voice, our own unique voice, that allows us to worship God in our own individual ways. The second tier was rhyme, the play on words that we experience as young children through the writings of Dr. Suess. Bradley argued that we could all come from a different place, use a different form, see through a different context yet demonstrate a singular format when it comes to rhyming. The third and last tier was that of figurative language. An example that Bradley focused on here was that of the pun. Considered by some to be the lowest form of comedy, yet used and appreciated by all. It's through the play on multiple meanings that adds depth to our lexicon. 

Through this lecture on the intellectual attributes of Hip-Hop, I have taken large stride and a small dip into a world that I have for so long shunned and shied away from. They are different than me, they have different values than I have. Yet, Hip-Hop uses the same lexicon as I do. It uses the same forms as I do. It feels and emotes the same way I do. Hip-Hop is an expression of the human soul. Who am I to judge the expression of the human soul in this context?