Elevator Pitch

The classroom is large enough to hold about thirty students, one professor, and two chaperones, which works out swell because that about sums up our group. I’m attracted to the huge industrial-grade windows at the back of the room, more so for the rich Los Angeles cityscape beyond them. If you smash your face against the window and slide your eyes to the left as far as possible, as if to embody Jim Carrey on his best day, you can see almost half the city. Not saying I did this, but if you happen to meet anyone from the building across the street, maybe don’t mention that you know me.

Or do mention it. It’s not as if the suits in the building across the busy street know my name. Just my contorted, idiot face trying to see if the Uruks really are taking the hobbits to Isengard.

The room has a clean, indoor smell, though if it were my forty-story building, I would’ve stripped and replaced the carpet months ago. Correction: I would’ve sold the building and set up shop on an island in the South Pacific. But that’s neither here nor there—strike that, it’s all there and 5,501 miles from here, a classroom in a corporate-collegiate building in downtown LA.

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An open letter to America’s false prophets

Troubling signs…

About a week before the 2020 election, while driving home from Orlando, I saw a sign that read, “In Trump We Trust.” And all I could think was, “that’ll have to be answered for, and probably sooner than we expect.”

God will not be mocked.

Now, seeing America’s Charismatic and Evangelical Christians teetering on the cusp of an existential crisis fills me with hope. Perhaps I need to see a pastor and, you know, get that looked at…

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Curated Morality

A time is coming–maybe it’s already here–when curated evil will be all that we see. And make no mistake: it will be true, undeniable evil. That is what makes the thought behind it so brilliant, so sinister.

The evil of murder, of racism, of social injustice, of systemic prejudice, (fill in the blank for whatever comes next)–these will be cast like veils over our perception until blinded in our relentless pursuit of justice, we can no longer tell our friends from our enemies.

And, most important of all, we will cease praying for both.

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Holy Dread – What I think I know after Hurricane Michael

What follows is my personal, frail attempt to make sense of a devastating event.

Prologue

(because prologues are cool)

While dining at my sister’s house, I sat beside my nephew, Leader, who was seven or eight years old at the time. He is eleven now. Guided by a profound impulse, he decided to ask me a series of theological questions, which he has been known to do at odd times (for example, he once told me I had to “fight the dragon” so that I could become “a king of forgiveness”).

“Unky Adam,” he said.

“Yes?” I said, turning toward him.

“Do you love God more than money?” he asked, his smile as big as a crescent moon.

“Yes,” I said. I went back to my food, thinking that would be the end of it.

“Do you love God more than houses?” he asked, his tenor elevated. He seemed to know well enough that sequels should raise the stakes.

“Yes,” I said.

His smile broadened. I decided not to take the next bite, knowing that another question must follow in the series. To him, it was a kind of game where the questions must be part of a trilogy.

“Do you love God more than the world?” he asked, raising his volume to something like half a notch above inside-voice acceptable decibels.

I waited, wanting to give myself a moment to be honest even if it led to disappointment. Anyone claiming to be a believer would want the answer to be “Yes”. But I gave myself enough time for it to be a cold, cowardly “No” if the truth of my heart demanded it. I gave myself time to fall if fall I must.

“Yes,” I said.

As soon as I spoke, I knew I had done what for me had always been unthinkable. I had made a commitment. Leader smiled bigger, but not because he had trapped me. He smiled in a kind of child-like awe. You see, because I had affirmed my love for God above money, houses, and the world—because of these affirmations of faith, he seemed to think I was some sort of hero.

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Fake Blood

My life has been marked by symbolism, with video games providing some of the most poignant moments. Yes, you read me right: time-ravaging life-debilitating muscle-atrophying video games.

When I first held the original Nintendo controller, I held it upside down. The black cord jutted toward me, level with my bellybutton, and then curved down and away—an umbilical between me and the 8-bit box. Mind you, it wasn’t that I thought the controller was right-side up. Rather, I was convinced that upside-down was the better way to play. That Mario and Luigi had a hard time conforming their behavior to my inverted will was not really my problem.

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