“The Weather Presents its Caprice” [GUEST POEM]

I have a very dear, long-time friend who is open about being on the autism spectrum. This has given him the gift of seeing the world and its details in beautiful ways, allowing him to do what Emily Dickinson implores of us, to “tell all the truth but tell it slant.”

Below is a text message he sent me this morning that, with his permission, I’ve turned into a poetic form for you to enjoy. (When I asked him, his exact reply was “You go ahead, Paul!”) Continue reading

Putting the FUN back in Fundamentalism! (vs. Atheism)


For those that follow this blog only through WordPress, you may have seen the guest post yesterday–a beautiful meditation on spiritual realities that Autumn brings to our minds–and didn’t think much of it. It was pretty and all, but not controversial, right?

Not so, on Facebook.

A good friend, and Atheist (that we here at the blog know quite well), made a comment taking issue with references to the “Fall” and “first parents” (and even the Resurrection) on the grounds that these do not jive with evolutionary science. (Although I don’t think he clicked on the link to a similar post I wrote last year in which I used the same terminologies in the same way, but whatever.) He was surprised that I would have let a seemingly “young earth creationist” (someone who thinks the world was created in six literal days) post on my blog.

Though I assured him that this guest poster was not, in fact, a young earth creationist, and was merely speaking using the common poetic language shared by all of Christian theology and not at all trying to speak in scientific terms, he doubled down. Then, Christians and Atheists all jumped into this thread. Sarcasm, insults, and “who-said-what when” arguments began, all having little to do with the post, and more to do with who was condescending first, who understands genre theory, and who were the more aggressive and defensive parties in the discussion.
Continue reading

Sacred Autumn [GUEST POST]


This is another piece by my good friend Austin, who has written here before. You can also read my own, similar meditation from last year on what Autumn can tell us about our world and our God.

This month, we’ll witness the change of seasons. These liminal times, these times between the times, always put me in a mood of reflection. The approaching season is my favorite. It’s appropriate that it, unlike the other seasons, should be honored with two names—Fall and Autumn. And what about that?

Autumn is a noun, meaning cold. The word is anything but. It’s a beautiful word to look at, beautifully spelled. It’s a nice word to say. Think about how your mouth moves when you articulate it. Isn’t it like offering a kiss to something, someone? And didn’t Saint Paul say to greet the brethren with a holy kiss? That’s how I plan to greet the coming season.
Continue reading

Weekend Photo Challenge: Silhouette (Autumn edition)

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Silhouette“. For this challenge, I was able to choose I picture that’s very important to me. Like I said in my previous Photo Challenge post, photography editing is still relatively new to me; but for many years now, the desire to simply take beautiful pictures has been a consistent interest.

This was certainly true for me during my time in Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University. Richmond is a beautiful city, but not in the grandiose way that usually marks the beauty of other American cities. No, Richmond’s beauty is far more subtle, and you find it most clearly exhibited in quiet corners and places that only residents would truly know. In fact, my first Photo Challenge picture was in this vein.

This picture was taken at the very beginning of the fall of 2005. It was my first Richmond Autumn as a resident: having conquered freshman year, there were now no more dorms or still learning the city. I had an apartment near campus and could honestly call Richmond home. The evening of this picture, I stepped outside and found myself captured by the oncoming sunset. I jumped in my car and raced to my favorite in spot in Richmond: Church Hill.

This hill looks out over the entire city (not unlike another hill that plays prominently in my life).This is the hill from which the original founders of the city laid the grid-lines for the streets. The “Church” on this hill from whence it derives its name is St. John’s Church, the very Church from which Patrick Henry proclaimed “give me liberty, or give me death!”.

I made it to Church Hill just in time to take some beautiful pictures of one of the most beautiful sunsets I ever saw in Richmond. It was one of my favorite introvert moments and captured so well the essence of my favorite times of solitude: me awash in beauty.

It was also the beginning of Autumn in Richmond, and I couldn’t help but draw my attention to the trees that were just about to peak in their transition towards death. I took this picture trying to capture the harmony and dissonance that exists when Nature is at the climax of its beauty; when darkness and death lay mere moments away.

Sorry to wax poetic, but this picture captures my own hope for my death and mortality. Even though I fear death so much, my hope is that my own death would exist in what this picture represents: the height of beauty awaiting sunrise, and awaiting spring. It’s appropriate that Henry’s words echoed from these heights, for it’s precisely in this place–and in this moment–that I precisely find liberty in death.

See my past Weekly Photo Challenges here.


Continue reading

Christianity: paradox & Paradise, fall & Fall

I had the privilege of spending a long weekend these past few days in western Pennsylvania under the kindness and hospitality of my girlfriend and her family. It’s a place that is hard to describe without falling into cliches of big sky, clear air, and bright stars. It’s near the area that Johann Jacob Burkhardt, my first ancestor in America, settled in 1754 after sailing from Germany and landing in Philadelphia exactly a week ago today. I made almost the exact same trek as Johann and his family, from the rivers of Philly to the rural countryside of unsettled Pennsylvania.

Strangely, in the rest of Pennsylvania that I have seen, the trees are still mostly green and just starting to turn for the Fall. But here, this weekend marked the peak of that beautiful transition. The pictures above and below should testify to this (click them for larger versions). They were taken only a couple of days ago–with my phone (fun fact: the picture directly above this text was taken from Mt. David, the highest point in Pennsylvania).

I can’t express to you the beauty my eyes and soul were able to behold.
Continue reading