Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Today I failed my driver's test for the fifth time. I realized, that not only have I failed five driver's tests, I've been the cause of two collisions: one was in my friend's driveway where I reversed into a Saturn, the other was when I rear-ended a car on my way home from school, destroying my Saturn. Hmm. Both of my accidents involved Saturns.

I think I may be a very bad driver.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My correspondence with Wilbur

Mike Salvatore doesn't like music.

I started one of my last blogs with this title. Mike doesn't like music... until he found about about Wilbur Sargunaraj. He is this guy from India who has aviators, and a mustache, and makes these crazy songs about love marriages. They are quite repetitive, get in your head, and DO NOT LEAVE. It's really annoying. Today, I was hanging out with Mike and Mary, and thought it'd be a fun idea to e-mail Wilbur. FIVE MINUTES LATER... he responded:

Dear Wilbur,
My friend Mike is a huge fan of your excellent work. He loves to listen to the love marriage song, because he IS in a love marriage! He also likes it when people please check his blog. Mike is from Canada. Do you come to Canada often? If you do, will you be playing any shows in Toronto, so Mike can see you live?
Thank you very much Wilbur. Mike also thanks you. Keep up the great work!

Dear Mr Jessie Thankyou for the compliments! Yes I do come to Canada often and I am right now mixing my latest CD before I start the travelling again. I have thought that the Toronto might be a great place to live....just too cold! I do hope to have some concerts in Toronto. Are you on the facebook fan page sir? I will update all the events there!
Much Greetings and thankyou for your compliments Mike does not have the email sir?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Sacred and Profane Essay

Matt Gates asked me to post my essay on Queen Michal, the first wife of David, on my blog, but this one, that I JUST finished, is pretty much the accumulation of everything I have learned from two years at University, all summarized in eleven pages. So, without further ado...

"Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground."

Since the beginning of time, human beings have endowed with them a sense of what is sacred. People will believe that certain buildings, or places, are more sacred than others, or that different times in the day, or seasons in the year are sacred. They will have sacred ceremonies, where they venerate or worship deities, or unite two people in marriage, or ordain someone so that they may administer sacraments and know more about what is sacred. This sense to distinguish these actions, places, and times as more sacred or important than the rest of the world is fundamental to who we are as humans. However, a sense of the profane, of the ordinary in the world is just as fundamental to humans, especially since we are surrounded by the world, which, as sacred as it is, is also profane, ordinary, and mortal. These two exist side by side, and must exist in harmony, and not in discord or unbalance.

A great deal of human history has had this struggle with the balance between sacred and profanity tilting back and forward, creating all kinds of revolutions, reformations, and stark changes in thoughts and ideas throughout humanity. We are currently living in a secular age, which was brought on by the Enlightenment: a reaction against a sacred and medieval era. As we progress further with technological innovations, making it easier to move places, to communicate, and to fight wars, that fundamental sense of the sacred seems to be diminishing rapidly. When the sacred is so fundamental to how humans have behaved for thousands of years, the decline of the sense of the sacred in the face of modernity has ramifications that we are now experiencing. What exactly are these ramifications? What do these consequences entail, and what must be done in order to restore the sense of the sacred in society, if it truly needs to be restored? Different characteristics of the sacred, such as time and space, will be examined in relation to the profane characteristics, and where the difference and relationship lies.

Sacred Time: Worship

When I went to Ghana, three friends and I decided to start an Epiphany Club. The rules were that for every meeting we had, we would have to bring an epiphany we could share with the group. My first epiphany came after a visit to a village, where all of the people spent an hour or more singing and dancing in a circle with drums, clapping, and the power of their voices before we had all sat down to hear a presentation. They were in tune and aware with something that felt distinctly primitive, and it felt like something that we had lost in a society that was concerned with work, career, and monetary objectives. Yet despite all we have, we had lost something terribly important that they still had and kept safe. While we say that you need to get your homework done, and try and get that promotion, or that car, they were saying that you need to dance and sing before you buckle down and work, and the children need to play, and you need to rest.

“From the real, lead me to the real! From darkness lead me to light! From death lead me to immortality!”

Worship, by nature, regardless of the deity worshipped, is an act of humility, and self-abandonment. The worries and fears over the day, and the normal distractions become replaced with a need to slow down, and remember to have gratitude for life and to view life as a blessing; a gift we aren’t worthy to have. It is, quite simply, to remember to be thankful, and remember that we do not know all. When we think that we know everything, we become filled with pride, because we attempt to be like God , or assume that we know better than God. Worship comes in all times, whether it be times of joy or times of great suffering.

Consider the narrative of Job, in the Bible. One who is found to be sinless, yet still afflicted terribly. In the beginning, he chooses to praise God despite his suffering. “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” He still struggles greatly throughout the narrative with the problem of how he came to be put under such suffering, when he was found to be sinless and blameless. Finally, after his friends cannot bring consolation, God comes in a torrent, and addresses Job by fundamentally asking, what human can claim they know the ways of God? The One who made the heavens and the earth, is being questioned by one human who claims he knows better than the one who “laid the foundations of the earth.” We are not meant to know, nor should we have the audacity to claim that we do know, or have any scope into what is going on. Faith is what is important, and the humility to praise God within everything, for God is the source of life, and that must be remembered. “If he should take back his spirit to himself, and gather to himself his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.”

We do not know the ways of God, yet we have created technology so that we do not need God. If we are sick, we can go to the hospital to be treated, and we do not need to pray for healing. If we are hungry, we can go to the grocery store, and we do not need to pray for food. We do not need to be thankful for the God who created each breath we breathe, but instead we can praise the technology; the assembly lines that bring products over faster, the chemicals that make food grow bigger and faster, the vehicles that can transport everything faster, and the phones and computers that can communicate everything faster.

Sacred time dies when we have no reason to worship, and nothing to be thankful for. We have no reason to set aside time to thank God for the day, or even just to relax, and sing and dance like the people in the African village do, because since we can make all technologies, and heal all ailments, what do we owe to God? When we have nothing to be thankful for, we forget to be thankful. This is deeply contrary to a human race, which has sought to worship some higher being or another since the beginning of time. For the first time ever, humans have the power of God in our hands: the power to give and take away, the power to create or destroy. What does this mean when we have the power to abandon something so fundamental to our nature as worship, to replace it with something so deeply powerful and terrifying as the power of technology that can create and destroy humankind at the push of a button?

Sacred Time: Love

“Tonight, grave sir, both my poor house and I / Do equally desire your company; / Not that we think us worthy such a guest, / But that your worth will dignify our feast / With those that come; whose grace may make that seem / Something, which else could hope for no esteem.” The very act of preparing dinner, sitting down to enjoy it in the company of people, and cleaning up afterwards, is a sacred act, and one that demands a significant amount of the day. It is sacred because it is a fundamental way to build community within a group of people, whether it be a family, a village, or a group of friends. Being in community with others is essential to who we are, for we were not created complete humans on our own. While there is value is being able to be independent, if we cannot live in community with others, then we do not learn how to love, and we do not learn to recognize the humanity in every other person.

In a fast food age, where food comes prepared, preserved, frozen, and sold to us in paper bags in less than a minute, we do not need to sit down for dinner, or even clean up for that matter. The invention of the tv-dinner also negates the need to even talk to others at the dinner table, when we don’t need a dinner table. The divorce rate in Canada (as of 2002) sits at 37.9%, which, while it has fallen, is still a significant rate. Could it be that the divorce rate occurs when we have forgotten how to build community, and have created substitutions for creating community?

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, he finds his friend in the comrade Enkidu, and has a fierce love for him like no other. “That axe, which you saw, which drew you so powerfully like love of a woman, that is the comrade whom I give you, and he will come in his strength like one of the host of heaven. He is the brave companion who rescues his friend in necessity.” They journey to all corners of the earth, and when Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh is brought to great and terrible despair and sorrow over the loss of his friend. A friendship that transcends mere interaction for the sake of interacting and becomes love, brotherly love, is a great gift to anyone to have, and a tragedy to lose. Where, in a society that has fast communication, where physical presence is not even necessary in order to communicate, is that great gift? Where is the tragedy of a lost friend?

The creation of life is sacred, because God first created life out of nothingness. When we love, we create life. We love the unlovable and show them that they are worthy to have the gift of life they have. We love instead of hate, and we live more fully, and more purposefully. One of the highest forms of love between two humans physically creates a new life. It's absolutely miraculous. In this sense, we are given the power of God, but unlike the power to wield life and death coming from a profane/technological standpoint, it is a sacred gift, and one that is aspired to. One can never learn how to love if they never learn to look beyond themselves. It is not chocolate and roses, but your very life.

Sacred Space: Sublimity

Architectural form is one of the ways to express in a physical way the sacred order of the universe. This is seen when many ancient sacred buildings are designed with an orientation to the axis, on locations that are chosen because they are sacred locations, and built with sensitivity to the divine order. They are spaces that are set apart from others: sanctuaries that are regarded to be different, special, and demanding of reverence when inside the building. Ancient churches were built with the design to lead someone to God. In ancient buildings and churches, symbols were used for interpretation: for an illiterate generation, it was a way to educate people. Symbols, religion, and buildings were an expression of a transcendent reality, and a way to express in the profane world a sacred reality.

What happens then when we do away with those ancient symbols? When stained glass becomes “impractical”, and churches are held in school gymnasiums? The physical expression of that sacred reality is forgotten about in the face of practical convenience. The forest is cut down to make way for parking lots, and building becomes a selfish pursuit rather than one that is aware of the sacred, and pursues expressing the transcendent reality. “For building is not merely a means and a way toward dwelling – to build is in itself already to dwell.”

Buildings are no longer designed with thought given to a sacred location, or an orientation to the axis mundi. Yet deep within ourselves, we cannot forget the presence of sacred spaces, as much as we try to cover them up with parking lots and malls. The Enlightenment, as stated earlier, was a reaction of rationalism against a sacred medieval era. The Romantic era was a reaction then, against the extreme rationalism, and remembers the simplistic beauty in all things and forms. Let the music play, unhindered by rules, let art loose, and let the stirrings of our heart be moved to awe by the simplest beauty. “These beauteous forms, / Through a long absence, have not been to me / As in a landscape to a blind man’s eye; / But oft, in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din / Of towns and cities, I have owed to them, / In hours of weariness, sensations sweet / Felt in the blood, and felt among the heart; / And passing into my purer mind”

Wordsworth composed a few lines above Tintern Abbey one July, remembering the sacredness of man in his most natural state. Away from the busyness of the city, of working and life, man responds surprisingly loudly to that natural beauty, as though it were thirsting for something it had been missing. This emotion is not fleeting, but something more eternal and deep to who we are, as we are moved to awe by only the sublime, is this an indication that we are missing something terribly important in our building?

We are designed to build, with eyes that see straight lines, and hands that can design and create marvelous things. Building is way to be like God, but it struggles with the battle between praise and power. We have power over the world to build and create, and with this power, we can subdue creation or express it. When we subdue creation in a pursuit of some “bigger and better” creation will just wilt away, as it has been and is currently doing. When we praise, we build in orientation to the order of things, we are sensitive to sacred spaces, and we function with creation and within creation. Building then, is sacred, because it is how we responsibly govern creation. We cannot stop building, nor can we build without this sensitivity of our responsibility to govern creation, because our fundamental instinct will still be moved to awe by the sacredness in creation. We will still be moved to silence by the stars in the sky, reverence by the roaring oceans, and sublimity by nature in its continuous act of existence.

Sacred Space: Bodies

“Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards.” The myth of Sisyphus is how one man tried to thwart the gods by seeking immortality, and seeking to be like them. This is the tale of all humanity, as it continuously seeks to be better, and be like the gods, and be immortal.

As much as we may try and hope for it, despite all of our efforts, we were born and designed to die. Our bodies will age, they will gain weight, wrinkles, and slow down, and eventually, they will die. In our age, death is hidden, and taken as far away as possible from reality. Bodies are preserved, given makeovers, and presented at funeral homes and the reality of decomposition is hidden. We are afraid of death, and afraid of the unknown beyond death.

But Socrates was not afraid of death. He viewed death as the natural goal of all of life’s work: “How inconsistent of them to have been always enemies of the body, and wanting to have the soul alone, and when this is granted to them, to be trembling and repining; instead of rejoicing at their departing to that place where, when they arrive, they hope to gain that which in life they loved (and this was wisdom), and at the same time to be rid of the company of their enemy.” He was offered a chance to escape from his friends, but refused it, and welcomes the release from preoccupation with the body. He saw death as a way to free the soul, and set the sacred out from the profane. The soul is all wisdom, immortal, self-aware, and striving for goodness, while the body is distracted by pain, pleasure, it is mortal, it gets sick and breaks, and never consistent.

If the soul is immortal, and all goodness, what have we to fear from death? do we fear that one moment the body of that loved one was moving, and animate, and the next, it has stopped, and will never moved, and has been reduced from being to object. Something fundamental has left it, and we do not know where it had gone. The energy has changed and we do not know where the energy was dispersed. But we fear death, and try to live immortal lives. We will dress nicely, and take expensive measures sometimes to prevent the look of aging.

At one point in our life, we are designed to play, at another point, work, and at another, reflect. Through living in this way, we are living as we are created to live, and that in itself, is an orientation to the order of the universe. Let children play, and let elders reflect. It is a sacred act for them to do so. It is a sacred time to die, because it is fulfilling the purpose of living. In this, hemlock tastes quite sweet.


Never throughout this discourse should the profane be viewed as wrong. It merely exists in the world as the sacred does, and the two go side by side. They must be in balance and accord with one another, and build one another up. There is a time to be in a sacred space, and aware of sacred time, and there is a time to be in profane space, and profane time. In our age, forgetting about the sacred is detrimental to living. As our last lecture concluded, “How is it that in our enlightened, 20th century of progress and innovation, are humans so fundamentally sad?” and when we are not aware of the order of the universe, and not aligning ourselves with that order, then we cannot be living fully, and therefore, cannot expect happiness. The consequences if we cannot address what is fundamental to our human make-up is the loss of life: whether it be the loss of other life through the pursuit of technology, forgetting how to love, destroying creation, and destroying death, we deny what is natural, and in doing so, prevent life. May we remember sacred times and sacred spaces, and in doing so, may we remember to create life, not through thwarting God, but through aligning ourselves with Him, and with the universe.