“The poet is not a man who asks me to look at him; he is a man who says ‘look at that’ and points.” – C.S. Lewis
Brandon hopes to pay attention. He wants to be like Ricky Fitts in the film American Beauty, who marvels at a plastic bag dancing with the leaves in the breeze (as cliché as that may be). From what he knows, Brandon is not crazy. Rather, little things hopefully remind Brandon that God is present in a world littered with beauty—and Brandon simply wants to point and say, “Look at that.”
Brandon hopes to see where God is speaking and working in all of life: in nature, movies, music, people—specifically what Jesus calls “the least of these” in Matthew 25—himself, and even politics, which he still has a lot to learn about. Brandon found this passion for the intersection between faith and culture at Azusa Pacific University, a small school in Southern California.
Brandon also cultivated a lifelong love for travel in college. He spent a semester studying the humanities at Azusa Pacific’s High Sierra campus near Yosemite, Calif. Brandon flew off to South Africa the next year, serving a local community called Haniville, living with locals near Cape Town, traveling the coast, and doing some studying in between. His last adventure before the “real world” sent him to study C.S. Lewis and poetry at Oxford University in England. There he thoroughly enjoyed a Christmas party at C.S. Lewis’s house.
Brandon is not originally from the Golden State. He hails from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Among many other things, he loves his family, friends, photography, seasons, and nostalgic movies that try to pin down the elusive concept of home.
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Links of Awesomeness: January 14, 2013
A super artsy way to make shirts and furniture look cool, a wolverine that saves people from avalanches, a bird singing dubstep, a guy who documented his year in one-second video clips, and a petition to the White House to make the Death Star. Awesome.
Links of Awesomeness: January 7, 2013
Betty White painting the IKEA monkey? Take a look at the restoration process of a painting that bares a striking resemblance to the now famous meme. and tune in to "Hot In Cleveland" on Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 10 p.m. EST on TV Land.[via Huffington Post]
The Internet is good for a lot of things, and a GoPro camera on a trombone is one of those things.
It's the little things in life that keep us going. And for Aleksander Gamme, Norwegian Explorer, finding some Cheez Doodles he placed in a pit stop on a trek in Antarctica made a huge difference. Keep on keepin' on, Aleksander. [via Huffington Post]
Rep. John Lewis’ wife, Lillian, dies
Amidst the jubilation of the new year and a long awaited solution to the fiscal cliff crisis lies sad news: Lillian Miles Lewis, the wife of U.S. Rep. John Lewis, died Monday morning in Atlanta, his office announced. Spokeswoman Brenda Jones said John Lewis is returning to Atlanta but had no more details to release about the cause of death.
The Lewises had been married 44 years. They have one son, John Miles.
10 Incredible Submissions to #26Acts of Kindness
Over the past few days on Twitter, NBC’s Ann Curry has almost single handedly popularized #26Acts, an initiative asking people to do 26 acts of kindness in honor of the 26 victims of the Newtown, Conn. shooting.
In line with Momma T’s famous quote, “ We cannot do great things on this earth. We can only do small things with great love,” Curry says that #26Acts originated with a simple principle in mind: “If you do good, you’ll feel good.”
But why does everyone have to Tweet about paying it forward? That’s a legitimate criticism and one that many a Twitter user have struggled with. As one person puts it, “While I get the intent of #26Acts fully, tweeting acts of kindness sometimes comes off as patting one's own back. Conundrum.”
Indeed. But even if these acts of kindness are sensationalized and socialized, they’re still encouraging people to do good — albeit in a potentially imperfect way.
So, in honor of those honoring those taken so suddenly, here are some of the most heartwarming #26Acts of kindness I’ve seen so far.
What Are You Singing: Away In A Manger
I’m sure most of us have played the scene in our heads one too many times: little baby Jesus, presumably Caucasian, lying in a tiny crib-esque manger comfortably padded with hay — even though the song specifically says “no crib for a bed” — while the animals, which are perfectly behaved, quietly and reverently look on. Cue the wise men, in their strange, exotic garb, and sprinkle a few angels in there — you know, the ones that look like babies with wings and white togas.
That was my impression of the nativity scene as a kid, and the popular children’s Christmas carol, “Away in a Manger” didn’t do anything to help. It seemed to perpetuate the picturesque nativity image of most of the figurine depictions in our living rooms.
But, if only for a few minutes, put aside the notions that the “manger” probably wasn’t as clean and cozy as we thought, that it probably wasn’t a silent night — have you met a baby that’s gone through its first 24 hours without crying? — or that Jesus probably wasn’t snug in a crib conveniently left in a manger.
Even though the song may seem like it only deserves a cursory glance, as it was originally published in theLittle Children's Book for Schools and Families in 1885, I purport there’s something more to the childhood classic.
Christmas Music That Isn't Horrible
Christmas is less than two weeks away, and even though most of us probably started cranking the Christmas tunes the day after Thanksgiving, here’s a look at some of this year’s best Christmas compilations so you don’t overplay, say, Amy Grant’s classic 1983 Christmas Collection.
Links of Awesomeness: December 11, 2012
Dogs driving, trailers premiering, Oscars meriting info graphics, musicians making cool songs, Terrence Malick making a new movie in less than two years, and people of the slums taking garbage and making beautiful instruments. Crazy awesome.
Links of Awesomeness: December 7, 2012
Some macro snowflake shots, an awesome Home Alone Sweater, oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies for the holidays, Star Wars Christmas cards, and a buggie for parrots. Let's
Folk Artist Noah Gundersen Talks with Sojourners
Up-and coming-/singer-songwriter Noah Gundersen stopped by the Sojourners office to talk with our Brandon Hook about music, his new album Family, God, and creativity.
The Seattle-based folk artist was recently featured on Spotify’s Emerge app, which pits rising artists against each other based on play frequency, and is currently on a U.S. tour.
Special thanks to Noah for stopping by and being so open with us!
Bishops, Families, and Advocates Meet with Congressman to Protect Poor
On Monday, three West Virginia bishops joined by families and advocates pressed the state's politicians to protect poor and working families — or, in other words, the “least of these” — during budget battles in Washington.
The budget and tax negotiations are complex and important. They're driven in large part by the expiring Bush tax cuts and steep across-the-board spending cuts set to kick in if Congress does not act.
Congressional Republicans have been demanding deep spending cuts in programs, including Medicaid and Social Security. They've also defended tax cuts for the wealthy. A number of religious figures say those priorities are backwards.
Felicia Thomas, 24, director at Fort Hill Child Development Center, spoke at the meeting. Thomas is a single mother of a five year old little girl. Federal programs like Earned Income Tax Credit and child care subsidies have allowed Thomas not only to pursue her dreams of a better future, but also to keep the lights on and the fridge stocked.
U.S.-Born Kids Of Deported Parents Struggle As Family Life Is 'Destroyed'
As a privileged child growing up in suburbia, I could never imagine losing my parents. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities they gave me, and the love they have poured out on me for as long as I can remember.
“You’ll understand once you have a child, Brandon,” my dad has told me countless times in a sort of sage-like way. Without saying, we both acknowledge that I will not understand the love parents have for their children until I have a child of my own.
But, even if I could not comprehend the love my parents had for me, I am able to understand that I could not be who I am today — more likely, I would not be much of anything — without their presence in my life. And that’s not to say that anyone missing a parent cannot function.
But thousands of children to parents living in the U.S. without citizenship are abruptly forced to carry on without one or both of their parents, as a record number of people are being deported from the U.S. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), nearly 45,000 parents were removed in the first six months of this year.
CULTURE WATCH: Yeasayer — Musical Mad Scientists
There are some artists whose work leaves you walking away thinking, “How in the world did they do that?” The Yeasayer performance at the 9:30 Club in D.C. on Nov. 15 was one such performance.
The psychedelic electro pop group hailing from Brooklyn pumped out a wholesome set of favorites from its older releases as well as songs from its recent — and divisive — album Fragrant World, all to the backdrop of what looked like a chunk of the Epcot ball from Disney World.
But the elaborate — and frequently trippy — back drop and light show seamlessly augmented the synth-laden songs, morphed electric guitar, and catchy hooks. It was truly and audiovisual experience. Had their performance included some neon gummy worms or something, it would have engaged nearly every sense.
CULTURE WATCH: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: A Different Kind of Hip Hop
It’s not unusual to hear someone rapping about clothes — and how expensive theirs are — on the radio these days. Consider Jay Z and Kanye West’s collaboration “Otis,” where Jay Z belts, “Photo-shoot fresh, looking like wealth / I'm 'bout to call the paparazzi on myself.”
And if you don’t hear about their diamond studded jewelry and designer clothes, some rappers aren’t shy about showing them off in music videos.
But Seattle-based hip hop group Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who recently hit number one on the iTunes album charts and stopped by D.C.’s 9:30 club on Nov. 13, chose a different approach to the whole clothing concept and, for the most part, hip hop in general.
Links of Awesomeness: November 12, 2012
Doing some good with 100 bucks, winning some bets, and making a Wes Anderson Star Wars trailer. Plus, a 26-pound gummy snake, a new Hitchcock trailer, the most popular music cities, and an awesome photo book. Nice.
Links of Awesomeness: November 9, 2012
Some guys throwing basketballs into hoops from really long range on a baseball field, a record-setting zombie walk, a Sufjan music video, a Skittle sorting machine, a new clip from Portlandia, a way to tag your friend's really dirty car without getting dirty yourself, and a Magic Schoolbus movie trailer. That's a lot to take in, I know. Divide and conquer.
ICYMI: Andrew Bird's 'Hands of Glory'
If you were overwhelmed by all that election business, you might have forgotten that October just happened, and with it came a new release from one of my personal favorite musicians, Andrew Bird.
Hands of Glory, Andrew Bird’s latest record and companion to March’s Break it Yourself, is the product of a pair of recording sessions prompted by an immense response to Bird’s “old-time” sets on recent tours.
Reinterpreting songs from Break It Yourself and featuring covers of classic country tunes, these “old-time” performances find Bird and his full band playing to a single microphone with an entirely acoustic setup.
Drawing inspiration from these sets, Hands of Glory features two brand new original tracks, a new interpretation of “Orpheo Looks Back” from Break It Yourself and covers of Van Zandt, the Handsome Family, Alpha Consumer and others.
The results are fantastic.
'Lincoln:' An Honestly Good Movie
Abraham Lincoln was a storyteller, so it’s fitting that his story has been hashed out on the silver screen — without vampires.
And to say that it simply was “hashed out” would be an injustice to director Stephen Spielberg and everyone who contributed to Lincoln, a film that will be remembered as much for its beauty as the iconic character from which it gets its name.
I’m not going to lie (pun intended), even though Lincoln is one of the most important figures in American history, I was hesitant about seeing a movie with the potential to be a two-and-a-half hour history class.
But I was more than pleasantly surprised.
Despite its length, the film drew me in and held my attention — even as a millennial growing up with the Internet, which I’m convinced has significantly chipped away at the already small attention span I have.
Links of Awesomeness: November 7, 2012
A really expensive letter that John Lennon wrote to Eric Clapton, a terracotta pot that doubles as a grill, a Sufjan cover of "The Star Spangled Banner," the first ever Bob Dylan Facebook status update, a record player that plays paper, and a tiny kitty getting blow dried in slow motion. Woah.
PHOTOS: Million Puppet March in Support of PBS
Last Saturday, supporters of Public Broadcasting gathered in Washington, D.C., for a march in response to Mitt Romney's now-infamous Big Bird comment, referring to his plan to cut funding for PBS. Armed with puppets and posters, the rally culiminated in speeches and puppet shows with the backdrop of the nation's Capitol building.
Links of Awesomeness: November 5, 2012
A new Mumford video, a giant Gollum statue in an airport, a man taking a robot leg to the 103rd flor, a bunch of moleskine planners, and people riding slip n' slides into kiddie pools. Happy Monday!