Female leads, Aye and Amen

September 20, 2016

Female leads, Aye and Amen

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

Below are my expanded comments to a Geeks Under Grace essay about female leads here:

http://www.geeksundergrace.com/christian-living/divisive-problem-female-leads/

 

Wonderfully Made

As the author suggests, manipulative and insincere marketing strategies are hardly an answer to the very real disparities and problematics which consume gender politics. In fact, they tend to be offensive and degrading as she illustrates in her ponderance of Final Fantasy X2. It’s not helpful to us in understanding a holy vision of the profound human context in which we participate. God blesses us, male and female, and God calls us, male and female, to be wonderful, powerful and holy.

In Genesis 1, it is written…

27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

 

Righteousness

Aside, I find the pejorative term, Social Justice Warrior, to be problematic. As if there was something wrong with “social justice” per se. Social Justice has long and rightly been a concern of the Christian church and the individual Christian.

Of course, the ungodly vision of social justice is problematic – wrongs are advanced as rights and confusions are settled with a count of the feels as opposed to the judgment of reason. But, surely, the righteousness which causes God joy includes a social justice in which we care for one another – especially those in most need. The example of the Good Samaritan was not spoken as a bed time story. It was not spoke for our entertainment.

In the Bible, the care of orphans and widows is a critical component of true religion and accounted as righteousness. In James 1:27, it is written:

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

In Proverbs 31, an excellent woman is also described (in part) as a social justice warrior.

20 She extends her hand to the poor,
     And she stretches out her hands to the needy.

Job was among the few men in the Bible who were described as righteous in the eyes of the Lord (Job 1.1). Job was a social justice warrior. We read his own account of his righteousness in Job 29:11-17:

11 “For when the ear heard, it called me blessed,
      And when the eye saw, it gave witness of me,

12 Because I delivered the poor who cried for help,
     And the orphan who had no helper.

13 “The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me,
      And I made the widow’s heart sing for joy.

14 “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
      My justice was like a robe and a turban.

15 “I was eyes to the blind
      And feet to the lame.

16 “I was a father to the needy,
      And I investigated the case which I did not know.

17 “I broke the jaws of the wicked
      And snatched the prey from his teeth.

Woman

Perhaps, we need to ponder, reflect and dream of what might be a true, encouraging uplifting vision of a dignified, excellent and holy woman – a vision which illuminates what empowerment, inclusivity and celebration of woman should look like.

For the Christian, Mary, mother of Jesus, is the crowning glory of woman. And man. The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) is a confession and example of human faith that illuminates the life of the Christian to the Christian, him- or herself.

46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
     For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
     and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
     from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
     he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
     and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
     and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
     in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
     to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Among the most profound questions the Christian must ask his- or herself:

Does your soul magnify the Lord and rejoice in God the Savior?

Also worthy of our good study of woman is the description of the excellent wife in Proverbs 31:10-31. She is not foolish, clumsy, useless, careless, weak, incompetent, stupid, capricious, violent, etc. She is valuable, powerful and wonderful.

10 An excellent wife, who can find?
     For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
     And he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
     All the days of her life.
13 She looks for wool and flax
     And works with her hands in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
     She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night
     And gives food to her household
     And portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
     From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds [l]herself with strength
     And makes her arms strong.
18 She senses that her gain is good;
     Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
     And her hands grasp the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
     And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
     For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for herself;
     Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
     When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
     And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
     And she smiles at the future.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
     And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
     And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her;
     Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
     But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
     But a woman who [s]fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her the [t]product of her hands,
     And let her works praise her in the gates.

 

And then there is Mother Theresa – her memory and service is honored by many peoples and peoples of many faiths. But even Mother Theresa is not the last word on the wonder that is woman. Check out Nisha Varghese who says to women and girls: “you are more than the sum of your body parts.”

The historical and modern example of excellent and talented women, in fact, is in no short supply as I have written elsewhere: The Wonder That Is Woman. But, sadly, our attention to them is deficient. Let us, each of us, repent of our negligence. And let this be my repentance for my own negligence.

 

Stan Faryna
20 September 2016
Fairfax, Virginia

ReElise: A retro, Hip Hop, Christian RPG

August 31, 2016

ReElise: A retro, Hip Hop, Christian RPG Game

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

12 hours and counting.

The clock is ticking for Justin Fox’s Kickstarter campaign. The backing is no where near the funding goal for this game. For more than a week, Yomar Lopez has been working hard to rustle up some love across the internets for Justin’s campaign. But Yomar’s not getting the feels – especially from the Christian crowd. Yomar asks with not a little frustration and confusion: “What’s up with that?!!”

Justin’s Kickstarter campaign is more than a dream. It’s a prophetic vision. He even quit his day job – not to mention he’s been working on ReElise for more than a few years. The hand-illustration work has been (and is) challenging to say the least. With 12 hours left on the Kickstarter campaign and many tens of thousands of dollars short of the goal, however, Justin is not discouraged.

ReElise is a game that will be made. One way or another. Period.

The game is about Elise, a young African-American woman who has escaped the hell of human trafficking. The game begins in a dark place. It begins at the heart of a painful human drama. It’s a shocking and emotional ride. It’s a game experience that would not easily be forgotten. It could even become a cult classic.

Blood and violence? It is in there. There’s fights. Elise – she reminds me of Michonne from The Walking Dead. Unstoppable! And, maybe, there’s redemption too.

How is that Christian?!

Ask Justin. He’ll tell you with his own words. Maybe, he’ll speak in tongues with you.

And, yeah, you could be on the right side of history – if you stand with Justin. Share this blog post or a link to Justin’s Kickstarter campaign. Or back it. I’m a backer. I’m in for $100. You?

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/reelise/reelise-the-hip-hop-2d-christ-based-rpg-for-gamers

Stan Faryna
13 August 2016
Fairfax, Virginia

I’m like a bird

October 22, 2015

I’m like a bird

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

 

I hated the song. Nelly Furtado’s song, I’m Like a Bird. I especially hated the chorus. And it played everywhere. They played it in the night clubs, the taxis, MTV and, yeah, everywhere. It was inescapable for a time in the wild west of Bucharest.

 

I’m like a bird
I’ll only fly away
I don’t know where my soul is (soul is)
I don’t know where my home is
And baby all I need for you to know is
I’m like a bird
I’ll only fly away (I don’t know)

 

I hated the chorus because it meant nothing was forever. Because there was no commitment. Because there was no forever and always. And I was fighting for these things.

I was fighting for the world and the people written upon my heart. I was surrounded by enemies on all sides like Odysseus at the Trojan beach. I was cut and pierced by swords, losing blood, and my legs were so tired they burned. I was like a bear fighting for higher ground – fighting a sea of snarling and barking dogs.

The burns on the kitchen floor of the apartment in the Sturdza palace looked like the stripes on a tiger – lit cigarettes rolled out of my hands as I slept and woke in five minute cycles through the night as I tried to figure out how to rule the world.

Some years later, Nelly Furtado’s song, Say It Right, would prepare me for divorce. The song was also inescapable.

 

Oh you don’t mean nothing at all to me
No you don’t mean nothing at all to me
But you got what it takes to set me free
Oh you could mean everything to me

 

I was crawling on raw hands and knees, blind and broken. I could not carry the burden and the shame of her further.

I have to say I’m not a fan of Nelly Furtado. The lyrics aren’t brilliant. Nor the music. That’s my opinion and opinions, even mine, don’t really amount to much.

I happened to hear Nelly’s song again this morning, I’m like a Bird.

And I find myself a little more like that bird that I hated. Because I fly. Away. And yet I find this liberating as both apology and as an affirmation of my spirit.

Unlike Nelly, I know where my soul is. I know where my home is. But it is not a where. It is a Who.

Holy, Holy, Holy are you, God.

 

22 October 2015
Fairfax, Virginia

Why you failed as a blogger #stopthefail 200 Words or Less

April 18, 2015

Why you fail as a blogger and a human being

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna
Dear me, you or, in fact, both of us:
You fail because you lie to me. You fail because you want to ascend the clouds, alone. With great strides. Without me. You fail because you seek to ascend to high places by means of intimidation, manipulation and deception.
You fail because you don’t know more than shit and shit isn’t helpful, useful, encouraging, healing or building up anything. You fail because you never put in the sweat, tears and trembling to become a you that truly cares about me. Or a you I can admire without much reasonable doubt. You only know your own vanity.

Who speaks when the words come out of your mouth? Who speaks when you type the words that you type? Is it you?

Are you the liar, slanderer and that monster? Or is it another which you have mistaken for yourself? Or, perhaps, they are many which you believe to be you. They are not you.

I never once believed you were a monster.

Only a truth of the patient, good and encouraging kind will set us free.

With much love and truth, and anxious concern,
Hope
Stan Faryna
18 April 2015
Fairfax, Virginia

Last Words and Testament

April 6, 2015

Last words and testament
[Flash Fiction]

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

John wrote it with a stone. He carved it upon the soft floor of his basement prison with his mouth. His hands had been removed.


Can you feel how heaviness pulls on my beating heart? Can you feel the friction of the slowly turning gears? The weight of the elephant that sits on my heart

It’s been so long since I’ve heard the ringing bells in your laughter. Since my heart lifted at your enthusiastic and happy plea. Since joy entered into my eyes as I watched you sleep, peacefully, beside me

I will go but I will come again by God’s grace. For God has appointed me as your hero, your husband, and your lamp. Believe it and if you believe it, proclaim it – Love never fails 

George wept in his unbelief. But he wept without tears. Because ghosts do not have tears.

“Bring my love here when it is safe,” John commanded George after he had finished.

It had taken John forever to write…

“Bring her to this place that she will know that I have not abandoned her – even now.”

George was shocked and angry.

“Are you fucking talking to me now?! Can you fucking see me?! Why haven’t you said anything until now, bro?!”

John smiled and looked with kindly and sympathetic eyes at George.

“I was lost. I was scared, brother.

I had thought I had become mad.

And you could use some clothes.”

Stan Faryna
6 April 2015
Fairfax, Virginia


Wild Geese know the season but do you, Mary Oliver?

April 2, 2015

Hand-crafted notes from an adulterous generation no. 2
[Flash Fiction]

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

“The American poetess, Mary Oliver, inspired Freddie by her poem, Wild Geese. He wrestled with it like Jacob wrestled with the angel…”

A heavy tear slid down Martha’s cheek, she paused and took a sip of water from a stainless steel bottle.

Martha looked over to the open casket with a black glossy piano finish. Her handsome brother lay peacefully with death. He had a face that reminded everyone of superman. It was the strong, square jaw.

“I remember the day Freddie first heard Oliver’s poem. Another student had read it in his junior year high school AP English class. He came home wildly excited. He could not praise the poem enough at dinner and then he read it – defiantly, enthusiastically, and proudly.”

Martha smiled and Freddie’s ex-husband, Roy Saul, sighed loudly in the front row as he removed his buffalo-hide, long coat.

Martha reminded Roy of Freddie. She and Freddie had the same dark brows and lashes. And full lips.

If only Martha were a man. He would go down on her…

Martha continued speaking.

“Some say Oliver’s words transformed Freddie. Or put him under an enchantment.

Not all at once. The apparent transformation from the outgoing, gorgeous, varsity jock that had nailed three prom queens to the soft-spoken, sensitive book worm and monkish lily gardener would unfold in due time. Freddie’s transformation, however, happened much later. By greater words than the words of a poet.”

Sitting two rows back from Roy, Louis Cohen, Freddie’s neighbor, a prayer warrior and Messianic Jew, gave a loud Hallelujah. He wore a pin on the lapel of his black suit jacket. “Repent” was written in silver.

“Freddie’s journey, however, was a long and dark journey. I can tell you this because we were very close. He shared everything in his heart with me. Just as I shared my heart with him.”

“That’s why I have to remember Freddie and share him with you as he is. For Freddy has not abandoned us and we shall see Freddie again. In glory and with a crown.”

Roy interrupted Martha with a loud, enthusiastic voice.

“Freddie was handsome, stylish, intelligent, funny, charming and well endowed!”

Martha was not going to let Roy dominate the moment…

“Yes, Freddie was all that. And you’ll get a chance to share your memory with us after I have spoken, Roy.

But Freddie was also lonely. He felt rejected. He had lost trust in people. Freddie had lived in a place of fear, sorrow, despair, anger, grudge and hate.”

“If he had taken the Xanax and Valium I used to deal to him, he would have felt so much better,” shouted Roy from his pew.

Roy stood up – slender, ripped and glorious in his custom-fitted white suit. He turned to the friends and family sitting behind him.

“Freddie wanted to go clean. Whatever that means, right? Honestly, it didn’t help him.

‘Clean’ made Freddie morbid and serious. How boring is that!”

“And that’s why you cheated on him and broke his heart,” Martha asked Roy.

“That’s why you had brought six lovers (on different occassions) into the same bedroom that you shared with Freddie – thinking that Freddie wouldn’t come in from the garden and find you taking pleasure with someone else.

Or if he did (which he did) that it wouldn’t break his heart.

As if he didn’t long for true things, for true love and for your goodness.

Or will you say that Freddie is not entitled to these things? That none are entitled?”
Roy turned around. He was almost embarrassed by Rachel’s public accusation and sat down.
What the fuck does she know about things. She’s not gay. She doesn’t know how we feel.
Roy turned possible replies to Martha over in his mind.

Martha was not going to have the last word on things. She didn’t know shit. She lost her husband to another woman. She had stage three breast cancer and two kids with heroine addictions. What the fuck did Martha know about anything!

… 

Tears streamed from Martha’s blue eyes.

“We’re here to honor our Freddie and share our love for him.

And to love Freddie is to want to know him.”

Looking around, Roy’s eyes locked with the eyes of another man who sat across the aisle from him – a hot, new date. Roy felt excited, warm and tingely in all the right places.

Martha continued.

“Freddy walked in darkness for most of his life. He walked in dry places where there was no rest.”

Martha’s tears increased.

“However, Freddy was transformed and he found freedom at last – a peace and joy which I am…

… still trying to understand.

Freddie discovered that life was more than him. That it was more than himself. That freedom was being free from him. From his unending search for self-pleasure and self-amusement.

Freddie had discovered that his hunger, loneliness and pain could be healed by God. When he lived out the word of God. And, expeditiously, by being a gift. For we are made wonderfully. By helping others do good. Helping them to be good.”

Martha had difficulty speaking.

“When I was driving Freddie to the hospital…

and he was bleeding all over the car.

He put his hand over my right hand as it lay on the steering wheel.

He. Said.

He. Was. Happy.

Because. Finally. Finally. HE. WAS. GOOD.

Jesus. Had. Justified. Him. And. Made. Him. Righteous.”

Martha was quiet for a moment. She took a deep breath.
“And then Freddie closed his eyes as he recited his reply to Mary Oliver.

And this is what he said.

Before he died in my arms – on the shoulder of I95…

‘Wild Geese know the season but do you?

You do not have to be good;
you do not have to be made complete and know joy
and to receive God’s blessing.
You can be a tare – torn, cursed, worn and thirsting,
cursing the day you were born;
blasphemies rolling off of your swelling tongue.
Meanwhile, the stars still rejoice –
each was counted and named.

You can be fiercely free, flung,
undone, like glowing coals, hurling, burning brightly
and bearing down, angrily,
equally upon neighbor, lover, enemy,
family, even stranger
for little birds have made wicked nests in your heart.
Meanwhile, the Leviathan
shakes his square beard with laughter.

You made them yours, your flesh, who you are, set apart,
these fiery darts – like treasure.
Precious. As powerful as any addiction.
… 
Rebellion and rejection,
pride, prejudice and self-seeking pleasure?! Repent!
Repent. The Kingdom is near.

Where are the mighty buffalo?
Where, the buffalo hunters?
The bee and the butterfly?!
Were their gods but idols too?
Nearer. Now, in fact. Hereto.
Due are the rents, praise, thanks and living sacrifice.
Notice rolls down like thunder.

Meanwhile the whole world shudders
with shame for the lawless things;
the hearts of men grow colder
while their hands profit evil.
No moon lit garden, no goose,
no mossy rock nor shall poetry
redeem our depravity.

finis


Stan Faryna

2 April 2015
Fairfax, Virginia


What are you blogging about?

March 20, 2015

What are you blogging about!
[Flash Fiction]

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

“What are you blogging about,” he asked as he took a sip of his $10 half-liter bottle of water.

She handed him her iPad 2 Air and shrugged.

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 

James 1:19-20

Somewhere, snow falls on Spring’s eve. The dandelion, surprised, clench their golden fists in spite while little demons work their affliction in epileptics, alprazolamites, porn addicts, diabetics…

Little birds speak in mysterious tongues and the ignorant, angry, radical muslim lusts for blood; ironic, prophetic puns; german cars; the sons and daughters of their neighbor, nakedly; pop tarts…     

… 
The lilies of the valley, dubious because of blood moons, the economy, and the lawless heart – none were curious about the sirens, the groans, the tears and the fears that we share today.

There is no rest for the wicked, they walketh the dry places, they drag their feet with parched and angry desire.   

But non can stop the bread of life from entering into the mouths of those hungering for God’s righteousness.
“It’s a little too bleak and a little too politically incorrect for a reblog,” he said as he handed the iPad back to her.
… 
“How about something happy,” he suggested – white teeth gleamed in a smile that stretched across his glowing, smooth, brown face. Ty was religious that way. He was religious about skin cream – face, body and hand cream.
… 
“Happy gets traffic. People want the Xanax. And, you know, it’s that crazy kind of traffic that gets the ad spend.”

She nodded.

In agreement or disagreement – Ty wasn’t sure. Sarah was like that. She wasn’t stupid. Or particularly smart. But she knew things. And, sometimes, the wisdom of the world didn’t matter. “Because money can’t buy you blessings,” she’d say.

Ty knew better. He was a survivalist. He had a fistful of silver dollars in his pocket, a can do attitude and a positive outlook. He had impact, voice and influence. He could tow the lie with the best of them. And he was paid well. Ty had it all.

“What if all of our lies and self deceits were all in vain,” Sarah asked Ty as she looked up – her long blond hair shifted and her blue eyes sparkled.

She was worthy of Ty’s desires in every manner and way. A phenomenal women – Maya Angelou would have said of Sarah.

Flashes of light lit the Los Angeles sky. But unknown to them, flashes of light sparkled over Beijing, Berlin, London, Moscow, New York, Paris, Washington D.C. and elsewhere.


The iPad went black.


Stan Faryna
20 March 2015
Fairfax, Virginia