An Explanation for A Man Without a Human Head – mOUNTbRENDON

A madman is one who believes himself to be perfectly normal, according to the philosophy of G.K. Chesterton. I have recognized that I am not normal and in the past, this made me feel as if it was me that is mad. But Chesterton disagrees.

A Man Without a Human Head is a journey where I begin to open up my imagination. It is my recognition that we, as a culture are relying far too much on our logic and not near enough on our imagination. We see ourselves as normal, but really we are strange, we are mad, and frankly, we are fucked up. People, are replacing their human heads all around.

“A man who thinks himself as a chicken,” Chesterton wrote in his book Orthodoxy, “is to himself as ordinary as a chicken. A man who thinks he is a bit of glass is to himself as dull as a bit of glass. It is the homogeneity of his mind which makes him dull, and which makes him mad.”

I am not in any way excluded from this. Though I have come to realize the absurdity of it all, as an artist I believe it is my job to experience this all myself. I cannot understand people unless I get inside people’s minds and I am not at all doing it for my own benefit, but for yours and for God’s. This is not a record made for money, for notoriety, or anything of the sort. This is a sacrifice.

Therefore, I too must think myself as a chicken (and often I do unintentionally), as a man without a human head in order to understand and communicate this. A small circle is as infinite as a large circle, it just has the appearance as smaller. So, no matter how large you think your circle is, know that it is as infinite as any other circle, size aside.

A Man Without a Human Head is my attempt to expose all of this, and the absurdity of how we are all living. We must open up our imaginations and allow the fairy tales to once again forgive our logic, and to embrace that which simply does not make sense, rather than strain to make it make some sense.

“And if great reasoners are often maniacal, it is equally true that maniacs are commonly great reasoners.”

“If the chain of causation can be broken for a madman, it can be broken for a man.”

– G.K. Chesterton

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We All Have a Voice – By: mOUNTbRENDON

I wrote this the other day while planning on writing a paper. I didn’t start on the paper, but I think it was worth it. The plan was to edit and revise it, but now the paper, along with another paper, have caught up to me, so I’m just going to post it as is. Uncut and uncensored…and unedited. You got me at my most vulnerable. 

Quick note. We have an opportunity that has never been presented in the history of mankind. Let’s take advantage of it…

 

I read an article for class last week that talked about how television does not report news, it creates news. This is becoming more apparent to me with every passing day. Obviously it’s more of a complex issue than I make it sound, but I am a hypocrite and don’t want to bore you with the details…

I have come to admire and respect public figures who strive for a simple life. The Henry David Thoreaus, Sufjan Stevens, G.K. Chesterton, etc. These people detect the fakeness that can come from technology. Everything is a representation. Relationships are built off of a series of pictures and short status updates. They realize a life truly experienced is a life away from technology, immersed in the reality of our world. But to live and experience the reality of our world, one must be aware of and immersed in technology. It cannot be ignored.

It is an extremely difficult balance to embrace technology and fear its influence at the same time. Technology is not evil. The internet is not evil. But it most certainly can be and allows for evil a booming voice.

For the last two or three years, I took a hiatus from popular television. Not fully, of course. But I have tried to avoid it as much as possible. I couldn’t put it to words, but I detected that something was broken. Sure, I watched the occasional episodes of various sitcoms and other shows on Netflix, and still do. But, other than weekend visits to my parents’ home in Cheyenne, local and national news stations were invisible to me. I even let SportsCenter drift away from my consciousness (something I spent hours watching every day in high school).

So, if the theory I read about television creating news instead of reporting news is accurate, the media has to be the single most influential aspect of our culture. It forms the way we think. If we surround ourselves with media centered around sex and booze, we will find ourselves almost literally molesting each other at the local bar or club, which will lead to bigger things. We will find ourselves holding onto unhealthy relationships because of the sex, or just the idea of being in a relationship; or going to the bar for an easy hook-up, a quick fix to one’s loneliness; or idealizing celebrities and their glorious lifestyles and finding ourselves spending money we don’t have as a result of our desire to live like them.

I have news for you. Happiness is not found in wealth or sex. Fulfillment cannot be instant.

Though I may be criticizing right now, that is not my intent with this post. It turns out I have been encouraged by technology lately.

Why?

Because it gives everyone a voice and everyone an opportunity to be heard.

If we allow it to be, we can use it to undermine those who are trying to control us with their advertisements and their celebrity. We can turn this world around on its head.

Thanks to the internet, music, movies, art, and subcultures that otherwise would never have been realized are finding homes all around the world. Musicians can record on their own, without being forced into a product by record labels; independent movies without sufficient funds can find a passionate and loyal fan base with the will to sacrifice their own money for its continued production; sports has found the importance of the fearless role player – the one without the big shoe contract and without the big billboards.

There is a ton of deception and artificiality found on the internet, but there is equally as much passion, genuine spirit, love, and hope. We have an incredible opportunity, because we can decide what succeeds. We can decide what we are influenced by.

We can recreate this world.

Lazy Saturday Poetry features, “Little Hope”– By: Uncle Charlie Westerman

So this week, in honor of the arrival of the 6 pounds baby, 6 ounces man Beck William Westerman, my new little nephew, I read this poem in my poetry classes as we were asked to share our work from the exercise below.  I hope you enjoy it.  I’m happy to report that Beck is already a Functionalist, has big Westerman hands and a big Westerman nose, but big mysterious Van de Pol eyes.    

Choose a topic you are interested in and make a list of at least 10 words/jargon for that topic. You can do research to come up with this list. Then write a poem using all of those words at least once.

Topic: The miracle of giving birth (my sister-in-law is due with my first niece/nephew in less than a week!).

 

10 Words—

1)    Dilate

2)    Caesarean section

3)    Braxton Hicks

4)    Contractions

5)    Circumcised

6)    Epidural

7)    Umbilical chord

8)    Womb

9)    Labor

10) Infant

This poem mixes the metaphors of “the miracle of life” with “the sink-or-swim of college.”  I did a summer session last year, and it turned out to be my toughest stretch of college.  All of my major friends were gone, I was burnt out on school, and sick of living in a filthy five-bedroom house.  I called my mom live from the absolute-low of my college existence, and for the first time I seriously doubted my ability to get through college without having a major life-screw up.  About a week later my brother called me and told me he and my sister-in-law were pregnant.  I’m incredibly close with my brother (and sister-in-law, she’s really like my sister) and this is the first kid of us five siblings.  They had also had trouble getting pregnant for awhile and weren’t sure if they were ever going to make it happen.  So little Beck has been a miracle beyond the miracle of life.  He gave me the hope to push through summer session with my head still above water.  I remember when my Jer and Tara first told me the news, they said the baby was the size of a blueberry.  One of my better moments in the poem was working that little detail into the framework of the piece.

Little Hope

I couldn’t tell you how you do it, but you did.

Swimming to a sinking me, neck deep in college, you came to life.

I was about ready to ‘kick it’ for the last time.

Treating bourbon and cigarettes like they were an epidural for real life.

It got real,

real quick.

My stomach as barren as social-desert life can be.

Called mom. Told her my life’s a mirage & I’m about ready to pop.

“Honey I think you’ve just got a case of Braxton Hicks.”

She’s too sweet to say it, but I knew what she meant—

“Cut the damn Umbilical chord Char. You’re too big for me too pick you up.”

We’re here at This American Life halfway house to learn one thing:

Growing up just isn’t a miracle of life—it’s a pro’s choice.

A decision as painful as a Caesarean section…

“Well of course its gonna leave a scar dumbass, reality’s about to gut you with a knife.”

But then I heard news of you,

And put a camera to my womb

“Would ya look at that…

I think I see an undigested blueberry of hope in there.”

And so you, little hope, you grew.

And I started praying again.

And all the sudden the labor of growing didn’t hurt so bad.

Then I felt you kick.

And so, little hope, I too, started kicking again.

Got my sea legs back.

Went right up to my class, “Alright you bastard! Let’s sink-or-swim!”

As so, little hope, the battle began.

All the college and the pressure and the no getting dates.

But suddenly I didn’t mind getting circumcised on Friday nights,

by sexy plastic surgeons with pretty, dumb eyes.

I didn’t make my pupils dilate if everything wasn’t alright.

Nora you little hope you—or if you’re Beck you’ll be hope too.

You’re already a Westerman with your knack for irony—

That you, an infant, finally gave me the strength to become a man.

And yes, I cannot wait to party with you over Spring Break!

You’re favorite shot is breast milk?  It’s been a long time since I’ve had one of those…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Functionalist Manifesto– By: Jeremy & Charlie Westerman

My brother Jeremy and I started a non-political political party last year as a joke on facebook. It’s called The Functionalist party… and the more we think about it, the less of a joke it is, and the more serious the idea has become as a set of ideologies to live your life by. With that in mind we decided to draft a Manifesto this fall.

I read some Manifesto’s for one of my English classes with my favorite professor Jon Hegglund and remembered thinking; “It would be cool to be passionate enough about something to write a Manifesto…” So yeah, I can at least cross one thing off my bucket list this year!

If you’re interested in joining The Functionalist Party email me at– cmdwesterman@gmail.com 

The Functionalist Manifesto

We are a political party that does not believe in politics.

We believe in doing what is functional.

Because what is functional is love.

And Love is the Most Excellent Way.

Therefore what is Functional is the Most Excellent Way.

We do not believe in unbridled capitalism.

We believe in capitalism in moderation.

Because capitalism has become an idea of excess.

And the only thing Jesus Christ believed should be excessive is moderation.

He is the moderation of justice and he is the moderation of grace.

He is the moderation of power and he is the moderation of humility.

He is the moderation of laughter and he is the moderation of tears.

We believe that there is obvious and undeniable proof that God exists all around us.
This proof might be big and it might be small–

But we believe if you look hard enough you will realize this is completely true.
We believe this to be true so strongly that we are either right or totally crazy…

We are ok with either.
The proof here on earth is God’s gift to us and drives our faith.
Our faith drives our obedience,

And we obey because we have sought to bring knowledge and deep understanding to our faith.
Our obedience drives living a functional life.
We believe a functional life is the best way to have a happy and fulfilled life here on earth.
We believe this life is only temporary and we will live the MOST functional existence in Heaven.
We believe the concepts of Functionalism are simple and clear.
We believe these concepts revolve around people and relationships.
We believe the relationships we have with people (and God) are some of the best proof of this.

We believe that while the people who believe in God fail all the time, God himself is not a failure—his son, Jesus Christ is the most functional being to ever walk the planet.

He is the Most Excellent Way.

Because Christ IS love.

And there is no fear in love.

And if we stopped successfully portraying him as a failure, his teachings could literally save the whole world.

We believe the only way to do this is through the power of authentic community.

We believe America has become a country that doesn’t value authentic community.

We believe we can change that through the power of communication, organization, genuineness, laughter and resonating the spiritual with the intellectual.

We believe in DEEP THINKING.

We believe you should know why you believe something.

We believe you can’t have authentic community unless you have authentic individuals…

This stuff isn’t rocket science.

We believe in the separation of church and state.

We don’t believe in the separation of Jesus and state.

Because we don’t need separation.

We need a united state.

We don’t think that concept is a coincidence.

Because Jesus was all about commUNITY.

And our country is fighting Civil War II.

Instead of Confederate and Yankee, we have Democrat and Republican.

We just don’t use guns, we use words.

We believe that it’s not a coincidence that God calls the Bible his Word, and that when Paul writes the full armor of God, he compares the Word to a sWord.

We believe that words are swords, so we may not be fighting a war with guns, but we are fighting a war with words

And as iron sharpens iron, so we sharpen each other with our words.

Therefore our words have to start sharpening each other for good.

We believe that the author of salvation is a hallelujah revolution.

Hallelujah means inexpressible joy.

We believe we have to start truly believing in that revolution.

We believe that he can take away all of our fear and worry.

Because as John says in chapter four of his first book, “God is love… there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

And as Jesus himself says in Matthew 6 “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? … Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

We believe that when we eliminate fear and worry from our lives we become more than conquerors.

Therefore we have to start using words that contain only absolute truth.

The only absolute truth is love and God is love.

We don’t believe God shows this love through our circumstances.

We believe his love is how to deal with and improve those circumstances.

Even when children die, love can improve that circumstance.

It’s the only way TO improve that circumstance.

You can either use that tragedy to make the world and your life a more empty place, or you can love the ones who are still with you better and bring beauty from the ashes (Our official party bird is the Phoenix).

We realize this is not an easy thing to do, however it is a necessary thing to do.

We believe that a lot of the information our culture gets doesn’t contain absolute truth.

(For example what the news reports about our government doesn’t always tell the full story)

We believe good communication reveals absolute truth.

We will only put information out into the world that we truly believe to be absolute truth.

This is what we call good communication.

We believe good communication happens in good relationships.

The only good relationships are functional ones.

The only functional ones are relationships that are built around honesty, selflessness and genuineness – aka LOVE.

We believe that Christ isn’t a religion he’s a relationship.

We believe that life is all about relationships.

Functionalists strive to have functional relationships with God, themselves, their family, friends, strangers, technology, time, music, sports, work/school, food, alcohol etc.

We believe humor is one of God’s greatest gifts.

We believe that a community where plenty of laughter is found is the sign of a healthy, authentic community.

We believe our party should strive to make the whole world laugh more.

Because the more we laugh, the less fear and worry we have.

We believe this party started out as a joke between two brothers who were fed up with a dysfunctional government.

We are dead serious when we say that this joke could change our country—and even the world– for good… God is ironic like that.

We believe that power is a responsibility, not something for our own personal gain.

We believe that if God blesses you with money, power, fame – that he has given you a responsibility to use those things for good.

To help the widows, the poor, the sick, the fatherless, the homeless, and all who feel powerless.

We are a party of compassion.

However we are NOT pushovers.

The men in our party shouldn’t be “nice guys” or “bad boys”.

They should strive to be “good men.”

They should be warriors for what is good and just in the world.

Being a warrior means we believe in chivalry, therefore we treat women with respect.

We strive to be good leaders, husbands and fathers.

The women in our party don’t go for “bad boys” or “nice guys.”

They go for “good men.”

They holdout for men who strive to be good leaders, husbands and fathers.

Because they are all too beautiful not to holdout for such men.

We believe that if we have good marriages, we have good families, and that if we raise good families, we will start to have more authentic communities, and if we do that, the problems in the world will start to fix themselves.

We believe that nothing is manlier than justice.

And that nothing is womanlier than grace.

And that if there’s a perfect balance of that in our marriages.

There will be a perfect balance of it in our world.

Because Jesus was the perfect balance of justice and grace.

And he was the most functional, influential human being to ever walk the planet.

The War On Vanilla

By: mOUNTbRENDON

The following parody was inspired by the recent presidential debates I have been watching. I quickly noticed how casually the word “war” was being tossed around by the candidates and it made me realize how much that same word has been tossed around the news media…

“That’s it,” John Blackburn says through his gritted teeth. “This is war.” Sylvester takes a step back in awe.

“Wait, what?” he says radiating with confusion. “All I said was that I respectfully disagree with your position on vanilla standing as a clear front runner for best flavor of ice cream.”

“Exactly,” John says. “It’s not oven an argument. It’s obvious that vanilla is the best ever flavor of ice cream. Ever. I mean, just look at it in relation to all of the other ice cream flavors. Not only is it the base for every other flavor, but it is by far the most common. Just look at all the different ice cream-based products out there; milkshakes, root beer floats, sorbet, gelato, you name it. Every single one of those started with the flavor of what? The answer is and forever will be vanilla. It all starts with vanilla. It’s how it’s been since the beginning.”

Sylvester looks around the ice cream stand to see if anyone else is listening. The lady standing in line behind them has an impatient but slightly interested look on her face. The end of a leash is in her right hand and the other end is attached to a corgi who is breathing heavily with its tongue hanging out and looking back and forth between the ice cream counter and the lady. The man at the counter looks at John.

“Sir,” he says.

“Just hold on a second,” John snaps back. Sylvester looks back at John.

“Just order some vanilla,” he says. “I could care less.”

“Seriously?” John readily responds. “You seriously don’t see what I’m arguing?”

“I just want to order some ice cream.”

“Why?” John says, his voice beginning to slightly raise. The woman’s show of interesting is quickly deteriorating and the look of frustration begins to take its place.

“Why what?”

“Why don’t you think vanilla is the best flavor of ice cream?”

“Because I don’t think that vanilla is all that great. Now either order or I’m going to take your place in line.”

“You can’t stand there and blatantly offend me like that without giving me a reason why. Why do you think vanilla is not the best flavor?”

“Fine, vanilla is the best flavor,” Sylvester says.

“Oh, come on,” John says through a laugh of frustration.

“Sir,” the kid on the other side of the counter says. “What can I help – ”

“Don’t sir me,” John says. “I’ll order when I’m good and ready.” He turns back to Sylvester. “It takes more than one to start a war and it takes more than one to end it.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Sylvester says. The dog barks and looks over at the ice cream stand. The woman pulls on the leash and leads the dog away muttering under her breath.

“Sir, you just – ” the man at the counter begins.

“You can wait,” John says.

“If I tell you why vanilla isn’t very good, will that get you to let it go?” Sylvester asks.

“Depends.”

“Depends on what”

“Depends on what your reason is.”

“Okay, vanilla is boring. If I’m going to pay money for ice cream, I want it to be as rich and as messy, filled with as much candy and caramel as possible. Eating vanilla is like drinking water when there is a can of Mountain Dew right in front of you.”

“You son of a bitch,” John yells. “Vanilla is so much better than water! Did you know that it was originally extracted from the orchid and derives from the Spanish for ‘vainilla?’ It has so much rich history and so many different uses, the finest and most favorable of these many uses comes in the form of ice cream It is the default flavor of ice cream.” By this time, the man behind the counter has disappeared and no one else is standing in line. Sylvester and John are the only ones left within a fifty yard radius of that the ice cream stand.

“I’ll tell you what,” Sylvester says. “I’ll admit that vanilla is the greatest flavor of ice cream ever if you go behind that counter and scoop me a cup of it yourself.”

“I’m about this close to throwing the back of my knuckles right into your ugly, disrespectful face.”

Sylvester face forms a sly smile. “Rocky road, cookies and cream, mint chocolate chip, rainbow, cookie dough…” He says slowly.

“What are you doing?” John asks.

“Naming all of the flavors better than vanilla. Chocolate, strawberry…”

– – –

“I’ll tell you what,” John says across the dinner table to his girlfriend Cindy. “I met the worst guy today. He had the nerve to chime in and tell me that vanilla ice cream is not the best flavor of ice cream ever created.”

“So what?” Cindy says casually.

“So what?” John says.

“Yeah, so what? I don’t think vanilla is the best. I prefer chocolate.”

“Cindy,” John says through his teeth. “You just started yourself a war.”

– – –

Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan, Mike Salow was killed in action while fighting for his country. In an actual war.

Enough Coddling: Figure it Out America

Warning: This is a frustration post.

I’m tired of people trying to pat us on the bottom to get us to turn it around. Even Jesus knew the value of a good butt chewing. He got downright pissed in the synagogue at the greedy vendors disgracing his sacred temple. Yes, Jesus was the kindest man who ever lived. But he wasn’t a “nice guy.”  He wasn’t passive about things that required action.

Passive guys don’t have the cojones to walk on water. They don’t stand up for prostitutes when self-righteous powerful men are ready to stone her.  They don’t save their own tails over the ones they love because they’re afraid to get a nail put through their hand.

So with that, especially this month I’ve really started to consider if the future of America exists.  I mean, I’ve always considered the future of America, but I’ve never doubted it. I’m sure white middle-class kids in Rome like me thought Rome was bulletproof, even when it was burning down around them.

But the things we’ve been doing, and the things we haven’t been doing lately are seriously jeopardizing our future.  And I’m not a radical. And I’m not a cynic. Almost every song I write has the word hope in it.  But hope doesn’t become a reality without a reality check first.  So here is ours. Here is what our country has come to (and I’m part of the problem on a lot of these):

We don’t want to spank our kids. We don’t budget. We don’t balance our checkbooks. We don’t balance power. We don’t read books (at least my generation doesn’t), and not only that, we act like it’s cool that we’ve read less books than we have fingers. We don’t inform ourselves of what’s going on in our country (let alone the world). We don’t want to look uncool. We don’t want to communicate face-to-face. We don’t want to take responsibility in the name of integrity.

Hell we don’t even want to play football anymore because owners don’t think a 360% increase in the value of their franchises from 1998-2008 is enough (espn.com, Life of Reilly). They want to add two more games to the schedule, so they sell more $6 footlong hot dogs. Is anyone else scared to death at how obsessed with excess we’ve become?

Here’s what we do do (haha): We do have music on the radio that a drunk four year old could write the lyrics too. And I know this is unpopular but I feel/fear a lot of worship music is the same way. Not all of our worship is really music. I think my church (Resonate) does a good job at picking thoughtful songs, but read the Psalms and then read the lyrics to Chris Tomlin’s, How Great Is Our God: No offense to Chris, I’m sure he loves Jesus, and these lyrics don’t contradict the gospel in anyway, but the guy just doesn’t have a lot of artistic genius, and King David did.

Anyways… We do think that what’s good for our political parties is more important than what’s good for our country. We do have a lot of morons on the radio who reinforce these ideas. We do think we’re entitled.  We do actually have chain-clothing stores with giant pictures of a guys waxed treasure trail (the space between a guys belly-button and his peep) at the front of the store.  This one always gets my mom. She always, in complete and utter amazement says, “They’re not even wearing clothes to advertise their clothes!” But sex sells right? Yes, sadly it does, especially in todays world. And we just say this phrase so casually like it’s just how the world is. Have we ever tried not selling it?  I’d bet my lucky Green Bay Packers boxers our divorce rate would go down if we did. Last of all we do a pretty good job being in denial about all this.

I wish we could go up to heaven just for one day and watch ourselves.  And see how stupid we sound.  How stupid and mistaken we are when we put up billboards with mutilated dead fetus’s on top of the U.S. quarter  and text that says “abortion is murder” (I’ve actually seen this… ugh. It makes me want to throw up just writing about it).

If we were truly after God’s heart, instead of that, instead of trying to make these sadly mistaken teenage girls feel like we (Christians) are certain they’re beyond grace, couldn’t we put up more adoption billboards?  Shit, I mean, more of us could even adopt.  You know… caring for the oppressed and brokenhearted and such… like Jesus always talked about.

What’s awful is that all this stupidity is worst is in all the worst places: politicians, big business, and the media. I’m not going to start writing to or about them though.  A: because they’re not going to read this blog. B: they’re egos wouldn’t allow them to read it with any sort of seriousness even if they did (although I’d be thrilled if they proved me wrong). No. I’m writing to us chumps who have been buying into this system.  And don’t come crying because, “I didn’t know any better.”  I… know, we need to stop hiding behind that excuse.

I’m amazed at some of the kids in my classes who are amazed they don’t have A’s even though they never go to class. They look at the professors with this idiotic look on their face like, “How was I supposed to know?” Well Beavis, you pay $100 for each of those classes, you’re here to learn self-sufficiency and the fundamentals of your career, your primary education of 13 years always required you go to class… FIGURE. IT. OUT. Enough ignorance, enough entitlement. More logic. More accountability. I’m going to end this post now before the big vein in my head pops.