An Anthology of Madness

a giveaway + a goodbye

The release of An Anthology of Madness marks the end of Make It MAD. I began writing here in June of 2010 and spilled my digital guts every Wednesday, documenting my search for faith, my battles with addiction, my struggles with the homeless, a few tips on being a gentleman in the 21st Century, and my abandonment of church and religion as I wandered the streets of America seeking God.

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Dear Girl With Only One Favorite

dear girl with only one favorite,

you haven’t officially met me yet, but i am confident i know your heart better than anyone. i’ve read about your uneasy life pounding hard from your fingertips, spilling forth words and poetry that reminds the soul how to feel; the stomach to ache; the heart to skip. you’ve trusted me with your deepest secrets, the hardest hurts, yet i see no scars. only mercy. you make me want to fight for the blameless love that flows from your veins, defend it as if it were my own; as if my heart beats because yours beats too. but i am just a man, lost in a sea of many. can you even see what you’ve done for others? because i can from where i stand.

i see love.

relentless love.

which is everything i have to give you in return.

MAD.

a letter to my wife before we met in person. originally published by thedailyletter.com in 2011

Dhaka

“You’re going to Dhaka?” the Bengali man asks. We stepped up to board our flight. He stops his conversation to inquire about the six white Americans at gate 109 cramming onto a seven hour flight from Istanbul to Dhaka, Bangladesh. I tell him we are, indeed, headed to Dhaka. He puts his hands on his hips and laughs. “Good luck. You’re going to need it.”

I turn to one of the other writer’s traveling with me. “Not exactly the most comforting thing to hear.”

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Preach

“There’s one,” Lauren says. “See if he needs anything.”

I slow to a stop at the intersection, pulling close to the curb. “Roll down your window and ask if he’s hungry.”

Window down, cold air trailing traffic rushes in. It’s a cloudless blue sky, but the November sun in southern California is useless. “Hi there. Happy thanksgiving.” Lauren’s voice is filled with the kind of joy rarely found in adults, but rather in children on Christmas mornings and birthdays. It’s this voice that caused my heart to stumble then fall forever in love with her the first time we spoke over the phone. “Are you hungry?”

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Invisible

AM I VISIBLE? Black marker words scribbled on a brown piece of cardboard. He sat with his legs crossed, eyes closed, gently rocking back and forth on the skateboard between him and concrete. Knees escaping, pale and dirty like prisoners ought to be, from the holes in his jeans.

AM I VISIBLE? A busy Hollywood street corner. Rush hour traffic going nowhere fast. I catch glimpses of him through passers-by. Students hurrying home. Women in high heels and pencil skirts. Fathers with daughters on their shoulders. Children helping mothers carry bags filled with pumpkin pies, cranberries, and Thanksgiving turkeys.

No one stops. No one notices.
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What I Learned About the Church While Seeking God Outside of It (Part II)

I deliberated good and long about how to go about this before I sat down to write. I reached out to historians, professors, seminary students, and scholars with worlds of wisdom in their minds and hearts far surpassing the usual flotsam and jetsam banging around in mine. I consulted the Bible, God, friends, and my wife. And when I received the answers to my inquires about the church, its origins, our American Biblical translations, and whether or not ten million dollars is better spent on a new building or caring for the orphans and widows of our world, I accepted what I already knew: This conversation is 2000 years old. Jesus had it with the Pharisees, Paul had it with the church of Corinth, David Platt wrote about it in his book Radical, and Bill Hybels even apologized to his congregation and the world for “missing the mark.”

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What I Learned About the Church While Seeking God Outside Of It (Part I)

I

I remember the moment I believed I’d finally become a mature, God-honoring Christian. I was in a multi-million dollar, cushioned-seat, air-conditioned sanctuary, where the pastor had just invited another member of his leadership team to the stage to give a ten minute sermon about tithing before the actual sermon began. It was right after the rock band performance (they were excellent, by the way) where the worship leader said in the middle of his power ballad cover of a David Crowder song, “Close your eyes and put your hands in the air. It’s just you and God here,” even though his face was plastered in true 1080 high definition on two 15 foot screens hanging above the platform. “God?” I asked, looking up at him. “I can see your pores.”

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Grace Is…

A young bartender once told me he thought the Bible was extremely unfair and prejudiced after I informed him I was a man of faith. “Here you are, boss,” he said, dropping off my drink a few moments later. Now there are only two types of men in this world: the one who calls you, “boss,” and you have a sudden desire to make him the best man at your wedding, and the one who calls you, “boss,” and you have a sudden desire to uppercut him onto the dessert table at a wedding. “Yeah, you’re right,” I said to the young bartender after imagining his suit all covered in cake and cookie crumbs. The answer was unexpected, as I could tell he’d clearly been looking to pick a fight about the Bible’s contradictory nature. Perhaps more impressed than angry, he followed up by asking what I thought was the most despicable part of the Bible. “Grace,” I said.

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Bleed

“How have you been not going to church?” Clint asked, sipping a margarita on the back patio.

Matt leaned against the wall, taking quick, careless puffs on his cigar. The sunlight reflecting off his glasses, the cloud of smoking rising around him, he seemed more like an apparition than my friend. “I’ve hit a plateau. My relationship with Jesus isn’t any different, but it’s not any worse.”

“It’s been what, a year now?”

Matt nodded. “I don’t even think about church on Sunday. This is my community now. You guys right here. And I’m fine with that. Church is wherever I go. Wherever Jesus was standing, church was under his feet. I don’t see what the big deal is about being a Christian who doesn’t attend a church regularly.”

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Let The Wookie Win: The Ballad of George Lucas

This month, today in particular, marks the 35th anniversary of Star Wars. This means Fan Boys and Comic-Con attendees everywhere are creating reenactments, and holding screenings of all six movies in their dark basement apartments. It’s a celebration of art, pop culture, and childhood. But you can be certain the original fans are pretending Episodes I, II, and III don’t exist even if they do star Liam Nesson & Samuel L. Jackson. Unfortunately, even if you boycott George Lucas’s attempt to reignite the imaginations of our childhood with over-the-top special effects and Jar-Jar Binks, it doesn’t change the fact that Star Wars no longer exists in its purest form unless you own a 1989 copy of the VHS.

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