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The Distorted Image

Full disclosure: My wife made me go into a tanning booth. It’s not because she’s weird, it’s because I was going to Hawaii for a wedding and I live in Oregon. She told me that If I didn’t go into the booth for 5 minutes per day for three days, my skin would explode once I arrived in the tropics.

On day 1 I went to the local tanning parlor, put on some tiny glasses and laid in a blue cocoon for 4 and a half minutes. When I left the salon, I was still white as a bleach bucket. I went home where I was confronted about skipping my appointment. I produced my receipt, ate dinner, watched Seinfeld, and went to bed.

I woke up 8 hours later, sunburned.

Instead of getting off of the plane and getting sunburned, I spent 5 hours on a plane sunburned and then arrived in Hawaii only to stay undercover to keep from worsening the damage.

I haven’t been back to a salon for a tan.

When I was in the salon, I noticed that there were a lot of women there with me who were also not tan. They weren’t pale like me, they were orange. Their frequent visits to the tanning salon had taken them to a place that pigment rarely goes of its own free will and volition.

I wondered if any of them knew that they were orange.

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Up In Smoke

Jamie Chung

In recent weeks, university officials and sportswriters have spent a lot of time arguing that college football doesn’t have a marijuana problem.

This isn’t to say that college athletes aren’t smoking pot and getting arrested for it, because ESPN published two articles this month detailing the widespread use of “grass” by collegiate athletes, it’s to say that nearly everyone involved in the process is attempting to point out that “smokin’ rope” isn’t actually a problem.

It’s presented as “not really a problem” because athletes are merely relieving the stress of national pressure in a way that supposedly doesn’t induce violence, impair judgement, or  inhibit performance in the way that alcohol, a legal and widely abused campus substance, does.

ESPN’s report detailing the widespread use of marijuana on college campuses didn’t spend much time mentioning the University of Oregon in Eugene, because they prepared a second article for the purpose of highlighting a successful program with an apparently relaxed attitude towards the sweet leaf.

While completely stepping over the issues of substance trafficking and the violence that always follows the collection and distribution of black market goods, I’d like to point out that the problem here really isn’t the widespread use of cannabis by college students…

It’s what the pot smoking suggests about the individuals involved.

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Final Touches On A Fantasy World

Dogwood Chapel-Thomas Kinkade

If you know my tastes you’d probably be able to guess that I don’t own a Thomas Kinkade painting.  It also probably wouldn’t surprise you that many people assume that, as a pastor, I would have one.  In fact, when they think of a pastor’s office, most people imagine three things:

1.) A large bookshelf

B.) A tear-stained couch

iii.) A Thomas Kincade painting…
of a dusky country church…
bursting with light…
from revival happening within.

It’s also no secret that many pastors imagine that their congregants have a Thomas Kinkade painting as well.  Sales figures indicate that 1 in 20 American homes features a Thomas Kinkade painting, the numbers significantly higher when you factor in self-identified “Christian homes.”

This shouldn’t be surprising since the self-proclaimed “Painter of Light” made his mark on the “art world” through a shrewd, if not calculated, strategy to target middle-aged Christian consumers – marketing his work through Christian conferences and retailers.

As a follower of Jesus, Kinkade didn’t just market his products to Christians, he also made the things that Christians hold dear the subject of his paintings: churches, family homes, and patriotic scenes were lovingly portrayed in bucolic and romantic settings… enveloped in the warm glow of “God’s light”.

Christians loved him, while art critics loathed him.

While he was accused of pandering his “mediocre abilities” to a “taste-impaired” target audience, this didn’t stop him from being one of the most collected artists of the 20th century.  Kinkade was celebrated as a genius by the community he created for, and his fans weren’t interested in whether the critics liked it… Imagine criticizing Stephanie Meyer’s prose to a 16 year-old.

As time passed, critical revilement turned out to be one of Kinkade’s lesser issues.

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