An Examination of the Private, Personal, and Public

I was planning an essay to post on here, about someone from a previous employer who really was formative in my personal growth and professional development over the last 7 years. But, I struggled to finish the essay. Actually, I couldn’t really write more than just sentence outlines.

This left me puzzled. I wondered what could be holding me back. After some digging, I realized that I was holding back because I needed to share some private details in order to provide context to the extent of the impact of this person on me. I considered sharing these private details. What could go wrong? This is how it is now, I’m just sharing and this is acceptable now on social media, even on LinkedIn.

I decided against sharing these details and posting the essay on LinkedIn. A couple of ideas emerged as the main reasons why.

The first one was that I didn’t want to set the precedent for myself that sharing private details is part of my activity on LinkedIn. I don’t believe in constructing a work-friendly persona of myself. Ain’t nobody got time for dat! Anouk Pappers puts this in these terms:

“On the other side of this dichotomy, people usually use “professional” presence to refer to a scrubbed, work-approved persona. But this too is not realistic. We shouldn’t present ourselves as someone we are not, or even express inauthentic views, just to fit into a particular work culture. I think it is becoming increasingly important that we be our authentic selves online and that we position ourselves in a genuine manner. In essence, we need to establish and maintain an online presence across all of our accounts that accurately reflects who we are and how we want to be perceived.”

Rather, I didn’t want to turn my vulnerability into a currency, that I trade with, with hopes that the trading brings in ‘income’ later. I remember reading a Facebook post (in Arabic) a few months ago about a TikTok vlogger who had converted his overweight state into videos that brought in money for me. The post lamented that this is all it was now for him, to eat and show off his physique on TikTok. I thought further of another TikTok vlogger, who has become his signature dance – a dance and then showing off his afro. Is that all that they are now – their ‘products’? I am nowhere near their reach or fame, but I am close to them in that I could easily transform my inner life into some form of product.

The second reason was that I reflected on the differences between private and public information. I remembered a conversation I had years ago with a journalist in Sweden, who taught me the distinction between public, personal, and private information. From his training, he was taught that private is like the contents of your journal, stuff that’s for your eyes only. Others may not understand the context or importance. Personal information is where you can write about your experiences, but in a way that resonates with others. Think of you talking to friends about your experiences, showing them that they can relate. That’s personal. Public – news, commercial and legal texts. No emotion. “Just straight facts,” in my friend’s words.

Given this model, what I wanted to share in the essay is private information. I would extend his definition of private to include those also in my inner circle. Personal is what I’m prepared to share with friends and perhaps some at work, while public is whatever I post online.

The line between private and personal has been blurry for me for a while. I have written vulnerable essays on Facebook that I have set to public. Was that really a sound thing to do? The answer to that question didn’t strike me with much confidence. I wouldn’t say that I regret posting those essays, but now there may be archived pages on the Wayback Machine. 

The food for thought for all of us is, what are you prepared to have the Machine index? 

George Couros puts it in another jaunty way, quoting Seth Godin:

“Everything you do now ends up in your permanent record. The best plan is to overload Google with a long tail of good stuff and to always act as if you’re on Candid Camera, because you are.”

This pithy quote gets to the heart of my objection, that I don’t want everything on my permanent record.

The final reason was that there was no way to write the essay without these private details. Leaving them out would make the essay cryptic, and then there’s the danger of cryptic-posting in order to get people asking for more in the comments. Or, writing around the details would make the essay harder to understand. Then, what is the point of even posting it?

I found this quadrant diagram, while doing the thinking for this post. It takes the models, put forward by George Couros and Anouk Pappers, cited above to a further level.

When I analyzed my essay idea, the core idea – the guy whom I wanted to celebrate – was in the green quadrant. But the meat of the essay lied in the red square, and I struggled to argue to move it to the yellow square.

Thinking holistically – that is, engaging my emotions while activating reason – is helpful in evaluating what I put on the public record.

#ProfessionalDevelopment #CareerAdvice

تطفيش الصبا

الظاهر كان بس كلام افتكاس ساعتها.

كنت مشترك في تخت شرقي زمان لما كنت عايش في إنجلترا. كان التخت طابع لكنيسة في لندن و الهدف أن نقدم الألحان القبطية من خلال الطرب الشرقي. عود. ناي. كونترا باس. دُف. عازف الكمان كان راجل هاوي و عاشق الطرب و حببنا كلنا في الألحان والموسيقى الشرقية.

لما كان في وقت عزف طويل في مقام السيكا كان هو يقول “ها… لازم بقى نطفش السيكا.” و يقوم بعزف تقاسيم بين

المقامات لغاية ما صوت السيكا يختفي من أذهاننا.

(نموذج لمقام السيكا)

دخلت على جوجل من شوي و حاولت ادور على العبارة دي. مش موجودة. يمكن بجد كانت بس حاجه شخصية، نزوة أو فُكاهة منه.

بس الصراحة الفكرة شغلاني الكام يوم اللي فاتو. اعتقد انها بتعبر عن مبدأ عميق. مُمارسة طقوس تخرج مشاعر او افكار او ذكريات مؤلمة. ليتورجية للوصول للتقابل و تعامل. ليتورجية تطالب مني عمل في العادي بهرب منه او تجاهله او اكبر دماغي. و لكمن هو عمل لابد يُقام بيه عشان اكمل السكة.

هو كان بيطفش السيكا، انا هحتاج الفترة اللي جايه اطفش الصبا.

(نموذج لمقام الصبا)

قدامي ٤٨ مكان هنا لازم اطفش منه ذكريات و مشاعر عشان اعرف اروحهم و اتواجد فيهم بطريقة جديدة. مش عايز اكون بعدّي كل مرة على مقبرة ذكريات و احلام مش هتتحقق.

Wake up, Sweden. You’re in Denial!

This is the English version of the previous blog post.

(My friend’s original Facebook post, which prompted this essay [my own translation])

I’m studying right now and we’re all supposed to go out to look for interneships. Being naive and in my little bubble, I thought that everyone will get a fair shot in the job market. However, it seems like some of my classmates, with an ethnic background outside of Europe, are finding it difficult to get an internship. I didn’t know that the barrier to entry was so high.

All I had to do was to make a couple of phone calls. I was successful on my second call, contracts were signed, and it was all done.

A 20-year old Syrian guy, who came here in 2015, with a science degree has not been able to get a place after having applied to 40 companies. He has a spotless attendance record at the vocational college and good grades. He has a driving license and lots of strong references. I helped him get a summer job and he never missed a day’s work, didn’t even come in late once. He’s had perfect attendance at that job.

It is said that everything is just given to you on a silver platter in Sweden. You get all the tools and so on, but my God some have to really fight in order to get a seat at the table. That guy must be so strong.

It wasn’t a day too late to start studying again. However, I’ve learned more about humanity than automation at the end of the day.

The post above is alluding to the narrative in Sweden that “all it takes” is getting a job and learning the language. If you get these done, then the doors to Sweden are opened to you, with everything becoming available to you.

I find myself today in a limbo land, between being an adult “nysvensk” (Swedish by assimilation) and a child of first-generation economic migrants. I have been a Swedish citizen since 1996, but I don’t have the social network that most Swedes have developed since children. I never went to kindergarten here.

But when I moved back here 6 years ago, I bought this narrative wholesale, this opiate of the massases. I re-acquired the language and immersed myself in idioms. I got a job. Guess what? I wasn’t swept up in an hurricane of friends and social capital, as is told by society, despite doing everything they told me to do and taking all suggestions. 2 years ago, I decided to study full-time and change paths. I wanted to get a non-tech job, a service job like many people here. It didn’t happen. I couldn’t even get a job in hemtjänst. All doors were closed.

After a lot of reflection, I realized that I had developed an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. Where are my friends, dude?! Where is my payout, man?! Why am I not getting what I was supposed to get?! I have done everything…

The reality is that this is not how it works in Sweden. It doesn’t matter at all what you have done or accomplished. You don’t deserve shit. No one owes you shit. The only thing that has happened by getting a job and learning the job is that you have joined the fold. You have become a lemming like everyone else.

Do you want more here? Fight. Work harder. Build your own capital. But don’t expect anything of someone else, society, or the state. Are there obstacles? Become creative and get around them.

Stop complaining, Mina. No one gives a shit. The state doesn’t care. Plug in your AirPods and swipe through the void, like everyone else.

The reality is also as follows:

1. It does matter if you have a non-European name.

2. It does matter if you have dark complexion.

3. It does matter that most Swedes – regardless of ethnicity or cultural background – don’t want to make new friends or let new people into their social circles.

4. It does matter if you came here older, with no contacts, and don’t have your social network fully formed by 18 years old.

Do you have a job? Be fucking grateful and shut the fuck up.

Do you want to do something else? We can’t help you. There are others in more need of help than you. You have a job. Shut the fuck up.

Do you know someone who can get you a job? “No…” Then, shut the fuck up.

You may hear at some point in your life that there’s this guy who says that he loves cute women with a great sense of humor, but he actually hooks up with boring gym bunnies. He is neither evil nor a fool. He just lacks self-awareness. His sense of reality has not been tested by actual experience.

This guy is Sweden. Sweden is whistling in the dark, fervently hoping that their claims are true. If not.. well, that’s why we have the state! None of my business…

The narrative is not false because society is lying willfully. Rather, society is not aware of what it believes and whether it is rooted in reality or not. They don’t think about anything. Everything is set up for them. Why think? Why question?

At the bottom of the original Facebook post, the friend attached a photo that can be interpreted that society’s scorning of the young Syrian guy is a symptom of Nazism, that Nazism should be thrown into the garbage. I don’t agree with this conclusion, that the Syrian guy didn’t get a job because Sweden or Swedish society is a Nazi country or one.

I hold that Swedish society does not want to accept that everything is about your name, your appearance, and social capital. Because if Sweden accepts that about itself, then it is no longer “ett bra land” (a common trope in the literature of the Social Democrats). A good country. It is no longer the mecca of modernity. It becomes like all other countries – a flawed country with blindspots. Then, Sweden loses its ideological and moral high ground in the world.

Sweden, you’re in denial. Stop lying to yourself and all of us who moved here, regardless of pretense.

Be honest and tell the truth. Then, we can either choose to stay and accept the insanity or revolt by leaving to live somewhere else.

Sluta ljuga för oss, Sverige!

En vän skrev nedanstående text i ett inlägg på Facebook.

Jag går en utbildning och nu ska vi ut och “praktisera” på företag. I min naiva bubbla har jag trott att alla som vill något får en chans på arbetsmarknaden. Dessvärre verkar det som att några i klassen med utländsk(utomeuropeisk) bakgrund har väldigt svårt för att få plats på ett företag. Trodde inte tröskeln var så hög. Själv löste jag det genom att ringa ett företag och fick napp på andra försöket. Avtal skrevs och sen var det klart. En 20-årig kille i klassen som kom från Syrien 2015 och har svensk examen från naturvetenskapliga programmet får inte plats efter att ha sökt på 40 olika företag. Han har full närvaro på Yrkeshögskolan och goda studieresultat. Han har körkort och referenser från arbetslivet. Fixade sommarjobb till honom och han försov sig inte en enda gång. Även på jobbet hade han full närvaro. Har hört att man får “allt gratis och serverat” när man kommer till Sverige. Man får verktygen och materialet, men jävlar en del måste jobba hårt. Så kanske de får en plats. Han måste vara stark. Det var inte en dag för sent att börja plugga för mig. Har nog lärt mig mer om människor än automation när allt kommer omkring.

Texten syftar på narrativet att det handlar “bara” om att skaffa ett job och behärska det svenska språket. Klarar man av dessa öpnnas dörren till Sverige, allt blir tillgängligt möjligt och utförbart. Jag befinner mig i ett mellanförskap, mellan nysvensk i vuxenåldern och förstagenerations invandrarskap i barndomen. Jag har varit svensk medborgare sedan 1996 men har inte det sociala kontakter som de flesta fick i barndomen. Jag är inte uppvuxen med samma vänner sedan förskolan.

Men sedan jag flyttade tillbaka för sex år sedan köpte jag på narrativet, samhällets kära snuttefilt. Lärde mig språket igen och tog till mig några idiom. Skaffade ett jobb. Det blev inte en orkan av vänner och socialt kapital som utlovad trots att jag ansträngde mig och gjorde vad som föreslogs. Bytte bana. Pluggade det jag ville. Försökte skaffa ett jobb bortom yrket. Gick inte. Stängda dörrar.

Det visade sig att att jag utvecklade känslan av berättigande efter ett tag. Varför skaffar jag inte vänner?! Varför blir det inte som det ska?! Jag har gjort allt.

Det funkar inte så i Sverige. Det spelar faktiskt ingen roll alls vad du har gjort eller åstadkommit. Du har inte förtjänat något mer än någon annan. Med språket och jobbet har du endast blivit som alla andra.

Vill du har mer? Kämpa. Förvänta inte dig ett skit av någon annan, samhället eller staten.

Finns det motgångar? Bli kreativ och hitta vägar runt dem.

Sluta gnälla, Mina. Ingen bryr sig. Staten bryr sig inte.

Faktum är att det spelar roll att man har ett utomeuropeiskt namn.

Det spelar roll att man har mörka ansiktsegenskaper.

Det spelar roll att de flesta svenskar oavsett etnicitet inte vill skaffa nya vänner eller släppa in nya kontakter.

Det spelar roll att man är äldre, har inga kontakter och har inte varit här sedan man har varit på barnsben.

Har du något yrke då ska du vara tacksam. Håll tyst nu.

Vill du göra något annat hjälper vi inte dig. Finns andra som är viktigare än dig, som har mer kritiska behov. Du har en sysselsättning. Håll tyst nu.

Känner du någon? Nej? Håll tyst.

Ibland säger en vän att han tänder på sköna tjejer med härlig humor men han blir faktiskt ihop med stela träningsnarkomaner. Han är varken ond eller skev. Han har ingen självinsikt. Hans verklighetsuppfattning är obeprövad.

Denna man är Sverige. Sverige visslar i mörkret och hävdar naivt att påståendena stämmer. Om inte får staten fixa. Inte min grej vetdu.

Narrativet är osant inte för att samhället ljuger utan det svenska samhället har inte behövt tänka på det. Det behöver inte göra det. Allt är ordnat.

Längst ner i vännens inlägg bifogade han en bild som kan tolkas som att nazismen ska slopas. Jag delar inte hans slutsats, att problematiken med sin väns misslyckande i arbetsmarknaden är på grund av nazism som måste bekämpas. Jag tycker att samhället inte vill acceptera att det handlar om namn, utseende och socialt kapital. Och om Sverige accepterar dessa… då blir inte Sverige “ett bra land”, det blir inte modernitets mecca längre. Det blir som alla andra länder. Sverige har ingen moraliskt övertag längre.

Sverige, du är i förnekelse. Sluta ljuga för dig själv och oss som flyttade hit. Tala om för oss sanningen. Då kan vi antingen stanna kvar och acceptera eller protestera och eventuellt gå vidare någon annanstans.

FHM Press Conference 9 July 2020



Socialstyrelsen: “Only 3 out of 290 municipalities are experiencing a serious impact [due to the pandemic], citing staffing concerns.”


“The pandemic, primarily or at least for the most part, is right now affecting non-risk groups, younger people… younger people aren’t heeding our recommendations.”

“The threat level is high. This is due to that we still have a substantial contagion effect, despite that it is spreading right now amongst groups that don’t think they may get infected.”

“Hard to say” about tracking the number of infected citizens

“Still not ready with more extensive analyses” about herd immunity

Socialstyrelsen: “Only 3 out of 290 municipalities are experiencing a serious impact [due to the pandemic], citing staffing concerns.”


“The pandemic, primarily or at least for the most part, is right now affecting non-risk groups, younger people… younger people aren’t heeding our recommendations.”

“The threat level is high. This is due to that we still have a substantial contagion effect, despite that it is spreading right now amongst groups that don’t think they may get infected.”

“Hard to say” about tracking the number of infected citizens

“Still not ready with more extensive analyses” about herd immunity

Continue reading FHM Press Conference 9 July 2020

FHM pressträff – 9 July 2020


Socialstyrelsen: “Endast 3 av 290 kommuner ser en allvarlig påverkan och det handlar om en viss oro för bemanning.”


“Vi har en spridning, som i huvudsak då eller till stor del, finns inom icke-riskgrupper, yngre människor…. Yngre människor respekterar inte riktlinjer som ges.”

“Hotnivån är hög. Det beror på att vi fortfarande har en ganska omfattande smittspridning även om det sker huvudsakligen i grupper som man inte har anledning att frukta att man blir svårt sjuk.”

“Svårt att säga” om hur många som bär på smittan

“Inte färdiga än med mer djupgående analyser” angående flockimmunitet

Continue reading FHM pressträff – 9 July 2020

Meeting a Musician

I had the great privilege to sit and talk music with a friend and fellow musician. He’s a professional performing artist, with a big heart and an astute instinct for music.

We had planned a jam, but it turned into an impromptu guitar lesson since there was only one guitar between us. I played him a blues song I am working on. The way he critiqued the arrangement and my technique gave me a deep insight into his personality and philosophy on music.

He didn’t say it was shit. Even though it was really! He took my focus off the value judgment and helped me looked at the opportunities to improve my technique. He explained the difference between concert (standard) and open chord tuning. And then he showed me why. He tuned down to an open D chord and started to noodle.

It was a sublime, defining moment in my life. I saw the guitar in a completely new way. It was like a new universe opened up to me. No longer was the guitar a jail of chord changes. It was an open meadow of licks, riffs, and droning bass lines. I finally understood how the Delta blues masters were able to create so much with their guitars.

He made it feel like it was possible. It is common to be spoken to in a condescending manner, that you’ll never make it because you don’t have “it”. He did no such thing. He showed me the ropes, what I had to keep in mind, and what I had to work on.

One particular passing comment stuck with me: “It takes years to get to their level… or months if you work hard.” That second part he said with a glint in his eye and a knowing smirk. The comment lit a fire in my belly. I could be like Son House or Robert Johnson if I play and practice every day.

He gave me a place from which to start and something to practice. I had watched YouTube videos on the 12-bar blues, but this made more sense because he placed it with the context of songwriting. It wasn’t just another thing to practice because you’re supposed to. He broke down the 12-bar blues and helped me remember the positions by using the dots on the neck as a reference.

For years, blues guitar and songwriting has felt like some distant alchemy I’ll never figure out. I resigned to the fact that I’ll only write primitive arrangements and compensate with more emotion in my singing. Seems that that is changing now!

Dear Bella: 2019

My grandmother slept in Christ in the early hours of the morning on December 26th, 2006. I wasn’t with her during her final moments in the body. There was no goodbye and there was no time to transition from her with us to her not.

Her memory has faded over the last year. Once a regular patron in my dreams, I see her less often and think of her less.
Yet, she’s alive. And present. 

She’s present during certain meals. I can still taste the ghee, the garlic, see her wooden spatula move as I make scrambled eggs. I can hear her as I bite through potatoes baked under glistening chicken. People can live inside those kind of memories. I express this sentiments less, thinking that they have no purpose or meaning. But they do. They keep the person alive. They don’t allow the memories to fade. So, I’ll express these out loud next year.
Whenever I experienced biting loneliness or choking sadness, I used to dream of her. In the last three years, this has happened less and when it has, she appears as an image rather than a person. It’s almost like a figure in a diorama rather than a person. That sudden sinking feeling, followed by a flushing of cold water in my stomach, doesn’t happen anymore. She shows up and then disappears a few seconds later.

I still visit her apartment in my dreams. It has no furniture, no icons of the saints, and there are no lights except over the door into her bedroom. It is dark. The balcony door has been shuttered. It is a grotty, cold bedroom. In one dream, I ran back and forth between the bedroom and the kitchen, looking for her. In another, I tried crashing through the shuttered balcony door and I ended up being thrown off the curb by unknown hands. In another, I walked out from the bedroom into the dining room, finding myself in a makeshift morgue, covered in white marble with blue streaks. Then, I got locked out and found myself on another floor of an unknown building.

I was in Cairo in September and I didn’t visit her apartment. Last time I was there, I felt bigger than the bedroom. Everything seems dwarfed and cold. My memories of her and that place are enjoined to me, only as a child. So, I will return there during every visit and make new memories as an adult. I’ll sit on the bed and eat on the wooden table that was kept behind her bed. I’ll make new memories in the apartment, to chase away the cold dreams and nightmares.

I am growing up. I don’t need her, to keep me together in my thoughts and dreams as I used to. She was safety, comfort, and home. She was a secret stash of liquor in my dreams when I couldn’t handle waking life.
Recently, my mother gave me her engagement ring as an heirloom and I now wear it around my neck.
Pray for us, Bella.

The film I made about her last year: 

Let Offensive Films Live

Many of my Christian siblings are up in arms this week about The First Temptation of Christ, the satirical comedy on Netflix. I have seen the petition to have it removed, being circulated on social media. And I have seen many express their dissent by cancelling their accounts on the streaming platform. 

Although I haven’t seen the film yet, it seems to be in the same spirit as Jesus Christ Superstar, Life of Brian, Dogma, and The Last Temptation of Christ

It won’t be the first. What does this mean? It means that there is an entire cinematic tradition of films mocking Christ or Christianity or the church. The tradition doesn’t seem like it will be upended any time soon. Christians haven’t stopped going to church because of them. Christ hasn’t appeared to avenge himself or punish anyone. And filmmakers haven’t stopped making them. But every now and then, some of us are riled up and feel the need to attack those who make these films.  

I don’t want these films to stop being made and screened. I want to allow them to exist and I won’t personally be boycotting them. My only reaction to this film, or any other, is that which I think is proportional to any work of art that I don’t enjoy or not; I just don’t watch it. And I allow it to live. 

The film is free speech. One definition of freedom of speech is the “right to express opinions without government restraint.” In these precarious times, I would add to that that it is also the right to express opinions without the restraint of others, even if it offends many. We don’t think we’re doing this when we react so strongly to opinions like the film in question, but that is essentially what we’re doing. By withdrawing our economic support for Netflix and boycotting the film, we are saying to ourselves and others, this opinion is so dangerous to me that I want it to be silenced and put to death immediately. It cannot exist anymore. It should not exist. I have decided that this opinion should not exist. All of this is happening because some are offended by this film. Then, what will you do when the next film that mocks Christ, is released? Will you do the same again? You will restrain another opinion just because you are offended by it? 

We seem to be prioritizing people being offended over opinions over art being voiced. The restraint by both government and society, whomever is holding economic or political power, is enough to make all ideas absolutely homogenous or totally forgettable. So, it’s better that we just let opinions exist. Why is it so scary to you that an opinion offends you? Let all opinions live and thrive, and then die when it’s their time to die. But we’re arresting the circle of life of opinions by killing it out with our outrage, our weapon of choice these days. You may then argue, well if I choose to boycott this film, it is also my freedom of speech. But it is surely not an opinion then. You are mobilizing your freedom of speech with action – in this case, outrage. You are not then expressing an opinion, you’re going into action. You are doing something, rather than just saying something. So, when you boycott this film, you are not expressing an opinion. You are just restraining another opinion. 

The film is a work of art. The subject of the work of the art doesn’t invalidate that and I think it’s incredibly dangerous to dismiss art because it offends and mocks, even the most sacred to many people. If we stop to restrain all works of art because they offend you, then soon all art may end up looking the same. 

So you may be thinking, well how about the Charlie Hebdo cartoons about the Prophet Mohammed? I maintain the same line about those, too. Those cartoons are works of art. I didn’t think they were particularly interesting or novel, but they are works of art nonetheless. And they need to be protected. It is important that they are protected because I would want the same standard upheld for me as an artist.  

I see myself as a full human being. I have consciousness and a mind. I have the ability to dream, imagine, day dream, and create. I believe that these faculties are part of me being human. As an Orthodox Christian, God has these in his image, I have received them from being in his likeness. He is the creator and I can be creative like him. I can create from what exists, He can create from void. Void here is absolute nothingness. The closest I can get to this is by writing because something I can’t access with my senses can be moulded into the words you’re seeing on the screen now. So, art seems to be in my very nature as a human being. 

I can create, in the loose sense I have just described, whatever I want. It can be tempered by my beliefs or sensibilities or convictions. But should I remove all of them, I can just bring forth something. Whether it will be effective or not, convincing or not, powerful or not, loved or decried, it’s art. Art will challenge, will make you uncomfortable, will question, will distort maim or mock because the function of art is to see, to first see and then capture it with the medium of choice. Telling someone that what they see offends you is like saying to them your eyes don’t work. No, their eyes work just fine, just like yours. But they see what you don’t see. 

Art should not be subject to your tastes. Art is not moral and should not be moral. The Chinese-Belgian philosopher Han Suyin says that moralists have no place in an art gallery. A few of us are morally outraged by this film and thus want it to be silenced. We seem to be content or indifferent about most other art, as long as it is inert or illustrative or simply aesthetically pleasing. Art can teach or illustrate or be pedagogical. But the art you will remember is the art that jarred you. For me, it’s Saturn Devouring His Son by Goya and Vampire by Munch. Art has to be free of sensibilities, morality, and good taste so that it can see. The minute it is hindered, it is no longer art and it is just a message. art can have a message, but it’s best when it’s just a captured feeling, a vision, a moment.  

So, The First Temptation of Christ is just an opinion, a work of art, and a moment. The creators of the film have created some art that you don’t seem to like or agree with. As artists, they are free to create the art they want. If this moment injures Christ so much, then Christ isn’t the all-powerful son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity that I believe and hold he is. He is then a weak demigod who is perturbed by people. That doesn’t sound like him. 

This then begs two questions. Firstly, what kind of Christ do you believe in? Is he a weak, neurotic demigod, requiring of us tireless and continual defense or else he will visit us with his wrath? Or, is he the Christ that bore our afflictions and suffered, from the day he took flesh?  Christ is being tainted and affronted. But does he need our defense? Did he need it on earth? Does he need it now? The passion of christ on earth wasn’t just on the cross, it was from birth to death carrying all of our infirmities and withstanding all pain until the end. his suffering is over. he is not suffering now. His church is suffering and we are his body. You will argue that someone is attacking the head, so the body is hurting too. I could  concede that, but does that mean that we become like the world and simply fight back with outrage? Is that the only response we have in us these days?

We’re people of the Scriptures. So, let’s look in scripture, in the crucifixion narrative. Christ was mocked. Did he retaliate? 

I couldn’t find anything in the Acts of the Apostles, where the apostles retaliated with their money or outrage because Christ was mocked. There is this one verse though 17: 32, where some mocked the resurrection after Paul was preaching in Athens. What did Paul do? 

He left. He didn’t engage. He moved on.

I challenge you. Find a verse in the entire scriptures where God says, “Defend me [when they insult or mock or make caricatures of me].”

In closing, I won’t be supporting the ban of the film because it is an opinion, a work of art, and Christ will remain Lord and Saviour, no matter how many films are made about him. 

… Except When No One Did Co-opt International Men’s Day

I haven’t been at peace with what I wrote since two friends commented and explained what International Men’s Day was about.

I made a deal with myself yesterday that with whatever I wrote, I wouldn’t retract, delete, or edit it if there would be any kind of response. I would also not change the privacy settings of the post. I would take the flak for anything I wrote – even the flak from Scranton, the resident critic in my head. So, I kept my promise and didn’t do any of that.

Thank you for the gracious, positive, and calm responses to an assholic and arrogant piece. I appreciate and value them.

After reflecting on this last night and today, three uncomfortable points became clear to me.

I could have found out what the day was about after 1.5 seconds of a Google search.

There have been moments and times where some men shout louder than others, to complain about their perceived loss of power in a world that affords some of us all power. But yesterday was not one of those moments.

And finally, International Men’s Day was instituted for men like… me. I wrote last year before about my struggle about mental health, depression, and suicide. So, instead of using last night’s post to declare solidarity and talk about it from my experience, I used it to rant at an unspecified, non-existent “enemy”.

I messed up, I got it wrong, and there is no excuse.

If you’re a man who needed International Men’s Day yesterday, I hope you got to be a strong, resilient man who can talk about his struggles with people who understand and can hold space for you. If you’re the wife or partner to a man who needed it yesterday, God bless you for expressing your love for them.

A brief and final belated message about yesterday. Jay Z said that what you reveal, you heal. So, whatever struggle, pain, addiction, bondage, or darkness you carry, its power will be diminished if you just tell someone because its real size becomes apparent when it’s revealed. It’s not that behemoth you imagined; it’s just a dark turd that has been festering in a badly lit room, playing hand puppets against the walls.

Just tell someone, “I’m struggling. Would you listen?” Pick someone who cares and is good at listening. And then just let it out.

Then, you’ll be able to find some courage inside to get the help you need.

Happy Belated International Men’s Day. You’ll get through it because you’re not alone.

This was originally posted two days on my Facebook account and has been edited slightly.