Phil Robertson, Quote Clippings, and the First Amendment

Christianity has flared up in the news in the form of Phil Robertson, one of the beloved stars of the massively popular Duck Dynasty. For those of you who are unaware (and quite likely finding shelter in a cave), GQ writer Drew Magary recently wrote an article for the company’s website about an interview he did with Mr. Robertson. The controversy that this article sparked was largely because of a quote from Phil regarding homosexuality. Phil was not exactly supportive of the homosexual lifestyle, and this blogpost does not seek to affirm or condemn such a lifestyle. Instead, I’d like to use this issue as a platform to jump into two different problems, though ones that are related to this issue..

The first problem is the “sin” that I would guess most who used the hashtag #standwithphil or in someway voiced their support or opposition to Robertson’s comments is guilty of: not reading the original source from which the controversy originally stemmed. In today’s era of sound bytes and quote clippings, most don’t spend the time to read lengthy articles. It’s easier to have someone else give a summary or just grab onto the main points. This stance ignores one crucial part: Looking at only part of an article or listening to part of a speech means you miss the context of what is happening. In the case of this article, many saw Phil’s paraphrasing of 1 Corinthians and immediately jumped to conclusions. However, Phil made had other quotes that were cited in the article as him expressing his love for everyone. In fact, Phil does not believe in judging the eternal ramifications of one’s actions as he believes God is the only judge. This is not to say that what Phil said was right, but it is important that, as digesters of information, we digest the full nutritional content of an article and don’t skimp on the veggies, if you catch my meaning.

It might be said that this blogpost is an inherent contradiction to what I am arguing against. This might have merit, but I highly encourage you to go read the whole post before drawing your own conclusions. It is too easy to take things out of context and make them mean something different from what the speaker meant to say. Only part of meaning can be derived from lexical interpretation. It is completely necessary that we use contextual interpretation to its full capacity as well. Of course, this goes far beyond the Phil Robertson saga. In short, don’t subject others to your opinion until you’ve taken the time to find the original source of the controversy and develop an educated view of what is actually happening in that situation.

The second problem that this PR nightmare has brought out is the ignorance of, or at least gross misinterpretation of our Nation’s First Amendment to the Constitution – of course concerning freedom of speech. This fine amendment keeps congress from making any law restricting freedom of speech or the practice or religion. Has Phil Robertson been put in jail or been detained by the government in any fashion? Has he been in anyway punished by any sort of legislative measure? No, you say? Then how in this world is this a first amendment issue? A&E, the network on which Duck Dynasty is aired, has every right to suspend Robertson as everything he says is directly associated with their network and their brand. Phil Robertson is an employee of A&E and is a de facto spokesperson for them. Though Robertson is a professing Christian, A&E is not in any way, shape, or form a Christian company and it is ridiculous to try and hold non-Christian companies to Christian standards. Especially Christian standards that are so controversial. This is not to say that Christian morals are wrong, as I am a firm believe in Christian ideals, but I’m not going to push that on other people. Did Jesus do that? No, he told us to love people. A&E decided that Robertson’s comments hurt their company and/or violated an agreement they had with Robertson. An indefinite suspension is completely within their to suspend Robertson and it in no way violates any sort of Constitutional Amendment.

Now each of these issues are separate and probably deserve their own posts, but in light of the events concerning the Robertson, I thought it was appropriate to throw in my peanut gallery opinions. Don’t make a judgement on something until you’ve thoroughly read and understood it; and don’t make this into a political issue. It’s not.



Twenty|One|Pilots on Living for People

Twenty|One|Pilots is one of my favorite bands. Their music is eclectic and oftentimes schizophrenic while still maintaing a catchy sound with meaningful lyrics. It’s really incredible.

Anyways, I’d like to share a bit of a video that the lead singer, Tyler Joseph, did that has resonated with me for the past week or so. Skip to 10:35 and the bit I’ll talk about will only go till 11:35 (though watch the whole interview if you so desire).

Tyler (I like to pretend we’re on first name basis) echoes some of my sentiments about life and death. I often think that dying for someone would in fact be the best way to go. It’s so noble, chivalrous… and prideful.

Dying for someone, as so perfectly told by my man Tyler, is the easy thing to do. Living for people is the hard thing, even if we don’t see it as glamorous. How can I invest in other people, live for other people? I can recognize the importance of those around me over my own importance.

Life on Worship

A brief bit about worship – Worship can’t be confined to a set of dos and don’ts. Worship is the act of praising God, in whatever manner you choose to. Jesus says the most important commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27, ESV). These four categories (heart, soul, strength, and mind) are the most basic things that make us up. Everything can fit into one of these categories. Does it not then make sense that we should worship God with all four of these categories?

Devote yourself to studies and sharpening your mind as long as it is with the goal to serve God. That is worship.

Evangelize to others. Stay up late and have good conversations with people. That is worship.

Go work out and keep yourself fit, not to impress others, but to honor the body God has given you. That is worship.

Worship is so much more than singing along with worship songs and maybe raising your hands. Allow yourself to experience God in every facet of your life. That is my challenge to myself for the week: praising God in the midst of my homework, in the midst of playing intramurals, in the midst of sitting in class. God deserves it.

Embracing Spiritual Valleys

I’ve recently been made aware of something quite startling and, frankly, convicting: It is oftentimes better for me to be in a spiritual valley than at the spiritual equivalent of sea level. At first, this seems counterintuitive because it implies that I am in a bad spot with God but I am somehow better off for it. But, many times it is when we are at these lows in our lives that the hard questions start to get answered.

Low times often give us ample opportunity for self-reflection. We say “something isn’t right, what isn’t right, and how can I fix it?” It’s obvious that we’re broken and we don’t want to stay this way, so we identify the problem. I concede, this is an overly generalized view of spiritual valleys, but stay with me, I think I’m going somewhere with this.

God uses these times of mourning to teach me, to reconstruct me, and mold me into a more Christlike man. It is at times of despair where I am most vulnerable. If I turn to God and let him help me out, I come out a different person than I entered.

But that’s enough abstract thinking. Let me tell you a story that puts these ideas into real life. So bear with me as I get real with you for a second.

Three and a half weeks ago, I had a concussion that kept me out of classes for a week and kept me out of soccer for the last two weeks of our season. I had to watch our team lose in the semi final, able to do nothing but support from the sidelines. I couldn’t do any homework and got miles behind the rest of the class.

I got really scared from all of this because I’ve had a few people close to me have to deal with concussion symptoms for a long, long time. I couldn’t bear to think about the consequences of a long-term concussion. It could mean dropping my classes from the semester. It could mean not playing soccer. It could mean I go back and live at home when I am starting to hit my social stride.

But through all of this God was teaching me. I had the feeling through the whole experience that something good would come out of it, even though I couldn’t fathom what that possibly could be. I ended up being taught how importance servant leadership is to my teammates. My coaches always stress that everyone on the team can affect the game, and that included me. I did whatever I could for me teammates because I wanted them to be able to focus on playing the game. It’s a futile feeling at first, but its rewards are monumental.

But the biggest thing God taught me through my valley is what incredible relationships I’ve developed over the past three months. I had people come around me in a way that I had experienced before. I must have been told five times a day that someone was praying for me. Having someone say they are praying for you is a powerful thing. Someone setting themselves aside, and asking the Almighty for healing of me. It’s amazing.

If you’ve made it this far, then congratulations, you’ve endured my ramble. But I think it is important to remember that the low times in our lives our perhaps the most important times because that is when we have the opportunity to undergo meaningful change. It’s great to be on a spiritual high, do everything you can for God but the challenge is putting ourselves in God’s hands when we are in despair.

To end, it was brought to my attention that there is a very fitting mewithoutYou lyric to end this post on. So without more explanation:

“In our darkness a light shines, and all I ever want to say for the rest of my life is how that light is God… and though I’ve been mistaken on this or that point, that light is God.”

Thanks Matt for the heads up.


In Peace,



What kind of a name is that? In my attempt to be slightly more original than using (which was available), I spent far more time than I should have thinking of creative titles. The words “an unsuspecting smile” come from a mewithoutYou song named “In A Sweater Poorly Knit” from the album Brother, Sister. This is hands down my favorite musical record and this song offers an incredible ending to an even better album.

The record deals a lot with where God is and how he reveals himself to us as humans. Frontman and songwriter Aaron Weiss makes use of incredible metaphors that have a way of perfectly coinciding with the eclectic and oftentimes dissonant sound which characterizes mewithoutYou. It’s always this crazy, indie sound that a lot of people are really unsure of the first time they hear it. I know I was. But once you get past the weirdness of everything they do, the beauty they have managed to create is astounding.

I identify a lot with that. I hold strong belief that God reveals himself constantly in the little things of life. Or at least that is the times that I see him most. Maybe it’s only because I have been so accustomed to how life works, but the routine of life doesn’t intrigue me nearly as much as the niceties and parts of life that “go off script.” These moments are often weird and uncomfortable, but once we embrace that awkwardness, life becomes a lot of fun.

I’m not totally sure what this blog is going to function as. I do know that I need to keep writing in order to keep my thoughts ordered. Writing is the act of thinking deeply because, in writing, we automatically reflect on what we are writing. We are forced to process if what we are saying is really worth saying and, if so, is it written well. I hope I have something worth saying and I type it well. Here’s to the three of you that may have bothered to click on this link. 

Thank you.