Please excuse the sloppiness. It will be up and running soon!
This template comes with 2 widget ready sidebars and 1 widget ready footer. To include widgets, locate the area titled “Appearance” in your sidebar and select the “Widgets” from that menu selection.
Post / Blog Sidebar
Inside “Widgets” you will see a sidebar area titled “Main Blog Sidebar” and it is this sidebar that will appear throughout your website where specified. You just need to use the desired widgets of your choice, drag and drop into this area, then click save and you’re done.
Inside Theme Settings “KingSize WP” you can disable the sidebar for a full width blog post and archives if you wish not to use the sidebar.
Contact Sidebar Details
This widget area is designed for your Contact Page. When you assigned the Page Template “Contact“, its here this sidebar will be active. You can either use the custom widget we’ve included to insert your “additional contact details”, or add other widgets of your choice to this area by dragging and dropping them into this sidebar.
Footer Widget Ready
Here you’ll find 3 widget ready areas designed for your footer. Each specific to the footer, one is designed for the left, another for the center and lastly the right footer column. You can also disable this footer section via Theme Settings > “KingSize WP” at anytime.
Alike with the other widgets, you can drag and drop the desired widgets you wish to use.
KingSize Twitter Widget
To enable the KingSize Twitter widget in your sidebar, you need to go to “Appearance” > “Widgets” and locate the appropriate titled widget there. Now left click to drag and drop into the appropriate sidebar desired. Once selected, the widget will expand automatically asking you for some details to finalize the setup. You’ll be required to provide:
- Twitter Username (without @): So I would then enter “denoizzed” or “ourwebmedia” without the @.
- Widget Title: Is the name of this widget. So I would then enter “Recent Tweets” or similar.
- Set the # of Tweets to Display: By entering in the number “5″ it will display the 5 most recent tweets.
Kingsize Gallery Widget
To enable the KingSize Gallery widget in your sidebar, you need to go to “Appearance” > “Widgets” and locate the appropriate titled widget there. Now left click to drag and drop into the appropriate sidebar desired. Once selected, the widget will expand automatically asking you for some details to finalize the setup. You’ll be required to provide:
- Title: This would be the name of the Widget you want when shown in the frontend sidebar.
- How many images: Is the number of images I want to display, so I would enter the number “3″.
- Order by: Option to order the images displayed either by “Random” or “Latest” added images.
- Image Link Type: Allows you to link to either the “Image”, “Article” or “Page” associated with that image.
- Image Hover Title: Also provides optional selection for where the image leads to.
- Show only 1 image per post: “Yes” will use only one image from each gallery, while “no” will select recents.
For further assistance, please visit http://www.kingsizetheme.com/help.
VERSION 3 – KINGSIZE
Assorted Fixes & Updates
- Resolved the “Blog Paginate” issues.
- Fixed the “Color Style” options by editing “theme-options.php” lines #773 through to #784.
- Updated “style.css” with a Background / Slider fix on lines #60 through to line #77.
- Updated “style.css” line #88 through to line #97, “.nojs img” for background fix.
- Updated the “/gallery-widget/” with two new files, “attachment.php” and “loop-attachment.php” (image link resolved).
- Slider is disabled by default. Previously it was auto-enabled and caused a few confusions.
- Fixed the “Read More” issue when hovering, removed the extra padding on line #833 in “style.css”.
- Updated the “Theme Options” to include the “Save Changes” with each section.
- Removed Timthumb from logo line #101 and centered the logo in “header.php”
- Removed the “Save Changes” from “Theme Options” located at the Top and Bottom of the page.
- Image Alignment Fix in “style.css” line #446 and line #473. Corrected the margin issues with images.
- Corrected the “template_blog.php” date to correct format of “Month, Day, Year” line #36.
- Corrected the “loop.php” date to correct format of “Month, Day, Year” line #33.
- Fixed the “template_blog.php” to show when “1 comment” has been made (error use to show 0 comments when there was 1).
- Fixed the “loop.php” to show when “1 comment” has been made (error use to show 0 comments when there was 1).
- Fixed the paging issue on Blog Template page when assigned to Home Page in “template_blog.php”.
- Fixed the default page custom background grid option in theme-background.php.
New Features we’ve Included
- New Theme Setting option for “Style / Colour Preferences” to edit the “Submenu” background and border colours.
- Updated “theme-options.php” to include a new “Save Changes” position. Now included in the header of each section.
- Updated the right click disabled feature.
- Added the Portfolio feature.
- Added lightbox (prettyphoto) on images Blog and post content.
- Added the theme option reset.
- Native WordPress gallery now uses the “lightbox” effect (prettyphoto).
- Featured Image when used on the blog now opens with the “lightbox” effect (prettyphoto).
- Video support is included in the new Portfolio post-types.
To enable your Homepage Background Slider, make sure that inside the Theme Settings, you’ve already enabled this feature.
From this point, beneath the KingSize WP menu option you will see “Background Slider“, you’ll want to select this menu item…
Uploading Slider Images
When inside the “Background Slider” section, at the very top you will see the option to “Choose File” and when clicked will open a new window that allows you to select from your desktop (or anywhere within your computer) the images you want used within the slider. Now select the image and click “Open” once you’ve decided which image you want used. You can upload a maximum of 10 at a time.
Managing Slider Images
Now that you’ve uploaded those images, you probably want to organize them to display in the order you want. So from top to bottom, the rotation is in this order. You can easily drag and drop those images in the order you want at which point once dropped into place they are automatically saved in that order. You can re-order these images at anytime you wish, simply by repeating these steps.
Managing Slider Preferences
Now if you want to manage the direction, transition types, intrevals (in seconds) or to disable the background slider, you just need to head back to the “General Theme Settings” and scroll down till you see the section titled “Homepage Background Slider Preferences” and make the changes you desire to see made. Each option has beside it a helpful tooltip when mousing over the questionmark icon.
Disabling the Slider
To disable the slider just go into the General Theme Settings and uncheck the enabled slider box. You will want to make sure that the “Global Background Preferences” has an image uploaded and saved as this will become your static single background image on the homepage. With no image assigned here as your background, the homepage will by default show a black and unoccupted background.
For further assistance, please visit http://www.kingsizetheme.com/help.
Inside your WordPress Dashboard, in the left-hand sidebar you will see the “Portfolio” menu option. Click this and you will have the option to view all “Portfolio” items, “Add New” portfolio items, and create “Portfolio Categories” that you can use to organize the different type of portfolios you wish to display on your site. This also enables you the ability to create multiple portfolios and assigning categories.
Adding in New Portfolio Items
It’s pretty simple and we’ll show you here how simple it is…
- Click “Add New” portfolio item.
- Type in the title of your portfolio item where it says “Enter title here“. For example, you could create a “Photography” portfolio.
- Use the “Content Editor” to insert the portfolio item details.
- Beneath here you will find the corresponding “write-panel” options for your portfolio item.
- The first option is to “Upload an Image“, this is if you want a single portfolio image instead of a video.
Click “browse“, upload your image and click “insert” or copy and paste URL. Clicking insert automatically adds the URL.
- VIDEO PORTFOLIO ITEMS.
You’ll need to include the “Image Thumbnail“, click browse > upload > insert image. This is your portfolio thumbnail image.
Next you can paste the URL of your YouTube or Vimeo videos.
You can also insert the “Embedded Code” for your video’s.
- Next you’ll have the option to insert the “Excerpt” that is displayed on the Portfolio page. This is the brief information shown beneath the thumbnails in the Portfolio main page.
That’s all you do to add your portfolio items. It’s that simple and fast.
Creating a Portfolio Page
So now you’ve successfully added a Portfolio item(s), you’ll now want to know how to display those items. To do this, you need to create a new page using the page template “Portfolio” and once you create a Portfolio Page, you just simply assign which category for your Portfolios you want displayed and the rest is done automatically.
- Go to “Pages” in your sidebar and click “Add New“.
- Title the portfolio page accordingly, ie., “Music Videos” or “Photography“. Yes, you can create multiple portfolios by creating new pages.
- In the right sidebar of this page, look for “Page Attributes” and select from the dropdown “Portfolio“. This will assign that page the Portfolio template you’ll be using.
- Scroll down till you see the “write-panel” and you’ll need to setup a few options:
Select a Portfolio Category: This uses the Categories you created for your Portfolio.
If you created a category called “Photography” and you want this specific page to display all your photography images, than you would select that associated category to be used.
Portfolio Page Layouts: Although looks best with TWO and THREE column layouts, we have also made available the other layouts which are also used by the galleries for your interest.
- Lastly, you still have the option to assign a custom background image for this specific page. So get creative!
If you want text to show above your portfolios, when creating this page, just add the text to the contents box / editor and that text will display above the portfolios as shown in the demonstration.
Once you have created this page, you’ll want to link it to your menu / navigation. To do this, go to “Appearance” > “Menus” and add the new page you just created to your navigation. Add a brief description if desired, click save and once done you should be able to see the new item in your menu.
For further assistance, please visit http://www.kingsizetheme.com/help.
Here we will provide you with some details pertaining to your custom Gallery Templates. All the need-to-know facts are found below, including steps. For further information, read the FAQ’s at the bottom of the page or submit a support ticket to our website for more help. Documentation also includes helpful information not included in this post.
Five Different Gallery Types
Don’t feel restricted by just one type of gallery. Instead, pick from the 5 pre-configured galleries. Each offering a unique lightbox effect that differs from the others leaving you with plenty of choices to choose from.
- [tooltip_link title="Colorbox Official Website" to="http://colorpowered.com/colorbox/"]Colorbox[/tooltip_link] – Preview the Colorbox DEMO.
- [tooltip_link title="PrettyPhoto Official Website" to="http://www.no-margin-for-errors.com/projects/prettyphoto-jquery-lightbox-clone/"]PrettyPhoto[/tooltip_link] – Preview the PrettyPhoto DEMO.
- [tooltip_link title="Fancybox Official Website" to="http://fancybox.net/"]Fancybox[/tooltip_link] - Preview the Fancybox DEMO.
- [tooltip_link title="Galleria Official Website" to="http://galleria.aino.se/"]Galleria[/tooltip_link] - Preview the Galleria DEMO.
- [tooltip_link title="SlideViewer Official Website" to="http://www.gcmingati.net/wordpress/wp-content/lab/jquery/imagestrip/imageslide-plugin.html"]SlideViewer[/tooltip_link] - Preview the SlideViewer DEMO.
Four Different Gallery Layouts
When using the KingSize WordPress galleries, you can assign various gallery layouts. We’ve given you 4 options to choose from.
- 2 Columns – DEMO it for Colorbox, PrettyPhoto and Fancybox.
- 3 Columns – DEMO it for Colorbox, PrettyPhoto and Fancybox.
- 4 Columns – DEMO it for Colorbox, PrettyPhoto and Fancybox.
- Grid - DEMO it for Colorbox, PrettyPhoto and Fancybox.
How to Create Gallery Pages
It’s quite simple, we’ll walk you step by step through the process of setting up your galleries. We promise, if you follow these steps you’ll have absolutely no difficulties. If all else fails, please watch the video tutorials in the “Documentation” folder and open “help.html“.
- Inside your WordPress dashboard, you want to “Add a New Page“. These galleries are only available on pages.
- Once you’ve selected “Add a New Page” and it has loaded, look to the right and you will see “Page Attributes” and beneath here you’ll find “Template“. The standard selection will be “Default Template” but if you view the drop-down menu it will also list all the other available “Page Templates” we’ve created for KingSize.
- You will want to select the Gallery Template of your choice. As mentioned above, you have 5 available for you to choose from. You will want to select one of the following page templates: Colorbox, PrettyPhoto, Fancybox, Galleria or SlideViewer.
- Now once you’ve selected the Gallery Template, you’ll want to scroll down a little beneath the content editor and you will see some write-panel options, each details its purpose.
- Select a Gallery / Portfolio Page Layout - Here is where you would select from 2 columns, 3 columns, 4 columns and grid layouts to be used with that specific gallery.
- Now that you have selected the Gallery Template and Layout, you will want to upload the images for your gallery. For the purpose of our buyers, we have made it so you do NOT have to insert the galleries directly into your page. Instead, what you will want to do is locate the icon at the top where it says “UPLOAD / INSERT” and click the first icon, “Add an Image“.
- Next we will want to “Choose Files to Upload” so click the “Select Files” button. This will open a new window that enables you the ability to browse your desktop for images. You can select multiple images at once by using CTRL + Left-Click. Once you have found the images you want to upload, click the “OPEN” button. This will close that browse window and you will see the images loading / crunching.
- Now click “SAVE CHANGES” and that’s it! Do NOT insert the gallery. It will be automatically inserted when published.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are my images not showing up?
How do I manage my images added?
I am seeing duplicate gallery images.
Can I create more than one gallery?
How can I add text to my galleries?
Can I enable comments on individual gallery images?
Can I add galleries to Blog Posts?
There are a few reasons this could be happening, but the most commonly seen issues are one of the following things:
1. Didn’t set the folder permissions to 777.
2. Uploading images that are gigantic in size. Use more optimized image sizes. Better for timthumb.
You can organize your gallery images by opening the gallery page, clicking the “Add an Image” icon, select in the new window the “Gallery” tab and here you’ll find all the images added. You can drag and drop to rearrange, click “Show” beside the image to edit the image properties and etc. For more details, see the video tutorials.
You’ve “inserted” the gallery. DO NOT insert the Galleries after uploading images. They’re automatically inserted when saved.
Yes. Just create a new page and follow those steps mentioned above. Title your new gallery accordingly.
Inside the content editor, type in the description and details.
Unfortunately not. However, you can enable the comments for the Gallery page itself. If you have not done so already, you will need to look to the top of your “Edit / Add Page” and you’ll see “SCREEN OPTIONS“, click this and it will toggle outward. Here you’ll see “DISCUSSIONS“, check the box beside it and beneath the write-panel you’ll see you now have the ability to enable or disable the comments.
Unfortunately the custom Gallery Templates we’ve created are only available on pages. However, you can use the Native WordPress Media Galleries and “insert” the gallery into your post. If you want to have the lightbox effect, when adding in the galleries, select the “Link to Image” option. You do not want to “Link to Attachment Image“.
For further assistance, please visit http://www.kingsizetheme.com/help.
You can now use the WordPress gallery with lightbox applied. All you have to do is create a post like you normally would, upload / insert the images using the icon at the top of your post. When you go to insert the gallery, change the “Link Thumbnail To” from the default setting (Attachment Page) to “Image File” instead. Publish / Save your post and your good to go.
I apologize for the fact that I haven’t blogged in a while. Partially, I have felt convicted lately by the amount of pollution there is on the internet coming from pretentious and disillusioned people who have the gumption to assume that their voice deserves the attention of the world. I don’t want to be one of those people, just adding to cultural noise. However, I have been told that people are interested in my opinions, and I enjoy sharing them, so to hold them back would perhaps be a tad bit elitist of me.
Secondly, I recently had to write many essays in the grueling pursuit of a college education. I needed a break.
From time to time, I will write. And I will strive for quality, fully understanding the subjectivity of the term “quality”. Now, on to the melodramatic and murky depths of Black Swan.
Please note: I spoil everything, yet in a non-journalistic manner, really don’t describe the plot. Summaries are available elsewhere. But please, by all means, see this horrific and engrossing film before reading this. Or just get angry at me. Either way works.
Black Swan is my second favorite film of the year. It is startlingly well made––beautiful, thoughtful, disturbing, and disquieting. While it is a fantastically absurd and finely crafted trip into the world of insanity, I believe that it is brilliant in how it tackles two important conflicts: Nina’s conflict of time-perspectives, and the viewer’s conflict in determining the legitimacy of satisfaction and fulfillment.
Of course, part of the fun of the film is that you observe what happens to Nina without explanation. There are other interpretations of what happens to her, but this is mine. I am not going to be relativist and say that all other interpretations are right––in fact, I will assert my belief that my interpretation is better than many––but the complexity of what happens to Nina can be shown in different lights, through different lenses. For example, this article delves into her chaos in more literal and Freudian terms. In it, Ms. Richardson looks at Nina’s plight through the lens of “private personas”. I believe those personas are the consequence of the perspectives I will soon describe.
Recently, I watched a fascinating RSA Animate video in which Philip Zimbardo discussed the importance of time perspectives in determining human behavior. In short, two of the main perspectives he discussed are labeled Future Oriented and Present-Hedonistic Oriented. People who are Future Oriented believe that satisfaction can be achieved by sacrificing what is convenient, easy, and fun for what they believe will make them even happier later on. Zimbardo describes this as “not giving into temptation.” For example, I chose to try hard in school, even in classes that I don’t care about, because I am future oriented. I believe that getting good grades, and therefore, I hope, getting into a good college, will enable me to have a more fulfilling life in the long run. Those who are Present-Hedonistic will be less likely to try hard in school. In extreme cases, they will spend their days apathetic, high, and wasted, because, hell, life is short and you better live it up.
However, neither perspective brings happiness, as people who inhabit both perspectives can point out. Future oriented people see the negative consequences of being Present Oriented, from the visceral pain of a hangover to the life-destroying consequences of debt, poverty, and addiction. Present-Hedonistic people know that Future Oriented people have trouble being happy where they are, because they are always yearning for the future.
Black Swan is about the extremes of both perspectives. Yes, I believe that right and wrong are certainly part of the movie, but “black” and “white” do not represent good and evil in this case. Nina shows us that embodying either the Black or White Swan has its pitfalls, and Black Swan unwraps the illusions of both extremes.
Nina, our protagonist, is, by nature, extremely future oriented. She has the discipline to forgo what is fun in the present in her dedication to future perfection, as one must do prima ballerina. She is so incredibly future oriented that when she is given a role that also requires the spunk of someone who is Present-Hedonistic, she begins to open Pandora’s Box. As she begins to timidly attempt to exercise a more Present-Hedonistic worldview, her repressed anger and sexuality begin to pour out. She can’t handle the two extremes, and I can’t blame her. I would go crazy too.
On a side note, I think this sort of duality is something that Christian teenagers wrestle with and identify with. We are called by God to be righteous, to be sexually pure, and to be moral beings that shine God’s light into the world. Yet at the same time, our hormones are bouncing all over the place. We strive to be Future-Oriented to the extent that we make promise rings as physical reminders of our attempt to save ourselves for marriage. We try to avoid temporary pleasures like alcohol and drugs. We don’t party on the weekends because we feel that there are better things that we can do with our minds and bodies so as to glorify God. And yet, at the same time, our bodies and our minds long for present satisfaction through multiple “unclean” outlets, probably more than at any other point in our lives. These things feel, if not necessary, certainly natural. Waging the conflict between the two desires is exhausting. I identified with Nina’s conflicting perspectives for this reason, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who did.
Thus, as Nina finally becomes the Black Swan, when she kills her competition and lets the Present-Hedonistic perspective prevail, she is victorious. She achieves “perfection” at the role and overcomes the suffocating nature of her overwhelmingly future-oriented mode. In a sense, considering what a horrific extreme that was, it is certainly a sort of victory. But Aronofsky, who made the entirely frightening Requiem For A Dream, a film based on the consequences of a Present-Hedonistic Perspective caused by drug addiction, knows how this isn’t a true victory. While Nina may have lived her life without satisfaction while inhibiting her Future-Oriented perspective, the extreme Present-Hedonistic perspective literally kills her. It is common knowledge that extremely hedonistic people do in fact often die, whether of drug overdoses, lung cancer, alcohol poisoning, lethal injections after enraged murders, or simply by living unsatisfied lives going from high to high. And thus, such a strong release of extreme hedonism in her mentally-unstable mind leads to its only logical and dramatic conclusion.
Aronofsky doesn’t let that logic conclude his film, though. He ends it with an ambiguity that is as unsettling as it is transcendent. He asks an even bigger question.
There is one scene when Nina talks about her demise. Of course, she’s talking about Swan Lake, but the parallels are such that she might as well be talking about what will happen to her. She is discussing the ending of the ballet to a critical acquaintance who mocks its melodramatic ending.
After a quick pause, she says, “It’s beautiful, actually.”
This description could certainly describe the ending of Black Swan. Much of the credit goes to Natalie Portman, who plays a character of such high energy and pain that she takes the audience into the warped mind of a girl who finally achieves satisfaction . . . as she lies on her deathbed. Although she kills herself as her hedonistic id finally overcomes her suffocating superego, she is satisfied and happy for the first time in the film.
“I was perfect,” she says in her final moment of catharsis.
Natalie Portman takes the audience to a place of masochistic pleasure, a place that is perplexingly moving. Aronofskyhas admitted that the final scene is certainly what moved him the most of the whole film because of her satisfaction, and anyone who has seen the movie can see why.
Thoughtful critics have found the ending disquieting. Jeffrey Overstreet writes, “If it’s a cautionary tale, why does it feel so triumphant and celebratory in the end? ‘Look at Nina,’ Aronofsky is singing. ‘Isn’t her misery grand? Isn’t this disintegration glorious?’ The film seems to suggest that it’s better to rise above by embracing both the light and the dark side, even if it means you burn out like a supernova.” I see his point, although I don’t believe Aronofsky is “singing” as much as Natalie Portman is fantastically acting. While the camera work, the cheering sound, and the fade to white all suggest that this is his intention, I believe that without Portman’s amazing performance the scene would resonate ironically and would not be as disturbingly moving. I believe that is how it was written. As the Coen Brothers say, there is a point where the director simply must let go and let the actor become the character. Aronofsky let go, and Portman was horrifically transcendent.
In one of my favorite reviews, linked here, A.O. Scott explains the movie’s architecture like this: “. . . in the end it all comes down to the actress, who seems, before our eyes, to be participating in the invention of a new kind of screen performance. In its various iterations, the Method has been about using voice and gesture to express a character’s deep psychological truth. Ms. Portman, like other young actors working with filmmakers who emphasize the visceral and the immediate, seems almost to reverse this process. Nina’s psychological state is evidently part of the artifice of ‘Black Swan,’ but her body, subject to unimaginable (and sometimes unreal) mutations and mutilations, is the film’s ground zero of authenticity”.
The tragedy of Nina’s mind makes up the structure of the film, and Portman uses the dichotomy of her visceral pain and pleasure in perfection to take the final scene to a level of transcendence.
Therefore, while frightening, the final question of this film is a classic question of art: Is satisfaction and peace found within ones self, truly void of logical cause? More importantly, is that right? Is that not incredibly disturbing?
Well, what do you think? It is a great, disquieting question. It is ambiguous, and yes, kind of beautiful. When I watched Portman’s sweet white face utter out her last exultant cries of satisfaction, I felt perhaps irrationally happy for Nina, yet also glad that I’m not her. I am glad that I believe there is more to life than perfection, and Black Swan reaffirmed my thankfulness that I am not a competitive person. It also made me glad that I don’t have to occupy either extreme in time perspectives, that it is possible to be future oriented while also being aware of the joys available in the fun present in every day life.
Also, even a psychologist will admit the difficulty of having empathy for a crazy person. Insanity is something consistently viewed as a tragedy, but it is hardly possible to take an outsider to that place where all rational logic is perverted. Art is one of the few modes through which we can follow the poor soul’s journey and feel their pain, hurdled into their own personal darkness.
Natalie Portman took me there. And yet, in short, thank God that we do not have to choose between the simple extremities of those two damned swans.
I walk through my room, and it looks kind of awful. You know that famous scene in Citizen Kane, when he goes crazy and destroys everything in the room in his house? Yeah, my room looks like the set did after shooting that sequence. My floor is covered in clothes of all sorts, previously worn clothes that I haven’t thrown in my closet, and clean clothes sitting folded that I haven’t put in my dresser. Mixed in the mess is my tripod, various camera and microphone cords, and other things I can’t even remember are there as I write this away from home. I recall a time when I took pride in my large room, wanted to be a good steward of the gifts I had been given, and kept it very clean.
My schoolwork is disorganized in the extreme, where a planned system fell apart. Notebooks for individual classes filled up, and one notebook ended up being the source of all of my notetaking, with no particular order in it. That notebook went missing on the day I had to turn in a big paper I had written in it. Binders are filled with loose papers in the folder section, many of which go missing when they are needed. Classes like psychology and especially US History required copious notecards, and when I ran out I didn’t buy any more, but instead tried in vain to use our paper-cutter to make semi-even cut pieces of cardstock. This usually happened the night before at least 50 notecards were due, and now post-AP test, hundreds of notecards are scattered across my desk loosely organized.
My computer is a mess, filled with loose ends. I am consistently and frantically moving and deleting files to make room for new files so I don’t fill up my disk, while sitting on my desk is the still-wrapped box of my new 2 TB hard drive. Also on my computer are both purposeful and random photos and videos that I have taken throughout the year and promised to put on facebook and youtube, but haven’t.
What is my point? There are plentiful obvious physical manifestations of the ridiculous storm I went through this year. My junior year took it out of me.
I really didn’t want it to be so. Everyone says that junior year is the hardest, bla bla bla. How can you say that? I thought that was a stupid generalization. I didn’t want it to be so, and if you would have asked me in even October, I would have said otherwise.
See, junior year was not an automatic hell for me. My classes were, all in all, fairly manageable. Only as time progressed did the year slowly build, did the classes start to get harder, did extra-curriculars start to grow in intensity. I can’t even exactly point out what occurred, but things happened. And during the middle of the second semester, I found myself fighting to survive among shows, homework, band banquet videos, projects, the SAT, voice lessons, Film Talk, the SAT…
In a sense, this was all too much of a good thing. I signed up for hard classes, and desired to do the extra-curriculars. Partially, this stress also came from being wanted. In many of the activities, I was strongly desired by those in charge. This was nice, yet in the end… not healthy. In my psychology book, in fact, stress was defined as the adverse effects of being pulled in more than one direction. That is right on the money. It also talked about people who thrive in some stress and people who don’t. I certainly don’t.
Yet although the effects on me were hard, and the stress was bad, much good came out of this year. I was in shows, great shows, two of which had me playing the best characters I have ever portrayed. I started a club, Film Talk, which has a gotten off to a good start. My grades somehow, by the grace of God, had a fine comeback amidst the hell of my second semester. My friends and I somehow made a film that was ridiculous enough to have a strong popularity at school and youtube, even enough to win second place (voted by teachers) in a talent show of fine acts. And I thought up of, late at night, an idea for a film that could turn out to be good enough to get me into film school once I make it. So through the last-minute physics work and APUSH cramming, good things stand out. It has been an exhausting year, a busy year, but a year with good.
I think I am finally far enough in high school to be able to view the true arc of my high school experience. I think I will go into this in great deal next year, but it appears that the core of my high-school experience will be my 10th and 11th grade years, with bookends at both sides. 9th grade was definitely different, the weirdest and less satisfying year as I was struggling to make my way at BMSN. However, good precedents for the rest were set. And so what I just finished this year was, in my view, the end of what ended up being a 2-part experience comprising of my 10th and 11th grade years. At the end of last year, I was just getting to know some great people, and they appreciated me as well. In 11th grade, those relationships expanded, becoming the core of my experience. I was well connected, and it was socially an inclusive time, a happy time. While my life became crazy, my relationships that began in 10th grade solidified. It was truly the end of a great story which began in my 10th grade year, and I am so thankful for everyone- Ben, Matt, Alex, Brad, Phil, Austin, Charisse, Laura, Meredith, Amanda and so many others that I could list out here for loving me for who I am and who I am becoming.
However, this core is going to be book ended by something different, like my 9th grade year. Similar to how the final season of Lost was a bookend to the first, so the final year of my school will be a bookend to my 9th grade year, yet I will be in a completely opposite position, a position of leadership and seniority. Many of my best friends are graduating, leaving behind a choir full of new faces, and I will be at the front with my good friend Alex as President. I will be applying for film school, making a film this summer that will hopefully blow the admission team’s socks off, juggling various aspects of schools- finances, experiences, programs- everything that is important for the future. I will be in some of my final shows, such as my favorite musical of all time, Les Miserables, at school. Film Talk will also be a big priority next year, as I try to strengthen the program and create a posterity for it, to make it something more than a pretty fun time to hang out with friends and a good thing to add to my college resumé. All-in-all, it will certainly be different, but it will be exciting and good. And I believe that through it all, it will be a fairly difficult year for schooling, but a “push to the finish”, and not quite as hectic as last year. I am excited. It will be a different finale, but a grand finale.
After this week, after I take the SAT on Saturday, I will be at LLYC working as a videographer on the media team for the summer, and I can let go and start blogging and doing the things I love. I am excited for the break, for the opportunity to let go. Right now I’m out in the canyon, but not quite in a position to let go of the anxieties of school yet. And so I believe that now was the right time to write as I am in-between two worlds. This junior-year feeling, of always having to get emotionally and physically prepared for the next obstacle I still cannot entirely rid myself of. And so this break was a good time for me to write, as I can be reflective yet still have those feelings vividly in my gut. That crap is still on my floor.
But it won’t be for long.
Hey all. This last Sunday, I was one of three speakers (the others being my sister, Kara, and Brad Hillin) to do the sermon for Youth Sunday. Our theme was growing in faith. Brad talked about how our youth group grows in faith through action during the year, and Kara shared her testimony of growing through experience and the challenge of moving. I did more of a traditional sermon, but on something that is very personal to me. It is called “A Bond As Powerful As Certainty?”, and I referred to the clip below from the movie Doubt.
The scene I just showed is from the movie Doubt, which came out a couple of years ago. This is the opening scene of the film, and the movie focuses on the possibility that Father Flynn, played here by Philip Seymour Hoffman, had an inappropriate relationship with one of the boys in the Catholic school at the church. Sister Alouitious, played by Merrill Streep, goes on a crusade to demonstrate her absolute certainty that Father Flynn is guilty, and Sister James, played by Amy Adams, is in the middle, trying to decide who to believe. The movie delves into a battle of judgment, guilt, kindness vs. virtue, drawing the viewer in to deal with their own predispositions to be judgmental, and to doubt. The ending, which I will not spoil (I would highly recommend the movie, it’s very good), is a note of pulsing ambiguity, leaving the viewer with the realization that certainty isn’t necessarily what it seems. Doubt can effect us all in one way or another.
Some of you may wonder why I am going to talk about doubt on a day when the theme is spiritual growth. Yeah, it seems like an oxymoron. This is because the concept of doubt and doubting is viewed negatively in Christianity, by and large. It is viewed as a sign of spiritual weakness, of immaturity, a cause for compassion and prayer. The Baptists call it “backsliding”. People cite verses like Hebrews 11:1 against it, saying that “Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.”
Why is doubt viewed in such a negative light among Christians? I think that we are scared of ambiguity. Christians tend to think that, as Father Flynn says, “Doubt is a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty.”, like it will trap you in its clutches. I experienced this very fear last summer in long conversation with my friend who has experienced a crisis in faith. Through this conversation, though wrestling with the very basis of Christianity, I found myself literally scared by what we were talking about, like the support structure that I have been standing on for so long was starting to collapse. It wasn’t fun. In “Doubt”, when Sister James tries to use a simple explanation to put to rest the suspicions against Father Flynn, Sister Alouitious responds by saying “You just want things to be resolved so you can have simplicity back.” That is certainly what we all want.
Yet I believe that doubt can, surprisingly, help you grow in your faith and communicate your faith to others. Honesty with these feelings, with these doubts and emotions, is essential and helpful in spiritual growth, and can even be a helpful evangelistic gift.
How can doubt be helpful in spiritual growth? If you hide away your doubts, they certainly can not help with spiritual growth. When talking to my doubting friend, I realized that all of these years I had been ignoring questions and concerns with Christianity to try to make myself have this illustrious, ideal faith. But concerns with the basis of Christianity cannot be ignored and replaced with a full fledged faith. They bury themselves, weakening the very foundation of faith. I first saw how weak my foundation was when I talked to my friend. So I opened up with my doubts, as Biblically we all should. While some may quote Hebrews to show how we should be “certain” of what we do not see, that is not the message of Hebrews. In Hebrews 4:16, it is written that “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same testings we do.. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.” And while it would be a lie to say that all of my doubts are resolved, God has given me great peace in my coming to him boldly. I feel far closer then I had ever felt while attempting to have a dynamic faith and letting the very foundation of my faith stay dishonest.
I also believe that experiencing doubt can be a spiritual gift. I have heard “The Jesus Talk” many times, and almost always the speaker will reference those who are “unsure about this whole Jesus-Christianity thing”. While the idea of relating to these people is a kind one, I do not know if this brief and almost condescending statement is the most effective or authentic way to relate. However, if one has truly felt doubt in the truth of Christianity, that person is at an incredible place to relate to those struggling with the ideas of Christian faith. You can listen to one’s concerns and truly feel for them, and honestly share your struggles as well. God can work through your shared experiences, and demonstrate to this person true Christian authenticity. All you have to do is be honest, and let God do the rest.
So is Doubt “a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty”? If it lies untouched in the recesses of human fear and desire for black-and-white morality, yes. But if doubt is brought boldly before the throne of God, it can only help you grow in the authenticity of your faith. And in my experience, this authenticity has brought forth what I can only describe as a heavenly peace. And not only can it help with the personal growing of your faith, but work as a spiritual gift as you share your faith with others, because as Father Flynn says, “When you are lost, you are not alone.”