If ever I have my own Burpo moment, I imagine I’ll find things are similar in heaven to how they are here. Well, maybe a few things will be different. In heaven they must sift out hunger and slavery and war, and absolutely there cannot be Twitter or James Franco.

But for the most part there’s such a lavish collection beauty on this earth I find it hard to believe heaven will top it. Though I am afraid, if there is a heaven and a certain population from earth do go, we or they or whoever is there will no longer get to enjoy – not in the way we do now – the most wonderful thing God ever made.

For a long time I did not understand. I thought, as a member of the fundamental non-denominational movement in the early 00s, the only thing that mattered – other than reaching others for Christ – was to find a hot wife with shapely good-sized breasts. Someone chaste with a wild side, but not so wild she’d done anything beyond making out, or at the very most over the clothes rubbing. Because of this, I never gave a heartfelt look to any backside during the years I called myself Born Again. I would’ve asked, if someone had pointed one out, what does it have to do with anything? And one of my more base brethren may have even said, “tits are for foreplay and the vagina is for sex.”

That’s crude, though a well-painted portrait to frame the mindset of those people, of which I once would have included myself. The face and bosom were front and center and the butt was in the back – where it took more effort to inspect – and because it didn’t have an integral role in the making of children, it played little part in finding someone who could turn us on in the biblical sense, so to speak. Maybe I write too broadly here. Perhaps I was just an naive idiot (hint: I was).

Either way I was wrong. But like Colton Burpo, I had an epiphany. Though I didn’t ascend to heaven nor did God speak to me, it was God not speaking to me – or at least me no longer speaking to Him – which helped me understand the things He made as padding were the greatest thing He ever made. I realized His greatest creation as I stopped believing He created anything at all.

Unshackled from the idea of hell, I first came to be with others. I did sexy things with them – my best attempt at sexy – without believing those things were sinful. And more and more I began to realize – embarrassingly a year closer to 30 than to 20 – that it was not the chest or the stomach or the neck I wanted, even if all those things are good and should be treated with respect, it was getting to know the bottom as a friend that made me ready to do what other people had been doing all those years while I was devoted to the God Burpo met face to face.

Though I didn’t realize their true greatness until I moved to Minneapolis. There I online dated and I don’t know if I’d been born earlier, or not seen as many, or had been married to the first one I was in love with, if I’d have grown such a love for God’s big and toned things, that I would have just thought of them as another extension of a body, which they are, but also are not.

A celebration of life is what they are. Unlike a face or legs or the chest, when you see a great bottom in the world and it walks away – whether at a bus stop or a library – it can make you go into despair. Its lovely buoyancy, that you would have to watch it leave knowing you will never see it again, it make a man weep. Which I find fascinating, and, admittedly at times, sorrowful.

But if you’re like Burpo, if you’ve been touched by God, blessed with the gift of good buns in your life, then you’re lucky. If they’re like those on the one who dances in Drake’s “Practice” video or those any number of athletes have, or any other buns in the world which are perfect for you, then consider yourself lucky. Sure, Burpo went to heaven once, but you go every single day. TC Mark

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1. Not wearing that dress/top/jacket that you’re totally in love with.

I recently bought a flashy, risqué dress for my sorority formal. I was completely obsessed with it but a few of my friends commented on it being “too much.” I considered changing it and started looking for another dress but then realized, why exactly do I care? If you want to wear something, go for it! Haters gonna hate. 

2. Not leaving your home town behind.

I’m not saying forget where you came from, because your home town will always be a part of you even as you grow up and move away. However, I do know a few people from my area that are currently attending college in my home town (or just working there) and have no intention of leaving. I think that you benefit so much more when you get out of your comfort zone and explore the world. How do you know your home town is right for you if you haven’t been anywhere else?

3. Having friends that don’t really care about you.

This one is a big one and is something I’ve had to learn recently. There is absolutely no point in maintaining friends that don’t treat you right. After giving and giving to someone who just doesn’t give back, you have to learn to concentrate your time on healthier relationships. Life is too short to waste it on those who don’t appreciate you.

4. Having a job that you absolutely hate.

Yes, I get it. You have to make money to justify the 300k your parents spent on your college education and so that you’re not living in a cardboard box or, even worse: your parents’ basement. But this doesn’t mean you have to shuffle through the rest of your life at a 9-5 with people who frankly don’t even care if you’re there the next day. This doesn’t mean stop working; it means that you can probably find a job that better encompasses your interests.

5. Not eating the chocolate cake/cookie/ice cream/dessert.

Plain and simple, life is too short to be eating salad and dieting all of the time. Indulging in that dessert is not going to kill you. I promise. TC mark

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1. Feminism means female supremacy

At its core, feminism is about the fight for gender equality. This does not mean that women are or should be better than men; it means that everyone should have equal opportunities and access to all areas of society. Whatever their various strengths and weaknesses, all people should have the chance to pursue whichever career or passion they desire. They may not succeed, but they should not be denied the opportunity to try based solely on their gender.

Studies from both Harvard and Yale have shown that when different employers are shown identical résumés, with the only difference being the gender of the name on the top of the résumé, employers were more likely to rate men as more desirable applicants than women, and would subsequently be more likely to hire men. Employers are more likely to judge women as less capable, less worthy of hiring, and less worthy of mentoring. It is this constantly felt, systematic, and deeply ingrained gender bias in our society that feminism seeks to combat. Women want to be given an equal chance to excel and reach their potential in society, not dominate and crush men. And this fight for equality does not mean depriving men of their rights; all people can share in the freedom of equal opportunity without any one group being denied their share of the pie.

2. Feminism only supports women who go after successful careers

Many recent attacks on feminism have claimed that feminism supports women’s choices, as long as they’re the “right ones,” meaning women who go after careers and money, and that feminists look down upon women who choose to stay at home and take care of their families. This could not be further from the truth. Feminism seeks to give women and men the freedom to choose what they want to do, meaning that they have the option to pursue whatever life path they desire. This does not mean that all people must choose the career and money path; in fact, if everyone chose this path it would be problematic. The problem with the modern patriarchy is that it often forces women into being housewives because they feel that they have no other choice (since they are often excluded or discriminated against in their desired career fields). There is no problem with a woman (or a man) choosing to take care of the family, as long as that is the option that she or he actually wants to pursue, not the path that she or he has been forced onto due to discrimination.

3. Feminists hate men

This is perhaps the most frustrating of the common misconceptions of feminism. Desiring the rights that many men are so fortunately already endowed with does not even in the slightest imply hatred. While more radical branches of feminism may have more extreme stances (as is typical of all movements), the essence of feminism is focused around the appreciation of those rights that all people supposedly have access to. While we may resent the fact that men have it easier than women in many ways in the modern patriarchy, it is clearly counterproductive to foster any feelings of hatred towards them. Change can happen only when all people work together to enfranchise the entire population; it isn’t about women versus men, but rather women and men working in unison.

4. Feminism is only for women

There is absolutely no chance that feminism can be successful if men and women don’t work together to attain the movement’s goals. Unfortunately, with the current state of the government and other bodies of influence in the United States, men dominate the upper echelons, and they are the ones who have the power to make direct systemic changes in the structure of our society. Women hold only 4.6% of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. Women comprise only 18% of all directors, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. Women hold only 18.5% of the seats in the United States Congress. Men control what we see and hear daily in the media, and it is only by working in concert with them that we can both acknowledge many of the flaws and biases we have built into modern-day society and work towards closing the gender gap in all industries and walks of life.

Not only would this type of change affect both men and women, it would benefit both men and women. The distorted ways in which women (and men) are portrayed every day in the media are as harmful, if not more harmful, to men than they are to women. With the hyper-sexualization and photoshopped images of women and girls that we witness daily in the media, we start to believe that the way we see women in movies, TV shows, and advertisements is the way women are: mere bodies designed for the sexual satisfaction of males. This portrayal not only sexualizes and devalues women but also teaches men to treat them like sexual objects and have unrealistic beliefs about the way women are.

When you provide only half of the population with the power to have a voice, you take away half of society’s potential for progress. When you have only half of the nation represented in the government’s policy-making bodies, you lose out on half of the perspective that our country has to offer in making important decisions. It’s not just that women need to feel more empowered because they want to; women need to be enfranchised and represented in our society for the betterment of humanity. Excluding such a substantial portion of the population from essentially all important bodies in the country is counterproductive and backwards. We, as modern-day men and women trying to better our society for generations to come, must realize that this discrimination detrimentally limits the growth of our country. It is not a choice of whether to give women greater representation; it is a necessity.

5. Feminism is scary

Feminism is not scary. If you support gender equality, you are a feminist. End of story. See? That’s not so bad. TC mark

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The below flyer is being reportedly being distributed to Jews in the city of Donetsk, a stronghold of pro-Russian militias who are demanding that the Ukrainian government recognize their right to join Russia. Below is a photograph of the flyer as taken by interpretermag.com.

Here’s a translation:

“Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality,” the flyer began, “due to the fact that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported Bendery Junta,” a reference to Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement which fought for Ukrainian independence at the end of World War II, “and oppose the pro-Slavic People’s Republic of Donetsk, (the interim government) has decided that all citizens of Jewish descent, over 16 years of age and residing within the republic’s territory are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register.”

They also indicate that Jews are to bring the following items in order to register:

  • ID and passport
  • Religious documents of family members
  • Documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles
  • There is a registration fee of

The flyers are written in Russian and bore the signature of Denis Pushilin, the Chairman of Donetsk’s temporary revolutionary government, a militia group which has taken over several Ukrainian government buildings and engaged in gunfire with the Ukrainian military. Pushilin initially denied that his group had anything to do with handing the flyers out at synagogues and to Jews on the streets of Donetsk but later had this to say

In a response to a request by a Ukrainian Jewish website, Pushilin, the interim government’s regional chairman, confirmed that the flyers were distributed by his organization, but denied any connection to the leaflet’s content.

It appears that the Dontesk pro-Russian militia has some neo-Nazi leanings which is ironic considering the entire argument against the Ukrainian ‘Maidan’ revolution was that Svoboda, a hyper-conservative and xenophobic Ukrainian political party, was supposedly a danger to Russians because of their racism. Russia claimed that the entire pro-Ukrainian, anti-Russian influence revolution was a fascist movement. It wasn’t. TC mark

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Not many twenty-somethings want to be “tied down” before 30, but many of us also crave something less superficial than a series of one night stands. This balancing act – of having fun while still learning how to connect meaningfully with other human beings – is a unique challenge faced by our generation of unmarried and exploratory twenty-to-thirty year-olds. 

While dating guys on virtually every continent, I’ve found that pursuing fulfilling yet usually non-committal relationships is a universal phenomena faced by sophisticated young people of every background and nationality. 

In the process of crossing linguistic, cultural, and geographical barriers, I’ve discovered a few things that make my relationships of all kinds work better. I think if more people played by these simple rules, we would all be much happier and engaged in more fulfilling modern dating scenarios. 

1. Make the first move.

Don’t waste time wondering if he or she is interested or if he will intimidated by a girl approaching him first. Own your self-confidence, aim for the hottest guy or the smartest girl in the room and unapologetically put yourself out there. You’ll never know what would have happened if you don’t try, and 99% of people appreciate someone genuine and forthcoming. “Hi, my name is…” is universal.

2. See different kinds of people.

Keep an open mind and date around. Date someone from another country, culture, or race. Experiment with someone who has crazy career ambitions or vastly different interests from you. I once went out with a professional tap dancer from Taiwan. Why not? Now is the time to explore and learn new things from interesting relationships.

3. Don’t play games.

You’re either interested or you’re not, so why pretend otherwise? If she calls and you want to talk, answer. If he asks you out and you’re not feeling it, kindly say so. If you’re “with” someone, don’t try to make them jealous. There’s something to be said for fostering a genuine connection with a girl or guy, regardless of how serious the end goal is. We’re not teenagers anymore, so let’s date like men and women, not boys and girls.

4. Don’t mix business and pleasure.

If you have a professional working relationship with someone, keep it that way. Things will inevitably end and it WILL be awkward. Declare your career a personal boundary for sexual relationships and defend it at all costs.

5. Always preserve your independence.

No matter how into someone you are, always have your own friends, hobbies, and career securely clenched in both fists. Your heart can get involved, but big-picture priorities should be set dead straight. How many times have you seen a girl or guy isolate themselves from their group of friends, only to come crawling back after a break-up, enduring the realization that they invested entirely too much of themselves in the other person? Or how many times has someone given up a job or educational opportunity for the sake of staying together, only to regret it later when their relationship falls apart?

6. Administer these tests of true character.

There are two things you can do to evaluate the character of a prospective partner: How does he treat (and speak about) his mother, and how does she treat (and speak with) complete strangers? If he is adoring of his mother, he will likely be the same way towards you. If she is kind to people who have no direct bearing on her life other than holding the door for him at a hotel or bringing him a coffee, it is a tremendous insight into this person’s true nature.

7. Evaluate your partner’s energy.

When a relationship gets complicated, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details. When feeling confused about someone, evaluate the situation at a high level by asking yourself: Generally speaking, does this person bring positive or negative energy to my life? Does he enrich me, teach me new things, and make me better? Or does he drain my energy, cause me stress, and hurt my feelings?

8. Don’t over-analyze after it ends.

When things are over, don’t waste time trying to figure out the other person’s motives or seeking a detailed explanation. It may mean a lack of closure, but putting your foot down and closing that chapter sooner rather than later will help you ultimately move on faster. Often twenty-something romances end due to a cocktail of external factors, which play a huge role in someone’s openness to a given relationship. Most of the time it really is them, not you. You will drain yourself trying to figure it all out, so respect a person’s decision to conclude a relationship and get busy moving on.

9. Reflect on your experiences.

Good or bad, ensure that you learn something valuable from every one-night stand, every fling, and every serious relationship. Treat each one as an opportunity to see how that person makes you feel, what they help you understand about yourself and the world, and how they fit into your life. Note the things you liked, but especially pay attention to what you didn’t like and why.

10. Practice for the future.

No matter if we are talking about a long-term relationship or a one-night stand, every sexual interaction depends on mutual respect. Have fun, but remember that the way you treat other people now and how you engage in relationships when you’re twenty-something will manifest itself in your long-term relationships down the road. Relationships of all kinds are built upon interpersonal habits, so let’s practice being good to one another while we are young so we create a solid foundation for the future, as individuals and as a generation. TC mark

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