“When Were You A Stranger”

I have stronger feelings than I’d like to admit about this one. I’m a little too close to the issue. I know too many loved ones, friends and former students who are recipients of the DACA program and through it, have been able attend higher education and/or provide for themselves and their families. I’m around too many people whose lives would be entirely upended with the loss of a work permit and are spending today feeling confused, betrayed and afraid of what is to come.

To help understand how a DREAMer might feel today, here’s some context. In the early part of this decade and since the introduction of DACA, undocumented immigrants have come forward in good faith with the promise that their trust in our government would not be used by ICE as a weapon against them. Now, there is an announcement of the end of DACA with no information about the future prospects after expiration. There are no assurances that their trust will be met with protection and their security is pulled out from underneath them.

I don’t want to get into the politics and details of this. I don’t want to discuss all of the stats and numbers. I didn’t make this post to debate policies and pick sides. It was created because I hope to address hearts and hopefully convey biblical values in the midst of rhetoric and politics.

I’m not even trying to make an argument that accepting the stranger, whether DREAMERS, refugees or Muslims is better for our country or not. I’ve seen arguments about GDP impact, unemployment, tax issues, security, etc. What I’m suggesting is that the Bible encourages us to welcome the stranger and give to the needy.

I’ve seen numbers on both sides in support of and in contradiction to the effect of immigrants on the national economy and security. My point here is this: even if it came at a cost, should we as Christians be averse to it? I think we’re foolish to think that we can give to other’s without cost to ourselves. But isn’t a self-sacrificing generosity our calling? Wasn’t it the example set for us?

Matthew 5:38-48
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,[h] let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 25:31-46
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Leviticus 19:33-34
33 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 34 You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.



from love is a watched pot that never boils

in a shadowy
dorm room

my lips meet teeth
because she smiles
when I kiss her

or, at least,
that’s how I picture it

her, smiling
with her hand on my chest
as I press

the skin of her palm
casts soft ripples
of lightning through my skin

then I find myself swimming
and again
in the rhythm of her hips and I
feel as though I’ve drowned,

but I’ve drowned
in solid air,
there is life in the sound of her footsteps,
little pockets of air,
found in the violence
of her swaying hair

the weight
of her shoulder
on my chest, the scent
on her nape would’ve be enough
without diamond eyes
cutting me to ribbons

but now, those eyes are gaping open.
mine are still closed,

when she pushes me back,
her smiling mouth is gone
and she’s

my hands are stretched out,
not holding her,
not helping,
not calming her down.

Simon Peter and My Mom Would Get Along: The Christian Duty of Nagging


Usually, I’m ashamed to tell people that I still live with my mom. There’s something infantilizing about living in the house you grew up in, where your baby pictures still hang in dusty frames on the wall. I could excuse myself with lots of reasons why I’m still on 59th ave., but let’s be honest, if I were making more money or if I stopped going to so many fights (Golovkin v. Lemieux is going to be great), I probably would have made the move already. I like living by myself. I miss it.

Anyhow, despite living with Mama Liu (sharing a wall with her, in fact), I don’t see her all that much. In a given week, I might sit down with her for one or two meals. During this meal, mom gets the chance to exercise her favorite activity with me: telling me stuff I already know. Boy, does my mom love telling me stuff that I already know. It’s gotta be one of her favorite things in the world. It’s right up there with seafood and complaining about my dad. Some may call it parenting, I’m going to call it 罗嗦.

Mama Liu has a couple of common reminders for me too. Save your money. Go earn some more money. Don’t come home so late. Stop wasting your time . Do well in school (seminary, now). Don’t break ladies’ hearts. Don’t let ladies break your heart. Use an umbrella. Wear a coat. Stop cutting your own hair. Eat more fruit. Also, vitamins.

In 2 Peter (or Segundo Pedro, as I call it), the apostle/badass Pedro does the same. He is explicit about his nagging “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have” (2 Peter 1:12). Segundo Pedro is all about reminding the church in Asia Minor of the fundamental tenets of the faith. Jesus Christ died for the salvation of sinners, in accordance with prophecy, as confirmed by eyewitnesses. And, He’s coming back. Apparently, in Peter’s day, there were lots of people saying other things, teaching other doctrines, and taking advantage of vulnerable church-goers. Peter is reminding everyone of the truth, so that when non-truths present themselves, people can defend themselves.


To this end, Peter beats a dead horse. He essentially tells his audience that he will remind them of these same things until he dies. The more I study this letter, the more I see that he is not concerned with the presentation of this gospel, but the reinforcement of a truth that should already be known. Peter, like my mommy, is trying to drill home simple truths. False teachers may conjure some “cleverly devised myths” and have sexy new spins that appeal to the people of the time, but the truth cannot be shaken by a trifling fad. Peter remains diligent to his message. It’s not new, and it shouldn’t have to be.

Every week, I try to drive the same message home. Jesus comes alongside us, pays for our debts. Jesus is a god worth following. I’m tempted to come up with fun new ways to say it, or give in the positivity of the prosperity gospel, or entice my friends with a sexy socially conscious gospel, or assuage the binary nature of the kingdom with a calming pluralism. Peter reminds me to keep it honest, keep it simple. Much like a good story, a good truth deserves to be told. Even when it isn’t the first time. 


from love is a watched pot that never boils



I know this may never find it’s way to you,
whatever this is.
a letter,
a poem,
a half dream made in a delirium.

however improbable–
I hope it does.
pray that some august evening
finds you with this,
whatever this is

it’s words will reveal my sigh
how you strike me mute
and how my brow softens,
my hands,
throw themselves with sudden gravity
down to my side, and I look your way
with all the fondness
my frail heart can forage.

my eyes,
they struggle in vain
toward you.
and yearn
to tell you of how,
I want badly to kiss you.
my thumb’s palm to stroke
the milky smooth film
of your cheek,
and your skin that looks
to feel like
what skin feels like
after being caught in a sunny rainstorm,
midday in june.

I want to hold you by the small of your back
in a silhouette
with williamsburg behind us
and void alone ahead.

your coat envelops your supple frame
and beneath a sleeve your slender hands hide.
cloth stretches down to the creases
of long fingers and you lay them,
onto the skin of my forearm,
my hand placed on your waist and
my lips below your earlobe.

but you’re no longer
looking at me
and the hollows of your eyes
cast shadows ad infinitum
your face is turned from mine

there in my arms,
on rain drenched streets in brooklyn
you are with me,
but alone.
and I,
I’m the same as the others.

Traveling Notes


The sun also rises in Madrid

I’m sitting in the cafe of the communal area at the Generator Hostel in Dublin. It is trendy and loud here, with many excitable young people. Since it is raining outside, I decided to get some work done, including this post, which will serve as a journal of sorts. I’m typing up some notes that I have been taking during my trip, or as I call it, SR’s Tour Through Three Neutral States and An Axis Power.

Don’t get too excited, there is only about a page and a half of notes in my pocket moleskine and the photos that you see on my IG/FB are pretty much the only ones I have taken. If you are expecting a voluminous photo album and a mountain of poems about Milanese supermodels, you will be disappointed (like I was). If you’re curious about stories, I have some, but not many. I’d love to share, although I don’t know how interesting they will be. Most of this journey has been a personal one. In fact, I have barely read or written during my time abroad. I spend my days walking through the cities, reading signs to myself in a stereotyped accent of whatever country I happen to be in (with the exception of Italy, where I drove around, hyperventilating and swearing at truck drivers). Altogether, this trip has been restful and nice.

Madrid, Spain
Of all of the cities I stayed in, I felt most comfortable in Madrid. This is probably because out of the three countries where I didn’t speak the language, I understood the most Spanish. The Metro system was clean and new and easy to use. The food was excellent. The graffiti game in Madrid is nothing to mess with–the strongest I’ve seen during the trip. I walked the streets thinking about Hemingway. Madrid is also the city I’m most likely to come back to. Between bullfights and tomato-wars, me and Spain have a lot of unfinished business.

Como, Italy
This town is all villa-lined cliffs and breath-taking views of the lake. I spent a good amount of my visit screaming in my Fiat-500 on their narrow, break-neck roads, climbing hills and apologizing to faster Audis. But, when I wasn’t doing that, I was enjoying the natural beauty of this lake-bound town. Beautiful place, terrifying to drive in.

Locarno, Switzerland
Deciding to drive instead of taking the train both blew up and paid off on the way to Locarno. For the second time on my trip, I was stopped and inspected by border officials. This time, they examined everything in my car and in my bags. They even swabbed my hands and had a dog sniff me out for drugs and paraphernalia. They were very confused, as people often are, when they found a copy of my itinerary.

On the other hand, having a car meant that I had the great pleasure of driving in the Alps, including slaloming through a series of switchbacks so fast, my brother would blush. Locarno itself was quaint and charming, albeit pricey. I had the benefit of the Locarno International Film Festival taking place in my backyard and watching a movie outside with thousands of movie fans was surreal. Lake Maggiore is fantastic. Go to there if you get a chance.

Venice, Italy
Venice is a strange, mysterious place, so obviously, I loved it. Despite the droves of turisticos, there are empty alleyways and side streets to get lost in as well as many spots for you to dip your tired feet in the canals. I chanced upon a small paperie on a random corner that was only open for a half hour window before the old Italian shop-owner kicked me out. I had no idea where I was at any and all given times in that city, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Milan, Italy
My first interaction with Milan was the metro, which reminded me of 90’s era NYC with loud, screeching, metal, deathtrap train-cars. Nevertheless, the city was beautiful, with no shortage of fashionable people and expensive stores. Along with Madrid, the architecture in Milan really forced me to look at it. The Duomo wass imposing and majestic. The fact that it was a magnet for tourists made it the only time during the trip I consistently saw people with my skin color.

Dublin, Ireland
The city feels homey and familiar. Between the weather and the old buildings, I have the sense that I’m in New England in the fall. There’s a palpable sense of history in the streets and a great many of my favorite authors have their roots on this island. I’m back to speaking the king’s so everything is easy and comfortable. I’m embarrassed by sobriety and I should like to have another go at this town with some unscrupulous company.

If it seems like I haven’t visited or done the right things in these cities, you’re probably right. If you want the details on all the good stuff, you can come visit yourself. I was on a mission, I was looking for an answer. During a nap in Spain, I find out what my question was and on my drive to Locarno, I found the answer. Well, it was more of a non-answer, but I had a feeling God was going to give me one of those. In any case, I feel like I accomplished what I came out here to do.

Now, if you don’t mind me, I’m going to go and blow the rest of my euro’s. I’m looking forward to seeing the folks in LA (for about 12 hours), watching Ted at his new gig and helping Greg on a mission of some kind. It will be nice to be back stateside (in a proper Allied power), enjoying freedom and drinking drip coffee.