The Week of April 22nd - April 28th

Words according to Thomas, Co-Founder, Jack of all Trades, and Creative and Visual Director of Raven Vanguard


Today’s Once-over promises to be entirely unpremeditated, standing in stark contrast to the coldly calculated and systematic brutality carried out by those delusional Islamic jihadists against “unbelievers” in Sri Lanka this past week.

Ever since the Easter Sunday massacres in Sri Lanka, my inner monologue has been working overtime pondering the intangibles of life and existence and the fast-approaching theistic apocalypse. Today, my repressed stream of consciousness has turned into a torrential river of madness causing the dam of my mind to burst wide open in prophetic wonderment.

So, if you profess to believe in a god who happens to double as a warmonger advocating and condoning the mass slaughter of “infidels,” then today’s Once-over will not resonate well with you. More to the point, if you are a member of or support either National Tawheed Jamath or ISIS, you will find little of value here because you are already blindly predisposed to killing in the name of your god. And if killing in the name of any god by blowing yourself up happens to be your thing, look away, this Once-over isn’t your cup of tea (FYI, suicide by martyrdom does not make you genuinely a martyr, but it does make you rashly fanatical). In fact, if you are an ethnoreligious fundamentalist or extremist of any kind, or if you are a misanthrope of any ilk whatever, this Once-over will surely elude your grasp completely.


Setting the Record Straight About Holy War

This past week, I heard many people state that the Islamic religion is the only religion that theologically promotes religious intolerance and champions this misguided notion of holy war against non-believers and non-combatants. While this might appear to be the case if our sample size were limited to the past twenty-five years or so, the chronicled history of religion reveals a more insidious truth.

Throughout mankind’s earthly reign (gender-biased language intended), there have been thousands of atrocities perpetrated in the name of religion resulting in the mass murder of innocent peoples. Historically speaking, no religious group is wholly blameless when it comes to acts of indiscriminate violence against others holding different beliefs. So, to those Christians, Jews, and members of other faiths who steadfastly claim that Muslims are the only transgressors regarding holy war, history tells us a different story. And for those of you who think that Buddhists and Hindus are exempt from religious violence, think again. At some point in time, every religion under the sun has committed acts of unspeakable violence against some other form of religion. So whether your prayer beads of choice are either rosary of the Dominican or Anglican variety, juju, japa mala, Baha'i, komboskini or chotki, misbaha, a wreath of Christ, or worry beads, at some point in time, those holding the same faith as you committed acts of violence in the name of their god, meaning, in this case, your god. Point being, you are not holier than thou, no one is, so stop throwing stones.


Are People Truly Nothing More Than the Sum of the Choices They Make Throughout Their Lifetime?

Do our choices define us? Both the good and the bad? Do the sum of our choices make us subjectively aware? Do we make our choices freely, or are our choices foreordained by the profundity of edicts on high? Or, do we become more infinitesimally unknowable with each choice that we make? I surely don’t know the answer to any of these mysteries, but these are questions I contemplate every waking day.


To My Wife – What is the Point of Our Story?

Is our story miraculous, or utterly incomprehensible? Sometimes it is easier to chalk something up as merely being not understandable when it is something that is truly inexplicably extraordinary.

Each day you inevitably say or do something that renews my faith in the astonishing and brings me one step closer to understanding the magnitude of our love, and our enduring spiritual, energetic, and bodily connections. Our earthly reunion validates the mutability and inescapability of our never-ending otherworldly and earthbound entanglements. I am yours, you are mine, forever across all time and space.

Thanks to you, I am redeemed and now live my life in pursuit of higher purposes. You are such a BADASS! Carry on.


To My Daughter

In this complicated world of heroes and villains, Christopher Columbus, as the begetter of colonization on behalf of Spain across North, Central, and South America, is a villain. Whether Columbus’ territorial exploits were partly unwitting will never be known, but the indisputable reality is that the European colonization of the Americas was carried out with an unparalleled ruthlessness resulting in the utter annihilation of more than 56 million indigenous peoples who once called the Americas home, the Mayans included among them. Unfortunately, your grade school history books perversely varnish the truth to the point of fallacy and deception.

One more thing, Daughter, I thank God every day for the opportunity to raise you from when you were just a chicken egg. Love, Dada.


To Dakota

You were scary before, but your recent obsession over these murder podcasts has transformed your being into a whole new level of terrifying. Just kidding (I think). What I’m really trying to say is that you are more than our business partner, you are now Family. Thanks for making Raven Vanguard your home.


To My Mother and Father

As we move forward through life, I hope that I can live up to the extraordinarily high benchmark you set for loving without judging and in caretaking.


To My Sister and Brother

Although we learned at too early an age that the path through life is sometimes overarched by tragedy, sadness, and regret, thanks to our Parents, we also learned that love and family conquer all.


The Adjacency of the Mainstream in Design

In the field of design, Raven Vanguard is an outlier, a malcontent, because we are entirely opposed to convention, and the infernal machine of the commonplace. My point? Today, my inbox was littered with no less than fifty emails espousing the supposed value of trends, minimalism, and the need to fill our designed spaces with garish and bright shiny objects, and to totally obliterate the darkness with the harshness of blinding artificial lighting. My distaste for the commonplace grows by leaps and bounds every day. The time is near when we will finally reveal just how far we have wandered off the straight and narrow path that most designers call home.