Latest Revisions - Rip me a new one

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Latest Revisions - Rip me a new one

Postby onthecusp » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:54 pm

I need to take a hammer and chisel to this thing. I'm looking for what stays and what goes. this working? Please help.

I never had a startling revelation that I wanted to be a lawyer. There was never this great epiphany from the ethos that said I would excel in law, and that I was more special than everyone else because of it. Law has occupied the peripheral tenor of my life, yet was always something I was reluctant to engage, partially because of the commitment, and partially because I knew it would consume me. Before I made this commitment, I needed to know some things about myself. I had no natural desire to help a special interest group in Guatemala, saving them from the evils of injustice; no heroic pledge to heal the evils of the world through law. I just needed to know that I was a seeker of truth, and would stand forthright in its defense, even in the face of unbearable circumstances.

I grew up the illegitimate child of juvenile delinquents. My world was chaos, moving from one house to another, navigating through a dark cloud of violence, drugs, and desperation. My purpose in childhood, and extending into adolescence, was to become the antithesis of my father. Where my father’s name would incite disdain, mine would summon admiration. My father was an alcoholic, I swore it off forever; my father was a womanizer, I would champion monogamy; my father was a liar, I would seek truth. If it were true that I were to survive childhood with no positive male figure in my life to model myself after, than I would become my own role model, using my father’s bad example as a rudimentary outline of things to avoid.

At the age of 15, through my obsession, I took this quest to the extreme and started a neighborhood bible study, knowing nothing of the bible on my own. Why the Bible? It was that one mysterious place where everything was perfect; where guidance was abundant, through supernatural channels to shape me into something resembling a good man. My first Bible study took place on a Friday night consisting of 10 friends from high school. The next week, their parents joined. It became the case in ensuing weeks, that I would have to prepare for 50+ teenagers and parents every Friday night to squeeze into our living room, all waiting for me to deliver a one hour speech.

My Bible Studies attracted the attention of youth leaders in my high school, who would eventually invite me to their ministry. Enthusiastically I accepted their invitation, eager to meet like minded individuals seeking a common truth. I was promoted into leadership shortly thereafter, and given the charge of co-leading the teen ministry. After starting college, I was asked to leave the teen ministry, joining the campus ministry where I would lead a small group consisting of members of local colleges in Southern California.

To commemorate my advancement through the ministry, I was afforded the opportunity to tell my life testimony at an evangelistic event that was held at the Rose Bowl; this would mean speaking in front of 15,000 church members. They would hear me regale them of the hardships I have overcome, and my ultimate quest to live with one purpose, and seek out truth, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable that path might become. Only 5 weeks later, I was given the opportunity to live up to my words.

As a leader in the campus ministry, one of my duties was to collect a weekly tithe from the members of my group. At the end of every mid-week service, group leaders would give an account of what was collected, noting the actual collected amount versus what was pledged by that member. Upon reporting that one of my members did not have their tithe for the week, I was instructed to “make sure they have it by Sunday, or make sure they bring double next week.” Appalled at the absurdity of the instruction, I defiantly objected, “If they want to bring it, they’ll bring it. I’m not a tax collector for the Church, and I’m not going to tell a college student with no job that since you didn’t bring 10 dollars this week, make sure you bring 20 next week. Whether he brings it or not is none of my business.” After an awkward silence, followed by bemused looks from both of us, I was pulled aside by one of the Church big wigs and invited to his home for “a talk”.

He handed me an ultimatum; either I would humble myself, obediently following the orders of those above me, or I would continue in my rebelliousness and essentially be kicked out of Church. I was not intimidated, “By whose authority do you have the right to kick a man out of church for disobeying non-biblical orders?” For me, this was more than a domestic spat among church leaders; this was an unfair, direct attack on a reputation I had worked so hard to build in my youth. Only weeks after being afforded the opportunity to speak at the Rose Bowl, I was being threatened with permanent separation from the ministry. What was worse, as had been my life’s ambition to become the antithesis of my father, they were accusing me of being everything I knew my father to be, prideful, arrogant, defensive, manipulative, and deceitful. When I spoke at the Rose Bowl I was introduced as humble, open, giving, and relentless in my pursuit of the truth. The people of this ministry had become my life, they were my best friends, we spent every day together; I trusted them with my life, and now they were discarding me for refusing to instruct my group member to double his tithe for the following week. As a seeker of truth, I had to follow the message I delivered at the Rose Bowl; I had to follow the truth no matter how difficult that path would become.

I left on my on my own accord, and the leaders in the church instructed the remaining members to cease all communication with me. They couldn’t even so much as talk to me on the phone. They encompassed the totality of my support group; I had spent the last three years of my life with them, and now I was cast aside, as if they never knew me. It hurt, but the alternative was to violate all of the virtues I had built through childhood, for an organization that dishonestly stole money from the congregation. I would later come to find out in subsequent years that the leaders of that Church would be exposed for embezzling money from the Church. As a result, the Church split into two separate ministries, only one of which is still in existence today.

I was 18 when I stopped trying to be my own role model, and moved to reconcile who I was. I decided to leave, in the most literal sense. I took all of my belongings, packed them into my Nissan Sentra, and drove across the country to live with friends in Ohio. I spent two years out there, by myself, reassessing my life. When I came back, it was time to let everything go. I reconciled with my father, and it turns out, he’s not such a bad guy. I’ve forgiven him for anything and everything he had done to my mother, siblings and myself, and to this day he is one of my best friends.

I have undergone many philosophy shifts, spiritual overtures, demonstrative inner conflicts that served only to delay the truth of what was already obvious. If truth is the thing I seek out of my natural inclination, then there could be no barriers in becoming a part of the one profession structured around truth. Law is in my blood, and the only topic that stirs me to engage all my talents, in pursuit of its ultimate truth. For the first time in my 29 years, I am comfortable in my own skin. I have resolved to myself, and to those around me, that I am less than perfect, significantly more than adequate, and if given the opportunity, someone who will do remarkable things at INSERT LAW SCHOOL HERE.

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Re: Latest Revisions - Rip me a new one

Postby rw2264 » Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:49 pm

firstly, epiphany from the ethos?

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Re: Latest Revisions - Rip me a new one

Postby onthecusp » Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:57 pm

rw2264 wrote:firstly, epiphany from the ethos?

Yep....Just re-read that. Consider it gone.

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Re: Latest Revisions - Rip me a new one

Postby Tanicius » Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:24 pm

Slash the first paragraph. I know I said earlier to make your theme integrated throughout, but most intros don't have to cram it down the reader's throat. ;)

The second paragraph you have is a much better version of this paragraph you had last time, though it might be wise to tone down the rant against your father (ex. the womanizing is, I think, unnecessary). For other ways to improve this paragraph, I recommend that old chisel -- use it extra hard to tone down the needless complexity of your sentences. The last sentence in your second paragraph starts with "If it were true that I were to survive childhood," and it can easily be shortened to "If I was to survive childhood..."

For the third paragraph, you use this word that I think is a negative of your essay in general: "obsession". Get rid of it. Although it might be a more truthful depiction of your mindset at the time, it might seem like a strange thing to reinforce in your essay. In any case, the sentences you use to describe this obsession do a much better job of showing this mindset than the word does of telling.

The next few paragraphs work pretty well. It's when you get into the corruption that you could use some more work. Some suggestions I have for this important part:

1. I defiantly objected, “If they want to bring it, they’ll bring it. I’m not a tax collector for the Church, and I’m not going to tell a college student with no job that since you didn’t bring 10 dollars this week, make sure you bring 20 next week. Whether he brings it or not is none of my business.”

Take out the quote. You can summarize that whole thing with this sentence:

I defiantly objected and refused to be a tax collector for the church. I told them that it was not my business to make sure individual people paid money to the church.

2.) Again, for the second paragraph as well, take out the quote. Instead of the quote, say something like this:

I challenged his authority to remove me from the church for disobeying non-biblical orders.

3.) Try to shorten the entire thing about the incident in general. It's probably the most important part of the essay, but you get kind of repetitive towards the end of the second paragraph through your feelings of the incident, and by then it's getting pretty long.

Moving on...

The second-to-last paragraph is very powerful. Just two hang-ups:

1.) You say that you went to Ohio to live with friends, and then you say that you changed yourself without any outside help. Figure out of it there's a way to phrase those two ideas without coming across as seemingly inconsistent.

2.) The "turns out my father's kind of cool" part just doesn't sit well. I'd just say that you reconciled with your father and leave it at that. To go any further will make the reader beg for more, but to satisfy the urge to explain such a complicated relationship to the reader would be a waste of time for the purposes of this essay.

Last paragraph now:

1.) Take out the weird abstract words like "demonstrative" for two reasons: First, whether what you've gone through is demonstrative of your character or not is up to the reader; best not to oversell yourself. Second, abstract terms are really hard to understand when your reader neither knows you nor has a clear explanation following the term, and you don't have the room for any explanations. Taking out words like that will, like your last draft, help to make everything more concise and readable.

2.) "Law is in my blood." As a critic from your last draft said: Dude, fuck no. Just no. In fact, the general idolization of law as a profession close to the "truth" may seem cheesy or worst of all unbelievable and false. You don't want the reader to stop sympathizing with you this close to the end. I would find a way to say that you admire the law without going overboard here. That means taking out not just the "blood" sentence but changing the others that talk about truth and law as well. It's okay to use the words "truth" and "law," but not in the way you do in this paragraph. It comes off as kind of naive, even.

3.) Your last sentence has a lot of those abstractions. I think I know what you mean by "significantly more than adequate," but it's such a bizarre term to use. Right now this sentence reads like you're desperate to be at the end of this essay and that you've gone for eloquence at the expense at meaning. Take that phrase out and try to find a replacement that requires two words at most (and make those two words simple ones).

All in all, much better than last time. I really enjoy that you went into depth into what made you leave your church organization, especially because it is so relevant to your interest in law. You run into obstacles with your awkward vocabulary and phrasing, but I'm confident that you can hash that crap out in another short draft revision or two, and then this will make a pretty damn strong personal statement.

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Re: Latest Revisions - Rip me a new one

Postby onthecusp » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:24 pm

Tanicius, you are awesome.

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