“Yeh mate,” said John the tall Australian with the round belly, “Thailand is a pahty.”

We were at the Gecko hostel in Paraty, Brasil and when I’d reflect on this sentence later, I’d reminisce that if Thailand is a party, Brasil is a poem. It was my first exposure to my favorite continent, and from the moment my plane’s wheels touched down until I departed, every moment seemed touched with a pinch of sepia whimsy.

Our journey began in Sao Paulo, in the home of some missionaries who took us to a churrascaria and drove us to the ferry the…


Dave and I were facing out the window of the coffee shop. He was writing in his journal by hand and I was editing some photos. At the table behind us, I heard a conversation begin.

“Are you from around here?” a man asked someone in a clearly American accent.

“Yes,” a Spanish-speaking female replied.

“That’s amazing,” he said, his voice gentle and friendly.

I listened over the next several minutes as he made small talk with a woman who was clearly not interested in chatting. I had paused my music by this point out of curiosity.

“Is your wifi…


This post makes a lot more sense if you’ve seen my favorite film, The Brothers Bloom.

July, 2021

I don’t often drink, but when I do, I feel it instantly, I can’t walk straight and the ceiling arcs into a planetarium. I’m not saying after I’ve taken 17 shots and housed 4 beers; I mean after one half of a hard lemonade. That’s where I am tonight, hammering away again at my poor old MacBook which is probably tired of dictating my cyclical thoughts to the world.

The half-Salvadorian friend I’m staying with in the mountains is in the shower…


The ancient Mayan people saw their kings and priests as godlike, if not actual gods themselves. If you’ve seen the cripplingly violent film Apocalypto, you know that the Mayans practiced human sacrifice (a highly contested fact among viable historians; the Mayans seem far less violent than many other ancient people groups). In the film, the ritual is interrupted by the arrival of rain clouds. This is one area where the film makers did not take a wildly anachronistic stab at American history, though they avoid delving into the reason:

The Mayans saw their rulers as gods not purely because they…


I logged onto Facebook today with a curiosity about a classmate I knew from my teen years. I went to 3 high schools and 2 middle schools, so I know a lot of people from those years. In my search, I got sidetracked by a little post I saw on some mutual friend’s page about an acquaintance I knew from one of those schools in Colorado.

He was never super nice to me. He wasn’t mean, he just wasn’t abundantly kind.

I clicked on his page, curious to see where life had taken him since our years in the same…


Mayan fires rise from the hills surrounding the lake day and night. The indigenous Quiche burn things to live while tourists speed around the water on motorboats, zipping from one lakeside hippie town to another. We buy their jewelry and fabrics.

Maybe this was the last time I felt alive. I stood on the bow of a passenger ship we had chartered for just the two of us and watched the purple sun sink below the hazy hills. …


In Christian circles that debate this sort of thing, the subject of tattoos revolves around two things. Or rather, two primary arguments are made against tattoos, and there are like three that are given for them. Yesterday, I accidentally stumbled across a completely new perspective on Christians getting tattoos, stemming from an ancient pilgrim practice and a 700-year-old tattoo shop.

If you have ears and/or eyes, you are familiar with how the conversation normally goes (But if you don’t, here’s a more rigid examination of the arguments). Some fundamentalist-type brings up a verse from Leviticus which forbids the marking of…


People can’t escape thinking in terms of good and evil; right and wrong; moral and bad. The question Nietzsche wrestled with, and which I have been reflecting on as a result for a few months, is: are these categories real, or are they socially constructed like so many other cultural phenomena?

Let me back up: How do we summarize Nietzsche’s ethic in a way that he may approve of?

I’ve said before that Sir Friedrich was less of a philosopher and more of a sledgehammer, and when you fully grasp the scope of his project, you realize that anything less…


The wind is blowing again.

I walked into the sauna yesterday and inhaled the mustardy scent of human sweat. Soon I was contributing my own odoriferous flavor to the moist potluck and my mind began wandering. I remembered this time I was dogsitting and was struck by one of the most poignant pictures of the human condition I’ve ever seen.

I was asked to dogsit two dogs for a family from church. While I was staying at their house, I noticed something peculiar. Whenever I would leave, I locked the two hounds away in their kennels, and getting them inside…

Ethan Renoe

Read 400+ posts of mine at ethanrenoe.com!

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