My heart is somewhat heavy about the fellowship. We've experienced a growth spurt this year, which is something that was very exciting at the beginning. Yay, more people, that means we're doing something right... right? I've been so blessed by our students and was incredibly pumped when they took the vision of witnessing communities to heart. Every week I hear about students sharing their faith with people at bus stops, on the quad, and in classes. There are so many new faces and new faces are being transformed by God. Students have been letting God heal them from major brokenness and are committing to lives lived out for Jesus.
At the same time, there are the murmurings in the fellowship. Paul writes about this over and over again... about gossip, malice, jealousy, factions, slander. Complaining about community, complaining about the way things are done. Sometimes it's frustrating to hear about expectations from students because it's often about how expectations are not being met. And it's frustrating because so often the expecations are unrealistic for a group of a hundred or so broken people gathered together.
In some ways it's the age group we work with. I'm entirely guilty of active participation in "What's wrong with InterVarsity" discussions that only led to feelings of entitlement and self-satisfaction. Pat pat on the back for being able to accurately describe how the fellowship is messing up.
It's always awesome having conversations with alum who tell me that they don't know why they got so worked up about stuff. Confessions of "I wish I had more grace for people." It takes a lifetime to learn grace, perhaps because we are all born with zero. I'm trying to re-read "What's so amazing about grace?"
Paul wrote about broken group dynamics because they existed back then. They exist now and always will. We'll lose people who are dissatisfied. That sucks. I have to keep reminding myself to not get caught up in the finger pointing and have the grace for others that I wish they had for the group.
In some ways this reminds me of the election and how divided people became over things. Here is a photo project someone created. Somewhat cheesy but I like this attempt at encouraging people to seek unity despite disagreements. What it looks like practically, I don't know but I think I know what it's not.
I read this funny post titled "God's Name Isn't 'God.'" More or less it noted that God is what he is and that's not his name. It amused me because I thought about going around and addressing others by what they are. It's like going up to Bryan and saying, "Hello, Human the Husband."
Maybe when we pray we should address God by his name "Yahweh" or "I Am." Is that allowed? Maybe I will just stick to Daddy-O.
I don't know why or how it started but lately when I want to express some sort of intense emotion in a trivial manner, I will say O-M-G.
Each letter is spoken emphatically. OH *pause* EHM *pause* GEE
When someone tells me a piece of interesting news. O-M-G.
I just turned 29 and I'm talking like a tween. Like, O-M-G!
The main argument for Prop 8 that I've heard from people is that it's restoring the traditional view of marriage. It's what God wants.
What I'm having a hard time with is why this is the issue Christians are choosing to rally around. I can think of many other things that God wants that Christians don't pursue. What is up?
It also feels like a log in the eye situation. Whenever I hear "restore traditional marriage" I'm also wondering, doesn't that mean we should be outlawing divorce and remarriage? Instead, we have things like divorce care in churches. Should we be so selective about where we show compassion and grace?
And what has particularly irked me about this whole thing is the propaganda surrounding the Yes campaign. Much of the ads for Prop 8 you see on TV are made by "Christian" organizations and they tell blatant lies about Prop 8. The stuff about teaching children gay marriage in schools and forcing pastors to marry gay couples is simply not true. I can't get over it... lying to oppose sin. Is this sin justified because it's trying to come against another sin?
Honestly, I haven't heard one good argument from anyone that hasn't been spoon fed by the propaganda. If you find it, please let me know.
Along with this and election fever, I've been confronted with something else. Can someone please tell me how being a Christian = Republican? From where I'm standing, I have very little in common with the interests of Republicans. And PLEASE don't say family values.
I've been trying to stay away from blogging about this stuff because I really would rather talk to people in person... so I kept it short. I tried not to be too rant-y either.
A New Conversation on Abortionby Jim Wallis 10-16-2008
In last evening’s presidential debate, the first steps were taken toward a new national conversation about abortion. For too many years, the old one hadn’t changed very much. It came up every four years during elections and seldom in between. The Republicans repeated that they think abortion should just be completely illegal; and the Democrats repeated their only mantra of a “woman’s right to choose.” And the number of abortions remained mostly unchanged.
“Pro-life” battled “pro-choice” when neither party was really either one. Those positions were more like postures, and they didn’t lead to solutions. What if “pro-life” really meant policies that would protect the precious gift of life wherever it is threatened and aim at dramatically reducing the number of abortions in America? And what if “pro-choice” meant extending the range of real choices available to women – not only to terminate a pregnancy, but also to make the decision to have a child with the necessary economic support, health care, and adoption services?
Last evening, both Barack Obama and John McCain took steps toward finding some possible common ground.
Both said that they would not use Roe v. Wade as a litmus test for appointing Supreme Court Justices in the future.
And both suggested some cultural commitments and policy directions that could be most effective in dramatically reducing abortion. Last night’s debate got that conversation started.
Barack Obama said:
I think that abortion is a very difficult issue, and it is a moral issue and one that I think good people on both sides can disagree on…. This is an issue that — look, it divides us. And in some ways, it may be difficult to — to reconcile the two views. But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, “We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.” Those are all things that we put in the Democratic platform for the first time this year, and I think that’s where we can find some common ground, because nobody’s pro-abortion. I think it’s always a tragic situation. We should try to reduce these circumstances.
Then John McCain said:
We have to change the culture of America. Those of us who are proudly pro-life understand that. And it’s got to be courage and compassion that we show to a young woman who’s facing this terribly difficult decision. … But that does not mean that we will cease to protect the rights of the unborn. Of course, we have to come together. Of course, we have to work together, and, of course, it’s vital that we do so and help these young women who are facing such a difficult decision, with a compassion, that we’ll help them with the adoptive services, with the courage to bring that child into this world and we’ll help take care of it.
There are indeed profound moral issues involved in the decisions to have or not to have an abortion, and most Americans believe that. Most also believe the abortion rate in America is far too high but are hesitant to completely deny the difficult choice to have one.
Abortion reduction is the clear common ground that could unite the pro-choice and pro-life polarities and bring us together to find some real solutions and finally see some results. John McCain and Barack Obama last evening opened up the possibility of finding some new common ground in reducing abortions, reflecting the 2008 Democratic and Republican platforms. There is also now some movement in the Congress with pro-life and pro-choice members looking for common ground solutions for reducing the number of abortions that are proven to work. New and compelling studies make the clear connection between abortion and poverty, with fully three-fourths of the women who have abortions saying that they just couldn’t afford to have the child. It will be a great day when both poverty reduction and abortion reduction become non-partisan issues and bipartisan causes.
Life is precious. John McCain believes that, Barack Obama believes that, Sarah Palin believes that, and so does Joe Biden. In fact, I’m not sure I have ever met a person who believes otherwise.
Freedom is fundamental. John McCain believes that, Barack Obama believes that, Sarah Palin believes that, and so does Joe Biden. Again, I’m not sure I have ever met a person who believes otherwise.
Americans are for life. Americans are for choice. The challenge for our political leaders, our religious leaders, and every American is to hold freedom and life together even when they seem to collide. We should do all we can to make sure we have as much of both as possible. And we can start by having a better conversation about abortion in this election and beyond. Thankfully, the first steps toward that conversation were taken last evening.
I had an interesting conversation with some folks the other day when I revealed that I'm okay with swearing. As I blog this I imagine some readers having the same reaction as these people. I was and wasn't surprised by their intense response, and from it I assumed that they believed swearing was sinning. They couldn't believe that I could condone such behavior. As I relayed my conversation to Bryan, he noted that we were talking about two different things. While they were objecting to excusing swearing from sin, I was addressing the hierarchy of sin in our speech.
Many believe that all sin is equal. Yes and no. All sin leads us to separation and alienation from God. However, there is scripture that points to more severe consequences for some sin (Matt. 23:14-15), and there are some sins that are more detestable to God (Ezekiel 8, 16).
I think most Christians also have a hierarchy of sin, and what bothers me is that sometimes that hierarchy seems out of order. I rarely get such intense reactions from people who listen to gossip nor do I see people call out sin when others lash out in anger. Mr. Anger Management might have not used the culturally defined swear words, but his sentiment is obviously there.
Something else that I take issue with is that there is a lot of mean teasing among Christians, but it's not called out. In fact, I don't think people see it as sin because it's only a joke. What's kind of troubling is that it becomes a contest of who can cut each other down in the most witty way. I find this more insidiously damaging than swearing.
I think swearing is an easily identifiable action among Christians that separates between the bad and the good. It's another way we pat ourselves on the back for being holy while turning a blind eye to our daily sins that no one else knows about. I want our understanding of sin to go past the surface issues. When I consider all the ways that I may have murdered someone in my heart, swearing seems like small potatoes.
Now I'm not advocating that everyone adopts a potty mouth and that it's okay to f-this and f-that. I just think there's bigger fish to fry.
But... I do find that sometimes, there really is no better word to describe a situation. I particularly like the sentiment behind the metaphor "when the sh@# hits the fan" or the term SNAFU (situation normal all F-ed up).
We are cursed.
I see the effects of the curse when I work with my college students. I knew the curse so well when I was single. Mostly I see it in how much time single women spend in a relationship with their non-existent boyfriends. I was guilty of that as well. Even when we don't have a tangible guy in our lives, much of our thoughts are consumed with "him."
We are obsessed with men, whether or not they exist. Consider a women's sleepover - the conversation inevitably turns to discussions about eligible bachelors and our lists and stays there. I would love a guy that... My guy will... I once asked some men how much time they spent talking about women at their hangout times (they don't use the word sleepover) and found that it was next to nothing. They're too busy playing video games, thinking about weird competitions, or shooting each other with some weaponry.
We have this list of what we want out of a guy. And we actually have imaginary relationships with him. We ask him things like, where are you? When will I get to meet you? We spend time planning our future wedding and family with him in our minds. And we daydream about interactions with him and what they will be like. I used to daydream about the kinds of interactions I could have with either the most current crush or Mr. Imaginary. They never happened.
... that I have nothing to wear. And yet I can stand in front of my closet full of clothes and think/say that. Lately I've been contemplating what it means to live a life of abundance. There is a laundry list of things I want, but there's nothing I need. I remember the first time I came back from China and felt nauseous at how much stuff I had.
I would love to return to a life of simplicity and satisfaction. I had this crazy idea that I'd like to commit to in theory but am scared to in actuality. I wondered what life would be like if I didn't purchase any new clothes for a year. I have plenty of clothes to last me more than a year. Probably too much, actually.
The other reason I'd want to implement this idea is because I've noticed that I think clothes will get people to like me. When I was meeting new people during New Student Outreach, I considered my wardrobe more carefully and dressed to impress.
I thought of people I know who aren't so fashionable but win others over with their quality of character... and I wondered if I was compensating for character with external appearances. I wondered if I didn't have updated clothes, would it help grow my character? I'm not going to wear a potato sack for this experiment - just what I already own.
A year isn't that long, but perhaps long enough for me to feel outdated, especially working with college students. I haven't made the plunge yet... I'm scared I'll go back on the commitment. I guess I want to make sure I'm ready for it. It could be interesting to blog about.
In reality, I don't think it will be that big of a deal. I bet nobody will even notice anything about my clothes. I think my reluctance to enter into it just shows me how much value I'm putting in my external appearance. Perhaps I'll give myself a deadline to decide... what about a week?
A freshman I met recently is promoting this movie. I think we should all make a point to see it, especially since all proceeds from ticket sales go to support organizations like International Justice Mission and Not For Sale. There are showings all over the bay area.
When I first came across it a few months ago, I remember scanning the article and thinking... meh. I could understand how it was encouraging to the person who was copying it onto her blog, given where she was at so I didn't really say much about it.
I took a closer look at it when some women told me they were reading and discussing it. I lost some self control and I could not stop myself from ranting about the ridiculousness of the article. It's pretty long, and I have many objections but my main complaint is that the post is extremely naive about marriage. I googled the original post because I kept thinking to myself, this was written by an unmarried woman. I was right. Anyone who has been married long enough has concluded that the idea of "the right one" being portrayed in this post is completely unrealistic.
I believe the author misquotes scripture and does extremely poor interpretation. Most of the scripture quoted is taken out of context and only used to support her own ideas. If you're looking for actual evidence of her points in scripture, it's fairly thin.
If I could sum up this post and my objection, it would be that it's teaching women to look for unbroken people as mates. Broken people looking for perfect matches... err... right.
What's the point of spending time looking for a Mr. Right that will fit our laundry list of qualities? First of all, he doesn't exist. Second of all, if you found him, he's probably hiding something. Third of all, it doesn't guarantee a happy marriage. Happiness is not really the point of marriage anyway. It really bugs me that the post encourages you to find someone without brokenness.
What also bugs me is how the post is really unfair to men. It sets up absurd standards for a mate. There are only two logical conclusions from reading the post: you won't be getting married because he doesn't exist or you think you've found him only to be disappointed.
I wish people spent more time considering their own brokenness and what they were doing to become a better partner rather than wanting someone else to be awesome for them. What about having just one qualification. Instead of finding Mr. Right, what about finding the man that's committed to working out and working on the brokenness inherent in the relationship. Enter with eyes wide open about the ways you will fail each other. Enter with much grace.
Instead of looking for Mr. Right, how about looking for Mr. Let's try to work on our brokenness and maybe in 20-30 years we'll start getting some things right.
I've been musing about duty and obligation as of late. For a long time they held the same meaning... a negative one... practically a four letter word. In seeking freedom from the rigidity of "have to," I was a champion of "want to." As some friends will testify, one of my favorite questions was "Well, what do you want?" I gladly adopted a therapy prof's motto: don't should on yourself today.
I wanted to be free of duty/obligation and not do anything if my heart wasn't in it. And I preached this rhetoric to those around me. It seemed that so many people were taking action only half-heartedly or grudgingly and there was no desire behind anything.
I reminded myself that Scripture talks about duty, and that it's portrayed positively and even as godly. I began to separate duty from obligation. I don't know if it's semantics, but I think obligation is doing something because you think you should even though you don't really want to or feel like it. I think duty, on the other hand, is sticking to a commitment because you care about the people it affects. Duty reminds me of those who are in the army and believe they are fighting for a greater good. It's not about what each individual wants, but it's about what's best for the country and its people. Duty is related to integrity, and it reflects willing selflessness.
I resonate with this definition of duty as a Chinese American woman. Often I am pulled to serve my family even if it is inconvenient, and I can tell when I'm doing something out of obligation or duty. Mostly it's reflected in my heart, and I remind myself that there's a greater good that I'm serving even if I don't feel a personal gain.
I don't think I have these ideas fully thought out yet so I don' t know if I totally made sense. I think the word obligation also exists in the Bible too. Ah... the joys of late night blogging.
o freshman, o freshman
scared and wide-eyed
o freshman, o freshman
watch out, don't collide!
On Monday night the evangelical groups on campus hosted an event called "The Worship Experience." It's pretty much as it sounds - worship, testimony, mini-sermon.
From what I can tell, our students really loved it. I keep hearing students say, it's so cool to get together with the other fellowship, we should do stuff like that more often. Whenever I hear them say that, internally I reply - I don't.
I think it's great that we have this event at the beginning of the school year to try to help new students not feel overwhelmed about all the Christian groups and to demonstrate we support each other in our ministries. It's our attempt to diminish the feelings of competitiveness as we're all wanting a large group of students to join our fellowship. I like that.
I don't wish for more all-fellowship events because I think it promotes the insular, in-reaching nature of Christian community. Holy huddle, kumbaya, and all the other ways we alienate ourselves from the world. Planning these all-fellowship events takes up resources. Since we're all so busy, we have to be selective about what we choose to do. Once we take away time for sleeping, eating, schooling, working, and other priorities, our free time is so limited. I would rather be focused on outreach in witness or justice than just hanging out with other Christians. I believe we simply don't spend enough time in God's purposes for the campus.
My irreverent thoughts for the day.
However I've always been drawn to the tall, dark, and handsome (didn't I get lucky in marriage!?). My last such interest was Hugh Jackman aka Wolverine. Not only was the tall, dark, and handsome thing attractive, but I loved the whole fighting inner demons thing. Not that I want that in real life (too complicated), but there's something so fascinating about watching a man wrestling to tame his internal and external being.
Lately I've moved on to Christian Bale!! Dark Knight was the summer blockbuster hit and I absolutely loved it. I never felt so much for a superhero before, and I actually felt depressed-ish for a couple hours afterwards. I kept telling Bryan, it's so sad! I feel so bad for Batman! I ate up all the can't pursue your true love for the sake of saving humanity and on top of that you have to be an outlaw bit.
Christian Bale is hands down the best Batman. After reading more about him on wikipedia, I learned he's one of those actors dedicated to the craft and doesn't really care about the glam and glitz of Hollywood celebrity. He shuns the public and requests privacy from the paparazzi. Unheard of!
I also heart Netflix and for the first time I rented a movie because Netflix thought I might like it. I hightly recommend "The Prestige." First of all, it stars Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. Two tall, dark, and handsome men brooding at each other in competitiveness that will drive them to destroy each other. There were multiple twists in the plot, and I didn't see the very last one coming.
Christian Bale movies are lining up in my Netflix que. Next: The Machinist. He lost 60 pounds to accurately portray his character. That's dedication!
... stuck in Jr. High. I realized I was being very lame about Facebook. Somehow I began equating the adding of friends to some sort of popularity how cool is the pegpie meter. Whenever I met somebody new, the first thing I did when I got home was to see if they were on Facebook. Admit it, all of you, that you do the same thing (note to self: ponder and perhaps blog about the stalkerish nature of FB and human nature in general).
If I found them, I wouldn't add them. Instead, I would wait for them to add me. Somehow their initiation affirmed that I was cool or interesting enough and therefore worthy of FB friendship. If they didn't, I'd feel slight pangs of teenage devastation. Yes, I recognize that slight devastation is an oxymoron.
While accepting various requests of friendship, I realized that most people add friends without thinking too deeply about it. I bet Tim Tran (whoever you are) didn't have to think twice about his request. Even I love using the People You May Know feature and don't care if I haven't talked to so and so's friend for years. I've added people "just because." Making new friends on FB has nothing to do with my "cool" factor.
I need to take after Bryan's example. My husband wants to be to Facebook what Tila Tequila was to MySpace. He is a fiend when it comes to adding new friends, er... acquaintances, er... visual recognition but never held a conversation. He never thinks twice about who he's adding. I'm taking notes and implementing said mindset. No human left behind.
We're getting ready for Welcome Week at UCD. It's really more like Welcome Month for our on-campus freshmen bible study leaders. They'll be making the big push to get connected to people in the dorms. Sleep, eat, breathe, and live the dorms. Extrovert's dream come true or introvert's worst nightmare.
There are all these welcome events and inevitably we'll be running down the list of "Where are you from?" and "What's your major?" And inevitably I'll come across a college student who's trying to make the right decision about their major so they don't ruin the rest of their lives... or so they say.
Some years ago I had a really interesting conversation with my aunt, who has a more American perspective on life than my parents - she immigrated as a teen. We were talking about the pressures my dad was giving me about going to grad school and doing something "useful" because everyone knows you can't feed yourself with degrees in English and History.
My aunt pointed out that my generation had very different opportunities than her immigrant peers. Back then, she said, the only options open to Chinese Americans were engineers, doctors, lawyers, or businessmen... and engineers. The time is different, new career paths are open, and success is not limited to the aforementioned careers. I ate it up and I continue to encourage students that it is okay to try an out of the box major like, heaven forbid, Sociology.
Our culture has also shifted in that our majors no longer relate to our careers. Back then, most people had specific majors that directed their job options. They found a job and more or less stayed in the job with the same company until retirement. Nowadays I find that most people aren't doing things related to their degrees, even engineers and economics majors. On top of that, people in our generation change jobs or careers every 3-5 years. If you've been at a job for 10 years, you're considered a veteran.
I have some favorite mantras I like to tell students, and this is probably one of them. Another one goes something like, "Don't should on yourself." I'll try to remind myself to elaborate on this in the future.
...celebrate wedding anniversaries in community? I know most couples will do something together, except when you get somewhere around year 14 and you have children and one day you wake up realizing both of you missed your anniversary. I know couples also celebrate their 50th with a big bash.
Today is our 4 year anniversary. Friends who have known me for awhile are usually astonished at how fast the time has gone. Others ask us when we're having kids. Actually, that question hasn't stopped since we first got married. It's the married couple's equivalent of "what's your major?"
As we looked towards today, I told Bryan that next year we should throw ourselves a party and invite our friends to celebrate our anniversary. If we have parties to celebrate the individual every year (birthdays), why shouldn't we celebrate the couple more often? We celebrate many lesser things - at the end of every October, Erma's foster mom from SPCA throws a puppy birthday party for her and her daughters. For marriage celebrations, Year 0 to Year 50 seems like a rather large gap.
I think it would be a great encouragement to us as a couple and to our friends as well. Also, I noticed that people tend to be more willing to gather for key events such as birthdays. I don't mind having another reason to bring friends together, especially given our busy lives. Look for an evite coming near you in a year!
You take a group of words and it automatically generates a word picture. I took InterVarsity's purpose statement. It even let me specify colors so I could use the official palette of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. Here's another one:
Oh the endless possibilities!
Here's a recap of our camping trip! Fun times with friends!
Peggy E says:
Hmmm… it’s really interesting seeing this on a global level. It makes me ask the question if racism is culturally based. I definitely see how Chinese would not be offended, but Chinese Americans would. Chinese people rarely experience this kind of racism.Kathy Khang says:
Can you expand on your comment about racism being culturally based? I’m curious as well, since only a few news reports have alluded to the Chinese (v. the Chinese or Asian Americans) being offended. It’s all very strange to watch - this country that has been so closed to the West desiring to put its best foot forward…if they actually saw the “news” reports shot at the food markets with non-Chinese gawking over fried scorpions would they understand that the attention isn’t meant as an affectionate or respectful gesture but really poking fun?
Peggy E says:
Most Chinese in China have never experienced racism since they are part of the majority culture. Their experience of race differs from Chinese Americans, where we have a history of being the minority. At some point we’ve seen the eye-pulling gestures, and we’ve been told to go back to where we came from. Those in China have never known this, so it’s not likely they would know this as racism.
Minorities in China however, experience plenty of racism. It’s been interesting talking to Chinese in China about this because they deny the existence of racism in similar ways to the majority culture in America. Befriend someone in a minority group, and you get a very different story.
I think in reading your post, I began considering racism on a global level since it seems to require a majority culture and a minority culture to experience such kinds of racism. When considering the world, who would be the majority, and who would be the minority?
PS: I’m not sure Chinese would interpret the scorpions as poking fun since many Chinese would not try scorpions either. I get the feeling that scorpions on a stick has been used to draw tourists to a food booth, and few really eat it. I’m seen seahorses on a stick alongside the scorpions and all of my Chinese friends have said they’d never eat it. You’d have to have them gawking at foods more representative of Chinese culture, something a large majority identifies with, to be offensive.
We were hanging out with some newlywed friends recently and chatted about the informal pre-engagement counseling we did with them. As we talked, we wondered why pre-natal counseling didn't exist. Maybe it does, but I haven't heard of it.
I've heard from many that having a baby changes your life more than getting married does. Getting married means partnering with someone for life. That's some side-by-side action. Becoming a parent means your life is merged with somebody's for 18 or so years. Maybe more depending on how your empty nesting goes. That's intense! Heck, God even made a built-in 9 month engagement time before becoming a parent.
In a Research Methods class in grad school, we read an article about the relationship between becoming parents and marital and life satisfaction. The stats were rather grim.
I got to go do more research and develop my materials. Discuss topics such as financial readiness and emotional preparedness for the commitment of caring for someone's whole well-being.
I'm going to be rich and famous!
The opening ceremonies have commenced in China already and I eagerly await the US viewing at 7:30PM on NBC. If you didn't know, the Chinese government has established an official Olympics cheer that we should all learn and perform enthusiastically regardless of who or what we are cheering for. The above video not only gives a demonstration, but teaches you some Chinese as well. Enjoy and know that somewhere out there, the pegpie is cheering. Jia you!
I was in China during the summer of 2001 when they first announced the win for the Olympic bid. I was astonished by the emotional reaction from our Chinese friends. They cheered, they shouted, they cried, they celebrated. I had never felt that way for an Olympics held in the US.
I get to have a Chinese American understanding of the Olympics, an understanding backed by compassion for China and its people along with some shame over our country's current reputation. Here are some articles others wrote that I really resonate with:
Forbidden Clichés: A guide for visiting journalists
A lot of injokes. Having gone to China multiple times, I commiserate with the author. Most of these things cause my eyes to roll too.
My Friends, What Do You Want From Us?
I think this aptly describes the sentiment of the Chinese on its relationship with the Western world. It references some history stuff, and it paints a bigger picture of the ongoing tensions over the last 200 years.
Where does China fit in the West's understanding of the world?
Somewhat heady but dialogue over this would be eye-opening.
Yesterday I had my hair done at a Chinese salon in Milpitas. There are many things one would expect at a Chinese establishment in the bay area (or anywhere, for that matter)... a flat screen hanging on the wall would be one of them. And of course, it was playing music videos. It was going to be either that or Korean soaps.
I saw the video below. The words are in Mandarin.
It was one of the most cute and bizarre things I've ever seen. Some of the lyrics say things like:
I don't want to say I'm safe
I can't ignore the misunderstanding of people
Eat my meat, I don't mind
Take my eggs, I am willing
We've become the transmitters of the bird flu
You can't live in a world without chickens
Hm. I have a craving for some chicken now. Let's go see what's in the fridge.
Thank you very much, because your one example just showed me how wrong I was. Let me take it back.
*1 minute later*
Recipient will say, "have you noticed that (people) + (action or characteristic)?"
I'm not sure why we like to find the anecdotal discrepancy. Is it to show that we are open-minded? Is it to demonstrate cleverness? Perhaps it gets at our own fears of being put in a box?
The other option for such generalizations is to tell me how persons outside said group also exhibit the same behaviors. College students love bubble tea? Little kids love it too!
I think generalizations are incredibly helpful as long as they aren't rules and standards. One might argue that having generalizations predisposes you to making incorrect assumptions, but I think everybody's going to make them anyway. Better to have guidelines and hold them loosely than meet everyone with a clean slate. The latter is impossible anyway.
Recently someone pointed me to stuffwhitepeoplelike.com. It's rather funny although you could probably more accurately describe it as stuffwhiteyuppyliberalpeoplelike.com. I checked to see if there was a stuffyellowpeoplelike.com. It exists although there are only two posts, and the most recent one is from March. In future posts, I'd like to try my hand at this topic. Here are some ideas:
#1 Feeding other people
#2 Great Bargains
Unless you've been living in a hole somewhere, you know that California has been granting marriage licenses to gay couples this week. I informed my mom that a childhood friend was among those wed in San Francisco. After answering questions along the lines of how did she get like that she noted that it was important that we vote against this law come November.
I replied that I hadn't decided which way I would vote yet. This was the truth - I wasn't saying this just to get my mom all P.I.A.B. (panties in a bunch to those who didn't read my old blog). I guess I have been living away from home too long because I wasn't prepared for her response. She was incredulous that a Christian would even have to consider such things. She declared that God was against this so it was a no brainer. She wanted to know what InterVarsity would think knowing I had such opinions (let me remind you that my opinion was that I had no opinion yet).
I honestly have a really hard time when it comes to the law. I don't believe there is always a Christian response to any topic, and it's rare that I meet people who don't vote with double standards. When it comes to this gay marriage stuff, I struggle with people being up in arms about protecting the sanctity of marriage because of how divorce is treated in America. If we understand what God says about marriage and divorce in Scripture, why don't we have laws that make it harder for people to get married and divorced? Why can't we make people take a test to get their marriage license? We have tests for driver's licenses, don't we? It makes me think something else is behind the Christian response to gay marriage other than it being the right thing to do.
I find laws surrounding hot topics complicated and I don't think being a Christian always points to a "right" answer. Abortion, poverty, the environment, taxation, the economy, education, violence... these are all issues we have to deal with because of how messed up people are. I want to think thoroughly about these things, mull over it, and understand the implications before making any final decisions. I guess in some ways, I think that is the Christian response.
I have a feeling this post outs me as a flaming liberal or something of the sort.
There's a blog devoted to a photograph of a woman's breakfast every morning. The pictures are tasteful if not inspiring me to eat more healthy. Alas, I don't eat breakfast every day.
I could blog about my hobbies like my design friends or the gardening and sewing blogs I read. My hobbies however, are often short-lived. Tiff Tao is moving away and I have no one to sew with. My tomatoes are puny and unimpressive. I've managed to eat two zucchinis off of what is supposed to be an easy and prolific plant. I did consider blogging about mating my zucchinis. This is after all, Sex and the Country.
I wish I could blog reviews about books, movies, music. It's not often that I find such things inspiring enough to warrant a post, and when I do I can't seem to settle myself enough to write a piece that I'd actually be proud of. I'm just not dedicated to the "arts" like some friends I admire... I'm really just a poser.
So here I am... blogging about what I can't blog about. I will press on since I realize this writing exercise is good for stimulating my brain. With the summer heat my brain is melting, especially having watched "The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency" on Hulu.com. Guilty pleasure. Getting rid of MTV was so bittersweet.
I recently finished "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles" and absolutely loved it. Jennifer 8 Lee delves into the world of Chinese food in America after hearing about a statistical anomaly where numerous people (somewhere around 100) had major lottery winnings in a single contest. The link? The majority of the winners picked their numbers from a fortune cookie. She follows the history of Chinese food in America and examines its impact on American culture.
Growing up, my family always distinguished between Chinese food and "American Chinese food." When I first moved to Davis 10 years ago, I refused to eat at any Chinese restaurant because it wasn't authentic. Lee however, legitimizes American Chinese food as an integral part of American culture. She writes, "Our benchmark for Americanness is apple pie. But ask yourself: How often do you eat apple pie? How often do you eat Chinese food?"
It has helped me appreciate places like Panda Express for what it is. Now when my friends gush about "Orange Chicken," I understand that they are talking about their own homey comfort foods, and they fall in a different category than scrumptious chicken feet and pig's ears.
I saw it tonight with my housemate Shannon after winning tickets through a drawing. Finally, after months of anticipation I found out whether or not Carrie and Big get married, if anybody dies, and which scenes are dream sequences.
It was fabulous although it espoused many values I didn't really agree with. Here's my estrogen boost for the month!
His blog brought to my attention a news story that one would say is beyond atrocious. I showed Bryan the story and he pointed out that it is great evidence for the depravity of humanity. Sometimes if I watch enough Oprah, I may start believing that people are generally good and have goodness in them. I need to remind myself that Oprahland is as fictional as The Shire.
Once in awhile, I will enjoy perusing the tshirt sites to chuckle at. Not at threadless.com though - their pictures often confuse me. Here are some tshirt images from noisebot.com I find amusing!
One of these days when these tshirts go out of style, we get to say "That's so late 2000s!"
I'm trying to find enough time to blog meaningfully, but not very successfully.
For those who don't know, we moved in November. I heart our new house! One of the many reasons I like it so much is the backyard. At our old house, the only way to get to the backyard was through the garage. It was also very shady - my attempts at growing veggies all failed. Partly because of the shade, and partly because I never went back there to water the plants.
Our new backyard gets plenty of sunshine and I have been reaping the benefits. We've been able to pick lettuce whenever we want salad. No more wasting wilted lettuce! The picture above is my first harvest of snow peas... yes, all 6 of them. I plan on plucking more off the vines later this week, hopefully eventually to have enough for some yummy stir fry.
Here are more pictures of my garden!
Over the weekend, we went to a composting class. I plan on starting my own worm bin this week and throwing all our peelings and dealings in for the worms to eat. Free fertilizer!
I feel the need to explain my hiatus. Around the end of March, I broke out in some unexplained rash that was both painful and itchy. It was mostly on my hands and then on my arms. And then it spread all up and down my legs.
After some internet research I determined it was contact dermatitis aka poison oak. However I don't know if it was actually poison oak that I rolled around in since I haven't ever seen the culprit.
I was miserable... couldn't sleep, couldn't concentrate, the discomfort was great. Topical steroids didn't help. Tried every OTC medicine possible. Tried acupuncture and herbal topicals. Tried homeopathic remedies. Nothing worked and it just kept spreading. This lasted for about 3 weeks before I saw the dr. again and she put me on oral steroids.
The steroids helped but for about a week after I stopped them I encountered various side effects... blurred vision, headache, restlessness, feelings of weirdness i think i'm in the twilight zone...
Anyway, I'm almost back to normal. When the busy slows down, I'll put up a meaningful post.
By the way, the picture above was not me. Through my internet research I found a fascinating gallery of poison oak/ivy victims. I wasn't as bad as the worst pictures, but my rashes looked similar to the ones here. Here's the link, but warning... it's not for the faint of heart!
Research among top dentists show that 4 out of 5 prefer Crest over Colgate
Research shows that more than half of all Americans don't know the name of their vice president
Research indicates that 1/3 of the world's university students suffer anxiety attacks at least once while taking chemistry
Who the hell is Research and what makes him so credible? It seems anyone can bring Research into the conversation and win some points, until one converses with those who are irritating enough to ask where one received such information. What a pain in the butt to have to go look it up on wikipedia or provide the original research article!
I took a class last year called "Research Methods." Mesmerized, aren't you? I learned that Research is not as authentic as he often claims to be. If you look at any industry with a bit of money, they can get Research to say whatever they want. Yes, margarine is a healthy alternative to butter! Global warming doesn't exist! Global warming does exist! For every shred of evidence to back up a claim, you can probably find 5 more sources that state the opposite.
Before bringing Research into any conversation, best understand how he got the information in the first place. As dry and boring as the class was, it highlighted the importance of sample size, repeatability of experiment, controls, and placebo. Oh placebo, we love/hate you.
On a side note, I recently heard on NPR (I heart NPR!) about an experiment that evinced the irrationality of the human race. The results showed that people taking various pain medications felt better if they were told that the drug they took cost more. If you took a placebo sugar pill and was told that each pill cost $10, you were more likely to experience an improvement in symptoms than if you took the actual drug but was told each pill was $1. That's why people like to buy name brands even though the generic contains the exact same active ingredient. Paying more money made you feel better and not necessarily the drug.
I heart meat. Bacon, sausage links, sausage patties, italian sausages, linguica, chorizo, steak, ribs...
I heart sushi. I especially love hamachi and o toro when I can afford it. Bryan once told me that I need sushi like I need air...
I heart pink ladies. Really, they're the only apples I'll eat. And I'll only eat the ones from Davis' Farmer's Market...
I heart citrus. Oranges, clementines, pomelos, grapefruit, lemons, limes, blood oranges...
I heart the British. Their accents, their wit, their humor, their sarcasm, their honesty, their snobbery...
I really heart Disneyland. I can never fall asleep the night before going to Disneyland because I get too excited.
Other things I heart: spring in Davis, new hobbies, tv show "How it's Made"
PS: Readers in Davis, Saturday is National Pig Day! The Farmer's Market will be featuring piggies you can pet and piggies you can eat. I'll be there!
I'm also teaching myself to sew. I found a sewing machine on craigslist for half the cost, and the box was never opened! I heart craigslist! Yes, I know it's a Hello Kitty sewing machine but the reviews said it was a great beginner machine and it's pretty much a standard Janome machine with HK exterior. Don't judge my sewing machine by its cover.
Since I'm a fan of arranged marriages, the practical application in this day and age is to let your community into your decision of who you will date and marry. If the majority of your friends express some sort of concern about the person you’re dating, it’s a red flag.
Parents may not always be a good idea since as young adults our values may be taking a rapid departure from that of the parents. Some parents also evaluate future mates based on what looks good on paper and not on the character of the person.
In college, my roommates and I sometimes discussed whether or not we would be in the wedding or even attend the wedding of a friend if we didn’t agree with their chosen spouse. The bottom line of those conversations were, should you be a friend by protesting or should you be a friend by supporting? Which one would make you the better friend? I still haven’t landed on an answer…
I had a falling out with a really close friend because of said situation. There were definitely other things going on in our friendship, but telling her I disagreed with her choice was the straw that broke the camel's back. I wasn't invited to the wedding... well, to be fair I was invited last minute. It was fairly awkward. I had another wedding to go to that weekend, so I didn't go anyway.
What does your community think about your significant other? When's the last time you asked?
Our culture values and even champions the idea of marrying for love, finding Mr./Mrs. Right, and not being forced into unions with strangers. Arranged marriages are oppressive because it pushes people into loveless, cruel marriages. Where has the priority of choice gotten us?
Statistics reveal that we are very bad at choosing. More than half of all marriages in the US end in divorce. Men and women still choose into marriages with physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive people regardless of warning signs. They are in denial over the person they want to marry because they love each other. It’s obvious to everyone that they’re wrong for each other… except the two lovebirds.
Great romances end in tragedy. Romeo and Juliet. Anthony and Cleopatra. Happily ever after is truly a fairytale. I love you doesn’t get you very far. I’m committed to you does. Add love to it and one is truly blessed.
Initial attraction/connection often begins with something like, wow, you’re also from Nebraska… you also like dark chocolate… this is amazing! What’s especially unfortunate is people who get into relationships because the other person likes them. It says a lot about how much they like themselves. It’s not much on which to build a relationship. By then emotional ties have already been forged, and for one reason or another they move forward despite all red flags. Worse yet, they stay in stalemate until marriage becomes the default.
Arranged marriages take away from the idea of a soul mate, and it removes the pressure of needing to find the connection. They also reinforce the idea of commitment being the factor that keeps people married, and not loving feelings.
Feelings change. Imagine feeling loving towards someone who does not share your passion for (insert obsessive hobby). What about loving feelings towards someone who doesn’t mind getting into bed with you without showering after a workout. Maybe this person has a hard time with showing love in your love language, with anger, with being critical, with selfishness. Maybe this person is insecure!?
As the love feelings fade, I hope commitment will keep it going.
A few years ago a few men I knew wanted to hop on the knitting trend. My respect for them dropped even as they boasted that they were getting in touch with their feminine side. I'm not sure knitting really achieves that.
I think some men actually believe they are winning brownie points with women when they show their "sensitive" side. The reality is though, you're making yourself into the sidekick friend who will stay just that... a friend. If the men want to stay just friends, that's fine with me. If you're interested in having a girlfriend that may become a future spouse however, cease and desist all such behavior. Just say no.
A few weeks ago I entered a fellowship party that seemed pretty happening when I arrived. Some women said, "Peggy! Look at the guys' nails!" Sure enough, some of the men had allowed themselves to get their nails painted. Some had cute designs, some had multi-colored nails. The ladies had fun doing this, but it reminds me of trying to get my dog to roll over. As the men showed me their nails, they seemed really proud of themselves as if they had pleased their master. The looks on their faces said look what I was able to do!
If you ask the ladies whether or not they imagine their future boyfriend or husbands having painted nails, the answer would be decidedly no. I don't know of any woman who dreams of their future marriage and imagines themselves sitting side by side with their husbands... knitting.
Bryan loves the movie Tears of the Sun with Bruce Willis. Once I came home to him watching it and he warned me that the best part was coming up. As I anticipated the "best" part, I enjoyed a 5 minute scene that involved everything being blown up. I looked over to Bryan and his face was filled with excitement as he exclaimed, "Yes! Yeah!"
I will never understand the thrill of watching things being blown up. I can't understand why men are fascinated with UFC. I may be compelled to "tame" my husband and make an argument about how violence is bad. But experience has taught me to accept that this is in his DNA and to sit with him as he is enthralled by loud explosions. I don't believe it's my responsibility to domesticate the men in my life. I am still learning when to let it go. Every time Bryan goes skiing I know in the back of my mind he's jumping off of 20 foot cliffs. But I know better than to prevent him from doing it and I trust that he knows how much risk he can take.
This month in InterVarsity we're examining what God makes of gender. Here is my shameless plug for you to come to large group! After a talk about women and a talk about men, I will be tackling what it means for each individual to be fully feminine/masculine.
Note to readers: I think it's perfectly okay for men to be artistic and to take interest in creative projects... even knitting if they want. This post is meant for those who engage in such activities at the bequest of their women friends.
When is the last time you thought through why you believed something? Working with college students, I often hear opinions being firmly expressed. It's astonishing to me how people can strongly assert their belief is the "right" one. In seminary, some of my favorite professors were those who had landed on a belief but were humble enough to admit they could be wrong. Really humble... not the I could be wrong but I actually think you're the one that's very wrong kind of humility.
The ability to be adaptable and flexible with one's beliefs while being grounded at the same time is a difficult endeavor. When I encounter someone who is rather resolute or even militant about a belief, I tend to think they have a pretty shaky foundation. The need for someone else to agree with one's beliefs indicates a lack of confidence in that belief.
With our postmodern culture, most of our beliefs come from our experiences. I experienced pre-marital sex as enjoyable, therefore it is fine/okay/good. The problem with basing our beliefs on experiences is that two people can share the same experience but come away with very different interpretations. Give the experience some time and the interpretation can and will change.
Sex for the first time can be amazing for the guy... and it probably is since it's not so complicated for men to enjoy sex. First time sex for a woman however, is most likely disappointing if not absolutely traumatic. But she won't tell the guy since she doesn't want to hurt the feelings of the guy she loves. Or she doesn't know what good sex is until much later. Wow, my first time really was a D+. How do I know? Plenty of girl talk and personal experience. So... pretty much my experience has taught me that pre-marital sex is pretty lame. Who's "right?"
This begins a series of posts about the nature of ideas/beliefs... how we come to form them, how they change, and how to know you've formed them with true critical thinking.
Note to self: Post in the future about the ridiculous notion that having sex is the way to show you love each other.
Note to readers: If you want to know more about women and their views on sex, see When Harry Met Sally for the infamous orgasm scene.
Nerdy really is subjective, and it depends so much on the individual. We've heard Hollywood stars proclaim how nerdy they were in high school only to find out that they were voted "Best Smile."
Recently a group of us decided that everybody is at least nerdy, dorky, geeky, or some combination of the three. Nerdy and dorky aren't so bad... it's geeky you want to stay away from.
Bryan disagrees with me. About two years ago I made it my personal mission to get Bryan to embrace his inner nerd. I'm still at it. I told Bryan that I thought he was 70% nerd and he protested most violently. I figured the PHD in Chemical Engineering qualified him for at least 50% nerd. We had seen some high school robotics competition on the news and the contestants being interviewed were wearing capes, qualifying them as 100% something. Bryan couldn't believe that he was only 30% from wearing a cape! I think the 3 categories can help clarify the situation. The cape wearing folks are 70% geeky and 30% nerdy. Bryan is 70% nerdy, 20% dorky, and perhaps 10% geeky. Problem solved.
Personally I think I'm 55% nerdy, 40% dorky, 5% geeky. I'm a big nerd about a lot of things. I'm a self-proclaimed word nerd and there's a closeted computer nerd lurking around too. And of course, I'm a dork like all people can be dorks. I can be awkward and act in ways that cause others to look at me funny. I jump around when others are quiet. I am incredibly clumsy.
I'll cop to the 5% geek but I don't deny that perhaps there's more geek than I would dare profess.
If you have already read my first post, you may notice the subject I tackled is a departure from the usual frivolous, silly musings from livejournal. For as long as I've been blogging, a pet peeve of mine was the amount of word vomit on others' blogs. Ranting, raving, un-edited ideas spewed on the screen. I learned to skim through those posts.
I never liked to tackle meaty, controversial topics because I was afraid that I would be misunderstood. Many blog ideas fell by the wayside.
In the last couple of years, I have realized that I'm a people pleaser. Not your run-of-the-mill "as you wish" people pleaser, but a people pleaser nonetheless. I can't stand it if people don't like me or are offended by something I've said or done. I make every effort to fix the relationship, backing down and becoming pleasant to re-establish the friendship.
It has held me back from being bold and has reduced me to another "nice" person. I don't have a bucket list, but there are a few things I feel I would love to do if it weren't for this inconvenient habit.
I realized that part of becoming more like Jesus is becoming misunderstood and disliked. You read about it throughout the gospels. At times Jesus was extremely popular but he was attacked and villified many other times. And he didn't care as long as he knew he was doing what the Father wanted of him.
So my new blog is my attempt to put my musings out there for others to scrutinize, to disagree with, to judge, to misunderstand. Yet it will be my creative outlet for what I consider interesting, perhaps insignificant ideas working itself out in my head.
When I was young, being a Christian meant that you were pro-life. God wouldn't want us to kill anybody, much less babies. It violates one of the ten commandments. Life however, is not as black and white as it used to be. And growing in this thing called "critical thinking" makes it all rather inconvenient at times.
I find the argument between pro-choice and pro-life rather moot because they're not even arguing about the same thing. Intense emotions aside, I think maybe they might even agree on certain points.
The opposite of pro-life isn't pro-choice and vice versa. The opposite of pro-life is pro-death. If you ask the pro-choice camp whether or not they were pro-death, I'm guessing they would say no. They're concerned about the right for a woman to decide what course of action to take. Pro-lifers may say that in this case it shouldn't be a choice, but I'm guessing these pro-life folks are probably big into choice in other areas of their lives. After all, a big part of the contingency are right wing Christians, and don't Christians believe in free will? Don't we believe that God gave us the ability to choose between good and bad, and then deal with the consequences of those choices?
I don't imagine that pro-choicers think that having an abortion is a great decision. Go ahead, have irresponsible sex, have an abortion. For them it may be trying to help people make the best choice based on given circumstances. I wish every decision to have an abortion could be educated and well thought out. However, that is neither the case for many human decisions nor can the educators be completely neutral.
Some might say that I'm misrepresenting the idea of free will. Maybe I am, but what I'm most concerned with is how God can enter into people's brokenness. I'm under the theological belief that the unborn babies go to heaven immediately, and I think that's a great place to be. Sometimes I long for heaven. In my longings, I want to be there already rather than deal with all the events that make feel like I'm "growing up."
God takes care of the babies. What we're left with are women who can't ever forget their decision and are deeply wounded because of it. Those who say they aren't are in denial and they would deny my assertion. In an abortion situation, my concern is not for the babies but for the women. It saddens me that they are the ones the pro-lifers end up attacking and alienating. Making someone feel worse about a difficult decision seems so far from the compassion that Jesus teaches.
I no longer know where I land on the pro-choice/pro-life debate. I guess you who are reading are along for the ride. I can see where my thought process may be taking me, and even I feel somewhat heretical.