Friday, April 3, 2020

Blogaround

1. I Refuse to Participate in Worship that Leads to Devastation (posted March 25) "In Isaiah, worship that endangers others is described as an abomination, a weariness to God, “solemn assemblies with iniquity.” Those who continue to worship in a way that brings harm to those who need protection – they have blood on their hands (Isa 1:15). God hides God’s eyes from them. God ignores their prayers."

2. Wow, this tweet is exactly 100% what I used to believe prayer was:


3. Asia may have been right about coronavirus and face masks, and the rest of the world is coming around (posted April 1) Well HOW ABOUT THAT.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

List of People Who Are Not Allowed to Call Themselves "Pro-Life"

Lord Farquaad says, "Some of you may die, but that is a sacrifice I'm willing to make." Image source.
Last week Libby Anne wrote a post about anti-abortion conservatives who have suddenly decided this whole "social distancing" thing is a huge pain and is incredibly bad for the economy, therefore we should all go back to work and let old people die. This has inspired me to create a list of people who need to be publicly shamed for making such an argument.

As far as I know, this is only a small minority of conservatives... but they are loud and are being given a platform to share their heartless, anti-life, illogical views. (First of all, the idea that if we all go back to work like normal, then the economy will be just fine- that's nonsense. Second, we know that after we get through this pandemic, the economy will recover. Might take a while, but it will recover. People who die of COVID-19 will not recover.)

Anyone who makes this argument should be ashamed of themselves. We will not forget. We will not forget these assholes who want to sacrifice our grandparents to save "the economy." They should be ashamed of themselves, and in the future any time they try to give any kind of advice, we should remind them of what they said in the middle of this global crisis.

In particular, if any of them ever claims to be "pro-life", we will not let that go unchallenged. We will remember.

("But wait," you may say, "maybe some people on this list didn't really understand how big the threat is, and how many hundreds of thousands of Americans could realistically die." All right, the statements I've quoted below were made in March 2020, or after. There has been over 1 month of data from places like China and Italy. If these writers didn't do their homework before broadcasting their half-baked opinions out into the world, they should be shamed for that too. Spreading misinformation about a deadly pandemic, just to get clicks.)

So I'm compiling a list here of the public figures that have made the "we should let our grandmas die to save the economy" argument. We can use this post as a reference in the future. And if you see any public figures/ politicians/ writers with large platforms who should be added to the list, leave a comment and I'll add them.

(Note: I'm not checking if these people do in fact identify as "pro-life"- perhaps some people on this list identify as pro-choice. But that's not really the point- the point is it's reprehensible to argue that we should just let people die because it's too much trouble to do all this social distancing stuff. That's bad enough on it's own, but it's extra-bad when they also claim they are "pro-life." And also, most people making this argument are politically conservative, which correlates with identifying as "pro-life.")

Here they are. Shame them. Don't let them forget this.

Donald Trump (US President):
When asked if he would make the decision to loosen social-distancing recommendations even if it went against the advice of federal public health officials, Trump said: “If it was up to the doctors they might say shut down the entire world.”
Dan Patrick (Texas Lt. Gov.)
No one reached out to me and said, "As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?" And if that's the exchange, I'm all in. I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country like me — I have six grandchildren — that's what we all care about and what we love more than anything are those children. And I want to live smart and see through this, but I don't want the whole country to be sacrificed. 
Stephen Moore (economist who advises the president):
Moore added: “I’m not in any way disparaging the public health people. They are vital to this process. But you can’t have a policy that says we’re going to save every human life at any cost, no matter how many trillions of dollars you’re talking about.”
Larry Kudlow (National Economic Council Director)
“The president is right. The cure can’t be worse than the disease,” Kudlow said on Fox News on Monday. “And we’re going to have to make some difficult trade-offs.”
Tomi Lahren ("Fox Nation" host)
At some point we have to weigh the consequences of coronavirus itself against the millions of lives these measures are destroying. I fear when the emotional, mental and financial toll of this sets in we are going to have a crisis on our hands far more crippling than the virus.
R. R. Reno (writer at "First Things")
This statement reflects a disastrous sentimentalism. Everything for the sake of physical life? What about justice, beauty, and honor? There are many things more precious than life. And yet we have been whipped into such a frenzy in New York that most family members will forgo visiting sick parents. Clergy won’t visit the sick or console those who mourn. The Eucharist itself is now subordinated to the false god of “saving lives.”
Jonathan Ashbach (writer at "The Federalist")
First, consider the massive sacrifice of life Americans are making in their social distancing campaign. True, nearly all are not literally dying, but they are giving up a good deal of what makes life worth living — work, classes, travel, hugs, time with friends, conferences, quiet nights out, and so forth. Probably almost everyone would be willing to live a somewhat shorter normal life rather than a somewhat longer life under current conditions. The abandonment of normalcy, therefore, is in many ways equivalent to shortening the lives of the entire nation.

Of course, there is more to it than losing some quality of life. The current response is quickly driving the United States into a recession, which will result in a great deal of misery for tens of millions of people. Again, balancing lives against money sounds harsh, but everyone does so — and must do so — whether he is conscious of the fact or not. Not to mention, a recession also means higher poverty rates, which lead to higher mortality rates.

More is at stake than lives and money: namely freedom. Even for those of us who are by no means libertarian, the increasingly draconian measures put in place across the nation, especially in California, to isolate people and prevent them from moving at will are raising serious questions about whether Americans are in a dress rehearsal for tyranny.
Matthew Dowd (ABC News political analyst)
I believe President Trump is right about at least one thing today. We must find a balance between protecting citizens health and protecting our economy. Decimating our economy in pursuit of fighting the virus doesn’t do our citizens any good in the short or long term.
Glenn Beck (radio host)
"Even if we all get sick, I’d rather die than kill the country," he added. "Because it’s not the economy that’s dying, it’s the country.”
Dennis Prager (radio host)
If Andrew Cuomo were, or the Andrew Cuomo attitude prevailed, we wouldn't have fought the Nazis. We wouldn't have fought the Japanese fascists. We wouldn't have had -- that attitude that the only value is saving a life, that attitude leads to appeasement. It must. It leads to cowardice, it has to. No one can die? Then it's not a war.
Heather Mac Donald (writer at "The New Criterion")
There have been 5,123 deaths worldwide so far—also a fraction of traffic deaths worldwide. And unlike coronavirus, driving kills indiscriminately, mowing down the young and the old, the sick and the healthy. The coronavirus, by comparison, is targeted in its lethality, overwhelmingly striking the elderly or the already severely sick. As of Monday, approximately 89 percent of Italy’s coronavirus deaths had been over the age of seventy, according to The Wall Street Journal. Sad to say, those victims were already nearing the end of their lifespans. They might have soon died from another illness.
Joy Pullmann (writer at "The Federalist")
My point here is not that I like people dying. It’s that very often our society chooses to allow deaths because the alternative is worse. I’m suggesting the severe social and economic tradeoffs of unlimited quarantine are an important consideration that is not being taken seriously enough.
Jesse Kelly (writer at "The Federalist")
You do not destroy your economy for any reason. For ANY reason. Not for a virus. Not for a plague. Not if someone drops a freaking nuclear bomb on 10 of your cities.

Your economy is your lifeblood. Look around you. That’s all cause of your economy.

The show must go on.
Jesse Kelly again:
If given the choice between dying and plunging the country I love into a Great Depression, I’d happily die.
Matthew Schmitz (writer at "First Things")
Unless religious leaders reopen the churches, they will appear to value earthly above eternal life. Like grocery stores, churches can be kept open in a manner consistent with public health.
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Shame.

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All my posts about COVID-19:
I'm in Shanghai, and I'm concerned about the coronavirus (January 23)
An update on the situation in Shanghai (January 28)
About Compassion and Reading the News (January 29)
Welcome Baby Square Root! (February 3)
Remember the old days when we used to go outside? (February 4)
So we're (sort of) back to work here in Shanghai (February 12)
Blogaround (February 13)
Blogaround (February 20)
Shanghai is a good place for immigrants. (And I have feelings about it.) (February 24)
Blogaround (February 27)
Well *now* I'm glad I stayed in China (March 8)
The Weirdest Deja Vu (March 15)
Blogaround (March 19)
I'm an American in China. I CANNOT BELIEVE Some of You Are Still Going Out. (March 22)
Blogaround (March 25)
China Bans Foreigners (Like Me) From Entering the Country (March 29)
List of People Who Are Not Allowed to Call Themselves "Pro-Life" (April 2)
Blogaround (April 3)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

China Bans Foreigners (Like Me) From Entering the Country

A worker in a hazmat suit moves luggage at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Image source.
So currently the international community in China is in a bit of a panic because China has banned foreigners from entering the country. Specifically, foreigners who have a Chinese visa or residence permit- which is everyone I know. I have a residence permit. (If you're like, a diplomat or something, then you're not banned.)

I am already in China, so I'm not directly affected by this. I will just carry on as normal, going to work, wearing a mask in public and at work, all that. But it means that if I leave the country, I can't get back in. And we don't know how long this will last. Makes me feel very far from my family.

Yes, it makes sense for China to not allow international travelers. Inside mainland China, there are barely any new COVID-19 cases at all- some days 0, some days 1. But every day there are a few dozen new cases in China from people who just arrived from abroad. As far as I know, all international travelers are required to quarantine for 14 days- and if this is all done correctly, then any infections coming in from abroad will be caught during the quarantine, so there won't be any spread beyond that. But yes, it makes sense that they would want fewer people coming in. Other countries have done the same thing.

(Please note, though, that the majority of people bringing the virus back to China are Chinese citizens.)

Unlike the US, China's ban does NOT have an exception for immediate family of citizens. In other words, if you're married to a Chinese citizen, you're still not allowed to enter China. People are unhappy about this.

Also, even though China is just doing the same thing that other countries have done, the situation is different. A lot of international people who have lived in China long-term left in early February because of the virus. That was back when China was the only country facing this crisis, and we viewed the rest of the world as "safe." A lot of people took the "I'll just go hang out in another country for 2 months until this blows over" approach, and now it has very much backfired.

As things started to get better in China and worse in other countries, international people started trying to come back to their homes in China. It has been an extremely tricky process: flights have been cancelled, everyone is worried about catching the disease while stuck on a plane with hundreds of other people, China's rules about quarantines have been changing every day, and it makes a big difference which country your layover was in. Very very tricky. Some people decided "we should go back now before all travel is banned" and some people decided "I will wait a few weeks so I can learn from other people's experiences to get a better idea of what the quarantine process in China will be like."

And in some families, the dad is back in China already because he needed to get back to work, and the mom and kids are in their home country... they're separated and now they're stuck there.

This isn't like the travel bans in other countries, affecting tourists and business travelers. This affects long-term residents who uprooted their whole lives a month ago because of the virus, and were prepared to spend 14 days in quarantine in order to come back.

So... turns out I made the right decision, staying here. And... I want to talk about prayer a little bit. Oh I have a lot of opinions about where the heck God is in this pandemic, but I haven't posted any of those opinions on my blog because this is difficult emotionally for everyone, and I don't feel it would be helpful for me to criticize people's religious beliefs right now.

But. I do want to say a few things about prayer.

In late January/ early February when all this started, I wondered if I should leave China. I have a baby now, and more than anything I want to keep him safe. I weighed a lot of different factors:
  • the situation in China and how much the virus was spreading
  • my ability to stay in my own home and feel safe
  • risks of catching the virus at the airport or during the flight
  • China does not recognize my baby's US citizenship (because he also has Chinese citizenship)- this might cause problems if we end up needing the US government to evacuate us
  • possible future travel restrictions or flight cancellations that would make it hard to leave in the future
  • I have a job here and it's expected that everyone goes back to the office after a few weeks of working from home
  • who is gonna take care of my cat if I leave?
  • my baby is not fully vaccinated yet; we are following the Chinese vaccine schedule and have to go get a vaccine every 2 weeks- don't want to interrupt that process by leaving China
  • what if I go to the US, and then later the virus spreads to the US anyway, so I have to live through the whole thing twice?
Factors I did not consider:
  • praying and asking for God's help to make the decision
I decided to stay. Many immigrants decided to stay, and many decided to leave. If my circumstances were different- if I lived alone in an extremely crappy apartment and I didn't have a baby- I probably would have left.

I'm so glad I didn't pray about it. I'm so glad that it's been YEARS since I even considered the idea of praying about decisions I needed to make.

Why? Because the idea that I can somehow discern the "right answer" in an uncertain situation if only I can "hear God" correctly is just way too anxiety-inducing. The reality was that every option had its own risks, and it was impossible to predict what would happen. But back when I had a personal relationship with God, I believed that I could have certainty. I believed that God knew which option was "the right choice" and that if I prayed correctly, They would tell me. I could have certainty if I was a really really good Christian.

Back then, decision-making was not a matter of looking at reality, acknowledging the risks and uncertainty, and making the choices that I felt best handled that uncertainty. Instead, it was all about my ability to "listen to God." I would pray and pray and pray, and I fully believed that the "right answer" was RIGHT THERE, if only I was godly enough to hear it.

In other words, I traded the uncertainty of the real world for the uncertainty of "listening to God." Every little thought or feeling that crossed my mind, I had to analyze and wonder about if it was God trying to speak to me. I had to second-guess my motivations- maybe I selfishly want to do this, and therefore I'm imagining that God is telling me to do it, but They're actually not. 

It was all one big wild game where nothing was actually connected to actual facts that could be checked in the actual real world.

If I don't "listen to God" and I just make the decision myself, yeah sure I can't predict the future so there's no way I can be sure it's the right decision, but at least I can base it on actual real information. I can read the news. I can see what's going on at the local grocery store. I can hear from other people and find out the reasons they made the choices they did.

I'd much rather have that reality-based uncertainty than all this second-guessing about "am I hearing God right?"

Also, when I use the reality-based, no-prayer way of making decisions, it means I don't judge people who came to a different conclusion than me. It's not about "I am a better Christian, I heard God correctly and you didn't." No. I understand that we are all working with incomplete information, and it's impossible to know for sure we're making the "right" choice. We all prioritize different things, and make different predictions about the future. We're trying our best. I don't believe that people who left China and now are in a bad situation where they can't come back are "inferior" to me because they made the "wrong" choice. No, I just think I'm lucky.

So. To sum up: This pandemic is especially hard for immigrants. Many countries now are banning foreigners from entering- and it makes sense, but it still sucks. I personally am not in that bad of a situation- I'm stuck in China (or rather, I could leave but then I wouldn't be able to come back...) but for now that's okay. And I'm so glad I'm not adding extra stress to my life by praying.

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All my posts about COVID-19:
I'm in Shanghai, and I'm concerned about the coronavirus (January 23)
An update on the situation in Shanghai (January 28)
About Compassion and Reading the News (January 29)
Welcome Baby Square Root! (February 3)
Remember the old days when we used to go outside? (February 4)
So we're (sort of) back to work here in Shanghai (February 12)
Blogaround (February 13)
Blogaround (February 20)
Shanghai is a good place for immigrants. (And I have feelings about it.) (February 24)
Blogaround (February 27)
Well *now* I'm glad I stayed in China (March 8)
The Weirdest Deja Vu (March 15)
Blogaround (March 19)
I'm an American in China. I CANNOT BELIEVE Some of You Are Still Going Out. (March 22)
Blogaround (March 25)
China Bans Foreigners (Like Me) From Entering the Country (March 29)
List of People Who Are Not Allowed to Call Themselves "Pro-Life" (April 2)
Blogaround (April 3)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Blogaround

1. All of the Museum of the Bible’s Dead Sea Scrolls Are Fake, Report Finds (posted March 16) "All of the 16 fragments, says Loll in a statement, exhibited 'characteristics that suggest they are deliberate forgeries created in the twentieth century with the intent to mimic authentic Dead Sea Scroll fragments.'"

2. Fake animal news abounds on social media as coronavirus upends life (posted March 20) "If there’s a silver lining of the pandemic, people said, this was it—animals were bouncing back, running free in a humanless world. But it wasn’t real."

3. The Legal Storms Around ‘The Secret’ (posted March 19) "Gosh, that whole Law of Attraction thing didn’t work out too well for either of them."

4. Abortion Opponents: Is Saving Lives Worth the Disruption? (posted March 24) "I have rarely seen arguments that so directly refute all of conservatives’ pro-life claims." Libby Anne is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.

Another quote from her post: "I am beyond baffled that anyone would think that the social distancing we are currently putting in place is more disruptive than being pregnant. It isn’t. It really, really isn’t. Being pregnant is far more disruptive. Why is it okay to disrupt women’s lives to save a life, but suddenly questionable to disrupt other lives to save millions of lives?" Yes. 1000% agree. I just did a whole pregnancy (and now I have a little son)- a planned and wanted pregnancy with no complications threatening my long-term health- and OH MY GOD it was AWFUL. It was THE WORST. I hated being pregnant so much. Comparing that with working from home for a few months... there's no comparison. And apparently now we got "pro-life" men writing about how we need to let our grandmas die, you know, for convenience.

Fortunately this seems to be a very small minority of conservatives, not a very common widespread opinion.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

I'm an American in China. I CANNOT BELIEVE Some of You Are Still Going Out.

A sign that says "Shelter in Place". Image source.
Oh my god. It has come to my attention that people in the United States are still going out for non-essential reasons. Some people are still going to restaurants, bars, and malls, still taking trips to other cities. Oh my god.

We are in a war against the COVID-19 pandemic and we need everyone's help. For most people, that means STAY HOME. DO NOT go out. DO NOT go visit your friends. Some people are like "well let's still meet for church but in smaller groups" and "we'll just be really careful about washing our hands"- NO. NO. NOT OKAY. Not good enough. DO NOT have any contact with people unless it's essential- like buying groceries or getting health care.

I read through the news and I see headlines about "this event was cancelled" and I'm like WHY WAS IT NOT CANCELLED ALREADY??? Headlines about "the governor ordered everyone to stay home" and I'm like THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN STAYING HOME ALREADY.

I live in Shanghai, China. At the end of January, we all drastically changed our lifestyles because of COVID-19. (For details, read through my blog posts from the past 2 months.) The Chinese government extended the Chinese New Year holiday so people would STAY HOME. When people started going back to work, the majority worked from home for 2 weeks. Anyone who had traveled during the Chinese New Year holiday had to work from home for 2 weeks, and had to communicate with HR every day about if they had any symptoms.

China has this under control now, but we know it's not over. We are not letting our guard down. We all wear masks in public and at work. Security guards check everyone's temperature at the entrance to subway stations, office buildings, etc. Food deliveries get dropped off at a specified location (like the gate of your apartment complex) so you don't have any face-to-face interaction with the delivery person.

China is taking this very very seriously. Maybe because China remembers the 2003 SARS outbreak.

And I look at what the United States is doing... maybe I'm not getting an accurate picture because I'm not actually there? But it looks like the US isn't doing anywhere near as much as what China's doing. The US is not doing enough. And I understand that the government and the infrastructure are different, so it's not possible for the US to do the exact same things... BUT I SEE PEOPLE STILL GOING OUT. What are you doing. STOP. STOP INFECTING EACH OTHER. STAY HOME.

What if one of you infects my grandma?

But you say "well I am not sick. I have no symptoms. I am not infecting people." You don't know that. Some people don't show any symptoms until they've already been infected for 14 days- AND SPREADING IT AROUND TO OTHER PEOPLE. COVID-19 has been detected in all 50 states in the US. It is everywhere, and the US has not done anywhere near enough testing. You don't know who has it and who doesn't.

But you say "this isn't a big deal, it's basically the same as the flu." What. NO. Back at the end of January, when all of us in China first heard about this, and we panicked and stayed in our homes, we really honestly did not know whether it was "the same as the flu." Back then, I wondered if the Chinese government had overreacted. Back then, we really didn't have enough information.

But now there is NO EXCUSE. Now we have 2 months' worth of data on this. There is NO EXCUSE for talk of "this is just the same as the flu." It's NOT. Look what happened in Wuhan. Look what happened in Italy. THIS IS NOT THE FLU. The health care system cannot handle the number of sick people, and patients are dying because there simply are not enough doctors and resources to give everyone the care they need. The math tells us that the US is heading towards that same result. There are people who are infected right now and don't know it, and when they start showing symptoms, will our health care system be able to help them all? Our hardworking doctors and nurses need all the help they can get, and that means YOU need to do your part to not spread the disease.

STOP going out. STOP seeing your friends. STOP seeing your relatives. DO NOT TRAVEL. STOP infecting each other.

This is a war. Be safe, everyone. Limit contact with people as much as possible. Look out for each other. Bring groceries to your elderly neighbors. If you hear about your friends leaving their homes for non-essential reasons, tell them to STOP. We all need to take this seriously so we can defeat it.

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All my posts about COVID-19:
I'm in Shanghai, and I'm concerned about the coronavirus (January 23)
An update on the situation in Shanghai (January 28)
About Compassion and Reading the News (January 29)
Welcome Baby Square Root! (February 3)
Remember the old days when we used to go outside? (February 4)
So we're (sort of) back to work here in Shanghai (February 12)
Blogaround (February 13)
Blogaround (February 20)
Shanghai is a good place for immigrants. (And I have feelings about it.) (February 24)
Blogaround (February 27)
Well *now* I'm glad I stayed in China (March 8)
The Weirdest Deja Vu (March 15)
Blogaround (March 19)
I'm an American in China. I CANNOT BELIEVE Some of You Are Still Going Out. (March 22)
Blogaround (March 25)
China Bans Foreigners (Like Me) From Entering the Country (March 29)
List of People Who Are Not Allowed to Call Themselves "Pro-Life" (April 2)
Blogaround (April 3)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Blogaround

1. Well I'm late to the party on this, but The Gospel Coalition posted an article about how PMS is ... *checks notes* ... sinful? Here it is: PMS: The Monthly Fight with the Flesh

This is beyond ridiculous but I don't have time to write a whole post about it. I'll just say this: Your body has needs. Listen to your body. If your body's physical needs aren't being met, it's easier to get stressed/angry/etc, so that's why it's important to pay attention to your body's needs. Take care of those needs because they're real and they matter.

Of course TGC went a totally different direction with it, like if you get stressed/angry because of hormones, well that means you are BAD and SINFUL so just STOP.

2. When gray hair is not a crown of glory: Old age proves Rapture preachers wrong (posted January 21) "Jack Van Impe started his ministry 68 years ago, assuring his followers that the Rapture, Argmageddon, and the End of Time were poised to occur at any moment. At no moment in any of those 68 years did the Rapture occur."

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And a few things about the pandemic:

1. Congratulations to Greg Locke for having the worst Christian take on COVID-19:



2. Some good news from China: China reports no domestic cases of coronavirus for first time since outbreak began (this is specifically referring to Wednesday, March 18).

Meanwhile, SOME PEOPLE (*cough* the orange antichrist *cough*) are insisting on calling this "the Chinese virus"- being nakedly racist and blaming China, during a global pandemic where we DESPERATELY NEED TO LEARN FROM CHINA.

3. I love you all. Stay safe. Cancel your plans, cancel your travel, and stay home. I repeat: Cancel your plans, cancel your travel, and stay home. Help bring groceries to your elderly neighbors. Take care of your mental health by not reading the news constantly.

Also, CANCEL YOUR PLANS, CANCEL YOUR TRAVEL, AND STAY HOME. Social distancing saves lives. Do it for my grandma.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Weirdest Deja Vu

Artist rendering of what a microscopic virus looks like. Image source.
So... As an American living in China, I have a really weird perspective on this whole COVID-19 thing.

At the end of January, all of China went into a panic over it, and everything was closed and we were told to stay home as much as possible. And now, in the middle of March, the United States is doing that exact same thing. It's so weird to see all my friends and family in the US going through all the exact same things that I went through a month and a half ago here in China. 

This advice is all over the internet, so you probably have read it a hundred times before, but I'll say it anyway: Stay home. Cancel your plans. Cancel your travel. Even if you are young and healthy and confident you won't die from it, you need to cancel your plans so you don't end up infecting other people. Do it for your grandma. Do it for my grandma.

The US needs to find out who is infected. There needs to be a lot of testing. I *hope* the number of "new cases" increases scary fast in the next few days, because those aren't really "new cases"- it's discovering the infections that already exist. We need that information. We need to find out how bad this is, how much it has been secretly spreading. For now, everyone isolate yourselves and wait for that data. (When I say "everyone" actually that doesn't include medical staff. They have a much harder job ahead of them. We need to do our part to help by STAYING HOME and NOT SPREADING THE DISEASE and making their job worse.)

China is doing okay. I'm not scared any more, being here. The Chinese government has handled this well, and oh god I hope the United States learns from Asian countries.

I want to say something positive, so I'll say this: It is possible to fight this. But everyone has to work together. Wash your hands, limit your face-to-face interaction with other people, give all your employees paid sick leave, make the testing FREE for EVERYONE. 

Basically, do what China did.

Love you all ~ hope you are all okay.

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All my posts about COVID-19:
I'm in Shanghai, and I'm concerned about the coronavirus (January 23)
An update on the situation in Shanghai (January 28)
About Compassion and Reading the News (January 29)
Welcome Baby Square Root! (February 3)
Remember the old days when we used to go outside? (February 4)
So we're (sort of) back to work here in Shanghai (February 12)
Blogaround (February 13)
Blogaround (February 20)
Shanghai is a good place for immigrants. (And I have feelings about it.) (February 24)
Blogaround (February 27)
Well *now* I'm glad I stayed in China (March 8)
The Weirdest Deja Vu (March 15)
Blogaround (March 19)
I'm an American in China. I CANNOT BELIEVE Some of You Are Still Going Out. (March 22)
Blogaround (March 25)
China Bans Foreigners (Like Me) From Entering the Country (March 29)
List of People Who Are Not Allowed to Call Themselves "Pro-Life" (April 2)
Blogaround (April 3)

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Boundaries and My Religion

A church building. Image source.
Last year Samantha Field wrote a post called the trauma tentacle monster, and I've been thinking about it off and on for a while. It's about how anger is a very important part of the healing process- in particular, for those of us leaving evangelicalism or fundamentalism, we need to be allowed to be angry and talk about our trauma. But it's not healthy to stay in that place forever. Eventually you need to move on. But the difficulty is that telling people "you need to move on" sounds a lot like the way our emotions are policed within evangelicalism. I guess the answer is you can only decide for yourself when it's time to "move on", and let other people decide on their own timeframe.

All of this has me thinking about myself and how much better my mental health is now than it was a few years ago.

When I was in the process of leaving evangelicalism, I was so angry. And I had good reasons to be angry: I was discovering that the belief system I'd dedicated my life to was built on a foundation of blatantly lying about people who were different from us. And that when we start to realize this and point it out, our "church family" responds by accusing us of not caring about the bible or God, not being a real Christian, just wanting to take the easy way out, just wanting to sin. Of course I was angry.

And I had depression, because I lived with Hendrix when we were not married and obviously that means God thinks I'm dirty and bad.

My whole religion and worldview and value system was changing. I was angry and depressed and didn't feel safe. And I now see that there were times I got in arguments with people, when that really wasn't a useful thing to do. I lashed out at them because I saw them as representations of the things I was angry about.

Even though that wasn't a good thing to do, maybe it was unavoidable- so I can't necessarily say I "regret" it. But I wasn't in a healthy place, and I'm glad I'm doing so much better now.

What's different now? I can sum it up like this: boundaries. Now I know about boundaries. Now I know that I am in charge of myself. I have the right to make my own decisions, to define my own identity, to accept myself. If other people don't like it, well, whatever. They can't do anything to me. It's my life, not theirs. Boundaries.

I used to believe that everybody could just be all up in everybody else's business. Barge into people's lives and ask them personal questions and demand that they give an explanation for choices they've made in their own personal lives. That's what Christian "accountability" is about, and that's what evangelism is about. (And also my family's love language is teasing and pestering each other about everything... which is fun and hilarious and not something I'd want to change, but it very much did NOT teach me boundaries.) I thought that my choices and my identity were up for public scrutiny and debate, and it was my responsibility to offer arguments refuting anyone who told me I wasn't allowed to make the choices I made.

And so I was so stressed and anxious about the problem of not being able to convince church people that I'm a Christian. I thought they were in a position to judge me. I thought my worth and my identity was based on my success in convincing them.

None of that is true. Boundaries. Boundaries means I'm in charge of myself, and I'm not responsible for other people's opinions or feelings about things that I'm within my rights to do. I have nothing to prove to them. It's a game I can't win, and so what? Boundaries means I can opt out of playing.

A few years ago, I was searching far and wide for a Christian group that would accept me and tell me I am a real Christian. I cared so much about their opinions, and therefore I was extremely stressed and had depression symptoms and got into arguments.

But now I don't need church people to tell me if I'm good enough or not. And now I'm able to attend my parents' church (the church where I grew up) every now and then, without getting angry. I don't see myself as part of that church; that ship sailed a long time ago, and it doesn't matter to me anymore. I'm more like an anthropological researcher checking in on them. Occasionally I speak up and comment on something I disagree with, but I don't try to offer a grand refutation of every last bit, just a few sentences.

Used to be, when I spoke up like that in church, my goal was to get them to agree with me, or get them to tell me I'm allowed to believe what I believe, or get them to change their mind. But I don't need their approval anymore, and so I'm not trying to actually convince anyone. Instead, my goals now are to make onlookers aware that not all Christians agree with what was said, and maybe prompt people to think about it more on their own time and change their minds in the future. And so I'm not interested in getting into a whole argument. All that's needed is 1 or 2 sentences to summarize what I want to say.

I can sum up what's changed by saying "I know about boundaries now" but the reality wasn't that easy. Not caring what church people think about my personal life was a gradual change that took a lot of time. I don't want anyone to take this as "well just stop caring what they think, it's easy" because our church friends were our closest friends, so of course there's a lot of pain in being cut off from them. That pain is real, and it truly does take time to get past it.

And another thing that was ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for my healing was being completely out of Christian culture for years. Like when did I stop trying to go to church, 2015? 2016? SUCH A GOOD DECISION. Since then, I have gone to church a few times here and there, but it's been on my own terms. Not "I am dependent on these people to meet my need to have my Christian identity affirmed."

Also, really glad I went to therapy back when I had depression.

All of this has me thinking about my current feelings toward evangelicalism and what I want to write about on this blog in the future. I find I don't care as much about whatever backwards nonsense thing some evangelical pastor tweeted. Like, oh look, John Piper posted a bad take about hell. Well, of course he did. What else is new. I can't find it in me to really care that much.

I don't want to write about "here's a detailed explanation of this or that specific evangelical belief and why it's effed-up." I got out of that world and it doesn't affect me any more, so why spend my time on it? In the past, I needed to write those posts; as I said, the angry part is an important phase we need to go through. And I know there are people out there who need to read posts like that. That's completely valid. But it's not necessarily what I want to focus on.

I want to write more positively about "here's what Christianity means to me" and things like that. I like writing about asexuality because there are very few other bloggers talking about it. I want to talk about the bible. I've written several posts lately on culture and objectivity, and I want to keep exploring that; being an immigrant in China has given me a unique perspective on that. I have a baby now, so I have a lot of opinions about pregnancy and parenting. And I have a bunch of other ideas, but lololol I don't necessarily want to say yet because maybe it'll take me years to actually get them written, and I'll feel like I'm letting you readers down by teasing them. I have ideas that have been cooking for years...

So that's where I am right now. Reading Field's post got me reflecting on how my own feelings toward evangelicalism have changed, and how my mental health is so much better now than it was a few years ago. It's because of boundaries. It took a lot of time, therapy, and avoiding Christian culture, but now I really do believe that my beliefs belong to me and I don't need anyone else's approval. I don't need to get into arguments to prove myself to anyone. If they want to judge me for things that are none of their business, well, whatever. I can't be bothered to care.

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Related:
From "Virtues Morality" To "Boundaries Morality" 
Accepting Myself (or, I'm Great, and It Doesn't Matter What God Thinks)
Boundaries and Lunch
Captain Marvel, Boundaries, and Why I Don't Go To Church 

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Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2019 Reader Survey last May. One of the top-voted topics was mental health~ hence this post.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Well *now* I'm glad I stayed in China

Two women wearing masks on the New York City subway. Image source.
About a month ago, when all this COVID-19 stuff started, the international community here in China was asking, "should we leave?" Some people did. Some people went back to their own country, some people went to Thailand or Japan to "wait this out." I heard anecdotes about cancelled flights and empty planes. The US consulate was recommending Americans leave China.

But I stayed. Because I felt safe staying in my own apartment, and didn't want to deal with the huge life disruption that would result from suddenly leaving the country.

And looking at the situation now, it looks like the city of Shanghai is doing okay and has this basically under control, and the US is now at the point where I was when I first blogged about COVID-19 at the end of January: I'm in Shanghai, and I'm concerned about the coronavirus. Now the US is facing the panic and uncertainty.

It's ironic that back then I thought of the US as "safe"- like if I could just take my son and get the hell out of China, then we'd be fine. I guess that's because usually, that's how it feels to travel to the other side of the world. Get on a plane, then 14 hours later you arrive in a whole new world, where things that happen there have no effect on things that happen here.

Now people who've left China but want to come back are in a difficult situation. A lot of places in China are asking anyone who traveled from anywhere to do a voluntary 2-week quarantine at home. And people are talking about the flight from Iran to Beijing, where it was found that 2 of the passengers were infected, so then many of the other passengers from the plane were forced to do a 2-week quarantine. On social media I've seen people talking about "I want to come back to Shanghai, but what if I get stuck in quarantine?"

I haven't traveled outside of Shanghai at all in the past month or 2, so I'm able to breeze through all the questions about travel history that workplaces, hospitals, etc are asking now. That's not the case for people who have traveled recently.

ANYWAY. Now the US is facing this- and again, it feels so weird to me that China has a problem and then the US has the exact same problem- like, when does that ever happen? To my readers in the US, I'll say this: Wash your hands. Don't be racist. Avoid crowds. Get your information from health experts and not panicked social media posts.

Hope you are all okay and this is over soon.

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All my posts about COVID-19:
I'm in Shanghai, and I'm concerned about the coronavirus (January 23)
An update on the situation in Shanghai (January 28)
About Compassion and Reading the News (January 29)
Welcome Baby Square Root! (February 3)
Remember the old days when we used to go outside? (February 4)
So we're (sort of) back to work here in Shanghai (February 12)
Blogaround (February 13)
Blogaround (February 20)
Shanghai is a good place for immigrants. (And I have feelings about it.) (February 24)
Blogaround (February 27)
Well *now* I'm glad I stayed in China (March 8)
The Weirdest Deja Vu (March 15)
Blogaround (March 19)
I'm an American in China. I CANNOT BELIEVE Some of You Are Still Going Out. (March 22)
Blogaround (March 25)
China Bans Foreigners (Like Me) From Entering the Country (March 29)
List of People Who Are Not Allowed to Call Themselves "Pro-Life" (April 2)
Blogaround (April 3)

Monday, March 2, 2020

Top Posts From 2019

A drawing of 2 dogs. One says to the other, "I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking." Image source.
Hi readers! Thank you so much for reading and commenting on the blog in 2019. Here are the top 8 posts by pageviews:

1. Unaffirming Church Bingo "Great news! I have made this incredibly useful bingo board, for when you ask a Christian if they are LGBTQ-affirming and they give you a non-answer."

2. "Desiring God" Goes Full Toxic Masculinity "This article is ... wow it's really something else. It's an absurd, nonsensical mix of gender roles, misogyny, queermisia, and just generally being an unloving jerk."

3. Captain Marvel, Boundaries, and Why I Don't Go To Church "Because I believe in boundaries morality now, and one aspect of that is you don't have to play by other people's rules. Just because somebody says 'you need to do XYZ' doesn't mean it's actually true."

4. The Bible Lied About Lot's Daughters "It sounds like the story an abuser would tell to cover up the abuse and blame the victims." This one was actually posted on December 31, 2018, but wow the pageviews are so high, it deserves to be on this list. It was too new to really have a chance when "top posts of 2018" was published.

5. If Thanos Tells You To Build An Ark, You Say No "'Noah's ark' is about a genocidal God who's just like a movie supervillain."

6. I Didn't Know I Had a Culture Until I Lost It "Drive thru. Pizza party. Road trip. Oven mitts and measuring spoons and meat thermometers."

7. On Purity, Asexuality, and Timing "But ... if I wasn't in purity culture, would I have had sex I didn't want, because I thought it was 'normal'?"

8. Conservative Christians Teach That Wives Are REQUIRED To Have Sex Even When They Don't Want To. Here Are The Receipts. "This is what I was taught about marriage: that one of the most important aspects of being married is that wives have to frequently say yes to sex they don't want."

And a few more posts that I feel are worth sharing:

1. She was the first (Thank you, Rachel) and Link Roundup of Posts Honoring Rachel Held Evans

2. If A Wife Is Required To Have Sex, That's Not "Intimacy" "It's hard because purity culture taught me 2 completely opposite things: That sex is intrinsically, automatically the most intimate you can possibly be with someone, and that I shouldn't just communicate how I feel during sex if it might affect my husband's enjoyment of it."

3. If One Partner Doesn't Want to Fix the Relationship, Then It's Just Not Fixable "When all the relationship advice I'd heard was about 'here is how to fix your relationship' instead of 'here is how to know if your relationship is worth fixing.'"

4. My "6 Years Later" blog series, reflecting on the fact that I've lived in China for 6 years:
I Didn't Know I Had a Culture Until I Lost It (also linked to it in the above list; it was #6 by pageviews)
On Immigration and Double Standards
Because of an Idea
Culture, Objectivity, God, and the Real Reason I Moved to China

Thanks again to all my great readers! Looking forward to another good year of blogging~

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