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Monday, September 30, 2013

Blogaround

1. Hello, Autumn: Season of Sin (posted September 23) "Moreover, do you care nothing for your sisters in Christ? Are you so far from grace that your conscience is not even piqued when your hands come to wrap that abomination around your neck? Is giving up one single item of clothing for the betterment of others so much to ask?"

2. 6 Castles That Cost Less Than An Apartment In NYC (posted September 23)

3. The directed graph of stereotypical incomprehensibility (posted 2009) "When an English speaker doesn't understand a word one says, it's 'Greek to me'. When a Hebrew speaker encounters this difficulty, it 'sounds like Chinese'. I've been told the Korean equivalent is 'sounds like Hebrew'."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Praying to Buddha

Image source.

So today I went sightseeing at a tourist site with a lot of Buddhism-related stuff. And, you know, most people were just walking around taking pictures of everything, like tourists, but there were also a lot of people praying.

Kneeling down. Burning incense. Swinging their hands, closed in prayer, as they walked by one statue after another. Bowing down with their heads to the ground. Dropping a few coins in the collection box by each statue. Praying out loud.

I just want to know why.

Yeah, I know I'm a bad Christian and would make an even worse missionary. I know the "correct" Christian response is, "Oh this is so SAD! All these people so lost and deceived, praying to Buddha, looking for God here in this empty, false religion. They should be praying to Jesus!"

But how do I know they're lost?

I don't know ANYTHING about Buddhism. I mean, I learned about it in history class in high school, but I don't really remember. I'm not even sure if "praying to Buddha" is an accurate description of what I saw. Is Buddha a god? I think I heard somewhere that Buddhism doesn't really have gods- some Buddhists believe in god(s) and some don't?

So I want to know. I saw all these people praying today, in a country that's officially atheist, and I want to know what it means. What is Buddhism about? What are they praying for? Is it for the same reasons that I pray? What does God think about his Buddhist children? Does he see them differently than his children of other religions? Is it the same God, but they know him by a different name?

I want to find out. I'll have to ask a Chinese friend to tell me all about Buddhism.

I'm not here to judge anybody or change anybody. I'm not here to say, "I don't know anything about your religion, except that it's wrong." Because, seriously? (I'm ashamed to say that's what I would have thought, a few years ago.)

Seeing them praying today, it reminded me to pray too. I prayed to Jesus, that all the people there would be blessed. That's all. No "free them from these lies" or anything like that.

And maybe, just maybe, I sensed God's presence there.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Blogaround

1. Watch: Marraige Proposal At Salt Lake City Home Depot (posted September 13) Awesome!

2. Wesley’s Sweater: Then and Now (posted September 16) As a Trekkie, I think this is fantastic.

3. Bendable, Poseable Jesus (posted September 21)

4. The mystery of God and God-talk (posted September 16) "1 is not a part of the set but stands outside of it."

5. Hell Now A Thriving Epicenter Of Gay Culture (posted September 19) "'I think it’s great that they’ve carved out such a strong community for themselves here,' added the horned beast of ceaseless death and destruction. 'I’m all for it.'"

6. Dad poses the dog in random places (posted September 23) Adorable!

7. Faith, Doubt and the Idol of Certainty: An Interview with Greg Boyd (posted September 17) "And it made me wonder what kind of God would leverage the life of a young man on how well we were to perform this psychological gimmickry, and about a matter that, if we’re honest with ourselves, we can’t be certain of."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, everyone!

Today, September 19, 2013, is the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节 zhōng qiū jié), a big holiday in China. Hooray!

On this day, we spend time with our friends and family, and eat moon cakes! (月饼 yuè bǐng)

"Wow sweet, is that chocolate?!" No. Haha, how American of you. No Perfect Number, it is not chocolate. It's red beans. Image source.

The date of the Mid-Autumn Festival is based on the lunar calender; it is the day with the biggest full moon of the year, and takes place in September or October.

So to all my readers and their friends and families, I'm wishing you a happy Mid-Autumn Festival! Or as we say in China, 中秋节快乐 (zhōng qiū jié kuài lè)!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Psalm 73

Click to view larger version.

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This post is part of a link-up on the topic of Psalm 73. To read other people's posts, click here: A Psalm for Our Cynicism.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Blogaround

Image source.

1. Mr. Rogers Can Still Teach Us (About Biblical Context) (posted September 6) "Rather than this gif representing an actual event of Mr. Rogers flipping people off, it represents something much more... innocuous."

2. Guy Sees Wife For The First Time Again, Wigs Out Cause She's A Total Babe (VIDEO) (posted September 10) This is hilarious.

3. The thing I’d love to forget about the people I disagree with (posted September 11) "And I was wrong."

4. 25 Biblical Roles for Biblical Women (posted September 7) "Say prophetic prayers and praises that have the authority of Scripture: Miriam (Exo. 15:20-21), Deborah (Judg. 5:1ff), Hannah (1 Sam. 2:1ff), Mary (Luke 1:46ff), Elizabeth (Luke 1:41ff)."

5. Dog alerts family to nanny's abuse (posted September 13) [trigger warning: child abuse] This dog is the best.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fluent

I had a dream where I was trying to type the Chinese word 变成 (biàn chéng) [translation: become] and it wouldn't come up when I typed it- I kept getting other characters instead. I tried so hard.

So that means I'm fluent, right? They say when you dream in another language, that means you're fluent.

I feel like I'm fluent. No, I don't understand everything people say. Sometimes I don't understand half of what people say. But whenever I need to go somewhere and ask for something, I no longer feel like "wow this is going to be hard because I'll have to think about how to say it in Chinese." So is that what fluent means?

Image source.

I've lived in China for 2 months now, and Chinese and English are all starting to run together. Somehow I'm able to keep track of which language I'm supposed to use with which people.

When I'm in class with my students? English. That's my job, teaching English. The classes have to be taught entirely in English, with maybe an individual word here or there translated into Chinese.

Talking to random strangers in public? Cashiers, taxi drivers, waiters, person nearest to the elevator buttons... Chinese, of course.

My family back in America? English. They don't know any Chinese.

My boyfriend... well, both of us speak both, so... whatever.

Chinese colleagues at my job? I try to use Chinese, but sometimes it's just easier to speak English. (But I've learned how to say "the copier is broken" in Chinese so... progress!) Most of the staff can speak English well.

Talking with students when they're just hanging out between classes? Well you know, my job is to help them with English, but it's kind of a more casual setting and it's easier to speak Chinese, so... maybe half and half.

And hanging out with students outside of the office- well, that's out in public so I just naturally speak Chinese. Even if they talk to me in English.

The other foreign teachers? Well some of them speak Chinese (not as well as me, haha) and some don't. So... if they can understand, I'll use some simple Chinese. But mostly English.

And the Chinese friends I've made here, unrelated to my job... well they all have their own English ability/ desire to practice English. With some friends, we talk only in Chinese. Some friends speak a little bit of English. And there's one guy I often talk to online, who speaks English really really well, so he types in English and I type in Chinese, unless I'm really tired and English is just easier.

And last but not least, my cat. I think he understands Chinese.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

For God's Kingdom

Today's #psalmsjourney post will be short. Psalm 72 is a prayer for the king, so how about we pray for our governments?

The first thing the psalmist prays for is justice. May the king rule with justice, protecting all those who are weak, ending oppression.

And I believe that's what God's kingdom is like. Justice. No suffering. So when we pray for the leaders of this world to rule with justice, what we're really praying is "your kingdom come, your will be done."

Amen to that.

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This post is part of a link-up on the topic of Psalm 72. To read other people's posts, click here: A Prayer for Our Leaders.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Blogaround

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1. The dangers of apologetics (posted September 1) "The opposite side of this coin is avoiding the questions that people actually are asking about the faith (e.g., why do you treat gay people badly? Why has Christianity inspired so much violence in its history?), perhaps because they are harder to answer in such a way that Christians come out looking good."

2. Jesus Is Not At All Like That (my video for the NALT Christians Project) (posted September 4) "I’m an evangelical Christian because Jesus loves me and declares me to be a beloved child of God. Not because I agreed to hate some other group of God’s beloved children, or to deny them their full equality in society and in the church."

3. When it’s too big (a reflection on Syria) (posted September 4) "All that’s left is to sit in quiet with the world and beg for peace and wisdom and clear paths."

4. Toys R Us to drop 'boys' and 'girls' labelling (posted September 4) Good!

Image source.

5. Hello, Heritage. Goodbye, War. (posted September 2) "Go stand in the most divided places."

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chinese Food (Photo Dump)

Well Chinese food is AWESOME- you simply MUST see what I'm eating. Dude, if you're American and you think of "Chinese food" as that cheap greasy stuff... that's fake Chinese food.

Behold, Chinese food:

炒饭 (chǎo fàn). Fried rice. I LOVE fried rice!

Curry (咖哩 gālí) with chicken and eggplant. SO GOOD!
Cute little waffles with fruit, from an adorable little coffee shop. Take a look at those silly little "forks."
Rice with some kind of beef or pork on top, with sides of egg, veggies, fish thing, and meat floss. Meat floss is weird, man.

What's this? A mountain of ice cream covered in chocolate? Umm, no no. That's shaved ice with red beans on the sides.

And some yellowish cream inside. It wasn't very good.

宫保鸡丁 (gōng bǎo jī dīng). Kung pao chicken. My favorite!

饺子 (jiǎozi). Dumplings.

Enchiladas, from a bar with Western food. Super expensive.

Some interesting oreo flavors here. "Oreo" in Chinese is 奥利奥 (ào lì ào).

Fried rice!

肉丝 (ròu sī). Shredded pork with some veggies. So freakin' good!


唐恩都乐 (táng ēn dōu lè). Dunkin' Donuts.

Some kind of fried pork thing. That looks like icing, doesn't it? Yeah, that's mayonnaise.

Fried rice!

鱼香茄子 (yú xiāng qiézi). Eggplant. Dude, this eggplant dish is one of my FAVORITES!

Here's another picture of kung pao chicken.

So, at a lot of restaurants, you sit down at the table and your dishes are all shrink-wrapped together. And I go there with Chinese people, so I've been unable to convince any of them that this is WEIRD.

Cold noodles. A bit spicy.

回锅肉 (huí guō ròu). Pork with some peppers and stuff. Kind of spicy.

鱼香茄子 (yú xiāng qiézi). Eggplant, again.

鸭舌 (yā shé). Duck tongues. Yes, you read that right: duck tongues. This is what they looked like before cooking. And yeah, once they were cooked, I did eat one. It was... odd.

猪脑 (zhū nǎo). Pig brains, before being cooked. Okay this is horrifying and I did NOT eat any.
Chocolate bread. I love these!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My World is Smaller

I had a skewed view of the world. I have a skewed view of the world. I will have a skewed view of the world.

Always.

Image source.

Years ago, I knew Jesus. I prayed about everything. I praised him over and over for changing my life. Everything made sense. Just pray, just trust God- he is near, he hears, he loves us, and he is active in this world, in our lives.

I felt so good. Honestly, I wish my life could be like that again.

But it's a skewed view of the world. It's just focused on me and my individual relationship with God. And it can't explain tragedies and injustice happening with God seemingly absent.

My world was so small. It was just my little white American Christian life and very strong devotion to my God. As I learned more and more about feminism and the injustice in the world, my whole perspective unraveled.

So I started to view the world from a feminist point of view. Focusing on unjust systems and discrimination against groups of people. Reading blogs from a ton of diverse writers so I could educate myself. Writing about these issues on my blog, hoping I can somehow help to right the wrongs and change this world so it doesn't oppress people. (And I believe someday God will do just that.)

But this is also a skewed view of the world. It focuses so much on what's wrong, and so has led me to believe that God doesn't care and God doesn't help people. I'm a Christian, but I question what the point is of being a Christian. Yeah the bible says we're supposed to pray, but why? God didn't protect the victims I read about online- why should he help me with mundane things like my job?

In other words, I've come to believe that the existence of any horrible event anywhere in the world makes my relationship with God meaningless. And that's certainly a skewed view of the world.

(I know there's a reason that feminism focuses on the bad things. We want to call attention to those things so we can fight against them and help people. That's valid. But don't forget, that's not the whole story.)

I tried to make my world bigger, to care about other people besides myself. I tried to love the whole world, which is full of people who are different from me, people with problems I can't relate to.

I want to know this big beautiful world and all the people God loves, but it's too much for me, and somehow all I've been able to see is the suffering.

I have a skewed view of the world.

So now, I've moved to China. Every day is full of new, strange, and challenging things, and I don't have the mental capacity to care about the rest of the world too. My world is smaller now. I just focus on navigating myself around all the things in my own life- making new friends, finding a place to live, taking care of my little cat, being a good teacher, figuring out which bus route to take, cooking Chinese food.

My world is smaller now. I'll learn to live here, and I hope I can find God, and pray for his help, and thank him for everything he's done for me- just like the writer of Psalm 71.

And still, I'll have a skewed view of the world. I'm here in a big city in China, presumably making more money than the average Chinese worker. My students are those who have enough money to afford English classes. Yep.

I'll always have a skewed view of the world. It's unavoidable. The world is so big, there is so much stuff happening ALL THE TIME- so much data, and it NEEDS to be filtered down to a small enough file size where my brain can process it. Maybe the filter I use is "things that happen to me." Or "things I read about in the news." Or "things I read on Christian blogs [or feminist blogs or whatever]."

My world will never be an accurate picture of the real world.

And maybe that's one of the reasons I moved to China. To understand more about what people are like, what the world is like. Still nowhere close to a full picture though.

So let my world be smaller. I'll find God. I'll love people. I'll pray for my friends.

Let my world be smaller, because I can't know everyone. I can't love everyone. I'm not God.

I'll always have a skewed view of the world. And now that I live in China, it'll skew in a different direction than before. And maybe that's the best I can do.

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This post is part of a link-up on the topic of Psalm 71. To read other people's posts, click here: The Intersection of Our Desires and Our Prayers.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Blogaround

Image source.


1. Cutting To Stop The Hurt (posted August 27) "When we care, we scare the monsters away." [trigger warning: self-harm]

2. National Flags Created From the Foods Each Country Is Commonly Associated With (posted August 27)

3. Versus and clobber verses: ‘It’s an almost impossible situation’ (posted August 27) "But here’s the thing: 'The Bible says one thing, but ...' is something the Bible says."

4. Seeing a Woman: A conversation between a father and son (posted August 14) "I’m not telling you to not look at women. Just the opposite. I’m telling you to see women. Really see them."

5. Unveiling Revelation: ‘From every nation, tribe, people and language’ (posted August 30) "He must have heard shouts of praise to Elohim, Allah, and Papa God, shouts in Farsi and Hindi, Tagalog and Cantonese, Gaelic and Swahili, and in tongues long forgotten by history. And he must have seen the tears of every sadness — hunger and loneliness, sickness and loss, injustice and fear, tsunami and drought, rape and war — acknowledged and cherished and wiped away."

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