31.12.04

How to become a MAN

We recently went to a korean folk museum, and among other interesting things, we found out how to become a man.

A long time ago, in Korea, everyone had a coming of age ceremony. For normal young boys, i.e. not royalty, the ceremony was very simple. A boy was a man when he could lift a very large stone. Meanwhile, a woman's coming of age ceremony was held on her wedding day.

What happened to the good old days, eh?

P.S. I wouldn't really want to go back to those days

30.12.04

The King's Road

While in Seoul, Kristina and I have been able to take in a few of the more cultural sites. By far the one I enjoyed the most was the guided tour of Gyeongbokgung Palace. It was beatiful to look at in the first place, but having things so well explained, and getting all the little details makes it a much better experience. Among all those things we learned, we were told about the king's road. Starting right from the entrance, the pathway through the middle of the palace grounds (which, incidently, goes right through the 4 most important buildings of the Palace. The ceremony hall, the kings office, the king's house, and the queen's house) is divided into three sections. The middle section is elevated and, as you probaly guessed, this is the king's road. Civil officers walk on the right, military officers on the left. What struck me about this were several things. I was walking on a road that, for hundreds of years (the entire Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), only kings had ever strode on. How different things are now than the previous two thousand years, here and all over the world.

Today we might regard it as silly to seperate out a road for a king; indeed, the tour guide and most of those on the tour exhibited a glibness and carelessness as they to walked on this rode. However, we are not so different. We simply have a new rationalization for our seperations; money. I am currently writing this from the executive lounge of a very nice hotel in Seoul. You can't get here with position, a title, reputation or the right jewelry; but you can with money. We think so little of the past, in terms of effort and time, as well as our attitude towards it, and yet we continue walking with it, holding it closer than we realize.



29.12.04

I have, in the last weeks, joined with the majority of the rest of the blogging community in abandoning my blog for the joys of holiday busy-ness. Though the holidays, for me anyway, are not over yet (not until next monday), I am not so busy anymore and am going to blog again.

More blogs will, hopefully, be posted in rapid fire succession over the next few days, but in the meantime, here is an update on what I have been up to.

Christmas was busy; finishing things up at school (the semester/grade change in Korea is at the end of december, so we are getting new students and such after Christmas), plus kindergarten christmas concerts, all the normal end of the month stuff, and Christmas preparations on top of that. Christmas was hard. I am sure I mentioned previously that this was our first christmas away from family, and it was tough. But mostly, Christmas was wonderful. It was.. well.. it was christmas. What more needs to be said?

Over the holidays we are taking of a friends cat, at least for most of teh holidays. I am posting this from Seoul, so obviously not while we are here. Said friend is in Thailand with 2 other teachers from our school, all of them friends, and we have not heard from them since the Tsunami, so please pray.

Other than that, we are in Seoul now, until tomorrow. We ahve been here twice. Once we were in transit, once we were here for shopping, this time we are here for touristing and relaxing. We saw the biggest palace in Seoul, one of the bigger museums (the biggest one is closed until next oct.), and we have been to the Sauna, and intend to go many more times :)


15.12.04

Christmas is coming?

Over here in Korea, and in the rest of the world, Christmas is fast approaching. But for me, this christmas is a little bit wierd. It is my first Christmas married and away from home. Also, I am working right up until the day before Christmas, which is wierd because for as long as I can remember I have had at least 2 weeks of holidays before Christmas, and another 1-1.5 weeks after it. I guess thats what I get for not going to school again this year. Its also different because I am in Korea. Out here Christmas isn't nearly as big a deal as it is at home. Sure, all the big stores put up decorations and sell stuff, but there are no Christmas lights, apparently about half the families out here don't really do anything for Christmas, all the little stores are just normal. Plus, since we don't watch TV, we don't see any Christmas commercialization, at least not on a big scale. Now, I have to say, that I have long complained about the Christmas becoming a commodity, another holiday which big corporations use to sell us more stuff we don't need. But, being away from it all, I do realize that I miss the more than constant reminders that are provided by advertising, sales, etc. etc. that we have at home.

9.12.04

Another One Bites the Dust

Another one of my friends has started a blog. Actually, I shouldn't just say another one of my friends. This is THE friend I have known for the longest time; you might say he is 'The Man'. We met in grade 9, it was my first day of school, I had moved over the summer, and I was a replacement for Bob, his invisible friend who got hit by a bus in the middle of the classroom. Anyway, we have kept in touch ever since.

Many of you may have noticed that most of the links on my blog are of a religous nature; my religion is central to who I am and my life. The links that aren't there for that reason are there because they are my friends. This guy, Bucky Jr. as he calls himself on his blog, is here becaues he is my friend, and because he is hilarious. If you want a good laugh, his stuff is worth reading. A while back he emailed out a few short stories to all his friends; great stuff. I hope to see more of that, but I guess we will see.

The Blog of Bucky Jr: Slowly Going Crazy?
Whats Goin On

I just felt like blogging, so this blog isn't really about anything. Its just whats happening with me.

Life is going well in Korea. We are both continuing to enjoy teaching, I don't know how much more there is to get used to in the culture. Both our shower and our washing machine broke this week, but the school was excellent and fast at taking care of those. Broken monday, fixed wednesday. We have a new washing machine, that actually mixes hot and cold water (our old one you had to pick), and a new shower head that doesn't get half the pressure of the old (but it doesn't spray all over the place either, so I shouldn't complain). We found a nice little restaurant today that serves really good Tonekasa, pork cutlets that is. Maybe, or so I am hoping, we are both over our string of colds. We will see. It is two weeks until Christmas, or just over, and I imagine that, in spite of the holiday we get, this will be a hard time for Kristina and I. Our first Christmas married and our first Christmas away from both our families. Lets see... the only other thing really going on is that all our afternoon classes are changing at the end of december. I am definetly losing my two favorite classes, and keeping me least favorite, but I guess thats the way the cookie crumbles. I am still very thankful for this job, the time we have here, and the opportunity. Compared to Koreans, we are incredibly lucky to be working as we are. Compared to people at home, the same is very much true. I have more time to think and read and write than most ever before, and lots of time with Kristina.

I recently finished 'The Resurrection of the Son of God' (Wright) and am now reading 'The Two Horizons' (Thiselton) for the third time. Kristina got me 'The New Horizon' (Thiselton) for my birthday, so I thought I better reread the first book before I got into it. I also just got 'The Lost Message of Jesus' (Chalke) in the mail today, and have started that. 'Understanding Media' (McLuhan) and 'The Sea of Silver Glass' (Williams) are my other two books. When I finish Williams I am going to start the first book in Stephenson's newest series, 'Quicksilver', and I am looking forward to that.

Life is good, God is good, we are very lucky, and I thank God for all the gifts he has given us. I hope life is going as well for you; I am always here to prayer for you in any case.

God bless, and goodnight.


6.12.04

Matrix, and Terminator??? are Ripoffs!!!!

So, here's news you don't see everyday. Apparently some woman, Sophia Stewart, has succesfully sued the Wachowski Brothers, Joel Silver and Warner Brothers for copywright infringement. These famous and highly popular movies are stolen from some 1981 manuscript she wrote and submitted to the Wachowski brothers (or at least this is the case as far as the matrix is concerned, I am not sure where Terminator comes in).

I find this amazing for several reasons. Apparently the case has been going on since 1999 and was only made public in 2003. This is no surprise, considering that the parent company of Warner Brothers is AOL-Time Warner.

All of the above you can find on the article. My issue is with media control. The vast majority of the media that we consume daily is owned by, what, 3 companies? This is one more proof that these companies control their media almost solely in their own self interest. Does anyone doubt the damaging effects this has on society, or us as individuals?

I hate to sound like some anti-technology nut, but TV and media are powerful things. Not only that, but they are powerful things which we are actively suppressed from investigating and understanding. It is very unpopular to be anti-tv, entertainment, etc. Who makes this so unpopular? You have 3 guesses, and the first two don't count. Now, I am not going to try to fall on the side of conservative nuts who blame everything on TV and videogames. I don't believe that is true, nonetheless there are things going on here worth examining.
It's Finally Here

I posted it on the other blog Superman and I have started; my thoughts on the atonement that is.

Go HERE to check it out (or just to our other blog, it is the newest one right now).

4.12.04

True Understanding

There are so many things I think about, and so many things I have opinions on. Lots of them are very strong opinions. I really don’t like President Bush, not as a person, but his actions, policies, and publicly demonstrated character. I also belong to a small group of people, I think it is a small group of people anyway (I have no way of really knowing for sure), who believe that most of the modern Christian church and its “gospel’s” are missing the point. I haven’t fully decided on the issue, but I lean towards open theism, and I have some interesting ideas about hell (slightly past the metaphorical view… I can’t remember if there is a name for what I think). I am economically under-informed, yet I know I don’t like capitalism in its current forms. I could go on.

Why do I bring this up? I have been thinking lately about how I go about forming my opinions, how I think and such, how people should deal with disagreements and so on.

Read More....

2.12.04

A New Thing

Since Superman and I have started to actually write long and involved posts on this issue of theories of Atonement we have made a decision. We are starting a new blog, or I think we are anyway (its our first try at this joint blogging thing... hope it works). It will be specifically a place for debate, both of us will continue to post on our regular blogs. We have no idea how long it will last, maybe only until the atonement discussion is over. Who knows, who cares. It is going to be fun.

So if any of you were very interested in the discussion that got started a few posts down, you can follow the continued discussion at our new blog. "
Just Two Guys"

My follow up post, promised to superman a few days ago, should be available there soon. I will also, most likely, post teasers or begginings on this blog, which will link to whatever it is I/we have written over there. I think I will only do this with substantial posts though.

If anyone is very interested in joining our debates naturally they are welcome to comment as usual. And if we find someone who is willing to contribute regularly and in the same spirit, maybe we will become "Just Three Guys". For now, there are two of us. As much as we hope you enjoy any debate we have, we are really doing this for ourselves.


Say What?!?!?!?

I have promised superman a more in depth resopnse on the atonement stuff, but in the meantime I found out something that has shocked me quite a bit.

Apparently NBS and CBS have rejected a 30 second "United Church of Christ" advertisement because it is too controversial. The part of it that is too controversial? Acceptance of homosexuality. Say what?!?!? I am just not sure how else to react.

Here is the UCC page on it.

I found this thanks to this blog.

29.11.04

Substitutionary Atonement Theory: Fresh Debate

I think most of the people who are reading this will know what an atonement theory is, and what this one in particular says, but I will give a brief explanation anyway.

Atonement theories are theological ideas about the meaning of the death of Jesus on the cross. This one in particular, the substitutionary theory, claims that Jesus death on the cross was him taking the punishment, God's wrath, for our sins, thus buying us forgiveness, allowing God's justice and mercy to be satisfied at the same time. I hope that does justice to it; if you want to read up on it somemore there are lots of good sites on the web. (here is a reformed theology page for example, took me 30 sec to find, looks decent, my thoughts on reformed theology notwithstanding :)

It has been a long time since I began to have doubts as to the importance evangelicals proscribe this theory of the atonement. How many evangelicals even know that, without going into actual detail, there are three major areas of atonement theories? (Christus Victor, Substitutionary, Moral Influence) We neglect teaching any kind of historical options as to this integral part of theology, and I think that must have consequences. Soon after I started questioning this particular theory of the atonement, I found out I was far from the only one who was dissatisfied with it. For example, C.S. Lewis didn't like it, to throw out a name that is held high in evangelical circles :)

I have intended, for quite some time, to do some serious reading and thinking on the issue, but I have not got to it yet. I think the time has come. This isn't really a decision out of the blue though; the time has come because the debate is already raging in public circles. Steve Chalke has ruffled quite a few feathers with his new book "The Lost Message of Jesus" which is a popularized challenge to this atonement theory, following in the footsteps of several others in the alliance tradition (most recently
Hans Boersma). You can read the reaction here, Steve's response here.

I read the verses that the Alliance references in their challenge, and I have to say they are not that convincing. Some of them, i.e. 1 John 4:10, are closer than others. Still, I am reserving any conclusions until further study. If there is anythign I have learned from reading people like Wright, Thiselton, and many many other biblical commentators (it was my degree after all), its that you can't take one verse and read it out of context, put it together with multiple other verses, adn come up with a theory of the atonement. I hope to read some of the new books that are causing the controversy, as well as the older stuff from the originators of the theories. Feel free to offer any suggestions.

On another note, in the same issue, it is interesting that the alliance denies any causal connection between the penal substitution theory and being viewed as harsh and judgemental.

"It may be true, as Steve has claimed, that Evangelicals are often perceived to be harsh, censorious and ungracious, and that this can hamper evangelism. However, we do not accept Steve’s assertion of a causal or necessary link between affirming penal substitution and being harsh, censorious and ungracious."

The reason I find this interesting is as follows: Atonement theory has, among other things, been called the "cornerstone of all theology." Its importance is not denied by many, and if we stop to consider for a moment what this theory is about (the meaning of the death of Jesus), we should not have to pause long before acknowledging its central import. Combine this with another thing. We, as Christians, are supposed to be trying to be like Jesus, like God in other words, to imitate him in our actions and character. If the most important piece of our theology portrays a God who could not just forgive, but had to sacrifice his son in order to do so, should we wonder at all that Christians are known as judgemental and unforgiving?

Now, before you say anything that last questions was stacked. Basically, that question shows one of the centre points of this debate. What does the penal substitutionary theory of atonement teach us of the character of God? Some people have called it 'cosmic child abuse'... as inappropriate as that term may be, we have to consider this question.

Until I do more research, I am staying in the middle position, which is that we cannot truly or fully understand the death of Jesus on the cross. Each theory of the atonement is just that, a theory. It does not answer all the questions, nor does it give us the whole picture. They are all valid; and it is beneficial for us to know them all to some degree. Sound pluralistic? I guess it is, somewhat. This is just my position of being undecided :) I know I don't like some of what I see as the implications of the substitutionary theory, but I know there is much I don't know of these things.

So what do you think? What does the substitutionary atonement theory teach us of the character of God? is there a problem here?

Perhaps the question I wanted answered most, for starters, is this: How many theories of the atonement have you heard of?


28.11.04

The Resurrection of the Son of God

I just finished reading N.T. Wright's book, the title of this post, and it was excellent. I haven't fully processed everything yet, so this isn't going to be any kind of substantial post on it. These are just my initial thoughts and feelings.

I always find the end of Wright's books to be the best, because it is at that point that he takes his historical conclusions, and his arguements, and all the questions he has answered and moves them up a level to ask, in one way or another, so what? I also find the end of Wright's books, at least the books in this series, to be the most frustrating. He always briefly mentions what is coming up in his next volume, and I never want to wait until his next volume is out. I want it now.

For this specific book, his conclusion is something I have heard from him before, in other books or maybe sermons or both. It is his threefold point on what the resurrection means. A summary: many people short circuit from the resurrection to the entire Christian belief system and worldview, and this is not valid. The resurrection alone does not necessitate all that we like to tie on with it, especially ideas about Jesus divinity. Instead, there are three meanings, and one is the idea that Jesus is divine, but this idea comes later and has other things added on to it. The two more immediate meanings are that Jesus is Israel's messiah, God is acting now to bring freedom from exile to his people and all the follows from the messiah having come, and two that Jesus is the true lord of all the world, not just the Jewish messiah. Thirdly, there comes divinity and trinity and the like. Now, this is all good, but somewhere along the line I always fail to make a connection; I am not sure where it is, or what I am missing, but I just don't get parts of what is going on at the end.

I can't really say more about it until I have it clear in my own head. The book is excellent, as is everything I have read by Wright, I learned a lot from it.

25.11.04

Letter: To those who struggle with the current state of the church, especially evangelicals.

I know you struggle with many of the same things I do in regards to church. I have found the being so seperated from all of those things which frustrate me, and make me angry, in evangelicalism, and its attendant organizations, has allowed me to take a definitely needed step back. From this step back, I have realized many things; most of them are self-condemning, not in a bad way, but in that I have made many mistakes.

I have allowed myself to become so critical and so cynical that I search for the bad without thought; I often do not give people the benefit of the doubt, or act in love as I should. I also have continually fought a losing battle with hope; that is, I have many times, and in many ways, lost hope. I have become lazy. I see problems, and though blessed with intelligence, education, opportunity, all in an abundance which most of the world does not have, I do next to nothing. I have long thought that no one could blame me for these faults, and perhaps no one can, but I cannot defend them or justify them to myself or to God.

I no longer think there is anything wrong with backing off. There is no point in beating your head against a brick wall because you can no longer see that it may be possible to move over, around, under or through it. Taking a step back allows for recuperation to my damaged head, concussions just aren't good :), as well as new perspective on the problems.

You and I are not even close to being alone in our frustrations. I have been quite arrogant in many ways. I viewed my evironment as an exception. Could I be blamed for that either? consider my experience (if you can), what I know of other churches, tv evangelists, etc. etc. Perhaps here to, it is understandable that I make such a mistake. But it is not justifialbe either. I am far from being a member of 'the few' even if people who are moving in this area are the minority.

It is high time I allowed myself to make a positive contribution somewhere, and as always, I must start with myself. You cannot give what you don't have, you can't be what you aren't, we all produce fruit in keeping with our nature. It is from inside a mans heart that words come out of his mouth. This is another mistake I have made; seeing a mistake does not necessitate immediate action, or else I may do as much or more damage than the mistake I am trying to fix. First remove the log from your own eye, then you will see to remove the speck from your brothers. I am not wise. I do not know what to do about many things that I have been blessed, or cursed, with being able to percieve. This is just another version of pushing ahead, failing to admit you are wrong, in a course of action which has already been proven a failure. He is a fool who thinks he can fix a problem by doing the same things twice as hard, and I have indeed been a fool.

I am called to have faith in Jesus Christ, to love my neighbor as myself, to live a life that allows me to truly be an ambassador for Jesus, to walk as He walked. If I am unsure of all this involves, and I am definitely unsure, then that does not mean I can stop, but it does not mean I can rush forward either.

Perhaps you, who struggle with these frustrations, can learn from my mistakes. Perhaps simply knowing you are not the only one is enough. In any case, learn from my failures, as vague and unspecific as I have left them. Do not become another burnt out, beaten up, Christian because you couldn't back up and fall into the arms of the Lord. Don't lose your love, don't lose your hope, and don't lose your faith.

Recent Readings, Quotes


"The current church culture in NA is on life support. It is living off the work, money and energy of previous generations from a previous world order. The plug will be pulled either when the money runs out (80 percent of money given to congregations comes from people aged fifty five and older) or when the remaining three fourths of a generation who are institutional loyalists die off or both..."

"A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason. They are not leaving because they have lost their faith. They are leaving to preserve their faith."
(
i McNeal, Reggie. The Present Future. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2003. p.1)


"Christianity started out in Palestine as a fellowship. Then it moved to Greece and became a philosophy, then it went to Rome and became an institution, and then it went to Europe and became a government. Finally it came to America where we made it an enterprise."
(
iii Richard Halverson, while he was US Senate Chaplain. Source Unknown.)

some good quotes stolen from an article on Allelon, which you can't get to without registering :). (www.allelon.org).

Also, I found an amazing sight that anyone who deeply cares about the future of the Christian church and the development of its theology, and so on, in this ever changing culture should check out: www.opensourcetheology.net (to lazy to link it)

"
But that is really only a matter of perspective; and besides, I suspect that the believer is seldom entirely convinced by the rhetoric. What appears as conviction is often more like denial, not a certainty about the truth but a refusal, driven by a fundamental intellectual insecurity, to recognize the force of the objections." A quote from an article on open source theology, referring to the objections Christianity faces and how believers deal with them.

22.11.04

Love Grows


Often, in my marriage, and my relationship with my wife, I notice, and marvel, at how our love continually grows. If you had asked me when we first met, or even when we got engaged, if I could ever love someone this much, I would have had no concept of where I, and we, are at now.

I
am used to moments where I realize my love for her has grown. That happens fairly regularly in this marriage and, I hope, in most marriages. But something different happened recently. It was like I could feel my heart expanding. As if I could watch love envelope areas of my black heart that had been previously surrounded in selfishness, as they were washed in fresh blood and brought back to life.

But, perhaps the most surprising part of this experience, this was not occuring because Kristina did anything wonderful for me. She does such things daily, and they do indeed bring us together and cause our love to grow. This time though, I was the one privileged to be doing something for her. She has been very sick of late, and I have had to do a lot of things for her, and do a lot of the work we usually share. And, to my astonishment, being able to give so much to her like this has definitely brought out more love than usually comes the other way around.

This whole thing has taught me a lot. Firstly, that I, and all of us, are capable of a lot more love than we think. But it really does take action. There is a saying "only those who have faith obey, and only those who obey have faith" regarding the Christian life, and it is true of love also. Love really is a choice. Love grows much more when you act out of it then when you recieve it. Being able to have both is pure joy.

It gives a whole new meaning to the idea that it is in giving we recieve, and in sacrifice that we truly live.
A Four Course Meal


My wife is hilarious. On an evening this last weekend, when she wasn't feeling very hungry, and I was complaining because I was, she decided to pull a prank... kind of. She locked me in the computer room, as only a woman can "Don't come out!!" (said with that tone), and prepared dinner for me.

When I was allowed to exit, I found our apartment turned into a candlelit dining area, complete with nice place settings, and a waitress (Kristina, of course). Through the entire meal she refused to acknowledge that she was my wife, putting on a perfect impression of a paid servant. She then served me salad, 'crouton' with jam and peanut butter, nacho's with ground pork, chili powder, cheese and salsa, and 2 chocolate covered almonds for dessert (still not sure where she got those).

I wasn't sure if I should laugh, or play along, or be really appreciative. I also wasn't sure if I should say something about the small portions. I did wonder what she was going to do for dinner. But, soon, all of these questions were resolved... The pizza delivery man arrived.

19.11.04

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

I just finished watching GITS: SAC last night, or at least the first season (the 2nd season is currently being aired, and only the first 15 episodes have been fansubbed so far. Haven't started that season yet). But, anyway, I finished the first season.

I love anime, and while I haven't watched tons of it, I have seen a bit. This anime has to be the best I have watched to date, my new favorite. Its simply amazing. I liked the first movie, and if you did to, then you should definitely watch the series. Its awesome. And now the 2nd movie is out, and the 2nd season is airing as we speak. I can feel the tingles going up my spine.... ahhh, tingly tingles.


18.11.04

Berry Again


Found another quote from Berry that very elegantly sums up my thoughts on a completely different issue than the one which Berry is speaking of.

"A change of heart or of values without a (change of) practice is only another pointless luxury of a passively consumptive way of life."


If that doesn't speak to the issue of conversion to Christianity viewed as merely a momentary, or even long term, assent to a belief and/or belief system, I don't what does.

17.11.04

Movements

I found an interesting article on movements. Its actually about respecting the earth, the domestic arts, and the problems in our economy, but it begins with movements. Its an excellent article in and of itself, I could quote the whole thing, but for this blog entry, just the stuff about movements will do:

"In Distrust of Movements"
by: Wendell Barry


"People in movements too readily learn to deny to others the rights and privileges they demand for themselves. They too easily become unable to mean their own language, as when a “peace movement” becomes violent. They often become too specialized, as if finally they cannot help taking refuge in the pinhole vision of the institutional intellectuals. They almost always fail to be radical enough, dealing finally in effects rather than causes. Or they deal with single issues or single solutions, as if to assure themselves that they will not be radical enough."
I think I have been in something that had the problems described here, and elsewhere, in this article. Its a very frustrating thing, let me tell you. But Barry is right. He is right here, and in his other criticisms. It's so easy to get caught up in your own language, your own one solution to that one problem, one answer to that question that you aren't even sure if anyone is asking, and forget the rest of the world that is around you. Our culture has followed such a specialized path to... well, to everything, that somewhere along the line we decided that we, as Christians, could follow suit. It doesn't work. Specialized, in many cases, might as well be another word for disconnected, self-centred, unaware, culturally irrelevant, inward focused bubble.

Is that to harsh? I know I am influenced by where my experience in such things comes from. So was I involved in a worst case scenario, or as it seems to me, the norm?

Such a cryptic post... if you can follow this, i guess you know me fairly well.

Sick In Korea

There are things that someone really needs to tell you before you go into a foreign country. Like how the medical system works.

When we got our job, we were given the choice of getting medical insurance or not. We immediately, and fortunately, said yes. Everyone told us this was a good idea. Its actually very normal for teachers to get quite sick in their first month or two here. Combine the fact that you are getting exposed to all the new strains of viruses that you don't have at home with the fact that you are working with the primary spreader's of viruses, and you pretty much gaurantee you are going to get a cold/flu/stomach problem/etc. at least once. Kristina and I have been no exception.

So far I have been sick twice; the flu, a few weeks ago, and a cold that I am almost completely recovered from. Nothing to write home about, nothing I went to the doctor for.

Actually, come to think of it, I did write home about it. And this is the first thing you should know about the Korean medical system. Western medicine is fairly new here, so you can't even get NeoCitrin without a prescription... my mom sent me neocitrin, and contac c, and the like. But, my issues were not that bad.

Kristina, on the other hand, got a fairly serious sinus infection. She got it last thursday, and by monday hadn't improved at all, so we went to the doctor. Naturally, shortly before we went to the doctors, we found out something very important. It is regular practice in Korea for a doctor to give you steroid shots to help you get over a cold. I guess it works... nonetheless, it was quite a blow to my confidence to hear this. The plus side is that almost all doctors learn medicine in English, so your chances are excellent that you can communicate with your doctor.

"Hello doctor, how are you?"
"LSJ;lKJFd;ljafd;l" (ok, so they can't do day to day conversation)
"I have an earache, stomachache, headache, and sinus problems"
doctor: "ahh, well I will prescribe you antibiotics, let me look in your ear, and you can come back in two days to see me."


Which leads to the next important fact. Doctors here don't give out more than 2 days worth of medication, except under duress.

After taking Kristina to the doctor, we went to the pharmacy downstairs.
SIDENOTE: They are smart enough to keep everything in teh same building here. The whole building is labs and clinics. Where we went was a laser clinic, ultrasound clinic, and foreigners clinic (and this was just one floor, and one office set, of a building at least 10 stories tall). We left with hairless legs, a new picture of our unborn baby, and a long sheet of prescription paper trailing behind us.

At the pharmacy the pharmacist laughed at us because she could not speak english...? and we left with more pills than anyone under 80 should be taking in two days. Apparently, they don't prescribe just antibiotics. They give you everything... we recognized one pill, it was a tylenol (3 a day). The other 15 pills for the day... well your guess is as good as mine. We just hope they are not habit forming.

By the time we go to our third doctors apointment, all within 7 days, Kristina will have taken about 90 pills.

She is feeling better, so I shouldn't complain to much.

14.11.04

Here are some interesting links on bush and the election:

First, some perspective on 87 billion dollars.

Second, some interesting maps on how the voting population actually looks in the U.S.

Thirdly, 4 interesting articles. I found the second and the last to be the best.

10.11.04

Pepero Day

Today, Nov. 11th, is a special day in Korea. It is Pepero Day!!!

Let me tell you about Pepero day: It is a day that has only been celebrated for 4 or 5 years here, and what you are supposed to do is give pepero sticks) to your friends and family. (Pepero sticks are the same as Pocki, if you have ever heard of that. Chocolate covered wafer sticks).

Why did they start celebrating this holiday only such a short time ago? The answer to that is very simple. It was only such a short time ago that the marketting genius's at Lotte thought if it. Lotte is a very very large company over here; they have fast food restaurants, department stores, they make everything. One of the things they make is the candy called Pepero. Of course, now that there is a pepero day there are lots of imitations. Pipiro, Peperong, etc. etc.

I guess it was only a matter of time before some company took advantage of this kind of thing. Every holiday is so commercialized anyway, why not make a holiday really doesn't have any history or basis outside of it?

I asked one of my kids what it was, and he gave me my favorite answer so far: "Mr. Pepero wants more money, so he made up pepero day."

I only have one question. When I get home, back to canada, can we have a "Hershey's Kiss Day" ? I can see the captions now, "Kiss the ones you love and care for on Kiss Day."

9.11.04

A Trip to Seoul

This weekend Kristina and I took a trip to Seoul. Never been to Seoul? Let me tell you about it, and our trip.

It started with a lazy saturday morning. Seoul is a 2-3 hour bus ride away, depending on traffic and such. But we didn't take the bus, we took the KTX. Hi-speed train. Not quite the bullet train, but it goes 3ookm/h. We really should have bought tickets ahead of time, or maybe gone earlier in the day. Most people get up early to make weekend trips, you know maximize your time and all that. Not us. Why move when you could not move? wake up when you could sleep? The KTX does the trip in 45 min, a vast improvement over the bus. And due to our laziness, we were forced to buy first class tickets (Darn!!).

If riding a hispeed train is like anything, its like flying. You go fast, in a straight line, the washrooms look the same, they have TV's and stewardesses with free drinks and headphones. And you have more space. 3 seats to an aisle, just like first class busses out here (they do have such things), so there is no cramping.

We should have known that riding a hispeed train to start off the trip would somehow backfire on us. I think it set the pace. 300km/hr. Why can't the lazy saturday morning set the pace? No, it has to be a polished white spear that moves past hills faster than you can say "anyong haseyo!".

Upon arriving in Seoul, we moved from our polished white spear to our polished white train station, and then to the metro, all without going outside, naturally. Also, all with the hipaced nervous anxiety of business travellers. Somehow, when you are surrounded by suits, who can't seem to move slowly and who are very pushy, you just get moving.

As an aside, the subway system in Seoul is amazing. Anwhere you want, quickly, cheaply (as long as you stay away from the outskirst of seoul, its not more than a buck). It has the same atmosphere as the train station though. We breathed in RUSH for a long time.

So, enough details about that. We checked into our motel, a place in a very convenient location that caters to foreigners, cheap, not the merriot, but everything you need. Jongnowon motel if your curious. We then headed out to do some shopping, the main purpose of this weekends trip to Seoul.

First to Yusong, the largest electronics market in Korea. Cheap, huge, and very very white, on the inside that is. Each floor was all white, the floors the roof and so on, I think its so you eyes are inevitably drawn to the booths and electronics. Its also so that you can't ever quite get a sense of the dimensions of the place, it makes it feel huge. Which seems to be a common thing in Korean architecture, they did the same thing with different tricks at the bookstore we went to later, Kyobo books. Nothing like making sure you feel small when your already among the people of the shorter average height (no offense to asians intended). Why would they want to do that?

After Kyobo and Yusong, we had dinner adn went Insadong. Insadong is very cool. Its right near the place we stayed at, walking distance. It is s street market and traditional korean area right in down town seoul. Somehow they manage to make you feel like you in the middle of this old asian area, even though the skyscrapers can't be blocked out. There are lots of shops selling well priced touristy items. But my favorite part are the many small alleys what wind their way away from the main market street. Dark, with traditional architecture, skinny, and maze like, the first thing a foreigner might think is that you would never go to such a place at home. But its just so neat. We found on place, a tea and meditation room that just called out to me. We didn't have time to go there, but next time. It looked really cool.

On sunday we did more shopping, and continued to rush around. It was only when we finished everything we came to do at 1 on sunday afternoon that we stopped, took stock, and realized how fast we had been moving all weekend, and how tired we were. We must have walked a couple marathons, not to mention several skyscrapers worth of stairs. So we grabbed our luggage out of our subway locker (had to put it somewhere after checkout time), and hopped on a bus home. We both slept half or more of the way home, and relaxed sunday evening. Start with a lazy sunday morning, and end with a lazy sunday night.

Now, no matter what it sounds like, moving that quickly and being so busy, wasn't really bad. It kind of felt Korean. We accomplished a lot, we are both finished our christmas shopping except for each other (or mostly anyway), and we had fun. Actually, what really felt unreal was going to work monday morning. It all felt too slow. Or just on the edge of being to slow, like a little itch that just hovers on the side of your consciousness.

So, the moral of the story: beware of korean trains (wether metro or cross country) they do something to you... something strange, something that wakes you up in the middle of the night as it is seared to the back of your eyelids.

7.11.04

In Response to the Comments on my last post

I don't like that bush won, but I don't think its the end of the world. I don't think the election was nearly as simple as you make it out to be anthony. I was thinking about what makes the U.S. vote for Bush when the rest of the world hates him? what do they see that we don't, or vice versa? And I think I came up with a theory. Bush is a bully. Nobody likes the bully unless he is on their side, and guess what? The U.S. public see him as on their side. I don't think he will run rampant on his second term because he has free mandate or something, he did whatever he wanted on his first term, so the second term won't be any different. He controlled/controls public opinion, right from the very start before he was even elected (i.e. the whole fox news thing, not to mention teh voter scandal in florida). I think its total close minded crap when people say they vote for him because he is a Christian. True he is prolife and anti-fag, but the bible says a lot more about honesty and integrity than it does about sexuality and abortion. I don't think the prolife side is actually going anywhere. in reality the difficulty of abortions and the number of abortions has no relationship; nearly half the worlds abortions take place in countries where it is illegal. On the other hand, Kerry is a Christian, or claims it as much as Bush, but because he is "a liberal prochoicer" that is not trusted. Only one of these men has lied publically to the people he is claiming to lead...
Regardless, he wasn't elected solely, or even mostly, because he was those things. They helped, undoubtedly. Evangelical christians have, unfortunately, become powerful lobby groups in the states (it doesn't take much of a church history lesson to know what happens to most Christian groups when they get power; we are no different).

It is very true that conservative evangelical christianity in the U.S. seems to have narrowed its focus down to only two issues, maybe three. Abortion, Homosexuality, and Stem cell research. Bush and hi party hit all the right buttons, and some day I hope that conservative evangelicals look back with shame on the narrowness of their vision at this time in history. But, I have to remember that I can look back on many parts of my own life with disapointment; i can remember views I held that I would be ashamed to hold today. Really, who can say they are not numbed by the TV? by their own personal self interest? Can any of us claim that our vision is wide enough to match the Love of God?

The samaritan must have known he was helping a Jew, one of those who hated him and made him outcast.

It is very easy to look at a group of people and criticize them much more harshly because we somehow think its no longer personal. Admitedly, I am among those critics, and I don't think we should let everything, or most things, go by without comment. I am just suggesting humility in criticism, love in our discernment so that we can avoid judgement. Who knows, maybe Bush getting reelected will be the end of the world, and then there won't be any evangelical christians to look back with shame.

I have to say, I am severely disapointed that Bush was re-elected. I am saddened that some of his main supporting base comes from the same church as me. But I am not surprised. It is true that Jesus, the prophets, etc. condemned the religous establishment more harshly, more often and so on, than anyone or anything else. It is also true that Jesus loved the outcast, loved those who hated him, turned the other cheek, etc. I cannot claim a right to anger anymore than I can claim a right to peace or comfort. I would rather be/see a prophet who pleads for those he must condemn, who weeps for those that he calls down destruction on, who knows the word of Lord is like a fiery ember that cannot be held in because he has tried to hold it in, than a person who gets angry and judgemental regardless of the leading of God.

Thats my rant. no unity of thought, no editing, no quoting or referencing. have fun. I would also like to add that much of this is directed at myself as much as anyone else.

3.11.04

Bush wins.

I don't know what to say. You reap what you sow, and I hope his second term is better than his first.....
I can't sleep. I don't know what time the blog says I am posting this, but it is late. I left my blog on MST, but I think I am 18 hours ahead of that right now. It sucks not being able to sleep. Especially when I have to get up early tomrrow morning for school.

It's also really wierd. I really feel like writing, or doing something productive. After all, I am up anyway, might as well use the time. Unfortunately I don't think I am really clear enough to do much besides ramble, watch something I could only half understand, or play very simple computer games. So, of those options, I am rambling. Why not? This is my website, my writing, and you don't have to read this, no one is making you.

If there does happen to be someone out there with a gun to their head, being forced to read this blog, leave a comment, and let me know who the insane guy is with the gun so I can knock some sense into him.

Wow, there are a lot of problems with that last proposition aren't there? "Look buddy, just let me know who wants to kill you, so that when he is finished, and you are all cleaned up, we might have a better chance of catching him!" Send me in chief, I'm ready.

"Is it any wonder why i'm scared?
.....
You never dreamed you'd have to live your life so gaurded...
I'm not afraid of tomorrow, I'm only scared of myself.
.....
I'm looking through the eyes of someone else.
Never thought they'd want me to go even faster
Never thought I took my foot off the gas
Everyone loves to be in on the pressure,
but I know they're all waiting for the crash."
SR-71 Lyrics, Tomorrow (or at least some of the lyrics)

The other night, when I was half awake because my alarm was going to go off soon, I was thinking that I didn't sleep good because it felt like someone else was doing the sleeping. You ever feel like that?
Well, now its time for me to do the sleeping.

Goodnight everyone, love y'all.

2.11.04

Another friend has a new blog. Justin, who is a good friend of mine, and a very good friend of Kristina's. It's in my links, "On the Campus."

28.10.04

Be Human
I just listened to a Yoko Kanno song, from the Ghost in the Shell soundtrack, and it caught my attention. It's a good song in and of itself, but the lyrics hit me. Its about a robot who wants to be human, singing about all the things he would do if he were more human. But what struck me is that I wondered how many of us could sing this song, and many (or all) of the words would be true of us. How much of what it really is to be human do we ignore, delete, or replace for one of a million reasons. I'm to busy, it's not a good thing, it's not (insert appropriate religion, or other group, here. i.e. Christian), it doesn't fit the job, etc.

Lyrics:
I analyze and I verify and I quantify enough
one hundred percentileno errors, no miss.
I synchronize and I specialize and I classify so much
don't worry 'bout dreaming
because I don't sleep.
I wish I could at least 30 percent,
maybe 50 for pleasure
then skip all the rest.
If I only was more human;
I would count every single second the rest of my life.
If I just could be more human
I'd have so many little babies and maybe a wife.
I'd roll around the mud,
and have lots of fun,
then when I was done,
build bubble-bath towers and swim in the tub.
Sand castles on the beach,
frolic in the sea,
get a broken knee,
be scared of the dark and I'd sing out of key.
cuss when I lost a fight,
kiss and reunite,
scratch a spider bite,
be happy with wrinkles I got when I smiled.
Pet kittens til they purred,
maybe keep a bird,
always keep my word,
I'd cry at sad movies;
I'd laugh til it hurt.
I'd buy a big bike
and ride by the lake
and I'd have lots of friends
and I'd stay out late.
If I could just be more human
I would see every little thing with a gleam in my eye.
If only I was more human
I'd embrace every single feeling that came in my life.
Would I care and be forgiving?
Would I be sentimental and would I feel loneliness?
Would I doubt and have misgivings?
Would I cause someone sorrow, too?
Would I know what to do?
Will I cry when it's all over?
When I die will I see heaven?

27.10.04

Why I Like Anime

Anime, its a wonderful thing. Let me explain why.

My favorite hobby is reading: of all the ways I like to spend my time thats right at the top. But sometimes I just don't feel like reading; maybe I am feeling lazy, or tired, or just bored of whatever book I am reading. So, that leaves me two options really (barring activities with other people, which are not being counted right now). I can play videogames or watch something. Now, Anime comes the closest of all things I can watch/do to reading a book. I guess that needs to be explained to.

Maybe some of you reading this have no experience with Anime. When I say anime you thing Sailor Moon, or Dragon Ball, or stupid drawings of people who make stupid unrealistic faces, and cartoons that are all about big robots or many episode long fight scenes. Such Anime exists. Such Anime, as I have no doubt you agree with, usually does suck. But, such Anime is not what I am talking about.

I am talking about good Anime. The reason it is as much like reading are these: you get real, full out, character development. You get a story to, and a back story. They are longer than a movie, so you have time to do everything right, and frequently (though not always) the creators of any given anime will actually stop the series when the story is over, regardless of how popular or how much money it is making (of course this can somtimes turn bad, when a story is left unfinished, i.e. Berserk).

If you shift from Anime series to Anime movies, you lose those things, but you still have the other good things about anime, that I haven't mentiond yet. That is, it is artistic and usually very well done, it allows for a level of realism and unrealism which is hard to match in live action movies, and which you just don't find out here (since out here cartoons are really only made for children. Which is another reason I like anime, it is cartoons made for adults, or the ones I watch are, and for an immature 20something male, that is pretty sweet). They are not all futuristic actions shows either. If you haven't seen Grave of the Fireflies I highly recommend it, regardless of what you think of anime, its just a movie I think you should see.

I remember the first anime I ever saw. I was like 13, at a friends b-day party, and we watched Akira, which at the time I couldn't make heads or tales of. Then, in grade 11, I took party in an Evangelion marathon, which I also nearly couldn't make heads or tales of. But I eventually understood that one, and Akira, and then I started watching anime that made sense and that I really enjoyed. (i.e. Trigun, Berserk, Cowboy Bebop, many many movies...etc.)

If you have never seen any anime, give it a try.

26.10.04

My Wasted Time

Blogs are all about just writing what you want. So I am going to tell anyone who cares to read this what I do with my free time. Thats all this post is. Read at your own risk.

1. I read. Currently I am reading the following:
N.T. Wright "The Ressurrection of the Son of God"
Tad Williams "Mountain of Black Glass" (third book in the Otherland series)
James Clavelle "Whirlwind" (final book in the Asian Saga)
Erwin Rapheal McManus "Uprising"
1st book in the 38 book early church fathers series
Dag Hammerskjold "Markings"

2. I write, here and on my comp.

3. I watch... my computer. Normall you say TV, but I haven't turned the Tv on since we got our laptop. Why bother when you can A: rent movies (haven't done that yet since we got our laptop either, but I anticipate we will) and, more importantly, B: download anything I want to see, most especially current TV shows, instead of watching old reruns on Korean TV>
Right now I am keeping up with: Survivor, Joan of Arcadia, CSI, and Smallville. As well we watch movies, and are currently watching Cowboy Bebop together (for my fourth time, OH YEAH!!! anime is awesome). I also just started the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Looking good so far.

4. I play computer games. Starcraft, hopefully counterstrike soon, and stupid addicting games on the internet. Currently I am addicted to motherload.

5. I fiddle on the internet, reading blogs and articles, news, etc. etc.

6. Most importantly, I do things with my wife. Go for walks, talk, etc. etc.


And no, I don't really consider any of this time wasted.

What do you do on your free time?

22.10.04

Marketting, Evangelism, Love and Money

I have long lamented such popular christian items such as the prayer of Jabez, the purpose driven life, the left behind series (i know its fiction, doesn't really fit, I just had to throw it in there), and so on. I haven't always done so here on my blog, but if you have known me for any amount of time, I am sure it has come up.

I wonder if anyone ever stops to notice that none of it seems to matter. I should clarify that. It does matter, in my opinion, but what I am talking about when I say it doesn't seem to matter is in regards to what these items themselves promise. How many churches are doing, or have done, or will do the 40 days of purpose? How much money have Christians spent on Prayer of Jabez books and accessories? Is there any noticeable difference? is there ever?

I see a lot of statistics; thats nothing new. It doesn't seem to matter where you are, or what shrink wrapped, out of the box, no assembly required, program you are using, there are always stats to role out and prove that it is a success. But if all these programs are really as successful as the stats seem to imply, or are made to imply, then why does nothing really changes?

Maybe I am being pessimistic, or over critical. But I really think we are missing the point more and more. I don't think we need a more vivid portrayal of Jesus life (I enjoyed Passion, but was it really the all powerful evangelical tool it was promoted as?). I don't wish I had a practical, easy, 3 step answer to what we do need. I am very sure that its not supposed to be like that. I do think we need to recenter on faith, hope, and love. Most especially love.

"Let all that you do be done in love" 1 cor. 16:14
"the only thing that counts is faith working through love." gal. 5:6
"Above all, clothe yourselves with love" col. 3:14
"Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins." 1 pet. 4:8
"God is love" 1 john 4:16

We've all heard the two most important commandments (Matthew 22:34-40). Isn't it time we took all the 'above all''s, 'most important''s, 'only thing''s, 'all that you do''s, seriously?

I found this link on another blog, TheHeresy, and I thought I would pass it on. Biased, but basically backed up (some dead links though.)

George Bush's Resume

19.10.04

Ignatius, in the Epistle to the Ephesians:

"And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men. For there is in them hope of repentance that they may attain to God. See, then, that they be instructed by your works, if in no other way. Be ye meek in response to their wrath, humble in opposition to their boasting: to their blasphemies return your prayers; in contrast to their error, be ye stedfast in the faith; and for their cruelty,
manifest your gentleness. While we take care not to imitate their conduct, let us be found their brethren in all true kindness; and let us seek to be followers of the Lord (who ever more unjustly treated, more destitute, more condemned?), that so no plant of the devil may be found in you, but ye may remain in all holiness and sobriety in Jesus Christ, both with respect to the flesh and spirit.
And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men; for there is hope of the repentance, that they may attain to God. For “cannot he that falls arise again, and he that goes astray return?” Permit them, then, to be instructed by you. Be ye therefore the ministers of God, and the mouth of Christ. For thus saith the Lord, “If ye take forth the precious from the vile, ye shall be as my mouth.” Be ye humble in response to their wrath; oppose to their blasphemies your earnest prayers; while they go astray, stand ye stedfast in the faith. Conquer ye their harsh temper by gentleness, their passion by meekness."

Amen :)

17.10.04

Wonderful things about Korea (in no particular order):

1. People are generally very friendly and helpful.
2. Chicken is not popular over here, so it is quite cheap at the supermarket.
3. The kids are kids just like everywhere, and therefore fun.
4. Hi-Speed internet really means what it says. I can download 3 movies at over 200kbps, and browse the internet with no lag. I have yet to use up enough bandwidth to slow it down.
5. Sauna's... they are just great. You gotta try one to know. The whole naked thing takes some getting used to though.
6. Pizza - it comes with corn and green peppers and is much cheaper than at home.
7. Movies are cheap, to rent or in the theatres (though they come out later than at home, and we miss some).
8. Our apartment - its our apartment... you have to understand our relationship. Long distance for over 2 years, after we got married we travelled and stayed with family and friends for 2 months.
9. Some of the food is really good. Bulgogi beef, pork cutlets, kimbop.
10. I know there is more, this may get updated in the future.


The hits just keep on coming:

Two more friends with blogs. Bobby and Arnold.

14.10.04

A New World

I think I have discovered a new world, or at least I feel like I do. I recently found out, thanks to an email from him, that Jon Decker, a friend of mine back at home, has started a blog. Through his blog I found links to Mindy's Blog, who is the wife of my best friend. Commenting and links from there have led me to a few more more:
Stefanie's Epiphanies, a friend from Toronto project (where I met my wife).
Justin for the Experience, another friend from Toronto.
(sadly, neither of home I have kept in touch with).

Now, reading their blogs, and commenting and such, I feel like I have somehow stumbled into a room at the back of my house, that was always there, but I never knew about.

Thanks for posting all you guys, emailing, commenting, and the like :) God Bless you all, and maybe blogging will keep us better connected.

13.10.04

U.S. Elections: Moral Issues?

As we all know, unless you have been living in a cave in the antarctic somewhere for the last year or so, the U.S. elections are quickly approaching. Its been a while since I posted anything about politics, so I figured it was about time. That and I am sick of hearing how it is somehow moral for a Christian to vote republican.

Why is this? Supposedly it is becuase Bush and his group have moral stances on Abortion and Stem cell research. Sounds good.... until you think about it. Has anyone actually looked at abortion statistics? Depending on where you look, it has either been on a steady decline for over 14 years, or else it actually rose slightly during the last two republican presidencies. And what of Stem cell research? Its all very well and good for the bush party to hold the stance it does, when they know very well all the difference it makes. Science is hardly a national endeavour, and though I am sure that the united states being against it slows things down, it won't stop it, and it can't go on forever. So it becomes a convenient, safe, way to get votes out of the conservative Christian population, much like the abortion issue seems to be. Combine that with a sprinkling of nearly unrecognizable Christian references in your speeches, talk about God and prayer, make sure you have relationships with lots of big evangelical preachers, and Voila! you just grabbed a nice voting population. Maybe Bush is sincere and maybe he is not, but he is a politician so if anyone doubts that many of his actions, stances, speeches, and so on, are designed to get more votes, they are being naive.

Meanwhile, what about all the other, and seemingly more important moral issues? Such as honesty (bush's record isn't to good there). Or the theory of a Just War? Personally, I have never been for the Iraq war. Kerry did vote for it at the beginning but since then has objected to how it was carried out and so on. I am sure there are lots of politics there to; you vote for it at the start, if it goes well you can say you supported it all along, if it doens't you can voice your disagreements. Still, Bush's foreign policy seems to mere severely lacking. And when you are dealing with the last superpower, surely foreign policy becomes as important as abortion?
And what about stances on environmental protection? Again, neither party is great, but Kerry is recognizably better. This to must be considered an important issue, as they all are.

I think that we, as Christians, like to pick the issues that we see as black and white, easy to resolve, and ignore the rest becuase they are difficult. Economic, environmental, foreign, and all the other policies are difficult to make decisions about. They are no straightforward or black and white. But as convenient as it is to ignore them, it is not Godly, it is not moral, it is not good, and it is not right.

10.10.04

Certainty

I wonder if certainty in our beliefs ever gets in the way of belief. An odd question, but stay with me. This is a bit of a ramble, thinking as I go, so lets see.

I mean, we don't know if our beliefs our true with absolute certainty, not in the regular sense of the word anyway. That is why we need faith. Our faith can be absolutely certain, but that is a different thing. Wright put it something like this: you are aren't justified by faith by believing in justification by faith, you are justified by faith by believing in Jesus. So maybe what I am asking is if I have ever believed in my beliefs to much, and not in the person who is the basis and foundation of those beliefs.

To have the humility to admit that I could be wrong, not neccessarily about the larger things, but even about the smaller intricacies of my Christian faith, creates problems. I often hear about preachers who boldly declare that we must be certain of our salvation. The famous, worn out, questions: If you died tonight, do you know that you would wake up in heaven? But I wonder if salvation is one of those now/not yet things, and if it is, what does that mean for our certainty? (rom 13:11 "For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers...",php 2:12 "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" 1 pet 1:9 "...for you are recieving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls...", 1 pet. 2:2 "...that you may grow into your salvation". I only include not yet verses as those are the ones not often spoken about).
I also look at some great examples of the faith, i.e. francis of assisi, who was supposedly never certain of his salvation.

Is faith really the exlusion of doubt? I don't think so. I am reminded of something C.S. Lewis said, the only person he knew who claimed to have seen a ghost didn't believe in them.

So can we be to certain? can certainty get in the way? I think so. To much certainty denies we are human, fallible and fallen. To much certainty denies the process of growth in knowledge and wisdom.

I think we often forget we are called to be loving, not right. We are called to live as Christ lived, not to know what Christ knew.

Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."
Matthew 22:37-40 "He said to him, " "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

6.10.04

Wierd things in Korea (in no particular order):
1. This guy who rides around on a red bike with red flashing lights on the back, dressed all in red, with a red helmet that also has red flashing lights on it, speakers softly playing a patriotic korean song while he belts the words out along with it.
2. The 'paper cups' you get at water coolers are not cups, they are little pockets, like two pieces of paper stuck together.
3. the complete lack of toilet paper in 75% of public facilities.
4. our apartment repair man who considers himself my uncle, as he is 40 years older than me, and who makes sure that I understand he can fix anything.
5. The children who go out of their way to talk to, meet, and touch strangers. This is especialy true when said stranger is english (Hello, hello, hello x 50) and unshaved (5 year old child tries to feel my face... a little bit freaky the first time).
6. Taxi drivers: Crazy. Bus Drivers: Crazy. There is a saying here, that "Korea is the only first world country where you can get hit by a truck as you walk down the sidewalk". Last week, I nearly got hit by a truck on the sidewalk.
7. The korean obsession with videogames far outrivals anything at home. But not new games; mostly Starcraft, Counterstrike, MapleStory, WarCraftIII, and wierd online games. (not exclusively, just lots of them)
8. KimChi - Honestly who ferments cabbage? (I hope that doesn't offend anyone)
9. Walking down a market street to see whole, severed, pig's heads on sale. Right next to pig guts... nearly threw up.
10. There are stand up buses, and sit down buses. They charge you more for sit down buses, naturally.
11. Everything here is double packaged; you buy a box of cookies, and inside the box are individually (or dually) wrapped cookies. This is especially wierd given the korean obsession with recycling.
12. Sizes: Some things are ridiculously small, others huge. You can't buy one clove of garlic, or two, you have to buy at least 5, and thats only like a quarter. Same with onions, minimum purchase: 10-20 (your lucky to get them that small).
13. Cake sauce = pancake syrup
14. Lots of hotdogs, we have yet to see hotdog buns that are not filled with jam or whip cream (as adessert)
15. Strangers you have never met asking you to teach them english, everywhere. They all know it is illegal, but they assure you they are trustworthy.
16. Samples in supermarkets... you may be used to safeway or Costco on a lazy sunday afternoon. Slowly looking at things, trying the food, getting a free lunch... here we have agressive salespeople giving out free samples at the top of their lungs, shoving them in your face, and if you buy them, your likely to get a whole bunch free (at least if your white you are).
17. The incredibly overdone service industry. At some public parkades not only do they have someone in the booth to ask questions just in case the automatic ticket thing doesn't work, they also have someone who does a little dance to usher in you inside. In supermarkets there is nearly one person per aisle who just stands around waiting to help people.

I think thats all for now. Things are going fairly well out here in korea. We have settled in, and are enjoying ourselves. Our laptop is on the way, should be here tommorow or monday. Sager NP3790, 2.0ghz Petium M Dothan. Nice machine.


14.9.04

Here is a question for you, or me. How much of my belef's are motivated by my comfort and desires? My prejudices and all that?

I have seen King Arthur twice now. I liked it, as an action movie I thought it was pretty good. But both times I saw it I got thinking about the same thing.

Two parts of the movie stand out; the mention, and description of Pelagius, and the priests in the town in Northern Britian who are killing heretics. Historically, Pelagius and Augustine argued about some stuff, and Augustine won, Pelagius was declared a heretic. The term Pelagianism is used to describe (I think) the idea of us saving ourselves by our good works. You can look any of this stuff up online if you want to, I am not going to go into detail with it. The point that I started thinking about is this: In the movie, Pelagius is represented as fighting for freedom, and the other people (mostly left unnamed in the movie) are fighting for the idea that some people are born, or predestined, into slavery. I wonder if that actually played a part in the early arguements over free will and predestination? Was part of the arguement really about keeping slaves? As for the whole killing the heretic to free his soul, I think that is, historically, an idea developed later, but still, it was a theology developed out of fear and hatred, in order to maintain power and such.

And what about the theological arguements later advanced in defense of slavery; they were accepted for a long time before people started thinking differently. The same could be said about racism. On the other side of things, a doctrine we still hold to, some people suggest that Luther came up with the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers in order to give German royalty an excuse to stop listening to the pope. Regardless of wether or not this is true, or wether or not any of the people throughout history argued the way they did with the conscious objective of furthering their own ends (i.e. defending slavery to make more money, etc.) it seems pretty obvious that much of our theology comes from motivation which is essentially selfish, fearful, unloving, and so on. Another example is Celibacy, which some people say came about to prevent priests from passing on the churches land to their children (and presumably having bad untrained priests, due to passing on the position instead of training/recieving a calling for it), in the process helping to make the church itself the largest landowner and most powerful organization for hundreds of years. Again, regardless of wether or not its true, I have to wonder.

Obviously everyone's beliefs are affected by selfishness, motivated by preserving whatever we are interested in preserving, but as Christians should we not be continually cutting away ourselves, especially from the truth? Are we not called to know ourselves deeply enough that we can catch ourselves when we are thinking something in order to stay secure, or because it is easier than changing out thoughts? Are we not called to continually open ourselves to God, so He may search us and know us, and allow us to see how dark, and twisted we really are? how much we really do obscure the truth with our own selves? Yet, more often than not, in myself, and other places, I see that we defend everything, always assuming since we are Christians following the true God that our beliefs must be right, and true. For some reason admitting doubt, allowing searching, and all of the activities that go with an honest, open-ended, never ending spiral towards truth, are considered out of bounds and lack of faith.

I have to wonder what, of what i think, will be considered foolish, or evil, by the next generation.

1.9.04

Looking for a laptop... There are so many options out there. I thought it would be cheaper in Korea, but it does not seem to be. I have not visited Yongsang market in Seoul yet, but I have been to several places in Daejeon. It seems that while desktops and all things built in korea are quiet a bit cheaper, laptops are not. Plus the selection is very limited. So I am looking online, and praying that customs are not to high.

Of course it doens't help that what I want in a laptop seems to put the price close or just over 3000 canadian.
just in case anyone reads this who knows anything about laptops, here goes:
15.1-15.4 screen, 2.6 or higher processor, 512-1024 ram (expandable to 2G), 60-80gb harddrive (5400-7200rpm), dvd burner (multi format), 128mb video card (not real picky about model or brand), and normal accessories (mouse, extrabattery, carryign case).

I wish there was a site you could enter the specs you wanted, the site would give you your options, with prices and specs, and you could just pick one.... if only life were that easy. Instead you have to go from one site to another (dell, alienware, sager, acer, etc. etc.) trying to remember everything. Weeee :)

25.8.04

Aside from being a good place to babble, waste time, and journal, this blog might also be a good way to keep my vocabulary up. Teaching English, I have realized (through the help of a friend, who, upon reading my last mass email, informed me that basically the only adjective I used was the word 'nice'), can severely limit your vocabulary. Half of my classes I am teaching kindergarten children who have only been learning English since last March. Considering this fact it is remarkable how much they have learned. Still, as much as they know, they don't know words like 'great', 'spectacular', 'stupendous', 'excellent', 'terrible', 'horrible', and so on. They know 'nice', 'good', 'bad', and maybe a few more. Learning the multiple similar meaning adjectives in English might be 'nice' but its just not as important as learning so many other things. Also, though they have learned a lot, they have still only been learning since last March.

22.8.04

On sunday my wife and I went to a church here in Daejeon. The church was at a christian school, and it was really good. It wasn't to big, though I suspect that might change after the school semester starts up again. The sermon was excellent, very deep, and the pastor was not afraid to explain some hard theology, while at the same time making it understandable and even applicable.

I also noticed that, without any harping on community or meeting new people, there really did seem to be a sense of community there. They gave newcomers a chance to introduce themselves if they wanted to, a chance for prayer requests to be shared, and after the service we talked with/met several different people. Then a newly married older couple (not old, just older) took us, and several other people our age, out for lunch. It was a lot of fun. Its probably just that we were all in an uncomfortable place, outside of the church that is, being in a foreign culture, not knowing the language, etc. but there was actually some push to form a community in the church, instead of being comfortable just coming and leaving. Its obviously not neccesary, but perhaps being a little bit more uncomfortable with our lives would be a good thing, since it would open us up more towards giving and recieving love.

19.8.04

Well, the edge of typhoon Magi just finished passing over Daejeon today. It wasn't much to speak of, except a lot of rain. I am sure that isn't true everywhere though, and I am glad we just got the edge. One of the other teachers here described to me an experience with a typhoon he had a few years ago in Daejeon. Apparently the wind was strong enough that it took 4 ppl to open the door. Why they were bothering, I don't know.

Trying to find things in Korea is quite fun/frustrating. All the signs are in Korean (naturally, though many have a word or two of English), and even though I can read Korean, I can't read fast, and I don't have much of a vocabulary at all. Add to that the fact that in Korea stores can take up every floor of a large building, so the signs just go up and up and up, and it can be just a touch difficult. I asked for instructions on finding a gym, and all the other teachers just told me to look up at the windows until I see treadmills in them. I found 3 gyms, a laundromat, a really fancy restaurant (I walk in with shorts and a T-shirt, the waiter is standing there in a tuxedo shirt with a bowtie), and a storage room that way (and that was only in about 3 blocks). Like I said, I did find three gyms though.

I sometimes find it hard to believe that Koreans look at these signs and read them as fast as I would read them in English . I know its true though. I really wish I could do that.

18.8.04

I changed my blog around, and who knows, I might even write here more than once every 2 months. I have said that many times though, so don't count on it.

I have been in Korea for nearly a month now. I started out teaching for 3 weeks at a summer camp in Sokcho. It was a lot of fun, if somewhat tiring. Now I am in Daejeon, getting my on the job training. I still have to make a visa trip to Japan in the next week or two, but other than that, I am almost settled in. My wife and I are staying in a small apartment temporarily, which is why I say almost settled in. We move into our own place this weekend.

Teaching so far has been a lot of fun. It demands a lot of patience, but more often than not I really enjoy helping children learn. As well, we have been lucky, and have no horror stories to tell of our teaching experience so far. Admittedly, we are just getting started here, so maybe I shouldn't speak to soon. But I know the Lord has been taking care of us.

Korea is a country very much like Canada, where I am from. The food is different, as is the language, it is cleaner here, and the architecture is different. But mostly, it is very much like any other city. The most noticeable difference is that I can't read, or understand, any of the advertising. Its kind of nice. Also, they have "Sauna's" here which I really like. They are places where you can go and enjoy 3 or more different temperature baths (in big tubs which fit many people) ranging from almost unbearably hot to very cold, several wet and dry sauna rooms (sometimes only one or two, other times many more), massages and scrubs (if you want to pay for them), showers, and anything else related to getting clean. The food, on the other hand, isn't always to my liking. I am not a fan of fish paste, or processed fish cakes, or fish soup for breakfast. Nor do I enjoy KimChi. I think I like about as much as I don't like though, so its alright.

While we are here, we want to travel to Japan, and some other places in southeast Asia (thailand, singapore, malaysia, or somewhere like that), as well as see more of S. Korea itself. It can be overwhelming at times, but I am looking forward to the upcoming year.

11.6.04

Well, its been nearly a month. I tried to post once from Mexico, when Kristina and I had two hours to kill as a result of misunderestimating the bussing system in Puerto Vallarta, but apparently it never made it.

I am married now, have been for nearly three weeks. It's great, awesome, wonderful. As well as that, I convocated today. Which means Kristina and I finally have all the stuff together we need to finish our applications to go to S. Korea and teach English.

There are lots of stories from the last couple of weeks: swimming with dolphins, going to a movie in mexico, "camping" across the rockies, convocating, and many little things about marriage.

Swimming with Dolphins was great, very hard to describe, so we bought the DVD. They are like big dogs, you touch them and they roll over for you to pet their belly. They are very gentle, and disarming, bigger than I thought they would be.

Yes, life has been undeservingly good to us. Right now, we, Chapter and I, are hanging with friends and family, doing an online TESOL course, and trying to teach ourselves Korean.

17.5.04

Back in vancouver, and married in 5 days. People keep asking me if I am nervous, or anxious, but I'm not. I am almost starting to wonder if I should feel those things, but I just keep get more and more excited. A few things left to do, all those things that can't really be done until the final week, and a few extra's because of our plans to go overseas shortly after we get married. It's so good to be here with Chapter for this week before the wedding. Good to be able to talk face to face about our fears, excitement, expectations, etc. Not like we haven't talked about them lots before, but after so long of a long distance relationship, there is something freeing, and of course exciting, about knowing that is all over.

I glanced through my teach yourself Korean book, and noticed that Korean is a syllabic language, which I think is really cool. You combine two or three symbols to create one 'letter' which represents a syllable. Hence, three syllable words in Korean have three letters. I know, very simple, like I said, I just glanced through it, but I found it cool.

What else is going on? Well, I have been thinking a lot about Isaiah 6 lately. We always hold up Isaiah as some kind of a model: when he finds himself in the presence of the Lord, he bemoans himself, pretty much falling over as unworthy. Then, a few verses later, he volunteers when the Lord is looking for someone to help. Truly, these things are examples to all of us, in many ways, but I notice that what comes next is rarely talked about. After volunteering, Isaiah is sent to shut the eyes and ears of Israel so that the Lord can/will destroy them. His anguished cry of "How long, oh Lord?" is met by a response even less encouraging. Until this great tree is but a stump. Yes, it shows some of my doubts, my lack of faith, and lack of love for God, but frankly that frightens me. Once the order is given, obedience is the only choice, but what an order to follow.

13.5.04

Gotta love the iraq scandal going on right now. I particular like this: A group of terrorists beheads an american as 'retribution', and it, according to the american government, reveals the character of those they are fighting, etc. etc. But "The actions of a few don't reflect the values of Americans and those involved in the abuse will be punished, he said." which is a Rumsfeld quote. what a surprise.

9.5.04

Busy times. I am getting married in just under 2 weeks. After that, Chapter and I will be travelling, and hanging out for a few weeks, until we (hopefully) head over to South Korea to teach English. Until that time, I will likely be hardly blogging at all. After that, I do hope to blog about teaching english, Korea, being married, and such; but to be truthful, I have no idea what our internet access will be like, or what other factors may come into play. So, we'll see.

This isn't to say I won't blog at all until then, but look for it to be as it has been or worse.

29.4.04

Vancouver Trip
Plane Trip and Arrival

Wednesday night and the red glare of my clock is bleeding into my eyes: 1:45. In 3 hours I have to get up. Its hard to be anything but excited about the prospect of only having 3 hours of sleep because I am flying out to see Chapter. I close my eyes, putting a stop to the bleeding, and drift into a very light sleep.

4:45 and awakened by the annoying tonal blips of my alarm clock. The drive to the airport, graciously given by Superman (who got no more sleep than I) passes in the early morning haze of the man who’s still in bed in every way possible; I need caffeine or sugar. When I awake I have checked in, Superman is presumably on his way back to bed, and somehow a half eaten Tim Horton’s donut is in my hand. The haze lifts and I head to my gate, only to be accosted by one of the most tempting things you can put in my path. A book store.

Next thing I know the plane is taking off. I have been so engrossed in this book, William Gibson’s “Pattern Recognition”, which I bought at the bookstore, that I haven’t noticed my surroundings as someone wheeled me onto the plane. (Well, ok, I read as I walked on the plane, which may have been rude to the airplane peoples now that I consider it).

“Far more creativity, today, goes into the marketing of products than into the products themselves, athletic shoes or feature films.” One of the many lines that catches my eye, being insightful, as I blur through this incredibly interesting and attention-holding book. It’s true, but my question is, why do we let it happen that way? Shouldn’t we, as the supposedly all-powerful consumer value the product more than the advertisement? Of course, the answer hits me almost as fast as the question. We have apathetically accepted, and actively participate in, a system that encourages that we be deceived and that the money goes to the entertainment, as well as the advertisement, before the needs. It is also a system in which, regardless of what ‘they’ want you to think, we don’t really have that much power at all. Back to the book.

I booked this flight using Air Miles, which means that I have an hour layover in Calgary (yeah, figure that one out). Oh, well, more time for reading. Or so I thought. Except that something, I think it is the intercom system, is busted. It emits tonal blips, very similar to my alarm clock except with varying pitch, at intervals just random enough to be consistently annoying. I think it is the intercom system because there seems to be no escaping it within the terminal. Still, the book is engaging enough that I can ignore it most of the time.

I finally board the flight from Calgary to Abbotsford, and, being a longer flight, get served cookies and a drink. I always drink Clamato Juice on airplanes, with no ice. Something about drinking it on an airplane makes it taste better; as if the juice knows it is way up in the air, and the fear it has of heights increases the unique taste. Or maybe its because airplanes are dry and cramped, so everything liquid tastes better (actually, did you know that when your in the air you taste buds are less sensitive, which partially explains the bad rep of airplane food). Either way, its good. I then doze off, and dream of an alarm clock which is broken, and so it only discharges its annoying tonal blips randomly, and no matter how hard I try I can’t wake up to turn it off.

I wake up to the plane landing, and am overtaken with excitement to see Chapter. It always makes the landing take an excruciatingly long time in the present, and an unnoticeably short time in memory. When I step out of the plane, warm B.C. air hits me, hills and mountains fill the view, and I, surrounded by nature’s beauty and man’s innovation, rush inside to the beautiful and creative woman God created for me to spend the rest of my life with.

As I walk through the sliding security doors, I see her. The timeless moment of first sight; smiles form, paces pick up, arms reach out. A vision to be cherished. Chapter.