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.