Sunday, August 14, 2011

A question for not-Christians

I don't believe that people can live, work, and strive without believing their lives are meaningful. What gives life meaning in the absence of a designer who has created life with purpose?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

It's a big day!

I can't really write a post like the one below without also saying that I am so excited for today. Congratulations to Melissa and Jerry on their wedding day! I still remember when they started dating. It remains memorable to me as an example of a couple who really take their relationship, God's part in that relationship, and each other seriously.

The two of them are so incredibly different, but their differences truly seem to come together in a beautiful way as a couple and I'm expecting many happily married memories to come.

The missing story

A summer ago, I wrote that I could never go back and work in China and there would be a story to come to explain. Here it is, a bit late, but it relates to my current situation this summer as well.

Waiting in line for the UK pavilion, I was full of anticipation. Even from the outside, it was already better than all the other pavilions at the expo; but it was also humid on the verge of raining, hot on the verge of suffocating, and the line was an estimated four hours long.

A little while before getting into that line, it had actually been raining. And at least for a brief while, it had been raining on me. It started at my scalp. I got this itch that literally made me want to tear my hair out. I was doing the best to not flail and grab at my scalp like a mad woman. I stuck to the usual running my hand through my hair every now and then for slight relief, but after half an hour, I couldn't take it. I ran and stuck my head in a sink and scrubbed away. To my delight, my scalp responded with a sigh of relief.

So back in line at the UK pavilion, my entire body started to itch. I ignored it for a bit figuring it was the even spread of 8 or so mosquito bites I had received when someone had left our hostel room door open. But ever so gradually, the bites began to grow in a strange web like fashion and soon enough I was covered in hives. I didn't actually know what hives looked like, never having had them before. The friend I was with kept telling me I should go to the clinic, and I could probably get someone to let me back into line. We were about two hours into the line, and I was not so willing to leave if that meant those had been two hours wasted. Of course, I was not allowed to leave and come back, so I stuck it out in that line for another two hours. I wrote a wonderful review of the UK pavilion as a guest blogger for SHIFTboston, but the actual experience of being inside the pavilion was a torturous mix of 'I want to stay and really take this amazing space in!' and 'I need to leave immediately so I can go somewhere and tear all my skin off'. I still feel a little bad about rushing my expo companion off and away.

So long story short, I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to acid rain, and China, I'm sure, is full of it. Terrible experience. Never want to do that again.

Unfortunately, ever since then, it seems my skin has been more sensitive than it was before and it gets a lot worse in the summer. Not really sure what it is. Humidity? Air pollution? UV? Heat? It was difficult to sleep last night. Help.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ah, here I am

Every once in a while I am newly surprised to find myself at what is considered the best university in the world. Everything is so normal, so everyday. There's still disappointment with the means of education, the famous names end up being people not unlike myself, and there are still the fears and struggles when it comes to employment. This place which many dream of is not always some sort of heaven as it is imagined. At the same time, this realization prompts me to a little perspective. In times of frustration and disappointment, it is still a privilege to be here, and an opportunity to take hold of that which is offered.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The nature of comfort

Went to my second bible study with my church since moving to the area a year and a half ago. I guess some things get off to a slow start. I could say it was from all the church searching/switching and also my attendance of the Intervarsity bible study on campus, but really it's priorities. Doubt is a strange circle. It's hard to prioritize something I do not trust. That then takes me away from the community that might enlighten me to the answers of my doubts. Of course my doubt also reminds me that I'm not exactly placing myself in places where I could be enlightened to other varying beliefs.

We studied the first chapter of II Corinthians, a passage that reflects upon the suffering, comfort, and integrity of God in Christ. It seems to me that the nature of God's comfort in suffering comes from a knowledge of His character. Paul's comfort came from a knowledge of God's power (over death and over all). Others in our group were comforted by God's character of being ever present or faithful (a presence in times when one might otherwise feel alone). Paul asked the Corinthians to find security in God's integrity (when others might seem fickle).

For myself, I always wonder if the comfort I have felt in times of need comes from a head knowledge of God's character as expressed in the bible, or if there is the actual presence of God reaching down and comforting me. It would be more convincing if in a time of need, I did not need to know the character of God in my mind and yet I still could feel His comfort. Instead it seems to take reminders from His Word or reminders from other believers to get me there.

I suppose I also know when this specific doubt began. You might think all Jehovah's Witnesses spreading their news on the streets should just be ignored; but after being trained in Christian evangelism, I really wondered what the Jehovah's Witness had to say, what they thought was so compelling about their own belief. So after being approached one incredibly rainy day, I stopped to talk, in the rain, getting soaked. That young man had plenty of his own stories to tell of Jehovah's Witnesses experiencing god's love, god's peace, god's joy, comfort in times of need. The stories were no different from those within Christianity... and no less enthusiastically related.

I guess one thing that struck me tonight is that Paul was a real person. Okay, that was obvious, but Saul was also a real person. Even if I sometimes doubt the validity of the bible, the people of the bible existed in history and there really was a Saul character who went around killing Christ followers, and somehow, in a miraculous moment, he became one and went around planting churches, being persecuted and being in danger of being killed. Who would do that unless the miracle actually happened and it really showed the existence of Yahweh God? I always -- perhaps stupidly -- ask God to reveal Himself to me -- if he really is there -- in a miracle that I cannot deny. Perhaps Saul's story (and others like it) is the closest i will ever get to knowing a miracle of God. Christians often cite the disciples willingness to die for Christ after his death and resurrection as evidence of a truth, since only truth would be worth dying for. That never caught with me; they were already for Christ to begin with and would have been fickle for changing their minds, but if Paul is a real character, then he really was reacting to truth.

Of course my doubt then reminds me of the miracles that people of other faiths also claim of their deities. I become more and more convinced that whatever one wants to believe, one can find the arguments and examples... I'm not sure I even know what I want to believe. I suppose that's why I continue to live within the field of doubt.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

First Night, Boston

Funny how the crappy quality of my cell phone camera gives everything a dreamy (crappy) quality. I'm glad I made my way back to Boston for New Years. Nothing goes on at home in Pennsylvania for the New Year other than a dark house and sleep, so it was good to be out.

First Night, for those who don't know, is Boston's friendly way of bringing in the New Year, with performances and activities all through New Years Eve. The $15 cost of the button to get into all the events was well worth it even just for the American Repertory Theatre performance of the Blue Rose, my afternoon venture. One of the options was Boston Ballet's Nutcracker! (which... I did not see because I did not want to wake up to go get the tickets in the morning.)

Waiting for ART ticket office to open:

One of the many ice sculptures. They didn't all survive so well in the 40 degree weather:

Bridge to the left, water to the right. Wintry night walk near the MFA. Walked all the way to the harbor:

Pond in the Common was frozen over: .. ... ... ... (we counted too early):

Perfect view, and we didn't even have to get there early! The reflection in the water was certainly a nice touch. These are views from a surprisingly uncrowded Christopher Columbus Park.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Caring for your introvert

This made me smile and laugh. Other than the comically exaggerated statements about introverts being more intelligent and refined, I wholeheartedly agree.

I'm still trying to learn how to deal with introversion in a society which values extroversion and mistakes introversion for shyness.

I've written my own thoughts on it before, but I guess the topic will never grow old.