Thursday, December 10, 2009

I miss music.

I guess I still find time to play around now and then, but it's always only with pressure in the back of my mind that I will have to stop soon and get back to work. I still remember when I would just play violin for 5 hours straight without any pressure to stop other than maybe needing to eat. I could lose myself within the rhythms and melodies. Or what about the time to be able to compose. What happened to that sort of time? That kind of thought and creativity is not something that can just be rapidly forced out on some sort of time constraint.

Perhaps I'd say the same about my studio design work. Five days before the final review, my project was turned on its head and I started over. I mean, really started over on this project that should have taken a month to prepare. So maybe I was able to finish the work (with plenty of pain and less sleep than I've ever experienced before), and maybe I had a good review, but is this really the way design is supposed to happen? Architecture culture seems to say so, but at least to me, there's really something to be wanted. When I look at society today, rushing around, always feeling busy, always tired; sometimes I wonder what we've done to ourselves. Somehow I don't think this is what being human was meant to be like.

I look at my professors, pulling all-nighters right along with the students, coming into school drained, frantic, stressed, still around studio at 3 am. In Inge's words "At least we're never bored." It's true. After living this sort of life for a while it seems preposterous for anyone to say that they're bored. How is it possible for one to not have anything to do? But what a painful way to avoid boredom.

I've watched as two of my friends have officially entered into the music world, record labels and all. They record, they sing, they play, they perform, they enjoy every moment of it and it is their life. Somedays I really wish that was me. I guarantee you I wouldn't be bored.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I've been stressed about not having enough time to finish an assignment before... but I've never been stressed out from feelings that there's no possible way I could actually finish an assignment no matter how much time I had... What's expected from me for this project is borderline impossible... with only the assumption that it is possible...

5 days left and no project yet. What happens if what i'm trying to do is actually impossible?

Monday, October 19, 2009

[2] Does God lead people into temptation?

[I always thought it would be good to take all of the hard questions about Christianity that I encounter and think about and actually write down my responses to them so that I have a record of them that I can look back to if I ever encounter the question again. Here's the beginning.]

Q: In the book of Luke, Chapter 4, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit in the desert where the devil tempted him. Doesn't it seem wrong for the Holy Spirit (and therefore God) to lead Christ into temptation? Isn't that like being complicit with the temptation?

A: The answer to this question lies in looking at the assumptions in the question itself. The question assumes that it is bad to be tempted. This is not necessarily true. It is not a sin to be tempted (we all are at some point or another); it is only a sin to fall into temptation by actually giving in to what the temptation is asking from us. In 1 Corinthian 10:13 it says that God is faithful and doesn't let his people be tempted beyond what they can bear. It does not say that God does not allow his people to be tempted. In the case where God leads Jesus (or Job, for that matter) into temptation, He must know that they will be able to bear the temptation and that in the end, it will be for His glory and their strengthening.

A question in response could be, “If a person allowed an enemy to carry out a plan that he knew could and would be foiled in the end, would he be complicit with the enemy by allowing the plan to unfold?” Thinking further... “What if the carrying out of the plan in combination with the foiling of it would actually allow the people on the “good” side a greater victory in the end?”

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Usually it's pretty hard to really think about how I've changed as a person over the years, but once in a while I'll hear a song that used to speak straight to my heart... that I can't relate to so well anymore, and then it's obvious.

Friday, October 9, 2009

It's always good being somewhere where I'm not always right on the first try, because it means this place actually has something to offer me that I do not already know; but, it also makes life a lot harder.

Also, am I actually learning or am I just being brainwashed towards the incredibly strong biases of the instructors here?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pencil (Pen) and Paper

I like when things look simple, clean, uncluttered... but at the same time I have that disease where I look at a thing and can imagine the marvelous future that it may have. You know, the problem of "just incase". I'll keep this and that because maybe just maybe someday it will be exactly what I need. Of course, come future, these trifling objects are forgotten. But then again, years later, I get to discover forgotten wonders in the comfort of my own familiar room.

I love that idea of discovery. Maybe that's why I like changes of scenery and readily embrace change. The best discoveries to me, however, are always when something is discovered about things which are already familiar. I guess that says something for education and gaining new perspectives on things. You know, that moment in science class where the middle schooler learns about the chemical reactions in wool that make it "itch" and goes home and is all "holy crap! wool socks!" Maybe that's just me...

Last night I started going through my box of old letters, cards, notes, and invitations. So much of it was things I don't remember ever receiving. It wasn't just those pieces of paper I forgot; there were names, so many names of people that I, at some point, seem to have had as friends. I can barely picture their faces now. Some of them I don't have any recollection of at all.

Some people say that memories are kind; they block out bad happenings and allow us to forget, left with only good impressions of sometimes uncomfortable moments. I only wish my memory worked that way. I forget so many of the good things in my life and can't get rid of the bad. Maybe that's why I keep that boxfull of friendship around. I need those kinds of reminders.

Handwritten letters are somehow magical. First, they act as a break in the flow of bills and ads and impersonal junk coming through the mailbox. Then there's the simple touch of a human hand that allows me to instantly recognize the familiar scrawl of a friend after just reading the word "Sophia" or sometimes "Vanya" scribbled on the outside of the folded note. But then there's also the fun of being able to doodle all over the rest of the page with little inside jokes and humorous drawings. The rules of computer formatting are lost and text can effortlessly be any shape or run in any direction the writer chooses.

I only remember writing a few letters, but going through that box reminds me that there were people that I wrote back and forth to twice or more a month... I sure did have a lot of long-distance friendships: Montana, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland... I was always better at writing than speaking out loud.

I guess that all stopped when I no longer had someone providing me an endless supply of stamps. I left home.

And now, here I sit,

Sunday, August 9, 2009

[1] Does the existence of logic point towards the supernatural?

If you're not into philosophy, please pardon this post:

It seems everywhere one goes, one picks up new identities. I was never so aware of my Asian American identity before arriving at Michigan and architecture wasn't even part of my life back then... kinda incredible to think about, actually. Imagine a me without architecture...

I also picked up another title that I now identify with. Skeptic. I know I grew up questioning everything around me: my parents, my faith, the church, my friends. When I got to college, I started to question myself. One of my worst fears in the past was to be following any sort of belief or living any sort of life blindly. I guess I can say that I am successfully living a life which has been thoroughly questioned, but I also cannot be happy with the mindset I've developed about things. It's become hard to trust, hard to make decisions and way too easy for me to be cynical about everything.

A couple days ago, in the car, my dad was on one of his rants about life and... motivation and... grades and... medical school and... what a good student he was and.... ...then on to how as a non-Christian in med school God was leading him towards Himself and Christianity.

I, ever the devil's advocate, started to pose questions. It seemed like from what he was saying, there wasn't really enough reason for him to have made the leap from med school to faith in Christ. I wanted to know if I was missing something. We began to talk about the human body, creation and the reality of a creator not only in Christianity but in many religions. Eventually our discussion turned to the topic of logic and reason.

"Logic is such an interesting thing. We use it to understand and prove everything else, but there's nothing we can use to prove the dependability of logic itself. If there isn't anything outside of this physical world and our human existence and human logic, then we have no reason to trust our own logic and there's no reason for us to be having this discussion at all. For this world to make sense, logic must originate before human thought in a supernatural realm."

I was familiar with the sort of argument he was posing. I'd used it before, in relation to morality and talking about how morality might prove the existence of a supernatural god. There are two responses I have always received and so I posed the same objections. First, couldn't logic be relative? I mean, what's logical in one situation and culture is not always considered logical somewhere else. Could logic be determined by society? Second, why couldn't logic have evolved as a means for survival? Logic as a way of creating order and discussion as a way of sharing and obtaining ideas in order to better one's own logic and way of living. Does logic necessarily have to come from the supernatural?

My dad was quick to refute the first response by dismantling my question. In his argument, if logic is relative then there's no reason to be using it to try to understand anything and there was no point in us continuing our discussion or our search for a right answer. A right answer could not exist. People always argue relativity but by the act of arguing for relativity, they see it 'as truth': relativity is right, absolute truth is illogical. If there is 'a truth', then not everything is relative. It's the flaw in Nietzschian thought. If logic does not exist, then how could you write a book about it's non-existance by using logical arguments?

For the second argument, he had nothing to say. By then we had reached home. he dropped me off and left to go help a friend move out of her house. He told me to find an answer for my own question.

This is the response I came up with:
What makes survival the appropriate (logical) direction to go? Is life then better than death? Is there something good about living and bad about dying? If logic is relative then neither survival or death would be the more logical direction to go, and evolution would not strive towards survival.
(My assumption is that logic must be relative in a world without the supernatural because there is no absolute truth to define what is correct or incorrect logic... )

Of course our discussion had ended by then and so that's my final thought. Does the idea of evolution make sense under its own parameters? (Of course the skeptical part of me is asking 'Am I missing anything? Am I making any other assumptions? Is my question fair?')

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Salted Feet

Of the things I hate most in life, mosquitos have got to rank near the top.

I didn't think about bringing bug spray to the drive-in, it's not something you really consider when you're going to the movies. But here I am, woken up at seven in the morning by my seven bites, two of which are on the bottom of my foot. (Terrible location, I tell you.)

I couldn't find my tiger balm, so I ended up looking up home remedies online. It's amazing how much stuff people have tried. Garlic salt, baking powder, toothpaste, deodorant... even bleach? People must be really desperate!

I suppose I am too... so 10 minutes later I'm in the bathroom rubbing table salt into my itchiness. It worked actually and salt scrubs are always kinda nice.

... oh to be at an ocean soaking my feet in the salt water.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

why am I still jealous?

I wish I could be at peace with the life I've already lived. It's already so much more than I ever expected to have.

I remember growing up being jealous of my sister only to discover that she had been jealous of me the whole time too. There's so much we could have helped each other through at home if we had been able to look past ourselves and care about each other.

I never think that my jealousy towards friends affects my friendships; but at some level, it has to.

I've been very non-committal in most of my friendships because of my fears of rejection and self-doubt, but someday I hope I can be a real friend to all the people I come in contact with. No more of this self-pity.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hello my friend
I remember when you were
So alive with your wide eyes
Then the light that
you had in your heart was stolen
Now you say that it ain't worth stayin'
You wanna run but you're hesitatin'
I'm talkin' to me

Don't let your lights go down
Don't let your fire burn out
'Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don't you rise up now?
Don't be afraid to stand out
That's how the lost get found
The lost get found

So when you get the chance
Are you gonna take it?
There's a really big world at your fingertips
And you know you have the chance to change it
There's a girl on the streets, she's cryin'
There's a man whose faith is dyin'
Love is calling you

Don't let your lights go down
Don't let your fire burn out
'Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don't you rise up now?
Don't be afraid to stand out
That's how the lost get found
The lost get found

Why do we go with the flow
Or take an easier road?
Why are we playin' it safe?
Love came to show us the way
Love is a chance we should take
I'm movin' out of the way

Don't let your lights go down
Don't let your fire burn out
'Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
(Stand out)
Don't let your lights go down
Don't let your fire burn out
(Stand out)
'Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don't you rise up now?
Don't be afraid to stand out
That's how the lost get found
The lost get found

So when you get the chance
Are you gonna take it?
There's a really big world at your fingertips
And you know you have the chance to change it
I have no doubt that I made my own choice to follow Christianity as my own faith and not just because I grew up in a Christian family with Christian parents, but when I start having the inevitable doubts and questions of someone seeking not to follow religion blindly, I wonder how much my ability/decision to stick with Christianity is from my own faith and how much it comes from not wanting to disappoint or upset my parents.

How much does the chinese culture affect my perceptions of Christianity?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My dreams this past year have been particularly vivid... last night's were rather solemn.

I had a dream about being lonely. Nothing dramatic, but just walking into a crowded lunchroom full of everyone I'd ever known from my pre-college years. I looked around and realized there was nobody that would want to call me over to their table, and nobody I was close enough to that I would feel comfortable just going over to and sitting with. Then the awkward moment of trying to figure out what I wanted to do, wanting to just disappear or find a nook to be by myself in. It wouldn't have been so bad if the lunchroom hadn't been full of people I recognized or people that were supposed to be my friends in years past.

It was such a familiar feeling... of being unwanted and alone. But it's been at least a year since I've experienced that in real life. Why dream about it?

I also had a dream about a guy friend flirting with me and trying to get me to be close with him. He was a friend that I was comfortable with and had known for a while. I liked him as a friend but was uncomfortable with him trying to make us something more, especially since I had a boyfriend that I loved and cared about. I sent him away.

Now this dream, I know why I had. It was comforting finally having a dream where I made the faithful decision. After making a rash decision over a year ago, it's been hard for me to be able to trust myself. I did something I never thought I could do, how could I know I wouldn't do something like that again?

How much of the guilt I've experienced in life is actually a reflection of who I am and how much is just my poor estimation of myself and a lack of experiencing God's grace?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Don't stab me

I think I've found the name of another one of my maladies.

Last night, after a few hours of sitting on the couch, I was feeling a bit stiff, so I took a biiiig stretch and oh, it felt nice, until the stretch was over and the pain stabbed me in the chest. First thought? 'Mgnph! not again.' Close eyes, breath shallowly... 'I wonder how long it'll last this time?'

When I talk to doctor dad about it, he always says it's probably a small fracture in my ribs that is aggravated by pressure or sudden movement and all I needed was some rest.

I figured I'd try looking it up this time though... to see if there was anything else I could do to make the pain go away. Whether or not Wikipedia is the place to go for medical issues is definitely debatable, but I found a page describing Precordial catch syndrome:

And read these words: "Although deep inhalation during a PCS attack will likely cause an increase in pain, many have found that forcing themselves to breathe as deeply as possible will result in a "popping" or "ripping" sensation which quickly and completely resolves the PCS episode."

Well... why not? I guess I could try that. Deep breath in, deep breath ouu.... ch! Three failed attempts later I was ready to just go sleep it off. It hurt too much to actually complete the whole breath out. But lying down seemed to make it worse. So one more time... Deep breath in, deep breath... out.

All the pain was gone. Nice! Smile. Sleep.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I've been told by more than one person that it seems like I know everybody... I've run into friends randomly in St. Louis, Baltimore, Italy, and now Las Vegas. One of the people i was with was somewhat surprised that people from a Christian group I'm in would be in Vegas. I know I grew up with the impression that Vegas was not a place Christians should go, but it seems like that's the same sort of thinking that makes some Christians avoid and begin to judge people they see as "sinners". Honestly, I don't think that's the Christianity of Christ, who spent time with those the religious leaders of the time deemed as sinners.

I went to Vegas just wanting to see what it was really like, stereotypes and sermons aside. I was disappointed in the buildings and overall shock factor (accurate scale models of the eiffel tower, chrysler building, and statue of liberty my rear end... the only building I liked was the Wynn)... but I did have a semi-encounter with a guy who was calling his mom to tell her he had been drunk and gotten married at one of Vegas' many wedding chapels to some random girl the night before without realizing he was being married. So I guess some of those out-there Vegas stories do actually happen. 

Mostly Vegas is seen as a gambling city. In some areas, (aka. Fremont St.), I would agree that that's pretty much the only thing going on. I've always been against the idea of gambling because of the friends I've had over the years whose families have been ruined by family members betting away money that should have gone towards food, housing, utilities, and other family needs. I always wondered how someone could be stupid enough to do that, but being in Vegas did help me see how addictive the idea of easy money is. I admit, I stuck $10 on a Casino War table and a dollar in the penny slots. Mostly because the idea of Casino war seemed hilarious, and I like the feeling of the slot machine handles, but making $81 dollars did feel pretty good. I also realized that there's 2 kinds of gamblers: the kind that thinks they're gonna win, and the kind that know they wont and just play the games for fun. Of the first kind, it was amazing how fast people would be willing to spend hundreds of dollars on tables even with odds stacked against them. It kind of scared me thinking that some of the people I was watching might be some of those fathers/mothers blowing money away.

There was a lot to do without gambling though. Shows, restaurants, and neat little stores. Things in Vegas definitely had character. Ka was impressive. The Bodies exhibit was also a wow... I loved the atmosphere at Battista's hole in the wall and Ichiza (Japanese restaurant near Chinatown... I only wish I knew more Japanese), both restaurants off the strip. And while people say there's no cheap food to be had, Ellis Island and the Grand Lux Cafe were some of the yummiest cheap deals I've ever had. Light shows, the Bellagio fountains, free chocolate, and dollar deep fried twinkies... 

Oh, and there was an original copy of Learning from Las Vegas signed by all three authors for sale in the Venetian rare books store (just for architecture nerds...)! Seeing an original copy of Common Sense by Thomas Paine was impressive too... I suppose.

Overall it was just a nice time of relaxing and spending time with people in a place I had never been before. The locals we met were some of the friendliest, easygoing people I've ever met, but for once, the overwhelming amount of tourists around me (basically everyone) didn't bother me so much either. What else can one expect from a street that was built on tourism?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Leaving for Vegas tomorrow. It's strange. I've been more excited by the prospect of being somewhere new and trying new restaurants than by Vegas itself. An artificial environment exploding with consumer driven messages that tries to keep people inside and suck money out of them doesn't seem like the type of place I like to be. But then again... I guess that's everywhere. Just less subtle in Vegas land.

I am somewhat excited about the eccentricity though. It gets boring (and sometimes disconcerting) traveling to new places and finding that they're just about the same as every other tourist area. Or going to different suburbs and realizing that I can barely tell them apart from my own, even though I'm in a completely different state with a different culture. 

Monday, June 22, 2009

There was this one time last summer at the Thompson St. apartment where I was cooking and a fly somehow got in.... so I stunned it and flushed it down the toilet, kept cooking and realized there was still a fly... so I stunned it and flushed it down the toilet, kept cooking and realized there was yet another fly... so I did the same, kept cooking and realized there was another fly... you get the point. I think there were 6 before I decided to close all the windows. 

Seems like the same thing happens with Wilmot... cept today there was a little black wasp in the mix too. 

It's a little better than last year since there's no openings to the exterior directly from our kitchen, but a friend pointed out that there's a big gap between the balcony screen door and the glass door... whoever installed the door left off the brushy/rubber thing that usually covers that gap... One mistake that makes for a pretty useless screen door. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Not so hot

Watching bright orange hot molten brass being poured from a crucible into a mold and feeling its heat from across the room makes the "caution, hot" sign in pierpont at the panini maker seem like child's play.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Confronting the Past

I've spent a lot of time these past couple years confronting my distant past. The past of childhood hurts and disappointments that my heart still will not let go. But now I'm wondering when to face things that are more recent...

Cleaning out my UofM webmail, I came upon some letters i had saved. Letters from someone I haven't talked to since last summer when we broke up. I've been angry about the ways I've felt hurt by him. It's felt so wrong, having a broken relationship in my life, having someone that I don't talk to anymore for reasons other than just drifting apart. But even so, I couldn't even bring myself to want to talk to him again. 

Reading those letters, now, after the emotions have subsided makes me realize how much my perception at that time was being controlled by own anger and frustration. Someday, I feel like an apology needs to be made. Not just for the big wrong that set off the storm, but for how I reacted afterwards. 

My dad says I should just leave it in the past. He doesn't think anything good could come out of it. But I don't believe God wants anybody to live with broken relationships in their lives. It's like a chain, kinda... sometimes... 

I don't think I'd be ready for that now... but when would I ever be? I'm scared that all the old angers would just come right back up again and it will be like that last month, where nothing went anywhere good. How would I know if he was ready? How would I deal with my own hurts? After doing something that I can barely even forgive myself for... would it be fair for me to ask for an apology from him for the ways that I hurt? Last summer, his answer was no... and I couldn't deal with that. I couldn't deal with being treated like I was the wrong thing with the relationship... is that just what would happen again?

Maybe in 10 years or so this will be just like those other things from my distant past... Things that hurt and just got left there, in my past.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

57 Things to Do for Free in Harvard Square

I love things like this. It seems like people talk about how bored they are all the time. I wonder if its really the lack of things to do or the fact that people don't know how to think outside of what is conventional anymore... so when there's nothing conventional interesting enough to do anymore, we feel like there's nothing to do. 

I admit, there's a lot of pretty "stupid" stuff on the site, but... i bet they were well entertained, and I am entertained in the process. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A lot of people have issues with Christianity because it sounds ridiculous to them and doesn't make logical sense. As someone who has grown up in the church, questioned my faith, rejected it for a while before coming back, and then believed again based on logical answers to my questions... I have the opposite problem with Christianity. A lot of times I feel like it makes too much sense and has too many easy answers to tough questions that work... (you know, like how anything that doesn't make sense in the natural realm can be explained by... well, it's God, he can do anything). Personally, I find that to be an easy out answer. Any other religion could claim the same logic with their deities. 

I just finished reading the book of Revelations. Definitely a book which raises a lot of questions about justice, sovereignty, and God. Here are some of my thoughts and many many questions:

-It was interesting to rethink Revelations as a "testimony of Jesus Christ" as mentioned in verse 2. Usually the book of Revelations is only thought about as a prediction of the future and not a place where one can really learn about Christ.

-I really liked the lampstand analogy with the lampstands representing the churches. It worked in terms of seeing God walking among the lampstands, but also how lampstands do not shine on their own but require oil. Churches often grow to see themselves as self-sufficient and forget to turn outside of themselves to God to get the oil they need to shine.

-Also liked the stars in the hand of God picture. Remembering that even when everything seems to be failing, the church is in God's hands and he knows what he's doing.

-Letters to the churches were mostly praise mixed with rebuke. It was a good reminder that God can see the little things that often we don't get credit for and wants to reward his people for those little successes. But looking at the faults written out about the churches it was surprising how many of the 'criticisims' were things that Christians are criticized for by those outside of the faith today. Being hypocrites, having a megachurch complex where the church is thriving but things could be going terribly wrong beneath the facade, all program and no content, and Christians not being any different than others (aka. what's the point). I think some of Christianity's critics would be pretty surprised to find that kind of rebuke right in the bible and straight from God. It also seems like maybe God is trying to use people criticizing the church to communicate his own displeasure with some of the things going on in churches today.

-Do we still keep and use our talents/skills in heaven or do we really just bow in worship and sing all day? For God to create such a diverse and gifted set of people it would seem really odd to me for heaven to be such a one action place, but it seems like that's the common conception... The idea that God's awesomeness will be so amazing that we wont want to do anything but praise Him in song and verbal proclamation all day...

-The points where God gives authority to Satan really baffle me. I guess it works as a test to see which people are truly faithful to God and not just accepting Him because it's easy and profitable for them... The commentary was all joyous about God being in control and being the one who gives authority and can take it away. It was also rejoicing over the fact that God in control can use evil like Satan to accomplish His will. That seemed kinda wrong to me. Almost like an ends justify the means logic. 

-I always hear Christians talk about how they are glad they wont have to cry when they reach heaven because their family is Christian, but if one can reach heaven without anyone worth crying for, sometimes I wonder how much one has been caring about others and trying to reach out to them. And in general, I think that comment is really unsympathetic to other Christians who are still in the midst of trying to reach out to their families. Sometimes I wonder about the no more tears in heaven thing though. It seems like such an important part of being human and I can't imagine a place full of humans without it.

-So what keeps people from sinning in heaven once its all said and done. I mean, we still have free will right? And 1/3 of the angels rebelled against God even while they were in heaven and immersed in God's presence?

-Revelations was a reminder to me that supernatural and miracles can come from both God and satan and care should be taken not to just go after every miracle as evidence of God's supernatural existence. 

-God sends plagues and disasters as a warning for people to turn and repent. At first read that's really reminiscent of torture. Causing pain to make someone go your way. For a world that doesn't believe in a supernatural God, how does that work anyways? Does the fact that God has delayed his wrath and judgment for thousands of years already to give humans a chance to repent and find Him really account for such seemingly harsh treatment? Sometimes I have to really remind myself of God's loving but just nature. People always question why God allows wrongdoing to thrive on earth, pain, etc... but if God really let his justice rule on earth nobody would measure up and everyone would deserve God's wrath by his perfect standards. The fact that Revelations is not the reality today is all grace, and the scary stuff in Revelations is what happens when people really get what they ask for. God stepping in to deal with the evil in the world.

-Also kinda comforting to remember that Satan was an angel and is really not God's direct opposition but is under God's authority. In Revelations, satan is often paired with the archangel Michael.

-It's interesting how false religion is pointed out as the big problem of religion in the end times. In the times where Revelations was written that would've been a pretty new concept. Their biggest problems were with idol worship and turning completely to other gods.

-Last comment is something I'd thought about before reading Revelations. I have mixed feelings about the idea of receiving in heaven based on what we do on earth. While I guess I do believe in being rewarded, I don't think that should ever be the motive for doing good, and so it seems strange to have the fact that there will be a reward spelled out in the bible. Why say there's a reward, why not just reward those who did so in the end? I guess it helps to display God's desire to give and also his attention to the good things we do.

I would provide a conclusion to tie it all together, but this post is long enough as it is. Whew.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

There were many days this past year, i really wished I could go back to being four feet tall. So many less decisions to make, less responsibilities to be held accountable to and the future never seemed uncertain. This senior year, everything happening seemed to be asking the question 'what are you doing with your life?' 'where are you going?' It wasn't like the end of high school, when all these questions were exciting. Instead of wanting to answer the questions, I answered them because I had to, because the times came up when I had to decide.

Do I go to grad school? Where would I apply? Do I work? Who would want me? When do I even have time to be applying and searching? Where do I go? Where am I meant to go? What is a meaningful future to pursue? 

There was a certain peace that came with knowing that a God who cares and knows my purpose already had it all figured out. But my relationship with him this year has been... well... pretty terrible. It was hard to hear his comforting and guiding voice when all I could think about was my shame and all the things I've done that hurt him. I'm far from the good little church girl that some think i am, and it's hard to feel hopeful about the future at a time when I've never felt like more of a failure. It's kinda strange... feeling like a failure in the midst of attaining what most would consider great success. 'sophia, what are you talking about? you're going to harvard next year for crying out loud.' 

I guess it depends on what you value. To me security always comes from knowing I'm on the right path. Big name schools, having a job, good grades, having a plan for the future... all those things could easily fall apart and not be all they promise to be. But jobless, uncertain, rejected, and on the right path... I could still know there's a good future waiting.

God was faithful though. I guess that's no surprise for a God who promises to be faithful even when we are not. I've learnt that God is the only one who will not go back on his word, the only one who I can truly expect to keep his promises. I don't know how many times I've heard Christians asking, 'how do i know what God's will is? how do i know it's not just me hearing things that i want to hear?' I know I've asked that question. It's like we think it's this enigmatic puzzle that we have to struggle to solve. But its not like God is trying to hide his will; he wants us to know it. This grad school thing was one place where i felt like I could see God just laying out the bricks to the path. 

Although I'm terrified of heading back into studio so soon... I feel certain that it's where I'm called to go. I did struggle with the question of whether I just wanted Harvard to be the right answer because of my own pride and my own desire for the status it symbolizes, but its never been something I've sought after for myself. And of all the periods of my life, this year was probably the best one i could be in to be making the decision. Freshman through Junior years I learnt humility in realizing that there are so many other talented and amazing people that can do more than I could even imagine doing; but this year I learnt humility in realizing how weak I am... how much I don't really deserve to be blessed with admission to any top architecture programs. 

The first thing was the coincidence of a spring break internship in Boston. I chose to go there based on it being the only typical interning city where I had free lodging. There were no other really compelling reasons for me to want to be in such a cold place in the middle of winter, but maybe God had his own reasons. I... really liked it. It was the same sense I got when I first visited Ann Arbor and I knew it was somewhere I could see myself.

And then there was the strangeness of being admitted to Harvard but not Princeton, Yale, or Cornell (until later)... leaving the decision between Michigan and Harvard. In a way it felt like God saying 'look, you don't deserve this, your work is not even strong enough for these other architecture schools, but I'm opening this one door for you.' ...The fact that this happened to be the year where the ivy leagues decided to try to make their education more affordable also opened up the financial door... a surprise from a school I'd heard does not usually give out much money.

Lastly, all the places most people would turn to for advice about their futures pointed me the same way too. Advice from trusted friends, advisors, and professors who know my work pushed me to leave, to explore my potential at a school that satisfies my educational and career interests more than Michigan has.

The decision was actually a lot harder than I'm making it sound... and for a while Michigan was actually the better choice in my mind... but looking back, I see God working to help lead me in a certain direction. To those confused about God's will I would say to 'look and listen' because it's not so very hard to find.


Are natural disasters a sign of God's judgment? It seems like anytime this question comes up in a discussion no real conclusion is ever made and the discussion wanders off somewhere else. I'm curious though, about how one should respond to natural disasters. 

There are some Christians who will blame homosexuals or corrupt government for all natural disasters. In an extreme case, we could look at the sects who will not even treat illnesses because they feel they would be going against God's judgment on the sick person. Gut reaction for me to this is, "errrn, wrong", but why? For one, think AIDS and other STDs. Much of what is responsible for the spread of STDs are the actions of an unfaithful partner. But through those actions an innocent wife and all her children could be left scarred... and judged by the church when they should be receiving mercy and care. One could say that's a different story because it's a consequence to a direct human action whereas natural disasters are out of our control.

So looking to the guidebook: we can see passages in the bible which could point toward either of two viewpoints. God certainly does use storms, plagues, and famines as a sign of judgment. But then there's Romans 8:22 [We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.] which places natural disharmonies as nature being affected by the presence of sin in the world, entering the world when the pains of childbirth did back in Genesis. So, just a general state of things rather than the result of a certain person or people's wrongdoing. In both cases, though, we could say that the cause is God's judgment. Both cases are the result of sin on earth.

We discussed this question when studying Jonah 1 at AIV's first summer bible study. The comment of the night which I found most pertinent to this question was the observation that God works through signs and events specific to a given time-period, working in ways that people of a time in history can understand. In Exodus, the Pharaoh was told specifically why the plagues were happening. In Jonah, the sailors and Jonah were able to understand the storm as a rebuke against Jonah running away. If we look more closely at each of the natural disasters in the bible, each one is used to some effect and people effected are aware of the disaster being the hand of God. While we've been talking about disasters just being a sign of judgment, they are also, and perhaps more importantly, God's way of trying to bring people back to him or to help show people who the God of Israel is. Lately the result of people interpreting natural disasters as God's judgment has created Christians with a holier than thou perspective, judging those who they see to be the target of God's wrath. This is a far cry from the biblical result of bringing people back to God and showing people who God is. If a disaster cannot be understood and used by God as a way of bringing people back to Him in today's times, then it doesn't seem like something He would use to speak to people today. 

I suppose that's my conclusion, but at the same time, I wonder then, how does God rebuke people today? And have I just reasoned God into a softy God instead of the God of the wind, storms, and seas?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The name's kinda strange.... it came to me late at night, as many other strange thoughts do. But it works pretty fantastically! If you don't get it yet, I might as well point out that dye.a.log spoken out loud perfectly resembles some other word.

To me, interesting blogs are always some sort of dialogue. It could be dialogue with self, with friends, with God, with life... So, while this is not necessarily something to keep up to date with what I've been doing from day to day, if you follow the conversation, I'm sure my day to day life will reflect itself through.

If you want to get super metaphorical, the log could represent the mundanity of life; and the process of dye-ing, the bringing out of all of life's colors and a way of seeing life in a new light. But we'll leave that metaphor there for now.

Of course, starting a new blog is somewhat ambitious. Since when do I have time to blog during the school year when studio is in full swing? At the same time, I've realized that journaling is the way that I am best able to express myself, understand myself, and work through the thoughts in my head... so probably a good thing to be ambitious about keeping up with during the busiest times in my life.

Oh we shall see.

I've also devoted another blog just to my design work and thinking about the issues surrounding design. It probably has the better chance of being regularly updated, since its something I tend to keep up with already: