Friday, March 17, 2006

Normalcy's Big Challenger

Pix - 1st on top left is me cooking keihan at the Summers' house in Houston. Nice kitchen, good food, good friends, Dr. Pepper...makes the evening, man.
1st on top right is a bunch of Trinity iMPACT people at Santa Fe Steakhouse in Norman, enjoying good ol' SW food and the best dinner rolls I have ever had. No kidding. And I'm picky.













Next down is a view of Kagoshima looking out from the inside of the big Shinto temple there. Notice the neato tree and the huge gate - had to be 10 meters tall at least. Next is the cute little Buddha statue I found in the hillside park in Kagoshima. It was rainy, so someone was nice enough to clothe cute little Buddha in some red knitted raingear and a hat to make sure he didn't get his chub belly all wet. They also bwat him some fwowahs and a nice cup of gween tea. Nice widduw Buddha. Gag me.

Made me think of this biblical passage.





Last one is me at the OU-Iowa St. basketball game w/ some Chi Alpha friends, the day after the ice hit Norman. By this time, I'd been in the States for about 42 hours. Seriously, it was a great trip.














It's been a week of getting back to normal, and I think I've succeeded.
Does that mean that I will join the realm of "normal people"? Mmmmm, no. I meant "normal" in a very postmodern, comfortably relativistic kind of way. It just makes me feel...happy. Tolerant. Accepting. Affirming.

All strange prefaces aside, this has been a good week, actually. I finally realised that I have a bit of a discipline problem when it comes to hanging out on the Internet during the day - I just spend a bit too much time on it. And then, when I try to study at home, lots of stuff gets in my way, like snacks and little errands that suddenly occur to me, or a book on the bookshelf that suddenly seems a TON more interesting than studying how to count various specific items in Japanese.
You may laugh, "You mean you haven't learned to count yet?!?!?!" Hear me out, now. Japanese uses certain "counters" for all different kinds of things, analogous to the way that English says "3 pairs of pants" or "a glass of water". And when is it a glass and not a cup? Ah, now, my friends, you are catching wind of the difficulty. So in Japanese, you have to say, for example, "At my house cats 8 animals there are." That's a more-or-less literal transcription. In Latin characters it's, "Uchi ni neko ga happiki imasu" (he said just before double-checking "happiki". I was right). Anyway...that's what I studied today. The point is that I've taken to timing myself while on the PC and shutting it down when I'm done, and then studying at the liberry. It's been working well so far and I'm learning at a good pace.
This new approach to self-discipline has, however, come up against a 6'8" 260 lb. all-muscle contender in the ring, w/ the words "March Madness" proudly emblazoned across its championship belt. Ooofff. And my bro hooks me up w/ a website where I can watch all these basketball games for free, and even live. Thanks a ton. I'm half-sarcastic...sigh. I do so love March Madness. That and the occasional (just under one per week in the autumn) college football game are about the only things that get me in front of a TV on any reliable basis anymore. Were I back in the States, I'd be watching the games on TV during several spring evenings. But I'll get my fix and then just kind of leave it alone. The challenger can be starved! If I can just stop chucking T-bones at him...

Tonight Aubrey and I went to Sugira Beach, the big park not too far away from our house and the place where we swam on New Year's Day, and where many things happen. We were going to play basketball on the court since there's supposed to be a coupla communal b-balls in a storage locker next to the court. It was empty so we contented ourselves w/ bizarre games on the playground, wrestling a bit (very chastely, thank you very much) in the grass, and making fools of ourselves. Great time. Then we were watching the sun set (sun set or sunset?) on top of a playgrd toy when two high school girls showed up and started swinging. We talked to them (yes, mostly in Japanese) for a while and then took a coupla pictures, and they were saying "Oh, lub lub," which means roughly "lovebirds." Seriously, our marriage is a huge testimony around here and we asked them if they wanted to know our secret. I wasn't surprised that they said yes, but I was surprised that they showed a ton of interest, even when we were stalling most of the way thru, not knowing the right words. We pretty much told them our story and then shared our and their need for Jesus as best we could. What a divine appt! I'd never met these girls before, and Aub had maybe once. I challenged them to challenge Jesus honestly to prove that He exists (a challenge I make to anyone reading who doesn't believe Jesus to be the only way to God), and so yeah. Quite a cool time. Tomorrow we're getting together w/ a young couple who speak English to watch Jonah: A Veggietales Movie on our laptop, since it won't play on theirs (FYI - DVDs are set from purchase on regional settings so a Japanese DVDR typically can't play an American DVD and vice versa. Yes, it is annoying in case you were wondering). That should be neato.
Many teachers who have finished their 3-yr rotation are preparing to ship out and we'll start seeing lotsa new teachers soon. We are praying that we can meet many who will become our friends and hear the Gospel. Heck, we're also praying that some will be believers already - that would definitely qualify as nifty.
I spent so much time making sure the text wouldn't get all wranged around by those pix that I'm tired now. Catch you later.

5 comments:

Steve said...

hehe

Anonymous said...

"It was rainy, so someone was nice enough to clothe cute little Buddha in some red knitted raingear and a hat to make sure he didn't get his chub belly all wet. They also bwat him some fwowahs and a nice cup of gween tea. Nice widduw Buddha. Gag me."

Not sure about the hat, but the red cap and bib are not just "rain wear." I'm not sure of their significance, but one may as well ask the pope why he wears a hat. However, I'm not sure this is a buddha, I think it may be a bodhissatva, or one of their "helpers." I have seen the red bibs and hats on the statues representing those divine entities who save the spirits of the unborn from the buddist hells, hence they are given tea or water to drink, because some of the buddhist hells are apparently pretty hot too.

As a side note, I can't imagine you appreciate it too much when your religion is belittled. Just because you are absolutely certain that your religious worldview contains all the right answers and that everyone else is wrong, does that give you the right to make fun of other religious traditions, especially when you expect to be taken seriously when you tell Japanese people that the only thing that will save their soul from eternal torment is to believe in a 2000 year old dead guy from Israel? I can't recall hearing any Buddhists say "why all you nutty Christians wear crosses, you think Jesus wants to see that when he comes back?" Just my two cents. I don't mean to try and tell you how to be Christian or anything, but this comes across as pretty self-righteous, and not so humble.

--Max

Rhology said...

Yes, I was half-joking when I described the statue's wear as "rain gear." And one may indeed ask why the Pope wears a hat and all those ridiculous vestments. In no way do I support those highly traditional and biblically unjustifiable garments.

I didn't know, OTOH, that it wasn't a Buddha. If I weren't lazy, I could look up what "bodhissatva" is. OK, hold on - I'll do it.
Ah, OK - wikipedia says that it's "Bodhisattva" actually, and that it "...is a being who is dedicated to assisting all sentient beings achieve complete Buddhahood."
Also didn't know about the hat and red bib.
So I learned something. Good deal.
In response to your side note, I'm an American, Max - my religion is belittled by so very many people almost every day of the week, so I'm used to it.
Yes, I do believe my worldview to be right and everyone else's to be wrong, just in case you were just making a hypothetical statement.

You were right about the message being that the only thing that can save the people of Japan is to believe in Jesus. You were wrong about:
A. Jesus being only 2000 yrs old. He is actually timeless, w/o beginning or end.
B. Jesus being dead. He WAS dead, but then He came back to life.
If you happen to have any info to the contrary, feel free to bring forth any evidence you might have.

As for whether Buddhists mock Christians or not, that would be a yes. And many bring harsh persecution to the point of torture, imprisonment, and death to Christians all around Asia. So your objection lacks perspective.

Finally, as to whether I am "self-righteous," what statement did I make that would express a SELF-righteous idea? All I did was to mock the pitiful religions of men, who ignore the evidence of their Creator and have intentionally "worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever" (Romans 1:25).
In mocking these religions, I am doing no less than imitating God, which is my goal in life. See here:
Isaiah 41:20-29.
Psalm 96:4-6
Isaiah 42:16-17
Isaiah 45:9-25
Jeremiah 10
Those are just a few I could name. I don't have a problem w/ that.
May I ask you this: Upon what basis do you judge ME for being "self-righteous" and "not so humble" if it is good for me under my own morality to be so?

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean to "define" Jesus to you, I was trying to demonstrate how ridiculous it can sound to someone who is not accustomed to Christianity. What's that? I put my lost tooth under my pillow and a magical fairy will come and give me money for it while I'm asleep? What's that? The God who loves me so much that he never saw fit to appear to my ancestors, but rather to a tribe of people on the other side of the world, wants to save my soul if only I believe that he came to earth 2000 years ago in human form and was killed by the romans, but then came back to life and flew into the sky? You've said before that you know how hard it can be for people to "accept," but you don't seem to be able to relate to just how absurd it sounds to those who aren't already believers.

But you see an absurdity in Buddhism. It's not the mocking that bothers me (though of the passages you cited, none of them was a command from god to disparage other religions...) it's the implication that the trappings of another religion move you to illness. I suppose you think I love seeing crosses everywhere I go in Oklahoma? No, I don't relish it, but neither to I stop to comment on how it turns my stomach; my stomach would do entirely too much turning and I would consequently never get anything done. I mock; I've said my share of "Jesus is coming...look busy." But I don't viscerally insult or disrespect.

I love when Christians ask on what basis I criticise them, as though they are immune to criticism from those not of their own religion (I'm not a moral relativist and neither are you), or as though they cannot possibly be errant about the kind of behavior their religion affords them (1 Peter 5:5). I for one could just swear the "laws" of common human interaction dictate that if you expect to be respected you should respect others. Telling Buddhists that the statues that represent their divine beings are "worthless idols" or implying that they make you ill will not go far in winning them over, correct me if I'm wrong.

As far as Buddhists being so intolerant to Christians, perhaps you'd care to tell me which Buddhists here in Japan have tortured you or persecuted you so. I'm familiar with Christian persecution in North Korea, but this is statist. I am familiar with the persecution of people who happen to be Christian in China, but again this is statist and has less to do with being Christian and more to do with objecting to the Chinese government in general. If it really is as widespread as you seem to imply, I wonder why I am not more aware of it. "Main-stream-media" conspiracy?

--Max

Rhology said...

--I didn't mean to "define" Jesus to you, I was trying to demonstrate how ridiculous it can sound to someone who is not accustomed to Christianity.
>>OK, but I prefer that someone reject Xtianity for what it really is rather than on the basis of a caricature. But no worries.

--I put my lost tooth under my pillow and a magical fairy will come and give me money for it while I'm asleep?
>>As if the evidence for the tooth fairy were anything like the evidence for, for example, the Resurrection of Jesus.

--The God who loves me so much that he never saw fit to appear to my ancestors
>>Two responses:
1) To imply that He is somehow unjust for not doing sthg that He didn't do or for doing sthg He did is unavoidably to take your place as the judge of your Creator. I believe you've protested in the past that you're not intentionally doing that, but the fact remains.
2) Now that He HAS made Himself known to YOU, your responsibility is to obey and believe, not to continue in self-righteousness and pride (and this would be TRUE self-righteousness and lack of humility!).

--rather to a tribe of people on the other side of the world
>>You said that you are "trying to demonstrate how ridiculous it can sound to someone who is not accustomed to Christianity", yet you fail to take into acct the fact that all you've said here is true of America, not just of Japan. You think I'm of Israeli Hebrew stock or sthg (precious few of those, you know)? And 2000 yrs old?

--you don't seem to be able to relate to just how absurd it sounds to those who aren't already believers.
>>On the contrary, I was an atheist for 3 yrs, so I know exactly how it sounds.
Also, let me take this opportunity to quote 1 Corinthians 1:21-25:

21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

I know well that my message is not similar to the worldview generally held-to by Hiroki on the street, and that's why it's so important to make the msg known.

--But you see an absurdity in Buddhism.
>>Well, many, yes. :-D

--It's not the mocking that bothers me (though of the passages you cited, none of them was a command from god to disparage other religions...)
>>No, you're right - I wasn't claiming that they were *commands* per se to mock other religions. They were, rather, examples of God doing so.
And that reminds me - I was a forgetful boy for not citing this one:
Elijah mocks the prophets of Baal

--it's the implication that the trappings of another religion move you to illness.
>>If you look at it from my point of view, devotion as I've seen to false gods and idolatry means that dear people whom I love and who are beloved by the God Whom I love are living in terrible, willful rebellion against their God and my God. The problem is when it DOESN'T move me.

--I suppose you think I love seeing crosses everywhere I go in Oklahoma?
>>I doubt you do, but it's not really important to me.

--my stomach would do entirely too much turning and I would consequently never get anything done.
>>Well, I do succeed in getting things done - all must be kept in proper perspective - but once again your subjective self-inserted "life meaning" is shining thru, and I don't know what the reason for my caring about your subjective morality would be.

--I mock; I've said my share of "Jesus is coming...look busy."
>>A friendly but serious warning: Such mocking is unwise.

--I love when Christians ask on what basis I criticise them,
>>Criticise ME all you want, seriously. I will look honestly at what you've said and see if I was wrong. In this case, however, you are criticising behavior that is God-like, so I will critique your critique.

--(I'm not a moral relativist and neither are you)
>>At the fundamental level you are.

--as though they cannot possibly be errant about the kind of behavior their religion affords them (1 Peter 5:5)
>>You are so right. The Bible beat you to it, though.

--I for one could just swear the "laws" of common human interaction dictate that if you expect to be respected you should respect others.
>>Three responses:
1) Such "laws" of "common human interaction" are merely general rules of thumb and are observed. How could they be prescribed/commanded by some Higher Authority in the worldview you propose?
2) As a result, why should I care about that?
3) Once again, God beat you to it.

--Telling Buddhists that the statues that represent their divine beings are "worthless idols" or implying that they make you ill will not go far in winning them over, correct me if I'm wrong.
>>Well, in a way; it partly depends on HOW and WHEN you present such facts. But never making that clear not only does injustice to my own worldview but also to the person w/ whom I'm talking, since they might never know such things are detestable to God.

--perhaps you'd care to tell me which Buddhists here in Japan have tortured you or persecuted you so.
>>Don't recall mentioning Japan. But Shintos certainly have done so - see the persecution under Hideyoshi in the 17th century.
True, most of what happens in N Korea and China are statist, govt-related persecution. However, there's more to Asia than China and N Korea. Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar are a few I can name where Christians are persecuted. Some by Buddhists, some by other pagan influences.

--If it really is as widespread as you seem to imply, I wonder why I am not more aware of it. "Main-stream-media" conspiracy?
>>Oh, I wouldn't go so far as to say a "conspiracy" or anything.
For one thing, this kind of news doesn't galvanise enough of the right kinds of people to get better ratings. Also, a lot is (unsurprisingly) hidden by the perps. Finally, you are ignorant of quite a few relevant websites, just so you know.
Not exactly the "news up Max's alley," is it?

Truth,
ALAN