Friday, May 12, 2006

Ain't Nobody Else

I was just thinking that I would write the first word that came to my head, and the word was "sofa," followed closely by "sopaipilla." Mmm, sopaipillas. W/ honey.
Speaking of honey, mine is now in the Topeka area. Too bad for me. She's been gone now for 54 hours or so and it's funny how lonely I feel. Ironic that when you spend so much time w/ someone, even your wife, you sometimes find yourself thinking that it might be nice to have a small break. But then you get that break and you think, "Man, this stinks!" But never fear - I have some honey-dos. Mercifully, very few were issued forth by Aubrey fiat. They are, rather, self-imposed.
I'm supposed to try to clean the walls and ceiling of the entry hall, which have some mold on them. I am also supposed to get the Board of Ed to send someone to fix some of the screen doors on our house. It would be very nice to have those fixed, I must admit. Good call Aubrey!
As for my self-imposed Things To Do, they include:
-drinking coffee
-oh wait, I do that most every day anyway regardless of whether Aub is here
-it's b/c I really like it
-anyway, bike around the island on the main road (that's probably an investment of 2 hours)
-spend at least one evening alone on some beach by a driftwood fire
-compose hippie "I'm a vagabond on the road" songs on my acoustic guitar while sitting by said fire
-write a review of "Silence," a famous novel by famous Japanese novelist Shuusaku Endo
-just kidding about the hippie songs
-email some people
-study Japanese more intensively than usual

So far, so good. Coffee, check. Bike around the island, prolly Monday. Night out on the beach, prolly Tues, Wed, or Thurs. I was kidding about the guitar. The book review is maybe 1/4 done right now - I've sunk 6 hours into it and am halfway thru the book in my "read again and take notes" phase. It's a really interesting book and I told Shay that I'd review it. I'm betting, however, that if I get to stay in Japan for another 2-3 yrs or more, any review of such a book would be much fuller by the time I'm closer to leaving than now. I don't understand a whole lot at this point about the state of the Japanese church, but I'm able to critique the theological issues in the book, so I'm a-gonna do that.
Anyway, email, check. Study Japanese, check. Just gotta keep up w/ that.
Random notes:
I'm listening to the new Radial Angel tracks a whole bunch. They're just pretty dang catchy.
A couple of old friends I've found on myspace. They used to claim they were Christians, and one of them claims still to be, but you'd never know it from their myspace pages or one friend's blog. So I sent a msg to both of them asking them whether they still claimed Christ and why, if they did, they had written x, y, and z on their webpages. I tried to be as friendly, serious, and loving as I could. One responded by dropping me from her friends list on myspace, and another refuses to contact me by email or whatever and has apparently deleted the blog to which I called her attention. Sad. Goes to show how rare and valuable is the intellectually honest person.
Speaking of which, God put another old friend (this one still a close friend) on my heart about 3 weeks ago and called me to pray for him that he would be "active in sharing (his) faith, that (he) may have a full knowledge of every good thing we have in Christ" (Philemon 6). So I was praying for him and then was about to initiate a convo about it, when all of a sudden we were talking today and he asked for a bit of advice on witnessing to some Mormon friends and later mentioned that God had been spurring him to evangelise people actively and he'd been following the call. Man, that's cool! Makes me so thankful for the love of the brethren in Christ's church.
Invited a friend over to eat tenpura tonight along w/ fruit smoothies. Asked him to bring half a Kikai radish (aka "daikon"), 1/4 of a Kikai pumpkin/squash thing, and "2 bananas." Radish and pumpquash, no prob. "2 bananas" became "2 bunches," though. Guess I'll get enough potassium these next few days. Fortunately, I dig bananas to a dangerous extent. But I was heartened to review what I had said: "banana futatsu", which means "2 bananas." Strictly speaking, I shoulda said "banana nihon," but anyway, I was being a little colloquial. He agreed that I had said it right, but he had made the mistake. Cool. Getting more confident in Japanese these days. Also showed him my sentence translation worksheets I've been working on, and he said they were almost perfect. Excellent!
A few example sentences:
-When I was a high school student, I studied math, science, and things like that.
-I called this morning, but there was no answer so I'll try calling again later.
-You leave the station and turn right. Then walk up to the traffic light and wait there.
-It looks like it's going to rain. Thus, I think it's best to take an umbrella.

Etcetera. I've found that I usually have to get a word/phrase into my head thru a flash card or sthg before I can hear it said in a normal face-to-face conversation. Not always, but that's the best for me.

OK, I think I'm done writing now. Peace out from the only whitey on Kikai Island!

4 comments:

Gordon Cloud said...

Hi, I saw your comment on Pyromaniacs and dropped by. You have a nice blog. I always enjoy hearing what is going on with missionaries. You guys are my heroes. I pray that God will bless you and your ministry.

blue said...

I know this is an older post. But, since I "discovered" your blog this morning, I was skimming your older blogs.

This one made me cringe.

You said: "A couple of old friends I've found on myspace. They used to claim they were Christians, and one of them claims still to be, but you'd never know it from their myspace pages or one friend's blog. So I sent a msg to both of them asking them whether they still claimed Christ and why, if they did, they had written x, y, and z on their webpages. I tried to be as friendly, serious, and loving as I could. One responded by dropping me from her friends list on myspace, and another refuses to contact me by email or whatever and has apparently deleted the blog to which I called her attention. Sad. Goes to show how rare and valuable is the intellectually honest person."

Yikes, that was so judgmental and pompous of you. I just can't stand when a religious person uses the word "claims" regarding another religious person. *feels the sound of fingernails on a chaulkboard*

People by choice or circumstance jump ship and opt for a rubber dingy to brave the turmultous world. Why stand on the side of the ship shooting a BB gun at their raft?

Please believe that every person is rare and valuable not just the ones who accept your current doctrinal beliefs.

blue said...

I apologize for not being familiar with how this blog interaction should take place.

You said:
**************
Hi Blue,

Thanks again for your interest in my blog (and by extension, my life). Sorry it's not any flashier! ;-)

I would like to comment on your comment. As always, you can expect no ill-treatment from me and I hope you will come to see that thru any further interaction we might have. We will very possibly not agree on many things, but you need fear no cheap insult or anything from me.

You said:
--People by choice or circumstance jump ship and opt for a rubber dingy to brave the turmultous world. Why stand on the side of the ship shooting a BB gun at their raft?

Please believe that every person is rare and valuable not just the ones who accept your current doctrinal beliefs.--

>>I would like to ask in response just how you know that people jump ship (the "ship" in this case clearly being Xtianity) "by choice or circumstance"? I would like to suggest that it is uniquely by choice, not by circumstance. Many people have claimed that they left Xtianity b/c of a "difficult circumstance" that arose in their life, yet examples can by multiplied of people who went thru the same or worse circumstance and not only remained in the faith but came out stronger on the other side.
So we might do well to ask ourselves why some people stay and some people go. The ultimate answer I know not, but I do know that we must not make the mistake of *assuming* that people are in general less to blame than the system (Xtianity) itself. We must examine each to find out whether that assumption is valid. I believe that even a passing glance at humanity's history and present will present plenty of evidence of people's stubborn short-sightedness, stubbornness, and evil nature; at the same time, we must examine Xtianity to find out whether it is a rational, coherent, correct worldview.

I have done said examination (I used to be an atheist) and found Xtianity's doctrine and worldview to be w/o blemish. Thus I put my faith in it. Thus, I believe it when it tells me that people leave Xtianity b/c they are evil and sinful and b/c "they were not of us" to begin with (1 John 2:19). Why? B/c I have good reason to believe it and I see not much reason from the other side to turn away from this Xtian teaching.

As for whether I'm "shooting a BB gun at their raft," I'll surprise you and say that's exactly what I'm doing. I'll say w/o much hesitation that at least a couple of the friends of whom I spoke really are in their own rubber raft. If they cling stubbornly to it, they are headed for destruction in the end, w/o hope and w/o forgiveness for their sins. The MOST LOVING THING I could do is to pop their raft and be there w/ a rope to pull them to safety aboard the ship of Jesus. The MOST HATEFUL THING I could do is to turn my back uncaringly to them and let them try to navigate their way thru a world and on a path that will lead to their destruction, w/o question. To change metaphors, they are in a burning house and I'm yelling at them to get out. In the case of these friends, they are ignoring me and turning up the volume on their mp3 players.

Finally, it is BECAUSE I believe every person is rare and valuable that I do what I do; it's why I call friends to repentance, it's why I'm a missionary in Japan, learning a hard new language, fighting big cockroaches and mold in my house, trying not to worry about whether my pregnant wife will get the medical care she needs at the necessary time, all to tell people that Jesus loves them, Buddhists, Shintos, and JWs alike.

If you would like to talk further, I am more than happy to and welcome the opportunity. :-) If you decide to reply, would you mind explaining a little further why you believe that my actions signify that I *don't* believe that "every person is rare and valuable"? Thank you!

True Peace to your soul,
ALAN
**************

Again, I must say that I do not have the energy nor the inclination for deep religious or philosophical badminton.

I hope that you do not consider my post as a "cheap insult" to your life, faith or beliefs. If so, I apologize.

The "ship" I referred to was not necessarily Christianity, but Religion, Beliefs, Faith in God or Man in general.

Again you use the word: "claimed" regarding others. "claimed that they left Xtianity b/c of a "difficult circumstance" that arose in their life" just like your other post mentioned: "They used to claim they were Christians, and one of them claims still to be..."

This is a charged word. It puts you in the right and the others in the wrong.

Do you not also claim to be Christian? Claim to be as Jesus? It is quite easy to become self-righteous, quick to judgement and slow towards empathy.

(I was once like this)

Wow, I had forgotten the belief that humans are inherently evil. Guilty until proven innocent. That is one of the classic debates in the history of philosophy and religion that I would have to rest up for lol.

You said: "I have...found Xtianity's doctrine and worldview to be w/o blemish."

Again, my response is: wow.

I too believed that to my death. (by the way I do find your use of the word "Xtianity" in poor taste. If you do believe in Christ why do you purposely leave out his name?

You said:

"people leave Xtianity b/c they are evil and sinful and b/c "they were not of us" to begin with (1 John 2:19)"

It is truly sad that you came to this conclusion and even sadder if you perpetuate this notion.

I will not challenge your belief on this topic. But, respectfully plea for you to gain more understanding of circumstances that may contribute to the loss of faith in religion.

How could someone be called by God into the church, reject thier former "evil ways" and yet you say "they were not of us" to begin with. Did God make the mistake in calling them? Didn't God know their "true" nature? or did God call them knowing "they were not of us" to begin with just to serve as a lesson to the rest of the church?

Oh, yeah...I said I wouldn't discuss it. lol

You also said: "As for whether I'm "shooting a BB gun at their raft," I'll surprise you and say that's exactly what I'm doing."

Again, I plea that you will gain insight and true empathy. I know your faith is strong as your actions (life) speaks volumes. As a person who spent her life in the service of God, I ask that you rethink your stand on this issue. For what is the purpose of knowledge without the gaining of wisdom? What is the purpose of learing the Scriptures without serving others? The goal of knowledge is wisdom, the goal of wisdom is to serve others or to be equipped for GOODworks.

People who are loving, kind hearted, good can and will leave religion. Sometimes by choice (excuses) sometimes by circumstances (*to be expounded at another time)

If you are a man of Jesus then you will follow His example and not break the bruised reed or pinch out what little flame remains in the smoldering wick.

You said:
"Finally, it is BECAUSE I believe every person is rare and valuable that I do what I do; it's why I call friends to repentance, it's why I'm a missionary in Japan, learning a hard new language, fighting big cockroaches and mold in my house, trying not to worry about whether my pregnant wife will get the medical care she needs at the necessary time, all to tell people that Jesus loves them, Buddhists, Shintos, and JWs alike."

I do not doubt your faith. I merely see a trait that needs refining. I am sure you possess this trait because it is what you have been taught. I have walked in your shoes. I have seen others through your eyes. I have lived your life of self-sacrifice. Now I am on the other side looking in. I now see how I was...in you. If we believe in everlasting salvation, we should believe that it is a gift not a payment for righteousness or self-sacrifice. Do not be bitter because a sinner is given the same gift that you work so hard at. If you see someone you *assume* is on the wrong path...extend love and grace first. Leave judgement up to God.

As for your life... from here, it looks like you are receiving your blessings early.

Cherish every moment as they were gifts from God...as they are.

Rhology said...

Hi Blue,

No problem about the not knowing "how to conduct" a blog conversation. I think there's some more techie way to do it, but I'm not too familiar w/ it. This commenting thing will work just fine for me.

I do not consider your posts at all to be a cheap insult. And I appreciate the feedback. I have to admit that I wonder about when you said, "I do not have the energy nor the inclination for deep religious or philosophical badminton", b/c it seems like you are doing exactly that, but it's OK - no big deal. I will answer you as consistently as I can, and will hope for further interaction, but if you lack the energy for it, I completely understand. It sounds like your physical state is not where you'd like it to be, given the accident you alluded to.

--The "ship" I referred to was not necessarily Christianity, but Religion, Beliefs, Faith in God or Man in general.
>>Gotcha. I believe this to be an over-generalisation, but I'll get to that soon. I would say that my comments are still applicable even w/ the ship being that.

--Again you use the word: "claimed" regarding others... This is a charged word. It puts you in the right and the others in the wrong.
>>OK, two things:
1) I *do* believe I'm right and others *who hold conflicting views* are wrong. Otherwise, I wouldn't hold the views I do - I would hold others' views. :-) I would like to point out that *you* also believe yourself to be right and me to be wrong, at least in this case; otherwise you wouldn't spend your time asking me to change.
2) I used "claim" b/c Words and Actions are two totally different arenas in life. We human beings can sure talk a lot w/o backing it up w/ action, you know? Jesus Christ told us that we will know true believers by their fruits, ie, by their actions; not by their words alone. Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and the Apostle John (just to name 3) recognised this and instated provisions to remove people who say they are Christians but don't live like it from the church. Now, these friends don't go to my church, but as I mentioned, they are in a burning house, a pathetic dinghy in a raging ocean. Safety lies ONLY in getting out of the house, in getting on the ship of Jesus; I want them to come, but they don't care. I want them to care, so I ask them to care. When they respond by ignoring me in obvious ways, well, I've done all I can do.

--Do you not also claim to be Christian?
>>Yes.

--Claim to be as Jesus?
>>No, not really. Not nearly good enough.

--It is quite easy to become self-righteous, quick to judgement and slow towards empathy.
>>True, and it is difficult for me sometimes to avoid these things. Nevertheless, I really believe that this time I was none of them.

--I had forgotten the belief that humans are inherently evil.
>>I believe this b/c the Bible tells us so, but also b/c I've studied history. Do you think that human history reveals any other story than that people are intrinsically pretty messed up?

--by the way I do find your use of the word "Xtianity" in poor taste. If you do believe in Christ why do you purposely leave out his name?
>>I do believe in Christ, and I apologise for being in poor taste. "X" is the symbol for the Greek word "Chi" which is the 1st letter in Christ's name in Greek. I use it b/c it's an abbreviation (like b/c and w/ and w/o and such). But I'll stop doing that now. Sorry.

--I too believed that to my death.
--As a person who spent her life in the service of God...
>>Here is where I would like to parse a little bit the differences between us. Let me try to make this clear, and I don't mean this personally or anything. What you have believed most of your life, as long as you believed in the doctrines of the Watchtower, was a lie. Perhaps you believe that now, since you have left it. I will go further - all that time, you were not believing in Christianity, and thus not in Jesus Christ. Sure, JWs use the *word* "Christ" and "God" and "Jehovah" and such, but the meaning behind those words is totally different from Christianity. As far as I've read so far in what you've written, you've never been a member in a true, historically Christian church.
Again, not being personal, I wonder how much you truly know about the teachings of Christianity and Jesus Christ? That is not a rhetorical question but a real one. May I ask - what is the central message of Jesus' Gospel; how is a person saved?

--It is truly sad that you came to this conclusion and even sadder if you perpetuate this notion.
>>I call attention to this phrase simply b/c it illustrates that *you* are also attempting to change *my* mind on this issue. I don't have a problem w/ that at all, but it sounds sometimes like you think I shouldn't be trying to change other people's minds.

--respectfully plea for you to gain more understanding of circumstances that may contribute to the loss of faith in religion.
>>I hear what you're saying. However, I have to point out a few things:
1) I can't read anyone else's mind. (Duh, right?) ;-)
2) People not only lie to me, but sometimes people lie to most everyone and very often to themselves and to God.
3) Given that people are so unreliable, I look to a more solid basis to discover truth in this and other matters - the Word of God.
4) The Word of God says that people leave the truth b/c they are sinful and depraved. Once again, I hope you will understand I mean no disrespect at all - you, Blue, are sinful and depraved, and you need a Savior. He loves you, and one of the ways He is showing His love for you is thru our conversation. A much bigger way was His taking on human flesh and dying on the Cross to rescue you from your sins.

--How could someone be called by God into the church, reject thier former "evil ways" and yet you say "they were not of us" to begin with?
>>That's a very good question. *Everyone* is called in the sense that they are invited. Yet only some of those that are in church are true believers, and others are not. Out of those that are not, some leave and never return, and thus reveal that they were "not of us."

--What is the purpose of learning the Scriptures without serving others?
>>I agree 100%. In fact, that is a huge motivating factor for me to share the truth w/ others, including the JWs at my door and my friends who claim the name "Christian" but clearly don't care to live it out, don't take it into their hearts. How callous would it be for me to learn the Scriptures all the time and never share w/o anyone else?

--People who are loving, kind hearted, good can and will leave religion.
>>I agree except for the "good" part, for reasons I have explained.

--If you are a man of Jesus then you will follow His example and not break the bruised reed or pinch out what little flame remains in the smoldering wick.
>>That is a noble calling, but at the same time I urge you to consider more carefully the context of that phrase. Jesus Himself came to love people and serve them, and this He did in many ways. One of the ways was to tell people "Go and sin no more" and "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." He didn't say, "You're OK as you are;" He told people to repent. But in a loving way, not as the blind Pharisees did, who refused people access to God b/c they weren't slick enough in their outward religious ritualising. I *am* following Christ's example (though my actions are not always in accord w/ what I *should* be doing, sadly).

--I am sure you possess this trait because it is what you have been taught.
>>If I may say so, you assume an awful lot of things about me in this last paragraph. Be assured - I am not offended, but I hope you'll speak more carefully in the future.
My parents and even the church where I grew up would be very slow to encourage me in my actions (indeed, would not and do not encourage me) of asking people to repent of their pretended lives and trying to show JWs their errors from the Scriptures. I was also an atheist for a while. I have been a Christian for less than half of my life and have become convinced by evidence of the truth of the path I'm following. Not b/c my parents or some childhood authority figure told me so. Not b/c I had some "vision" or a "burning in the bosom."

--I have seen others through your eyes.
>>Let me re-iterate that, unless you were a full-hearted, believing member of a historically Christian church (ie, not JW), then you have not seen others thru my eyes. My eyes have been opened by the Holy Spirit, not b/c of anything I've done, but b/c of God's great mercy. Yet your eyes are blinded b/c of your sin, and the message of the Watchtower is one that leads to more blindness, not less.

-- we should believe that it is a gift not a payment for righteousness or self-sacrifice.
>>That is exactly what I believe about salvation - it is a gift. I do what I do b/c of my *thankfulness* to have received the gift.

--Leave judgement up to God.
>>I do. Yet, He called me to announce the message of repentance to all those who believe wrongly.

--As for your life... from here, it looks like you are receiving your blessings early.
>>I do not deny that I have many blessings, and yet you do not know my story, you know? Again, I'm not offended, but you don't know what heartbreak I've endured, what lies I've heard, what rejection I've suffered, what disappointments I've experienced. Yet the blessing of the gift of Jesus Christ is way bigger than all of them combined.

--Cherish every moment as they were gifts from God...as they are.
>>Boy, ain't that the truth! They are, and I try.

True peace to your soul,
ALAN