24 December 2011

Somebody Else's Thoughts, No. 5



A Christmas Carol, Sung to the King in the Presence at White-Hall
by Robert Herrick

What sweeter music can we bring, 
Than a Carol, for to sing 
The Birth of this our heavenly King? 
Awake the Voice! Awake the String! 
Heart, Ear, and Eye, and every thing 
Awake! the while the active Finger
Runs division with the Singer.

Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honour to this Day,
That sees December turned to May.

If we may ask the reason, say
The why and wherefore all things here
Seem like the Spring-time of the year?

Why does chilling Winters morn
Smile like a field beset with corn?
Or smell like to a Mead new-shorn,

Thus, on the sudden? Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
Tis He is born, whose quickening birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To Heaven and the under-Earth.

We see him come and know him ours,
Who, with his sunshine and his showers
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.

The darling of the world is come
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome him. The nobler part
Of all the house here, is the heart.

Which we will give him, and bequeath
The Holly, and this Ivy wreath,
To do him honour, who's our King,
And Lord of all this revelling.

09 November 2011

On God and wrath in the Old Testament

“I used to think that wrath was unworthy of God. Isn't God love? Shouldn’t divine love be beyond wrath? God is love, and God loves every person and every creature. That’s exactly why God is wrathful against some of them. My last resistance to the idea of God’s wrath was a casualty of the war in the former Yugoslavia, the region from which I come. According to some estimates, 200,000 people were killed and over 3,000,000 were displaced. My villages and cities were destroyed, my people shelled day in and day out, some of them brutalized beyond imagination, and I could not imagine God not being angry. Or think of Rwanda in the last decade of the past century, where 800,000 people were hacked to death in one hundred days! How did God react to the carnage? By doting on the perpetrators in a grandfatherly fashion? By refusing to condemn the bloodbath but instead affirming the perpetrators’ basic goodness? Wasn’t God fiercely angry with themThough I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love."  
— Miroslav Volf, professor of theology, Yale School of Divinity; from Free of Charge, 2006.

07 November 2011

O simple thing, where have you gone?

Tonight I found myself with comparatively little homework, and the same forecast for the week ahead in school. At loss for stress, I dimmed the lights in my room, turned on some classical music, and sat on my bed by the window and leisurely read a book I picked up from the library. I noticed some pitter-pattering on the window, and I decided to open it up a little and stick my head out. A light fog had encompassed the trees, and small brushes of rain brushed my hair. Out in the distance was a pink and gray sky, appearing ominous yet hopeful.
I remember the last distinct time I saw such a sky was my first year in academy. My roommate and I couldn't sleep, and I rolled up our window blinds and we saw a strangely lit sky at a late time in what was supposed to be a dark night, though foggy and mysterious.
"It's as if something's going to happen," I observed.
"Like Jesus is going to come?" he asked.
"Yeah."
— ✈ —
I was reading this evening  from Madeleine L'Engle's Penguins & Golden Calves: Icons and Idols. It is a wonderful, delightful read on her simple approach to theology, exposing the beauty in mere Christianity. One of the themes of her book is the need for Christianity to return to simple faith. She shares the story of a friend of hers who comforts a boy living in neglected circumstances, his parents always drunk and fighting. "I'm going to send a special prayer for you," her friend says to the boy. "I'm going to ask for four guardian angels, one to stand at each corner of your bed. They will watch over you and keep you safe, and their love will enclose you." The boy comes back the next morning, and when her friend asks how he slept, the boy replies, "I think we can cut down on the angel guard. The flapping of their wings kept me awake."
"We lose that wondrous ability to believe," Madeleine writes, "in the inestimable power of love as we grow older and learn, often in brutal ways, that many people are unloving indeed, a realization which makes us question God's love."

There was a Week of Prayer speaker I heard who admonished the belittling of faith.
He asked, When we're driving in the city and we see a funeral going on, and there are all these people mourning in slow procession - why is it that we don't have the sudden urge to get out of the car, open up the casket, and say "In the name of Jesus, arise!"?

I am reminded of a conversation I had with a teacher I highly regard. I was working on a report on Adventist Education, and I asked him something about where we might have gone astray. We have as a people of faith diminished the expectations of our faith, and the theology we teach in the classroom doesn't reflect our actions in reality; we resist the work of the Spirit of God. If God were to send an angel down to the room of a student, delivering a message that the student was to share with the school, we wouldn't believe that student. That, my teacher said, is our problem today in our education. When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith upon the earth?

05 November 2011

What we need to hear

Be it the family tradition, the cessation of labor, or the sounds and smells of sacredness, they who keepeth the Sabbath know it approacheth when it approacheth. For me there has almost always been something special that comforted me that Sabbath was near. As a child, that was my mother making the Sabbath dinner; in middle school, it was no homework; in academy it was vespers with peers.

Today I tried to find something, some spiritual atmosphere to remind me I could rest, because with the end of the semester approaching, I sure can't feel rest. I did community service in some project neighborhoods, and that didn't turn out well. I went to one vespers program and I wasn't feeling the spirit, so I checked out another program and that one wasn't exactly for my age group. At last I went to the vespers that the African-American brethren organize, and I found the blessing for which I was wrestling with God.

When my mother and father came with me to Andrews at the beginning of the school year, they had shared stories with me of their experiences in the east coast back in New York. The east coast is a beautiful place for Adventism, at least in some aspects. There is a rich cultural diversity here, and there is a deep loyalty for the faith since it was here in the east Adventism began. In our church in New York, my mother told me people addressed each other as Brother This, or Sister That. My father told me about the diverse styles of worship and preaching. When I told them the diversity I was seeing, I think they were glad that I could see what they used to see.

So at the final vespers I visited tonight, the preacher said his brother was shot last week, but he praised the Lord for it. Sometimes the Lord has to bring us to a point of hardship so we can see the light. I remembered when that happened to me. The preacher went on about Job, and blessing the Lord O my soul in the midst of suffering. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

Tonight I found what I was looking for, or rather God assured me I was never lost. I've been needing to hear something assuring for a while, in the midst of my essays and exams.

This is what I love about being a student of Adventist Education. Faith is (or should be) closely intertwined with scholastics. More than prayer before class, more than the teaching of religion and science, but also rather the hope that the knowledge we learn will endeavor us to do everything in hope of a better day.
I remember being outside one Friday evening at the end of a long week with some peers, rowdily (but meaningfully) singing spirituals - much like some mates at the pub. One song we sang went like this:
No more tuition there -
 We are going to see the King.
No more tuition there -
 We are going to see the King.
No more tuition there -
 We are going to see the King.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah -
We're going to see the King.

23 October 2011

On God in three persons

“The Trinity, like any other concept about God, ... is a groping attempt to explain wholeness to a fragmented race of mortals ... The Trinity proclaims a unity that in this fragmented world we desperately need. We are mortals who are male and female, and we need to know each other, love each other.”
Madeleine L'Engle, Penguins and Golden Calves: Icons & Idols, 1996.

01 October 2011

On a perspective of humanity

You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that, you son of a bitch."
— Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut, People magazine, 8 April 1974.

From NASA, this is the northwest coast of the United States to central South America at night.

24 September 2011

Somebody Else's Thoughts, No. 4

"Haddamut" by Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai, 1050, from A Book on Jewish Thought

Were the sky of parchment made,
A quill each reed, each twig and blade,
Could we with ink the oceans fill,
Were every man a scribe of skill,
The marvelous story
Of God's great glory
Would still remain untold;
For He, Most High,
The earth and sky
Created alone of old.

23 September 2011

The deciduous leaf forever

       FALL IN ALL IT'S SPLENDID COLORS has arrived at last in the East.
      One thing I miss about this side of the country is the beauty autumn. You don't see that in the northwest with its evergreen trees and  year-long emerald  colors (although I now miss that dearly). People actually rake leaves here, but it is oh so much more poetic than that. It is as if they are ravishing fire with their rakes - fire that falls from tall giants, easing their arms after a torched summer. I actually have memories as a toddler of driving through New England on Sabbath afternoons, because if you live in New York, you can do that.

     Yes I do now miss the northwest, and the mountains, and the beauty of the immense ocean that brought joy to William Clark. Yet as for deciduous trees, they too are gorgeous in the autumn, acquainting me with rural Americana, something I am not exposed to in Washington. Back in Seattle, I had considered myself a liberal yuppie, as I was biking to the library, visiting the art museum, drinking coffee, and participating in local civics. Let's see how long I can maintain that character here.

The coffee's out. Haven't seen a Starbucks since the airport.
No bike here.
I'll have to cast an absentee ballot.
The nearest art museum is in Chicago.

But I can still be a liberal. Sort of.

12 September 2011

These vagabond shoes are longing to stray

     A lot of people at Andrews are from the east coast. So when I meet an individual and they say they're from New York, or New Jersey, I'll say I used to live there.

And they'll ask where I lived in the town,
and I'll say Queens - Sunnyside neighborhood, not far from Jackson Heights.

Where do you live now?

Seattle. I lived in New York for five years, then I moved out west.

So Seattle is pretty much where you grew up.

Yes, I suppose. But I'm still a Yankees fan, and I'll always identify with the city.

And they'll say, That's good
 - offering their appreciation for the loyalty I have for Gotham.

     Growing up in the northwest, I've tried my best to stay loyal to New York. I childishly bragged to my friends I was a New Yorker, wearing my Yankees cap around as if I knew the game. In fourth grade my teacher jovially wrapped my desk in black paper after the Yanks lost to the Red Sox after when they had won the first three games in the ALCS. Besides baseball, I pronounced the word roof with a long O like in moose, whereas my classmates pronounced it like a barking dog - ruff or something like that. I was holding on to east coast pronunciation. Still, it didn't feel like I was truly a New Yorker.
     But what really prevented me from identifying with New York was September 11. I was away from the city, away from the pain and suffering. I was absent from the grief of a connected community, and I could not feel the sorrow of they who truly experienced that day. Now I look back and I know the day will mark the coming of age of my generation. Sure it changed the direction of America and the world, but I just cannot feel emotion from it. I know there are others, just as American, who (don't) feel the same.
    I remember a few years after September 11 (strange how that date will usually contextually correspond to 2001), I visited New York with my father. We stopped by the site, and paid our respects as best we could. He once told me that we visited the towers when I was young and could barely walk, and that I found a coal and drew there along a concrete wall. I've thought about that, and I realize there is a piece of me there.

Said the French, Nous sommes tous Americains. Nous sommes tous New-Yorkais.

 

11 September 2011

Somebody Else's Thoughts, No. 3

"Wage Peace" by Judyth Hill
Wage Peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and fresh mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Make soup.
Play music, memorize the words for thank you in 3 languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief
as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.
Never has the word seemed so fresh and precious:
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Celebrate today.

04 September 2011

The Writing on the Stall

     Often when we use public restrooms we become acquainted with various inscriptions and messages crudely carved onto the walls of toilet stalls and mirrors. These inscriptions usually contain profanity (I don't know why some can get angry at people they don't even know i.e. @#$% you!) , or commemorate the fact that an individual had visited the area (Mike was here). The individuals that take part in latrinalia can be generically identified as hoodlums and naughty boys, but what makes for great latrinalia is a message or art that transcends its environment.
     I once heard that good art is anti-conformist. I'm sure that they who write naughty things in restrooms see themselves as anti-conformist. But when the majority of restroom inscriptions all attempt to be anti-conformist by sending naughty messages, it turns out that whatever messages of goodness and enlightenment become anti-conformist in an indecent environment.

  Strangely, the Israelites were commanded to publicly write of the love of God:
Deuteronomy 6:5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 
9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

     When I was a freshman in academy, I remember my roommate telling me, "Hey come look at this." And he proudly showed me that in our community restroom that amidst all the profanity and crude indecent drawings, someone had inscribed the words, JESUS IS COMING AGAIN!. I thought of how hopeful Adventist graffiti could be, wherewith we we find ourselves writing our faith in the most obscure places.

     Now take a look at something I found recently here:

     In large letters, the artist wishes to express that God is love. What's more is that if you look carefully towards the upper right, the responsive writing, His mercy endures forever, is also carved in.

     It is such a strange application of Scripture, but I actually find encouragement from these theological acts of vandalism.

02 September 2011

House of the setting sun

      A certain quota of chapels and forums are required for attendance at Andrews. I've been telling myself that if I feel I'm in need of spiritual refreshment in the middle week, I'll attend the evening chapel or worship because I'm more concerned with my spiritual life, regardless of attendance.

     The other day I found myself at what seemed like an obsolete chapel at church. I saw no students, lot's of old people. The speaker shared briefly an interesting point from the Gospel of Matthew. As he finished, I was about to get up and leave when he asked the audience to pray with the person next to them. There I was sitting in the far back of the church with no one next to me so I figured I would just leave, but then this elderly black lady a few rows in front of me turned around and smiled. I guess I had to stay.

 "Hello," I greeted quietly. "Do you..have any prayer requests?"
She nodded, and shared with me the names of an elderly couple in the church going through some health issues."They are very dear to me because they were like my parents," she explained, then asked, "Is there anything you would like me to lift up before the Lord?"
 I paused and thought, then said, "Well. I need wisdom. And I'm far away from home."
"Where are you from?"
"Seattle."
"I too am far away from home. I am from Malawi." I thought for a moment about what I knew of Malawi, and I remembered it was a land known for the red sun that rises over Lake Malawi in beautiful colors. "What is your name?"
"Marian."
"My name is Ryan. Pleased to meet you Sister Marian."
     For a moment I surprised myself because I hadn't heard (or used) such terminology since I left New York when I was five. I remember my mother and father would refer to someone as Sister A or Brother B when I was very young. The brethren don't speak like that on the west coast. I reminded myself I was back in the east again, and perhaps the Spirit moves differently out here.
      I asked Sister Marian if she would pray first.
      She thanked the Lord for His mercies and for granting us the blessing of being in such an Adventist institution. She prayed for the sick elderly couple, and then asked God to bestow upon "this young man" wisdom and strength from on high.
     When it was my turn, I was a bit bothered because I honestly hadn't prayed seriously in a long time, much less pray aloud. I thanked the Lord for His mercies and for the blessing of Adventist education. I asked for healing mercies, and that Sister Marian be comforted though far away from home she may be. I asked God for wisdom and strength because I was already having trouble in my studies (Lord knows how hard some classes are). And then I told Him I wanted to go home, Amen.
     She thanked me for praying with her and wished God's blessings on my studies.

     Throughout this prayer time with Sister Marian, I found myself using Advent vernacular, and saying things in prayer that I'm having a struggle believing in. I was uncomfortable praying, but I realized it's something I going to have to be doing a lot more.
     I've been telling myself something good then. I come to church to seek a blessing, because I need it, not because I need the attendance.

     And the western sun set through the stained glass windows of Pioneer Memorial.

21 August 2011

We are but men

I recognize it was only a couple blog posts ago that I wrote about my visit to Andrews University.
Well now I can say I am writing from this hallowed mecca of Adventism, a school I will come to terms with as home.

As part of orientation week for incoming freshmen at the university, it has been a tradition for the men's residence hall to go on a retreat for the weekend. From what I had already heard about this retreat (strangely named "Man Up"), this was going to be a rough-and-tough, deliberately masculine sort of event. "Boot camp" was also used as a synonym for this event. I was displeased.

Since I began boarding school in Auburn, I've been well-aware of the promotion of the male stereotype in centers of male dominance, such as gyms, the wilderness, and the dormitory. My freshman year in academy dormitory, there were several guys who worked out in the weight room a lot, who kept the television on subjects like cars, hunting, and football, who made ignorant comments on the world, and asserted their manliness to fresh fish like myself. Those guys were intimidating but I learned to deal with it. Eventually those guys left or graduated and I was able to foster an environment of intellectuality in the school.
Not really. I wanted to.

When I came to the campus of Andrews about a week ago, I knew I would encounter the promotion of the male stereotype again as I returned to dorm life, and I have seen a bit of it. But I was wrong about the dorm retreat.

What I had thought was going to be a weekend of running miles and doing push-ups turned out to be something better. Instead, this "Man Up" event focused on the what it meant to be a man in Christ, how to handle for the burdens of the school year with the help of God, and what it meant to have a community of faith, especially for us as Adventist men. Once again I was assured that even though most of these guys don't exactly understand the gospel and righteousness by faith, there was loyalty and respect for this faith of ours.

I'm not sure why I was uncomfortable with this weekend, or with the promotion of the male stereotype. I mean I've served in Pathfinders for eight years so I'm familiar with wilderness survival, obeying orders and such. I guess it's just that I don't identify with guys who like cars, football, and working out. Of course I'd much rather read a book, go to a museum, or cook in the kitchen. Perhaps I'm subscribing to the post-modern view on gender where boys are free to play baseball or bake cookies or write. Regardless I'm thankful for what I found here.

Ellen White wrote a letter to a fellow who I suppose wasn't the most gentleman of characters, on what it means to be a man:
"You have looked upon it as a weakness to be kind, tender, and sympathetic and have thought it beneath your dignity to speak tenderly, gently, and lovingly to your wife. Here you mistake in what true manliness and dignity consist."
- The Adventist Home, p. 228.
After all, the greatest want of the world is the want of men.

10 August 2011

The summer's gone and all the roses falling

As I was driving home I noticed the moon shining kindly on me. It was as if it were laughing at my melancholic face, all the while knowing that the next time I see it again my view will no longer be obstructed by the evergreen trees.

Tonight is the last night I sleep in Washington, for a few months at least. I am reminded of the emotions I felt four years ago when I was a freshman going off to boarding school an hour away. Even now I try to assure myself that it will be the same as I leave for university, but I know it isn't.

06 August 2011

Summer's Requiem No. 2

IT IS a very early Saturday morning and I ought to go to bed since my parents get upset when I wake up late on Sabbath, but I can sense a rush of thoughts in my mind that beg for release. So here I am tonight writing.

Quite often in my young life I will question and doubt my faith. I do read a lot, and the National Geographic and other literary substances will generally push for an evolutionary agenda. This leaves me feeling like I should accept what most of the educated world accepts.

Or I may find myself thinking about society and the world today and I'll come to the conclusion that religion follows a pattern that can be predicted, and that we are all we need to create a better future.

And when I find myself discouraged and downcast with the way the world turns - when I prefer humanism over hymns or Darwin over the desire of ages - I think about something that gives me hope.

An old man once said that to be an Adventist doesn't mean to just believe Jesus is coming soon, but to absolutely love the thought of it. Alas when I find myself distraught with church doctrine, world problems, or sinful people, I go back to the essence of my Adventist faith. I get homesick for a place I've never been to.

How can humanity be torn between doing evil and desiring a better day? Only a creative power could have instilled within the human soul the hope for something better.

It's so strange to want to go home, to a place I've never been to, but I can forcefully call it home.

Quelle pagaille mon écriture est

05 August 2011

I am a failure and you have made me one, Summer's Requiem No. 1

AS I wait for my piece of technology to finish updating, I write haphazardly the first part of a requiem for summer.

The title of this post is a part of an infamous quote by former President Clinton. I often feel that that statement always applies to me.

For every year that I've had this blog, it has been a tradition for me to write about how miserable my summer was and how I didn't accomplish the things I wanted to.

Pas la fin

26 July 2011

Somebody Else's Thoughts, No. 2

"Psalm" by Reed Whittemore, from The Past, the Present, the Future

The Lord feeds some of His prisoners better than others.
It could be said of Him that He is not a just god but an
indifferent god.
That He is not to be trusted to reward the righteous and
punish the unscrupulous.
That He maketh the poor poorer but is otherwise
undependable.
It could be said of Him that it is His school of the germane
that produced the Congressional Record.
That it is His vision of justice that gave us cost accounting.
It could be said of Him that though we walk with Him all
the days of our lives we will never fathom Him
Because He is empty.
These are dark images of our Lord
That make it seem needful for us to pray not unto Him
But ourselves.
But when we do that we find that indeed we are truly lost
And we rush back into the safer fold, impressed by His care
for us.

21 July 2011

In Response, No. 1

This is a response to a comment on this article made by this individual.

First of all, the dragon is a cultural symbol of Wales where the choir festival took place. It would be the same if the festival took place in the U.S. and a grand eagle were on display or if it took place in Japan and there was a sun.

Secondly, the songs were classic and historical pieces that have beautiful meaning.

What would you say to musicians who said they played music for the Lord in a part of town where there were thieves and harlots, underneath the signs and paintings of a secular culture? Or how about a men's chorus that performed in war zones? Or how about an old man who works for a government under the banners of a heathen god? Because actually these people were all in the Scriptures. They played music and worked underneath banners of foreign symbols, but it didn't mean they had accepted and beheld sin. (Joshua 6:20, 2 Chronicles 20:21, Esther 2)

The Bible also uses the ocean and water as symbols of the congregation of evil and darkness, (Revelation 21:1), but does that mean any symbols of water or the ocean are of evil? The fish was a symbol of a pagan god in the Old Testament, but we know early Christians used the fish as a symbol of their faith.

That dragon is simply a symbol of the Welsh festival, and inscribed on the seal is the motto of the festival "Byd gwyn fydd byd a gano. Gwaraidd fydd ei gerddi fo" which translates from the Welsh as "Blessed is a world that sings, Gentle are its songs."

The voice is the only directly God-given instrument. And this festival celebrates the assembled unison of that gift. The festival's motto reminds me of the words from a hymn, "This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears - All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres."

This choir or any choir will find it can only sing the music of the spheres, the song the angels sang at the world's first dawn. I'm sure this choir came to competition with only the intent of praising the Lord. I think it's about time an Adventist choir took front stage to witness. We've been afraid of being afraid of secularism or paganism because of the spotlight for too long.

Let us show the world that our gospel is not shared by meaningless Bible-bashing, but by the song in our hearts.

"Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them."

19 July 2011

True North

I recently took a brief excursion to Canada. Of all the places I travel, I always feel quite comfortable in British Columbia, probably because it's not a rural country place or in the South.

On one of the evenings I was sitting alone in a steam room at the hotel when one boy popped his head in the door. "Um. Hello," he said awkwardly, as he came in followed by a crew of other boys, ranging from 6 to 16. After intermittent conversation with each other, the room was silent. One of them greeted me in an attempted obnoxious fashion, "Hi."
"Hi there."
"What's your name?"
I responded.
"Are you a traveler?"
I figured maybe I should pretend I'm student roaming around, and I responded so.
"Where are you from?"
"America"
"You don't look fat like an American. Not that you're fat or anything, or Americans are fat. or.."
"No I understand. I have these premonitions of Canadians as well. Do you put maple syrup on everything?"

And we continued from there.
They told me about the polar bears they had to ride to school from their igloos, and admitted they joked that Americans live in McDonald's restaurants, all while purposefully concluding their sentences with something that sounds like the first letter of the alphabet. I'm not sure.

One of the more intelligent ones explained that Canada's right-wing is not as right as America's, which is why homosexual marriage is legal there. I was at least glad they approved of Obama, while showing contempt for his predecessor.

I was getting tired of acting like a foreign journalist talking to children in an underprivileged country, so I excused myself. A younger Canuck quipped back, "Come back and we can ice fish at my igloo eh?"

29 June 2011

Somebody Else's Thoughts, No. I

"Job" by William Baer, from Borges and Other Sonnets.
(Job 28:28)
Yes: wisdom begins with fear of the Lord,
which comprehends the power that made the seas,
the earth, the shimmering dawn, the unexplored
unfathomed skies, the moon, and the Pleiades.
Which also know Who comes to judge our shoddy
little failing lives, knowing full well,
we need not fear the one who kills the body,
but only He who condemns the soul to hell.
Which also knows it magnifies the Lord,
defying the demon, being the only release,
oddly enough, from fear, being its own reward,
which is also wise, is faith, is hope, is peace,
is tender mercy, over and over again,
until, at last, is love, is love. Amen.

28 June 2011

Lost and Found

When I was going through a problem, my psychologist asked me, “Ryan, are you good or bad?”

I replied, “Well I’ve done some good, but I know I’ve done evil…”

“Are you a success or a failure?”

“I sure feel like a failure right now, but to other people’s standards…”

“Are you a sinner or a saint?”

“I…don’t know.”

The answer to all of those questions, he told me, was yes. He then went on to quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said something about how when we come together as the body of Christ, we are altogether sinners and saints.

22 June 2011

Morning has broken

A friend of mine recently stated that the definition of God (or the Biblical definition) for a day is "evening and morning", rather than "morning and evening", and that our definition should be likewise.
I was rather bothered by this idea. I didn't get the point of such observance, even though as an Adventist I observe the Sabbath from evening to evening. But why on earth should we observe everyday, at least from a spiritual aspect, as evening and morning? It seems as if the entire world begins in the morning and ends at night; the pulse of humanity starts in the morning and dies down as darkness sets. Do we have anything to gain from believing our day starts the evening before?
Recently I came across these two Protestant evangelists on a cable channel discussing Jewish beliefs that can be observed by Christianity, and they brought up the evening and morning concept, underlining it with a quote by Eugene Peterson:
"This Hebrew evening/morning sequence conditions us to the rhythms of grace. We go to sleep, and God begins his work. As we sleep he develops His covenant. We wake and are called to participate in God's creative action. We respond in faith, in work. But always grace is previous. Grace is primary. We wake into a world we didn't make, into a salvation we didn't earn.

Evening: God begins, without our help, His creative day. Morning: God calls us to enjoy and share and develop the work He initiated. Creation and covenant are sheer grace and there to greet us every morning."
What an idea. We are conditioned to the rhythm of grace. I would say more, but I believe Peterson made sense out of this.

When you feel so tired but you can't sleep

It's nearly an hour past midnight here on a Wednesday morning. My mind is buzzing with so many different thoughts that I just can't lie down and sleep. I've been feeling this way quite often since I got out of school. I feel surrounded yet alone in my corner of the world all at once.

Always I've said that the night is my friend. There is a certain peace to the night that cannot be found anywhere any other time. It is only I and the buzz of my computer, and the ticking of a clock. But there is this resounding symphony of ideas and emotions and expressions that comes from all points of the day, that are then drawn into this late hour of the night. This symphony is one of confusion and commotion, but because it carries my emotions and feelings, it means much to me. So I feel drawn to make sense out of this jumble, but my mind is too tired and weary that I let my dreams organize the score itself. After all, the night is my friend; I'll let the night take care of it. I suppose this is why I've had some messed up dreams lately, and why, bluntly and honestly, someone I like keeps recurring in my dreams nightly. That's nightly. Which is fine with me. But I desperately wish for reality.

Now let's summarize sans Freud: Like I said earlier, I can't sleep. I've got a lot on my mind.

I'm feeling like a captain of a sinking ship. I'm living alone here at the edge of the world.

One of Bobby Kennedy's favorite poets was Aeschylus, and he once reflected on where the road lies, saying,
"Even in our dreams, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom by the awful grace of God."

12 June 2011

Were the World Mine

I noticed there was a slight ratings jump after the blog post where I said I would share my own intimate mysteries and ideas. I'll have to say then that You're All A Bunch Of Phonies.

At the end of a certain experience or at the closing of a chapter in one's life, you wonder whether you did everything you wanted to do, or say everything you wanted to say, or love the things or people you wanted to love. Or at least I wonder that.

For the last week or so, I've found myself having difficulty sleeping with incessant thoughts running through my mind. I wish I had more time / Goodness being an adult sucks / It's so frickin' lonely / Thoreau's Walden seems quite applicable right now.

So I wonder if I did everything I wanted to do over the last four years of my high school experience. If I had to admit it, I know I didn't do everything. And knowing what it is I wished I did, eats me up.

Now Playing. This is totally me right now.

09 June 2011

The summer's here, and all the roses blooming.

I had a very strange urge to begin writing this morning.
With the end of my high school experience met, I am indebted to write much and more often this summer. Once again I find myself at the same place I was four years ago, not quite ready to be a freshman in a new school.
I've looked at my blog's statistics and nobody really reads my blog. The last time I had a high ratings jump was when I blogged over my trip to Wisconsin. Then I hope it is safe to presume I can share some of my most intimate mysteries and ideas that few choose to query on.

I'll be right back.

28 March 2011

The future is known

There was a lot of apprehension in my mind as I embarked on this trip. I wasn't leaving for college already, nor was I off to complete some great task. As simple of a trip this was, it really was the beginning of my university experience as I was securing my tertiary education. I was going to see what it would be like to be away from home, alone, supposedly grown up.
And from what I got out of my two days in my future college, this experience was going to suck. I felt so dreary and lonely in my room, classes seemed difficult, the financial field was upsetting, the people indifferent if nit apparently phony, and I was reminded again of my lack of trusted amicable relationships. I would've thought four years in a boarding school would've been of help.

My last hour at Andrews I spent paying tribute to its namesake John Nevin Andrews. A member and leader of the early Adventist Church, Andrews was the first foreign missionary, emigrating to France as a single parent. The strains of the Lord's work caused him to come down with a sickly death not too many years later. Regardless, Andrews lived for the unknown, for the adventure, for the fear of the future that is replaced by the peace of faith. He lived for the kingdom of God in the confines of earth.
Such are the footsteps I follow, where the road lies now; and in the faith of a future known to the merciful God I rest this weary soul.

27 March 2011

A Mecca of Adventism

I arrived at Andrews University on Wednesday morning. The guest room I stayed in was gloomy and gray, and the whole campus seemed dreary. I suppose it was the weather. An Auburn faculty member I know said when he first walked upon his alma mater Union College, he "felt the breath of God blow upon" his face. So was I feeling God's tears falling upon Andrews?
One of the first things I noted was the bureaucracy in the school, but it is an Adventist tradition. I also noted its buildings and some of the interiors of its buildings are styled from the 1960s or 1970s, but once again many colleges are archaic.
Most of Wednesday I spent talking to professors and advisors. That was actually very helpful. On Thursday I sat in some classes, which were actually quite interesting.

23 March 2011

Morning in Motown

Plane ride from Seattle to Detroit was miserable. I boarded the airplane and found my seat next to a burly guy eating a sandwich. Cautiously I said "hello" the way Kurt Hummel would greet his father. Couldn't sleep at all throughout the flight. When I arrived in Detroit, I was greeted by the music of the Jackson 5, after all, this is Motown. Below is a picture of the tunnel of lights connecting two concourses at the Detroit Airport, where the road lies this morning.

22 March 2011

The first leg


I'm here at Sea-Tac International Airport, right in front of the window my father and I sat in front of several months ago when we were on our way to Atlanta. It is night now and it is not the bright sunset I once peacefully saw but the lights of small airplanes preparing for take off. The airport isn't very noisy, but it isn't exactly peaceful. A beautiful art piece made of hundreds of simple dangling airplane toys hangs from the ceiling. Light reflects off the strings and give an illusion of the sun piercing through clouds.
I love the airport. It is a busy place thus appealing to my senses, but what's more is that it is essentially a gate to the world, a port of possibilities. It has its shops and restaurants like a mall, but the fact that its visitors are here with a purpose and a destination give it allure, esteeming it to a place where dreams can be reached in a click of a seatbelt. My future as a student and a scholar, and as a theologian and a professor shall be reached at this port of possibilities, where the road lies tonight.

Traveling again

I'm on the road again tonight. I'm debating whether I should blog here or at my new mistress blog neilryan.posterous.com. Twitter will be continually updated while I'm on the road.

19 March 2011

Once again

Once again I must apologize for not blogging in a while.

On a different note, I would like to mention that I have caught up entirely with my laundry and now my dorm room is cleaner, brighter, and with more space. You may have seen a picture of my wall on Facebook:


I'm rather eclectic in my picture choices for my wall, and it conveys my background, as well as my aspirations.

There isn't a lot of furniture in my dorm room, though I hope to be putting in some modern decor soon, with less than 3 months left in academy. In college my room may become even more of a mess, but with the help of modern decor, my roommate and I could be having a blasted old time.