24 May 2013

The Kingdom

Manuscript for 6th April 2013
Negros Occidental, Philippines

We come to church this morning mindful of the violent world we live in. This is the way things are this side of heaven. This is the way earthly politics works. But today I come to you bringing a message of another kingdom, a message of a new politics. Keep that in mind as we listen for the Word of the Lord today.

As we see our children grow up, we try our best by the grace of God to raise them to be God-fearing men and women. We want them to be good Christians and good Adventists. We want our children to be successful, to be productive citizens of our country, to be strong in the community. Our parents wanted the same thing of us. So naturally, as our children, our young people reach an age where they are to make big life decisions; they try their best to make good choices. And they will ask questions to figure that out.
Why am I alive?
Why am I here?
What is my purpose in life?
These are all leading to one of the greatest questions we can ask ourselves: What is the will of God in my life?
We may still be asking ourselves these questions even now as adults. Even in an older age, as adults, we may still be asking what is the will of God in my life?
This is a good question. This is an important question, and that is something we will answer.
We will answer that question What is the will of God in my life? and and maybe I can explain why I am here in this part of the world today.

06 May 2013

Draft: On my mother's cooking

I’ve lived away from home for nearly six years now - that’s more than a quarter of my life - I turned twenty not too long ago. I went to boarding academy for high school and I’ve been away for college and my time abroad. Naturally when I come home or if somebody starts talking to me about home, they might ask “I’ll bet you miss your mother’s cooking.” And I’ll smile, but inside I really want to say, Why would I miss my mother’s cooking? We’re not an African-American family from the South or an Italian clan from New York. 
Honestly, I wonder, what could be so special about one’s mother’s cooking? No offense to my mother or anything, it’s not like she’s a horrible cook, but I just don’t understand what could be so great about her cooking?
Perhaps now I should provide some sociological context to explain my disillusion with the prestige placed on matriarchal gastronomy. My family is Asian so we’ve got the rice and tofu thing going on, and we’re also Adventists so we have a strong emphasis on vegetarian dishes. …
See, I don’t say I terribly miss my mother’s cooking because to say I miss my mother’s cooking seems to support a misogynistic complementarian ideology. It suggests an image of her slaving away in the kitchen while I sit at the table waiting to be served. That’s not the way things were with me and my mother, so maybe that’s part of why I can’t say I miss my mother’s cooking. 
You know what I miss? I miss my mother. I miss working in the kitchen with her, experimenting with cooking techniques or trying new recipes. I miss discussing the ingredients we used and ways we tried to make it healthier. I miss looking at a cookbook with her and planning a course for a potluck, or a party, or a Friday night dinner. I miss going to a restaurant with her and critiquing the food, telling ourselves we could do it better. I miss the table discussions where we talked about our week, our plans for the next, or my goals for the future.
Maybe part of it is that there is an egalitarian agreement between me and my mom. From a young age she could see that I was independent and that I could lead. She started giving me household responsibilities and I started taking motherly duties seriously. Eventually she started seeing me as something of an equal when I became an adult. Sure I’m still her dear little boy; I’m her son and still subordinate to her, but when it comes to things like laundry, or gardening, or the kitchen - it isn’t about what she can do for me. It’s about what we can make together. So that’s why I don’t miss my mother’s cooking. Because it isn’t about her cooking - it’s about us coming around that table together. That’s what I miss.

Manila, Philippines