Sunday, January 28, 2007

Boat Noodle Soup

"The world is a fine place, and worth fighting for" -Ernest Hemingway

I was on my way to visit a friend in the hospital, stopping by the Thai temple to eat. Actually, my parents wanted to eat. I just followed, I thought. I strolled about the courtyard, with Elysia blazing my ears. But then at a certain point, I caught a nice view of the temple. It was beautiful. Frustrated that camera phones aren't as good as a pair of eyes, I just admired the bright gold accents, the sharp and dramatic edging and the waving roof tiles. And then I turned to my left and I saw a little girl in a puffy pink jacket, waving an incense stick at a statue. It was a statue of an idol, I'm assuming, despite my limited knowledge of Buddhism, that had two fronts of a body stuck "back-to-back", sitting indian-style, and four faces, one for each direction. Surrounding the shrine were dozens of elephant figurines of variegating styles. The little girl was imitating her father, who was doing the same. They would bow and wave their incense, and repeat the process until they'd paid their religious respects to all four faces. They stuck their sticks into a holder situated at the idol's base and went back off into the courtyard. The fragrance they'd left was calm and sweet, like the chamomile tea I had earlier at church. My eyes followed the two as they walked away, holding hands. I took my earphones off to invite the world.

I love the sound of life. We're social creatures. Last night, a close friend told me about his brother, who'd just moved out, and hated the loneliness of his new home. Solitary confinement must be a horrible punishment.

Sundays at the Thai temple are vibrant, and it had been over a year since my last visit. This visit was one of serendipity. It's overwhelming comprehending the fact that every single person there, just like me, has a life, all their own, completely unique. Our lives were all converging on that one afternoon. I wonder where they were before, and how they were after. Certainly not hungry. The food there is amazing, and I was tired of playing observer. So I bought a bowl of "boat noodle soup" and ate it amongst the crowded tables, al fresco.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Extremely Rare Snark

I was looking up on Wikipedia to find out what "§" is called; I found out it was just called the "section sign." How boring. I was looking forward to finding something more impressive, kind of how like "&" is "ampersand." But anyway, as usual on Wikipedia, I began rambling about and I stumbled upon the irony mark, which looks just like a mirrored question mark (؟). The interesting thing is that it was proposed by a 19th century French poet named Alcanter de Brahm (alias Marcel Bernhardt) who also proposed symbols for doubt, certainty, acclamation, authority, indignation, and love. I think that's a great way to express tone in sentences, wouldn't you agree? Sometimes I'm writing an essay for one of my courses and I feel the urge to put a smiley on the end of one of my sentence to express, well, whatever we express whenever we use them nonformally; but of course, that would be improper [indignation mark] Just some thoughts.

Here's the link, so you can actually see them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony_mark

P.S. Kick me the next time I say "anyways."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"You, Heretic Christian, Come Wash the Dishes"

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretched out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. -Isaiah 40:22

I think it was Alice Cooper who, when asked in a post-career interview "What's the most rebellious thing you've ever done?" replied, "Become a Christian." I saw this during the Alpha Course - an 8-week program that's meant to harvest some souls for Him. It makes it really appealing to be a rebel, doesn't it? What if I want to rebel from these rebels?

I think about the evolution of the Christianity that I'm "a part of." First the Jews, then the Catholics, then the Protestants, then the Baptists. I think about our great mistakes. All of the wars we've caused, and all the blood that's been shed: Israelite versus Philistine, Crusader versus Infidel, Christian A versus Christian B. We were kind of stupid, huh?

The fact is, most people have made, with popular approval, mistakes that are now highly regretted, with popular approval. Japanese internment camps, Jim Crow (although even that was a considerable step up), the Rwandan Genocide, the Holocaust. Back then, people believed in Zeus as much as some people do today about God. Perhaps even more. How could people believe in Zeus!? And in the future, a schoolchild might ask, "How could people believe in God!?"

And the question is, if I decide not to believe what the Christians "with popular approval" believe, can I still be a Christian? Or am I a heretic Christian (which my mother just called me a few minutes ago)?

History shows a trend where most people were wrong and some people were right, but then the right people came out right, and all the wrong people finally lost their ways. For God's sake, even Christianity came out from under the boulder like that.

If todays Christians were all deployed in Massachusetts circa 1700, we'd all be roasted on the stake. If Christians from three centuries into the future (assuming we'd still be around) were deployed into today's churches, they would all be condemned heretics as well.

When do we know when we've found the perfect balance of conservatism and liberalism? Every time we progress, we frown upon the past. But everytime we progress, we also frown upon the potential future, which may be our next standing position.

Don't get me wrong though. I don't think my radical opinions are all absolutely correct. Every day I look forward to being corrected. I have more questions than I do answers. Some Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, I really do learn things that make me rethink my beliefs. Most of the time, I don't. Thusly, according to a common Christian, "a true believer," I would probably not be a very Godly person. Especially because I prefer to use my brain more than my heart. What a curse!

You might have wondered what the verse that heads this rant was placed there for. The thing is, while rapping about politics, science, religion etc. with my mother, I started expressing a point I'd heard in class: that "the same way we see gay marriage now is exactly the same way we used to see interracial marriage a century ago, and in the future, we'll look back on gay marriage the way we look at interracial marriage now." I talked about how the supposedly all-knowing Vatican denied the roundness of the Earth until recently. I talked about how religion versus science is faith versus facts. My mom tries to tell me that scientists are evil, in their attempts to refute everything the Bible says. And she tells me, "to read Isaiah 42, I think," because it shows that God knew, all along, that despite what the science of the time professed, that the Earth was round the whole time!

"He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth"

Now this is where I hate the Bible - the AMBIGUITY. People translate the book to fit their interpretations of it! So if this passage was written millenia ago, and it was, are you telling me that the Christian minority, all along, knew that the world was round? Then damn Columbus, damn Archimedes, damn Aristotle and all the rest of the philosophers that we give credit for discovering the roundness of the Earth. The Christians knew it all along!

But see, this is my point. People read "circle of the earth" back then without thinking about it twice. I doubt that any man read those four words, and deduced, "THE EARTH MUST BE ROUND!" No, people read it now, and say "duh, the Bible knew it all along." The Bible has so many metaphors, you never know what's what. That's why there are so many denominations. That's why there has been so many wars. That's why there has been so much bloodshed.

What a cruel joke for the Creator to make His Word so cryptic.

I'm going to go wash the dishes.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pilot Post Sans Obligatory Introduction

I caught myself laughing out loud in class as I read over this:

An Inuit hunter asked the local missionary priest: "If I did not know about
God and sin, would I go to hell?" "No," said the priest, "not if you did not
know." "Then why," asked the Inuit earnestly, "did you tell me?"
-Annie
Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

It is annoying how we can't ignore things once we know them, huh?