Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I just thought I'd show people that Americans like to take St. Paddy's day pretty seriously. A friend of mine, who last year spent the day wearing only green, white and orange (with face paint to match) toned it down a bit this year only going for the socks.

I need help to think about this....

So I first heard about the case of Terri Schiavo a couple of weeks ago when my pastor raised the issue during a prayer time. My attitude was a little bewildered at first, I couldn't figure out why this case was receiving so much media attention. The case seemed the same to me as the difficult decisions many families have to make every day about keeping loved ones on life support or not. I thought that the conservative right had jumped into this one mainly because the woman was a Christian, and her husband had already started a family with another woman. But now that I now a little more about the case, I don't think this is the only motivation of the political right. I have to admit that I really don't know how I feel about this. At what point and what situations should the government step in to overrule the courts? What do we feel about life and health? Is quantity of life our ultimate goal, no matter how many resources we use, should we keep ourselves alive as long as possible even if we don't know what's going on? but then again, can we make that decision for someone who can't respond? (I guess this would be a good point to remind us all that we should make a living will so others don't have to make those decisions for us). How do we know what type of life terry is living when she can't respond to us? Is she aware of everything that is going on, but just can't tell us? How do we approach this?

Part of me thinks, of what a privelege it is that we even have the chance to debate about these issues. For the vast, vast majority of the world, there would be no second thought given, there simply aren't resources to keep people such as Terry alive. The fact that Terry can receive such media attention for so long reminds us of the millions who have died in such a way, going unnoticed and without a second thought by the rest of the world.

Please help me understand this.

Is the Gospel Revolutionary?

As I was reading my brother's blog today, I found a post of his where he talked about our desire for a revolutionary Gospel. He points out that sadly, the revolution that Christ's Gospel brings is not the one we're looking for. Christ's revolution is much harder than that one's that we might fanticize about, but it is the only one that can bring peace to this world. Last semester I had the chance to listen to an incredible Chrsitian thinker from the Philippines (I really wish I could remember her name), she made the point that the difficult (and wonderful) thing about Christ's Gospel is that it is not revolutionary at all (I might not go that far but she did).
Revolutions deal with tearing down social structures and building up new ones. This is not necessarily the message Christ shows us. Instead of being revolutionary Christ's Gospel is transformational. Think of how God approaches humans, he comes in and works with us as we are. Instead of extracting the poison inside of us out, he places himself in the middle of it all and turns what was evil into good. I think it may be the same way for societies. Societies need structures for life, so maybe tearing down these structures before new ones are in place will cause more death than life. God loves to bring transformation and make structures that were once meant for evil now for good.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Guess Who?


This is one of my favourite pictures that I have. The summer after getting out of High School, my parents went with their school all around Europe. This is them in Corinth, Greece.

Random Pictures #1

Okay, so I guess somehow I've lost the cord that connects my camera to my computer so I can't put any new pictures online just yet, but here's some old favourites in the meantime.

(This picture marks the occasion when I ate my first entire apple (core not included), for those of you who know my extreme HATRED of fruit you'll know how big of a step this is for me...I'm getting really healthy, i'm up to about half a serving of fruit a week!)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

HNGR 101

I just spent the last 3 hours in my HNGR preparation class. While I was in California over Christmas, I got the idea that most people really didn't quite understand what this HNGR thing was all about. Most thought I was going over to do something good for the poor people in Cambodia. That's really not what this program is about. In class tonight I was again struck by some of the main goals of HNGR.

First of all we are going to learn. We are not going to learn how to do development, or how to help people or how to do ministry. Instead, we are going purposefully to learn from the people we are living with, the poor. I am not going in order to show people how they should live or act, that would be idiotic. I come from a completely different culture, class and background (not to mention language). How on earth could I teach the first thing about how to live in Cambodia? I am going to instead to try to understand what life is like for those I will be among, what is important to them and what concerns they have. Even after the 6 months that I spend there I will just be begining to understand life in Cambodia and who Cambodians are.

People also ask me what I will be doing there. Godwilling, I'll be working in a medically related national organization with whatever they want me to do. Besides that I really don't have a clue. I'm requred to do an independent study while I'm there on a topic that I'll have to figure out while I'm there (and hopefully one that will benefit the organization), and also will have to do some reading assignments and papers throughout the internship. The focus of HNGR though, is more on just being rather than doing. In reality, especially for the first while that I'm in Cambodia, I'll be more like a baby than anything. I won't know how to communicate, how to eat right, where to go to the toilet, proper manners. I really won't be in much of a position to DO anything really helpfull at all. Hopefully, in time, with the help of my hosts I will begin to adjust and learn how to interact in society and serve in whatever ways I can.

So why am I doing this then if I probably won't be really helping anyone? There are a lot of reasons and most have to do with God. It is in the times when we are least in control, when we are most uncomfortable, that we are forced to rely on God for our strength. God desires us to be in situations of displacement in order to reveal himself to us. God called Abraham to leave everything he knew to follow him. The apostle Paul, a beacon of Jewish religiosity was sent to minister to Gentiles. Barnabas and Paul were in charge of the first multi-ethnic church, in Antioch. I pray that God will use this time to teach me more about who he is and his love for those who are different from me.

I also am going to learn more about God's heart for the poor. Throughout the Bible, God talks about love and justice for the poor almost more than any other topic. His heart is with the poor and so I want my heart to be there too. This is hard when I surround myself with my comfort blanket of much material wealth, so I hope these 6 months will be an opportunity to identify with and rely on those who are without.

I also don't want to be entirely pessimistic about my internship too. It is entirely possible that God will decide to use me in whatever way he likes. He often likes to use us in our weakest moments. Often the simple act of learning can be empowering to those who are teaching and in that way I may help to empower the poor who will be my teachers and my family.

If you have any questions about the HNGR program, or anything that I've said, let me know.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Spring Break Fun

Well it was spring break last week and me and my current roommate Mark and my ex-roommate Benjamin and 3 girls (anna, rachel, diana) went to the south western tip of North Carolina to a small middle of nowhere town called Bryson City. Our plan was to spend the days hiking in Smokey Mountain National Park, but some of the days were a bit too freezing so we tried some other things to occupy ourselves. The sixth of us were staying in a tiny 1 room cabin which had a mini-fridge and a microwave. We were hoping to have got a slightly bigger cabin with an oven and a stove so it would be easier to cook food but we made do with a campfire on some nights and an old gas barbeque the owners wheeled over twoards us. We were lucky that the three girls were really into cooking. So we did okay. Besides about two days of hiking our activities included lots and lots of sleep (thank God!), wednesday night revival service we stumbled upon at a small missionary baptist church of about 50 people (it was an experience...ask me about it sometime) and then our last night we went to the County High School's opening night of the production of Fidler on the Roof. We also took a study day (so I didn't feel like I was completely slacking for the MCAT...even though I really was). It was interesting to get into small town life a little bit, and run into people we had met earlier and the like. It was fun though. Oh, something a bit weirder is that we managed to get through reading the first 4 books of the Narnia series outloud around the campfire, or just before bed or in the car. It was a little weird but actually a lot of fun in the end. The best thing about it though is that there were a few morning's I woke up and wasn't exhausted, I haven't had that feeling in a long, long time.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Starting Out...

I guess I'm going to start doing one of these things. I'm not sure how consistent I will be or how much time I have but we'll see how it goes. Here we go...