Saturday, October 28, 2006

Another Momentous Day...

So today (okay truly it was yesterday, but does it matter?), I finished reading the book Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Why did I read it? Cause I felt like it was required reading for those of us in "post-evangelicalism." And in a way it is. It's funny talking to people who have strong ideologies (about whatever), and instead of normal small talk about what do you like to do, people tend to ask "have you read this book, or what do you think of this author." We really do relate to each other by a shared "discourse" which has shaped us and our understanding of reality. This isn't just Christians (or emmergent type people) who do this but lots of other people too. I've met people in Southampton, who we keep asking each other if we've read something, or seen a particular thoughtful film or whatever, and finally find something of common ground... it's mad how good it feels when you find someone likes the same text that you do.... it binds you together in a unique way.... i don't know what it is.

Blue Like Jazz was good. Not life changing, but it did make me think- not a paradigm shift- I feel that we're probably in similar paradigms, but none the less, I feel that the way he put things, was fresh and made me reflect. I guess the next book in the similar genre I need to read is Velvet Elvis, right? I dunno if I will, we'll have to see, even though I'm sure it's good, and am sure I agree with everything he says even before I've flipped open a page.

The hard part about reading these types of books and thinking these types of things about christianity, is that we feel we've found something that others don't have... and whenever you feel like that arrogance is hard to fight off. I struggle with feeling "enlightened" compared to other evangelicals, even though I know, that this isn't true and that there truly is "nothing new under the sun." I was just thinking the other day as I was talking with god and using all my social theory jargin, that God must be bemused by all of us who think we are having new ideas about faith, but truly just changing our vocabulary.... or maybe there really is something new about it.

A small example of this ..... I found myself praying the other day somthing like this "Lord you know how my habitus is messed up and has brought me to this place, cut me with your discourse and shape my understandings of reality in the way you'd want to" nothing's new about that, but that was naturally how my spirit wanted to state things, it's how they made sense to me.

I wish I could relate to other Christians, but I guess that's the catch. In truth, I wish other Christians could relate to me. So many are happy to just devote their lives to their worship services and after church coffee, seminars, cell groups, Christian Unions. The problem lies in that I used to be just like that and relate to that, but I got burnt out very early. I don't want to go back to that place (although sometimes I truly am tempted), but I'm also tempted to think other Christians should come to where I am, but I'm sure that wouldn't be a good thing either. I just keep needing to worry about God transforming me and pray that he would do the same for others I guess.

Again, I'm going to finish here, because it's half two in the morning, I'm a bit wired and am probably not making much sense...

Peace on you all.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A "Momentous" Day...

So today 2 things happened important for my future life as a doctor (inshahlah).

1. I officially became a member of the British Medical Association They even gave me a membership card..... don't necessarily know how I feel belonging to a "professional" organization like that....

2. I purchased my first Stethoscope.- again something about that even doesn't sit well with me, I think it's too much a symbol of power....or something....

So yeah, I've always had issues to the "position" side of becoming a doctor. I don't like wearing a tie, and I don't like being called by a title. Is it necessary? I'm trying to keep an open mind, to learn from people who've been doing this thing longer than I've been around, but at the same time, avoid unnecessary indoctrination. How much detachment is necessary? How much "professional" demeanor? I know those can be useful things..... but then again, are they just symbols of power and position trying to reinforce the fallacy that the doctor is special in some way more than just having a particular education and vocation? I'm having to deal with things, lets just say the anti establishment side of me doesn't like being part of the establishment too much....

So, at least I had one good piece of news in this whole regard. I won't have to wear a white coat, at least while I'm working in Britain. They've been identified as an infection control risk (i.e. they don't get washed as much as they should and are floppy anyway, so not good at keeping clean). That's one age old symbol of the old ways that's gone at least.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Quotes of the day:

"Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy."

"We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us. . . We must recover the sense of the majesty of the creation and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it."

-Wendell Berry

So we spent most of the afternoon today watching videos of women giving birth. I should just take this moment to thank you once again Mom for what you did those 22 years ago.

Something you don't want to hear when you're trying to push during your delivery: "you've just had a grade 3 tear" me.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

What we actually do....

I think i'm really going to enjoy the relaxed informal atmosphere of this course. The teaching team are pretty much all still excited about teaching this course (this is only it's 3rd year) and work really well together. Let me try and explain how an average week is goign to go for me.

Monday morning at 9:00 we meet in "facilitated graduate groups" of about 9 people to be presented with and discuss this weeks topic (i.e. pregnancy) and learning outcomes (what we need to learn about it by the end of the week).... we then go about trying to decide together how best to learn those outcomes. Monday afternoon we go out on G.P. Visits, in groups of 4 to the same G.P. for the Semester, where we will meet patients (who have agreed to come in) who are good examples of the case we are studying. Here we will also learn clinical skills of history taking and examination.

Tuesday, we go to Winchester Hospital, and are taught more by the teaching team there, through lectures, having patients come in, visiting patients in wards, practicing clinical skills such as veinipuncture, examination techniques and other sorts of things.....,

Wednesday there are "optional lectures" i.e. lectures to focus our learning such as anatomy, immunology, pharmacology, and loads of other words that end in "ology". Wednesday afternoon we have a dissection room tutorial (but we are free to use the room and the "specimens" any time during the week).

Thursday morning is again optional lectures (I'm guessing I'm going to attend all of these as I don't have a Phd in BioChemistry of Physiology like many of my classmates). And then Thursday afternoons is independent study with optional post-mortem demonstrations.

Friday, is a shortened day, at 11:00 we meet again in our "facilitated graduate groups" and discuss what we've learned and then in the afternoon we have a plenary session with an expert in the field we've been studying.

And that's a typical week. Basically the idea of the course is that the early clinical experience and the constant attention to the same issue, will enable us to learn a lot more effectively than just having disjointed lectures. We'll have to see how that all works out though.

1 Week down...

So I've officially been through my first week of Medical School. At least they haven't kicked me out yet, which is a good sign. Like most other first years here in Southampton I've also officially been given "Freshers Flu" which isn't the most fun thing in the world but should be gone in a few days.

I'm begining to realize how much work is going to be involved and so I'm going to have to stop going out as much as I have been, (my budget is going to thank me for that). That said, I have been meeting some really interesting people here and so is always a good thing, I still hate being at the stage of such "superficial" relationships with everyone, small talk isn't my strong point....but that's not something you can or should rush.

That said though, it's really nice to have an old friend from home here too. Emma Caffrey-Osvald, who I went to St. Andrews with is studying medicine here too, she's in her 4 year but is intercalating to do a bachelors of science before she goes and finishes her final 2 years. She had me over to dinner in her house on Wednesday and we just talked about mutual friends and life for really long time, it was great. It's really good to have a familiar face, even if she has seen me at some quite 'memorable' times (....i.e. she's been addressing emails to me as "King Herod"...... don't ask..).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Southampton Mid Week 1-

So, it's post time again. I'm not sure whether this post will be and update or something deep....probably something deep, I'll do an update some other time...not much all that interesting to tell has happened anyway.

Whenever I enter into a new place I'm full of emotions. Each time is also quite different, yet some things remain the same. I've done transition a good bit now, so I sort of know what to expect. I know not to despair now about not having "deep" friends yet cause that will come in due course, I'm learning to be open, to love. To not befriend people seeking friendship, but to befriend people to show them love, and friendship comes if it comes. Anyway..... i won't go on about all that.

What I really want to post about is that I've been cleaning up the desktop on my computer (trying to get the old beast to run faster) and found this. What follows are a segment taken from a relfection I wrote during the first few days after being back from Cambodia, as I was going through intense but rapid culture shock and adjustment. I started this after sitting down to play the piano for the first time in 6-months. I couldn't do it. Who in my community could afford a was sort of the straw that broke the camels back.....

"My fingerst cry out,
Don't make me touch the keys, the sound of my expression is stolen
Don't make me touch the keys, the words that I'm writing come with a cost to a broken mother who has sold her child.
As I rise to take up my gold plated, wireless cross, complete with cushioned carrying straps and made from a new alloy that retains strength but eliminates weight, I'm struck.

As I look at the one month's salary hanging on the wall, or the shirts I forgot I had.

I've cut myself off from humanity and called it life. I have thought I had something important to give."

I know that sounds really melodramatic, and it is... I was going through some rough emotions....but it was really how I felt. And I wish I could still feel that way right now, but it's too far removed. When God looks at humanity, he sees us richest 10% of the world who have freedom to do what we want when we want, to buy what we want "guzzling and gulping" the finest, cleanest food and drink. He does see us, but only after, and in the context of, the mass of humanity who are for one reason or another the shafted of our world. Those for whom life is physically, emotionally, and spiritually demanding, all the time. For the couple days that I was just recently back from Cambodia, that at least was the context of how I saw my western life....

But even though I'd like to give us all a big guilt trip about being wealthy or educated (or heaven forbid both), I don't think God works that way (as much as I feel he should). I think he rather move us with this knowledge to seek justice or what people refer to as "Shalom" -that dynamic giving of each other, restoration of all relationships between humans, and between humans and the rest of creation. How difficult it is for the rich to live in this way (Jesus said it), but he said it is possible. How do we start, or continue? (1st things's not about the money....that's really secondary stop bringing it up too much). There's two (not-so-easy) steps....

1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength (and any other category your society includes....i.e. maybe your liver too or your psychie)

2) Love your neighbour as yourself.

The key.... you can't do one without the other. I'm stopping now.....cause I wouldn't have read this far.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Coventry Cathedral

For those who do not know, Coventry Cathedral is quite an amazing place. I'd visited there many years ago when I was either 8 or 11, and I still remember it quite vividly. The Cathedral is quite famous because of it's efforts of reconciliation. In 1940 the cathedral was completely demolished by bombing during the World War. The leader of the cathedral at that time quite publicly declared not to seek any revenge but rather reconciliation with Britains enemies at the time. Over the years the cathedral has become home to the International Centre for Reconciliation which has strong links to Wheaton and has been involved in trying to broker many important peace deals around the world, and also to the Community of the Cross of Nails, which is one of many christian communities accross the world trying to actively promote peace and reconciliation in their communitites.

It's powerful to go the the cathedral (pobably only if you're inthe right mood though, which I was) and ponder the history and the power of Christ's work of reconciliation. When you stand there you see so vividly the empty shell that remains of the old church building and the vibrant new building built adjacent to it, with the cross, joining the two buildings together. I stood inside the new building and looked at the stained glass wall, in contemporary style, it was one of the most moving pieces of church art that I've ever seen, displaying the glory of good, the light made it look as if the wall was made of water and was moving in front of you, it was crazy, and drew you to worship.

Anyway, above are a couple pictures I took.

A couple of days in Coventry with some servants

So I've known for a while that Craig and Nay Greenfield (who served as my mentors and adopted me into their family in Cambodia) were going to be in England this Autumn. And it just so worked out that last this past weekend Craig was begining to lead a 2 week orientation for new workers with Servants, 3 of whom are leaving soon to live and work in Calcutta, India. They said I could join them for the weekend so these past 2 days, I took the train up north a little more than 2 hours away to Coventry where the International Administrator for SERVANTS, Helen, and her family live. It was a great time of seeing both old and new faces, and again focusing our hearts and minds on God's unquenching heart for the poor. It was good for my sould especially as I'm in a new place, to be with these christians, and refocusing myself to the lives that God has called us to, to live his kingdom, to seek justice and reconciliation of all relationships (shalom).

Along with the great spiritual side of things, on Saturday night I got in a great game of Settlers of Kattan with Craig and Jenny on the great board that Craig made and which we'd used many times in his slum house in Cambodia....good memories.

Here's a copule pictures from my trip....

Sitting (left to right): Sylvia (Swiss), Kate (English, raised in India), Jenny (US American), Thomas (Swiss), Ashleen (originally from California but now living in Switzerland married to Thomas), Craig (New Zealander -and has lived everywhere else) then on the floor is Helen (who is English). Sylvia, Kate and Jenny are all heading soon (within the next couple of months to India to work with the existing Servants workers in Calcutta.

We had our meetings in the church centre of Holy Trinity Coventry, which had a beautiful building and was adjacent to the famous Coventry Cathedral. Above is a picture out from the dining room and in the near distance you can see the new part of Coventry Cathedral. Below is on the left side of the picture is the church centre we met in, quite nice I have to admit.