"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

21 September 2010

Now that's weird...

Doctor sued for branding name on uterus

A doctor has been sued after he was found to have branded a patient’s first name into her uterus during a procedure.

She found it later on when she was looking over copies of the ultrasound pictures following it.

Ingrid Paulicivic was having a procedure done in an Orange County hospital in California in 2009 by Dr. Red Alinsod. During the procedure the uterus had to be removed, and an electrocautery device was used throughout.

According to the complaint filed, Alinsod used the electrical current to brand the first name of his patient into the organ. His reason? He didn’t want to get it confused with any other uterus lying around his office, and he thought she wouldn’t mind since she “was a good friend” of his.

The rest is here: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/09/182_73344.html

That is almost as weird as the recent article in the Sewickley Herald about a guy who got pulled over, screamed at the officers that there were monkeys in his car, got back in the car and led them on a five county chase.

Yup, there are some strange goings on out there.

A random thought

We recently added two bunnies to our household. They're only four months old and very cute. But they have our littlest guy worried. He asked me a couple of times this week which one was the mommy bunny, and today he was able to articulate a little more of what was going on inside his mind. When he figured out that neither bunny was the mommy, he was desperately concerned. Where was their mommy? He asked me over and over, trying to discern where the bunnies' mommy was, who would take care of them, who would feed them.

It's really sweet, but his concern began to border on the unusual, and I wondered if he was reading just a little of his own life into these bunnies, in that non-articulatable manner of a preschooler. He doesn't ask much where his own birthmother is, but he knows that unlike his brothers, he was never "in my belly" but was "in birthmother's belly." He once told me out of the blue he wished he had been inside my belly. I'm glad he wasn't; I like how he's different from the rest of us in a way that's complimentary, completing.

But he does ask often when we will get to go visit his foster mother in Korea. He wants to take Omma on a field trip, he says. His imagination makes Omma whatever he wants her to be. (In resonse to overheard news of North Korea, he once informed me that Omma has a tank and if the bad guys invade she's not afraid to use it.) I wonder if there's not a little bit of lost bunny in him, though. He knows who is his family, who loves him forever; but even at his young age, he's aware of a missing face at the table too. From the day of his birth, he's had someone to miss. A birth mother, a foster mother... it makes sense that he should show such concern for these helpless little bunnies.

19 September 2010

I'm with ya, brother!

One Protester The Pope Would Have Liked
September 19, 2010 - 7:58 AM | by: Greg Burke
It’s not every day you see Latin on a placard protesting the Pope. When the anti-papal crowd of several thousand atheists, radical feminists and gay activists gathered in London this weekend, most of the banners were pretty simple: stuff like “Nope to the Pope” and “Papa Don’t Preach.”

But later in the afternoon, on the edges of the papal motorcade, and amidst a number of cheering fans of Benedict, there was a poster raised demanding, “DROP THE FILIOQUE.”

What? You have to know a little bit of Latin, and a lot of theology and history to get that one.

It wasn’t really a poster; it more like Magic Marker theology on a pizza box. And a young man named Toby Guise was happy to explain where, in his opinion, the Catholic Church had gone wrong.

“Filioque” means “And the Son,” and refers to a centuries-old debate between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, about whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone, as the Orthodox believe, or from the Father and the Son, which is the Catholic teaching.

That’s tough stuff, material for smart folks debating in a graduate school seminar. Perhaps it’s too bad the Pope didn’t see the pizza box; he would have been amused.

And in his former career as a professor and not a pontiff, he probably would have liked to talk to the young man holding it up.

Source: http://liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/09/19/one-protester-the-pope-would-have-liked/#ixzz0zyolIg8Q
h/t: Geoff Mackey (thanks, friend... you made my morning)

12 September 2010

Mercy, anger, and righteous idignation.

I'm admittedly a bit on the conservative side. And so are a lot of my friends. So people assume that I listen to all the typical conservative talking heads. I don't. My instant response when someone asks me if I heard this or that on Glenn Beck or Rush or whoever is a knee-jerk "I don't listen to angry white men." Occasionally that elicits a chuckle from friends who know that there's truth behind the gut reaction; that there's something poisonous about ranting on the radio, no matter what side it comes from.

Today I heard an interesting sermon which began with the question, why are Americans so angry? Injustice and loss have happened at other times and places greater than our own, but Americans are the ones who seem to take our lumps with indignation, even anger, and call it righteous. My first answer to the preacher's rhetorical question is that Americans have a sense of entitlement that the world has never really known. If we feel entitled, we can baptize our anger into righteous indignation and think ourselves pure.

But the sermon went on quickly to draw out that Americans are angry because we do not know how to reflect the mercy that God has given us. If we were a people of grace and mercy, these things would, by their nature crowd out anger. Believing the best in one another, exercising the power to forgive when finding the worst in one another, showing mercy. It is true, mercy and anger do not easily coexist.

But mercy comes from having received mercy. Entitlement and mercy are the result of two opposing views of ourselves. Feelings of entitlement exalt the self, believing that we deserve a perfect world because we ourselves are, well fill in the blank: good, hardworking, superior in some way. But a mercy mentality means that we understand that we require mercy. On the way home from church an old line from a Star Trek (yes, Star Trek preaches) episode came to mind, where the disembodied alien voice referred to the humans as "Ugly. Ugly bags of mostly water." If in fact we are ugly, ugly bags of mostly water, what good are we? Why are we worth saving, worth dying for? Surely in God's eyes we are, well not ugly for he did call us good, but nothing more exquisite than a bag of mostly water. Why offer mercy, why send a son? Why take on flesh at all? Mercy understands that, far from superior and entitled, we are in fact spiritually ugly, and that God took on our frailty to make us beautiful. Instead of being entitled we are not worthy, yet we are still richly blessed. That's mercy.

It's healthy for us to acknowledge in our prayers that we are not worthy so much as to gather the crumbs under God's table, and yet this the same God whose property it is always to have mercy. It should come as no surprise that we who are unworthy are banished from picking crumbs under his table, but it should come as a holy astonishment that instead of throwing us into the street, he pulls out from under the table and sets a place for us among his honored guests. We didn't earn the seat, it was freely given.

Americans are a prideful people who want to earn what we get and keep what we earn. I can't find fault in that, it is merely justice. But I also have to understand that on the day of judgment, the last thing I want is justice. I much prefer to lean on mercy.

10 September 2010

In The Land of Invisible Women

Islam is, without any shadow of a doubt, fundamentally incompatable with Christianity. The one says that Christ was not crucified, for Islam considers Jesus a prophet but cannot handle the shame that is the cross; the other hinges upon the historical truth of the crucifixion and resurrection. If Christ crucified is the only way to God, then there can be no hope in Islam. Islam, to the Christian is, in fact, a particularly insidious false religion, borrowing much and twisting, changing.

But equally false is the false teacher in Florida who claims to be Christian but speaks not the love that Christ demands but spews angry venom. And yet, in our culture there is a place for this man. I'm not referring to the legality of his actions, for I do believe he has every right to burn any book legally belonging to him, but for his venom. Such a response to the foreigner is a pathetic American tradition. When waves of Irish immigrants flooded the New York job markets, suddenly the Irish were unwelcome. Likewise the Chinese in California during the peak of their immigration. Japanese in World War two, loyal Americans of Asian descent, were herded into concentration camps right here on American soil. And so it should not shock us that in this era it is the Muslim who is the faceless, nameless enemy within our borders.

And how easy it is to persecute the nameless and faceless.

I recently picked up Dr. Qanta Ahmed's book In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom. I'm not sure it is what I was expecting when I bought her book, but I highly commend it to you to read. In this book, the faceless are given names, stories, wit and warmth. Using the veiled, anonymous women of Saudi Arabia, the book does not come out as a scathing review of the unknown, a rally to liberate women whether or not they wish for liberation or see themselves as imprisioned. Instead, the book is a view into the other, a person behind a label, a world not our own. Flat stereotypes are brought into three dimensions; and while stereotypes are easy to label and hate, multifaceted human beings with stories and foibles of their own, are much harder to despise.

The book itself is a view into Islam which the average Christian can never experience. It is a worthy read for that alone. The author seeks neither to vilify nor to extoll, just to understand as an insider her own worldview.

I own a Qu'ran. I won't be relinquishing it to the flames any time soon; neither do I esteem it over other books. Likewise I own a book of Mormon and a few other religious texts from my undergraduate studies in comparative reigions. I don't begrudge any who would wish to burn a Bible, either (for the word of God can not so easy be destroyed... if the word made flesh rose from the dead, surely there is nothing man can do to extinguish the Holy Word) though it is the Word which I esteem as authority, revere as holy. Men have scoffed at the Word before, nothing new changes under the sun.

05 September 2010

Pondering Racism and Modernity

I have been told that all middle class Caucasian Americans are racist, and when someone claims not to pay much attention to race, I have heard that person accused all the more of racism.  I try to think that I don’t buy into such cultural training, motivated as it is by self pity among some and thinly veiled noblesse oblige from others.  I neither make racial commentary nor tend to be offended by anything but the most obviously inappropriate comments of others.  There’s just not a racist demon under every rock.

But raising an Asian child has brought out new and intriguing experiences with race expectations.  I don’t much mind when people assume that my youngest is smart because he’s Asian, but I do wonder what races the same people would therefore assume are natively dumb.  After all, if one race is inherently smarter, others must be natural idiots, right?  Darwin thought as much.  I shake my head and wonder.

I have to chuckle and wonder  a little also at the little boy in a kid-run “talent” show who decided that it would be a good idea, an amusing thing, to get up in front of everyone and scrunch up his face calling it his Chinese impersonation.  Okay, kids have no brains.  We did similar things growing up.  I wonder a bit too at his poor mother, who having newly befriended our family, was clearly mortified.  It’s okay, lady, just be aware that there is someone in the room who might be a little more realistic in that impersonation.  We want our children to understand the difference between cluelessness and real malice, and to be able to be comfortable enough in themselves to laugh off the former.  We don’t care to be easily offended.  Really.

But I have to admit I was a bit speechless when speaking with a very new friend, a first generation Korean-Chinese immigrant. and she commented that Asian-American kids are “bananas; yellow on the outside and white on the inside.” 

Why did I cringe a little inside?  Why did her comment catch me flat-footed?   She was simply making a reflection her own subculture; why, as an outsider, does that give me pause?  My only answer is that, as a culture, we’ve lost a sense of casualness about our ethnicities.  We’ve taken race so seriously for so long that we can no longer make honest reflections and casual comments.  This woman was simply reflecting the same comfort in her Asian skin that I would hope my own Asian child would know as he grows up.  And her reflection also revealed that many Asian kids don’t have that comfort and internal self-honesty.  They want to fit in with the American mainstream, they want to become a culture of people who would take pause and cringe at her frank “banana” comment.  The white inside cringes, the Asian outside takes it to heart.

And it makes me wonder, if much more has been lost than has been gained.  While we should certainly be glad for the gains of equal access and the ability to befriend those whose backgrounds are different from ours, as a culture we’ve also lost our sense of humor amid a sense of self-importance.  We’ve lost a casualness about who we are, a sense of comfort; and our discomfort stands in the way of real relationship. 

My youngest is destined to be another cultural “banana” but I hope he’ll be comfortable enough in his Asian skin to have a sense of humor and humility about himself.   Our family’s Celtic ancestry certainly informs his identity.  On the inside, he’ll be as Scottish as his brothers in a lot of ways.  His biases and world-view will likely reflect our own.  Nature and nurture being what they are, he’ll no doubt always reflect his birth parents too, but his life experiences will be western.  While his Korean ancestry forms our family as well, these things have shaped us by our choice; that’s not so for him.   He is who he is, and nobody really has control over who their parents, by birth and adoption, are.  The only question is what we will make of it.

04 September 2010

A modest proposal.

If America is, as some claim, a Christian nation, then I think America should put feet on that proclamation. After all doesn't Jesus demand "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you?" I propose that the US Congress declare a national month of prayer for each of the twelve most notorious enemy states over the next year AND that the American people (including our government officials who claim to be Christian) then write to the leaders and embassies over the course of the appropriate months and tell them that we're praying for them and want God's blessings for them.

I wonder how that would change our foreign policy.

03 September 2010


In college, I briefly considered majoring in both political science and religious studies. I would have had no friends, would I? Politics and religion, aside from being coctail party taboo, are said to be strange bedfellows.

Of course its a one way street. Theologians and clergy are culturally barred from talking politcs. Ghastly and boorish, to the American mind. But politicians wave religion around like a trophy. The popular theology du jour is all theirs, whether they love the cultural Jeeeeezus icon of the prosperity gospel movement or the secular humanist deity within the human ideal. It's all there.

I have a friend in politics, and I adore her. But I often suspect, and she often unwittingly confirms, that she's just about the only decent human being in the whole political field. And her decency and humanity are probably why she hasn't been taken all that seriously in the field. Anyone electable has gotten to that point by some underhanded means. We have, as Mel Brooks would say, the best government money can buy.

So the more I watch politics the more depressed I become. Its like the whole point of the game is to pick a label and then throw ideological rocks at the guys wearing the other label. Nobody is outside the box. Nobody is non-partisan or even really third party. And the guy who thinks for himself, plays the game by some reasonable moral rules, doesn't schmooze the corporate payout, he doesn't stand a chance.

The more I watch politics the more I realize that mankind, no matter where he gives his lip service, is trying to put his faith in mankind. There must be someone with the answers, our culture cries. Can't we all just get along? Nuclear bombs, the economy, foreign oil, these are our problems.

No, human sin is our problem. Abortion is immoral and I'm vehemently pro-life, but I don't believe for one minute that changing our laws to protect life (though that is the morally correct thing to do) will stop abortion doctors and society from preying on the lives of the unborn. Its a heart problem that can't be solved by law. Likewise bombing airplanes is immoral (and illegal) but I don't seriously believe that every would-be bomber could be caught if we'd just increase security measures. If someone wants to destroy life, they will find a way.

So the more I watch politics the more depressed I become. Man puts his faith in man and asks the Christian community buy into the scheme. Christians pledge allegiance to a foreign state, promoting a secular humanist religion. Churches play the game and get their hands slapped by the temporal authorities. Yet one of these is destined to pass away and one is eternal. Depression is not the call of those who see the eternal picture.

And so, while I have the right, I do vote. But I'm neither democrat nor republican and I view the third parties with appropriate skepticism. (Good heavens what flakes they tend to run!) While I appear conservative, I break ranks without batting an eye, for party platforms are inconsistent and don't see the logical end of their fallacies. And while I vote my conscience, I expect that any candidate I'd vote for will lose; the world doesn't think like I do. The majority is its own tyranny, but what can man do to me?

I suppose I'm rambling. This really is just me saying to the world, stop acting like children. Except, to expect that people would really do that is to put faith in the humanism that got us into this mess in the first place. Alas.

02 September 2010

The County Fair By Day

The sun shines hot on the cheerful fields. No noise from a midway breaks its late summer spell. Only the lowing of cows, the rooster's crow, carry through the air. The animals, all groomed and fresh from showing are escorted back to stalls smelling sweetly of hay. Their owners have decorated their pens, and ribbons adorn the stall gates. A goat quietly attempts to chew his way to freedom while three other goats watch on, peering over the next stall. The rooster again crows loudly.

There are no children running about, only those dressed for showing their livestock, tending their animals. 4-H ribbons scattered about displays. The soft smell of funnel cakes being prepared for the crowds to come.

A short walk from the car. A nod of greeting from the parking attendant, an elderly gentleman with a cane. No cheap prizes, noone enticing my children to play their overpriced games, no crowds or noise or demolition derbies. The fair is softer by day.

My kids are laughing now, as they hear me say I don't care for the noise and hoopla. We'll take them to the fair tonight, but it is yesterday's afternoon walk through the animal stalls and 4-H displays that I prefer. The grounds won't smell so sweet or sound so soft tonight, but this is what my children crave. They want the noise, the bright lights, a child's eye view of the "big city" brought to the countryside. But the freedom to let the smaller ones run ahead a little, to stop and let the goats take your scent, to watch the bunnies' noses twitch, these are the details that the night misses. For me, I prefer the fair by day.