Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Good News of Little Drummer Boy

This post originally appeared on Aime's personal blog last week but it has stuck with me and I thought I would bring it over here to share again...


This week, one of my favorite music groups brought out an amazing version of the song Little Drummer Boy. And I have been listening to it fairly regularly...ok, it's been on repeat but details.

And then my rough morning started today. Corby had an emergency at work that meant he had to leave the house suddenly, Sophia was getting tired early, and Hito did not want to play by himself. My sore throat and suspiciously pink eye were bothering me this morning and the list of things to do before Thanksgiving was growing this morning.

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum...
So to meet Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.

Come, see, gift. And then it started to sink in...

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy to, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give a king, par rum pum pum
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

The gifts we bring don't make us better or worse because really, we have no gifts fit for a king. The thing that we bring is that little question and the determination to do it: can I play for You? Can I work for You? Can I clean my house for you? Can I live my life for You?...

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

We often fail at our drum playing...ok, I fail at my my morning...and I certainly was not doing my best this morning. But I come again, to the throne of grace, and ask if I can play for you. Trembling hands grasp the sticks and try to drum out a life that is worthy to bring the King.

And I see the baby Jesus smile.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The End of Courtship and the Beginning of the "Christian Dating"

First of all, let me just say that this article is not about  whether dating is good or bad or whether courtship is the only "right" way for relationships to be conducted.

I have well informed friends and thanks to their Facebook feeds, I keep myself relatively abreast of some of the major articles in the world (sometimes a little later than others, like this one).

One that popped up today was this article here.  About dating.  Not just dating but an actual date.

Do I sound sarcastic?  Because I kind of am. Because let me just get this out there: REALLY?!  We need a communications doctor to tell us that you should probably get your butt off the sofa and make an effort...there are fundamental problems here that probably won't work in this particular post.

Let's start at the beginning.  Dr. Kammerzelt starts by laying down two ground rules: a date should matter and a date should be brave.  While I do not necessarily disagree with these rules, I think they over simplify what it looks like to navigate the treacherous waters of relationships in a Christian community.  Of my friends from high school (a group of eight of us), none of us found our significant others the same way.  One of the girls even had her husband picked out for her by her father.  That is probably my biggest problem with this article.  It assumes that dating is 1) difficult and 2) that Christians don't know how to do it.

I would argue that Christians are just plain bad at relationships for the same reason that unbelievers are: we are inherently sinful and selfish beings who have to fight ourselves to put someone else's concerns before our own.

Now, I also concede that dating is not a walk in the park.  I absolutely understand that.  But doesn't this deficiency in dating suggest a larger problem?  If our young people do not know that dating requires a level of commitment that is apparently unknown, then where did we lose that?  Where did we lose sight of the fact that to love is to hurt, to be vulnerable?  Maybe our young people read the fun stuff from C.S. Lewis but not the hard stuff.  One of his more academic books, The Four Loves, suggests very poignantly that:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

In our personal spiritual lives, we have the easy jobs.  Christ died for us, lived a perfect life for us, and saves us for Himself.  In our outward facing spiritual interactions, it is harder.  We are tasked with taking those free and merciful gifts and expressing them in flawed and fallen ways to other flawed and fallen human beings.  

And it is hard.  

Part of the reason for the title of this post is because I think that the concept of courtship is something we are losing.  In some of the more archaic understandings, men had to jump through hoops to win the approval of families and therefore the hand of the fair maiden.  While that is a romantic idea, I think the 21st century demands some slightly different adjustments to the model.  Wouldn't it be great if courtship was two sided?  I say this because marriage is two sided - both husband and wife have to work at communication and intimacy.  So why isn't pre-marriage approached with the same mentality?  Whatever you want to call it (dating, courtship, betrothal, etc.), the lost of art of love true love is that we have forgotten that loving and being loved is to be hurt or to hurt.  

This ended up being a bit longer winded than I thought it would be.  But I guess when it comes down to it, I am discouraged that Christians have to be told that we ought to emulate Christ in all things.  Romance, work, friendships.  And not because Christ did all these things a certain way but because Christ is inherently logical, patient, and unconditionally loving.  

When did we forget that reason, patience, and love are all sides of the same coin?  Christ loved us all the way to the cross.  Why can't we love another human being enough to make a habit of meaningful communication?

Monday, September 9, 2013

What we can learn from tweets about Miley Cyrus

** Warning: this post contains discussion of sexuality and rape.  If you are uncomfortable with these topics, please do not continue reading.**

If you aren't living under a rock, you have heard the hoopla about Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards.  This girl who everyone still sees as Disney's Hannah Montana made it abundantly clear that she is no longer a pre-adolescent tween-y star.  She is a woman who made a series of very unique choices at Sunday evening's event.

What I personally found the most interesting was the reaction of other celebrities who were outraged at how "awful" her performance was: from fairly tolerating to pretty outraged.   I will make no comment on whether it was outrageous or not but I do have several questions about everyones' response.

Why was her performance so offensive?  What about the music videos of so many female performers before her?  Rihanna? Lady Gaga? Is it worse when it is a live performance than a filmed one?  What about the men on stage who were playing along with her?  Or the crowd that cheered even if they were not liking what they saw?

One of my favorite professors from college posted this on Facebook the next day:

Wake up!!!! Why are people so blind to the misogynistic culture that we live in? Unbelievable!!!! Here we are denouncing Miley Cyrus for (yes) her "compromising" performance (to say it nicely), but who's saying anything about Robin Thicke's involvement in such trash.

Why do men get away with this spilth? (Wasn't Thicke's Dad on Growing Pains, the last Leave-it-to-Beaver ideologically-driven show--so was Kirk Cameron. Oh, and one other thought: I seem to recall Miley's Dad--sorry, don't mean to break your achy heart--shaking his booty on stage wearing a John 3:16 t-shirt.)

Mmmmmm, I'll have the double-standard hypocrisy plate, a la carte. Tastes like American.

Why do we buy into the "it is always the girl's fault" rape mentality but turn around and hold men blameless when they perpetuate the attitude that women are only objects of sexual fantasies and to available for every whim?

If we do not treat all human beings as being inherently worthy of respect (as I believe all image bearers are), then we are going to constantly have these problems.  We are going to have young women give themselves away on national television and rapists who get slapped on the hand.  The lyrics of Robin Thicke's song make Miley's actions seem pretty tame if you think about it.  He is looking for a woman who "must wanna get nasty" and needs Thicke to "let me liberate you".  But those are not the same thing - you cannot both be "nasty" and have the liberation that is promised to the sexually permissive woman.

Which raises a bigger question: are we raising sexually permissive women because that is the only attention that we are used to giving them?  We either love the sexuality of the Angelina Jolie's of the world or turn our noses up in disgust at the Miley Cyrus's.  I humbly submit that we are causing the problems by not training our children to respect men and women alike.  Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream about his children playing equally with all races.  What if we now dream of all human beings being honored and protected from all kinds of oppression?  Even from the Internet's and media's exposure and subjective derision?

If these sorts of things happen in the public's eye in the west, is it any wonder that we continue our existence oblivious to the many forms of human slavery and oppression that still continue today throughout the world?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Whatever Happened to Respect?

I remember watching my first Miss America on TV back in 2011.  I had never watched a pageant before but there was a specific reason I was watching that year.  That reason was Miss Nebraska.  Through various homeschool organizations (Teenpact Leadership Schools, HSLDA ect), I learned that Teresa Scanlan, Miss Nebraska, was a former homeschooler, Teenpacter, and only 17 years old and I was curious to see how this young woman would handle herself on national TV.

I don't believe anyone thought this young, girl would be victorious, but to everyone's surprise, Teresea Scanlan took home the crown and title of Miss America 2011.

Recently, HSLDA conducted a radio interview with Teresa regarding her homeschool journey and how it helped prepare her for her duties as Miss America.  If you listen to the interview here you will find that Miss Scanlan is a bright, intelligent, driven young woman with a heart for the Lord and other people.

It was very surprising to me when I found people commenting on HSLDA's Facebook calling Teresa hurtful names as well as making ludicrous demands that HSLDA withdraw their support from her.

The main objections were that a woman who wore bikinis and flaunted her body was not a good role model for a family organization to support.

A few of the comments made towards her were accusing her of causing men to commit adultery because she wore a bikini during the pageant.  Some people said she must not be a Christian because people who parade around in "glorified underwear" do not and cannot belong to God.

At first I was very sad and hurt for Teresa, then I was angry. I was angry at the people calling themselves Christians, making such accusations, and tearing a young woman (who is a fellow believer) down.  For 3 years, Teresa Scanlan has had to deal with much criticism from Christian Conservative circles because she is not personally convicted the same way they are.

My question to every Christian is: how is it Christ-like to accuse unjustly, call names, and discourage another person with differing beliefs?

What on earth makes you think that you have the right to make judgment calls on another person's salvation because of their outward appearance.

Whatever happened to respecting other people?  Yes, Teresa Scanlan may have different convictions then you.  But I would hope that anyone who calls themselves a Christian, would be respectful of another's beliefs and not call her a "turd in a glass of water."

These Christians who oppose Teresa Scanlan may have some fundamentally good arguments.  However, any legitamacy and credibility they may have is out weighed by the way in which they present themselves and their positions.

If someone has a different belief than you, you should kindly hear their side then humbly and respectfully challenge their beliefs. I think there is something in the Bible about truth, love, and grace in our speech...which would seem to suggest that you absolutely do not publicly call someone a brainwashed slut!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Identity, Part I

While we were mulling over what a blog of this sort might look like and read like, my sister and I kept hitting our heads against the issue of "identity".  We are both homeschooled, Christian, middle class, Asian girls.  (For those of you who may not know what that means, it roughly translates to academically over achieving, well-behaved, average girls.)  That does not always make for a very unique presentation of identity in some ways.

But for this first part of my thoughts on the issue of identity, it has struck me very strongly.  The modern world has made identity both something to align and divide.  And whether we like it or not, we can't have it both ways.

Identity has become something that makes us both a part of a group or not a part of a group...or the longer we exist - both.  The stereotypical student wants to be a part of a group (soccer, cheer leading, glee club, etc.) and an individual (kids going around trying to look like Lady Gaga at 12 or 13).

As humans, we all are fundamentally unified by the fact that we are image bearers.  Again, whether we like it or not, our basic anatomy and construction and needs are the same.  Let's narrow our view a little more.  As women, there are parts of our brain that work the same (with some differences allowed for personality).  As Christians, we all follow Christ as Lord and Savior.  The microscope is going in a little further.  And all of a sudden the focus gets lost.  What exactly is supposed to be the identifiers for Christian women?  How can it be that so many thousands of individuals use the same label but look so drastically different?  Is that even allowed as Christians - being different?

At this point, I'm not making any claims or statements about whether these observations are good, bad, ugly, or an inevitable part of the human experience.  But it seems that we are all trying to have our cake and eat it to.  I ran across this article today and it was rather interesting because of what it focused on.  The author focuses on how this separation from being "Christian" seems to be because of the "bad Christians".  And she makes a very good point.  Humans are fundamentally flawed and all Christians are human.  So at some point, we will have a problem.  But what I found more interesting was that there is this division of identity.  We can identify with Christ without being Christians?!  Logically, that is impossible but more importantly, it is both the desire and antithesis of what our humanness longs for.  We desire to belong and to be separate.  People like Marcus Mumford then come out and talk about things like this making us think for a second that we can do it all.

But if you think about it, he just alienated himself from true Christianity.  In his (conscious or unconscious) effort to both belong and separate, Mr. Mumford has made it clear that we cannot have it both ways.  He is not enough of a Christian to want to identify with it nor is he so far removed that he does not accept Jesus as being God.

I have no problem telling people I am a Christian.  But do I just do a Marcus Mumford in how I finish the conversation?  Do I try to have my identity connect and separate at the same time?...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

words, courage, and learning

I like people.  I like talking.  I like learning.  When you put all those things together, you come out with a unique experience.  I am told that I am intimidating because I "grill" people - asking hard questions, trying to understand the hearts and minds of people.

When I ask these questions, I fear that people see my curiosity and questioning as purely argumentative.  I do not ever want this to be the perception and am doing my best to combat that image.  Questions are hard.  They require answers that we don't always like to admit in the open - or at all.  But the world we live in requires that we ask and answer hard questions that often change.

This blog, as it embarks, is mine and my sister's place to ask and answer the hard questions.  A place where we can think out loud and not be afraid to say the wrong thing while we work our way to a good answer.  We hope that you will be patient with us as we think through these things.

Among the questions will be moments of appreciation.  While I like asking and answering questions, there are things in the world which provide clarity that an answer is possible.  Beauty is an integral part of the human experience, part of our most basic makeup.  Sometimes it takes just as much work to see and enjoy beauty in the world as it does to ask/answer the hard questions.

Words are hard to get back.  It takes courage to put them out there.  This is our learning place.  Welcome.