Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Some Misc. Stuff

Feel free to leave lots and lots of sympathy notes in comments. I will read them to him.

Thanks to my most awesome sprinkler, my Korean trash reputation may finally be behind me.

But you should see the car I drive. In car crazed Southern California, driving a 95 Toyota Corolla tends to raise eyebrows.

One of my clients put me up at a luxurious hotel during my last business trip. The valet parking attendant upon seeing me said,

"Motel 6 is right down the street, sir."

No, he didn't do that. In fact, I self-parked so as not to put him on a tough spot.

Anyone else can't get enough of the Dixie Hummingbirds?

Discovered them on just a few weeks ago, and now I am completely hooked. Where have they been? Or where have I been? They have been doing this together for over 75 years. Imagine that. If you are into the folk/traditional gospel genre, be sure to check them out. They are out of this world.

Well folks, I will be offline to catch up with work for a few weeks. Hope you are all doing well.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget her cunning.
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
If I remember thee not;
If I set not Jerusalem Above my chiefest joy.

PSALM 122:6

It has not been pretty wading through the inflammatory rhetoric and vitriolic tirades coming from both sides, particularly from my fellow conservative Evangelical Christians. They never met a war they didn't like, it seems.

I can certainly understand and even agree with some of the arguments against Pacifism, but where do we get off with this when-in-doubt-go-to-war mentality? Will we ever honor Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace? Has that ever happened?

May cooler heads prevail. I hope to come up with a more coherent entry on this topic in the coming days, but in the mean time, I cannot get this old spiritual out of my head. Do you guys know it? Peter, Paul and Mary do a great rendition of this.

I’m going to lay down my sword and shield
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Going to lay down my sword and shield
Down by the riverside
Ain't going to study war no more

I Ain't going to study war no more
Ain't going to study war no more
Ain't going to study war no more
Ain't going to study war no more
Ain't going to study war no more
Ain't going to study war no more

I'm going to walk with the Prince of Peace
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside

I'm going to lay down that atom bomb
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside

I'm going to put on my long white robe
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The grass is greener on the other side

Check out that luscious, well manicured lawn. Makes me want to do my Julie Andrews Sound of Music routine on it. How about you?

It's not mine. It's my immediate neighbor's. Now behold front lawn of the Cho Casa.

Honestly, I couldn't give a rip about what my neighbors would say and do about my lawn. That is, until one night, this thought crossed my mind out of the blue: 'What if they say behind my back....'

Warning:  If you are a strong adherent of political correctness, you should stop reading right now and visit another blog.

Okay, so you are still with me. I feel sorry for you. So going back to that thought, I was thinking, what if they start gracing me with this cute little nickname?

Korean trash

Let's back up here for a moment. Back when I was growing up, there were only two Asian nationalities known to Americans: Japanese and Chinese. "Are you Japanese or Chinese?" was how people phrased the typical inquiry into my national origin since most of them had not heard of Korea. At times I wonder if they can find Canada on the map.

Well, let's see, the United States lost [sarcasm] only 35,000 lives [/sarcasm] during the Korean war, so don't you think the country is kinda important to our history?

But I saw a silver lining in this. When I acted like a dork, the Chinese or Japanese reputation took a hit, but not my people's. So I considered it my patriotic duty to transgress with reckless abandon in front of white people as a payback for all the grief that Korea was at the receiving end of throughout history.

Now things have changed, thanks to this dude.

Has he fired his hair stylist yet? Helen Keller would have done a better job than that.

Despair not, ladies and gentlemen. Meet the Traveling Sprinkler.

As you can see, as the spinning arms spit out water, the rotating shaft gradually turns the back wheels pushing the whole unit forward. The front wheel rides the hose using it as a train track, which means the path of water follows the layout of the hose across the lawn. I love this thing.

Isn't that the neatest thing or what? Now you may ask, how does it stop? Or does it stop? Ah, now you are thinking.

Now only does this little guy stop the sprinkler from moving further, but it also pushes the button located on the belly of the unit which shuts the water off. Watch this.

Gets closer, closer, closer...

Now, not only has it come to a full stop, but the water has been completely shut off as well.

Korean trash maybe, but I own and operate the coolest sprinker in the world.

At least he doesn't seem to mind the trashy grass.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Reclaiming our Christian Roots

William Willimon, a professor of religion at Duke University, speaks of a momentous event which quietly took place on a sultry Sunday evening in 1963 in Greenville, South Carolina.*

That Sunday evening in the heart of the Bible Belt in this great nation of ours, the Fox Theater opened on the Lord's day for the first time. Seven teenage attendees of the Youth Fellowship at Buncombe Street Church made a pact to enter the front door of the church, be seen, and then quietly slip out the back door and go to see the show at the Fox.

That, Dr. Willimon says, was a watershed in the history of Christianity in the United States. The Fox theater served notice that it would no longer bow to the church, and went head to head in the battle for the hearts and souls of young people, and that evening, the Fox decisively won the first skirmish.

Greenville South Carolina succumbed to the wave of secularity sweeping across America in the turbulent decade of the 60's and the long running era in which Christianity dominated the American worldview unceremoniously came to an end.

I was born three years after the Fox theater heralded a new era, and my family's roots in America go back only to the early 80's, just a few years removed from the tumultuous era of the 60's and much of the 70's during which America found herself ambushed by an onslaught of social and cultural upheaval. As a new arrival to the country, I only got to witness the aftermath and learned about the decades through the lens of history and discussion with those who braved through the period as adults.

They had their own Greenville stories and fondly recalled with a touch of nostalgia the decades prior the 60's when America was a "God fearing Christian nation" where Judeo-Christian values were the norm and opening theaters on Sunday was unthinkable.

In the years following that Sunday evening, the secular culture grew increasingly brazen in its defiance of the church. Three years after the Fox theater opened for business on Sunday for the first time, John Lennon declared that the Beatles were now "more popular than Jesus," stepping on the already frayed nerves of American Christians reeling from the rapidly changing culture.

Throughout the formative years of my life, I stood side by side with others who, finding themselves increasingly under siege and alarmed by what they saw as the nation's continuous slide into moral deprivation, went onto fight back and even lash out at the culture. They were still fuming over what they viewed as a blasphemous statement from Lennon.

As a new American from a "pagan" nation where the marginalization of Christianity was rampant, I was determined to see to it that my adopted country reclaim its rich Christian heritage. Fondly recalling the story of an American missionary who befriended my great grandfather nearly a century ago, I felt a strong sense of kinship with this country I came to love as my spiritual homeland. To me and others, events like the one in Greenville heralded a dark godless era and John Lennon's statement put an exclamation mark on it.


Dr. Willimon, however, has an entirely different take on what took place in Greenville. You see, he was one of the seven teenagers who skipped church and sneaked into the Fox theatre that evening. When the culture sidestepped to allow the church to be the only show in town, it was assumed that people grew up Christian, simply by growing up American. But that assumption came to an end when the theater delivered the message that evening that it would no longer offer free rides to the church.

That, Dr. Willimon asserts, was one of the best things ever happened to the church of Jesus Christ in America. No longer is it assumed that the church and the culture see eye to eye and now Christians must realize that they are a peculiar people with their own peculiar identity, and learn to live as aliens in a strange land.

After extensive soul searching and the studying of Scripture, I have come to agree with Dr. Willimon. I have come to conclude the assumption that people grow up Christian, simply by growing up American is downright heretical in violation of every principle taught by Jesus and practiced by the first century Christians.

The notion of the Christian faith being an extension of a particular nationality was absolutely unheard of in the fledgling first century Christian Church. In fact, Christians, faced with intense persecution from the surrounding culture called themselves "aliens" and "strangers" simply passing through the present world as "sojourners." They spoke of living in peace with their neighbors, and conducting themselves as examplary law-abiding citizens.

Waging so-called "culture wars" against their pagan society was literally two thousand years and two continents away from their minds. Today the "war" has become a de facto tenet of the faith in the American Christian church. Sadly the tone of belligerence has drawn lines and fostered the us-against-them mindset while sidelining the true message of Jesus Christ.

We bitterly complain about the supposed disrespect and mis-characterization of our faith. Doing away with references to God in school curriculum, coins, and public monuments has galvanized Christians, but what do those things really have to do with our faith? Besides, as the saying goes, respect is to be earned, not to be demanded or worse yet, legislated.

We do not and should not bow down to some generic deity concocted by government officials on dollar bills and coins. Whether public monuments carry references to God, or lack thereof, does absolutely nothing to affirm or discredit my faith. My faith comes God Himself. My faith comes from my own relationship with God. My faith comes from what I read in the Bible, not the Constitution of the United States or the pledge of allegiance.

In retrospect, I believe the Fox theater did the church of Jesus Christ a monumental favor by spurting us to reclaim our true identity as Christians. As intoxicated as he was in a stupor of self-absorption, Lennon inadvertently uttered what deserves to go down as one of the most profound theological statements of the 20th century.

Jesus himself on trial before the disdainful eyes of Pontius Pilate declared, "My Kingdom is not of this world."

As saturated with "Christian values" the foundation and fabric of this nation may appear, America is ultimately of this world while Jesus' Kingdom is not.

The words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn are haunting. Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970 for his writings which exposed the atrocities of the Soviet Gulag.

The goal of the Gulag was not just the eradication of religiosity, but complete and thorough dehumanization. Reflecting on his harrowing years in prison, he penned the following words:

It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually, it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes, not through states, not between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. So, bless you, prison, for having been in my life.

American Christians today behave as though the line between good and evil passes between the Republican and Democratic parties, between America and the rest of the world, and between the middle class and the underclass.

Solzhenitsyn's words remind us that what ultimately matters are human hearts, not states, classes, or political parties.

Instead of longing for the good old days when America was Christian, how about the days of the early church when Christians were Christian? Instead of bickering over the popularity of Jesus in America, how about striving for the supremacy of Jesus in our own lives?

We must wage "war" not against our neighbors, but against ourselves in our own hearts and souls. That is where the war must be fought with all of our might and with all our fervency.

That is how we can reclaim our Christian roots dating back not to the founding of our nation two centuries ago, but to two thousand years ago when Jesus built his Church with his blood.

And that is how we Christians can be Christian again.

* Dr. Willimon's story is taken from James Van Tholen's Where all Hope Lies (pages 59-64). It is an outstanding collection of sermons

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Canine Patriots

Happy 4th!

Not to be outdone by L-Girl's Cody. Happy Canada Day to our Canadian friends.