I went to Thailand for the ICEC conference and took a few pictures.
Ronald McDonald does the wai and welcomes you to his fine local establishment. He treats you with local flavor by selling you a Samurai Pork Burger.
A woman from the Karen tribe weaves cloth on a loom all day. Notice how her teeth are stained with bitternut.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Monday, November 21, 2005
My small group leader just sent this to me in the mail. It looks like a pretty good seminar. I plan to attend.
Dear Ministry Partners and Friends.
Join us at our next public meeting
Absolute Joy, Vodka and the Power of Branding
Marketing, Church and the Gospel
Date : 7 Dec, 2005
Time : 7:30 pm
Venue : Church of Christ
54 Sophia Road
Admission is Free
What has marketing; such as product diffentiation, customer service, product life cycle, globalization, branding, market segment, distribution channel, penetration and value pricing have to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ? What can the church learn from marketing? How does the gospel of Jesus challenge marketing from a biblical perspective? How can the church witness in such a pluralistic and globalized environment without loosing our biblical identity and yet be able to present a relevant message to a needy world?
About the Speaker
Timothy Liu (Director of MCN) works as a regional sales manager for a US company with responsibility to oversea business in Asia. He is the founder of MCN in 2001. Timothy also serves on the GCF council as Vice President. At his local congregation, he is a worship leader and musician. Timothy is also convener for the 2004 Lausanne World Evangelization conference, Marketplace Ministry Issues Group.
One of things that people knock Asians for is their unwillingness to help the poor and needy. I know a Korean-American who passed out on the sidewalk of a busy street due to illness; it was only by chance that a friend walked by and came to her aid. There is no telling how long she might have been forced to lay there. I've heard that "can't be bothered" is the mantra of many Asians.
However, one interesting thing that Asians do actually do is provide a musical outlet for the blind and disabled. Traditionally, in some Asian countries only the blind were allowed to become professional musicians.
Due to their disability and lifestyle, many of these musicians look pretty pathetic to a healthy western person. I've see an overweight female harmonica player who plays day after day clothed in the same dingy dress. I've seen a couple of guys sitting on the ground in MRT tunnels playing guitar, urging people to drop a twenty cent piece into their scratched up cases. There's a guy with a synthesizer that seems to only play music of the cheesy variety. Anyone up for a little Celine Dion?
However, the coolest musician, maybe even the coolest Singaporean, that I've seen since I've been here sets up shop on Orchard Road every weekend. He has the dignity to bring out a folding chair, he turns back his hat, plugs in his amp, and plays and plays on his electric guitar. He starts early in the afternoon and doesn't finish until late a night. I've often heard him playing the theme from Hawaii 5-0 or a Beach Boys tune. Lately I've heard him playing "Jingle Bell Rock" and other holiday tunes.
He'll never read this and it is a little intimidating to approach a blind musician who might only speak a dialect, so I doubt I'll tell him. But I want to take a moment on the blog to thank this man and all of the other blind Singaporean musicians for the music they play.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
I recently received an e-mail from a college friend who discovered
this blog. I don't receive fan mail very often, so I thought I would
take a minute and post an excerpt of what was written:
<div align="center">I discovered your blog and have spent the past
hour sitting in the same spot reading through your entries. Or
blogtries...or whatever they're called. I'd be carefully reading through a
very serious part and all of a sudden burst into laughter!</div>
Also, if you are ever curious about who in the world visits this
thing. I've set up a Google program to keep track. Click this link
to find out more.
target="_blank">Visitor Log for Media Slog</a>
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
I just found out yesterday that I am the owner of a double-eyelid. And guess what! You might have one too. The double-eyelid is the tiny crease right above your eyelid. I recently found out that most women put mascara on this body part. Apparently, most Westerners have them and most Asians don't.
I found out about this when talking to some of my students. Some Asian girls want this facial feature so badly that they will sleep with tape on their eyes to get it. Just having a double eye-lid is supposed to make your eyes look bigger and make you look more beautiful.
I've even heard that an elite group of Western women have something called an "eyebrow umbrella." I'm not exactly sure what this is; but I think if you have it, your eyes are never affected by the rain.
For the record, if any women- Asian, Western, Pygmy or otherwise- are reading this and want to know, I don't think having eye brow eyelids, eyebrow umbrellas, big eyes, or any other big body part really makes you look that much more attractive. You'll probably do just fine for yourself if you are clean, you get some exercise, and you smile.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
I haven't been blogging much lately. I stopped because the interface between blogger and my account stopped working, or only worked sporadically for some reason. When it used to take me thirty minutes to conjure up a post, it started taking an hour to an hour and a half of clicking "post this." I found a new interface called w.bloggar and, believe it or not, it seems to work. I haven't tried pictures with it though. During my time not blogging, I did come up with some ideas for longer fictional pieces. I'm not sure if I will pursue creating them.
While I was at the Singapore library, I found a collection of philosophical comic books. I've read several of them. These things might as well be called philosophy for dummies. I've read broad, simplistic overviews of Wittgenstein, Post-Modernism, Structuralism, and Romanticism. I know most of these topics are simply academic labels for categorizing artistic and academic styles of thinking, but I still find them interesting.
Post-modernism, especially, seems to be a hot topic amoung evangelical Christians. This is ironic, even though I am an evangelical Christian, because I recognize that evangelicals are the least philosophical people on the planet; and I think that post-modernism is probably the most complicated school of thought to study. Every evanglical thinks they know the three points of analysis that will help "the church" reach the post-modern generation. I've sat through talks at missionary conventions, pre-field meetings, and church services where the preacher explained this topic. Most of what I have heard superficially skims the surface or is served up with a load of bunkum.
Why? Because if post-modernism is even a real thing (and not just an extension of modernism) then we are currently immersed in it. Trying to study it is like a fish studying the water that it lives in. It would be impossible for the fish to leave the water and study it objectively. Evangelicals tend to exempt themselves by virtue of their Christianity. Christians often claim that they are outside of the post-modern poppycock and then praise the Lord that they are not like those on the inside.
Unfortunately, it just doesn't work like that. In fact, I will contend that religious fundamentalists, especially conservative Christians and terrorist Muslims, are more acutely aware of their own post-modernity than most other people. And they are afraid. What are post-modernists supposed to be preoccupied with? Sex. Conspiracy Theories. Mental Diseases. Multi-culturalism. Consumerism. I could probably go on. However, on every level the church tends to meet the world. Sure, an agnostic po-mo and an evangelical might reach radically different conclusions, but the culture has still required them to immerse themselves in the post-modern universe. Whitman and Wordsworth were both Romanticists, but I'm sure they would disagree on a myriad of issues. C.S. Lewis and Karl Marx were both modernists, but beyond that they don't have too much in common.
As I watch the news, I see over and over that Muslim fundamentalists are blowing themselves up all around. Bali, New Deli, and Jordan have all been under attack. In my philosophy comic books I've learned that some guy named Francis Fukuyama thinks that the post-modern culture of America will eventually encoach upon the world and signal the end of history. People will eventually live in a sea of McDonalds and Seven Eleven stores, passing on this desire to consume from one generation to the next. This will be the complete culmination of history. I think Muslims recognize this and they don't have a clue how to change it. I think that post-modern cultures and ideas enter funadmentalist Muslim's world and they recognize that it is completely incompatible with their mindset. Post-modernism is so infectious that Muslims just can't cope. Like a Japanese that commits seppuku for honor, Muslim fundamentalists do what they can to see to it that they aren't shamed by Ronald McDonald and Victoria's Secret commercials. On the other hand, evangelical Christians tend to embrace these things, even if they do so with some reservation.
Can Christians cope with the prevailing global culture of post-modernism? I think most of us are so ignorant that we forget which way is up. American Christians like myself have been raised in such a contradictory position that we can't even recognize ways that we have been infected. If we really faced up to all of the ironies we swim in, we too would probably commit seppuku. Kent Hovind is the most extreme example that I can think of. He claims to be an evangelist, but his whole career is staked upon yelling around about evolution, abortion, and conspiracy theories. If he weren't po-mo and just a modernist he would just write a book, a statement of beliefs, or a manifesto and move on with his life. However, because he himself is post-modern he has been infected. It eats at him and he consumes other people with his reactionism.
A lesser, not necessarily religious, less obvious example is how post-modernism infects the everyday suburbanite. I remember a conversation I had with some family members about the nature of truth. They seemed convinced that truth was completely subjective and one person's truth could be different than another. Even my athiest college philosophy professor didn't seem to hedge on truth. Sure, we disagreed with each other about most issues, but the concept of truth was not up for grabs. It is a sad state that we are in if the predominating culture of the day causes people to question the nature of reality. We can all agree to eat at Pizza Hut for supper, but it is extremely difficult to have an inteligible conversation about the meaning of life.
I admit that I am a post-modern Christian. I am this probably unwillingly, a product of my environment. Unless I go off the grid like the Amish, I don't think that there's any redemption or escape from it. Yet, I accept truth and don't mull its existence. I don't think I'll get any closer to God by writing statements of beliefs, doctrines, or manifestos. I have had my own Kent Hovind movements of vindictive judgementalism. I'm sorry.
I think I'm going to visit an art musem this afternoon and then go work out. I think the artist at the exhibit is a Buddhist and the work-out music playing in the gym with be a mix of sexual bubble gum pop and gangsta' rap.
What makes me different than the world then? What should make all Christians different than the world? I believe that the teachings of the early church clearly state that Christians are supposed to be different than the world. How do I do this? I hope when I encounter and talk to people that they see me as a person full of grace and truth. I hope to convice people that the greatest deeds ever done and the greatest words ever said came from Jesus. I don't find any virtue in self annihilation, either from death by violence or by encountering the slow degradation caused by sin. I do, however, find virtue in dying and sacrificing for another.