Saturday, November 28, 2009


We watched Julie and Julia last weekend and highly enjoyed it. It's not a great work of art, but we loved the characters--Streep's Julia Child most of all, of course.

Someone finally put the lyrics to Dan Crow's album Oops! on the internet: here it is! It's even better than I remembered. I'm now going to go around singing "American Gum" all day(!!!).

Thanksgiving was great! Hooray! But for the first time in my remembered life, I did not wake up the day after Thanksgiving super excited to put on some Christmas music. I've been too busy thinking about school stuff to get all anticipatorily excited about Christmas.

Also, not enough time has passed since last Christmas for it to be Christmas again. Did I mention that the rate at which time passes for me increased suddenly this spring? I noticed it as we were taking the train and subway to church. All of a sudden it seemed like a short trip (about an hour) instead of a long trip. And of course, at the same time I noticed the weeks were flying by as if they were only three instead of seven days. Odd that the process of time speeding up, which is normally gradual, made a sudden leap forward ...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mosque Visit

Today I went with a group from my "Current Trends in Islam" class to the Islamic Center of Southern California. For some reason, I've always been more impressed by the similarities between Christianity and Islam than the differences. Not so today! I must say, I was rather shocked by the sermon, which was exactly opposite in ethos from what is "normal" for me, as a Christian in the Reformed tradition.

The speaker talked about the Day of Judgement, and how there are seven things you can do to ensure that you will be saved. These included things like giving charitably such that the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing, or having a friendship which is based solely in the love of God, or (for men only) refusing to be seduced into committing adultery with a rich, beautiful woman. According to the speaker, if you just do one of these seven things at some point during your life, God will remember it in the Day of Judgement and you'll be saved.

And then there was another point in his sermon where he talked about how you should be proud of being a righteous person, you should be proud of not gossiping, not stealing, not doing drugs, etc. In fact, in the Day of Judgement, some people will be walking, some "riding" (we don't know upon what) and some will be dragged with their faces on the ground. And so when your friend says that if you don't do drugs, you sure are missing a lot, then remember that on the Day of Judgement you will be on your ride, and your friend will be missing a lot, with their face dragging on the ground.

If you suspect I am misrepresenting the speaker, you can listen to the sermon on the mosque's website.

Anyway, I've just never been so impressed as I was today by how very, very different the ethos of Islam is from the ethos of Reformed Christian faith. I still think it's a plausible notion that all religions are essentially similar in that they are all about placing absolute trust in God/Ultimate Reality/Truth (with a capital "T") or whatever. But it's an idea that needs some hefty qualifications ...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

clearing clouds

I’ve had twenty four professors at Fuller, only two of them women. 2 out of 24. This is bad, well, for a number of reasons, one of them being that it’s important for women to have female mentors and role models. Which is obvious. So I’ve been frustrated here in that regard.

But it only just occurred to me that I miss having role models or mentors of my own racial background. I hadn’t really thought of it because I’m so unused to the idea of anyone having the same racial background as me (other than my siblings). I know only one person outside my family who is of half European, half Asian descent (and he’s half Filipino, not half Chinese).

But now at Fuller I’ve had two biracial professors: one Caucasian and Salvadorean; another Swiss and Lebanese.

I was surprised to realize how much this matters to me. For some reason, it doesn't matter what mixture of races they are--just meeting someone else who is biracial is a happy occasion. And taking a class from someone admirable in Christian faith and scholarship who happens to be biracial also--that’s inspiring, that’s encouraging. Heck, they even kind of look like me in being--how to put it--whitish? Off white? Sort of Caucasian looking but not exactly.

I guess I'm one of those glass-half-empty people. Unlike one of my brothers who has said he thinks of himself as "both/and," I see myself as "neither/nor." And my perception that I don’t fit the normative categories leaves me with a loneliness so pervasive I don’t even notice it most of the time.

but the clouds begin to clear
I see two stars
the ground feels firmer

Saturday, November 7, 2009

looking like a fool

I’ve always liked the saying, “better to say nothing and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”--but it's not really true for me. I keep quiet and people think I’m really smart.

I should live more by a saying something like, “Better to be loved for the fool you are than to remain respected and aloof.” Too bad that’s not very catchy or humorous. Still, it's something important to me. Even though I’m afraid of looking stupid, I know it’s better to take a risk and be engaged than to retain my dignity. It's better to take a humble part in some kind of communal entity than to stay "above it all."

I realize this is all highly abstract, but I'm too embarrassed about the situation where it came up recently to tell you about it. And it's not very interesting, anyway.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


So, I had this incredible thought last night: what if I could learn some Arabic tongue twisters?!?!!!? Oh, my gosh. That would be so awesome, I would keel over and die. So I looked on the internet and found this website. It's hard to learn the correct pronounciation from the transliteration, or from the ones in Arabic letters since they don't have vowels, but look at the translations at the bottom of the page! Don't you want to learn how to say "Put the sour vegetables in the policeman's pocket"? Or "A cardboard in a cardboard, can you, the master of the cardboards be a cardboard?"