Flights of Faith

Monday, June 25, 2007

Checking In

Tiger Woods of the sport = a black person in a white dominated sport a la Louis Hamilton (formula 1 champ) or = the best in the sport a la Roger Federer. Who'da thunk it?

Moved into apartment. I like it a lot. More later, perhaps.

I need to stop point to my hoodie when people ask where I go to school. Sometimes, I'm just so joyful that I go there. If only if it were two syllables, I'd be set.

You see, you can make it seem like you hate Harvard by just lowering the second syllable. A sort of mutter. With Yale...not possible. However hard you try, you will always seem like a pretentious jerk thanks to its verb ending one syllable self. Yale.
Thanks a lot, Eli.

Tons of interesting stuff going on w/ the Aboriginal community down under. Looks like I picked the right time to come. I'll be writing about it shortly for TNS, along w/ some other stuff hopefully. All will be cross posted here, of course.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Psalm 139

So, I realized I need to reread Exodus before rereading Joshua. Thought I could
just jump in there and remember the Exodus story. In the meantime, I've been
sorta fascinated by Psalm 139. I read it in this book (Jesus and the
Disinherited; amazing read), stumbled upon it in the Bible, and then heard two
great versions of it on some Living Water CDs. Sorry, this is sprawling. I
(still) blame jetlag.

1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

Wow. God knows everything about us. Our past actions and our future ones. How
comforting is it to know that our God is cradling our futures in his hand? It's
also a bit strange to know when we're stressing out about decisions God is just
chilling waiting for us to calm down and settle on a path (hopefully, one
according to His will). I guess it makes more sense to pray or reflect on
God's will than to stress or complain (Thanks Steve!) since God is the only one
who knows what we should be doing.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

To me, this has been the most amazing part of my mature Christian life: the
knowledge that I can never run from God completely nor will He ever run away
from me. I'm a Christian for life. The only question now is what type of
Christian will I be. Will I choose to be on rocky soil and forget the
importance of a biblical foundation and a church family? Will I allow thorns
to compromise my faith? Or will I choose a lifestyle that will not only enrich
my own foundation but will spread to others? (Matthew 13: 1-8). We simply have
to humble ourselves before God and ask for help to be led on the right path for
each of us, one that leads us to God everlasting.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

In the book I read (Jesus and the Disinherited), the author talks about these
verses to explain how hiding our actions in darkness do not make them any more
conspicuous. God can still see them. In particular, the author is referring
to oppressed people using tools of deception to outwit the oppressors. He
basically says, "yea, I know it's hard, but dealings in the dark to save your
human life do not do any favors to your eternal life." This has transformed
how I think about oppressed peoples, especially in academics. The past three
years, I've been taught to praise resistance by oppressed peoples to show that
there was a struggle, a fight for life, not just another nameless and lifeless
victim (think Trail of Tears). And while I always praised non-violent and
non-deceptive resistance (MLK, Ghandi), I'm going to have to be a bit more
careful when looking at others who deceive the oppressors for an end that might
not be worth the means. After all, we can never value worldly security over
security in the promise of Heaven. Interestingly enough, Rahab lies to protect
Joshua and the Israelites but there were a lot of potential explanations
provided in my study Bible about how that could be ok. (Joshua 2:4,5)
Something I'll have to think about a lot more as this issue is extremly
important to me and what I think is my calling.

19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

Woah! This happens in the OT a lot. Beautiful peaceful verses then all of a
sudden blood, war, vengeance, and hatred. It's awesome to have the Gospel for
context when reading this and to know that the circumstances have changed in
our present condition. Still, David is being honest with God. He's in
communication with Him. Although there might be more meaningful
(preemptive)ways of dealing with our anger, it's been helpful for me to go to
God with it and ask him to transform it into something that will be more
beneficial and asking for His will and justice, ultimately, to be done.

(switched the verses up)

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Again, this is amazing stuff. Looking at ourselves for faults and asking God to
identify our faults?!?! Uh oh. This sounds scary but who else knows us better?
Who else knows where we should go from our imperfections. Only by being honest
with ourselves and God will we gain progress in our spirtual journeys.

Update: I'm in LA now waiting for my flight to Sydney Australia. I have no
housing in Australia! Ahhh. My roommate completely dropped the ball and forgot
to give me an exact address or directions. Now, I have another potential place
to stay. Please pray with me that my housing works out fine, and I will be
allowed to get settled and start my research shortly.

Funny tidbits. To de-stress I've been listening to a lot of Living Water. What
say my family?

(The Answer)
Mom: Oh, I really like the instruments.
Me: Mom, that's beatboxing.
Mom: What?
Me: You know, like Blake on American Idol (I know. Who knew he would be the
picture by the the definition of beatboxing?)
Mom: No, it can't be.
Me: Yea, it's this guy named Lucas Kwong. Each thing you think is an instrument
is just his mouth.
Mom: Woah!

(Sprit, Come Down)
My sister: ROAAAARRRRRRRR! (impersonating Lucas) Yea, he definitely caught the
Holy Ghost with that one.

As you can see, we had some good times before I left. Alright, hope everyone is
doing well!

Take care and God bless,

Monday, June 18, 2007


I am nervous.
I am not sure why.
I leave for Australia in less than 48 hours.

I feel so unprepared.
I am trying to think about what I want from this trip.
Who do I want to be when I get back?
Who do I want to be when I am there?

Word document, let your blankness be my opportunity.
Let's see what happens.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Sorry this is late and a bit long! Just got back from Hong Kong after a long day of travel with weird time zone technicalities. Honestly though, I just had a hard time digesting Jonah (that was an unintentional fish pun and the last one in the qt, I promise)

I decided to read Jonah because I felt I was running from God’s call. Jonah was someone who ran but then decided to give himself over to God. Or that’s what I thought anyway. First, let me explain my feeling of flight. A lot of who I am now has been a result of my station at Yale—the people, the organizations, and the city. I feel like at the end of this year I saw a way for them to all work together in a Christ-like model. Then, summer came. I was stripped of my community where I know how to be Christian in a way that influences many aspects of my life. At home, I’m back inside my shell. I stay in Indiana over breaks, home of my extended family. It seems I’m never here long enough to establish roots that would help me show my community the Gospel. I’m just a happy Christian face, praying for a change without realizing God might have an answer to my prayers in action hinged on my faith in Him. Then, I went to China and felt a bit guilty for experiencing something I did not know how to make meaningful to my Christian walk (I sort of have a plan now). And even though I might not have been outright running from God, I definitely felt a sense of floating, merely being pushed side to side instead of listening to God’s directions for me. And then I read Jonah. And I realized I need to tackle the Old Testament this summer. I had no clue about what truly happened to this prophet. Like my floating spirit, I preemptively drew out the story, easily and lazily. Most importantly, incorrectly.

Though the colorful storybooks speak of Jonah as a hero, the five-page book of the Bible does not really remember him as such. I thought he ran from God’s call because the community of Nineveh was sinful and dangerous. Actually, Jonah avoided God’s call because he did not want the people of Nineveh to be redeemed, something he knew God’s mercy would provide. What?!?!

(After Jonah reluctantly obeyed and God’s grace saved the people after their commitment to change their ways)

“But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live. (Jonah 4:1-3)

How can Jonah be so faithful to God that his prayer provides him escape from a large fish, but his bigotry against the people of Nineveh comes from and perpetuates seeds of hatred? Isn’t there a truer faith than that? Or is it love not faith that I am seeking in Jonah? In the belly of the whale Jonah says, “But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you” (Jonah 2:9).

I wonder if Jonah sincerely believed he was obeying the Lord as he vowed to do in the next verse or if he does saw this whole operation as more of a sacrifice to God. Samuel warns against that notion saying, “22"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (Samuel 15: 22). Is Jonah then, like us, when we offer ambulance prayers to Christ? We sacrifice our pride by calling on God, but we avoid acts of obedience that might transform how we come to Christ. Calmer, wiser, and more assured of a God that directs our actions.

Too often, I think we overemphasize and overprotect a personal and isolated relationship with Jesus Christ, acting as if it is the most delicate of fires. As if it can actually be blown out. What is more inspiring and joyful than a savior who died for our sins demonstrating an all loving act of grace (something we see in even non-prophetic hints during OT times)? I want to take that to communities who need it. Communities like Nineveh. I think spreading the Gospel that way can only nurture one’s spiritual development. One is not isolated from another. I also think avoiding God’s call can only lead us to the belly of a whale (where something is obviously wrong) or the heart of a city like Nineveh (where people must have “comfortably” lived ignorant of God’s message and His grace)? In many ways, the latter is scarier than the former. Imagine an apathetic Christian community not drawn to live out their faith in any meaningful way. Everyone’s silence legitimating the deadening of our Gospels, another unwarranted gift from God. Is it even that hard to imagine?

The book ends with a sulking Jonah relaxing in the shade of a vine that God provided. The next day God sends a worm to eat the vine, exposing Jonah to the harsh sun.

10 But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?" (Jonah 4: 10-11)

In our lives are we more concerned with what’s making us comfortable, our vines, than whole communities of people in need of the Gospel? Like the miraculous vine that comforted Jonah, God gives us many things redemptive of his message and promise of Grace. While we can never ever match his Grace (nor should we try), I think God’s point was that His grace for Jonah should have inspired Jonah to joyfully proclaim the message for the people of Nineveh. To give them a message they did not deserve. To unselfishly volunteer himself to make their circumstance equal or better than his own by providing them with the opportunity to reclaim their communities and their lives with the message of God. I think our aims should be similar.

Honestly, I don’t know how I am going to implement this lesson yet. I still feel like I am running. Soon, I will be headed to Australia. Another place I am without roots. Maybe though, I am meant to spend the summer rediscovering the Bible and trying to uncover the meaning of texts like Jonah’s from my previous understandings and to allow them to transform my faith in an active way. I am not sure. I am praying about it. Trying to look at other biblical persons who followed God’s will I came across my namesake.

6 "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1: 6-9)

It’s comforting to know that no matter what choices I make God will be with me. I try not to cash that in as a form of cheap grace, but sometimes I am so unsure about the details of my future it is nice to rest my smaller goals in bigger ones: maintaining a Christian lifestyle, being committed to the spread of the Gospel, transforming communities through Christ-like models of justice and love. As I seek answers about choices that will shape the rest of my life, I am joyful to have been pointed in the right direction by the Holy Spirit and thankful that I can continually use it to put me back on track.

Let’s pray for us to be strong and courageous, fulfilling our missions here on Earth, knowing that our faith, God, will be with us wherever we go.

Monday, June 11, 2007

On The Edge

Just when I started to blog regularly the country i'm visiting blocked my blog!
Well, I think I've circumvented that for the last few days here.
I don't know how much I'm gonna write since I'm trying to soak up these last few nights.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

It can't get any worse...can it?

Had a few incidents today.

Talked politics (ahh!)with someone on the tour. She defended our cultural imperialism with a simply "but what if we didn't." The constitutional rights violation was implicit, I guess.

That's not bad. It can't get any worse, right?

Talking about Westerns. "Now we can't make them because it's not politically correct." The last couple words were, of course, spat out. Representing all Native Americans as bloodthirsty savages suits your sensibilities? Excuse me.

But you know what, it's a different generation. Keep on walking.

Eritrean guy doing traditional dance at a group talent show. I'm appreciating it. Space Invader (because he, ya know, invades your space) comes up and says to me, "Got any rap music to dance to?" I blink then stare back at him. My dad awkwardly stands in between us.

Ok. That's definitely personal, but I can handle it. And, best of all, it cannot get worse than that.


Sitting with a Tulane student. After talking about how she bar crawls and parties for a good length of time, she broaches the subject of Katrina. Before I can even lay out my opinion on this issue after issuing her own she snaps, "And I hate when people say it's a racial issue. They had time to get out. Everyone knew. It wasn't black or white. There were people who looted Who stayed behind. They were dumb and stupid. It's not that America didn't care. It was their own fault."

Instead of just stopping there, she tirelessly took me through the welfare policy of the city, trying to say race didn't matter, weakly responding to my evidence of white family hero/black looter. She insisted the media was just trying to "start something." I just had to stare at her like she was crazy and shake my head slightly in disapproval. I wanted to shout at the woman that her class (which, of course, is racialized) made everything ok. The truth is, though, when you have a hurricane facing your home, food, and family down and the other option is leaving everything you have worked for and living in poverty thanks to no expendable income, well, you expect your city to take care of you. And New Orleans did not. A sign isn't good enough. It never has been for people on the margins. Unfortunately, the white space matters. Just ask the survivor.

I cannot deal. I need to escape. This is supposed to be about discovering the wonders of China, not an exercise in how to represent and perpetuate different forms of injustice. I sort of expected it all though. Hopefully, I can reclaim this expereince somehow. This is my problem. I make bad decisions and all I can do is reclaim poor choices. I need to start making better ones.

But, in ways, this decision was so right. I know it was. My father needed me here. I think this is a lesson for me. I really do. A dose of how blessed I am at Yale along with the reality check that this is what is waiting for me. Allies, let's get it together. We are in it for the long haul and every hour will test us. Escape is only the last frontier to freedom. Absolutely nothing else. It will be difficult, but we feel that it's right in our bones. Let's get to it.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


I feel it on the Yangtze.
Or is that abandonment?

I am still undercover and preparing some intelligence reports for you.
Given the location though, I probably will do some open air writing.
The main goal is still not losing my mind.
So far, so good.
I hope?