Sunday, July 25, 2004

Blog Holiday

I will be MIA for 4 days as I help lead a tri-county English camp for elementary and junior high students.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Mature Bloggers

Jordon Cooper, in commenting on Bene Diction's "A" listers post, writes:

I don't write for influence or to attain readership. Maybe that is why I shed the "God blog" label and am just some Christian who has a small blog.

Bene Diction responds:

...I'm finding those of us who have blogged longer, have a similar mindset to yours. I think it's just maturity and we are finding the allure of attention secondary. I'm surprised at how many of us old timers are less interested or less caring if we make the "A" list or become a big dog.
If we do, we do, but as I commented to Mark Byron, there isn't much point in blogging if it becomes unmanageable.


This will be a good reminder for me whenever I am tempted to place importance on traffic or too much importance on potential readers.

Weblogs for Growth and Learning

My previous post contained a typo:

The fact remains, though, that Dr. Warnock is the administrator of the Blogdom of God. Doesn't that mere fact make Dr. Warnock a force aming God blogs?

What I meant to write was:

Doesn't that mere fact make Dr. Warnock a force AMONG God blogs?

Understandably, Bene Diction read the typo as arming and - in continuing his thoughts on "A" listers - had this to say:

I don't see media and culture as a war, and therefore I don't see bloggers arming other bloggers.

While I have done my share of railing against the Korean media during my stay here in Korea, I never meant to suggest that God bloggers should help arm each other for some sort of jihad against the media. My mistake.

Bene Diction goes on to say:

I see weblogs as a growing, maturing, learning adventure, and as a place to walk along side.

I agree. For those few who are along for the ride and for those who just happen to cross paths with me during this adventure of mine, I hope that you'll find something personally useful to you while you're here.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Bloggers and "Gratuitous" Linking

Another link from Dr. Adrian Warnock. He calls my comment "ridiculously over-the-top praise."

The comment in question?

"In the blogosphere, the representative God blogger seems to have been Martin Roth. If there is one person who has succeeded Martin Roth, that one person is Dr. Adrian Warnock.......Dr. Warnock is a force among God blogs.

The reason I called Dr. Warnock the successor of Martin Roth? If I recall correctly...right before I began blogging 4 months ago, I typed in "Christian" and "blog" into Google. I found Martin Roth's seemingly-defunct blog. Martin Roth's blog led me to blogs4god.com which, in turn, led me to the Blogdom of God. The Blogdom of God finally led me to Dr. Adrian Warnock.

Dr. Warnock seems to be the administrator of the Blogdom of God alliance on The TTLB Blogosphere Ecosystem. As Bene Diction says, there's no "A list" in the God blog subdivision of the blogosphere and there shouldn't be one. The fact remains, though, that Dr. Warnock is the administrator of the Blogdom of God. Doesn't that mere fact make Dr. Warnock a force among God blogs?

God is in the Small Stuff

Finally, inspiration has struck! (I feel like some kind of artist, saying that).

I was thinking about how I could write an entry incorporating both the 27th Christian Carnival hosted by Mr. Standfast and the Feeling aimless post by Messy Christian.

I'm not exactly feeling aimless....

For the first time in months, I have a sense of purpose and feel a sense of fulfillment. In terms of work (I'm a "native speaker" with EPIK or the English Program in Korea, the only Korean Ministry of Education-sponsored English program), for the first time since I began working in Korea last September, I have finally found an aspect of English education about which I have some confidence (and a lot of passion): writing.

As if things couldn't get any better, not only am I leading a writing workshop...but I'm leading a writing workshop for English teachers.

So I'm not exactly feeling aimless....

Messy Christian's last I want inspired the post which you are now reading. The I want?:

I want to use my skills for God more ... thank goodness for this blog. But where else do I serve? How else?

I was throwing myself a small pity party.

I "teach" teachers who complain that I assign them too much homework.... Is this writing workshop even worth the time and energy I am putting into it?

Then I remembered: I am serving God while making a difference. Hanol and Danbi (they are sisters and two of my Imshil Elementary students) email me.... Sung-shik (another Imshil Elementary student) had absolutely no interest in English last year, but starting raising his hand to answer my questions as the school year came to an end....

Being at the Educational Training Institute all day, every day...I am being blessed with the opportunity to spend time with Kimmy, without the pressures of attraction...and being blessed with the opportunity to revel in the friendship...unless I become so foolish as to grab for more....

So often, we're given many small blessings. Do we forget them because they're too small? Because we think they're too small?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

My Point: Grace

During nearly 25 years of life, I had never taught a writing class or workshop. That all changed yesterday.

I am leading a writing workshop at the Educational Training Center for 45 middle school and high school English teachers, who range in age from 25/26 to 38
(though most of them are around 30 years old).

Though most of the (now) twenty-four blogs that I regularly read are not updated daily, the fact that I'm leading a writing workshop as well as the first sentence of the 45-page curriculum that I put together...these two things are pressuring me to "bring my work home."

The first sentence of my 45-page curriculum reads as follows:

Daily writing practice forever eliminates the sporadic work habit and the slow development that results from low productivity.

I didn't know what to blog about today, but I read that Mac Swift is leaving the blogosphere and decided to surf on over. I found Chrisicisms via a trackback to Mac's last entry.

In his
latest post, Chrisicisms' C Dubbs writes:

It's surprising how many sins I can commit on such a boring day. And today was considered a good day!! So how did I feel about this?

Strangely joyful.

I'm so glad that there's no such thing as salvation by works. That we can never hope to please God by the things we do or earn His favor.


I can relate to that "strangely joyful" feeling.

Last Saturday, I went down to
Gwangju for the second time.

A split-second refusal to starve my eyes, as well as a split-second rationalization, ended my 4-month success streak...ended my very own
Every Man's Battle success story.

Dr. Adrian Warnock noted that I feel unworthy. Yes, Satan will try to use last Saturday's moment of weakness to increase the self-loathing...but, you know what? I felt "strangely joyful" because, as C Dubbs puts it, my moment of weakness reminded me that:

...once our lives are given to Him[GOD], we have [and should have] the assurance that He will begin to perfect us and lead us toward holiness.

It's all about Him and His grace.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Don Adrian Warnock, The Blogfather

In the blogosphere, the representative God blogger seems to have been Martin Roth. If there is one person who has succeeded Martin Roth, that one person is Dr. Adrian Warnock.

Needless to say, I was surprised to find that Dr. Warnock had linked to me (again).Not only does Dr. Warnock link to me, but he says of What If I Stumble:

The blog is well worth a read....

If Dr. Warnock says those words, they mean something! Dr. Warnock is a force among God blogs.

Oh, and Dr. Warnock, thank you for your concern.

Dr. Warnock concludes his post:

Some Christian circles honour some leader-types too much. Remember in all your interactions with other Christians we are all just sinners saved by grace.

Those of us who call ourselves Christians would do well to remember that.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Let Go and Let God

On this bittersweet day - my last day at Imshil East Middle School - as I leave the warmth of the family atmosphere and leave my "aunts" (Mrs. Nam Yong-hee and Mrs. Yook Hye-sook), 3 bloggers wrote entries that spoke to me.

Excerpts from the insightful Joe Missionary's Smelling the Roses post:

I sometimes look up and see my Father - he always seems to be right around the stroller. Little do I know how often He is guiding the stroller so I don't hit the walls. Little do I know that it is He who keeps the stroller moving to remind me that I have a destination, and that it's HIS destination. Little do I know that when I fall, He holds the stroller still so I won't fall again when I try to get up.

My bottom-line glean from this analogy is that God is watching over us and is perhaps more involved in our journey than we know. And He is faithful, even when we fall down or stray.

Excerpts from oxegen ministries Resting in His Rest post:

There is such a rest in grasping that God is in control, and well able to sort out the sordid details of our lives.

Exchanging our lives, dreams and hopes for His, draws us into a beautiful kaleidoscope of God’s astonishing creation and the unique epiphany of his blueprint for our lives.

Excerpts from Irene's Not enough men? post:

I mean, I think God certainly can bring people together if He wants to, however pessimistic the statistics appear to be.

Therefore, I can say that in this, at least, I trust God. I'm not worried about the fact that there are fewer single godly Christian men than there are women. I believe that God's perfectly able to bring me together with the right guy at the right time — and what's more, that He will do it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Prospect of New Military Draft

The Los Angeles Times, in an article entitled Prospect of a New Military Draft Drawing Attention, Concern reports that:

No law has been signed to revive the draft, and the president, the Pentagon and the presumed Democratic presidential nominee all oppose forced military service. Yet as fatalities in Iraq increase and as troops see their tours extended, there is a growing concern across the country that a draft may be in the offing.

Yesterday, I spent 4 hours discussing America's effects on Korean society with a 20-something bartender. At one point, he said now that there is only a 5% chance that war will break out between the two Koreas and said South Korea should get rid of the military draft because of the negative effects that the military draft has on Korean society. The following excerpt reminded me of last night's conversation:

With a frosty tankard of beer in front of him, Warren Fencl, 70, said he definitely supports the idea of reinstating the draft. But Fencl, who spent 22 years in the Air Force, had a novel idea about the first inductees. "They should take all the politicians," he said. "Let them see what it's like."

26th Christian Carnival Highlights

politics

Christian Conservative, in his Don't Assume God Is On Our Side entry writes:

Joshua went to him and said, "Are you for us, or for our enemies?” The man replied, “Neither, but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”
(Joshua 5:14 NIV)

When God said to Joshua, I am neither for you, nor against you, it’s no mystery God would offer us the same answer if we asked Him if He is with the Republican Party, or America. The question is not is God on our side, the question is, are we on God’s side?

culture

Some excerpts from Sculpting Souls and her Can Courtship Work? post:

Or the other good illustration is that when a girl gives her heart away for the first time, it's her whole heart. When the break up happens, her heart is torn in two and she walks away with half a heart. Along comes the next boy, and she gives her heart to him. Breakup occurs, her heart is torn in two again, and this time she leaves the relationship with a fourth of a heart. This continues until she meets and marries her hero, but unfortunately, she only has a little part of her heart left to give him.

Somehow, I thought that loving Mr. Right would make all thought of Mr. X go away. But, unfortunately it didn't. I guess you just don't love someone for awhile, and then stop loving them. That doesn't mean that I want to be with Mr. X, it just means that there is some pain in my heart that I think will always be there.

The situations in these two excerpts are not limited exclusively to women.

growth in faith

Ray Pritchard, in his Broken, Then Blessed entry writes:

And to make matters even more eye-opening, when I prayed about my anger, the Lord told me that he could've given me a job and all I wanted, but I would have been in worse shape than nearly losing everything. I am actually better off where I am now because I'm in a position where God can deal with my heart.

In his Perspective post, Mr. Standfast found the following from Henri Nouwen:

The main question is not "How can we hide our wounds?" so we don't have to be embarrassed, but "How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?"

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

When Will Boy Meet Girl?

Irene, in her Waiting, Waiting post, writes:

There's something to be said about being alone rather than being with the wrong fella.

Still, that's scant comfort sometimes. I told Janelle's S.O. that waiting sucks, and he totally agreed -- but let me know that it wasn't till he completely surrendered this matter to God that God brought Janelle into his life. "You have to be completely surrendered," he said.


In commenting on Irene's post, Joe Missionary writes:

When I was single, I always told myself that God would give me a mate when I put Him first, rather than the mate. Most of my single life, though, that was hard to truly put into practice.

When I gave up and said, "Well, maybe it won't happen for me" at age 28, BAM, there she was.


Tom Reindl, in commenting on Messy Christian's Single Men in Church: Endangered Species post writes:

If I am to be married again, God will see to it. It doesn't matter where she is, or who she, God will find the way. She's obviously not here right now, or God would have shown me.

I think that
(1) I probably haven't surrendered completely if I'm even thinking about this at all
(2) I'm reaching the point where, like Joe Missionary, I'm saying: "Well, maybe it won't happen for me"
(3) While I hold the same view as Tom Reindl, I can't seem to help searching sometimes....

Is Chivalry Dead?

Mac Swift, in his Where Are All The Men? post writes:

One of our strongest innate desires as men is to protect and shield our women. But if today's women view this as an affront to them, as the stereotypical view of a John Wayne rescuing the damsel in distress, and shun that part of us that makes us men, they have inadvertently wimpified us.

Excellent. Very John Eldredge-esque.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Greater Than Mobster Bosses & Presidents

Steve Dunleavy's Mafia Banned Murder editorial in Monday's New York Post brought to mind a sermon illustration from Sunday.

Specifically, the sentences that brought to mind Sunday's sermon illustration:

When a nun was raped in East Harlem, mobster Carmine Galante, a furious man and a very bad man, in 1982 ordered two of his soldiers to plead to a robbery they never committed.

That way, they could be in Rikers Island and assassinate the two rapists who had been caught.


When dictator Chun Doo Hwan was president of Korea, his henchmen willingly went to jail in his stead and in order to for cover him because they knew that Chun Doo Hwan would take care of them and their families...to put it simply, because they knew that they would be set for life.

When corruption scandals hit President Kim Young Sam, one of his high-ranking officials refused to go to jail in order to cover for him and even played the role of whistle blower. Why? Because this high-ranking official knew that President Kim Young Sam would NOT provide for or take care of him and his family even if this official sacrificed himself.

In Korea, professional gangsters (jo-jik) - much like the Mafia - go to prison in their boss' stead because they know that their boss will provide for and take care of them. They go to prison in their boss' stead out of gratitude for everything the boss has done for them.

If human presidents and gangster bosses take care of their own, how much more will God take care of us.

Acts 5:41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name (Acts 5:33-41)

Sunday, July 11, 2004

A Picture of Christianity Today?

Mac Swift writes:

Those who drift, homeless either spiritually or physically were more likely to be faithful and obedient to Christ, while those who were established, enjoying their church homes and their regular homes had turned away to follow their own brand of religion.

Their own brand of religion? Interesting. As Samaria was resettled with non-Israelite foreigners, they followed their "own brand" of religion too. After the LORD sent lions to attack them, the new residents of Samaria learned to worship the LORD ("the god of the land[Israel]") but also worshiped the gods of the lands from which they had come.

Perhaps as Mac puts it, "those who...[are] established, enjoying their church homes and regular homes..." are worshipping the LORD, but like the new residents of Samaria, are also worshipping idols...in this case, idols of money, physical attractiveness, popularity, etc.

I would be remiss if I didn't ask myself the very same question.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Better to Keep Your Mouth Shut

One Hand Clapping writes about some guy named Austin Bay, apparently a nationally-syndicated columnist.

One Hand Clapping quotes this guy:

Better service than I got in Korea at the PX snack bar. There, Hadashi (Hangul for "mister") worked the sandwich line.

Hangul (or Hangeul) for "mister" is Ajushee NOT "Hadashi." I don't care if you're a nationally-syndicated columnist. If you want to say something in a foreign language, at least try to get it right! (Here's a tip: If you want to say something in Hangeul, ask a couple Koreans whether you've got it right)

"It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt"
- Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)

Bush Wants Church Directories

Finally, someone else, among the 17 blogs that I frequent, is writing about the fact that the Bush campaign wants church directories.

The Washington Post reported on this on July 9th? I posted about this as soon as the Associated Press report came out on July 2nd.

Is it normal for a newspaper such as The Washington Post to be 7 days late in reporting a story?

One Hand Clapping says:

Today, everybody else plays catch-up....

Indeed

Friday, July 9, 2004

Indifference to Censorship in Korea

Kevin (found via Simon) talks about Western bloggers' indifference to blog censorship in Korea (guess which one):

...I'm chafing at Western bloggers' indifference to our situation....

There ARE some Western bloggers who are notable exceptions: Joe Missionary, Fingertoe, theomorph, and Simon World. All four of you deserve a special thank you!

Our Culture is Dependent on Deity

Joe Carter at the evangelical outpost, in his The Greatest Danger:
Robert Reich and the Intellectual Failings of Atheism
post writes:

Recognizing that our culture is dependent on the existence of a deity, though, isn’t an attempt to impose a belief; it’s a simple statement of fact.

As Joe Carter writes:

...the foundation that undergirds our culture: the idea that we owe our allegiance and identity to a higher authority outside ourselves.

While I agree that "the idea that we owe our allegiance and identity to a higher authority outside ourselves" is "...the foundation that undergirds our culture," I would disagree that "...our culture is dependent on the existence of a deity." Some readers of this blog will be surprised to hear me make that statement.

Let me clarify:

Yes, our culture may be dependent on the existence of a deity in the sense that our legal code has its foundations in the Ten Commandments. However, in terms of everything else...in the spiritual sense, I disagree that our culture is dependent on the existence of a deity. Why?

Granted, Christians are humans too and so, fail morally (and constantly) just as all humanity does. Granted, there are many Christians who strive to be a conduit of God's love to non-Christians as well as fellow Christians. However, there are many non-Christians who are more loving and more moral than Christians. The great majority of Christians in America and Korea are indistinguishable from non-Christians. Those who call themselves Christians adopt the same values as non-Christians...giving lip service to God while making idols out of money, physical attractiveness, etc...in the process of living out their daily lives - in fact, making themselves no different from non-Christians.

Functional atheism has seeped into the American and Korean Church. That is why the statement that our culture is dependent on the existence of a deity is, in a spiritual sense, laughable.

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Sex Scandal Rocks Jeolla, South Korea

An article in today's Korea Herald reports that a sex scandal is rocking the port city of Yeosu in South Jeolla Province (Jeollanam-do), South Korea.

I would like to take this time to make some comments on prostitution using some excerpts:

All those listed by the women strongly denied the accusations. Police said the women, who have been in a shelter that helps rehabilitate former prostitutes, will confront the people they have accused.

A shelter that helps rehabilitate former prostitutes? Prostitutes don't become prostitutes through coercion, do they? The words "rehabilitate former prostitutes" might give readers the impression that prostitutes have no choice but to become prostitutes.

The women, who fled the brothel-bar at the end of June, said some of the city's socially prominent people often visited the bar and forced them to perform various acts.

Either the women sought employment at the bar without knowing that it was a brothel or chose to flee the brothel-bar only AFTER being forced to perform "various acts," whatever that means.

They alleged their 38-year-old pimp made them have sex with patrons, getting favors in return. The pimp also sent high-profile visitors fruit, flowers and other presents and had close connections with them.

The women provided police with documents listing the names and status of the bar's prominent visitors and said they would file complaints of abuse and illegal sex acts against them, as well as the pimp.


The implication is that the prostitutes at that brothel-bar had no cause for complaint (implying that they had sought employment willingly) UNTIL they became victims of ILLEGAL sex acts. So legal sex acts were presumably ok....
Shameful, absolutely shameful. ALL parties involved should be ashamed of themselves

In Modern Politics, Experience May Be Overrated

theomorph commented on my Bush Questions Edwards' Qualifications post by saying:

Personally, I like the idea of somebody who hasn't been in politics since the day he was born (e.g., John Kerry), and who isn't part of a political dynasty (e.g., George W. Bush).

After reading theomorph's comment, Georgie Ann Geyer's article caught my eye.

The first thing that caught my eye was this sentence:

Surely someone would grasp the occasion to mimic Ronald Reagan's famously whimsical put-down of Fritz Mondale in the 1994 election.

Er...the Reagan vs Mondale election was in 1984 wasn't it?

Anyway, Geyer has an interesting point of view on the George W. Bush Administration's experience:

As it turned out, none of these men could even read a page in the Encyclopedia Britannica that might have alerted them to how Iraqis have behaved throughout history; they couldn't figure out where those much-touted weapons of mass destruction were, or weren't; and their vast "experience," undiluted by modesty and inflamed with hubris, did not lend them any parlor manners with other governments in the world nor facility in husbanding the nation's resources in order to lead the world.

In short, we have to think twice about the question of experience. This administration has given experience a bad name and laid the way for Americans to hope that younger fellows, without so much of it, might at least have better sense.


Cheney may have experience, but according to Georgie Ann Geyer, it is "morose experience." She goes on to say that one indicator of Dick Cheney's "Hobbesian pessimism" and "grevious outlook" is the following:

Vice President Cheney, speaking in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania over the weekend, had the crowds cheering at one point, then chastised them for interrupting his speech

theomorph says:

Maybe Edwards is no different[wanting power to stroke his ego], but at least he seems to actually want to make a difference for the sake of the nation.

Geyer seems to agree with theomorph:

So far, he seems to be a relatively unique creature in recent American politics: a populist without anger.

and

But now we will watch the drama of two vice-presidential candidates with (very!) different styles. Cardinal Richelieu vs. John F. Kennedy.

I found the comparison to John F. Kennedy to be an indication that Georgie Ann Geyer thinks John Edwards wants to make a positive difference.

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

South Korea & the Blog Lockdown

Hats off to theomorph for graciously adding his voice: (This may be a non-event or non-news to those not in South Korea, but this is still censorship and still abominable)

This morning I found the following letter in my email. It comes from a reader of this blog (who, apparently, has not been able to read it recently, because his government is stuck in the dark ages).

First, let me say that the actions South Korean Ministry of Information and Culture are unacceptable.

Best of luck to those in South Korea, and here's to the reopening of the blog lockdown.

25th Christian Carnival

Thanks to Guardster.com's excellent anonymous webproxy for enabling me to visit Messy Christian's blog despite South Korea's abominable censorship of blogging services such as Blogger and Typepad.

While hosting The 25th Christian Carnival, Messy Christian had some worries:

I didn't think I could host The Christian Carnival. I'm not exactly the Queen of organisation and wonder whether I'll lose e-mails, miss a few posts, forget to put it up on the right date or a series of other disasters.

Her worries were unfounded. Good job, Messy Christian!

Help Out Our Bloggers in Korea

Wow, the blogosphere really is a force to be reckoned with! Many thanks to Joe Missionary for his help in the fight against censorship:

The South Korean government is shutting down access to blogging services such as Blogger and TypePad. A couple minutes of your time e-mailing the Ministry of Information and Culture at webmaster@mic.go.kr would be much appreciated!

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Korea Blocks Blog Access

Fellow blogger,

I am sending this message to the bloggers on my blogroll (and a few other folks) in the hopes that some of you will print this, or at least find it interesting enough for comment. I'm not usually the type to distribute such messages, but I felt this was important enough to risk disturbing you.

I just found out (2004 July 7th) that a wing of the South Korean government, the Ministry of Information and Culture (MIC), is currently clamping down on a variety of blogging service providers (including Blogger and Typepad) and other websites. The government is attempting to control access to video of the recent Kim Sun-il beheading, ostensibly because the video will have a destabilizing influence. (I haven't seen the video.)

Many expat bloggers in Korea are in an uproar: South Korea has not come far out of the shadow of its military dictatorship past.


I am writing this letter not primarily to criticize all Koreans as the Caucasian expats in Korea are fond of doing (I'm Korean American), nor to express a generalized condemnation of Korean culture. No, my purpose is more specific: to cause the South Korean government as much embarrassment as possible, and perhaps to motivate Korean citizens to engage in some much-needed introspection.

To this end, I need the blogosphere's help, and this letter needs wide distribution (you may receive other letters from different bloggers, so be prepared!). I hope you'll see fit to publish this letter on your site, and/or to distribute it to concerned parties: censorship in a supposedly democratic society simply cannot stand. The best and quickest way to persuade the South Korean government to back down from its current position is to make it lose face in the eyes of the world. This can only happen through a determined (and civilized!) campaign to expose the government's hypocrisy and to cause Korean citizens to rethink their own narrow-mindedness.

We can debate all we want about "root causes" with regard to Islamic terrorism, Muslim rage, and all the rest, but for me, it's much more constructive to proceed empirically and with an eye to the future. Like it or not, what we see today is that Korea is inextricably linked with Iraq issues, and with issues of Islamic fundamentalism. Koreans, however, may need some persuading that this is in fact the case-- that we all need to stand together as allies against a common enemy.

If you are interested in giving the South Korean Ministry of Information and Culture a piece of your mind (or if you're a reporter who would like to contact them for further information), please email the MIC at:
webmaster@mic.go.kr

Thank you,

What If I Stumble
ragamuffin at despammed dot com
http://bloggerspace.tripod.com/blog
(Blogspot is currently blocked in Korea, along with other providers; please go to unipeak.com and type in the URL of the site you want to view.