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Archive for the ‘Relationship’ Category

The other night we watched the movie “Waiting for Forever” about a boy who had been in love with his childhood girlfriend since they were 10 and officially lost touch when his parents died in a train accident and he and his brother moved to their grandparents. As he grows older, though, he follows the love of his youth wherever her professional career takes her, himself making a living of 3 dollars a day (“on a good day”) as a juggler dressed in pyjamas.
Although this wasn’t the best film I watched of late (for instance, there was the excellent 2010 film “Fair Game,” which gives further insight into the insanity that’s still being perpetrated in Iraq), “Waiting for Forever” moved me most. Not so much because of the plot, but because of the fact that I was watching it with my 28 year old wife who might never get to know the kind of culture that grants a fellow the liberty to make a very unstable living on 3 bucks a day as a juggler, traveling wherever his dream would take him.
Although the boy in the movie was met with heavy criticism from his older brother (a banker), and was being called a stalker, and despite the fact that his kind is a dying breed in the West, at least we have come to know that sort of a culture, while other countries, such as the one I’m currently residing in, probably never will.

Though the culture whose hospitality I’m currently enjoying is by no means an exclusive example of what I’d like to call the “imposed realism” that not only political leaders, but even more so cultural and traditional elders seem to feel obligated to circumcise their offspring’s dreams and ideals with, it is definitely an outstanding example.
You cannot just marry the man or girl you love. Any man that intends to marry is expected to have a house first. My wife has told me of an experience in a Shanghai park where she watched hundreds of elderly couples looking for suitable spouses for their daughters (or sons) with a list of criteria in hand that any potential candidate would have to live up to; criteria primarily based on income.

A juggler making 3 bucks a day wouldn’t stand an chance in hell to get married under that set of conditions. It might me hard in the West, but just about impossible in the East.

Of course, when I was a young lad back in Germany, I got to hear much of the same tune from my folks. Not that they would have expected of me to be able to buy a house before I started messin’ round with the opposite sex, but I was repeatedly advised to “get a good education” to secure a “solid existence” for myself. When I came home one day telling them that I met a group of people who were “foolowing Jesus,” and that one day I would like to do the same, they were naturally horrified.

In the meantime they have accepted my somewhat loose, though not entirely carefree life-style, and my father, having seen his own supposedly “solid existence” and career go down the drain due to fluctuations and instability in the economy has told me since that I made the right choice when I set out to do what I did.
In the West, though, parents have their existence taken care of by retirement insurances, and both my parents are currently better off with their pensions than I am as an English teacher in the Far East, where the only old-age insurance elderly parents have got are their children and their respective incomes, so it’s somewhat understandable that they want their kids to be able to care for them. Many young people live under a lot of pressure because of that responsibility.

Then again, my reasoning is that many things in life are simply beyond our control. Everything is potentially subject to drastic and unexpected changes: death, illness or financial and economic disaster can hit anyone at any time, and what power does anyone really have, to effectively impose their own little reality on anyone in the long run, even their kids?

When Jesus went around luring established young men with flourishing businesses away from their homes and responsibilities telling them He would make them “fishers of men,” certainly He wasn’t met with strong enthusiasm on behalf of those men’s families. For all we know, some of them (like Peter) were even married and possibly had children. What an irresponsible thing to do, to just walk off with a perfect stranger of questionable reputation, Messiah or not…
And from a “realist’s” point of view, that criticism may well be justified: 10 of those young men ended up as martyrs, one committed suicide, and only one died of natural causes on an island where he exiled by the Romans.
Their philosophies and beliefs as expressed in their writings are questionable to this day, and even most “believers” only accept those parts of the Gospels that they can reconcile with the consensus of the imposed realism of our day and age.

The first rule and law is not “to love one another,” but to secure one’s own existence, which, as the Founder of their faith claimed, is no different from what unbelievers adhere to.

So, what would be making a difference then? – Trust.

The people who really made a difference throughout history were those who despite all the seemingly rhymeless reality all around us never ceased to trust that there was Someone ultimately in charge Who not only knew what He was doing, but was also going to take care of them, provide for them, and help them through this mess somehow.

In my own personal experience, I can only confirm that to be true, and I would strive for nothing more than to go down in history as one of those trusters who refuse to accept the artificially imposed realism from those around us – even our loved ones – no matter how justified their reasoning may seem; a person known for the belief that there is a greater Mind than even the wisest of our parents, how ever strange some of the things may first sound that this Great Mind may ask of us – much like a Parent Himself, asking His children to trust Him for the things they do not know, which basically is the essence of faith – the one currency that will outlast any of our existing ones.

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AquaMan Goes China

If anyone would have told me around this time last year that in twelve months’ time I’d be teaching English at a variety of colleges inChina, I don’t know what I would have done.

Maybe I would have broken out into laughter, or started to feel severely dizzy with a troubling pain between my ears.

But fate has its twisted little ways at times, and since my wife was twice denied entry to what I have since come to call the “Schengen zoo,” and my dream of forming an acoustic trio consequently had to be put on ice, after 3 decades of raking in a living with my guitar I’ve had to change professions, along with continents and locations, and have since become an English teacher in China.

Sometimes we get to a point of stagnation in our lives where we think we know and have seen it all. But then the great Celestial Wizard (I have to be more careful with religious vocabulary these days…) waves His magic wand,  takes us out of our familiar environment into a totally new & different one (my definition of China: “same earth, different planet”) and sits us in front of His great big celestial record player to the sound of the 70s tune by the Canadian band Bachman, Turner, Overdrive, “You Ain’t Seen Nuthin’ Yet.”

Mr. Know-It-All becomes Johnny Clueless, and has to prove all over again whether he ever really meant a thing about all the things he preached to others about learning from life, leaving it all behind and the whole “follow-the-great-Celestial-Wizard” sort of spiel.

Things can get awfully silent around folks like that in these situations, and that’s why you haven’t heard from me in a while.

Besides, life is a lot busier for English teachers in China with a fraction of the wages for musicians inEurope.

 Especially during rainy season.

My wife told me today (and as every man would, I love it when she does), “You’re my hero.”

Not that I actually feel heroic, but in this case she was right: I had just approved myself as a super hero.

Remember “Aquaman”? The guy who commanded the element of water?

Well, that’s who I felt like today (for the second time this month, by the way), after just having been drenched within seconds during a sudden torrent (the sort of which makes one wonder whatever happened to that rainbow promise once given to a man named Noah) while riding my e-bike home from College. Drenched to the bone we found shelter under the roof of a hotel entrance (along with other unlucky bikers like ourselves), and were soon off to get a little more soaked before we finally got home…

Getting drenched inChina is a great thing to happen to folks who used to be fed up with their semi-organized, neat little lives in way too organized countries…

It’s as if Big CW (Celestial Wizard) grabbed a gigantic bucket of water and emptied it out over your head, saying, “Wake up, dude! You were only dreaming!”

Yes, I once dreamed that I knew something about the world I live in, and have woken up to the refreshing reality of my utter ignorance in a part of the world I knew next to nothing about.

So, if you should ever feel intellectually bloated and as if there were no more challenges, no new worlds to conquer, don’t be fooled! You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet, and there’s always room for another “super hero” in China!

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Well, since we all enjoy a good round of gossip, I’ll let you have a delicious swig of some with this one: I’m pretty backslidden!
At least from my good intentions to stay or become politically correct earlier this year, as I unfortunately will have to prove with this post.

A few years back we still had “once-a-week Christians:” Even if you didn’t see or hear any sign of your fellow brethren throughout the week, you could be sure to meet them somewhere among the pews on Sundays.
That Christianity may be in somewhat of a decline again may be assumed by the fact that the surge of “once-a-year Christians” is becoming alarmingly evident.

Folks you never heard of for 364 days straight, now will at least send you their Christmas emails as a reminder that there was something you had in common, namely the celebration of the birth of Baby Jesus.

The notorious party pooper I am perhaps, I was never all too fond of that sort of relationship, religion, tradition, or whatever you’d like to call it (since it couldn’t possibly be called anything like genuine friendship)…

While it is probably better to hear from (some) folks once a year than never at all, what takes a bit of the magic out of the whole thing is that it does come across as somewhat stereotype.

Blame it on my distaste for any type, shape or form of ritualism ever since I got an overdose of Catholicism as a boy that quickly drove me to atheism (if God was like that: no thanks!), but I just can’t get warm with people using the same words over and over and over again to express something which seems to represent the very role you played in their lives over the previous dozen of months, the equivalent of which, in numerical terms would be zero.

So, here’s to all the zeroes of the world who are only remembered by their friends and relatives on that special day on which we celebrate the event that marks the year Zero…
And if you feel like a zero, cheer up! The Guy born that day didn’t amount to much more in terms of bank accounts, Facebook friends and followers on Twitter, either, latest by the time He hung on that cross 33 years later, when He was able to count the friends He still had left that day on the fingers of one hand with room to spare…

So, nevermind if I’m not sending any of you any Christmas greetings this year: I only mean to do you a favor.
If I didn’t write you all year long, then shame on me. But I certainly wouldn’t want to make matters worse by sending you a mass mail equal to the ones from previous years, not to mention those of the dears who had exactly the same idea… or lack thereof…

I might send you a note on Holy Friday, though, to remind you that even when you don’t have a friend in the world left, there’s always Someone Who knows exactly what you’re going through, and that that was the purpose for which He had been born: to be there for you when no one else will be.
The time may come. You may not see it now, but at the rate not only (true) Christianity, but things like lasting friendship and interhuman relationship are on the decline, don’t be too shocked if it might even happen to you one of these days…

Merry Christmas!

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 Why Does God Sometimes Take Apart What He Himself Seems to Have Put Together?

Why Does God Sometimes Take Apart What He Himself Seems to Have Put Together?

I’ve always believed in the power of two. Well, nearly always. Sometimes you’re actually better off alone than with the wrong company. But basically, when you’ve got 2 souls with more or less the same vision and goals, according to the Old Testament, it quintuples a person’s strength in battle.

The problem is that when you’ve gotten used to this modus operandi of two-by-two, when one of your “motors” flunks out, and you’re stuck again on your own, it reduces your power back to one fifth of what by then you might have gotten used to. So, you feel pretty much reduced to a sausage. Folks who’ve undergone separation will know what I’m talking about. The others won’t have a clue, just as I didn’t until it happened to me.

The power of two is great, but don’t necessarily rely on it as infallible, because as long as there’s another human involved, you simply need to take into consideration that this is only a temporary arrangement, even if you happen to be as lucky to have found someone who meant what they said when they swore, “Till death do us part.” – There is still that uncontrollable death factor. But even that is probably not as painful as when someone you’ve fought life’s battles with for many a season deliberately makes the choice to turn their back on you.

Christ was supposed to have been tempted in all things as we are. Unfortunately we don’t know enough about His 30 years of life prior to His public ministry to tell whether there was ever physically anybody in His life whom He loved so much that they broke His heart when they decided to live their life without Him. All we know is that throughout history He’s had a wife (also referred to as His Bride) that probably put Him through the same thing time and again, which is vividly illustrated in the act of God commanding His prophet Hosea to take a prostitute for a wife as a metaphor of the unfaithfulness of His own Old Testament wife.

Later in the Book of Revelation we find similar metaphors of whores and churches who “sit like a queen,” apparently lacking nothing, and yet not knowing that in God’s eyes they’re naked and destitute of the things that apparently really count to Him.

So, to which degree we as God’s wife and bride have broken His heart is hard to tell. One thing is for sure: when you’ve gone through such pain yourself, you wouldn’t ever want to inflict it on anybody else again. Loyalty all of a sudden becomes paramount, when previously it may have been quite irrelevant. Not only the loyalty of others toward ourselves, but also our own toward others and especially God.

How loyal have we really been?

The only explanation for God putting us through the wringer at times like that, where it seems as though He deliberately devastates us by simply withdrawing the person that meant most to us in the world is that we don’t really have a clue about loyalty, especially not our own, as far as He’s concerned. It’s simply not enough of an issue until we learn to appreciate it by the excruciating pain that can be caused by the absence of it. Only once we realize what pain can be caused by broken loyalty are we able to begin to relate to what it means to God, and do we even begin to realize how often we haphazardly switched loyalties for the sake of some advantage, some shiny fruit on a tree, some compromise for the sake of our personal welfare or benefit, some temptation we couldn’t resist…

Perhaps that’s why it often takes quite long for the pain of betrayal and desertion to linger on: It’s only the beginning of our personal lesson on loyalty. We’re only just starting to see how guilty we have been of the same crime that now we feel we can’t forgive someone else for, and not just once, but probably innumerable times.

Loyalty, like so many other values that used to mean something before our society was taken over by the universally accepted as politically correct Western do-your-own- thing dogma, has gone down the drain in this strange new world order, where the only loyalty that counts is to make sure that you don’t move an inch from the place you’re assigned in the Machine. The System needs to continue to function, and that is your foremost responsibility. Human relations, by comparison, are irrelevant.

“Rubbish!” you say – (Or, if you’re American, you might be prone to use another word that starts with “bull….!”)? Well, good for you, if that’s your reality, and if human relationships still mean enough to you to value them above your personal rank, position or economic advantage. But realistically, you’re part of a shrinking minority. And if you’ve got loyalty and you know what it means, for the sake of God and all that is dear to your own soul, hold on to it with all your might and never underestimate it for a moment. In the end, it may be all that determines whether you lost or won your personal battle in this war.

Or, as the Eagles put it in their song “In A New York Minute” which so aptly portrays what can be the fate of all of us at any time:

“If you find somebody to love in this world, you better hang on tooth and nail!”

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