on living in tension

In Hong Kong we classify schools as local or international. The former follow a state-set, local curriculum, and most of them conduct lessons in Chinese. The latter are a more mixed bag, following a dizzying array of international curricula, and many of them catering to particular expat groups: Singapore International School, Japanese International School, Chinese International School, and French International School just to name a few. International schools tend to enjoy a higher reputation, not least because they are status symbols, but also because of the general high quality of the education and teachers.

But for a while I had leaned toward sending my children (if I ever have any) to a local school.

Continue reading “on living in tension”

on glorious things

What is the most glorious thing you have seen?

I, raised on a diet of war stories and mighty deeds of the Greeks and Romans, had nothing to say. The pastor gave a few sample answers he’d heard: the Milky Way on a night sky, dawn rays over a canyon, the megalithic might of a world-class airport after a long-haul flight, the taste of the perfect wagyu stew. Glory, he explained, in the Judeo-Christian tradition is related to weight. Something that matters so much, that demands such attention, respect, and awe, stuns us as glorious.

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love in a time of corona

I’ve wanted to throttle a stranger twice in the past year, both in the same week of a renewed viral surge: when a man wearing his mask sub-nose started coughing on the bus, and when a man on the train walked by and grabbed my arm — he was either addled out of his head or he’d mistaken me for a train pole.

Both cases awoke a sudden disgust reaction: wear your mask properly you GODDAMN BARBARIAN, and OMYGOD where have your filthy monkey paws been before this?? Not particularly forbearing or loving.

Continue reading “love in a time of corona”

against Uzzah; or, the virtues of being a basic bitch

Uriah and Uzzah: two exotic and tragic names, recalling two men who were mercilessly screwed over while just trying to do their jobs. 

Or at least that’s how I’ve always interpreted it. And while I could square Uriah’s case a bit more easily in my head — he was murdered by wicked David, a cautionary tale of how all men are sinful, even a man after God’s own heart — Uzzah’s case was more problematic. After all wasn’t he just trying to be helpful? 

Continue reading “against Uzzah; or, the virtues of being a basic bitch”

on feeling aggrieved

I’ve been feeling aggrieved lately.

Years serving under the colours as it were and now that I’ve left abruptly, I have little to show for it: depleted finances, a dragging degree I’ve long since lost interest in, a handful of wistful photos, and a winding, misty path ahead.

I feel like I’m owed something for all I’ve done. Why haven’t You rewarded me commensurately? Aren’t You the great provider?

And all of a sudden I’m a victim of injustice. Society, church, school, and God have not delivered as I have delivered. Where is my reward? Continue reading “on feeling aggrieved”

on tough laws

“I respect tough laws. Back home if you steal they’ll cut off your hand. So nobody steals.”

So a Palestinian coffee shop owner (perhaps rather stereotypically) vented his frustration to me. A homeless lady had come into his establishment earlier in the day, she’d pretended to look at the menu, and when his back was turned she’d grabbed some muesli bars and drinks and made a run for it. He caught her, but much to his shock the police refused to do anything about it. Less than ten quid meant no charges apparently. So the lady was let off (having pocketed some of the food) and the owner was told to go back to his business. Continue reading “on tough laws”

on the centrality of Jesus

“So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.
You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.”
And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” — 1 Peter 2:1-10

“Rid yourselves, then, of all evil; no more lying or hypocrisy or jealousy or insulting language. Be like newborn babies, always thirsty for the pure spiritual milk, so that by drinking it you may grow up and be saved.” I know these words don’t seem very inspiring. They’re probably not what you want to hear first thing in the morning, on your first day back to school. Continue reading “on the centrality of Jesus”

on Spore and the gospel

The sadly underwhelming Spore was a 2008 PC game that allowed the player to experience and guide life from the cellular level right up to interstellar civilisation. You’d start off controlling an amoeba-like creature, absorbing nutrients and running away from larger micro-organisms; then progress to controlling a creature as it hunts for food and dodges predators; then a tribe, then a nation as it warred with its rivals; and finally you’d be planning space missions as your planet-state collected precious cargo or exotic life forms from other star systems.

At every single level of play there was something to worry about. Neutralising a source of worry at one stage merely opened up a new horizon of worry: achieving a large enough size on the microbial levels merely meant you’d now have to worry about finding more food (and running from larger predators) to stay alive; achieving safety from predators in a tribe merely meant worrying about other tribes, then other cities, and finally other planets. Achieving what you wanted at each stage did nothing to take away the worry and the challenge.

That’s what (supposedly) made the game work, made it playable as a game. And rather depressingly this is the game we are in everyday. Continue reading “on Spore and the gospel”

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