Posted by: Heathen | May 3, 2008

Should the Church be “Killed” Off?

For the uninformed, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church – a conference that takes place once every 4 years – has recently ended. While I am not Methodist myself, I attend a Methodist school, are friends with Methodists and pretty much am surrounded by Methodist “things.” As such, I hear many stories and insights about their denomination. Of particular interest is the General Conference’s ruling that GLBTQ persons are “incompatible” with Christian teachings.

This ruling proved painful and heartbreaking for many of my UM friends, gay AND straight. Certain words uttered during the heated debate of the Conference border on bigotry and even hateful. But we Christians seem to have a way with such words, often reasoning and masking them as in the “spirit of Christian love.” While I acknowledge that such a thing is possible, hiding homophobia, hate, ignorance and bigotry under such rationale is outright insulting, if not hurtful.

To return to the subject, I submit that I too am severely dissapointed with this latest ruling which ultimately seeks to exclude GLBTQ folks, folks that genuinely love Jesus and are willing to lay down their lives for the Kingdom from the Methodist Church. Perhaps I should be thankful that the UMC is having this conversation. Other denominations or non-denominations would not even entertain such a notion.  

While I still claim to be a Christian, and an evangelical one to boot, I have reached a point in my life where I feel that the Church in all its manifestation is severely broken, divided, exclusive and worst of all, lost its way. Back when I was more “naive” or “idealistic,” I have always harbor a feeling that if we Christians would simply stop fighting and reclaim the “original” and “true” essence of the Gospel, as well as adding social components to Christianity, things will set itself right (through God’s will of course). But times have changed, and I have changed. I am no longer the naive and idealistic person that I once was. Nay, if anything, I am a tired, cynical and jaded (while remaining “hopeful”) follower of that carpenter from Nazareth.

I do however feel the need to qualify what I mean by “hopeful.” By stating this I am not claiming the Evangelical notion that since Jesus has already redeemed me/us, things are sure to get better no matter how crappy the outlook is in the world. Nor am I subscribing to a teleological worldview of the early 20th century US Social Gospelers and Latin American Liberation Theologians of the 70s and 80s which calls forth to workd for the culmination and coming of the Kingdom of God. Rather, I am admitting, in a Camus-esque manner that there is no meaning whatsoever to life (or to what I do). Such admission is in a sense liberating, and it is this sense of liberation that drives me to continue hoping against all hope that God in all its infinite power will right the wrong sometime/where down the road, even though things are peceived to have no meaning or carry no consequences whatsoever today. I know this is not exactly a well-articulated idea, and I have already digressed far enough from this post.

And so, my cynical, tired and jaded self am contemplated that perhaps the “best” way to “save” the Church is not reform, evolve, progress or change. I am not exactly a fan of the “reform or perish” paradigm myself. It is also not wise for the Church to “dig on its heels” and be firm to the “traditions” of Christianity, whatever such traditions may be. I am also not in favor of the Church’s constant obsession with unity. If anything, the Church should purge itself.

Like Shiva, the Hindu God of Destroyer, the Church should just be destroyed. It should just die. But destruction is just one part of the equation. With destruction comes rebirth and new life. Bear in mind, I am not talking about a linear form of thinking. If anything, it is cyclical. This would mean that there will be multiple “destructions” of the Church and with it, multiple rebirths. I am confident in God that even if the Church is destroyed, there will still be tendencies among Christians to start anew. This will not be easy of course, but in a world where churches are hopelessly corrupt, hateful, exclusive, divisive, broken (and dare I say, irrelevant to a certain extent) to the injustices of globalization, pre-emptive wars, homophobia, racism, etc. perhaps killing the Church might jumpstart things.

Of course, this is wishful thinking, because destroying the Church would mean that my ministerial bound friends would be out of a job (and church-goers would be out of a place to “feel good about themselves” and congregate). I have never been a fan of denominations. I do however acknowledge the cultural heritage and identity formations that come with denominations. Still, our (religious) identities and cultures are fluid categories. It is always in a constant mode of negotiation, accepting, rejecting, make anew, etc. with our surroundings. With a major avenue of identity formation destroyed such as the Church, one has to wonder what would happen to our construction of identities. What would a post-Chuch religious identity look like? What would a rebirthed Church identity respond to the times? These questions are of course, complicated at best, and to begin to answer that would require for the Church to “die.” The cynic in me will say that this is not going to happen anytime soon, if not, ever. Yet, I continue to hope against all hope, that the Church will implode or get destroyed. Perhaps too, the Church will then reconstitute itself into something new (but necessarily better) that could take on issues such as the GLBTQ question, among others.

I swear, (certain) graduate education fucks up all areas of your life. Word of caution: don’t do a PhD in religious/theological studies if you can’t take that.

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Posted by: Heathen | February 29, 2008

Grading Papers

While I am no scientist, I do grade papers ranging from undergraduates to 1st year MDiv (Masters of Divinity) students. And this is how I feel most of the time:

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Ahh… the joys of a graduate education. I’ll be grading my “Christianity from the Beginnings” papers soon, so wish me luck, lest I be like Cecilia (the character in the comic) above.

Posted by: Heathen | February 21, 2008

Donde Esta Mi Kielbasa?

As I was rummaging through my fridge tonight, I realized that one of things that I have purchased from the store earlier appear to have dissapeared. I searched high and low, around the kitchen and the plastic bags, hoping that I can retrive my Polish sausage. No such luck!

Either I have misplaced it in my friend’s grocery stack, or in her car… OR… that damn Target cashier forgot to hand me an extra bag of containing the kielbasa at the check out line. A shame really. I was all set to make a pasta dish using that sucker. I guess I’ll just have to contend with the loss of $2.50 and the sausage…. a story of my life of late really.

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Posted by: Heathen | February 17, 2008

Chilling with the Fam

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The Lim clan has finally united….. in Portland, OR of all the places in all our glories.

I’ll tell you more about my adventures in traveling standby sometime soon… or not.

Posted by: Heathen | January 22, 2008

Come with me if you Want to Live

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With the recent release of the new Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series on FOX, I have forgotten how much I love the original movies including the third one, which to many die-hard fans, killed the franchise. Having seen all three of the movies, I must say that the premise of the series looks promising. That being said, it is still early in the series to ascertain if the show will truly deliver its goods. We will have to see about that.

One might say that the series is attempting to humanize the characters that we have grown to root for in the movies. The new Sarah Connor (played by ridiculously attractive Queen of Sparta in 300 Lena Headey) seems to be taking the character into a new directon. Die-hard Terminator movie fans may find this a little problematic considering the fact that the original Sarah Connor was, how do you say, “cold” and “focused.” The current Connor however appears to be more emotional and “human.” I suppose if one is to make a TV series out of a successful movie franchise, one needs to trod the fine line between taking some liberties but still staying true to the feel of the films. As of yet, I have not seen the Sarah Connor that we have grown to love and root for, shotgun at hand.

The Terminator series has always been, for me, a social commentary on  so-called scientific and human progress. Apart from that, the films also deal with theo-philosophical and existential questions such as fatalism and determinism. Hard-core Calvinists may find some resonance in this (and I say this with many, many reservations).

While not a Calvinist myself, I find resonance in the seemingly bleak situation humanity is heading towards. I am not a doomsday prophet nor am I a person that would resign to “fate.” Perhaps I am a morbid person, but the films capture the realism of an apocalyptic world engulfed in flames, with seemingly no salvation. This, coupled with the exploration of certain characters’ psyche and worldviews as the world inches ever closer to a nuclear holocaust – the toll that is taking on them, and the realization that everything that they have, know, and cherish will soon be at an end – makes one hell of a movie franchise.

Yes, it is true that according to canon, John Connor will ultimately save the world from annihilation. But we were never treated to what the future world in the aftermath of the Machine Wars would entail. Hopefully the upcoming fourth sequel to the franchise would offer an explanation. In the meantine, I am going to give the current TV series a shot and see what the writers and creators of the show can come up with to a popular movie franchise.

Posted by: Heathen | January 5, 2008

Mike Huckabee and the Promise of a “Christian Nation”

Though I am not allowed to vote in the US (since I am by legal definition a “non-immigrant alien”), I have always been fascinated (as well as dissapointed, cynical and jaded) with the American political scene. Mike Huckabee’s “surprise” win in Iowa this past Thursday is very much akin to the George W. Bush’s path to the presidency back in 2000 and 2004. And to be honest, it is not at all surprising. Indeed, part of his victory has to do with the overwhelming support that he garnered among “born-again and evangelical Christians” that, for now, seem to have found a figure to rally behind after months of indecision among the plethora of Republican candidates.

While I don’t want to sound all gloom and doom, especially this early in the primaries, it is a little disturbing to see throngs of evangelical Christians seemingly backing a candidate simply because he is a professed Christian. Have we not  learned in the past 8 years that just because some politician claims to be a Christian does not necessarily translate into something to the likes of a “Christian nation?”

The notion of a Christian nation is in itself ludricous, a product of a devious (but altogther smart) historiographical trajectory which argued that America was somehow founded as a Christian nation, that America was somehow “blessed” by God as some sort of city on a hill. Hence, they (certain historians and politicians) argue that America needs to stave off the evils of “multiculturalism,” “atheism,” and “liberalism” (read, Democrats) if it is to be a Christian nation again. While many attritube and pigeon-hole this sort of rhetoric to neo-conservatives and the Christian Right minority, the underwhelming psyche amongst evangelical Christians in America is still very much in line with them. For the sake of simplicity, I am engaged in generalizations here. This is a false construction of an amalgation between Euro-Western Christian theology and Enlightenment myth of progress which over the time became reified as the authoritative worldview one needs to adhere to if one is to be called a “true Christian.”

Karl Marx stated in his book The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte that history repeats itself twice: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” Perhaps we should listen to these words with faithful resilience, lest we be duped again by a “Christian presidential candidate” (or as my friend and fellow blogger put in bluntly, “a professional politician, rapist sympathizer who worked for a false prophet” [you know who you are]) who promised his followers the sun and the moon – but most importantly, the restoration of America as a Christian nation. This is perhaps the biggest temptation facing Christians today.

Are we Christians so blind or starved for a “Christian leader” that we wholeheartedly and blindly support one that seems to expound Christian “characteristics?” That being said, I do think that the future US president must do all he/she can that captures Jesus’ mandate as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel to tend to the “least of these brothers (and sisters) of mine.” Are the poor are fed? Is the stranger invited? Are the naked clothed? Are the sick visited? Who are the “least” among us? What are we doing for them? Jesus makes it clear that when the day comes, he will seperate the sheeps from the goats. Let us hope that we don’t get clumped in with the “goat” side.

Posted by: Heathen | January 3, 2008

Volver

Not too long ago, I use to keep and maintain a weblog over at xanga. Unfortunately, the aforementioned blog has since fallen in a state of disrepair and decay (read, lack of updates). I suppose I have ran out of (insightful) things to say. This, coupled with my ever increasing doctoral studies commitment ultimately put an end to my blogging days.

Since then, I have been lurking around the wonderful world called the internet reading a bunch of my friends’ blogs. I do long to be back in the blogging world, but simply did not got around updating my old website. And so, after months and months of self-imposed exile, I have decided to return to the world of blogdom under a brand new blogging website, with fear and trembling if I must so add.

Why is that the case? For one, MILLIONS and MILLIONS of cybergeeks would be accessing my thoughts and rants. Second, as a student of religion/theology and history, a majority of my posts are bound to be political and theological slanted, two things that one should never bring up on the dinner table.

I plan not to be too “serious” this time around. It was the case during my last sojourn as a blogger that I often found myself attempting to compose mainly insightful and poignant posts. Hence, with this new website, I hope to free myself from playing the “polemic/didactic writer” role in blogdom. In addition, I am at a different point in my life compared to the last time I blogged.

Be that as it may, I am still very much the same me. It is this absurd, fluid and paradoxic dramatis personae called “me” that I am attempting to make sense of, knowing that I may never fully grasp it in its entirety. Anyway, enough of this (bad) existential musing.

And so, with fear and trembling, I humbly re-open my thoughts for the general comsuption for many of you out there (if you care at all), acknowledging the fact that my posts may cheer, entertain, challenge, frustrate, anger, or totally make no sense whatsoever. But as they say in French, cest la vie. 

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