Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Pernickety Schnickety

Living in a new province and all, I'm trying to find a church to attend. At midnight on Saturday, I was sitting with my computer, trying to decide which of the many congregations in Moose Jaw to try the following morning. The problem I ran into, however, wasn't that of having too many choices. The problem was that the more research I did, the more frustrated I became. See, I'd like to be able to volunteer at whatever church I end up attending. And most churches, if not all, have you sign a statement of faith before you can really get involved - fair enough. So basically, if I can't sign the statement of faith without a massive amount of cognitive dissonance, then I can't volunteer. Which means that I need to start my search by perusing the various church creeds.

Before this weekend, I thought that Protestantism was a movement aimed at stripping away the baggage that came with Catholicism. It was about getting back to the simple truth about Christ and grace. Well, evangelical churches have certainly succeeded in being not!Catholic, but I'm not so sure about the rest.

Each church website I looked at had a list of detailed beliefs several pages long. Most of them were quite similar, and some of them I agreed with more than others, but in all of them, I would have had to misinterpret something or other on purpose in order to bring myself to sign them.

I could have happily attended, or at least visited, any of these churches. I mean, I didn't see any statements of faith that could be construed as anything but evangelical Christian. The frustration came with the way all these churches deemed the minor differences of opinion important enough to build their identity on them. Important enough to require anyone who wants to help to swear they believe them, too.

Does it matter if we believe the Bible is "verbally inspired and inerrant" or just "inspired"? Does it matter if we believe in the pre-millenial return of Christ or have other ideas with regards to eschatology? Does it matter if we believe we receive the Holy Spirit upon first repentance or as a separate event later in time? Of course it matters on some level, but does it matter so much that we can't worship and work together?

And really, you Pentecostal and Pentecostalish churches, please defend for me why you say that only people who can speak in tongues are saved. Talk about adding doctrine that is nowhere to be found in the Bible! I can speak in tongues - this isn't an issue of me feeling excluded from your ranks. This is an issue of me being aggravated that you would claim someone's salvation depends on it.

I'm not saying that churches shouldn't require volunteers to believe the same basic things. And I'm not saying that we're all equally correct in our different beliefs. In fact, I think some are definitely wrong. But aren't we all Christians? To use an old cliche, let's "keep the main thing the main thing." I thought we had learned to get along despite our differences.

Miao Yu, a Chinese Christian here at school couldn't understand why we have so many different denominations in Canada. In China there are only two - the Official Church and the Underground Church. But I can understand why we have so many denominations. It's because if we're not fighting for our lives, we're finding things to fight about amongst ourselves. It's because if all these denominations don't believe specifically what I believe and so won't let me be involved, then I need to start my own denomination.

As the night grew exceedingly late, I finally found a church with a statement of faith with which I could whole-heartedly agree. It quoted the Apostles' Creed and added a few statements about what a Christian is supposed to do with his or her life. It was a breath of fresh air. So I went to the Anglican church in the morning.

Evangelical churches, I'll try again later, but I'm disappointed.

“I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Monday, 17 September 2012

Philosoraptor Says Hi

There are several posts I would like to write, but every time I get the urge type something up, I am suddenly overwhelmed by an impending sense of doom. This sense of doom hinges on the fact that if I have time to write, I should be writing my essays for school. And it's tough to write those before the research is finished. So really, whenever I feel like blogging, I should go to the library and read, but it's very difficult to do research when you want to be writing. Sigh.

I'd post the things I've made for school, but you wouldn't understand. For example:
Suggestopedia, in particular. See? I said you wouldn't get it.

So for now, my blogging has taken a backseat.

And oh! I have a new baby cousin! Welcome to the world, baby Veronica!

Speaking of Suggestopedia, here's a word from the wise via an instructional video:

"Nothing is so successful as success." Lonny Goldman

Friday, 7 September 2012

Village Bylaws

I suppose that in such a tiny little town as mine, you really do need rules to cover every contingency. You never know what kind of weirdos from the city are going to show up.
Fine. If you insist, I shall endeavour to restrain myself from driving an 8-wheeled amphibious ATV to chapel. But I'm not happy about it.

Oh, and here's a quote from one of the books* on church history I'm reading:

"[17 year old] Origen was keen to follow [his father] into martyrdom, but his mother, evidently deciding that it was bad enough to lose her husband without losing her son as well, hid his clothes. Teenage modesty prevailed over religious enthusiasm, and Origen remained safely at home."

*Hill, Jonathan. The History of Christian Thought. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2003. Page 42

Sunday, 2 September 2012

She-Woman Eats Sushi

The cohort went to a sushi restaurant in Moose Jaw the other day. I point out that it was in Moose Jaw just because I really like to be able to talk about all the things I did in “Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan”. I don't think it'll matter where in the world you go, that will still be a really goofy name.

Anyway – Saskatchewan sushi! Eating sushi was one of the items of my bucket list and I figure if I end up in Asia somewhere, it'll probably be good to start adjusting myself to raw seafood as soon as possible. So I went to a sushi place. And I ate sushi.

Not much, just three little pieces of California roll. It barely qualifies as sushi in my head, but I thought I'd start small. So here's what I did. First, I stalled by asking seasoned chopsticks user Adrianna how to use chopsticks despite already having a general capability with them myself.

Then I stalled by asking seasoned sushi eater Melanie to demonstrate how to eat a piece. Chopsticks, soy sauce, PUT IT ALL IN YOUR MOUTH AT ONCE! Chew, swallow. Ok.

Then I saw no more reasonable way to stall. So I picked up my chopsticks. I picked up the piece of sushi.

Then, it was my turn to make up the question for our game of Would You Rather. So I put the piece of sushi down and asked whether they'd rather allow their spouse to die or if they'd steal the appropriate medicine to save them. The group split (mostly, the guys said they'd steal and the girls said they wouldn't marry a man who would deliberately steal) and thinking the discussion was a good way to distract myself, I picked up my chopsticks.

I picked up the piece of sushi.

I dipped it in the soy sauce.

I put it in my mouth.

As it was still whole in my mouth, even before I tasted anything and began chewing, my gag reflex kicked in and I almost barfed. I pulled myself back under control. And I closed my teeth. And almost barfed again. Seriously, there was nothing fundamentally awful about anything in my mouth. I just have way too much psychological baggage when it comes to food that once lived in the water. I ate barbequed salmon for the first time in like, fifteen years just last month.

This was far more intimidating than salmon. I looked around the table, hoping to see somewhere I could reasonably throw-up without being thoroughly unsanitary and disgusting. Failing to find one, I put my hand over my mouth and tried not to breathe.

At this point, Jaynette noticed I was having difficulty. “Bit into something you wish you hadn't?” she said, sympathetically.

I shook my head and pointed one finger at my brain.

“Just listen really intently to the conversation while you chew,” said Jaynette.

So I did. Chuck delivered multiple arguments in favour of stealing and was reprimanded by the women until he compromised by saying he'd have to ask God for wisdom and then cross that bridge when he came to it.

I swallowed. My stomach did not immediately send it back up. There was no disgusting aftertaste. I had officially finished my first piece. Victory! At some point in the meal, I did throw my arms triumphantly into the air, but I don't remember if it was after the first or the third piece. At any rate, the second piece went down a little more smoothly than the first, the third was a bit more dicey again, and then I figured that three was enough to say I'd eaten sushi and I gave the rest away.

I finished my teriyaki chicken and rice and enjoyed the conversation. Maybe one day I'll be able to eat raw octopus on rice, but currently I'm content. For lunch today, I'm eating a noodle cup.

“If you drink much from a bottle marked 'poison', it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.” Lewis Carroll

Saturday, 1 September 2012

How Cohorts Bond

My professor refers to the group of my classmates and me as a "cohort". Regardless of any images of Baby Bowser and evil henchmen you may get in your head when someone uses the term "cohort", that is what we are called. We have recently verbified the word and now spend time together "cohorting".

Most people have yet to even arrive to begin school, but my cohorts and I just wrote the final exam for our first course this afternoon. This morning, one classmate hosted a study party in her apartment.

The study party was temporarily derailed when Miao Yu tried to teach us how to say her name properly. I had already tried to learn once, but she informed me that I had mistakenly called her a fish instead, so we were due for another lesson.

"Miao Yu," she said.

"Miao Yu," we all repeated.

"The tone goes Yu," she said with a hand motion to demonstrate.

"Yuuu? Yu?" we said, voices swooping in different directions.

She laughed. "Miao Yu. Yu, Yu, Yu," she modeled.

"Yu. Yu yuyuyuyuyuy," we tried again.

"Yu. Your tongue like this." She showed us with her hands what her tongue was doing. It seems we may have gotten the tone but still weren't getting the vowel.

"Ew?" we said, twisting our tongues. "Eu? Ooo? Uuew. YOU! Ieu? Yuie. Yuh. Yeu. Yui?"

"Yu," she said, making a fish face to exaggerate the correct positioning of the mouth.

"YU!" we all replied with fish faces. "Yuuuu. YUH!"

"Sort of," said Miao Yu.

We all sighed.

"When you learn Mandarin, the teacher will tell you how to say it," said Miao Yu.

So we all gave up and started studying.

"Hey, wait," I said. "You're auditing this course, aren't you Miao Yu?"

"Yes," she replied.

"So, are you actually taking the exam with us, or are you studying just for fun?"

"I take the exam," she said. "For fun."

And that, dear readers, is how TESOL cohorts spend time getting to know each other.

As an additional treat, I composed this after midnight because I couldn't sleep:

To the Guy Upstairs:

Are your feet made of lead?
I can hear you from bed
As you romp, clomp and stomp
Above my poor head.

I am not impressed
As you may have guessed.
Please go to bed
So we can all rest.

“You have that look on your face that says 'hold me to your ear; you'll hear the ocean.'” Londo Mollari from Babylon 5