Darker is better.
That’s the lesson to be learned from the Batman franchise. We went from a corny Batman in tights and external jockstrap(see above) to a stiff Batman with nipples (Clooney). Holy Cheese!
There are some people who are universally beautiful. Across ethnic and demographic lines, they are considered to be stunners. For example, during the Olympics, my non-Asian colleagues at work were gushing about Chinese diver, Guo Jingjing (above). Maybe it was because she was in a swimsuit, maybe it was the sleek-dolphin-like way she emerged from the water, maybe it was the shower, but they were all agog about her. Guo has universal beauty.
Then there are some who have an ethnic beauty. These are people who are considered beautiful only by members of their own ethnic group. Their appeal is in-group: outsiders just don’t get it. Korean actor Bae Yong Joon (above) of Winter Sonata fame has ethnic beauty. Asians look at him and see a serene and assured beauty topped by glowing passion simmering in his hair. Non-Asians see a wimpy dude in a turtleneck with orange hair. Bae has ethnic beauty. Reverend Eugene Cho (below) is another example. Although he often self-deprecates his own looks, he has an undeniable Asian masculinity-beauty about him. Non-Asians don’t see that, though. Cho is an ethnic beauty.
My, how you’ve grown, my squinty-eyed princess, over the last few days. You now know so much more about life and the world.
You now know what the Spanish basketball and tennis teams think when they look at you, my squinty-eyed princess. And you know, byway of their “apology” that if you take offense to their “squinty-eyed” pose, you are the one with the problem: you are the one who is “confused” and “hyper-sensitive” about their “affectionate gesture.”
You now know what the world thinks of you. You are the little runt, the little Chihuahua that could. A renowned sportswriter wrote that you should be eating baby food and napping in Yao Ming’s shoe. Apparently, you are too young to appreciate the enormity of the event, and that is why you have an advantage. You do not have an advantage because you have trained hard and because you have demonstrated gutsy-determination. No: it’s because you are a cheating runt, my squinty-eyed princess.
Chris is a committed believer, has “kissed dating goodbye,” and believes in saving sex until marriage. He also has a normal sex drive which means that he thinks about sex every seven seconds. Then he meets Christina at church, a helplessly voluptuous woman who also believes in saving sex until marriage. They fall deeply, powerfully in love, the stuff of romance books. All manner of hormones flow through them during those heady first weeks and months: norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, inevitable chemicals of romance, enflaming an eruption of that red-hot lava called lust.
Ah, lust. Lust which clouds judgment and leads sensible people to make questionable and rash decisions. Poor Chris, suddenly so overwhelmed with lust: committed to no-sex-until-marriage, he is going nuts trying to stay true to his convictions. He has lost all objectivity, all ability to rationally assess life-long compatibility with Christina (and she him), all ability to discern God’s will. Within a few short months, in the midst of his pulsing libido, he proposes to Christina. Their engagement period is (surprise, surprise) only four months. Though filled with virginal nervousness and clumsiness, their wedding night is as hoped for.
Eight months later, however, they’ve come to realize how truly incompatible they are, how different they are, how – had they not been so intoxicated with lust – they would never have gotten married. They were duped by lust.
Dear _____ Church
You probably don’t remember me. I was one of hundreds of students who attended your church during my four years in college. We walked through your doors, we sat in your pews, we enjoyed your worship, your sermons, drank your coffee, we came and went via the buses you provided. Over the years, countless thousands of students have breathed your air and taken up your space.
My reason for writing you is to apologize. For all that you gave us, we never gave anything back. We used your facilities, but never tithed a cent. We enrolled in Sunday School classes, but never offered to teach (or help with e.g., nursery). We enjoyed your worship services, but almost never helped out. You welcomed us into your fellowship with arms wide open, but we kept our arms clipped downwards, huddling in cliques after service, stiff-arming you. We did lip-service tokens of service like occasional acapella performances, but they tended to be of the min-commitment/max-limelight vein. We were the kind of churchgoer I now despise, the parasite who offers nothing, expects the world, and takes everything for granted. We came to be entertained and edified; we left having given nothing. We were parasites, like the typical church youth, too myopic and self-centered to know better. But we were older and should have known better, and for that, I apologize.
There is another reason why I’m writing you. It’s to thank you. Now that I am older and perhaps wiser, I realize what it cost you. You sacrificed in real, tangible ways to accommodate us. Real money spent to expand the church to be able to fit us. Buses bought to transport us, people willing to take lessons, attain bus licenses, willing to wake up early to pick us up. More teachers willing to prepare Sunday School classes to half-asleep, dozing ingrates. Muffins and coffee prepared or purchased, only to have them gobbled up by students already on full meal plans. So many examples: invitations to home meals, mentorship, allowing us to use your facilities for overnights, guidance, etc. etc. You gave and gave and gave, and demanded nothing in return.
I was baptized at your church. In my testimony, while standing in the water before the church, I thanked everyone but you. You still clapped and cheered and cried when I came out of the water.
Thank you for modeling Christ to me, for truly demonstrating what sacrificial love looks like. Years too late, but for what it’s worth:
(and here’s check covering what I should have tithed)
I have this really weird gift. When I watch a movie trailer, I come away knowing all there is to know about the movie. Just from the trailer, I can predict the overall movie’s quality and eventually find that I’m not far off.
But not only can I predict the quality of the movie, but I can predict . . . the whole movie. My gift allow me to, in my mind’s eye, “fill in the gaps” of the trailer and mentally imagine how the movie plays out. Like, everything: plot developments, establishing shots, dramatic turns, dialogue, plot devices, etc, etc.. It’s scary how right on the money my prediction usually turns out. With this gift, I “saw” Ironman before anyone else did – before even I did. In fact, I’ve already “seen” this summer’s blockbusters: Indy Jones, Batman, the Hulk, SITC. Going to movies now is an exercise in redundancy. They no longer entertain.
I never had better friends than the buddies I had in college. I never had deeper, richer fellowship than those days when I explored college and life and faith with friends in my Christian fellowship group. And since then, I’ve come to realize that nothing will ever come close to what I had when it comes to fellowship.
I miss those days, painfully at times. I miss the college fellowship group – where in our innocence, naiveté, and youthful energies, our relationships transcended mere friendship and touched the ideal we professed in – loving fellowship between brothers and sisters.
A Hallmarky phrase, perhaps, but back then it was real to us. We held hands in circles as we prayed and it didn’t seem cheesy. We hugged constantly, literally soaking shoulders with tears – and it didn’t seem corny. I remember midnight treks in the snow under a canopy lit up by a blaze of stars and a mercury moon, worshiping God. Spring break missions trips to hell and back, but together, always together. Another time, around a campfire, a group of us praying, our eyes open, looking at one another with tenderness, overcome with love for one another. So many other moments, where the intercept of idealism and friendship and spiritual passion made for a beautiful collision. In those times, I truly felt like I was in heaven with spiritual brothers and sisters. Fellowship wasn’t an overused and emptied word, but a living ideal, breathing, flowing, pulsing, invigorating. It was a given that we’d all be lifelong friends.
Once upon a time, Christian conferences were an invaluable resource. They brought together the best speakers, pastors and leaders of the church to a receptive and teachable audience. For most of the attendees, it was the first time to see, hear, and learn from some of the leading voices of the church who dispensed new and original thoughts and ideas.
Fast-forward to today. Conferences have, for the most part, lost their utility and are nothing more than a gargantuan waste of money.