Sunday, September 27, 2015

There is a place around the corner form me where they sell fresh-water pearls. I didn't have anything to do the other day so I went in there to see what it was all about. It's a huge building. Anyway, they also have an area where they show you how the pearls are farmed. I thought it was pretty interesting.

First, there's the oyster. This is a lot bigger than the oysters we have down along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Then the poor babies are injected with enough irritants to make all these pearls. 

They've got lots and lots of jars of pearls. sorted by the size of the pearl. I put my hand up there so you can see how big the jar is.

So that's the story of what's ion the pearl building. There is also a large retail section which I went through, but I didn't have much patience for it. The women who worked there really wanted to show me their pearls, but I thought the oysters were a lot more interesting.

Today is the day we remember Good King Wenceslaus of Bohemia. We could use a few good kings just now.

There was a low-key celebration of the full moon here on Tong Ren Lu. People went to other people's houses and ate a meal. Not me, of course. They leave me alone.

I found a beginner English language book which I passed on to my neighbor who wants to learn. He was happy.

I've been riding my scooter a lot. This afternoon I made a practice run to the place I'll park for work, for the subway. It will be nice to have my scooter there when I get off the train instead of trying to get a taxi at that particular spot. Then I rode down Shanxi Lu to Fuxing Lu and down Fuxing Lu quite a way. I had not realized that they ran perpendicular. It as been hard figuring out the streets as none of them run parallel, it seems like. In ShangHai most of the streets have trees on both sides. Almost any street is a nice place for a drive.

And now we are at Monday morning again. It's a short week, only two days. Then we have a week off for National Day. When I hear people say that no good thing ever comes from excessive nationalism I know that they are not from China, because in China we get a week off work for it and that seems pretty good to me. Of course the next week we will work eight days in a row, so there is that.

Take a look at the lectionary readings for next week and tell me what you'd do with that! I am not touching the man/woman thing. I like Job, but it's a story and too many people take it too literally. I rather like the anthropomorphizing of the deity, it's fun to play around with that. But, I don't know if I can write anything about it. Maybe go with the children thing again. Or a saint! I have been wanting to do one of my saint potpourris again. Though, for Sunday, I like to nail something from the lectionary. It's only Monday. We'll see what surfaces later in the week.

Have fun, everybody.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The thing I wanted to say last week about finding the child spirit in ourselves and others -- and I don't think I got around to saying this -- is that it's in our enemies and in people we don't like too much.

Kim Davis, for example.

Donald Trump. Still the greatest internal threat to the USA, but also a child of God.

Or, really irritating people, like the woman in my office who is a real prissy-britches. Of course, it takes one to know one so...

I'm just saying that we have to extend all that love to people we may think don't deserve it, because thinking is not really our job, loving is.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Today is the day we remember Jonah, the prophet.

The Bible story has often been read as a tale of disobedience, and I guess that's in there. It also seems like Jonah had a bad attitude about it all, too, complaining when God didn't actually destroy Nineveh. But, I don't know. He was so well regarded that his tomb was venerated for centuries before Marauding Muslims destroyed it last year. And, if I ever visit Iraq, and it looks less and less likely by the day, I will go to the place where his tomb used to be. So, there's more there than a disobedient man with a chip on his shoulder.

Anyway, we can think about Jonah today and give thanks for his life.


Here's the thing I finally wrote on the readings for last Sunday (yesterday):


And here's a picture of me with my new bear plate! There was a guy selling plates on the street outside the lane I live on and I couldn't resist this one. Who could! So now I own two plates, and one of them is a bear plate. Life doesn't get much better than that.

 Here's a close-up:

Have a good day everybody.

Friday, September 18, 2015

When I checked in with Facebook this morning I saw that there was a blooper reel from the recent GOP debate, and I thought that would be a fun thing to watch. Until I realized it wasn't the blooper reel, it was the highlights. If you missed it, Marco Rubio took his own water to the debates, Mike Huckabee thinks that he is part of the A-Team, Carly is going for the feminist vote... I really can't understand what's going on in the USA anymore.

When I was in Myanmar I re-read all the George Orwell books so they are still in my mind. The fake crowds, the backwards talking (also called lies), the sheer hubris of Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina, it's all so newspeak, so ministry of information. I mean, even Sarah Palin -- and I am no fan of Sarah --  but, she had the decency not to run. Whether she realizes she is an idiot or not, I don't know, but somehow she realized that she couldn't be president and didn't run. The others... I don't know where they get off. It's just wild.

So I stopped watching that. Obviously. The state of USA TV almost makes me glad that Netflix is now making TV shows. Almost.

I am thinking about the children this morning. Jesus says to welcome the children. Yet, Australia sends them back out to sea to die, the USA is not a lot better, nobody wants the children refugees any more than they want the adult refugees. (Anyone who is different must be a terrorist, you know.) Forty percent of African-American children live in poverty. Honestly, how did we let that happen? But also, and here's something I do when I think about scripture, I go: Who, What, When, Where, Why... it's simple, but usually it's one of the WH questions that speaks to me.

So, regarding the children we have Jesus, the children, the disciples, and the children's parents... that's the who. 

The what is, teaching and welcome.

When, is between who is the greatest and if you're not against us you're for us -- compared to a later statement that if you're not for me you're against me (Matt. 12:30)... confusing Jesus, very confusing. Mark is the earliest of the canonical synoptics and it is assumed that the writer had a variety of early texts to borrow from. Not that the saints would EVER plagiarize... different times, different standards. But the when is within Jesus' lifetime.

The why is teaching. And I think Jesus may be working out his own vision for the kind of reign he imagines.

The where is Capernaum, simple enough. They had come down a mountain -- transfiguration, remember -- and were walking through The Galalie. We are always going to Jerusalem, remember. Twists and turns, but always headed to Jerusalem. Later they will head beyond the Jordon for more teaching. So, between a mountain and a river. In The Galalie. In a house. But, that's really just the location.

Where is Jesus? Well, if you believe the pictures in the children's Sunday School rooms, Jesus is sitting on a big rock. You've seen the picture, I'm sure. It's not an actual photo, but it must be accurate or it wouldn't be in all those Sunday School rooms. And, actually I don't have a beef with that image. The story in the Bible is that Jesus was in a house and had called the disciples to him, but it's just a story and I like the outdoor setting with the rock just fine. Also, the teacher would have been sitting and the students standing... a configuration I wish we'd return to, btw. So, to have Jesus on that big, white rock is OK.

So, now we have set the scene and can start thinking.

The first thing I like to do is change the time zone. 

Who are the children today?
What are they doing? What should I be doing?
When:  TODAY. The time is always NOW.
Where are they right now?

I will write more about this later. But for now I need to have a ride on my scooter.

Love to all.

I took a little tour around town today on my new scooter. It felt nice to be out and about on my own: No taxi, no subway... just turning where I want to, stopping when I feel like it. I rode down to The Bund -- Wai Tan, as we call it in Shanghai -- stopping for lunch, shopping, and walking around.

This is looking across the HungPu River into PuDong. That funny looking building is the Oriental Pearl Tower. It's a radio tower, but you can also go up in the middle ball and have a meal or visit an observation deck. You may recall that we did that several years ago. It's a good thing to do, but but not the kind of thing you need to repeat.

I just call this the hideous new building. You can see that the Jin Mao tower stands, stately, in the shower of the new building. It's supposed to look like it's twisting, and it does look that way. But, why? I just have a soft spot for the Jim Mao Tower.

I am still taking my selfies in the old fashioned way of holding a small camera at arms length. I was one of the few people on Wai Tan who did not have one of those dangerous and ubiquitious selfie-sticks. I would be surprised if someone hasn't put an eye out by now. I really would.

I would be hard pressed to say that I actually DID anything, but somehow it took all day. Finally, I was back at home sweet home:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I've been looking for a good sermon on last week's gospel lesson. I kind of wanted to write my thing for Episcopal Cafe on the gospel, but I got interested in the Proverbs reading. I am almost never interested in Proverbs with it's talk of good wives and pithy advice. It makes me feel like it should be in the Ladies Home Journal. I am not a lady, and I don't have a home... It's just not my book. But I was interested in it last week so that's what I did my thing on. Another reason I didn't write on the gospel is  that it would have taken me awhile to work out all the twists in the story, I would have gone on and on about Heidegger, and my essay would have been too long.

This week I am thinking about the little children, and especially about that little boy found dead on the beach. Welcome the little children he says... and this is what we give him.

I was also struck by this one statement "They were afraid to ask..." Really?

The new job is going well. It's hard, but I like it. I am finding my spot among the other teachers. The students run from delightful to wild beasts. Some have a very low level of English Language ability and they are mixed in with higher ability children so that's interesting.

Rain for the past two days, but I think it's supposed to clear off today. Rain again for the weekend which may get in the way of my electrical bicycle riding, but not much.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A lot of people, including me, go out into nature and we experience something of God there. I am not saying it's as good as church, but it's not bad either. God is everywhere, after all. It shouldn't surprise us where anybody finds her. To those who have seen Jesus on toast, or experienced God in a sunset I say, "Well, there are worse things to see in there," right?

But where is wisdom? She is out in the marketplace, on the busiest streets. Wisdom has not withdrawn from the world, she is rubbing shoulders with mortgage bankers, and high-rollers, homeless, and those who are just trying to make a living. There she is, in the hoary mass of humanity.

Makes me wonder if I am looking in the right places.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

You know what I noticed about the gospel reading for this morning? It's the amount of snark. People are just talking smack to Jesus, aren't they?

"Save yourself..." they said.

And those who killed him taunted him too, and gambled for his clothes.

It reminds me a lot of what is happening to that poor county clerk in Kentucky. Oh, I don't support her cause, not for a minute. But she is getting crucified in social media. And she is getting mocked, even taunted. Look, this woman hasn't been a follower of Jesus for very long, only about four years. She is bound to make some mistakes. I've been following Jesus for 47 years and I make mistakes, and I think some of you do too. She is not perfect, but she is trying. She is willing to put it all on the line for her faith, and I admire that. I disagree, but I admire her for what she thinks she's doing. She has sacrificed more for her faith in these last couple of weeks than most of us ever will. Let's give her that. She is trying.

If we have to find someone to blame, let's blame ourselves. Mainline Christianity doesn't speak out about these sorts of "theologies" which imperil the saints. If the rest of us had reached out to the saints in Kentucky back when it first became apparent that they were a bunch of wack-o nuts then we might have avoided this, and God only knows how much more. Some have said that she won't listen to us if we reach out to her. Well, she probably won't. But this is a good time to make some inroads into alien territory. This is the time for religious leaders to speak out with compassion to show this county clerk how she can be true to her faith AND follow the law. Write her a letter, or write to her pastor. (If you find contact information on the church or pastor let me know because I don't have it.) Don't mock, don't even judge. That is not our job. You can just say, "Here is how I see it... This is what the Bible says to me... " and treat them like colleagues in the Kingdom, because that is what they are.

Even the chief priests had a meeting about Jesus in which they asserted that if he did come down from the cross, then they would believe. The Bible says that they were mocking Jesus. but I don't know. I have been in more than a few meetings where it was clear to me that we were merely absolving ourselves and planning our strategy in the event we were questioned. You know, you can kind of feel it. It's that little voice that says, "We are fooling ourselves." Well, poor chief priests...

There is enough compassion for them, for the county clerk in Kentucky, and for all of us. I guess that's what I got from the readings today.

I have to get going. My hair color, which I paid a lot of money for, and which took ALL afternoon to get, is not right. It's too dark. I hate it. And, NO I am not having much compassion for they guy who did it. But, I'll try. I will. That's on the agenda for today. I want to get this hair situation sorted. Add that to the list of other things... Have a good day everybody.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Today we remember ten Christian martyrs. The Saint Of The Day page says that their names appeared on old martyrologies, but that all knowledge of their lives and deaths has been lost. Their names are:











These are in addition to the 191 other martyrs, killed during the French Revolution for refusing to take an oath to make the clergy accountable to the government. Collectively, they are called the Martyrs of Paris and the Martyrs of Carmes. They are named here.

I was never taught about these martyrs , or any other martyrs for that matter. When I was a young Christian I was vaguely aware that Stephen had been martyred and the other disciples. I knew that people had died for their faith throughout the ages, but nobody ever said these people died for this reason. It was all very vague.

I wish that new Christians could be taught that real people die, even today a lot of them die, for the sake of this gospel which refers to the whole of our oh-so important lives as a mist. Just a thing that will soon pass, and not of any real significance except that we give it away before it can be blown away.

If you've seen the ISIS videos you know that there is no white-robed glory to it. Not on this side of it anyway. Still, I think we should all keep ready.


In personal news, I have managed to get a few days off this week. I am changing jobs and taking some vacation I had coming from my last job. It's that time of year, you know, when the language school teachers look for jobs in real schools. All the teachers who were at my language school when I got there have now either gone, or have resigned. It was a good gig, but those of us who can get better jobs will. The students were lovely when I left. I got some good presents and they all said things that made me feel good. I don't know if any of it is true, but it gives me something to aspire to.   In the new job I will still have a long commute, but not as complicated in terms of train changes. I will just get on the 12 and go. School is about a five minute walk from the station, and it's another ten minutes across campus. The International Department is almost an afterthought, behind the gymnasium. The hours are Monday through Friday 730 to 415. Weekends off. Three months holiday, only two paid. But, this being Shanghai, I can get work if I want it. No problem. Overall, not a bad package. I am not doing anything special on my days off, just trying to clear the decks for a new school year. Various parts of me have been waxed, colored, and cleaned. I cleaned out the closet and one cupboard which was getting cluttered. I still have to do some banking and buy a pair of shoes. I have explored some new areas. This afternoon I plan to go out to a thing in PuDong. The Chinese have built an Italian village out there, apparently. We'll see. It will be an adventure anyway, or at least an activity.