Sunday, April 03, 2005

Comments, Links

This post is a collection of some things I wrote down in my pocket notebook today.

Let's say that you can see yourself staying in China long term, and that you intend to make Chinese friends and have Chinese co-workers, maybe date Chinese, etc. Would you feel comfortable joining—getting to know people, joining a Bible study, volunteering for Sunday School duty—a church where you were required to bring a passport to prove that you were a foreigner, because Chinese are not allowed inside? Would this be a viable choice for the long-term?

We sang a song about freedom coming from God, and I felt really bad because the church has more of a prison-like feel to it: keep the Chinese out, keep the foreigners and their subversive religion trapped inside. It is not free at all.

Even the contact card for the Bible study group in my area has printed the sentence "Foreign passport holders only". Can I (Micah) go to a church like that?

This week's passage was Luke 24:13-35, the story of Jesus meeting with the two men on the road to 以马忤斯 (only have Chinese Bibles in the pews) after his resurrection. The speaker likened their journey to the Christian life, only I thought it was more of a conversion allegory but since you really can't raise your hand in Big Church I just sat in my balcony seat and read through the rest of Luke.

I will post some quotes from my current read, Dave Egger's You Shall Know Our Velocity! (is nothing safe from the Exclamation Mark?). Regarding gentlemen's clubs:

We travel thousands of miles east, then thousands north, and always these places where girls and boys pretend to be women and men.

Being in church with so many well-adjusted people made me think about that, so when I hit that passage it stuck. Regarding fatherhood:

—Hand you're the one we never were sure about. When something had to be done, it wasn't you we went to. I went to Jack and Jack went to me. I trusted Jack. I trust you, too, but I knew, we knew, that you would not be there—not always. You were usually there but you had to always be present. Most of being a man is being there, Hand.

—You're talking about your father again.

—I am not!

—You are.

—I am. He was not there and that means you must! It means I know a man from a worm. And it means I have no patience for men who are worms. For men who are not there.

Being a man is just being there? That's a little depressing, I was imagining something a little more active. But then, I'm pretty much unwilling to take any cues on manhood from today's pop culture. So, let's move on.

I like how half the dialogue in this book is the main character's—presumably Dave Egger's—internal monologue, conversations with other characters that he makes up in his head. It's closer to my own experience.

I got a haircut tonight. The barbershop was called the Wenzhou Little Bay Haircutting Porch, and is right across the street from my apartment. The barber used a double sided comb, on which a blade was mounted halfway up the teeth of one side; he would comb the hair with the one side, hold it with his fingers, then twist the comb around and chop the hair off. Followed by a little detail work with the scissors, and a close shave in the back with the razor. It was more of a trim than a cut. Still, I'm pretty happy with it. The deal cost... drumroll... five kuai. That's about 65 cents. At that price, I'll go in very week.

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