Last weekend, I hung out at a convent. I went there with Julene, Jackie, and Alfred for a retreat-type deal. Julene goes there all the time for some peace and quiet, so she decided to share the wealth and take us there. Alfred stayed for most of the first day, long enough to tell us his amazing story of coming from Tanzania to Korea. Then it was just the girls, and we had a great time just lounging around, figuring out Taize songs, reading the Bible, and talking. Luckily, all three of us value deep, honest conversation and are okay with silence, otherwise it might have been too much time with too few people. But it was good. We sat in on the nuns singing their daily prayers and they made us super delicious Korean food. The place was simple and quiet. And I even had time to take some cool photos, which I have been slacking on. So, thanks, nuns, for a very peaceful weekend.


Look out, D.C.!

So, a couple weeks ago our hagwon took a trip to Cheongju for some cherry blossom site-seeing. All the teachers went and some of their kids, so it was a good time.


My two cents.

Okay, time for me to hop into this convo about church. The question is: "Isn't "the church" less institution and more people? I mean, those people who choose to follow Christ. That's the church. Do we really need to "go" to church?" Check out Houston and Jackie's blogs for opposing viewpoints on the subject. As is my wont, I'll be decidedly moderate.

I could rail indefinitely about the church and its infinite shortcomings...its pat formulas, squelching of creativity, staunch dogmas, absurd bickering, and all around disregard for Christ and His message of love and acceptance. But what it comes down to is that the church, in all its institutional glory, is really just a bunch of people doing what people do best: messing up. The problem is when people mass together they sometimes forget that they are only human and start wielding their power around as if they were God Himself.

If we were to stop looking at the church as some sort of mandate from God, and to start realizing that it is merely a gathering place for people, for learning, for being reminded weekly that we are all making this journey towards truth together, then maybe the church could regain some of the dignity it has lost. There are many beautiful things about the church: that it is a venue where thought about God and spirituality is accepted, that it joins people worldwide in common purpose and dialog, that it brings together a myriad of people from local communities, and that it is a public voice for love, generosity, and humanitarian causes.

In the end, the church will change when people change. I'm not about to give up on the beauty and truth of Christ's message just because a whole lot of people have skewed it to serve their own purposes. And I don't really think I should give up on the church, even though that's been seriously messed up, too. I think it can be something different, more aligned with Christ. I also think that there is enough unrest among young people in the church today to make that change. All we have to do is start actually living like Christ....the church will follow.


Home is where the camera is....

Check out Jesse and Lyn's new blog. Great pics, great vids (like this one), and I even made the cut. My mean bowling streak comes out...

One problem...it's making me miss all you guys too much!!
Solution: anyone up for going to Vietnam with me and Pete this summer?


Playing with Guns.*

There's nothing like a bbq on the roof followed by hours of shooting stuff with bb guns.
guns + digi-cam = endless fun.

*rated PG....for "play guns"...


Hooray for fun day trips to Seoul! Saturday found me on the 1.5 hour subway ride to Seoul with some pals from church.

There's some debate in these parts about the best way up to the city. We went the slowest, but cheapest (2,500 won), way on the subway. The alternative is a $6-8 hour-long train or bus ride, or the oh-so-posh $12 and only 20 minute KTX train ride. I don't usually mind the subway on the way up because you can always get a seat, everyone's usually pretty chatty on the way, and I feel pretty decent only spending about two bucks on my ticket. I'd probably opt for the latter two on the way down, though, since the subway's usually packed on the way home and by that time you're tuckered out anyway and just want to sink into your warm bed.

My first stop was Yongsan market, electronics mecca! I had this bold idea to finally buy a new lens for my camera, but when faced with the plethora of choices and the daunting proposition of battling hundreds of sellers to get the best price, I decided the time had not yet come. But Jackie volunteered to haggle with the sellers for me when I was ready to buy because she "loves bargaining with other people's money."

After Yongsan, we all met back up at Itaewon, an area of shops near the U.S. military base, mostly catered to English speakers. There were an almost absurd number of foreigners there, i.e. I could say "excuse me" and people actually understood and moved! For lunch, we went to Ali Baba's, for some middle Eastern fare. The place was big on atmosphere, but not so big on portions. Small, but delicious. Then we moseyed on over to What the Book, a sweet little shop that has used and new English books. We hit up an overcrowded Starbucks before we all went our separate ways.

Jo and I left the others to go to Nagwon Musical Instrument Arcade, a huge building jam-packed with instrument sellers. I was on a mission to find a harmonica, a shaker, and a slide. I had meant to look at mandolin prices, too, but I completely forgot. But success in all other areas. Blues, here we come!

After drooling over all those beautiful instruments, we rolled on up to Daehangno, a bustling university area of town, to brew up a little live jazz. Mipa met up with us and we found the perfect little place: dark, smoky, low-ceilinged with hanging lamps. They started off with a sax, drums, bass trio. They did standards and some fusion stuff, pretty nice. The next group was an unconventional combo: drums, piano, keyboard, sax, and two apparently classically trained strings, a violin, and a cello, who acted as the bass. Both strings were percussive too, tapping and drumming on their instruments. The sax player rocked out and the pianist sang sometimes. Altogether, it was some stellar music.

So, with my harmonica in pocket, a bossa tune reverberating in my head, and an all around contented feeling, we splurged and took the KTX back to Choenan. Ah, good times.