Monday, August 22, 2005

Faith or Folly?

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, co-heirs of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith even Sarah herself, when she was barren, received power to conceive offspring, even though she was past the age, since she considered that the One who had promised was faithful. 12 And therefore from one man--in fact, from one as good as dead--came offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as innumerable as the grains of sand by the seashore. 13 These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth. 14 Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been remembering that land they came from, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But they now aspire to a better land--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

I came across this scripture passage when I first moved to Korea. I could really identify with Abraham moving to a foreign land where he had no family. Being gay, I also could identify with the frustration of Sarah being unable to have children. And yet things worked out for both of these people because they acted on faith. Faith that God would come through and do what He promised he would do. I'm amazed at how long they waited and even when Sarah made mistakes and doubted God's providence, the story had a happy ending.

Currently I'm attempting to put together a computer corner hutch from IKEA. I don't have a computer but my boyfriend does. The irony here is that I have no idea when this computer hutch will actually be used for that purpose. The computer itself is in storage here and I'm unable to claim all that stuff because I have no legal status here in Canada. I hoped that AnTaek would be able to claim all these things when he came here on a student visa but he was turned down two days ago because he misunderstood a question on the application. So of course we are trying to appeal that but it doesn't look good. Of course with all the difficulties we're questioning why I even came to Canada in the first place. I personally had faith that this was where God wanted us to be. And to top it off, first thing this morning I got a phone call from a principal I had a terrific interview with saying that they went another way and I did not get the job. This month we are also "celebrating" our 3 years of being together. So it indeed is a whopper of a Monday.

My question therefore is posed at the top. When is it faith? And when is it sheer stupidity? At times the line seems to be a fine one.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Oh Brother, it's my Bother

So this Friday (August 19th) is my brother's birthday. He'll be 29. I sent him a present but unfortunately it won't reach him in time.
Also this weekend my parents are celebrating their 40th anniversary a week early. My brother and I got them a package tour of Parkville, MO (link above). I'm sad that the whole family will be there except for me. Living abroad for the past 4 years I've guess they've gotten used to me not being there for family events. During the year we usually get together for Easter, Mother's Day, birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Plus other weekends when it works out. Now that my grandma has moved next door to my parents, we have often had more extended family come to visit than usual. In addition, my brother got married recently and I really find the company of my sister-in-law enjoyable.
The longer and longer I stayed in a culture that highly values being part of a family, I kept seeing a mirror being held up to me. Also the past three years of dating a Korean from a large family (9 kids), I kept getting this sense that my place was closer to my family and how that was an important part of my identity. However I also felt my place was with my boyfriend as well (this month marks three years of dating) and so there was conflict. Moving to Canada was supposed to be this compromise. I could be close to my partner as well as accessible to my family. I really felt (and still feel) that God has lead us here.

So I want to thank God for my family and ask his leading in the future.

Here's a part of the song Swan Dive from Ani DiFranco (lyrical godess) that has become my theme song in the past couple of weeks:
cuz they can call me crazy if i fail
all the chance that i need
is one-in-a-million
and they can call me brilliant
if i succeed
gravity is nothing to me, moving at the speed of sound
i'm just going to get my feet wet
until i drown

For this song in its entirety go here:

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

There is Power in the Blood

As some of you are aware, I've been a fan of the drama "Queer as Folk" (ie gay soap opera). Unfortunately the series finale is next week here in Canada. I was watching an episode last week with a friend of mine in Kansas. In this episode, a bomb explodes to kill/hurt as many gay people as possible. Michael (my favorite character), goes to the hospital and his friends and family are in the waiting room, anxiously waiting. Then the doctor comes forth with the news that Michael's fine but lost a lot of blood. His best friend Brian, immediately volunteers, knowing his O blood type makes him the universal donor. Then the doctor tells him no, that if you are a gay man, you are barred from donating blood. My friend watching with me was shocked and asked me if this was true.

Unfortunately this discrimination typical of the past is still in the present. For the last 15 years, any man who has been with another man since 1977 - even ONCE- has been permanently banned from donating blood. At the time this ban was imposed (1990), there was a high prevalence of AIDS in the gay male population. Even though this disease is now growing faster among the young heterosexual population, the American Red Cross denies this discrimination to be unfair. Therefore, donors who disclose having engaged in risky heterosexual behavior are only deferred from donating for a year, not for a lifetime.

I clearly remember the first and only time I donated blood. I was university at the time and my very good friend, Amy, was volunteering to help them out. I was very happy that I would be able to save a life by giving blood. As I was laying there, squeezing the red ball and my life-force draining out of me, I started to hear the ever-increasing loud lub-dub of my heart beat. I remember looking at her across the room and when our eyes met, she knew something was very wrong. She said "Do you need help?" I nodded my head. She then said "Well...ASK for help then!" I said weakly "" She got some people over and they asked me a bunch of questions, one which was "Are you going to vomit?" I truthfully hadn't considered it until it was suggested! Then I did! Of course then my blood was tainted and all that was for nothing. I felt really bad and never did go back.

I've always felt somewhat guilty though. The Red Cross keeps saying how desperate they are for blood donations. However it estimated that there are 62,300 gay men who want to donate blood, but are prohibited from doing so by the current law. HIV screening is the most accurate today than it has ever been and the American Red Cross conducts really extensive testing.

As a Christian, blood is a very pivotal part of my religion. We believe that through Jesus Christ's self-sacrifice on the cross, that our sins are, in a sense "washed with His blood." To commemorate this, often we re-enact the Last Supper that Christ had with his disciples. In this ceremony, we refer to the wine (grape juice if you are a Baptist!) as the Blood of Christ and bread (sometimes it's unleavened, ie without yeast, sometimes it's regular bread. In my church we used cut-up cooked pie crusts.) as the Body of Christ. If one is Catholic, one believes that this ACTUALLY changes to blood and flesh. I personally find that one a little hard to swallow (pun intended). For most Protestants, Baptists especially, this is just a metaphor, a symbol of that time. After all, the actual event was based on the Jewish seder during Passover and had no connotations of cannibalism.

Furthermore, Christians believe that Jesus did not discriminate when He shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins. In a sense, his blood donation didn't see gender, race, income level or even sexual orientation. The Bible says that"No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends"(John 15:13). And although it wouldn't kill me to give blood, I would at least be allowed to have the opportunity to follow His example.